Visit to Melbourne


The other weekend I dropped into Melbourne on my way to a conference to see my newest niece and drop in a Christmas present.


Here she is with my soon-to-be sister-in-law.


Isn’t she adorable! Well… they both are.

And I reckon my brother is pretty cute too.


My brother was recently on telly, featured in an Arts documentary called The Wall.

The Wall was a grey wall surrounding an outdoor area at a local mental health hospital.

Now, it looks like this:


My brother took his family and I along to see it in person.

It was the first time we had seen it in the flesh… well obviously my brother had because he was the consulting artist but the rest of us hadn’t seen it other than on film.


Close up it is very bright!


This is my favourite bit.

The design has a river running through it which kind of ties the whole piece together.


The designs were developed by out-patients at the clinic (I think they were outpatients) and then the group painted the wall – with direction and help from my brother who firstly transferred their designs and then helped them do the painting.

There is already some graffiti:


This is on a door that leads to the outside.

I’m not sure but I think my brother thought it rather added to the project.

Interestingly a painting of two kids skipping rope was painted over as the images distressed some of the patients.

It is a magical design.

I felt privileged to see it.

Happy Anniversary

I took this photo on a bright spring morning

It was a beautiful spring day today.  the warm sun, so long denied us warmed my back as I set about putting my neglected garden in order.

Well pulled a few weeds anyway.

It is a satisfying thing to see a well swept back passage and no, that is not a euphemism.

Afterwards I pulled out my recliner and read my book in the dappled sunlight under my pergola.

I have been married today for 17 years.  That’s a long time isn’t it?

One ought to be able to celebrate milestones on one’s blog don’t you think… anniversaries, firsts, the cute things your kids say like:

“Mum!  You are NOT taking my photo!  You are NOT blogging this!!”

So that little milestone will go unrecognised on my blog sadly except with this oblique reference.

In the meantime – a batch of chocolate chip cookies has kept the family happy today.

Three score years and ten


We were down in Dunsborough for mum’s 70th birthday celebration.

She had invited her family to Caves House for a breakfast.

The photos in the room were of Caves House in the year of her birth – 1939.


This is the youngest member of the family being held by the oldest, my great aunt.


I didn’t take many photos.  This is my mother’s cousin.  They are very close in age.

Two brothers married two sisters and mum and her cousin are both the third children of their respective pairings.

They used to play together.

They both have sons who are artists.

They are both into alternative health.

The birthday celebration was lovely.

We brought up all the old stories… those awful eggplant patties even the dog refused to eat, the time she tried to make my brother sick of meat pies by making him eat them for every meal (she gave up after a fortnight), the education we received in transactional analysis…


And I have never been so embarrassed.

How does it happen that you spell your mother’s name wrong in a video slideshow on her 70th birthday?

Please tell me how that could have happened?


The shame.

I know my kids are going to deliberately spell my name wrong now.

It’s going to be one of those stories.

Up there with the eggplant patties.

And they’ll probably also add the inedible lime casserole I made last week.

Who knew you couldn’t substitute limes for lemons?

Meeting the new man


It was a beautiful sunny morning in Cottesloe.  The sky as blue as any summer day.

The ocean smooth all the way to Rottnest, which sat on the horizon, clear enough to see the lighthouse.

We met for breakfast at The Blue Duck, a restaurant Groover and I tend to avoid for some reason.

The coffee was the best I’ve tasted in a long while.

The Poshi is rarely in town these days so I grabbed the chance to catch up.

The coven was completed by our friend J whom I hadn’t seen seen for some months.


It was a lovely breakfast.

We ate a lot.

We talked about Melissa’s new bloke who we hope will one day come downunder to meet us all (or maybe one day we’ll get to England).

We talked about the two eldest kids’ TEE subject choice.

We talked about J’s plans to start her law degree.

We talked and talked and talked.

And while we talked, we eyed off J’s new man, who had bravely came along and dared to put six sugars in his coffee in front of us.


