Monday, April 23, 2012

Easter holidays and residential school

Before I went away Banjo invented a type of drawing called scribblex (yes, drawing to Skrillex), Matilda organised and orchestrated her birthday party (hamburgers and water fight), including a clean up round robin beforehand, and the village helped me write my assignment by taking the children for the day - three children with three families. I watched my first box set: Mad Men Season 4, and loved it. Don’t know that I’ll be rushing out to watch more box sets (I find it strange that people boast about seeing certain tv shows, as if they made them, when really, they’re boasting about sitting on their lounge for twelve hours), but I’ve broken the seal. The only box set we have at home is West Wing, and yes, I’ve started watching it. It’s educational - the lead up to US elections. I wonder if candidates have asked Aaron Sorkin to be their speechwriter. I'm not in the habit of watching dvd's. We'll see.

I’ve been away at residential school. I’ve spent a week of thinking about one thing: just one unit of study. Very unusual for me. No cooking or cleaning. No organising children. I didn’t even read the news. While away I found I was feeling more myself than I do at home, which is  bit of a worry. I found I can still do theatre, that I’m good at it, and noted the freedom to just do it without worrying how it looks. I feel now like I can be a drama teacher, and even though I have a lot to learn, at least I have a clue about what it is I have to learn, so I’m on track. Quite confronted by how free I can be in a theatre studio, yet I haven’t danced on a night out in years, and I’m really quite conservative now. I don’t have to be. And I have sorted my drama teacher uniform. I know what to wear. Done.

It was good to catch up with old friends, who knew me when I was fun and interesting, and be reminded that it’s hard to live with integrity, after studying the arts, no matter where you end up. If it wasn’t mothering for me it would have been something else I’d be applying critical thinking to. A reminder that not everyone has the education we had.

Realising that, coming from an arts background, of course I’m the kind of mother I am, and of course I help organise a Mamapalooza festival.

I read ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan, which I enjoyed. Recommended.

While I was away I got an article published in The Hoopla. Not world changing, but nice to be acknowledged.

And while I was away I wore my reading glasses. Like a new character. Because I feel a bit funny wearing them in front of people who already know me. Must grow up and wear my glasses.

But oh, my back. Not a good idea to sit in a train for nine hours when you have a fractured tailbone. I knew that. Didn’t stop me. Reminder to self. Don’t do it again.

First day back, last day of school holidays, I offered to take the children to Luna Park. We drove to the train station. I withdrew some money. Matilda said she didn’t feel well and wanted to go home (she didn’t want to go out with Clancy). I drove her home. We drove to the station. Bought rail tickets. Waiting on the station Banjo said she didn’t feel well and wanted to go home . (She missed Matilda). We drove home. Then tried to organise an outing with Clancy, without treading on other children’s toes about who wanted to see which movie. Matilda now felt fine. So even though I had planned an outing that meant lots of walking around and not much sitting, I ended up sitting. Must do something  to help my back.

Apparently, while I was away, the children did more cleaning up after themselves and their lunches were better (I’ve been a bit slack about holiday lunches, but hey, after twelve years of three good meals a day, and morning and afternoon tea, I’m on a break). And the children said they enjoyed not hearing the word ‘assignment’.

So, coming up this term, and time to get back into work mode.

* Preparing lessons to teach ethics classes.

* Writing stories to perform as the library storyteller - look at folk tales. All help gratefully accepted.

* The playgroup I run - learn everybody’s name, get the resources together and decide about singing songs.

* Helping with the reading program - no preparation but there are conversations re organisation.

* Uni assignments. My assignments this trimester haven’t been as good as they could have been. Need to make this high priority and do better this term.

* A block of prac at a local school. What to do with my children after school? Do I just cancel all afterschool activities and put them in after school care - they won’t like  that! Organising people to cover me in my jobs. Wish me luck.

* And of course, Mamapalooza - that’s going to be one crazy week. I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to write a book in preparation for the Wordsmiths session.

