Wednesday, April 30, 2008

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Gather round people let me tell you're a story

An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter
Gurindji decided they must make a stand

They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don't sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vestey man said I'll double your wages
Seven quid a week you'll have in your hand
Vincent said uhuh we're not talking about wages
We're sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don't stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiari boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiari returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent's fingers poured a handful of sand

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

That was the story of Vincent Lingiari
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege cannot move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

These are the lyrics to an extraordinary song, a collaboration between two great Australian songwriters (Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody), about an event that was a landmark in the granting of land rights to the indigenous people of Australia. It is lyrical, haunting and beautifully simple. It is the story of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji strike.

Last week I received an email asking me to buy a remixed version of the song, which incorporated other significant landmarks of our journey towards reconciliation; current Labor PM Kevin Rudd's apology and former Labor PM Paul Keating's Redfern Speech. (And let's not forget that the tall man in the song who poured the earth into Vincent's hand was former Labor PM and my first hero, Gough Whitlam, yes all right I'm a leftie, out and proud. But would we have even this much reconciliation without those 3 governments?).

I bought the remix without thinking about it too much - $1.69 is not a big ask to help reconciliation, is it? And I already knew I liked the song.

But as I listened to it whilst folding washing today, I got tears in my eyes and shivers down my spine. Because the music of the song is beautiful. The story in the song is amazing, And add in some stirring speeches about such an important matter ... Well, look, I admit it doesn't take much to make me cry since the arrival of the rugrats, but all the same. According to GetUp, if the song goes to Number One then we will keep reconciliation in the hearts and minds of Australia. I don't know if that is true but I don't mind trying.

If you want to try too, go here. Profits from the song will go to GetUp's Reconciliation Fund and the following charity organisations:
  • Link Up - assisting Indigenous people who have been fostered, adopted or raised in institutions to find their way home.
  • Mums and Bubs Program in Townsville.
  • Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I was tagged.

I was tagged to do 7 weird or random things and 6 quirky things and I think I will roll that into one post, because 13 things about moi would bore even me. Besides, I have good housework intentions today.

1. Almost every hat I try on suits me, whereas almost every pair of glasses looks awful. I am envious of people who look cool in specs.
2. I like to have a plan. This is not the same as a solution, mind. But if there is a problem I like for there to be a plan of action. If Fixit tells me he doesn't want people coming to our house to look at the motorbike he needs to sell, that is an obstacle and I don't want to hear about those. If he tells me he's thinking of getting Conatwork to sell it on his behalf, then that is a plan and I will probably not nag him about the whole still-got-three-bikes, where's-my-new-couch? situation.
I like you to have a plan too. If you don't have a plan I may have to go home and think about your problem till I can come up with a plan for you, and you may not like or want my plan. Besides I have problems of my own that need plans, I can't be doing all yours.
3. I think I can blame my terrible sense of direction on the fact that I grew up in Canberra. Canberra is a planned city with a very circular system of roads so if you want to travel to the left you quite often have to turn right to do so. Now that I live in Melbourne with its straightforward grid-based streets, I still take the incorrect option every time when I rely on my own intuition.
4. I cannot cope with tight waistbands. I get truly awful stomach-aches within the hour of attempting them. Same for control-topped pantyhose, tried them once as a means of leg support on an 8-hour waitressing shift and had to walk out on my job because the bastard boss didn't believe that I was doubled over in pain. If I'd lived in times of corsets I would have been an invalid who never got off the couch (and if I'd managed to find a husband who liked fragile women I would have died in childbirth anyway)
5. I hate guitar solos. In fact there's an awful lot of rock music that leaves me cold because of over-prominent guitar-iness. But I love a funky bass-line.
6. I really, really object to being told what to wear. Fashion columns give me the shits when they tell me I can't wear a mini-skirt past the age of 30, or hand out edicts on appropriate style for my age. What business is it of these trend-following conservative sycophants what people wear? If they like so-called classic lines or collared shirts or wearing brown, fine. Doesn't mean the rest of us do. And if you think I should avoid these sort of articles you are probably right but it gives me a weird pleasure to read the offending items and then heap scorn on them.
I thought I'd tag some people whose blogs I have met fairly recently. Really to test if they've come back to read me more than once. So tell me your quirks please Dancing with Frogs, Chalk & Talk, Random Applique (when you are back) Innercity Garden, The Skint Vegan and The Small Stuff. Or tell me that you don't do tags, I don't mind.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Climber's First Day of Soccer

Can you just see this child supporting us in luxury in 20 years' time? (otherwise known as my superannuation plan.) Good news, apparently the tap-dance training stood him in good stead when they practised ball skills.

