Monday, 28 July 2014

There and Here

Oh, hi. There you are. If you're wondering where I am, you can find me over at the Artist as Family blog where I am documenting my family's adventures as we ride our bicycles around Australia.

Come say hi, if you please.

Friday, 10 February 2012

They Had Sex

Well, it's been quite a journey, and here we are: 12 weeks pregnant and ready to share the news.

I remember when I was younger seeing pregnant women and wondering how they could just go about their business in public and not be too embarrassed that their big bellies announced to the world that THEY HAD SEX to get where they were.

If you see me waddling down the street in the next six months, know that it wasn't just PJ and I getting it on that led to where we are. Since my miscarriage we have had dozens of helpers.

Cards, juicy ripe fruit, positive affirmations, vitamins, notes and books left on our doorstep, gifts of foot massages and healing crystals, offers to do my grocery shopping, emails and text messages of love, lifts to places when I was too tired to walk or bike, and from Z's mum, a voucher for three sessions with her chinese doctor.

There was once a time that I saw stepparenting as the more communal act, but now I see how communal an effort pregnancy is too.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Love Miles

Recently, when my parents came to town for a visit, I heard David Holmgren talk to my mother about love miles: the distance family members travel to see one another. With peaking oil, he said, and the rise in cost of fuel, it will get harder and harder for family members to just jump on a plane for a visit.

To help reduce their love miles, my folks are selling their house and are moving to this neck of the woods to be near my sister Kate and I and our families.

If you're in the market for a self-sufficient house in Tasmania that sits on a beautiful 200 acre block, check out their blog for more details.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Closing Down the Wilderness

I have been going in to Z's school once a week to help the older students set up a blog. One of the students wanted to take a photo of his classmates in the giant tree that they look out onto through their classroom window.

Just before recess their teacher said yes they could all go outside, but they were only allowed to climb the bottom two limbs.

How has it come to this: that needs of litigators are defining our school curricula not the needs of children? It reminded me of this excerpt from Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs:

What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children's imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go. Should I send my children out to play?

There is a small grocery store around the corner, not over two hundred yards from our front door. Can I let her ride there alone to experience the singular pleasure of buying herself an ice cream on a hot summer day and eating it on the sidewalk, alone with her thoughts? Soon after she learned to ride, we went out together after dinner, she on her bike, with me following along at a safe distance behind. What struck me at once on that lovely summer evening, as we wandered the streets of our lovely residential neighborhood at that after-dinner hour that had once represented the peak moment, the magic hour of my own childhood, was that we didn't encounter a single other child.

Even if I do send them out, will there be anyone to play with?

Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted–not taught–to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Pink Blossom

I went to the toilet then I wiped. There was blood. Ordinarily, and once a month, not such bloggable news. But on this afternoon it was, as I was 11 weeks pregnant.

It wasn't until I became a stepmother that I discovered how adept a woman can become at holding her tongue. And it wasn't until I had a miscarriage that I realised how much goes on in women's lives that doesn't get talked about openly.

What are we hiding? What are we afraid will happen if we assert a new kind of openness?

It's funny that what prompted me to blog about it is what one man said and what another man sang. Maybe funny's the wrong word.

PJ wrote a poem about losing our baby and our dear friend Anthony Petrucci put it to music.

Here it is: the sadness and the wonder of it all.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Red Ink

On several occasions this week I have felt overcome with excitement at the occupation of Wall Street. It feels like for too long Americans, and Australians, have been happy to sit back and accept the status quo dished out by big business. Finally, finally, people are standing up and saying No More.

A couple of days ago, the philosopher Slavoj Zizek spoke to Occupy Wall Street protesters at Liberty Plaza. Here's something he said that has stuck with me:

In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: "Let's establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false." After a month, his friends get the first letter written in blue ink: "Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theatres show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair - the only thing unavailable is red ink."
And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants - the only thing missing is the red ink: we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict - 'war on terror', 'democracy and freedom', 'human rights', etc - are FALSE terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. You, here, you are giving to all of us red ink.

There are videos of his speech here. Even if you only have a minute, it's worth watching just for that. As the protesters aren't allowed megaphones or any form of amplification, the crowd close to Zizek repeats each sentence after him for their fellow protesters further away.

Thank you. We hear you loud and clear.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Family Trees

It's National Stepfamily Awareness Day today, a day whose aim is very close to my heart.

It seems fitting that today is also National Tree Day, as both days celebrate biodiversity, familial extensions and new growth.

Last year in the UK and US, stepfamilies outnumbered first families for the first time, with demographers predicting that Australia will catch up by 2020.

Even though rates of divorce and remarriage are so high, being in a stepfamily is rife with complications, and often members of stepfamilies feel isolated. The last five years, in which I have lived in a stepfamily, have been the most joyous and the most confusing of all my 37 years.

In 2009, when I was at my wit's end as to how I would ever reconcile who I was becoming with who I had been before I was a stepmother, I set out on a journey of recording my own experiences as well as those of 50 other stepmothers from around the world.

Hundreds of hours talking, thousands of hours writing and countless litres of tea drinking later, I am overjoyed to announce that the first draft of my manuscript is finished.

As we don't have a printer, this is the first time I have printed out the whole draft to read. Besides all the people I have to thank for their help so far, thank you to the trees, to the trees.

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Happy anniversary PJ and Z!

Here's to many more years of making silliness together.