And in between all this, I’ll be cooking, cleaning and running around after children. Or is it the other way around??

Now, off to work. If you see or hear me doing anything not related to my set goals for the term, give me whack!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mamapalooza Sydney 8-13 May

We've finalised the schedule for the week of celebrating motherhood - the Mamapalooza festival! It's shaping up as an exciting week. Please come along and get involved. If we have good crowds, Vee and I will feel encouraged to organise another festival next year! And if you can't come, you can still be involved by helping us with crowdscourcing (ie, fundraising) at Pozible (see below).

*Hey Hey Mama Art Prize:
Artists Celebrating Motherhood.
8th-13th May 2012. Opening Night Tuesday 8th May @ Tap Gallery
Art inspired by motherhood, created by mothers. For entry forms to the art show please email: or pick up your entry form from Tap Gallery.

*Mama Songwriter Night
Wednesday 9th May 7.30pm @ The Supper Club, The Oxford Hotel, 134 Oxford St. Darlinghurst. Hosted by Carolyn Woodorth. $10 entry includes meal. Songs inspired by motherhood, with Tina Harrod, Mindy Sotiri, Hiske, Kathy Cox, Ruby & Faith, Zelda Smyth, Trish Young (Clouds) and Freya.

*Mama Film Night
Thursday 10th May 7.30pm @ Tap Gallery. Entry by Donation. Films inspired by Motherhood -
Award-winning ‘Maverick Mother’ by Janet Merewether. 'At 39, Janet's biological clock was chiming a deafening 'tic-toc'. A film about single motherhood by choice and the contemporary role of the father.’
And ‘Rock Chikz’ by Vee Malnar. An all girl band have to find a replacement when their keyboard player and mum has to leave to give more time to her family.

*Mama SONGWRITER Night @ Parramatta!
Host Carolyn Woodorth
Friday 11th May from 7.30pm Mars Hill Cafe, 331 Church St. Under 18 venue (no alcohol) - mums can bring their kids! $10 entry. Contact Russell Neale to book a spot

*Mama CLOWN Workshop with Ruby Star
Saturday 12th May 1-5pm: To register call Ruby on 0404917033.

*Mama VARIETY Night!
Hosted by Lou Lou Pollard. Saturday 12th May 8pm @ Tap Gallery, 278 Palmer St. Darlinghurst. Mama Performers, Clowns, Stand-Up Comics - Christina Van Look, Kathryn Bendall, Kathryn Yuen, Regina Botros, Ruby&Faith and more!

*Mama WORDSMITHS! “Mothers Day”
Sunday 13th May 3pm @ Tap Gallery. Catherine Walsh leads readings and a discussion on Motherhood and the Arts, with Joan Garvan, Andie Fox, and Debra Keenahan. An afternoon tea with poets (Melissa Curran & Patricia Blackman), writers and artists. A free event. Come along after brunch with the family.

For more info or if you would like to get involved
please contact Festival Organiser Vee Malnar 0402036082
or email

We are part of Mamapalooza International.
For more info please go

Find us on Facebook

Pozible Crowd Funding: Please go to:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Toni Morrison

An interview with Toni Morrison in The Guardian.

She has a new book, Home, which I'll read. I've read all her novels. I can't say I've fully understood them all, but spending time with her makes me feel better, hopeful, inspired.

In this interview she talks about the loss of her son, aging, politics in the USA. She is a woman worth listening to.

Here she says again, similar to one of my favourite quotes of hers, how becoming a mother freed her. She began writing fiction at the age of 39. She's now 81. She's written the books she wanted to read.

At one level, says Morrison, it was terrifically simple. "I was young. I started writing when I was 39. That's the height of life. The real liberation was the kids, because their needs were simple. One, they needed me to be competent. Two, they wanted me to have a sense of humour. And three, they wanted me to be an adult. No one else asked that of me. Not in the workplace – where sometimes they'd want you to be feminine, or dominant, or cute." She smiles. "The kids didn't care if I did my hair, didn't care what I looked like."