Soccer is on at exactly the same time I teach Kiddy Tap so I may never get to see it. I know many people who would breathe a huge sigh of relief about this, but I would like to see him in action. It will be good father/son bonding time though, and as I predicted the people running the session took one look at Fixit, handed him a vest and asked him to help out on the field. He may feel a little bit sore and sorry today but we all know he had a great time.

And look at my little apple and his tree! The Climber vs. an undated photo of Fixit with his childhood club. I dunno. How come they don't give the kids faux backgrounds to pose in front of any more?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac Day

This Anzac Day we got together with my dad's extended family. Dad and I met up at my grandparents' grave (the rest of the family were running late) and while Fixit and the kids ran around looking at everything, Dad and I talked; some catch-up stuff and some reminiscing. Which was nice. I haven't visited the grave before. My grandparents are buried in the same plot, and the plaques for each say that they were loving husband / wife to the other, which was true. And Cherub's middle name is the same as my grandfather's middle name (which was the reason I chose it - apart from it also being unusual and that I just loved it), but seeing it there on the gravestone really reminded me and gave me a special pang, of nostalgia, emotion, connection, all rolled into one.

From there we went (via a park) to my Uncle & Aunt's house for lunch. I made a super roasted vegetable & macadamia nut couscous salad...
(Roast some veg. Roast some macadamias. Prepare the couscous. Toss them all together with dressing - equal parts lemon juice & extra virgin olive oil, a generous dollop of honeycup mustard and salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!)

We also made some personalised Anzac biscuits for the family, a smash hit! The boys and Fixit had quite a lot of fun pressing out the letters too.

We dined like princes and then got raucous playing Pictionary. Caitlin and I won. Of course. Cloakroom got us home on an all-play. Cherub was extremely pleased to see Caitlin again, but also fell in love with another cousin, Anna. So much so that he invited her to a sleepover at our house. (She's the pretty laughing girl in the centre of the photo.)

And Cherub drew a cat. I'm only telling you this because my current project is encouraging the non-writing/painting/drawing Cherub to have a go with writing implements. So that I can (a) work out which hand is his dominant and (b) try and balance the wall art disparity between him and Climber.

I'm in love with the drawing so it'll be laminated and displayed to address (b) but as far as (a) is concerned I am none the wiser. He drew it ambidextrously.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Had a little splurge.

It's all very well to keep away from actual shops in an effort to live modestly and within my means, but when I keep finding great stuff whilst sitting harmlessly at my computer, my resolve is tested. And fails the test too, what's more. Here's my cool new shirt from Cafepress...

... and my lovely custom pendant from Etsy. The little tap-shoes are what I always wear round my neck, I kept them on because I think they go well together.

Judy at Arts & Charms had a great array of very tempting pendants but when I saw she could customise, I immediately enquired about a tap-themed one. This image is a signed publicity still of Fred & Ginger, which I found on Flickr (I think). Also, I hesitate to say this, because I sent her a link to this post, but the pendant was outrageously inexpensive and even Fixit (Mister-how-much-did-that-cost) was gobsmacked and asserted he was expecting it to have been around 4 times dearer. I think she could, and should, charge more for her lovely work.

And wait! There's more! It's reversible!

Hmmm, am I feeling in a Fred or Gene mood today?

