Nov 30, 2014

Un Dimanche En Famille a la Piscine Avec Croissants

It's wall to wall Dancing Concert rehearsals at the moment and Nicole has signed a form to say that we will be available wherever, whenever we are required, with a set of proposed dates that has taken up a couple of weekends with truly epic rehearsals (because Eloise does all the different dances under the sun).

So we were pretty pleased to have been given Sunday off so that we could have some of this "family time" I have heard mention of. We kicked off the day with some gardening (I stayed in the upstairs bed though) until mid-morning when Eloise and I went croissant-hunting, giving me the opportunity archly to explain in detail the concept of the queue and how the very essence if civilisation as we know it depends upon the observance of its unwritten rules.

Having polished off our croissants, heady affairs from the Red Brick Bakery infused with pistachio essence and topped with almonds, alongside pains au chocolat and Huehuetenango coffee, we realised that if Lyra were reliably to nap then some exercise activity would have to be taken and so we wended our way down to Spring Hill to get out of the building heat and lounge in the cool water, where we spent a happy hour or two before returning to chez nous for a nap and a flick and some home-barbecued pizza Nicole-stylee.

Which was yum. Or nom nom.

Nov 29, 2014

Birds on a Wire

Sitting on our newly reupholstered rocking chair on the verandydiddledeedoodah, for no particular reason the other day at sunset, watching the different bird species just hanging out together, for  change.

Nov 28, 2014

Ahead of the Game

Look at this. This is Christmas present wrapping, happening a whole month before Christmas. This is an event literally probably unprecendented in the history of our family. This year, Christmas presents may actually arrive amongst our nearest (yes, and dearest) before Christmas does.

Nov 27, 2014

Hail Scary

We were on our way back from dropping Eloise at dancing, via Homezone where I had received a text alert saying there were thunderstorms around, so far so reasonable normal. Northbound to drop our playmates C&G off, I looked over my shoulder to observe that L, after a whole day tenaciously holding onto what passes for consciousness, had finally relented and was gently slumbering. Looking a little further round, there was a spectacularly ominous grey sky looming through the rear-view window.

So, a quick disengagement of the second childseat later, a couple of rumbles in the air, strangely reminiscent of the discarding of a large piece of sheet metal from an over-enthusiastic home improvement, we were headed back for the five-minute drive home. About a minute into that leg of the journey, stopped at the traffic lights, a gust of wind and a squall of rain and suddenly visibility was down to fifty metres and we were in the middle of a fast-moving cloud of water lashing us arhythmically as the wind pulsed and the clouds would be skittering overhead if only we could see them.

By the time we got home, I was glad of the electric garage door as we drove the car underneath the house which was already showing the early signs of flooding. Lyra was extracted from the car, which woke her up, but the storm would have done that in a few minutes anyway as the wind really got up and the huge bamboo and trees in the back garden started to wave around rather alarmingly amid the still-torrential rain.

I nipped downstairs to take a little video of the torrentette running past the house, and the hail started, with stones the size of marbles skittering down and bouncing around, grapeshot applause on the tin roof, little blocks of ice at odds with the still-warm air dancing around underneath the house, bringing the rain with it, the drains overflowing, the water tank overwhelmed, the thunder still rumbling around.

Violent and exciting though all this was, it seems we were only on the fringes of the largest hailstorm to hit Brisbane in 30 years(reportedly), with many many windows in South Brisbane and the City Centre punctured and shattered, roofs blown off, cars battered by hail, streets flooded, trees downed and general chaos ensuing. Nobody died, but there were some injuries, and a great deal of damage; the Army was called in to help to clear things up.

Half an hour later, a message from dance school came through that all classes were cancelled because the teacher couldn't get there and could we pick up our little treasures please. Eloise was very unhappy to be taken away an hour early when they were playing such a lovely game of Ninja, whatever that is.

Down at the dance school in Newmarket the locals were a little dazed and there was tree debris strewn across the streets. We checked a couple of cars parked on the street for hail damage but they seemed fine.

It had stopped raining and Eloise just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

Alfresco Nugget Production

On a short coffee break on a Thursday mini-adventure, here is Lyra in full "Bish" (i.e. "go away and leave me alone") mode, usually indicative of poo poo production, hanging out behind the coffee shop and making the relevant fa(e)ces.

A couple of old dears were giving us unamused looks through the large plate-glass window that inexplicably offers the stairwell a view of some diners, and some diners an explicable view of a stairwell, while around the corner students lounged studiously taking advantage presumably of the State Library's wi-fi to do some work, which certainly isn't how it was done in my day, but I suppose in my day laptops hadn't been invented yet, let alone wireless networking.

When Lyra would let anyone near her again, I took her to the parents' room, which was button-operated and therefore inherently amusing, where an on-the-back inspection on the fold-out toddler exposure table revealed the tiniest of nuggets, just one, nestled between her glutei maximi.

