Monday, February 28, 2011

Book of the week: Marvin K Mooney will you please go now

I don't have a consistent rationale or criteria for selecting a Suburban Sonnet-inspired Book of the Week, so this week it started with this:

Which is of course a Zike-Bike to anyone who knows Marvin K Mooney by heart.

This "just" another rollicking, rhyming, nonsensical Dr Seuss- in this case the theme being:

the time has come, the time is now, Marvin K Mooney will you please GO NOW.

Marvin is then offered a series of suggestions, including:

"you may go on a Zike-Bike if you like". Big Bro often pores over the picture, trying to work out how the Zike-Bike works. Must say, I never had the heart to say that it was just made up- which is fortunate, given there is a real-life one out there in the world!

Friday, February 25, 2011

This weekend I'm grateful for peace and calm

Hello, strangers- yes, I've been MIA in the Real World. Funny how three weeks of "not working" was harder work than "working". I was actually quite looking forward to starting The New Job. And, I'm pleased to say, I really enjoyed the week!

The Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post brings me back to the Blogosphere. It's certainly been a week- and month- in which I've been counting my blessings. So this weekend, as they say in the classic blogs, I'm grateful for:

Peace: my friend T writes about living as an expat in Bahrain on her blog From Melbourne to Manama. Check out her posts this week about living through the protests there.

Calm: of the seismologic variety, in this part of the world. Christchurch, I am thinking of you. Again, but much more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Should relatives attend a baby's funeral?

Should family members attend the funerals of a 3 month old and an 8 month old baby?

Should family members be able to choose where the funeral is held?

If the family had no money to cover the costs associated with the funerals, should the taxpayer pay some costs associated with a funeral?

These were some of the questions that have been raised by certain politicians in the last 24 hours, most prominently Tony Abbott and the opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrisson. Of course, their view has been influenced by the fact that the funerals were for Zahra El Ibrahimy and Sam Husseini who were drowned, along with their mothers (whose bodies were never recovered) and about 30 other people while scenes like this were underway:

It disgusts me that this debate had to be a debate at all. We are in a country that already provides bereavement payments to the poorer members of our society; why does this even have to be a question? Let the families grieve.

I am relieved that some members of the Coalition have come out against this dirty piece of politics, and that the mood in the mainstream media (and even The Australian!) seems to be one of compassion (and common sense and decency).

Rest in peace with your mothers, Zahra and Sam.

Image from

Postscript- there is a much more thorough discussion and a lot of insightful comments at the only politically-skewed blog I read, Grog's Gamut. One anonymous comment I found particularly pertinent was:

I understand the Defence department paid travel costs for 60+ soldier colleagues to come from Darwin to Launceston for the memorial service for Corporal Richard Atkinson on Monday. Two of his closest mates were flown back from Afghanistan to be there. This seems as appropriate to me as flying seven people from Christmas Island to Sydney for the funerals of their families.

Hardly accurate to suggest there is something strange about the Australian Government paying for funeral travel costs in such cases.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This weekend I'm grateful for.... freebies and almost freebies

This week's Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post comes after a week in which my wallet was left a bit plumper than usual. So I'm grateful for:
- freebies: the postman came knocking twice this week, leaving a frequent shopper reward bottle of wine and a lucky winning of three recipe books (thank you Expatriate Chef, for whom the postage to Australia wasn't so free). Both are good things to have in the house once the kiddos are in bed.
- almost-freebies: it was the week that I rediscovered my old student hangout, Thresherman's Bakehouse in Carlton. A $5 slice of quiche was massive enough to feed two hungry boys, and $7 gave me a loaf of bread, four Turkish rolls and four mini-quiches for the freezer from the baked-today bargain table. Then, this morning we happened across a "megagarage" sale, and for the princely sum of $7.10, walked away with two "never hung" Maisy prints, a Captain Feathersword outfit and a My Little Pony coveted by Big Bro, who has already had his 10c-worth brushing out its Rapunzelesque mane.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book of the week: The Cable Car and the Dragon

The Cable Car and the Dragon- Herb Caen.
Big Bro and I brought this book out in honour of Chinese New Year; it's the tale of two exotic creatures who both wanted a taste of a a different life. Charlie, a San Francisco cable car, is on the top of Nob Hill late one Chinese New Year's night realises that after "running up and down San Francisco for sixty years, (he) has NEVER seen a Chinese New Year's Parade or a Chinese Dragon". So instead of turning left towards Russian Hill, for the first time in his life he turns right, and ventures off the tracks into Chinatown. There he meets the dragon Chu Chin Chow, who for sixty years has lived a reclusive life in the hills across the bay, emerging once a year to head the Chinese New Year Parade through Chinatown.

