Monday, July 30, 2012

how a bunny sounds

N's brother has this excellent print by Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown. Apparently it's funnier if you actually know what the musical terms mean but it made me laugh anyway. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The people you meet when you're househunting...

The divorcee who has lived here for 25 years and doesn't want to leave but can't afford to buy out her ex-husband. Her divorce came through today. Her eldest son used to live in a lovely big house in Croydon but now he's living in the second bedroom because he left his wife and kids. Did she mention she's been here 25 years and doesnt want to leave? Or that her divorce came through today?

The woman who lives across the road who runs out to warn you: DO NOT BUY THAT HOUSE. It may look perfect but it's been derelict for 10 years and was renovated in a couple of weeks. She prompts you to look in the loft where you notice that the roof is caving in. Some things you can't cover up with white paint.

The man who lives across the street and comes out to ask you if you're thinking of buying the house you're looking at. He's lived here for 23 years and names all of the families on the street. He tells you that you would be very welcome here and that it's a lovely neighbourhood. You assume that he hasn't noticed the crack running down the front of the building or the damp rising up the back.

The middle eastern family who have been living in the Victorian terrace for 25 years and need more room to fit in all of their grandchildren. He is an electrical engineer and has enjoyed modernising the house. He has done so by removing all of the original features, some of the walls and the wooden staircase and replacing them with a 16 ft long brick structure in the middle of the living room and a melamine/wraught iron construcion. He tells you it will break his heart to leave and you believe him. You want to buy his house because he is such a very nice man but the thought of dealing with the brickwork, not to mention the textured walls, gives you hives.

The landlord who lives in his very small house with 6 'students'. He tells you that they're stupid lazy bastards who he will throw out when he sells the house. He lets you know that you can have all of the furniture if you want it. You know as soon as you step through the door and the smell hits you that the best thing you could do with that house is burn it to the ground but you don't want to be rude so you let him show you the whole thing. By the time you've seen the kitchen, read the letters to 'the Rats and Other Vermin', noted the plethora of post-it notes calling the lodgers 'stupid lazy bastards' and felt your feet stick to the carpet, you realise you are holding your daughter so tightly you're making finger marks on her arm and that being rude would have been a fine price to pay for not seeing this hell hole and not having the foul old man try to touch your child. Ten minutes after you leave you vomit into your hand a little bit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Do you remember the perfect belly button swirl E had when she was 17 weeks? It grew out. Now she's nonchalantly rocking a perfect curl instead. The kind you spend twenty minutes chasing a toddler around the room trying to photograph. 

We're just back from a week of house hunting in London. It was Not Good. The most appealing prospect had a crack running down the front of the building and damp creeping up the back. It was a quarter of a million pounds.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

musings on lupin.


I miss my bunny. 

A year ago my mum looked after the bunny while we were away somewhere, he never came home. It turned out that he liked it there, more than he liked it here with two small people on the cusp of learning to get around and a propensity for eye-gouging (and shit-eating). I think my mum likes having him too, he's pretty good company. She also looks after him a lot better than we ever did, she bought him a heated pad because she was worried he was cold. And she doesn't cuddle him against his will, tickle his feet or forget to feed him until midday. I hate to admit it but we're those horrible people who had kids and then no time for our pets. I hate those people. 

Mostly I've been too busy being overwhelmed by life to miss him terribly, but over the last week I've reallllly wanted one of those unwilling cuddles. 

Nye says we're not having any more rabbits. He says the only pet we're having from now on is a dog. He says I was wrong when I came home that day and told him I'd just heard that you could keep rabbits indoors and wasn't that the best thing ever! He says they're outdoor pets. And yet when I suggest having an outdoor one at some point in the future he doesn't seem to keen on that either. I'm not sure he can hold out against three of us though, Ella is already completely obsessed with her stuffed bunny, it can't be long before she's mastered 'daddy, can I have a REAL bunny?' Combine that with Amelia's superior skills with wielding a blunt weapon and he's toast. 

I thought writing about missing him would help. It didn't. I really want to stick my finger under that pissed off chin and schnuffle it. Which incidentally, would be one of the reasons why he doesn't miss me at all. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

my last lucid moment. 

I've been trying to finish up writing about giving birth (part 1 is here) but as usual, it's slow-going. My memories of the second part of the whole two-babies thing is hazy (opiates will do that to you) and I can't write the kind of detailed 'birth story' telling you exactly what time I was dilated how much (thank god) that I read all over the internets. What I have managed to write is a very long and slightly irritating stream-of-consciousness style telling of my memories of being completely drugged up and giving birth twice in one morning. It's about a million words so far and I haven't even given birth to Puke yet. 

