Thursday, June 28, 2007

That Beautiful Game Called Life

In the country one experiences the rawness of life and death. Without all the chatter and hoo hah of city life, suddenly one sees things as they really are, one can truly experience both the joys and the tragedies of human existence.

Thus, joy was experienced a few weeks ago when C was trawling through a second hand shop for furniture so that we would have things to sit on in our new home and he discovered for a paltry sum of money an old foozball table. (We originally called it babyfut, as taught to us by our French friends during a long ago holiday in Spain, but our funky youth worker HRS who has her thumb firmly on the button of all things fashionable laughed scornfully at us.)

Whatever the name, it is truly fantastic.. There are little red men. There are little blue men. There is a little ball that gets slammed from one end of the table to another via the turning of handles on the side. You can keep score of your goals via a series of numbered cubes!

What need us of foolish fripperies like, say, chairs, now we had entertainment, and more importantly for a couple of sleep-deprived parents, a suitably exciting substitute for sex.

Yet, and here was the true joy of the foozball, it was not just for the two sad old people vicariously reliving their youthful European travels, but for everyone, arts workers, youth workers, visitors, the man who delivers the Australian Post express mail. All who gazed upon the pleasingly marked out mini soccer field, with its two teams of equally matched little plastic men, would be smitten with its charms, would be aching for a match, and then another, and then a best of three.

And, as the great wheel of life turns, so too did we experience tragedy. A couple of days ago when a new arts-worker, a younger, more vigorous, need I say male, arts worker, was playing against C, he managed to snap one of the little red men in half.

And lo the cries of grief were legion.

In vain did C say “let’s pretend he committed a foul and got red carded off, play on…”. Without a little red men to guard that exact spot it was too easy for all the little blue men to concentrate their efforts and play the ball into that area and then, how deeply frustrating that proved to be for the human being who was playing red and twirling the rubber handles to no avail.

And like a drought stricken paddock, the foozball field was left fallow and proclaimed to be “stuffed”.

But then, another few days passed, and time brought perspective and calmness and also an opportunity for judicious googling. And the company who made the foozball table was discovered to still be in existence albeit in a completely other country ie the US which may just as well have been the moon. But also, on the instructions for the foozball, an email address was discovered. And a plaintive plea for help was emailed. And replied to.

And this morning as I made myself a coffee I heard a whooping in the loungeroom and went out to discover C and HRS jumping for joy. The company had emailed back with a phone number for their supplier in Melbourne. And the supplier in Melbourne said that they could replace the sad little broken red man. In fact they could give us a few of each colour in case of any more overly enthusiastic arts worker accidents. And they would be sent in the post today. For free!

It remained to be seen whether our small plastic team mates would arrive. But for now, the promise of renewal was enough. New energy flowed through our wrists, new games were played by disabling the little blue man that corresponded with his broken opponent. Round the wheel spun again, much like a little plastic foozball man determined to kick the bejesus out of a little plastic ball, and life was good.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter To An Eleven Month Old Birthday Present

My darling Tricky

You are now A Month Off Being One Year old.
How can this be? It’s impossible, ridiculous, incredible, exciting and just a wee bit sad all at the same time.

Over the past few weeks we have gotten into the habit of bringing you into bed when you wake in the morning and we lie you down between us in the hopes of getting a precious few extra nanoseconds of sleep.

When you’re still half awake you keep your eyes tightly shut and you wail and pound your tiny fists and thrash your head from side to side and carry on a real treat and there’s no more sleep for any of us. Your father and I are looking forward to this particular phase being over but I happen to know that I’m exactly the same before I’m properly awake except for the head thrashing.

But the thing is, once you are awake, you smile and sit up between us and look around with curious bright eyes and clap your hands and chat away about oh nothing in particular, syllables mostly and how ridiculous they are, and then if we fail to pay proper attention you gently lean towards us and thrust your fingers up our nose or pull our hair. And that one you get from your father.

