25 August 2013

Odes to the Baglady in A Minor

Inspired by the legendary 70s concept albums as well as the songwriting of Waits, Dylan and Cave, Odes to the Baglady in A Minor is a cautionary tale about a bunch of regulars in a western suburbs cafe struggling, over thirty years, to cope with the ever-changing social world outside. Featuring twelve original songs interwoven with snippets of prose, poetry and drama.

02 May 2013

The logistics of getting to the hospital on time had been preying on our minds, to the point that whenever someone asked me where I was having the baby I replied “The Mercy,” and then added “in other words, on the Tullamarine freeway.” So when pre-labour started at around 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon a week before my due date, I was excited and relieved. The house was full of family at the time, but I kept the news to myself for a few private hours.

Scott’s workplace was over an hour’s drive away, but at that time he would already have been on his way home. The hospital was also over an hour’s drive away, with the distinct possibility of a traffic jam or two, but it would be well past peak hour by the time things hotted up. Best of all, I was looking at the prospect of being pregnant at least one week less than expected – a godsend for someone who finds pregnancy physically and emotionally debilitating. The thrill of having a baby to bring home just about took a back seat to all this logistical good fortune!

The pain of the labour and birth rather took me by surprise. Granted, my last experience of childbirth had been eight years ago, but I didn’t think of myself as someone who indulged in selective amnesia. Then, a few weeks later, it dawned on me how it happens. The early weeks with a new baby are blissful but also stultifying. And so I found myself casting my mind back, again and again, to the last really exciting thing to have happened to me, to the most recent incidence of high drama, of great effort and endurance. And that, of course, was the birth. 

Enjoying a coffee with his dad at one day old

Lovin' life with his sisters at two days old 

Post-baby Trading Hours
The Amy Emporium will be open as follows:
Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

04 November 2012

I’m currently pregnant with my third child. My first two are girls, and whenever people ask what we’d prefer for our third, we say another girl. My boyfriend and I have always thought, what could be finer than a house full of girls? And the reality of life with the two  girls we’ve got has done nothing to shake that conviction.

But recently, my boyfriend has come round to the idea of having a boy, so that he now professes to be fifty/fifty. “Really?” I said. “Look at it this way,” he explained, “it could turn out to be a little me. And this time, we’ll get him right.”  

22 July 2012

There are two pictures in my friend’s home that my nine-year-old finds scary. One is an original artwork of a woman who has had her legs bitten off by a fanged creature (drawn by my friend) and the other is an old-fashioned portrait of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns (bought from an op shop). It’s the violence of the imagery my daughter dislikes, but still: Who would have thought I would one day turn into a woman who would stand on a friend’s doorstep and say, “My daughter’s not coming in here until you’ve taken down your picture of Jesus!”

Incidentally, my boyfriend is an atheist but his mother is Catholic. When people ask if this poses a problem he replies, “No, she doesn’t believe in atheists.” Indeed, a couple of years ago when this same daughter thought it was a good idea to tell her grandma she didn’t believe in God, her grandma was unperturbed. “Don’t be silly, of course you do.”

25 June 2012

Ashburton Support Services op shop, Ashburton

Meanwhile, forget Christmas in July, this is Christmas in Mount Waverley... in June.

Lions Club op shop, Mount Waverley

11 June 2012

One of the things I’ve noticed about opening a business in the country is how often the word “support” crops up. “I hope people support you!” locals say effusively. And recently, when I dropped in on an acquaintance who’d opened a beauty salon/boutique she said, “I just hope people support me. I’ve supported enough of them over the years.” And it occurred to me that the idea of support is very valid. I don’t think we should live in a dog-eat-dog world. I don’t think we should always be chasing cheapness. Frugality may seem like a virtue, but in the end it leads to dead streets, dead towns, and a loss of power and choice for us all  So with this in mind, I’ve decided to stop shopping at Coles and Safeway/Woolworths, and to switch to Jonesy’s milk. I don’t want to be party to the creation of a world in which everything is controlled by some faraway corporate superpower; and quite frankly I’m tired of pouring so much brain power into comparing the prices of packets of biscuits.     

03 June 2012

My boyfriend turned 40 recently, so he has reached that age at which a man must start to come to terms with the fact that he may never – ever – get to see Tom Waits live. Fortunately for him, The Pogues visited Melbourne earlier this year, and he took some comfort in the fact that he would at least get to see a performance by the ugliest man in music, the magnificent Shane McGowan. My boyfriend’s only regret, I think, was that on the night, as we looked around at the crowd gathered at a nearby pub before the show, it became glaringly obvious that he’d missed out on a primo opportunity to wear a cap. He owns a couple of nice ones, you see, and chances to wear them are few and far between as it is.        

26 May 2012

NEW at The Amy Emporium

Lydra clutches (made of pre-loved leather and textiles)

Bob Window cushions (made of recycled woollen blankets)

12 May 2012

It all started because I’d signed a lease on a shop and needed coffee cups – fast. Selling coffee wasn’t part of the original plan, you see. Originally, I was going to open a shop in my home town and I wouldn’t have sold coffee there – I wouldn’t have been able to face the owners of my local cafĂ©! But when I ended up signing a lease on a shop in a different town, it became a possibility. But because I hadn’t planned on it, I hadn’t been collecting for it. The very next Saturday, however, while I was in Watsonia, I found a box of assorted amber cups and saucers in an op shop for $6. They’ll do, I thought, until I manage to find something else. But then my reconditioned espresso machine was delivered, and it turned out to be maroon. I loved the look of the amber against the maroon, so I decided to stick with the amber coffee cups. And it has since inspired me to start collecting and stocking other pieces of amber glass. After all, I've always wanted to be a collector. Of something.