Nov 26, 2014

Save the Beast Til Last

The final Lyra birthday present to arrive, from those who could be arsed to send one, was from Uncle James, having been delayed by the insurmountable clerical error of having misaddressed the parcel with Road instead of Street, a mistake that was clearly beyond the capabilities of whoever the delivery company was to remediate.

Regardless of all that, after quite a lot of fist pumping, a shapeless mass of heavy-duty latex slowly took the form of a cow-like entity, the arrival of which delighted Lyra. She immediately perceived that the creature was there to be cuddled, ridden, and to have peanut butter back massages.

And at breakfast, after having originally attempted a table-top cattle-rustling rodeo adventure, she just decided to invite the as-yet-nameless ruminant to breakfast.

Nov 22, 2014

Amphibian Petting Fun

Herbacious Heather had a surprise in store for Eloise at the Market on Saturday. Apparently over the week a little (or large, depending upon your perspective I suppose) tree frog had taken up residence among her herbs, and had made it to the market where in the balmy heat it was seeking out cool dark places to hang out, much like Fungus the Bogeyman might.

Still for Eloise's benefit minds and hands were bent to rifling through the trays for a sign of the amphibian stowaway and before too long he (or she) was having the time of his (or her) life being snuggled in Eloise's arms and being given a great deal of love.

We even went the extra mile in caring for him (or her) by keeping him (or her) the hell away from Lyra, who was looking at him (or her), jumping up and down like she had springs on her shoes and shouting "Frog! Frog! Frog!"

Nov 21, 2014

Birthday Dress

There's a bit of growing room in there, look.

Shopping with Lyra

Mystery Shopper

Compare and contrast these pictures of infant supermarket skill. Of course the idea that Lyra should spend her shopping time patiently sitting and annotating shopping lists is far from the normal reality where she steadfastly refuses to get into a trolley but insteads runs up and down the aisles, occasionally attempting to hide behind complete strangers, moves everything she can, wants to be carried, wants to be put down, then makes a run for the checkouts from where she can easily make a further run for Dina the Explina.

Nov 20, 2014

Festive String-Tickling Brings Christmas Early to Infants Who Just Don't Understand the Deeper Concepts

I heard on the radio that the legendary Jay Laga'aia was in town, the Great Man of Australian Children's Entertainment, whose silky tones set him apart from all those other hoity-toity private-school-educated Playschool presenters, although probably equally condescending to children. The level of hyphenation in his name suggests either exotic South Sea Island descent or else some other-wordly science-fiction heritage, although I haven't heard it pronounced with an actual glottal stop, as the hyphen might suggest.

To get back to the point - was there a point? - he was the star turn at a kiddie's classical concert to be given by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra down on South Bank, which I thought I'd give a shot as part of Lyra's cultural education. I was half asleep when I heard the announcement so I didn't realise that it a) cost money, or b) involved Christmas themes, but I tried not to let that put me off, because somewhere inside this bah humbug scroogulous bastard there is a ventricle or at least a tricuspid valve that does flutter a little at the thought of the kiddies' faces at Christmas. Just a little though.

There was some confusion as different information sources upon the internet offered different information regarding shows that were available and some negotiation, it having at some point become a joint enterprise with young Claire and a friend of hers whose name for privacy reasons I will not divulge except to say that it also starts with C, or perhaps K, and rhymes with Autocrat.

So Lyra and I pitched up at South Bank, looking for the Spiegeltent where the event was to take place, to find - pretty much as expected actually - that the Spiegeltent wasn't there any more, as it was part of the River Festival thingy that was on months and months ago. So we headed down to the Piazza or Plaza or Pizza or whatever it's called and hey presto the 10am performance had started. I had a chat to the ticketing person, and she said yes there's another show at 11.30. I was happy, and I knew it. Coincidentally "If you're happy and you know it" was being played at that moment by the orchestra, so it seemed only appropriate to buy tickets.

After a trip to the Museum where we communed with the dinosaurs and danced along to the Sleepy Stegosaurus Stomp (I didn't) we headed back to the Spiegeltent to meet up with the ladies, procure coffee, and enter the Arena, which was rather sparsely populated with people, all of whom had congregated in the mosh-pit where they had set out picnics and such-like with cushions and a nice big green mat, perhaps making it a nosh-pit.

We purloined some front-row genuine plastic fold-up seats of the type found on the public transport of your choice, and as the orchestra began we sat and listened appreciatively to the William Tell before Jay came out and really got the party going with his hilarious show-biz banter. Children danced, Lyra danced, even I danced a little bit. Lyra busted her balletic moves and Georgia performed Pingu pirouettes. It was kind of low-key, but it was nice. The orchestra were good, Lyra didn't do anything too appalling. No fence-scaling, no ropes-infringing. There was a bit of water-bottle-borrowing.