I know, you’re still getting past the six sugars in the coffee bit (but I had a spoonful and the result is quite delicious).

J’s been seeing this fellow for – well it must be close to a year – so I can only imagine that she was a little nervous about how we would react.

Not that it matters J but for the record.

I really liked him.

He’s lovely.

And if excessive amounts of sugar in his coffee is his worst vice… a keeper.

Exposed as a bad parent

It was a VERY close call.

Last night, I came in from bridge and immediately got ready for dinner at a friends house (a superb roast pork).  

I jumped into the shower, then realised, getting dressed, that all my clean underwear was in the family room where I’d been folding it earlier.

I was in a racy mood… had had a glass of wine after the game… and thought “bugger it!  I won’t bother putting clothes on.  I’ll just wander down the hall in the nicky noo… give Groover (watching telly) a thrill.

This is the view from my bedroom door… you can see I’m aiming for that dining table you can see at the far end.  Groover was on the sofa in the lounge.


So I start walking along – I get to the raised part of the corridor and I’m doing the whole stripper routine… you know… post strip.

The full Leo Sayer moment.

And Groover looks up… grins… hesitates… and then says quietly “T’s here”.


T is Hugamuga’s scaly mate from school.  14.   (Hi T)

I stop.  My face blanches.

“Is he joking?” I wonder…

I decide discretion is the better part of valour and retreat into my bedroom and put on a dressing gown.

As I’m putting on the gown I’m thinking that Groover is winding me up and I should just go with plan A.

But with gown now covering up my bits I head down to pick up the grundies.

T is in fact here.

Sitting at the computer with Hugamuga.

Oh my freaking God!!!

How bad would that have been?!

Total.  Parenting.  Fail.

Luckily his view was obscured by the printer.


Groover admitted this morning that he was tossing up whether to tell me about Hugamuga’s friend.

I put it to you that it would have been UNFORGIVABLE if he had not.

That is the test, my friends, of a good relationship.

Would you have warned your partner?

I don’t want to hear your excuses

A walk on a Rottnest beachl

I realised something today.

I don’t like to hear excuses, and not only that, I don’t think others do either.

It’s always been my pet hate when people give me chapter and verse when they can’t do something – go out, do a task, whatever.

Okay I get it – I fume inside my head – it’s making me feel worse hearing your excuses.  Just say you don’t want to come!

It’s that whole – “I would have done it if” thing.

If I didn’t have to wash my hair, if I wasn’t so tired, if I could have found a babysitter…

The truth is maybe – maybe you just didn’t want to go.

The only things I think I want to hear are that you already have a prior task or appointment OR that you don’t want to, maybe it’s not your cup-of-tea.

Because in the end that’s what it mostly boils down to doesn’t it?

This is what highlighted in yellow texta to me that I don’t like excuses – my Dad rang about some chairs and I gave him my excuses as to why I didn’t go to a concert with him last night.

Now the truth is I didn’t want to go.

Yes I was tired and underwhelmed with enthusiasm by the rest of the family but if I had really wanted to go, I would have.

He cut me off and I realised that I was doing to him what I hate being done to me.  

A reflection.

Sorry Dad.

I think underneath we know why people say no to invitations.

And it does hurt a little when we get a no.

But it’s like salt in the wound to get a list of excuses on why.

So next time, I’m just going to own my feelings and take responsibility for my life and just say no, politely.

I think it hurts less.

Smug satisfaction

It’s a little bit embarrassing to admit this but I feel a little kernel of smug satisfaction when I’m right… and Groover’s wrong.

Take the other day.

We were on our way down south (for our 19th anniversary meeting getaway).  A friend had kindly lent us her convertible and we were excited about exploring all the features.

We set off sharing a large coffee, sunnies on, the top up and before we’d turned the corner I suggested we take the top down before we hit the freeway so we could feel the wind in our hair (well, my hair) and the sun on our sunscreen covered shoulders.

There’s a button on the overhead console.

You do the honours, said Groover magnanimously and then…

No!  Not that way!

