Saturday, September 29, 2007

An ambivalent review

I read The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios by Yann Martel. I bought it because I gave my mother The Life of Pi by Yann Martel for her birthday and she enjoyed it.

The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios is a selection of three short stories and a novella. They are emotive, interesting and interestingly told. I almost entirely recommend them.

There is one word that makes my recommendation hesitant. One word that sticks in my mind and caused me to rant at the book. In a story told in the first person Yann Martel writes:
"But Paul wasn't gay. He had never told me so outright, but I knew him well enough and I had never sensed the least ambivalence."
Ambivalence! I felt outraged. Ambivalence implies that the person is unable to make a choice or is torn between two conflicting desires. What makes this fictional young man think that gay people are any more ambivalent than anyone else?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The incredible woman

Where am I you may ask? Well I have a terrible cold. H has a terrible cold. K has a terrible cold. My nanny doesn't have a terrible cold but she does have terrible food poisoning so I've kind of been busy.

And doing needlework. Which uses up my evening typing fingers.

You can really tell I've become a lady of leisure (sickness as above excepted): first I went into a toy shop and came out with a needlepoint kit and nothing for H or K, and I've had an odd moment sitting in a cafe sipping hot chocolate and doing it.

The kit is The Incredible Woman designed by Jennifer Pudney. This is a wee picture of what it would look like if I did it according to the instructions:

But I'm planning to add another baby, and make the cat and woman look more like Andy and me. I'm not sure whether to have two babies and a wee man or take the wee man out. I don't feel that D is one of my burdens which makes me think I could take him out but he is important and Andy isn't a burden either...

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Artistic license

K has been drawing a lot of fairies recently. She also draws people she knows: H, K, our nanny, me. These people are often depicted with wings.

A week or two ago D overheard H lecturing K: "Remember if you're drawing Daddy don't give him any hair."

Then on Father's Day K bounced up to D with a picture and said "Here you go Daddy, here's a picture of you, but I can't draw boys so I drew you wearing a dress."

At which H piped up "I like drawing fairies."

I think D is beginning to develop a complex.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Book stick

I stole this stick from clarityburntime.

1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

One that is loved enough to be memorised. (I haven't actually read Fahrenheit 451 but...)

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Often while reading and in the afterglow of a good book.

3. The last book you bought is:
I bought The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr for a third birthday present and before that My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems, and Dear To Me: 100 New Zealanders Write About Their Favourite Poems which inspired my leaving work poetry appeal.

4. The last book you finished is:

Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale (the board book version). I haven't been finishing adult books recently, just starting them. I think the last I finished was The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin, the sixth in the Earthsea Series. Despite them being highly recommended to me for as long as my reading age has been up to it I only started the series this year, they lived up to my high expectations.

5. What are you currently reading?
D is reading The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson aloud to me before we go to sleep. I love being read to and I feel very lucky every time it happens.

On my bedside table I have bookmarks in: Dear To Me, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Small Holes In The Silence by Patricia Grace, The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson, The Fountain of Tears by Stephanie de Montalk, Are Angels OK?: The Parallel Universes of New Zealand Writers and Scientists and The Halstead Treasury of Ancient Science Fiction. Fortunately most of these are short pieces or non-fiction which can cope well with a long break in the middle. Life of Pi is the exception.

I am also reading The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne to H and K, and the very beautiful Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty and Jane Ray which is K's current favourite. It is wonderful reading Winnie-the-Pooh to people who have never met the jokes before and find them hilarious.

6. Five books you would take to a desert island.
Is this the kind of desert island where I need the book with the biggest covers I can think of for shade, the bulkiest book drenched in water to quench my thirst, the most nutritious book to eat, a book of matches to light a fire and a fishing book with a two free hooks?

Assuming the desert island has a luxurious resort which caters for all my other needs including entertainment for H & K, I'll take a bunch of books I haven't read but want to: the Life of Pi to finish, My Heart Goes Swimming for romance, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson because I've heard it's good and I'm interested in the politics of terraforming, Captain Nemo by K.J. Anderson which D wants to return, and Of course I love you... NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM! by Diane Levy which I have been meaning to read for ages.

And then I remember that one is generally assumed to be stranded for a very long time on fictional desert islands not just on holiday and, after putting aside worrying about either being separated from or having to educate H and K, I think maybe I should bring some more sustaining things: an encyclopaedia to feed my love of trivia, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because they will survive much re-reading, Dear To Me for some great poems, an omnibus edition of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy to keep the wolf from the door, and a guide to the local flora and fauna to answer my curiosity.

7.Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
JK and i because they both love to read and sometimes do memes and I'll leave the last invite temptingly open to anyone who wants it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Please livejournal me

Some of my dear readers have expressed a desire to read this humble blog on livejournal. This requires syndication and syndication requires a paid or permanent livejournal account. If you have such a thing and you'd be prepared to take not usually about penguins there please let me know.