Aside from self-consciousness (I feel like a tit when I write, that's why everything I post is short. Or wordless), I'm struggling to convey just how I felt about birth. Some of you know that I found the whole thing remarkably positive, that a couple of minutes after Amelia was born I leaned over to Nye and said 'lets have more', that when people ask me how it was the word I most often use is 'amazing.' Some of you have asked me to write about it, because you want to know how birth could be amazing, you want to hear about the bit where it was empowering. And I worry that I can't do it justice. Because it wasn't a case of revelations of strength, or embracing my maternal power or feeling deeply connected with nature and my womanhood (gag), it was all a lot more pedestrian than that. A lot more 'hey! I'm giving birth! Wow!' I worry that you're expecting me to write something powerful and inspiring but really what I've got is 'mmmmm, the drugs feel niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. Are those paediatricians flirting while I squeeze a person out of my vagina butt-first? They are, they're flirting.' 

But maybe there's power in that? My friend Cate posted a link on twitter last week to a project that partners up pregnant women with women who have a positive birth story to tell. It sounds minor but I don't think I can over-stress just what an impact this could have. I think that the reason I describe the girls' births as amazing, despite a fair amount of medical intervention (induction, epidural, episiotomy, forceps, theatre) is because I wasn't scared. I mean beforehand there were times when I was absolutely terrified, days when I cried all day and shouted at Nye ' You don't understand, YOU don't have to give birth'. But by and large I had faith that it was all going to be fine. I never imagined scenarios when things went wrong, I read many many positive birth stories and I pictured the best and happiest outcome continuously. I hadn't realised how rare that was. It turns out that almost no one in our culture has head a positive birth story, that that's why people are so fascinated when I tell them that I loved giving birth and why women are so scared going into labour, they have never heard anything other than that it was terrible/agony/horrifying and they've sure as shit never heard anyone say that they enjoyed it. 

Which is why I feel like I owe more than a crappy, drug-addled recollection of the girls' messy, flawed, medicalised birth. I owe an inspirational fable, the kind that makes you cry and rally and feel empowered. But I worry you're just going to come away from reading about W&P's birth slightly nauseated and thinking 'I really must score some pethidine.' 

Monday, July 09, 2012

does not compute.


"I don't cook." I hear this so often and it always totally baffles me. It's usually from women about my age and it seems to be said with a subtext: 'I have better things to do'. (Of course, often it's said by men and then the subtext is usually 'don't be stupid, someone else does it for me.'  That's another blog post.)

It's not 'I don't like cooking' or 'I'm not good at cooking', it's 'I choose not to cook.' I'm not stupid, I understand that a generation of women are railing against the notion that they have to cook for their families simply because they're women and that's what women do, but the majority of the people who tell me that they don't cook are single women or women who are part of a couple. 

The decision not to do something that is so essential to one's existence seems perverse to me. Putting aside the option of eating food that doesn't need to be prepared at all (gag), there are two options, either you cook for yourself or someone else does it for you, and if someone else does it for you, what happens when they're not around? It's like not being able to wash or dress yourself, of course there are other options (wet wipes and staying in your pyjamas), but they suck! 

I love cooking and I'm not terrible at it. I love the creativity of putting together ingredients, the alchemy of doing things to them to make them taste different, but mostly, I love the ability to feed myself good food, to nourish my body and look after myself and it's that that I can't understand people choosing to opt out of. Whether you enjoy it or are good at it, surely being able to feed yourself is motivation enough to at least have a go at cooking?  That's why it doesn't compute when people tell me they don't cook. I just don't understand. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

May; a month in photos


May was a big month. I planted seeds, the first in many years. With blackened fingernails, cold damp hands hands and a chopstick. Coriander, basil, thyme, chives, rosemary, mint. Herbs which without, life has little meaning. 

Then things grew and flowered and whispered to me that winter was over. 

I went to London, alone. I left Nye and the girls to their own devices and spent a night and two days visiting friends and exploring what will one day be our new neighbourhood. It was sweet, delicious freedom. I crossed roads without the green man, I read books on the train, I held babies that weren't mine. I was reminded that our time of babyhood has well and truly passed, a new crop has arrived to take their rightful place as new lives in this world. 

I came home, to my best people. Some of them welcomed me back, some of them did not. 

The girls grew bigger and bigger and learned to spell in the bath. Ella said 'oh fuh.' 

We took an ill-fated camping trip and I learned big lessons about parenthood. 

Ella made a shiny offering to her nemesis. Ammie's curls grew wilder.