Saturday, August 19, 2017

Peak Darwin

We may have reached Peak Darwin.

Last night we went out to the Darwin Festival park with Jason's friends the Notorious D.o.D. (Dads of Darwin)

Nora and her little buddies danced and we drank beer and ate curry in the lovely cool evening.  Travis and Elise took their little one into the the Lighthouse for a gig.  After a while I decided that we should join them, and because Darwin, of course there were tickets left.  I'm so pleased we went.  Felix Riebl was playing and it was just a beautiful happy gig.  Nora listened quietly, she seemed tired but happy. Here's us earlier in the night:

This morning after breakfast Nora grabbed her helmet and dragged it through the house saying 'Bike! bike!!' We took her subtle hint and went for a ride to Lee Point.  It's a beautiful bush trail, shady and cool.  I am terrible at mountain biking and the fact that I was on a flat-bar road bike with quite hard tyres wasn't helping.  But it was fun, I half skidded down the hills shrieking, with Jason shouting, 'Release the rear brake!'

Nora sat behind Jason tooting her horn and looking at the butterflies.

Then we sat at the beach at Lee Point and I made a little tee-pee:

What a lovely morning.

Friday, June 2, 2017


My bookclub has finally disbanded after 10 years.  Felicity moved to WA, I moved to Darwin and Camille moved to Germany. So many happy Sunday afternoons!

I've joined the Darwin City Libraries, and we take Nora to story time each week.  It's shambolic, toddlers tripping over each other, occasionally listening to part of the book.  Nora loves it though she spends most of her time pulling books off the shelves.

I just updated my reading list, here are my favourites in the past 12 months:

1. The Museum of Modern Love- Heather Rose
I was so pleased that this book won the Stella Prize, because I just adored it.  A novel based around Marina Abramovic's installation/performance 'The Artist is Present.'  It explores ideas of stillness, meditation and enduring in a really beautiful way.  I read the final chapters over a bowl of pho in a tiny Vietnamese place on Smith street.

2. The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood
I finally read this after seeing images of women wearing handmaid's robes to protest anti-abortion bills in Texas.  I found it so stressful I could hardly keep reading, nor stop reading. I found the scenes where Ofred's child is taken just gut-wrenching. I was also reading it during a very stressful period at work, so I'd get home from a long shift and become more anxious.  Thanks, M Atwood.

3. A Field Guide to Getting Lost- Rebecca Solnit
I'm not sure where Rebecca Solnit's been all my life.   A series of essay exploring different ways of being lost.  Beautiful concept and beautiful writing. I read this whilst staying with my uncle in the Barossa Valley. It inspired an off-piste wander through the pine forest behind the Seppelts family mausoleum.

4. Commonwealth- Ann Patchett
Jason's dad and I disagreed wildly on this book, to the surprise of no one.  I loved it.   Jason' dad is book club is the polar opposite of my old bookclub, and we love to make fun of each other.  His club are all business men, my bookclub is all women working in arts or health. His bookclub is run to strict rules and timelines.  For example, each book chosen must be published in the preceding calendar year (there are special sub-clauses about translations).  Each book is judged against a criteria matrix and the person whose book choice scores the lowest for the year is excluded from picking another book for 2 years!!!
Our bookclub met roughly six to eight times per year.  The book choices seemed to meander around topics for a few months.  There was a mid-twentieth century phase and a lesbian gothic phase. There was certainly no scoring matrix. Anyway, suffice it to say that Peter's book club did not rate 'Commonwealth' very highly.

5. Burning your Boats- Angela Carter
This was a book club book last year and it's stayed with me.  Carter's writing is lush and challenging. Nora was just a wee baby at the time I read it.  She fell asleep in her pram one afternoon and I got to sit in Everyday Coffee for 45 minutes (practically hours in baby-time!) reading stories and drinking coffee.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Whenever I am asked if I am enjoying working in Darwin, I reply, "My bike ride to work is amazing!"

And it really is.

The journey only takes about 10 minutes.  After riding to the end of my street, I turn down a gravel track through the bush to the hospital.  As Jason says, "You're practically mountain-biking!"  Huge trees tower over the path to the left, and fronds of native grass brush against my legs.  There are two wooden bridges crossing the creek.

I travel east in the early morning and west in the evening, so I'm always heading towards the rising or setting sun.

One Friday afternoon during the wet season I road home through a thunderstorm.  It was a truly impressive storm.  The lightening was so bright it hurt my eyes.  I'd decided to take the bush track home because I thought I'd be more likely to be struck by lightening along the main road.  But I hadn't really thought it through.  One of bridges was in flood and I pedalled frantically across hoping I wouldn't be swept into the open jaws of a crocodile.

Much of the path was flooded too. At some parts the water was so high that my pedals were submerged at their lowest clip.

I hadn't considered the big open clearings between the trees until I raced across them perched upon a lightening rod.

