Thursday, November 29, 2007

Earliest Memory Meme

Cross posted at Inside A Dog

Tagged by Meli, who stole it from Jabberwocky, who got it from Eleanor Bloom, who was tagged by...well, I guess I have to stop somewhere. But I do love to write the name Eleanor Bloom. Thanks Meli, I loved reading yours and I loved doing this.

My very earliest memory is one that is more sensation and sound. I am in my cot, facing the wall. There's a party going on. The door has opened and my mother and some other people are peering in at me. I am somewhere between being awake and asleep. I recall, though I don't know if this part is invented, not wanting to be picked up and held. When I first told my mother this was my earliest memory, she was astonished. It was November 1975, my dad's 50th birthday party. Kerr had just sacked the Whitlam government. I was ten months old.

Needless to say, following that precedent I have a lot of very clear and potent memories of early childhood. I remember creche well. I have a very clear memory of sitting under (the director) Wendy's desk with Hannah Smith and taking off my shoes, which is funny because I also remember getting into trouble for not knowing where my shoes were! I remember turning up to creche one day to find out we were going to Mt Wellington and Mum hadn't brought my snow gear. She drove home to get it. I remember catching the train (one of the last passenger trains in Hobart) to the deer park in Ross, again with the creche. I remember Delphine's mum teaching a few of us French phrases, while holding her baby boy Pierre-Yves (who I called Prayer Eve). I remember hiding our baskets one year for the Easter Bunny and all the carers saying they saw Easter Bunny's ears at the window and I saw them too (only I know I didn't really), and then I couldn't find my basket because I was scatty and forgetful as a child, but I found it eventually in the tunnel. Everyone saw Easter Bunny tracks and I said I could see them too, but I couldn't and I worried why I couldn't when everyone else could. I remember Hannah Smith and I taking Francie Evans out the front gate and down the road on our way to Disneyland and the carers stopping us and persuading us over the fence to come back (I can't believe we strode out the front door of a creche! Wouldn't happen now without a Royal Commission being called). I remember going to Francie Evan's pool party and she had a doll that you could feed who wet her nappy and I wanted one so badly. I remember as a three year old hanging nostalgically over the half door to the baby's room and wishing I could be a baby again.

I will stop now, though there's more. But I don't want to be tedious.

It's funny watching my kids memories being made. Before she was three Fred had an astonishing memory for people, her memory was indiscriminate. She remembered kids she had played with once and called out for them in the shopping centre. Then as part of growing up she seemed to dump all this and start making new hierarchical memories, recognising the significance of certain people. She has a story she tells as her first memory, the day a dog ate her sandwich from her hand in the park while she and Martin were waiting for me. But I wonder if it's the story she remembers rather than the event. She has a great memory for song lyrics, as do I.

Una seems to have retained the memory of her damaged finger. The other day she saw Craig next door and said 'he helped me with my finger' (he drove her to the hospital) and when we were on the same freeway as we took to the hospital Una piped up with 'lady fix my finger.'

Memory is so fickle. It's amazing the things it fixes on, the things it ignores. It's amazing how memory can take us somewhere else that is neither here nor there but, like baby me, somewhere between - past and present, sleeping and waking. I hope both girls have good memory retention like me. My mother remembers a lot too, though her memory works differently from mine. I tend to remember impressions, mum has an amazing memory for networks and relationships and associations - she can always remember who know who and where from. I think my sister has this ability too (a first born trait? First borns are the family's memory keepers?) My memories tend to be more personal, more inward and introspective.

I am not tagging because I want EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD to do this, either on your own blog or in the comments, but if you do it on your blog, please tell me that you've done it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post Liberal World

Oh. Brave. New. World. I still haven't come down. I still have this post election blush. Oh joy. I feel like I live in a world where everyone's nice to each other, where politicians just want to make the world a better place. Julia. Maxine. Peter Garrett. Bob. And Kev, though he's still a bit of an enigma. As Catherine Deveny said:
I feel as if I've started dating another man after being in an abusive relationship for 11 years.

Can it last? Can it possibly last.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Cross posted at Inside A Dog.
A short reading from Undine.

Friday, November 23, 2007

One more sleep

Would you vote for this duck man?
See you at the polls tomorrow.

psst. Bob Brown for PM.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

School socials

Head over to Inside A Dog, read my post about school socials and have fun watching the clips.

What was your favourite song to dream to?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dancing Lessons

Kick your legs. (straight legs kick up)
Punch your back. (fists pummel the small of her back)
That's how you dance.

(Fred teaching Una to dance)

The weird thing is, it did actually kind of look like dancing.

Monday, November 12, 2007


000_0019, originally uploaded by nellup.

Remember I'm blogging on Inside a Dog this month. Meanwhile I'm slowly putting some photos on Flickr.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blog O'clock

Next week I will be blogging at Inside a Dog. Anyone got any suggestions of interesting writerly type things I can blog about? I am planning on doing some candid posts about adolescence...should be scary. And possibly funny. But hey, I was in grade eight in 1988, which was never going to be pretty.

We bought a new camera as our old one seems to be D-E-D (that's dead, for those of you who don't know how to spell proper). It is charging at the moment. Oooh. It's not fancy, but I'm okay with that. Martin picked it while Fred and I looked at a cringeworthy shop in Epping Shopping Pahlooza (not the real name) that was full of genu-ine fake asian and african artifacts. I was cringing so much I couldn't walk upright. Anyway, camera is charging. Photos, finally, tomorrow.

