Dec 31, 2013

New Year Visitation

Nicole's brother, young (though not so young as he used to be) Chris and his family - Nicole (who stole my wife's name), and the children Isla and Olly - came to visit us on New Year's Eve.

Eloise had been looking forward to meeting the cousins, never having met baby Olly before, and after some trepidation and pussy-footing she and Isla meshed their gears and got on with the serious business of establishing who was Boss.

This was mixed in with some equally serious copy-catting (did I mention that Isla is only four years old?) which was quite funny to watch.

My Nicole went into hostess mode and on went the barbie and New Year's Eve festivities saw Isla, over-tired, having an episode of defiance followed by melt-down and bed, then Eloise determinedly watching the Avengers to see her through til midnight falling asleep on the sofa at ten o'clock for the night. The frown-ups made it til midnight and that was that for us old codgers (speaking for my Nicole and myself).

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

It's six forty-nine of the clock, in the morning, and here I am listening to Christmas Carols from King's College while the rest of the house hums in various states of somnolescence.

Ding dong ding. Ding-a-ding ding.

While I listen to the refrains of "In the Bleak Midwinter" the subtropical sun is shining in. I went out with Lyra to let out the chickens and walked beneath the huge lilly pilly tree, looking up to see if I could spot any of the raucous rainbow lorikeets which were raiding the flowers and raining the little petals down amidst the fecund buzz of insects unnameable that permeated the air.

No presents for the chickens other than freedom of the garden for the day, but their time will come when we sit down to our breakfast of croissants and toss the scraps from the deck into the garden for them to scavenge.

Lyra and I toddled around for a bit already, while Nicole slumbered on a little, but L has now returned to the folds of feeding flesh for some mouthfuls of mummy milk. Eloise's foot is poking from her top bunk, insensate.

Beneath the tree lies a gyre of presents. They appeared mysteriously as Eloise was at a play with her little chum. She had previously complained, as we shopped for cousins who are visiting for the new year, that - to paraphrase - she was being neglected and it seemed obvious to her how unfair life in general was when all this shopping was happening for other people and she wasn't allowed any of the legion knick-knacks and pieces of crap that she just happened to walk past or see out of the corner of her eye when it was as clear as day that no-one had done any shopping for her other than the overseas presents which were already forming a small archipelago around the base of the genuine, natural, if slightly wonky tree.

Well the sudden tectonic increase in the size of that tree's donative footprint certainly would have wiped the smile off her self-righteously indignant face if only she'd actually noticed it in her rush to get to her next parent-facilitated social engagement!

And the smile would have fallen dangerously without so much as a safety rope if she could have seen her little sister furtively waddle up to the tree, cast her speculative eye over the brightly bunted reefs of wrapping paper, pick an Eloise present, look around her, and make off with it to some distant secret recess of the house to investigate this wonderful object in intimate detail. Repeatedly.

However, qualities such as appreciation from the entitled youth are in short supply, as I suspect is and always has been the norm in this, the festival of receiving.

Oh hello, Eloise just got up, better go...

Dec 13, 2013

An Episode of Culture

We had long-booked tickets, along with Hannah and Mia and associated Mums, to go and see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a title so ludicrous and convoluted that I will henceforth abbreviate it to just CCBB.

We were due to meet up in the afternoon but Eloise was staying over at Hannah's after a night at the drive-in movies, so Nicole and I went down with a pram and a baby to the Gallery of Modern Art where we saw an exhibition by a Chinese bloke called Cai Guo-Quiang which filled several large rooms with huge installations of stuffed replica animals and trees. I don't think the trees were stuffed though. It was quite impressive, in a sort of lots of people moving slowly around taking photos with their mobile phones kind of way.

CCBB was good too, well sung and all that, nice for the kids, at least until Lyra vomited all over the seat in front of her. Luckily the little girl who had been sat there had moved to sit on her Dad's lap... a lucky escape indeed.

....but Life Goes On

Dec 12, 2013

Dog Days are Done

We carried her to the car, and we drove to the vet, and we carried her into the vet. The vet looked her over, and X-rays were taken. The X-rays were normal but other tests showed that there were problems with the nerves going to her legs, and though she could move them she couldn't tell where they were.

So steroids were dispensed in the hope that it was some swelling somewhere that was pinching the nerves and she was carried back to the car and driven back home and carried back to the sofa under the house.

She laid on the sofa and we looked in on her from time to time. She took herself into the garden again and laid under the trampoline.

In the night it started raining, waking us up, and we went out and found her at the bottom of the garden. We carried her up into the dry back onto the sofa.

To cut the story short, by Thursday she was off her food and lying in the garden with little stream-bed draining behind her, no improvement to her mobility, so we decided it was time to say our goodbyes and bring it, and her, to an end.

Eloise decided that she wanted to be there at the end and we were all stroking her as the needle went in, and crying as she slipped away.

Dec 10, 2013

Dog Days

All is not happy in Matilda's world. As you'll know, she is a dog of senior years and has many miles trodden beneath her soft paws.

She has been slowing down for a while but still the spark was there until last week, when on the way home from dropping Eloise off at school, she took herself down into a creek for a drink and a paddle. Lyra and I pushed on for a while but then had to turn back when Matilda hadn't caught up, to find her still in the creek, unable to climb the steep sides and in need of help.

So I climbed down into the creek and had to lift the poor girl bodily out.

And for a next few days she hobbled about, a little shorter every time, til she could barely make it round the block.

So, to the vets and we talk about arthritis and ticks and so on and put her on anti-inflammatory tablets.

And on Saturday night she fell down the stairs and hasn't been upstairs since, she's taken herself to the bottom of the garden, and she's just lying there, with a wag of the tail if we go down to see her, and a drink of water if it's put in front of her.

So we don't know if she's hurt her back or been bitten by something nasty or whether she's just ready to die.

In about an hour we'll carry her to the car to go to the vet again for some x-rays and we'll hopefully find out what's going on, but in the meantime it feels a lot like some sort of crunch-time is impending, and that's not a nice feeling at all.

Dec 4, 2013


Here is Little Lyra, puckering up for her first kiss with Mum. How sweet. She just sort of decided to do it, and then she wouldn't stop. I don't get kisses of course, that just wouldn't be right, would it? It's not some sort of egalitarian utopia that we live in, after all.

On Monday, Little Lyra took herself for her first little walk. How exciting. She was messing about with a toy, Nicole had her stood up, and off she went. Now, if properly launched, she will go for four or five paces before realising what is occurring and then falling over or lowering herself gently into a more feasible position. Still, now everywhere she has to be accompanied. If she wants to go to anywhere - for instance the shops - she'll crawl up to you and hold out her hand, into which you'll be obliged to insert your finger, before setting off at a humungous pace, climbing stairs two at a time, before seeing something, stopping, and returning the average walking pace to something considerably more glacial.