Santa came out and such was the fuss that was made that everyone under the age of four became petrified. Santa didn't help by not actually handing out presents.

The orchestra struck up some sort of Bear Hunt tune which was just a pastiche of old James Bond themes, but oh! the fun when Legendary Jay led a procession of children around the Piazza or Plaza or whatever. He picked up a child, and made it cry. Our children didn't see the need to participate. Then a man-sized bear appeared and everyone was petrified!

Afterwards we went to the playground for a while, but before long it was time to depart, our cultural event for the week a landmark time-point that we will no doubt talk about for days to come.

Nov 19, 2014

One Tree in an Island

I can't remember where I was on my way to or from, perhaps I was on my way to or from nowhere in particular, but this tree near where we live caught my eye, blossoming in a traffic island.

Nov 16, 2014

Running the Velvet Gauntlet

After an early morning wake-up and a deconstruction of almost military efficiency, if you disregard all the fannying around and slow-building-heat-induced-shortish-temper, we forewent the cooling swim to bask in the air-conditioning of the car and took the quick route home that didn't involve hairy dusty almost-road mountain climbing, got home in an hour and a half, unpacked the car, did all that stuff and proceeded to stew in the heat of the house.

We resolved to impulse-buy a Dyson pedestal fan after a sweaty nap for Lyra and then headed off into the city to Spring Hill baths for a shady swim, passing easily through the G20 roadblocks and traffic control apparatus, the police very much in evidence with convoys of paddy-wagons in strategic holding areas, but not bothering us. Our run of the velvet gauntlet was easy and eventless.

In the pool we languished luxuriantly, Lyra demonstrating her independent swimming skillz with only a noodle to save her, and even though we had forgotten our goggles in our rush for water, we still managed to have a nice time with lots of fun games like Toss The Baby and Monkey Monkey. There was hardly anyone there and we had plenty of room for manoeuvre; Lyra did a lot of jumping into the pool, Eloise did a lot of classy swimming and somersaults, we made use of noodles until they came out of our ears, and we stayed there until the bitter-sweet end.

We tried to buy more ice creams, but the till had been closed. So no ice cream for us.

Nov 15, 2014


Down at the river we all paddled a while before bidding farewell to the fly-by-nights. Marion had her sunbrella deployed, with the pointy end of the shaft shoved into the soft river-bed sand by the side of the denuded flow.

Man it was hot but being in water was nice. A Jack Russell Terrier drifted by on a Boogie Board and Lyra took this as inspiration to steal someone else's and use it in a similar fashion. Generally we just, you know, utilised the specific heat capacity and thermodynamic properties of the water in which we were immersed to enhance our thermostatic capabilities.

After a while Nicole and Lyra retired back to camp for something to eat and a nap.

A steady breeze was blowing up the watercourse and as Eloise, Hannah and Lyra frolicked and I "supervised" along with Marion, the ability of the sand to hold the sunbrella in place against the gentle gusts of wind carrying it away, Mary Poppins-like, was put to the test.

We ended up fastening it with little pegs that came from somewhere or other with guy-ropes at finely attuned angles to maximise the load distribution and set about the business of floating neck-deep in the water with my sun-smock acting as a filter for the fine dust in the water stirred up from the bottom of the river (or as it is technically referred to, the "river-bed"), its white material slowly turning more brown.

I had my hat on, but some of us didn't, and so eventually we sought shade and snacks before we too returned to camp, to find Lyra sound asleep under the only open-air shade to be had, the camping table.

When she woke up and we had had something to eat, we all went into Kenilworth to locate ice cream and cold drinks. Faces were looking pink, some (one) with a bit of sunburn due to possibly injudicious application of sunscreen. Some of us were flagging in the heat. Personally, being, you know, a man and all, I didn't mind it too much. I mean, it was hot, but that's OK, right? I can take a bit of discomfort in the name of outdoorsy adventure. But others, particularly the young, were looking a bit flushed and, is their wont, moaning about it. We found ice cream, and we found cold drinks. I found coffee. We hung around in the shade. We chatted to a few folks. If there was a statistical analysis of the content of the chatting, the word "disgusting" would feature predominantly.

As the heat of the day started to abate, we returned to the river and as shade crept over we figuratively exhaled as the temperature at least seemed to drop a bit.

With just us Gs and the Js and Professor Joan left, we ate pasta and once more sat around the campfire attempting to keep Lyra in check.

That night's nocturnal Lyra-denza was somewhat more subdued than the previous night's but still we elected, with the weather forecast predicting an even hotter day to come, to return to the throbbing metropolis where at least we had fans to move the air around.

Morning, Sun, Heat, Charge, Water

Our little tent city was in the shade first thing in the morning, and probably the sensible thing to do if we were early morning types like every other bleeder who lives in Queensland seems to be would have been to, well, get up early and make the most of the fresh morning air with dew underfoot, brewing a cup of joe on the camping stove while rashers of bacon wafted their fragrances over one.