I drove all the way back from Epping. I even went on the freeway which scares the b'jeezus out of me because of the whole merging thing (though I quite like driving fast). So I am now a B'jeezus free zone. Thanks for asking.

Our echidna came back. We hung out. I think he's voting Green. He came right up to the veranda. Have I mentioned I love it here?

Fred has started talking to people. To everyone. She asks them what their name is, what their mother's name is, what their sister's name is on and I like your watch and your bag and your blue eyes. It can be quite embarrassing, like when she sticks her head under the gap between toilet cubicles. But she is not easily deterred. Even when people are outwardly rude, she just stands there and says 'excuse me excuse me excuse me' until they answer. I find it both funny and confronting. But mostly funny. Then Fred said to Martin the other morning, 'Why when I say hello to people do you and Mummy laugh?' So we must try not to find it funny or confronting. She used to be quite shy and quite reluctant to talk to other adults, so it's actually a really good development for her. And it's not her fault if some people are rude. I have this enormous need to buffer, to protect her from other people's rudeness and to protect them from my extremely nosy four year old. I need to step back and let her discover all by herself that people can sometimes be difficult, as for them, they cna all look after themselves. I myself have a tendency to avoid difficult interactions. So I like the idea of her wading in no matter what and continuing to press until she gets a smile, I don't want to parent her out of that.

On the other side of the spectrum, Fred has also learned the word hate and she uses it a lot. This grinds me down. Of course she's allowed to hate things, I can't expect her to think everything is sunshine and roses. But that's such a bad freaking vibe to spread around the earth. Seriously. And the flippancy with which she uses it... Yeah, yeah. I know. She's four. She doesn't really HATE ducks. But she needs to find a more...semiotically rich (as my undergrad students would say) way of expressing herself.

Photos photos. Tomorrow. I promise.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rainy Sunday

I'm in bed writing - fiction for once, instead of thesis. It's rained all night, we were woken by thunder and lightning and the sound of glorious rain beating the roof and filling the watertanks. Martin is currently cutting a whole in the fence between us and next door and the kids are running back and forth, playing in the cubby, climbing a tree (I can watch them as I write dangling from its branches). Poor Una is asleep, she just can't keep up with those big kids.

Yesterday as we walked out onto the road to go to the market we met the neighbours across the road and walked together. They have a boy the same age as Fred (in 2009 they'll start school together) and another boy four years older. They invited us for dinner and we sat around the table and ate pizza and cake and drank wine and talked about gardening plans and swapped some of our histories while Una rediscovered the joy of lemonade and Frederique discovered sitting on a skateboard and scooting down a steep drive. We came home across the dirt road in the rainy dark and bundled the girls into bed. It's hard to believe we've only been here for two weeks. It's strange to remember what life was like before.

It's raining again. The kids are staying out in it, not afraid to get wet. Martin's still out there too. Good for them. But I'm glad it's not me. Now, back to the writing I guess.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fingers, hospitals, scissors, tears

Yesterday we went back to the hospital to have Una's cast removed. It was quite frightening as they were cutting it off, I was scared of what they might find under there. Una, who played happily with Fred in the waiting room, running around like a crazy child, freaked out at the giant scissors and cried more than when it happened (well maybe not, but she cried a lot). I think it was also what they were cutting away that upset her - she has become quite used to her cast and I think she saw it as a part of her being taken, in the carpark as we were leaving she said dolefully 'I wost my wittle fumb'. But perhaps she has worried about her finger too and was alarmed at losing the protection. Looking at the rough drawings in blue ink of her angle her finger was on made me shudder. Even the nurse sucked air through her teeth when she saw it. And when one nurse called it an amputation, my blood ran cold.

Anyway, it looks like her little finger is going to be fine. They soaked the bandages off and had a good look, though Una kept wanting to plunge it back into the soapy bath, hide it away. They bandaged it up again and Una was still not comforted, though she calmed down as we left the ward and was running and laughing in the hospital corridors. She's still favouring her left hand, she holds the other arm crooked against her like a broken wing, as if the cast is still there. Martin thinks it will make her left handed.

She'll lose her nail. I wonder how she'll feel about that when it happens. And then she'll grow a new one. Bodies are magnificent.

We all had a good look at Martin's brother's finger on Saturday night, he did the same thing at 18 months in a folding chair. It was reassuringly ordinary. It is strange to think how families connect up, not just through genetics but through stories. Una's accident recalls and rewrites the story of Peter's finger which I've heard many times, being part of the family lore it is told over and over, though I think Saturday night was the first time we'd all connected up that story with adult Peter's finger. Now the stories belong together, injuries almost thirty years apart, laid side by side.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The dreamlife of fred

Sometimes when I watch Fred sleep I wish I could see what she is dreaming, which I suppose makes mothers creepy cause I can't imagine someone walking through my dreams. It reminds me of that scene in Peter Pan where the mother tidies away her children's thoughts...ugh. Martin and I read that to Fred in utero and both of us kind of freaked out about this idea of mothers. Turns out it's freaky accurate, though I can't actually get in there to rummage around.

Anyway, Fred just came to me stroking a pink feather, and told me her dream:

"I got into the cot and hugged Una and she was dying. She waved but she was dying. And I put her in the fire and you watched me pull her out again and she was alive again."

I was writing an article about death and repetition in children's literature at the time. Spooky.