Monday, April 21, 2008

For A Short Time

There's a beautiful song the Weddos sing, called For A Short Time, about a girl the band met on tour in Europe.
Sometimes you can feel more for someone you've barely kissed
But you don't see it at the time and the moment that you've missed
Years later they tried to make contact with her, only to find out that she'd died some time before.
For a long time, you never thought of her
then you heard she was gone for good
The saddest part of the song goes:
Tell me how long is a short time is it longer than 2 hours
Or a bit more than a weekend is it shorter than a year
Is it the time it takes to not complete your business with a person
With a friend you make in transit, to a daughter held so dear.
When Mick sang the tell me how long is a short time bit on Saturday night he sang: is it shorter than 10 years? which gave us all goosebumps. That's how long it's been since the band split, but those ten years somehow melted away in the opening chords of the first song. Not just for me and Fixit either, it was as if that feeling went all round the room. The crowd was older, fatter and balder but nothing had changed for all of us. Well, okay, the mosh pit was comparatively tame, the beers cost twice as much, you could actually breathe because the venue is non-smoking (although someone remarked that the lack of smoke meant you could smell all the farts, and with a room full of beer-drinking men there were plenty of farts) and we didn't get to witness any (middle-aged) crowd surfing although I'm told there had been some on other nights. But everyone still knew all the words, and joined in on all the special singing bits, everybody hurled coins with reckless abandon when they sang ten cents short of a dollar in the song Ticket in Tatts, and everyone had the sort of rip-roaring good night that they'd always had at a Weddos' gig.

With maybe a little bit more, a touch of piquancy because it had been so long between drinks. An incredible energy and warmth. You could feel the love in the room, flowing both ways. As Mick Thomas told the kids at the family friendly gig on Sunday, congratulating them on their induction and addressing their future as gig-goers, the beer will never be this cheap again, the shirts will never be this bad and the band will never be this happy. They did look happy. And they rocked.

I ended up going twice, firstly with Fixit on Saturday night and secondly with the Climber to the kid-friendly show on Sunday afternoon. Fixit and I had a great time and were pathetically proud of ourselves for kicking on til 3.30am. (Nell had a sleepover and kindly managed the boys the next morning for us too)

After the show the band came out front for autographing duties which was when I got to properly see them again, lots of hugs and catchings up. And more of the same later in the band room, with girlfriends and crew and friends. Most people who know WPA know Mick Thomas (above on the left); he is the lead singer, the motivating force, a talented singer and song-writer, a great story-teller and a really good person. On the right is Stephen "Irish" O'Prey (yes, he is in fact Irish, we Australians are good at nicknames) who joined the band at around the same time I started working with them and so I always felt an extra bond with him. His bass playing makes you want to dance, he is outrageously funny and also kind-hearted. Behind me is Canadian Ron Hawkins, ex-The Lowest of the Low, who was the guest support. He was so good, and when he got up with band to sing Rosey & Grey (his song, which the Weddos had been covering for years) it was just amazing. So amazing that I have a bit of a crush on him now, don't tell Fixit.

Below, you can see me with Squeezebox Wally who is the man everybody loves the most in that band because he is a beautiful soul. When we used to book the accommodation Wally was the one we could room with anyone, no small feat in a band. He was a child prodigy at accordion playing, and he and Mick Thomas (at left) were the only two in the band from the start to the finish. You can also see violinist Jen Anderson here. She's great. It wasn't easy being the only chick in such a blokey band but I think she did it so well. Mick Thomas used to say how good it was having her in the band because of her musicianship keeping him in line. She and the band's merchandise man, Chelsea Dave recently got engaged, I got to admire her ring.

This is the drummer, Michael Barf Barclay, whose incredible, energetic drumming in Sergeant Small makes it my favourite song but who also has the most gorgeous singing voice. I wish he sang more. I tell him that every time I see him.
Lead guitarist Paul Thomas, who has the kind of innate cool that other rock stars aspire to. When I toured with the band to Adelaide I was trying to round everyone up for the trip home in the Tarago and Paul was partying on so he pretty much told me to f*ck off. Which because I'm a sensitive flower made me cry - luckily I had Irish looking after me, telling me what a bastard Thommo was. Anyway, later on Paul obviously felt really dreadful about it and as I drove them all out of Adelaide he leaned forward and said to me You're a really good driver. I seriously thought he was mocking me and my face must have shown that because he looked all worried and said no, really, I mean it. It was his little apology and I've loved him ever since.