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Clancy's poem to her Nana on the occassion of her 80th birthday

Dear Nana

I love you with all my heart
With friendship, beauty, grace and art.
In a forest you are Snow White,
Always witty, always right.
A page you will turn
in the chapter of life
For you are a Nana and a mum
and don't forget a wife.
Great hope you bring to everyone
Small, young, and bold.
You are my Nana, oh great dear,
You are eighty years old.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Morning

We're not big on Easter eggs, and I've never done the Easter bunny. Actually, I've only gone back to eating chocolate after about ten years of eating none. Last year I babysat for a family just after Easter and the children had large piles of chocolate - about 40 eggs and bunnies each. Anyway, this year I've bought a few more treats for the kids. And because I don't do the Easter bunny, Clancy hid my egg and made a treasure hint. Here are her clues.

Chocolate is a galaxy so here is your first clue.
PS if in doubt remember to look behind you
Paper, lots of paper, but sometimes running out
Of white sheets that we really need.
You should really be in doubt.

Clothes, lots of clothes.
Banjo has the most.
Matilda has so little.
She doesn’t mean to boast.
High clothes and low clothes
I sometimes cannot reach.
Clothes for the mountains
Clothes for the beach.

You’ve got one more to find
You should be able to find it,
that is if you’re not blind.
Look outside and you may find
a beautiful Easter egg.
But don’t be too hasty
‘Cause you might fall off the edge.

It was in a tree in the backyard!

Happy Easter.

Religion for Atheists

I was keen to read this book because Alain de Botton argues some points that I argue: that religion fills the basic human needs for community and ritual. I was keen to see an atheist book that acknowledges and respects what belonging to a church or religion provides for people that is good for them and for society.

But, I’m disappointed, for a few reasons.

1. He needs a better editor. He does harp on.

2. He acknowledges that New Atheists in their books (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) are quite cruel and dismissive in their rally against religion, yet he does this in a way that joins in the ‘fun’ of religion bashing. Not cool. Especially when you claim your book isn’t in that camp, and acknowledges that millions of people who are religious must get something worthwhile from religion. It only takes a line or two to lose credibility.

3. He refers to religion very broadly. He refers to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but not to other religions, nor the vast variety within the main religions. Sloppy.

4. He does offer suggestions for secular societies to enjoy and benefit from engaging in rituals and building communities. However these are either far fetched, or impractical or just not very well thought out. I could suggest people are already finding ways to build communities and create rituals to make meaningful events in their lives, whether that be sitting in a circle passing the bong around, or attending a big football match or going to the theatre, or having morning tea and singing songs at playgroup. (We say the Romper Room grace: ‘For our family friends and food we say thankyou.’) Or the shared humanity of acknowledging people’s sorrows in internet forums. He asks that we think more about how to be good and wise, without seeing the ways in which we already do, in conversations big and small, about ourselves and others, known and unknown, in institutions real and virtual. Just as working together in a community garden, attending committee meetings and babyshowers and school assemblies, offering consolation and support on blogs and forums, playing video games together or discussing tv series, books or films, or attending raves, have their own rituals and build community when people come together, in ways that add meaning to our lives, and challenge us to assess ourselves, what we believe, and how we’re faring in attempting to live according to our values and beliefs.

So, I’m calling this book at starting point.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Picasso Exhibition

I went to this exhibition, but didn't really enjoy it, for a number of reasons.

I wonder how many people go to these kinds of events because they are truly interested, and how many go because they think they should be interested, or because it is culturally good for them, an equivalent of eating their vegetables? Or because it is a socially acceptable outing for women of a certain age?

Every time I see the celebration of a major male artist I wonder about the women who made his food and washed his clothes. In the case of Picasso there was a series of women to renew his spirits and share the work. He painted them. They took care of him and his children. I wonder if he ever made his own sandwich or interacted with his own children. It feeds into the ideal of the artist as someone with no care responsibilities, and expendable relationships. The kind of artist that mothers just can't be. The kind of ideal that mother artists, in any artform, rally against.