I’m sure it’s this way, said I.

You’re wrong, he said.

But though we pressed it this way and that, the roof refused to retract.

We pulled over and I consulted the manual… what?! I’m a girl!

It appears that the luggage separator must be fully employed, I read from the passenger seat as Groover in that manly way that guys have around cars opened the boot and starts shuffling luggage.

Try that, he said, but the roof again failed to budge.

I’ll try, I said, as Groover sat back in the driver’s seat.

On the luggage separator is a little diagram and I could see that it hadn’t been – what did they call it – fully employed.

I “employed” it, repacked the suitcases and said, it’ll work now, and it did, when, that is, he pressed the button in the way that I suggested!

I felt so good!

Yes I suppose it’s a little mean spirited but there is a LOT of satisfaction being right around Groover.

He’s just so confident in his opinion and capabilities, some inane part of being a bloke I suspect.

And, if I’m honest, it feels even better when I am right and he is wrong.

So we’re driving along, top down, wind in hair etc, and I mention this feeling to Groover.

Does it feel the same to you when you’re right, and I’m wrong?

No.  I’m just happy that the problem is solved.  It’s not a competition you know.

Yeah right.

And then the GPS incident occurred, but that’s another story.

From Christmas to colon cleansing

Christmas happened, and in fact was the most stress-free Christmas dinner that I’ve hosted.  I know! Can you believe it?!

What? I don’t look hysterical do I? Oh. Just my hair…

The day started with me waking my teenage son so we could open presents.  Long gone are the days when small people jump on you at 5am to gather by the tree.

Eventually the males of the household dragged themselves to the lounge room and with coffees in hand the present giving began.

Groover has always maintained that all he wants is “a gumnut stuck to a card” from the kids – in other words – it doesn’t matter about the gift but he wants them to at least think about him when they buy it.

We saw a wry smile when he opened his first present from Dipp to see – yes, you guessed it – a gumnut stuck to a magnet.  The rest of us rolled with laughter.

I think the presents were a success.

The funniest was the last one, again for Groover.  He’d wanted me to get Dipp ABBA Singstar but I knew he really wanted it for himself. So I decided the kids could give it to him for Christmas.  

The night before when we were wrapping presents he asked me if I had bought it for Dippity.  I feigned horror: “Oh no! I forgot!!”

“What?  But you knew I wanted to give her that!  I would have bought it if I’d known.  Damn!” He ranted on, “I was really looking forward to it…”

It was all I could to do to stop cracking up.

So when he opened the last present and we saw his face – it was priceless.

After present opening of course we had to have a practice of Singstar ABBA – gee the songs are fun to sing although I do I do I do I do is much harder than I thought – they sing that line in a different key or something.

Anyway then Mum and Dad and my Aunt arrived with more presents and I got – how is this for an unusual present – a colon cleansing kit.

No there are no hoses – not that kind of kit – it’s a detox program with herbals and such like.  Well I suppose it can’t hurt and Mum is going to do it with me.

Gives me the runs just thinking about it.

Then we cleaned up the house in readiness for the party.

Then I made my salad and discovered I was out of toothpicks.  So while Groover dealt with the turkey – turkey number 1 – I tested out my new ipod tuner thingy for the car and went over to mum and dad’s to get some toothpicks.

I stayed yarning for a while and then moseyed back home to make some devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon) and set the table.

Guests started arriving at 6ish and we had a glass of champagne-style wine and prawns and then began the feast.

Dad’s ham was delicious as was the turkey and then we had four salads. It was delicious and I didn’t miss the brussel sprouts AT ALL!

As the sun eventually set, the fairy lights came to life and we had proper plum pudding – brought by R.

And then presents!