Hey, it's not much but it's my rocknroll anecdote, okay.

On Sunday I dragged Climber along to the family gig - so many kids there! We had to queue to get in (despite our guest-list status) and as we waited we were joined by ex-Tiddas chick Sally Dastey, who was a great friend of the Weddos and toured with them many times. She'd brought her son who was Climber's age so the 4 of us decided to stick together. A friend/fan from the past sherpaed us to a great spot side-stage, right up front, where the boys settled in with their lemonade and chips. Sal often used to sing with the Weddos when they played For A Short Time; the Tiddas' recorded their own version, and Sal has the most gorgeous voice. When it started on Sunday night, she looked slightly anguished. She said I feel like I should be singing it with them. I said you should be. She said I don't know if it would be rude. I didn't know either but I said it would be great if you sang. So she clambered to the stage, the bouncer took a moment to realise what was happening and went to pull her back but Paul said No, she's right. Mick didn't notice - he was wrapped up in his singing of the song - until her voice joined his in beautiful, familiar harmony. Then his face changed; the expression that crossed his face was .. well the closest I can get to describing it is how you might look when after a hard day's work you pull on your comfy slippers.

One more excellent memory from a weekend full of them. More photos and a little bit of video footage here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Last August I wrote this post. This week I received a letter to my Flickr address, from the girl in the story. We have not seen or heard from her for 30 odd years because her family moved back to Canada. She didn't even find me via that blog post. She found me (thinking I was my sister) through my photos. I think. I haven't got to the bottom of the sleuthing. But far out, man!!! From Prince Edward Island to my childhood photos of Canberra. She and Bronnie have each other's email addresses now and some catching up to do. And she left me a comment on that blogpost, apparently I did remember it all correctly!

And while we're talking get-togethers, the band I used to work for are having their 10 year reunion gigs. It's quite a big deal. They're playing 5 shows in Melbourne, all but one of which are sold out. Fixit and I are going on Saturday night. I'm so excited. For some reason though, I got stupidly nervous when I rang Mick up to ask for our names to go on the door, as if he might knock me back. Left an entirely pathetic message full of would it be allrights and if it's okay with you. I should get a grip. I was with the band. He left me the nicest message in return. Come Saturday, I'll be with the band again. Rock on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ya Ya Bishey.

How is this for a nasty bump? He rounded a corner too fast and clipped the edge of the door frame. I saw it happen and was not at all alarmed because he cried the right amount, if you know what I mean. Then a minute later I looked at him and there was the biggest, reddest egg on his hairline. Wasn't quite as calm then! But he was fine. This photo is taken a couple of days later.

In lieu of having a functioning long-term memory, I am once more recording some of Cherub's sweet talk. In case I want it for Ron. (Later Ron). The only stuff I remember about Climber's developing language is some early stuff that got written in a (very poorly kept) baby diary.
Thus I can tell you that one of Climber's first words was Dirty!!, said with a happy emphatic-ness as he pointed at the toilet or the rubbish bin; clearly we didn't want him to touch. He also said Whassat? (a lot) and the inscrutable Ya Ya Bishey. (Or sometimes Bishey Bishey Ya Ya.) Maybe it was something to do with ABC kids television logo, maybe it was to do with the Three Little Fishies song, we never worked it out. And let's not forget Dubba Dubba Dee which we think he just said because it is pleasurable to say. But the rest is lost in the mists of time and for that I say sorry, Climber.

Anyway, to talk like the Cherub (aged 4 and a half):
  • Firstly, you must have a W where your R should be.
  • Secondly, if you are feeling earnest about anything you must start your sentence with Well, especially if you are crying and reporting on what it was caused the crying in which case the Well, will usually be followed by Climber ... (did/said/pushed/shouted/stole).
  • Thirdly you will get cross if anyone upterrupts you (pronounced cwoss and uptewwupts, see point 1).
  • Finally, you will play fast and loose with the F and V sounds.

So this is a fan,

but this is Dark Vader.

He likes to watch a bideo. Berry much.

... and we took Bertie Wooster to see the Bet. She was lovely, although for some reason Bertie had a problem with her, something to do with where she put the thermometer I think..