I arrived home sweaty, spattered with mud and feeling extremely alive.  Jason laughed at me.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Get happy

I'm in the dying days of my maternity leave and I can already feel myself being swept up in work again.

Before I had Nora, everybody wanted to tell me how *hard* it would be.  But I think working as an emergency doctor is unusually good preparation for caring for a baby.  It's unpredictable, thankless and there's no end in sight.  

Of course there are good bits too. So I want to buck the trend and write about these. You can just fill in the blanks about all the boring bits like changing nappies and shush-patting and breast pumps. 

1.  No-plastic fantastic
I developed an obsession with buying groceries sans packaging.  Handily, there's a Friends of the Earth co-op at the end of my street that sells all sort of things by weight.  I just take my own containers up there and buy oats, rice, tea, dishwashing liquid, flour, spices....It is extremely satisfying.  Admittedly I got some dirty looks when I took my shopping bag full of disposable nappies in, but at least I'm trying. 

Pen thinks I might get asked to do some crazy co-op shifts, like Abby and Ilana in Broad City.

2. Drinking coffee everyday. 
Each morning Nora wakes up with the most enormous smile.  I say, 'Good morning Nora!' and she pumps her little arms up and down in a frantic happy dance.

After breakfast I strap Nora to my chest and we walk down the street to get coffee (in a Keep Cup). This is pretty much the best thing ever.  Nora has become quite the local celebrity, with her signature yellow beanie and her gummy grin. 

3. Dancing in the living room
We have a very small living room but there is still room for dancing.  We also do immersive drumming, where Nora sits on my lap and I drum along to a song.  She gets completely entranced.

Here's a selection from my 'Nora dancing' playlist: 
-Rockin' Robin 
-Get Happy
-Istanbul (not Constantinople) 
-Splish Splash

4. More painting classes!
I enjoyed my beginners painting course so much that I've gone back for more.  This time I've painted a pair of pears.  Pretty soon I will quit medicine and become a painter of fruit. 

5. Weekends 
The awesome thing about being on maternity leave is that you have every weekend off.  Every single one! We even went to Bunnings last weekend, 'just like a regular person!' as I like to say. Here is Jason eyeing off his Bunnings sausages: 

Friday, May 6, 2016


In April I reached Peak Maternity Leave. Nora slept at times and on Wednesday evenings I rode up the Johnston street hill to Fitzroy to do painting classes.

I have no natural aptitude for visual arts.  In high school I disliked it so much I once volunteered to clean the studio sinks instead of painting.  I have since learnt to enjoy doing things I am bad at.

The painting classes were terribly fun.  There was cheese, cake and apple cordial.  Actually there was wine too but I'm not much of a drinker these days.  The teacher was fabulous, he took us step by step through painting tonally (light and dark!) using colours (warm and cool!) and glazing (painting one colour over another colour!). This all culminated in my fairly rudimentary painting of an apple:

My favourite part of the painting class was learning the artists' idiom 'to pull it out of the fire': to rescue a painting from a seemingly catastrophic error.

I love learning new idioms.  There are lots of great medical idioms, all terribly morbid. A way of avoid 'D' words (death, dying dead) when we are chatting with our colleagues.  "Don't buy any green bananas", we say, "He's not fit for a two-staged haircut."

We are now taught to use the D words when we speak with patients and their families.  This sits well with me. It always reminds me of my grandad's eulogy.  My uncle Bill said, "Pat never beat around the bush.  People didn't pass away, they died. And he did."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

pool escape

Just returned from a quick 50 minute trip to the Fitzroy pool.

Sunday afternoon, 34 degrees, summer sounds DJs playing.

Pool is heaving with people.

Water runs slick over my sunscreened arms.

Boy crosses underneath me at the deep end, skimming the bottom of the pool.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New year with Nora

Baby Nora was born 1 month ago.  She is our smallest, softest team member.

It's been a nice slow time of year to be settling in to life with baby.  It's always quiet in Collingwood around new year anyway.  The cafes are closed, there's not much traffic on the roads and no one is rushing in the heat.

 In the first few weeks I would go for a late afternoon walk around the streets.  I walked slower than I've ever walked.  And I felt so adventurous being outside in the world.  I would amble very slowly around the block, sometimes down Gold street or just along Johnston street.  Each afternoon I would try to return with a community update for Jason.  Important community updates included:

  • an enormous branch fell off the gum tree in the park opposite our house.   A branch as big as a tree!
  • the old men's club around the corner of our house started advertising a small dinner menu.  And the Sonsa man was there so it must be a Turkish club.  He gave me a friendly wave.  
  • there is a plum tree laden with fruit in an empty block on Keele street
  • bike-radios are a thing now! People are cycling with those small bluetooth stereos playing music
Pen says Nora sounds like a squeak toy when she mewls.

We love our baby Nora!!