This is another of my childhood books, probably bought when we visited my aunt in San Francisco when I was three (or else sent from there later). It's quite a wordy book- the recommended age of 4-8 years seems quite appropriate- and goes into details of the history and mechanics of cable cars, which Big Bro enjoys. It couldn't be set anywhere else- it's very much a San Francisco tale, with mentions of Nob and Russian Hills and particular streets. If When we take the boys to San Francisco I'll be making sure we take the Cable Car over the same tracks, looking down over Chinatown. Who knows, we might even ride Charlie.

One of my favourite bits of the book, which I always make sure I read, is the dedication:
For my son Christopher, who, having had the taste and judgement to be born in San Francisco in 1965, knows quite a bit about cable cars and dragons. He also knows enough about his father to listen to the following tale with an air of polite disbelief.

Book of the Week was devised by Suburban Sonnet

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This weekend I am grateful for.... handymen

This week's Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post is about that wonderful species, Handy humanis, the common handyman. B and I are not at all handy when it comes to home repairs, and we are quite happy to contract out. It's definitely worth the cash, cuppa (always, always white with one) and two biscuits.

This week we decided it was time to have our front door trimmed to fit our house's La Niña dimensions (which evidently have a different lean from the El Niño version). This was all achieved, and I was grateful for Jon the Handyman's handiness. Even more so, as I swept away the wood shavings and collected the offcuts I realised that I am even more grateful when I encounter that rare subspecies Handy humanis cleanupafterwards. Even so, it's nice to have a front door that opens.

Image from, which I didn't use to find a handyman.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This weekend I was grateful for... Happy endings and beginnings

Better late than never to get in my Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post? TenTwelve busy days went by, but somehow blogging (much) wasn't part of my busy schedule. I'm was left with lots to be grateful for, like:

- happy endings: my long awaited "out with the old" part of my career change finally came, and I was surprisingly calm. I realised I had been subconsciously preparing for it long before it was decided. When you leave a research lab, you are definitely expected to have your affairs in order. (for reasons explained by Lady Science, whom I'm still laughing about). I made lists, sublists and lists of lists, and when my last day came, somehow I was able to calmly stroll down for lunch with a bunch of lovely colleagues, and head out the door on time. And it was all good.

- happy beginnings. Not coincidentally, my end of old job coincided with Big Bro starting at "Big Boy Kinder". He had been looking forward to it since the open day last August, when he discovered they provided scissors for the pupils' use (big plus point for Big Bro). I had been looking forward to it for, oh, almost two years when I visited it and decided it was THE kinder for us. (Because, y'know, attend the wrong kinder and your life goes down the toilet... Not). So I was very grateful for Big Bro having a happy- if tiring- first day.

- oldie-but-goodie recipes. We ended up hosting two lunches last weekend so I happily applied myself to the oven, stovetop and drinks cabinet. I'd forgotten how much of a doddle pavlova is, and also got round to making a Pimms cocktail, which went down very easily in 38 degree weather (fortunately I realised this would happen and went half strength). Good food, good company: it's the Good Life :)

- time to cross some items off the never-ending list. I'm currently in-between jobs (!) and discovering that even without children there are only so many things you can fit into the day. And the internet hasn't been one of them- I've barely been home! It's nice to feel productive, but at this rate I'll need a holiday from my not-quite-holiday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Learning about.... space travel

Better late than never to post about our third "learning about" topic. Big Bro's choice again, space travel. It ended up mostly being an internet-based project, with us printing pictures to paste together to make a book about space travel, and watching movies on YouTube. The text of the book went like this:

The first rockets did not carry people.

Sputnik was the first satellite to fly around the earth.

Animals like Laika the dog went into space before people did.

Before people had flown in rocket to space, Joe Kittinger flew to the edge of space in huge balloons called Excelsior. To get back to earth he had to jump with a parachute.

Yuri Gagarin was the first person to go into space in a rocket.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to go to the moon in a rocket.

Space shuttles are spaceships that take off with a rocket
and land on earth like a plane.

There is an International Space Station
for people to live in space. To get there you need to go in a rocket or a space shuttle.

Some spaceships have flown to other planets
to take pictures for us to see.

Some people think aliens come to earth
in flying saucers from other planets.
One day people might be able to have holidays in space.

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