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What wins?

If you are a glass-half-full person with a relationship to a glass-half-empty person, do you balance each other out? Or do the scales start to tip in favour of one or the other eventually? What I mean is, what's stronger, positivity or negativity? Does it make any difference that for 2 days out of 30 the normally half-full glass is suddenly to be found smashed and broken on the floor? Does that upset the status in the long run?

Tell me what you think, I want to know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Sadly, the fog in my brain caused by school holidays - how many times can you hear your children say Mummy in one hour before your ears shrivel and fall off your head? - has not fully dissipated. This is because poor Climber selfishly got a gastro-ish bug and I had to pick him up all headachy and feverish from school on Monday and then have him home for a further 2 days. The good news is that the gastro was restricted to his lower half, which meant (a) no vomiting and (b) not too much revulsion nursing on my part since with a bit of coaching (Flush! Wash your hands!! Don't fart unless you're on the toilet!!!) from me he could pretty much manage it himself. The joys of older children. But I have had more discussions about the state of his bottom and the consistency of it's output than I am really comfortable with. Anyway. Sent him back to school today, he should be right.

In other arse-related news, the Cherub's predilection for performing his famous bum-dance shows no signs of abating. As soon as he is nude he will swing his little hips from side to side with a tremendously pleased expression on his face - which is of course looking back at you over his shoulder. The bum-dance craze has been going for a while now. It started, I think, when he was practising stuff we'd done at tap class; anyway, at that age he hadn't located the hip-moving-neurons so the movement came solely from his shoulders. Very funny. And of course I fell over laughing and called Fixit to come see, which, you know, pretty much guaranteed that the kid would be forever trying to relive that glorious moment. Now that he has got the hip movement going on, he is experimenting with a couple of variations; such as some simultaneous bottom-slapping (thank you George of the Jungle) or attempting it with all 4 limbs on the ground to better display the focus of the exercise.

He is definitely the show-off of the family (don't know where he gets that from) so if he finds something that makes you laugh he will keep at it. Over and over. He doesn't at all mind doing it for other people - lookit my bumdance!! - like for example the very surprised takeaway delivery dude. And of course he has to do it Each And Every Time he gets dressed or undressed, regardless of whether we're in a screaming hurry or not. This morning he went to stick his rear end high in the air, so -school morning- I told him to save it for later. He looked at me all puzzled for a moment, then grabbed a handful of butt-cheek by way of demonstration and informed me, earnestly and slightly indignantly, I can't save my bum because it's sticked on. See? And I think there's something in that for all of us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

There's brave and there's stupid

Dear Internet,

You know how I did that dare thing, and you all said I was so hardcore because I had no make-up? Well, I went back and checked my hardcore picture (I had a few concerns) and in the interests of thoroughness I turned my computer monitor up to as bright as it could be. That is when I discovered just how hard-core I was. I discovered that by the time I'd worked out which was the best angle to minimise eyebags, the modesty towel I'd been draping round me had fallen by the wayside. No wonder you were calling me so brave. No wonder you couldn't notice any bags under my eyes. Probably too busy wondering if that pink bit down the bottom of the picture was really what you thought it was. I am really really praying that you all were too distracted by my eyebrows, and that none of you had let small children fiddle with the brightness controls on your computer monitors. Because if any of you did notice and were just too polite to say so, you are in BIG trouble.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Gene pool

Crafty did this a while ago and I loved it. And since the school holidays have filled my ears with little boy voices piping Mummy all the live-long-day, which means I cannot hold onto a thought long enough to blog it, I give you Baby Mathematics:

+ =
( )

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Soozadoo posted a dare yesterday. It's about the way we women hate, criticise, disguise and/or hide ourselves, instead of feeling acceptance and maybe love for our physical selves. So she dared us to show our faces.

In the spirit of being brave I am giving you my morning face. Admittedly I have showered. And admittedly you would only see this angle if you were a basketball player or standing on a chair. Hey. I've given you my red nose, my eyelashes sans mascara, my freckles and my bony chest. But I haven't made peace with the bags under my eyes and there's a good chance I never will.