I was just as interested in watching the people at the Art Gallery as I was in the exhibits. Perhaps more so. People are interesting. My main thought at Picasso's works was this:considering he could draw so well at a young age, and do any type of art he liked, why was he not interested in conventional beauty? Why did he not use his talents to add to the beauty of the world? And yes, I understand he was creating new forms and commenting on his world, and that world is not always beautiful, but that was my thought. If you could create beauty, why wouldn't you?

I was more interested in the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, after seeing the doco on tv that same week I attended the Picasso exhibition. But perhaps Jean-Michel Basquiat could not have done the work he did without Picasso.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sexism on tv

Good on Clem Bastow for pointing out sexism on tv in this article for Daily Life. (Not sure I agree about Agony Uncles, but anyway.) A job worth doing.

What I don't understand is why she included this paragraph.

(If you’re anything like me – i.e. a tiresome, man-hating feminist who would rather plait her overgrown underarm hair than engage with popular culture – it’s rather more difficult, when it comes to Australian broadcasting, to find a TV show that doesn’t display some level of sexism.)

How does that add to the argument in any positive way? Has she no editor?

A Woman of a Certain Age

This week I've been referred to as 'the lady', 'that woman', and 'someone', even though I was right there - 'Hello! I'm the someone!' That's what I said.

Is this the invisibility of an aging woman?

Or have I just encountered some rude people this week?

I do seem to be visible at the baking aisle of the supermarket. People consult me. 'Yes I have used that brand of flour. Yes it is fine for making white sauce.' Matronly.

I'm not exactly shy, and I do often wear bright colours. If I was more retiring, or not so determined, or not feeling well, I'd be quite hurt.

And while I need to dress for function (I really can't see myself getting around like the women featured in Advanced Style) it would be nice to not be invisible. Time to speak out against rudeness perhaps, or make a point of introducing myself to everyone, multiple times.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Women Literary Events

The Sydney Writers festival is coming up - they've just released their schedule of events. I always scan looking for feminist and women's (perhaps even mothering - hardly likely) events.

I'm finding their picture a little confusing. I know their theme is private vs public, but the picture of a woman with her eyes and mouth blanked like in the photos of people who are naked and abused is confronting. Maybe not in the way they intended. I'm not comfortable with it. I guess they were going for 'edgey'. I'm calling it 'distasteful'.

Anyway, here's what they're offering this year.

The Feminist Supremacy? With Kathy Lette, Tara Moss, Emily McGuire, Catherine Deveny and Julia Baird.,com_events/Itemid,124/agid,3114/task,view_detail/

Girl Trouble, about chic lit, with Toni Jordan, Kathy Lette and Gretel Killeen.


Women on Top, workshop with Toni Jordan,com_events/Itemid,124/agid,2928/task,view_detail/

Subject and Self: Muslim Women Writers Talk, with Randa Abdel-Fattah, Nasrin Mahoutchi-Hosaini, Eugenia Flynn, Samah Hadid,com_events/Itemid,124/agid,3058/task,view_detail/

With My Body, Nikky Gemmell,com_events/Itemid,124/agid,3089/task,view_detail/

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to all these. Or any. I'm a bit ennuied with literary talks and writers' festivals. I realised years ago that they are marketplaces for selling books, not ideas. They are places for people with disposable time and income to gather tales for their dinner parties. They don't actually change anything. (Silly me...)

Also, The Hoopla is holding a literary lunch to support the Stella Prize, a new award for women's writing.

See Monia Dux on why we need to support women's writing here:

I pretty much only read women's writing these days.

But of course, I'm hoping that anyone interested in these events will be attending the Mama Wordsmiths event on Mothers Day at the Tap Gallery, which is the final event of the Mamapalooza Sydney festival, and which I'm hosting.