But I'm not a morning person so instead I lolled in my pit, my bedroom in shade, along with my fellow non-morning people, listening to the sounds of our fellow campers (who live in Queensland and apparently embrace this early-morning philosophy thing) brewing up cups of joe and rashering rashers of bacon, etc.

Eventually it became clear around seven o'clock (in the morning that is) that slumbertime was over and so we emerged one by one, with me in the vanguard to blearily breathe the morning air and make vague attempts at grunting conversation while hooking up the intravenous caffeine infusion equipment. I'm not a morning person.

From what I recall, and I am a little hazy on the details, the cool morning air wasn't that cool. In fact it could charitably be described as warm and warming as time went on. Still, I had something for breakfast, I don't remember what, and coffee must have been drunk, because that's what I do, and pretty soon I reckon that the fire was re-lit, because I have a photo of that, and people started to think about swimming, because that's what they did.

I was more preoccupied with getting the car going so I went to see Gibbo (remember him) about his jump-leads, and to apologise for waking up the entire planet in the middle of the night. He was good about the waking-up thing but it turned out that what had previously been identified is an independently-powered jump lead unit was in fact something to do with a leaf-blower. Why you would take that camping is anybody's guess. But not mine.

So I was forced to make another couple of cups of coffee, before scouting the campsite for some jump leads.

I didn't have to scout very far as the next tentopolis I asked had jump leads easily to hand and within a matter of minutes we men were maneuvering to get those jumpers connected and see if we couldn't spark a bit of life into our inert chariot.

The Mazda chuntered into life, much to my relief, and off I drove to get a replacement battery, stopping off on the way for a regal moment, paying close attention not to switch off the car. And thence to Kenilworth to search out a mechanic, which didn't take long.

With a new battery installed, mobility restored, I headed back to the campsite. Our little tent city was suddenly a shadow of its former self as these crazy Aussies were only staying for one night, with the palaver to leisure ratio apparently completely not an issue. But they were all going for a swim before leaving.

I headed straight for the river. The probably ridiculously inaccurate thermometer on the dash was telling me that it was 43 degrees outside, and it was damn hot, and if that doesn't call for immersion in cool water, I don't know what does.

Let's Wake Up The Entire Campsite

Sometime in the middle of the night, Lyra woke up, as she does. I suppose it was either the temperature being roughly the same as it was during the day, being in a strangely soft inflatable bed with unusual covers in a strange-sounding room with a gentle breeze flapping the walls and a door that zipped and the outside right there, practically inside, or some combination of one or more of the above, but she launched into a fine cadenza of screamingly epic proportions that lasted for quite a few longer-than-average dead-of-night minutes while Nicole and I tried to bring her back down to Earth just as a temporary stopoff on her journey back to the Land of Nod.

It was a cadenza that must have woken up everyone within a two-hundred metre radius - if not more - such was its volume and emotional charge with full-throated screaming carrying across the night air like a nail gun in the eardrum.

That certainly set us up for the next day of fun in the inescapable outdoor all-encompassing oven.

Nov 14, 2014

O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.

You can imagine that, many miles away from civilisation, parked at the remotest end of a huge campsite, and deprived of transport by a mystery car fault, I was slightly concerned at our predicament, and I expect that it showed. Although in the high thirties heat sweat was in profuse supply no matter where you looked, some of my sweat was anxiety-related.

Nathan, amateur (in the nicest possible way) mechanic and car-fixer-upper admitted to being outside his classic car comfort zone, but offered helpful suggestions such as immobilisers or alternators and Lyra with her little playful fingers was in the firing line as theories went, but after running my sweaty fingers through the actual car manual and coming up stumped, I decided to take a chance take a chance take a take a chance chance and phone the Mazda garage which services our chariot, a risky move late on a Friday afternoon.

Nice Xavier, no doubt a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is, suggested that the behaviour that I was describing to him was indicative of a flat battery which caused me a slight bout of relief and soon I was cruising the campsite looking for jump-leads.

I didn't have to cruise very far as the next-door polyester metropolis looked through their trailers-full of equipment and located what looked suspiciously like a set of jump-leads in Gibbo's trailer. Gibbo was away for a swim though so I would have to wait for his return.

I settled down beneath the shade of Marion's enormous sun-brella as the others went off to the river in all those other cars. I lay down, and gently experienced my tender ribs while looking up at the sky hoping in vain for a cloud to form, and eventually closed my eyes just a little, just for a short while.

When I woke up I thought that well actually that since Jumping Gibbo hadn't shown his face, and it was actually really quite warm, and that even if I did get a jump what would I do, since the battery (if it was the battery) was evidently knackered and no garage would be open to replace it, that I should probably stop lying underneath Marion's enormous sun-brella and go for a swim.