I’m still nursing you, but only just, mostly at night or in the evening and in the morning “comfort feeds” my GP called them, as if they were nutritionally less essential than other feeds we’ve shared, and perhaps they are but you’re still a little baby, still my little baby, and comfort is essential still, for both of us. But I can see that as the weeks go by that time is also passing.

The other night I held you in my arms and we stood staring accusingly at your father as he typed Just One More Email and then I said: Tell Dadda it’s Bath time. And you did. Because you are a genius. Or at least you said: gnuugagang Ba Ba. True, your diction was poor. But your tone was firm and assertive with exactly the right amount of nag and you only had to say it three times before Dadda finally pushed Send.

Dadda is the King Of Bath Time. I realised this a couple of weeks ago when I went to put you in the bath and I knelt beside you to hold you up and your father said: no no, let him sit up by himself you don’t need to hold him, it’s fine.

And then, and I don’t quite know why, seeing you unsupported sitting up by yourself, caused me to have some kind of horrible anxiety attack, it was as if a giant foot was squashing me down to the bathmat and I just lay there and cried and had to crawl my way out of the bathroom. But thinking back on it, it was possibly the first time I had bathed you since the Foot Under The Hot Tap Incident which had obviously scarred me even if it hadn’t scarred you.

In about two seconds I think you are going to walk which really means you are going to run. Even now, while crawling, you achieve speeds that no baby should be able to reach, one moment I look up to see you playing by your fabulous fifties style tent as gifted to you by Uncle Marky the next you suddenly appear at my feet with my computer cord firmly clamped between your incisors. You’re even faster after bath time, when we allow you to scamper in the nuddy on the lounge room carpet. And there’s that standing hovering business…three seconds….ten seconds…. before you drop down onto your bottom with a very smug expression on your face.

It has been a big month for you, a month of travel and new faces, and old faces when you don’t expect to see them, which has caused a certain amount of sleeplessness and concern. When you saw your Aunty N for the first time after a few weeks away from Sydney and the Big House you burst into tears and the same thing happened in Newcastle when you saw your grandmother again, even though you adore both these women. I think it was the first time you realised that people go out and come back into your life. You knew these people but you hadn’t seen them for a long time and you had forgotten them until that moment they held you in their arms. It’s a pretty freaky reality jolt for a small person but just one of many your mind will have to wrap itself around.

I myself remember being about eight and having to get a tooth pulled and waiting in the dentist’s chair for the anaesthetic to kick in and thinking to myself…this is now…and this moment will soon be gone forever…and next week this moment will be a memory and so will the tooth pulling moment…and now this moment has gone forever etc etc which was also a freaky reality jolt and funny how all these years later, that recognition is crystal clear in my mind but the tooth pulling that came after is a blur.

Your eleven month birthday was actually a few days ago on the 18th of June but today, the 22nd is my actual birthday.

This morning your father brought you into bed and whispered “happy birthday Mama” and to my surprise you gently kissed me, lovely soft wet kisses, and put your cheek against my face and we lay like that for a moment and it was a beautiful birthday present.

And then you pulled my hair and stuck your fingers in my nose.

I love you.

Your very own

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rural Lessons

Now that we are living in the country and now that we have finally bought me some Proper Boots, we felt it was time to introduce Tricky to the rural life, ie the life that smiles upon the working dog and fresh air but looks askance at requests for macchiato or organic chicken.

Because we are not ones to do things by halves (and frankly, if Tricky sleeps in for instance, I am inclined to not do them at all) we have visited not one but three farms in the past week. Not simply for Tricky's edification, it's all part of an ongoing arts project that C is running, but it certainly has opened our eyes to the benefits of air seeders, drenchers, and silage, none of which are apparent in the picture below but which I included because I thought it looked quaint and picturesque and exuded a certain rustic charm.

