May 30, 2015

Saved by the Infinity Room

Nicole was off doing something or other work related on Saturday and I wasn't in much of a mood for much. What better idea then than to take two reluctant children to the Art Gallery to look at art and eat rubbish food. I mean with Lyra's recent track record of going where she shouldn't and generally fronting up to security staff and evading parental control, what could be more fun?

Eloise was the reluctant specifically in relation to the Art Gallery, of course, though Lyra was reluctant to leave the house. Both would have prefered to loll slavering in front of whatever happened to turn up on the TV, proclaiming each and every programme to be their favourite. But this was not to be and I was in no mood to tolerate resistance of any kind. It was the Art Gallery or a bike ride.

So we farted around in the Art Gallery. There was an expansive installation-cum-exhibition involving channeling childhood memories into huge Lego walls and actually quite interesting little rooms with seals balancing pianos on their noses and ballet dancers with a huge Kerplunk-stick arrangement nearby. Eloise asked interesting questions of the Grey Guardian while I chased Lyra around and tried to limit the damage. On the other side a huge room with a neon sign overlooking a red piano; a player casting out rills through the gallery of beautiful music. Lyra decided to add to the melodic melange with some vocal stylisations of her own, and had to be forcibly removed.

We played on some computer games downstairs for a while, then watched a version of the Jungle Book in which each character speaks a different language, which didn't seem to put Eloise off, unsurprisingly.

We were all set to leave when I thought we could look upstairs for a bit, and so I dragged the reluctant children up, kicking and screaming, to a room where there was a room, smaller - obviously - with a queue outside. We queued, and then the door slid open, we wandered in, and the door slid closed to make a room whose inside was a perfect set of mirrors, with neon balls within reflected to infinity and the floor a little jetty poking out into mirror-still water creating infinite reflections in every direction.

Eloise thought that that was pretty amazing, and so did Lyra. "That was pretty amazing" she didn't say. "This is my room now" she said.

May 29, 2015

Ballet That Order

Another open-air free cultural shindig of the type that Brisbane does quite well, aided and abetted by lovely evening weather on the one hand and a misplaced sense of parental confidence on the other; this time a performance by the Australian Ballet, no less, of a ballet called Giselle.

The only experience I have of Giselle is that of the dancing teacher of Lettice, the rabbit, who gets married and invites the rabbit to be her flower girl, rather inexplicably. Lettice the rabbit helps the ring bearer out when he sneezes or something and drops the ring at the crucial moment, leading to something of a crisis for Giselle the bride, but all turns out well in the end.

Giselle the ballet is a rather more trivial affair. If I hadn't had the programme to explain the details to me I would have sworn that the story went along the lines of: there was this girl Giselle who liked to dress up as a ballet dancer and dance around, a lot, with various different fellows with Teutonically Titanic Tights who certainly weren't wary of waving their wares and had glutei which were certainly maximal. Eloise, when they did their high kicks (there's probably a word for that), quite figuratively boggled her eyes at their underparts. So anyway this Giselle dances around with all these athletic gentlemen before inexplicably dying and then spends the second half flitting around in some sort of nether-world (bursting I'm sure with nether-parts) with a bunch of ladies called the Willies.

Does that make any sense at all?

I did have the programme, though, and it seems that it's a tale of love and betrayal and anxiety-induced over-excitement. Poor Giselle with her weak heart, having to haunt all these people. I lost interest, frankly, in the story, though Eloise, when she wasn't boggling at the contents of the mens' trews was boggling at the dancing and setting off many a polite ripple of applause as she appreciated the skill and athleticism of the dancers. At least she wasn't applauded their underwear. She said.

Lyra, while all this cultural merriment was going on, had removed herself from the picnic blanketed audience area, and with Nicole in tow was dancing around with whoever would dance with her.

Before the performance had started, as dusk was settling over the Riverstage (it's a stage near the river, so another wonderful piece of original naming there), Lyra had created utter chaos by frog marching herself and a little friend she had, well, only just met, off into the sunset; through a crowd which was, like a metaphorical sausage skin, permeable to small objects, but not large ones. Muggins was in pursuit and within a few moments she had disappeared, leading to one of those "Good grief" moments where you cast your eyes around the thousands and thousands of people lying around on the grassy hillside, looking for that one flash of flashy shoes that gives away the location of your supposed charge, before sighing and just hoping she'll turn up again, even though the rest of the family is a hundred metres, OK twenty metres in the other direction.