This year we did a Kris Kringle… here are the instructions Groover sent to everyone:

In an effort to maintain the spirit of Christmas, the social responsibility to reduce our global footprint and have a bit of fun all at the same time, we are proposing the following gift-exchanging policy for those wishing to take part.
Please only bring one present each. This present should be:
  1. New or unused and in its original packaging if possible.
  2. Wrapped in some kind of paper or material which disguises its identity.
  3. Not labeled in anyway
The gift can be of any value whatsoever, but the idea is to re-gift something that you have lying around the house that was given to you at some time and you really can’t stand.
Perhaps it was a corporate gift or a smelly candle or something you bought and then never used. It may be something you had multiples of, whatever the idea is that it is a new item YOU DON’T WANT!
The gifting ceremony will involve people (one at a time) selecting a gift and then unwrapping it to squeals of delight, eg:
“Oh fantastic, a jar of tastefully themed Blue & Yellow Eagles Pot Pourri!”
Then the fun really starts, the next person selects a present and as they unwrap their Perspex Frog / Shower Timer they then have the choice to exchange their gift with any of the already opened items.
So if they prefer the Eagles Pot Pourri to the Shower Timer, said gifts are swapped until all gifts are unwrapped and hopefully that rather useful set of outside table-cloth fasteners is in your possession and all is well with the world.
It means that the first person gets to choose what they want out of all the unwrapped gifts but might have to relinquish it and the last person has no choice of the unwrapped presents but can choose whatever they want.
It was HILARIOUS!  The massager was very popular as were the men’s socks.  There was also a pink make up bag, a tomato plant and some Japanese bells among the gifts – it was so funny to watch.
And of course we finished the evening with a massive Singstar session.
Because everyone pitched in it was a breeze to host Christmas this year and of course the good part of hosting is you don’t have to drive anywhere!
So despite Tuesday’s little melt down – you know what?  I’d love to host Christmas again.
I hope your day was a good one.

Not acting anymore

Isn’t it interesting that when you let go of something, the something happens!

I’ve been appointed to the job I’ve been doing for the last year (after acting for two years in a similar position the years before).

My boss wrote a lovely affirming email and sent it to my colleagues and today has been very pleasant getting lots of kind supportive emails congratulating me.

The thing is about a month ago I decided that I didn’t care anymore. 

The acting thing, which used to frustrate me, I turned around in my brain as my “get-out-of-jail-free” card. 

You know, if it all got too much I could say “I want to go back to my old job” and walk away.

I dropped the “acting” from my signature.  I figured that I was actually doing the job.  It had been over six months.

It’s not like you see the actors on stage whisper to the audience now and again – don’t worry I’m just acting – in a dramatic moment do you?

And then I was appointed.

It occurred to me that I did the same thing way back in 1992 when I was living with Groover in Subiaco.  (that’s where today’s photo comes in *wink*)

We’d been going out for a couple of years and it seemed to me that he was “the one” but as yet he had not raised the subject of marriage or future commitment.

Again, I decided to turn that into a positive.  My get-out-of-jail-free card again!

The next month he came back from a holiday with his mates and proposed.

A life lesson learned?

What else can I apply it do…

What to say to someone with cancer

It’s horrible news.

It takes you out of your comfort zone.

Your easy relationship of the past has gone.

Suddenly all the rules have changed.  Your friend could be dying.  Suddenly you don’t know what to say.

Big C is in the room.

But have the rules changed?  

Has your relationship altered?

Does your friend feel different about you?

Of course, the fact is that nothing has changed.  Your friend had cancer before he or she told you about it, before they themselves knew.

The only thing that has changed is your comfort level.

Get over it.

I was speaking with someone with cancer last night, in fact, she was going in for some more chemo today.

When she was first diagnosed, eight years ago, she said the most marvellous thing that happened was that three male friends of hers rang her and told her they loved her.

One of them (I’m proud to say) was my dad – who went to school and university with her husband.

She has carried that with her in the eight years since.

So if you are in any doubt as to what to say to someone diagnosed with cancer, the lesson I’ve learned is to ring them, and tell them that they are loved by you.

As Patrick Dodson, WA Senior of the Year said – “I don’t know what the questions are – but I know the answer is love.”