So I walked, yes walked the fifty metres to the river, arriving of course at the precise moment that everyone else was leaving and stood just short of knee-dip in the water which was frankly a little turgid with the muddy upwellings of the Mary River and not really inviting me in for a swim. Nevertheless there I stood, standing in the water, enjoying being cool from the knees down and the feeling of not-so-hotness slowly spreading even to the line around my head where my hair met my hat.

And as the sun westered in the sky and shade crept across the water we headed back to find our company of campers was completed, the final peripatetic professor professing to have proceeded providentially. Apparently Professor Claire and her family had stopped off at McDonalds.

So we men, working in a team of men, erected the final polyester pleasuredome (it was kind of square actually) in a most manly way, only resorting to the instructions once in our attempts to perform the colour-coded pole dance and work out where the front of the palace was supposed to be.

And hey presto, before we knew it it was beer o'clock, followed closely by sunset which made fire essential, though Nicole mysteriously wasn't involved. Then as darkness gathered and the campfire roared, flickering over the tents assembled all around, shimmering on the slightly dishevelled bodywork of the assembled motorcade, playing on the faces of the score or so of campers, barbecue o'clock struck and a procession of frankly ridiculous amounts of food made its way from the outsides of people to the insides of people, and a guitar appeared, and there was the strumming of notes and the buzz of light conversation and the crackling of embers.

Eloise was friends with everybody and everybody was friends with Eloise. Lyra moved around having a jolly nice time when she wasn't scaring the pants off all those maternal types with her too-close relationship with the fire. Oh, and she decided to visit the next-door camp and check out their fire too, and their tents, before anyone noticed.

Maybe she was looking for the jump leads.

Can this be all we will desire? Straw houses in the promised land?

The G20 Roadshow - cavalcades, protests, world leaders, trans-anarchistas, paramilitary security, transport disruption and all - is coming to town, and for all sanity-seeking Brisbane residents this is an invitation, nay a demand if not just a firm mixed-message encouragement to get the hell out of Dodge.

Marion had for a while been advocating a camping trip and Nicole took this to heart to the extent that she invited many people from work, and many people from play, many of the former acceding, many of the latter declining. The veritable smorgasbord of fellow short-stay camperoonies created booking difficulties and where we were originally headed for Tallebudgera down on the Gold Coast, for various reasons and a lot of casting around we found ourselves headed for a campsite out at Kenilworth up in the Mary Valley, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, with a promise of idyllic river-swimming and countryside camping reinforced by the most cursory inspection of the web-based marketing literature.

The elements dealt us an interesting hand in the form of a heatwave, which promised to roll it's velvet glove over us on the very day of our departure so we resolved to get an early start and in a near-miracle of logistical organisation by SWMBO, we were away, fully packed, by 0930 Zulu.

The car was packed to the gunnels (an optional extra we were really proud to have negotiated) to the extent that there was no room for Eloise, and she had to go in Marion's car, fist-pumping all the way probably.

We were expecting there to be a reasonably massive exodus which normally creates a pretty good bung in Bruce's passage, but we thought to chance our arms. We weren't (or were, depending on whether you're more satisfied with being proven correct or having a clear run) disappointed when we ran into the first knot of traffic around Deception Bay, and when Our Little Treasure started piping up about being stuck and thirsty and hungry and unhappy, and the volume started to increase, we took the strategically sensible but tactically incompetent decision to leave the Bruce at Morayfield to go off-piste.

In true style, we Gavinated our long-cut which proved just as bunged up as the Bruce if not more so, compounding our errors by erring further from the beaten track, missing turnings, winding up on a dirt-track somewhere in the middle of the Beerburrum State Forest.

Not to be discouraged by this sort of nonsense, we made our way back to civilisation in the form of Steve Irwin Way, and then for some reason took a scenic route over the mountains through Maleny and  Montville, and over past the Mapleton Falls to another winding dirt track which frankly scared the crap out of me and my navigatrix as we edged our way down a single-lane dusty ribbon of what could only be loosely described as road which wound its way down the mountain side, a cliff on the right, a precipice on the left, tailgated by a wanker in a Commodore with a death-wish (for us).

We breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the bottom, a further sigh of relief when we found the campsite, and a further sigh of relief when we found Joan waiting for us at the camp site with Marion, Hannah and Eloise who had arrived there an hour before us.

When we got out of the car it was utterly stinking hot so we made camp in the stinking heat, Lyra playing in the car, pushing this knob, pulling the lever, switching this light on, tooting that horn with her tummy. The car was covered in dust from our motorised mountaineering long-short-cut adventure.

Camperoonies trickled in bit by bit, and soon we had our own little canvas village, industriously unpacking, constructing, and complaining about the weather.

We decided to cool off in the river. It was too hot to walk, apparently, so we got into the car to drive the hundred metres to the accessible with the beach and the waterhole.

I turned the key, and the car clicked, the dashboard lit up, and all the lights flashed. The needles shot round to the far end of the dials, then returned to zero. The car did not start.