Anyway there was a big fenced-off area where they were videoing the official video from, so guess where she was. Sigh.

Oh, and I suppose of passing interest is the fact that she had also earlier been apprehended by security after an attempted stage invasion. You can't keep a good girl down. As they say.

May 27, 2015

The Nights are Drawing In

The nights are drawing in and their is a distinct chill in the air. What Lyra needs to keep her warm, reluctant as she is to sleep beneath covers of any kind, is a ladybird onesie.

May 22, 2015

Small Animals Make Girls Happy

So these mice had become surplus to requirements for the Thorpes, what with the kids who ostensibly owned the animals - all three of them taking pleasure in the company of their respective rodents whilst taking little responsibility in their upkeep - having opted to ditch them.

Eloise, having made a name for herself at various visit and parties as an animal person, was nominated as a potential rescuer. And very keen she was.

My condition, as she was so very keen, was that she needed to make contact with Daddy Thorpe to organise the takeover of the mice, and after many many moons had passed, she overcame her understandable fear of Indomitable Dave - he of the No-Nonsense approach, although he's actually quite personable I think - and phoned them to arrange their pick-up.

And now we have these mice, ensconced in her bedroom. They smell, Nicole is allergic, they are a source of eternal conflict with Lyra.

But Mimi and Vader (one mouse died while Eloise was prevaricating) make Eloise happy, and I suppose that it what counts.

May 21, 2015

The Expansive Playshed of Inflatability

Claire came up with a potentially entertaining Southside play-venue, called JumpIn4Fun, which sounded a bit wanky but apparently offered quite literally boatloads of inflatable apparatuses on which to jump and potential injure one's self.

Given some of the previous play-centres we've tried, our hopes weren't nececelery that high, but we decided to give it a go and after the habitual routine of picking up, arguing over who would sit in which seat, general overfamiliarity and personal space issues, programming the irritating satellite lady, ignoring her, getting lost, driving around in circles, exploring car parks, locating the place, and then finally arriving, we finally arrived.

We found ourselves, after negotiating entrance, in a vast shed which was clearly a sports hall with games courts or pitches or whatever fenced off from one another. The closest was repurposed as our play area. There were not boat loads of inflatables. There were a couple of bouncy-bouncy-castle thingies along with lots of toys which were in reasonable condition. And a cafe.

The cafe was pretty good as it happened and, fuelled up, we spent a couple of pleasant hours there messing around with stuff and playing with stuff and stuffing around with stuff. For some reason the proprietors, actually having punters playing with stuff, felt the need to put some kiddy music on the PA. Frankly it had been much more pleasant before they did that, by I didn't have the heart, or the balls, to do that; strange really as balls were in plentiful supply.

Afterwards, sleep eluding the sproglets despite the gently ministrations of Mazda, we visited a little playground of my acquaintance with Lyra and Georgia demonstrated the bountiful benefits of tea work, with Lyra pushing her little chum on the spider-web swing of simple harmonic motion, before sampling the delights of the water spigot and soaking herself from the knees down, heralding the end of the, as usual, amusing day.

May 20, 2015

Swimming Progress Report

The nice thing about swimming when we do is that just afterwards the pool is empty(ish) and so we get to have a bit of a mess-around afterwards for half an hour or so before some "mature ladies" "hop" into the pool for some "exercise."

Also, with the stage that the little tadpoles (that's a technical term related to their skill status and aptitude) are at, the parents are hands-off for half the lesson and get to float around in the pool talking inconsequential bollocks to one another while the sproglets not-really-swim around with the teacher.

Next term, we're told, the parents will be excluded from the pool and reduced to sitting by the side while the urchins do their thing. When Eloise reached that stage, I remember there being a barista close at hand, but that was a different pool, and a different time.