At one farm Tricky got to see chickens. We stood in the door of the skanky floored pen to watch as the farmer shooed them through a cunning little spring loaded hatch in the side of the fence so that they could peck at the sweet grass on the other side.
I stared and wrinkled my nose at the vast floor of trodden in chook poo and Tricky stared and wrinkled his brow, faintly perturbed at the sight of these short strange feathered people with their beady eyes and sharp pointy noses and scaly feet, but also deeply fascinated.

I thought about the chickens my sisters and I nurtured all those many years ago in Penang, and how we had enjoyed their gentle cluckings and funny sideways leapings, right up till the moment they appeared as miniature drumsticks alongside the french onion dip and devils on horseback at one of our parents' authentic, irony-free, 70s parties.

And Tricky laughed, and I smiled, and the farmer shooing the chickens started to tell me a long story about needing a new chook pen because there were far too many chickens and it was all a bit crowded and just then, almost as if someone was listening, someone with a slightly cruel sense of humour I might add, the spring loaded door suddenly snappped down shut on the neck of an unfortunate chicken. Her body flapped about on our side and her head unseen, wailed unhappily on the green green grass side of the hatch and Tricky stared and I said..oh oh dear, I think you better....oooh...oh dear..oops.... and finally the farmer came out with a shirt full of eggs and cursed the hatch and released the chook on her way and it seems there was no harm done.
And, I hate to say this, but I think I will anyway because it might be a milestone event that I look back on in the months to come when I become properly countrified and Do Things Differently...even though I was carrying Tricky in one arm I know I could have released that chook myself but I didn't because firstly I was freaked out by the wierd headless way the body was flapping and writhing and secondly because I didn't want to get poo on my new boots.

And then there were the sheep.

(*cleverly segues to avoid guilty chook inspired ramblings*)

At another farm Tricky was lucky enough to be present for the feeding of the poddy lambs. These are the dear little orphaned lambs, the sweet little woolly motherless lambs, the darling little white faced long legged creatures who must be fed from a bottle and very cute it is to watch, I am told.

Sadly, on this day, we missed this Spectacle Of Extreme Darling Cuddliness because three of the lambs had had their throats ripped out by foxes. This news was delivered to their mother by two of the young children who live on the farm and had been sent out "to feed Poobah and Lucky and Lambert and Rose."

"Only Poobah's alive now Mum," intoned the little boy cheerfully as he handed back the bottles of unsupped milk. Mum and the kids and C went out to inspect the damage but Tricky and I stayed indoors and peeked out the window at the sad little piles of white wool just beyond the wire fence.

"And crows pecked out their eyes," the little girl helpfully added when they returned.

At the end of the week we head oh so briefly back to Sydney and then to Newcastle, my poor storm damaged home town, and then back again to our house in the country for a few days rest in our own beds before we hit the road again.

And are we tired?

Let's just say there's no need to count sheep.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Perfect Tricky Day

Back in Sydney courtesy of a hire car (damn you anonymous truck with your loosely attached heavy metal twirly thing), we spend a wonderful Sunday walking in the National Park with the Naughty Nephews and their mother.

As is right and proper the day ends with icecream and here is where Tricky has a little fig flavoured taste of Paradise.

Just a tiny spoon, mind you.

But oh dear, he loves the fig icecream, deeply. Oh so deeply. And there is much sorrow when no more tiny spoons are forthcoming.

Followed by Impending Screaming Tomato impression...

And because his parents are weak, spineless jellyfish who know too well what it is to taste of the fig icecream and want more, they succumb...

And bugger the spoon, thankyou very much.

Now, heavily sugared up, Tricky looks for a little wrestlin' action.
Aha, what is that in the distance? Why it's my cousins, the Naughty Nephews, just crying out for a little hell raising...

First, I lunge for the floppy hat of NN3, causing NN1 to scream in terror...
Tee hee.

Next I manage to get in a sly kidney punch to NN2...

Then I do a little stalking round the outside, so I can pick off any stragglers with my four razor sharp teeth...

And finally, a little weeding. I find it relaxes me.