I tried again. Same result. The one male in attendance came to look, drew breath through his teeth, tradesman-like. Could be battery? Hopefully?

Oh, crappy crap on a crapping crapstick.

Nov 11, 2014

Internal Combustion's Reminiscence of In Vitro Pulsations

Daytime sleep for babies is mighty fine, not just for their sanity but for mine! If Lyra doesn't sleep during the day, then come six o'clock there's hell to pay. Hell hath no fury like a baby scorned, and my toddler's scorn is red and horned; loud and unreasonable, screamingly so, devilish - capricious - infuriating, although it burns with no care for right or wrong, it shines twice as bright, so half as long.

So some food, a book and some sleep is ideal. But a building site next door? An ordeal. Well we could take our chances in the automobile.

Tuesday's trip to escape the construction of next-door's attempt at light-obstruction took us on an expanding locus with toddler sleep as our primary focus. Lyra, however, had other ideas, as befits a lady of her tender years. Transportation naming is her favourite game: there's no limit to the cars that she can name when they're all called "car" regardless of colour; it's a game that soon becomes duller than dull. Er.

Ironically, all those cars kept her awake when the car should be calming her, for f**k's sake, for the gentle low noise of the car on the road should remind her of her original abode in the heart of the womb, in that warmth so deep, with the heartbeat of mother suffusing her sleep.

But no, this urchin's for singing along to whatever she thinks is her favourite song.

Through the suburbs then forests and hills we glide out to Samford Valley, and Camp Mountain we ride along back-roads with animals off to the side, so it's animal noises we play, sleep denied.

There's a barrow of honey off the side there, how quaint. I'll stop off for a picture, to break up the trip.

Then some really dull music, Autechre? Mike Oldfield? Surely Mike Oldfield can loosen her grip?

An hour has passed, she has slipped her straps, and we've reached the end of a no-through road. There's no end to her strength in resistance to naps, but my determination has plateaued.

So we head back: 
"Oh look! There's a car. And a car! That's a car! And another one, look! There's a car! A car! Daddy! Look, there's a car! There's a car! There's a car! There's a f**k!"*

It's on Pickering Road, five minutes from home, that she finally loses her struggle. Her eyelids flutter, her head droops a little, and a left-turn allows her to snuggle.

* that's Lyra-talk for truck, unfortunately

Nov 9, 2014

Queensland Ballet Provide Incidental Musical Backdrop For Serial Acts of Unsolicited Intimacy

After an awesome day's sleep afforded by the rest of us hoofing it to Lone Pine for a few hours, Nicole woke up non-grumpy and raring to go to the only good thing about the G20 Summit which will be here next week, the G20 Cultural Celebration (the only good thing I'm aware of, I will qualify, before the Thought Police come along and shut my ass down in the interests of publicity whitewashing).

Today's entertainment is an open-air twilight performance of Coppelia by the Queensland Ballet, at the Riverstage, and along with little Maya, one of Eloise's dancing chums, and a stroller laden with goodies, we trundled down there to experience the celebration and see what the night would bring.

First of all, it brought ballet exercises for all the young aspirants, who crowded the mosh-pit in front of the huge stage behind which the amphitheatrical lawns ascended to the peripheral pop-up (probably, that's the phrase of the moment) catering establishments.

Then some interviews on stage which I don't think anybody really listened to, fascinating though they probably were.

All the while, Lyra making herself busy exploring the stage, and whenever music came on, breaking into a pirouetting waltzing ballet-trot around the mosh-pit, gracefully (I use the word advisedly) meandering between the people, occasionally stopping for a cuddle from a stranger's leg, sometimes stopping, and must standing arms outstretched to receive the adulation of the crowd.

We noticed a familiar Chinese face chatting amiably and a queue began to form to have photographs with him. He turned out to be Li Cunxin, the Director of Queensland Ballet, and as I understand it, the very Personage Previously Known As Mao's Last Dancer. He point at Lyra and smiled in a friendly yet occidentally enigmatic way.

So we joined the queue and had photographs with the Director of Queensland Ballet, oooh!

I exchanged some noncommittal platitudes with the Great Man, and we moved on. It was a nice thing for him to have done.

Before long, as part of the educational background of what goes into a ballet performance, and to give the children something to look at, the dancers began to perform their warm-up exercises on stage, pulling unlikely poses whilst being sternly corrected by Madame Za Za (not her real name).

And, as dusk gathered and peals of classical music rang out across the summer evening, Eloise and Maya watching intently from the fence, the dancers continued to perform their stretches and leaps and grand jetties or whatever. And Lyra made herself comfortable with various families she liked the look of, looked up stranger's skirts and garnered sweeties from whoever would give them to her. Which was everybody.