May 17, 2015

The Day We Went Pants-Shopping

We are working on the toilet-training now, taking our cue from Nursery, who are approaching the development stage with a one-size-fits-all business-like zeal.

Actually the first I heard of it was when Lyra came home in pants rather than a nappy, but then who am I to complain, I'm just the poor emancipated stay-at-home Dad.

Anyway, if the time is right then the rhyme is tight, and the days of wearing pants superhero-like outside the nappy as some sort of token familiarisation gesture are over, I say, over, and it's time for pants, and bugger the consequences.

Here is Lyra, pants-shopping on a particularly entertaining Sunday afternoon in the Big W. You'd like to think that she was just tired and having a moment there, in the middle of the floor, and I'll do nothing to disabuse you of that notion.

There, look at the lovely reflections of those lights on the highly polished lino.


May 14, 2015


Yep, here she is, checking out the fine wares in the bottle shop, obviously completely off her trolley, there to the left.

May 12, 2015

A Still Forest Pool From Which the Tranquil Waters Inexorably Drain

What better way to penetrate the tight circle of mildly maybe-contented ennui that steps through cycling, swimming, filmgoing, shopping, cycling, piano-playing, school-dropping, toddler-herding, shopping, cycling, toddler-herding, fretting, swimming, driving, washing, housework, drinking, eating, sighing, playing, school-picking-up, ferrying, shopping, cooking, listening, feeding, calming, rousing, negotiating, teaching, triking, laughing, shrugging, mopping, sweeping, grimacing, wondering and perhaps blundering than this

May 10, 2015

The Best Mother's Day Ever, Bar Many

Eloise and I put a lot of effort into Mother's Day this year. I even thought about booking somewhere for a special breakfast, though I soon came to my senses on that one.

I said to Eloise, as she packed the money she'd saved for Mother's Day presents into an envelope which she then stapled closed and decorated when she really should have been getting ready for school, I said: 'You don't really need to take all that money to school for the Mother's Day stall. All they sell there is overpriced rubbish that nobody actually wants.' She resolved to spend just the ten dollars and to take the rest to the shopping centre where she had decided candles should be bought.

After I had dropped her off at school I noticed her stapled, decorated envelope which had mysteriously failed to make the complete journey from concept to bag. Lyra and I were therefore forced to deliver said envelope to school to avoid Eloise embarrassment.

Another bloody Chermside episode later in the week, after Tuesday's car-repair traipse-and-film saw us stomping purposefully around the Cathedral of Crass where not only did we purchase Eloise's candles but also I allowed myself to be talked into buying a shiny in-the-wind thingy like a big shiny metal sun which catches the light just so and will hopefully scare away the chickens' breakfast-time arch-nemeses, if nothing else.

Anyway all this effort might illustrate to you the hopes that young Eloise, maturing bit by bit, had for the day when she would spoil Mum.

She had a not-too-specific checklist if things that we would do: Mum likes a bike ride, Mum likes a walk in the woods, Mum likes to do a barbecue.

It all foundered on the rocks of sisterly rivalry as Eloise, for whatever reason, spent the day shouting at, bossing at, and generally being obnoxious to Lyra. Not without provocation mind you, not by a long stretch, but by the end of the day we were all (both) mighty sick of the bleeding bickering. We ended up not going for a bike ride or for a walk in the woods, but tidying the house and rearranging some furniture. Nicole did appreciate her presents, though she questioned the suitability of the candles given the adventurous young hands we have around, and as we picnicked up at Mount Coot-tha, heavy with hayfever, allergy and fatigue, she laid back and thought of England while Lyra pulled Eloise's hair and Eloise sent her into the undergrowth to think carefully about what she had done and I raised my eyes to the treetops and watched the breeze ripple gently among the leaves.

May 9, 2015


We took a bike ride up the brook to Amelia Park. For some reason Eloise had shown some interest in some exercise machinery, but observe the use to which she put the outdoor, public stuff (note to English: unvandalised) the park had to offer. Take it from me, she isn't moving.

However later on Hannah came to visit for a few hours and we had a massive pillow fight which left them gasping. And me sobbing.

May 3, 2015

After the Rain

After the deluge of course the skies cleared and we were back to normal warm Autumn Queensland weather. 