29 April 2012

Something seems to have happened to my short-term memory. Whenever I plan to cook  beans, for instance, I can never – ever – for the life of me, remember to soak them in the morning so that I can cook them that night. So I’ve taken to placing packets of dried beans across the slots of the toaster so I’ll be reminded. And I can never – ever – for the life of me, remember to take the things I’ll need for the day with me when I leave the house. So I’ve started putting these things - a library book, say, or a particular tool – on the passenger seat of my car as soon as I think of it. And I write absolutely everything I need to know in my diary, only to forget to look in my diary on a daily basis. So my house is full of booby traps, my car is full of crap, and my diary is full of information that gets written but not read. But it isn’t just me. An acquaintance recently promised to visit my shop in Macedon, but she didn’t show. The next time I saw her she told me she’d made it as far as Woodend, where she went to the bank and then turned around and went home, completely forgetting that the reason she was in Woodend in the first place was that she was en route to see me.      

23 April 2012

I crossed a line today. I bought this CD for the girls after they'd mentioned, in a casual, off-hand sort of way, that they might be interested in it. But there’s no such thing as a “casual” or “off-hand” comment when it comes to nurturing their interest in books and music, so I ordered it straight away and within a few weeks they were listening to it and loving it. Sometimes, however, they would neglect to put it on. So before a long drive I might say casually, “Shall we listen to El Dorado in the car?” And at night, before sitting down to dinner, I might say in an off-hand sort of way, “Who wants to put on El Dorado?” But I never listened to it on my own. After all, I’m cool, and not a child. But today, as I drove to my shop knowing that El Dorado was still inserted into the CD player from the night before, I turned it on. Just to listen to one song! But after the song finished, I wished I hadn’t done it. It just wasn’t the same.

03 April 2012

Review of Playing House in Take 5 magazine, April 4, 2012

02 April 2012

My daughters are currently racing through Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. For some reason, their preferred reading position is sitting the wrong way around atop the back of the couch, with their legs dangling. When their father commented that this didn't look like a very practical way to sit, my seven-year-old - who is ever the jokester - turned her eyes skyward, started tapping a finger on her chin and sighed, "I wonder what practical means..."

Recently, the elastic on this girl's pyjama pants gave out. I offered to fix them, but she politely declined. You see, it suits a jokester's sensibilities to wear pants that will suddenly, inadvertently and routinely fall down.  

25 March 2012

Another favourite column has recently bitten the dust. No surprises there. The unfortunate reality is that many pages of the newspaper are no longer for me. I understand that. Newspapers have to reinvent themselves; to continuously replace old readers with new readers. I became an avid newspaper reader in my twenties, and newspapers have to continue to appeal to a twentysomething audience in order to survive. I understand that. I don't like it, but I understand it. And I continue to read the newspaper because it is an old friend. A somewhat cold and disinterested old friend these days, but there it is. Thank God, then, for the sports pages (in Melbourne, anyway), one of the last remaining places where a long-standing columnist doesn't have to watch his back.        

22 February 2012

When I was setting up my shop, I was a mess. My boyfriend had quit his job, I'd signed a commercial lease and outlaid thousands of dollars on stock and equipment, and I worried I was sending the whole family to the poorhouse for nothing more than a selfish dream. My boyfriend's response was, "We won't be going to the poorhouse this month, or next month, or the month after that; so just enjoy the process." Well, he has since decided not to seek out a new job immediately but to spend a month at home first, working on his own projects and looking after the children. Sometimes, at the end of the day, he frets that he hasn't been productive enough; so now it's my turn to say, "You've decided to take a month off work to do your own thing, we won't be going to the poorhouse any time soon, just enjoy the process."  

09 February 2012

The Known World Bookshop, Ballarat
One of the things I sell in my shop is second-hand books, and friends and family have very kindly given me boxes of books they no longer want. Sorting through them can be quite telling. For instance, the box of books my father-in-law gave me contained quite a few titles about running a small freehold (I didn't know he was interested in that) living in France (his francophilia I knew about) and curing cancer with alternative medicine (I knew he didn't want his mother to die - who does? - but I didn't know it had led him in this direction).

Speaking of mortality, the whole second-hand books thing has had my boyfriend questioning the point of his own library. For as long as I've known him, it has been a point of pride that he doesn't part with a single volume. But watching some of our fifty- and sixty-something friends cull their collections has made him wonder what exactly it is he's hanging on to. 

06 February 2012

I know that the chances are that I will never win the lottery. But I have a special set of numbers, and sometimes, when I'm feeling desperate, I'm tempted to buy a ticket. Recently, however, I discovered a way to avoid this temptation. Whenever I walk into a Tattslotto outlet with the intention of buying a ticket, I pick up a results slip from the previous week's draw instead. As I walk away from the outlet I look at the results slip, and sure enough, my "special" numbers are never on it.