As the light failed some little girls decided to take a little revenge on Lyra's clothing excesses and played a chasing game which ended up with her in a storage area by the side of the stage, and having been retrieved from that predicament by my good self, proceeded to attempt to invade the orchestral area where the players were preparing to play. The security level was readjusting itself to Toddler Alert.

The performance itself soon kicked off, and an epic in three parts it was. I'm sure it was inspiring but as Nicole and I were taking it in turns to track the Monkey and keep her from going too far in terms of over-familiarity with the general public, we saw precious little.

There was some impressive leaping and some mighty fine displays of physical dexterity and buttocks you could fry eggs on, after they'd been cracked between them. I don't know how many Andrew those boys had down their tights, but By George, if I had to guess the flavour of their packets of crisps I'd be going for smoky bacon.

I mean, look at the size of that thing that I've only digitally enhanced slightly. OK, that's a fallacy; I've enhanced it quite a lot.

Nov 7, 2014

Does My Bum Look Big in These?

Now I have to try to write enough text to occupy the space next to this totally self-explanatory picture of Lyra trying on some way-to-big pants and being pretty delighted about it.

She has mastered, or at least is practicing the art of taking her own nappies off, and has started to use excretion words, and this has been taken in certain quarters as a sign that developmental stages are being hinted at.

Funnily enough, she has shown decreased motivation to wearing nappies and/or pyjamas over the past couple of days, which is almost certainly a coincidence. And by decreased motivation I mean she has kicked up a considerable stink (ha ha) which is a pain in the arse (ha ha).

But she's going to have to put off toilet training for a bit because the pair of pants that fits her won't exist until her rear increases in girth. And if Eloise's experience is anything to go by she'll do it when she's good and ready, and when they start to use the little toilets at nursery.

Nov 6, 2014

Rushing, Not Rushing

IN a sea of morning-school-run relative ease, this morning stood out as a notable exception. Trikeulous we were, and consequently aiming for an 0820 departure. Lyra decided that she wasn't cool with wearing shoes or sunscreen and this caused some angst. At roughly 0817, Eloise, heretofore a paragon of efficiency, begun a hairdressing work of art that would clearly blow our target time. Again, a cause of angst. We recovered well, though, and departed for school still on-time, Eloise having written on her hand all the things she need to remember, having forgotten: like homework.

Eloise remembered just after we left that she'd also forgotten her hat: oh no, actually she'd lost it, so we went back and got her a replacement hat.

Things were then going swimmingly, until that is Eloise realised half-way there that she'd forgotten that she had a dance performance at Assembly and she needed her dance costume. So back home we went, Eloise with keys supposedly rushing ahead but actually walking just a little bit faster than us.

Then we drove to school. Eloise forgot the hat she'd taken to replace the other hat she'd lost.

Still, we got there sort of on time, I think....

After getting home, post-rush deflation, with bugger-all to do other than put food in front of the bairn, be hot, bleach and disinfectant the dead-possum-stinking bin, be hot, responsibly dispose of the bleachy tailings, be hot, play with the bairn, reflect on the repetetiveness of the day. It became apparent that a trip somewhere was in order; somewhere air-conditioned, where we could be cool.

In between just being hot, I ummed and ahhed then decided that Chipmunks would be in order, and so we went and spent an amusing couple of hours ticking the Amuse and Exhaust boxes, but well, somehow, well, you know.


This Lumia phone of mine, which I really like, has been back to the repair shop, wherein lies a story of coincidence whereby, it having been away for a while, I called into the Telstra shop to check on its progress, and they told me that it had been dispatched back to the shop whereupon a little head pops out of the back saying "I just opened the mail, is this your phone?" which I was quite delighted about.

The reason it had gone back was because the headset detection had started to fail, so the phone would decide it wasn't connected, randomly, making listening to music etc quite painful (or arguably more pleasant if you don't like the rubbish I play).

Problem is, it's started to go tits up again, and so this morning I was trying out a different headset to check it out a bit further. I had to fix the headset that's my the piano, and when I popped it on my bonce, Lyra took something of an interest. 

She demanded it from me, popping the headset on, and when her head filled with music her little eyes lit up and a smile of epiphanous fascination and amazement spread across her face like silk sliding across a newly-made bed. 

Listening to the strains of Dr. Phibes she accidentally (on purpose?) phoned Nicole and failed to leave her a message that Telstra's computers could turn into a text message.

She did not want to give up that phone, but that was OK because if I listened closely I could just hear that the headphones were still working, having passed the five minutes or so the other ones normally stop. 

And so, not wishing to tempt fate, I diagnose: the headphones, not the phone.

Nov 4, 2014

Three Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad

After a short interlude at home where a spread of berries, fruit and fruit- and berry-based snacks were laid out and summarily rejected, I decided a bike ride was in order. Lyra was in reasonably furious disagreement, pointing meaningfully at the Birthday Trike, but we weren't going to get far fast on that thing so I was not for turning.