We decided to ride up to Mitchelton Markets, an easy 8k or so, because Nicole was running low on tea and the Tea People would be there.

So off we went, for about five hundred metres, until we saw this vista of inches-deep sand deposited up our lovely smooth bikeway. Now rendered very unfriendly to our bikes.
Still we struggled through, and it soon cleared up, well after a few hundred metres, leaving us a patchy, muddy, sandy, dusty, dirty, slippery journey which should have taken twenty minutes but ended up at an hour.

May 1, 2015


Lyra and I were in Woolworths when it began.

The day grey outside as we sauntered in, Lyra coughing and spluttering with whatever the bug de jour happened to be that day, a necessary shopping trip in an otherwise sick sofa day that saw a lot of television watched and not much else done.

It's not like it wasn't widely expected; the forecasts on the radio had been touted a "weather event" - like something you might buy a ticket to go and see - for days. But they've been wrong, though those skies...

Lyra, ill, a peculiarly calm trolley-surfer as we did the necessary, helping unload the trolley at the checkout to widespread acclamation from our fellow queuers and the nice lady behind the checkout, not to mention the nerdy bloke at the next-door checkout too.

Wheeling the trolley outside, the sound of the hammering rain hit us like, well, a hammer, and what with the unfortunate fact that we had places to be and sisters to fetch from school we had no choice but to take our chances, and so I trotted with the trolley and Lyra in pole position surrounded by the baggage like a buggy boot camp Mum into the car park, aflood to the ankle with fast-moving water in a wide cataract across the pedestrian crossing, my feet instantly soaked, the trolley with four little bow-waves and Lyra looking at me with a "What the flip" expression.

Then to school and dancing by which time the rain subsided, and on to fetch Nicole who inexplicably didn't feel like riding her bike home through the torrent.

That evening, calm; a respite in the rain. But the forecast offered more and worse the next day, along with gale-force winds.

And so, Eloise off to school early for choir, the air still and dry. Nicole to work, no problem. Lyra still ill. Easy day.

Calm all morning, then in the afternoon, under a foreboding sky, the rain began again, raining for hours in a torrential deluge that fell without respite or mercy.

The drive to school, fraught: slow traffic, wipers on frenetic, some idiot determined they were going to get that space on the pickup rank as a tailback built inexorably behind, ten minutes late for a sodden Eloise who had had to wait undercover for "Health and Safety" reasons. Back home - dancing on Friday now too, but hoping for a cancellation. The dance school is down by a creek and prone to flooding.

No cancellation though; dancing still on. So we lump ourselves into the car; but the garage door has mysteriously opened itself and no amount of button pressing or remote-waggling will get it to close; the motor must have water in it. Something else to deal with later. For the moment, leave the garage open; the chickens won't be going anywhere if they know what's good for them.

Five o'clock on Kedron Brook Road and it's dark. Wipers on maximum and we still can't really see where we're going as we tentatively make our way down the hill. Then, at the bottom, the water rises as we plough into what is no longer a puddle or a the water-slick surface of the road but a genuine flood, who knows how deep. Ahead of us at the intersection cars are tentatively making their way through but for us, no dice. We turn around and try to find an alternative route.

On the phone to Nicole, we abandon dancing and decide to see if we can make it through to recover her from the hospital. Kelvin Grove Road on the other side not flooded, not busy; traffic reports on the radio, it's all chaos; the rain still hammering down.

Ironically an easy run to the hospital and back, notwithstanding the obvious, there's little traffic and we get back in fifteen minutes.

We divert to check out the brook; it's as high as I've ever seen it, a massive body of water moving with perilous speed. We can't even begin to imagine the volume of water the channel is carrying, fifty metres across at least and who knows how deep.

When we get home, we discover the dance school called a stop, and had to evacuate with the road a river and cars underwater to their wheels in fast-moving water. Next morning we find that the whole place was flooded and emergency cleanup is required. Nicole and Eloise volunteer to help while I am on Lyra duty.

We look outside; a lovely sunny day. The water is gone, leaving a muggy stillness in the air and a city slowly exhaling.