Thanks! This is on livejournal here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tidy in her mind

Once upon a time K had a buddy called Bear, who was a bear, and H had a buddy called Fimble, who was a fimble. Unbeknownst to them their devious parents had a secret stash which contained doppelgängers, Backup Bear, Fimble's Friend and Fimble's Other Friend. This deception was carefully maintained for fear that a rift in the space time continuum would occur if Bear and Backup Bear, or Fimble and Fimble's Friend were to simultaneously appear.

Of course it was inevitable that this would happen. One day when we had searched high and low for Fimble, given up in despair and substituted Fimble's Friend H found Fimble. Our nanny handled the situation with aplomb and H & K were absolutely delighted. Magic! Now K has a fimble too. To avoid confusion both fimbles are called Fimble and only K can pick which is whose.

K is feeling in need of additional security at the moment. One of the ways this manifests is that every night when she goes to sleep she needs a vast collection of objects. Her fimble and bear, pink baby, cookie monster, Shirley, Bear's dad, wee pink bear, my leaving work gorilla, the toy shopping basket, Pooh, some pictures of fairies I drew for her, and the list goes on. Most nights the collection grows and it all has to be arranged just so. I fear that one day it will undergo gravitational collapse, become a black hole and suck not just toys but all our material possessions in.

[This post was inspired by this post about transitional objects.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's on tonight

I don't know about you but when I go to the movies I normally don't have a specific film in mind. An opportunity comes my way and suddenly I want to know what's on tonight. I want to go to a website and see all my options on one page. Sometimes I want to print that page and take it with me so I can discuss which movie to go to over dinner.

Here are some quick reviews of the sites I've found that meet that need in Wellington:
+ good, comprehensive and reliable info
+ links to (the movie database on the web)
= sessions by cinema
- I haven't found a way to print the information sensibly
+ sessions by film across all cinemas (a very nifty feature)
+ good information
+ prints OK and you can cut, paste and reformat it
- sometimes incomplete and not obvious when it is
- link changes name from time to time, if it doesn't work go to the feelinggreat site and search for movies
- only covers arty cinemas
= sessions by time
+ prints OK

There are a couple of sites which cover all of NZ which have all the information but do not present it on one page. is very glossy, has info for only some cinemas but I've included it because I like the design.

Actually tonight I'm going to the Northland Toy Library committee meeting but conceptually I might be going to the movies and if I was I'd be using these sites.

Friday, September 14, 2007

50 ways to leave

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

- Paul Simon
50 ways to leave your lover

Today is my last day at work. Yesterday it finally hit me as I was throwing out half the stuff in my filing cabinet that this is it. 40 hours a week for 13 years comes to so little. I cried on my way home.

Now it is 4am and I can't sleep. Today I have to pull together my last gasp attempt to finish what I said I would before I go, do something sensible with a few hundred emails, pass on my last words of wisdom and have a few drinks with my workmates (and probably more than a few more).

K asked me a while ago "Do your friends at work love you?" Today I hold them very dear.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I'm leaving work in a week and so I'm clearing out my email. Here are three snippets I thought I'd share:

  1. While sitting down, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
  2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
  3. Check which way your foot is circling.
  4. Try to do this without your foot changing direction.

This is a wee snatch of a song that I started inventing:

Beauty's in the eye of the beholder [intro...

There's a woman of size
with massive thunder thighs

And a woman so thin
who thinks eating's a sin

If you think that they're not beautiful [chorus...
you've got ugly eyes.

There's a man in lace
with a brithmark on his face


From: me
To: D

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh!' he whispered.
'Yes, Piglet?'
'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. I just wanted to be sure of you.'

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hell fire

Last night we were happily eating pizza when we turned around to see flames a foot and a half tall in the kitchen. It seems the problem with buying pizzas from Hell is their desire for immolation.

It was all very dramatic but we managed to put the fire out without anything else catching and we even rescued the damp and slightly charred token from the pizza box. The only lasting impact is that one of the knobs on the stove is slightly melted.

It made me realise I cope better with emergencies when there are other people present I can boss around.

The most probable cause of the fire is that when D put the empty pizza box down on the stove top it was heavy enough to trigger the gas self-lighting mechanism and a spark caught but we haven't ruled out spontaneous combustion.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sweet dreams

Putting K to bed tonight I said "Dream of nice things: fairies and princesses, purple and pink, fimbles and chocolate, ice-cream and lollies."

And K added "Mustard and horseradish sauce."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chocolatey goodness

My top ten:
1. Schoc - Lapsang Souchong - individual chocolates infused with smoked tea
2. Whitakers - Dark Orange block
3. dark chocolate covered crystallised ginger
4. de Spa Chocolatier - lime individual chocolates
5. the dark chocolate covered dried apricots you can buy individually from Kirks
6= Cadbury - Energy Chocolate block
6= Whitakers - Bittersweet Dark block
6= Cadbury - Old Gold block
9. chocolate covered hokey pokey
10. jaffas