After a short struggle she was ensconced in the Seat of Doom and we were off to Kalinga Park, pedalling hard into the damnable sea-breeze headwind that blows up the Kedron Brook, but ten minutes later (roughly) we were there, ambling about, doing the usual playground thing.

Lyra made friends with a little boy who insisted that his name was Poo-poo. He thought this hilariously funny, and I was forming the impression that this apparent two-year-old had a tremendously advanced sense of humour until I asked him how old he was - he was apparently poo-poo years old - and then caught a whiff of the inspiration of his never-gets-tired little joke.

Lyra had a sing-song after her bottle of milky, which was nice... for her.

How the days fly by.

Anyway the intention obviously was to entertain, inform, and exhaust. And with a three-hour nap following shortly after our return (tail-wind this time) I feel I ticked all three boxes.

Trike: Terrific Transport, Temporarily?

So, amazingly we were out of the house and bound for school by 0820 Zulu this morning, with the new trike very much in demand as the transport option of choice. Lyra figuratively leapt on to it, and treated it very much as the Royal Litter (that is, lounging amiably and politely declining the opportunity to contribute towards forward momentum). Eloise was initially dubious as this meant the stroller as luggage trolley was not available, but I shouldered her enormous shoulder-bag of dancing paraphernalia and she rucked her enormous ruck-sack of educational paraphernalia and we took it in turns at the helm while Lyra made intermittent efforts to put her feet somewhere near the pedals, then just dragged her feet amusingly on the floor.

I had initial reservations that it would be an impediment to rapid progress but in fact it's very easy for Eloise to push (joking!) and we got to school actually early, met with Gabriella our dancing lift-share who relieved us of the SBoDP, making Eloise's life a little easier.

On the way Lyra did attempt a couple of dismont manoeuvres but these were quickly nipped in the bud.

Homeward bounds, I discovered the trick to lowering the foot-rest and then by George we were cooking on gas. Trike- / trike- / trike- / trike-ability.

Until she got off to investigate the entertaining rampage system at he disabled resource hit thingy that's round the back of wherever it is that it's round the back of: then it was game over, red rover, and it took us a cool hour of gentle farting about to get home again.

I said to her, if you think I'm the sort of boy who carries a lady along in his arms while simultaneously pushing along her available yet inexplicable unwanted push-along tricycle, looking like a complete winky-walker, you can think again.

Nov 2, 2014

Two in the Bush

After we were done with the rainforest hike, we limped back to the car. Eloise had damaged herself swinging on vines; I had damaged myself lugging the Sproglet around; Nicole and I were both the worse for wear for the interminable amounts of time we had spent waiting for Squirty to get her Birthday Arse into gear and try walking for a change.

We drove up to Mt Nebo and visited Mrs Miggins' Tea Rooms, Eloise's possible favourite place ever, and fed the wild birds there. Eloise made friends with King Parrots and had a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo feeding from her palm - a risky manoeuvre at the best of times. No ill effects as she soon realised what a chance she was taking; but looking at the jacaranda above, there were fifteen of those huge birds waiting for their chance to grab a piece of the action.

After a while we called it an armpit and headed back down the Mountain, making it back in time to fulfil Nicole's dream of an impromptu back-deck get-together where her sumptuously moist spongy segments were consumed with great enthusiasm.

P.S. Hello Maisie and Voilet!

Birthday Smellebrations

We weren't up bright and early this morning. After another Wet and also Wild session yesterday, we were very very tired last night and a quick repast of signature pasta (rhyming with raster) and pesto bedtime was enforced ruthlessly. Eloise sneaked off with the tablet though and sneakily watched videos for a while before she was busted and sent off for time-out in the Land of Nod.

We didn't even get around to present opening until about ten o'clock; Eloise and I mooched around downstairs while Nicole was preparing a gourmet apple-and-pear-pikelet breakfast with fruits of the forest and honeyed yoghourts (rhyming with Boggarts). We however were building Lyra's present, an apparently parentally-influenced trikey thing with which Lyra is very taken, or taking: we will see.

Eloise and Lyra shared (ha!) present-opening responsibilities; there weren't that many, more are to arrive, but those that were available were warmly appreciated.

We had decided to go out for the day and Nicole had baked a cake (naturally). She was fretting about it not going to waste and so was hatching a crackpot plan to get back and invite people around to eat it but we deferred any decision on that until later.

In the meantime we nipped off up the D'Aguilars and had a picnic at Mount Nebo, in a little woodland glade with cool clear mountain air, the wind rustling through the trees, bird calling out above us, blah blah, all the usual guff.

After lunch we embarked on a short 1km jaunt around a little circuit that takes the alert walker from eucalypt forest through the transition to rainforest, a short walk that it soon became clear would take us several hours. 

Then Lyra crapped herself, setting the tone, and the title.

"I Can't Help But Think That My Best Years Are Behind Me"

You Thought I'd Been a Pane in the Ass Up 'Til Now?