November 30, 2004

Hot in the city

it's very hot in my office today, punkin.

it's all i can do to stay awake enough to work.

you'll have to cope without me til tomorrow.

love you.

November 29, 2004

do the locomotion

It’s probable, pumpkin, that you are going to want to leave the house at some stage. More likely, however, that your fabulous parents are going to want to leave the house in order to fulfill some engagement on their social calendar. Regardless, the house will be being left.

Leaving the house with a baby, apparently, is vastly different to leaving the house prior to parentage. Currently, excursions begin with marshalling the canines outside, closing the door and finding my car keys. It appears that once you arrive, this process will take a considerably longer and more complex series of actions and equipment.

It is with the equipment that I am currently struggling. We made a trip on the weekend to the “giant unforgiving gaping maw that is the babygoods industry dedicated only to siphoning cash from new parents’ pockets” store. This trip was presented in the guise of a ‘research trip’, but ended up with the man standing and looking at the blonk, telling us that he wasn’t sure we could fit a baby seat in the back.

He wasn’t a nice man, though, so I’ve chosen to not believe him.

There are apparently several hundred accoutrement that we are obliged to purchase, at the rough equivalent of Liberia’s deficit. Devices that, when I was a child, were called “pushers”, are now apparently “jogger strollers”, are composed of space age alloys, have several configuration options, pneumatic tires and ABS brakes.

Of course, being a gadget freak, I’m quite excited by these developments, and gravitated directly towards the “created by a Swedish industrial designer and a physiotherapist, with seventeen configurations and ergonomically optimised" device; and was excitedly showing your mum all the fabulous ways it could be clicked and swiveled and zipped (having already done some research on the internet). Your mum, being the level head that she is (and being married to me and Knowing What I’m Like), reached straight for the bit that she thought was most important, the price tag.

Now pumpkin, I’m not a stingy man. I inevitably, when making large purchases, end up spending a little bit more than I had bargained, in order to make sure that I drive the value as hard as I can. And your mum will tell you that, for MANY purchases, I refuse to Pay Retail, and in fact say embarrasing things in Nice Stores like "come on, you can't do any better than that on the price?", so I don't necessarily pay very much attention to what's on the sticker, except as a reference for the commencement of bargaining.

And pumpkin. My first car was Very Cheap. So saying that this stroller jogger was more than my first car isn’t saying much. But this one was more than my first car AND my second car. Put together.

Love you.

November 25, 2004

the blessed relief of the blank page

People often talk, pumpkin, of a "clean slate", or a "new leaf". It's that situation that occurs so seldom in one's life, in which one can begin anew what one wants to undertake. This clearing off of commitments doesn't happen very often in the wider world (to the point of being nigh impossible), but it can sometimes be managed in a professional capacity.

It is this that I am faced with today. My desk is clean and my commitments are few. I have time (albeit only a few hours) to take stock and to think about the way in which I am going to attack the next things I need to do, and changes that can be applied to existing work practices to make them more streamlined.

This freedom is not something that generally appears in life. In life, pumpkin, one is more likely to be making decisions on the fly. To feel like one is taking chances without all the relevant information, and with potentially massive ramifications.

I turned to your mother last night in the car on the way home, and said in an astonished voice "we're having a baby!". This drastic realisation comes to me at random times, and with a wildly fluctuating range of emotions. Last night it was surprise, tinged with excitement.

It was like, looking at her beautifully expanding belly, I had been given an intricately wrapped present. Like YOU are the blank page at which I can look with satisfaction, knowing that it is my responsibility to fill you with ideas, with desire for knowledge and delight at new things.

Love you.

November 22, 2004

tin cans and a piece of string

It's likely, pumpkin, that you're not going to believe a large portion of this post. The concepts and devices mentioned here will seem as ludicrous to you as if I was speaking instead about using a piece of wood to fashion a workable microscope. I'm aware of this, and so I'm going to break it down into as simple a progression as I can.

Put simply, these are the facts:

Telephones, when I was a kid, were things that lived in buildings and were attached to walls. If you wanted to call someone, you would try to work out where they were most likely to be, and call that place and ask if they were there. If they were not, you would ask the person you were speaking to to write the fact that you'd called on a piece of paper, along with the number of the building that you were most likely to be in when the person you wanted to speak to was likely to return. Phew. Even writing about that is complicated. You're probably thinking 'geez, that sounds like a lot of work, why didn't you just send them an email or IM instead?

Here's the kicker, pumpkling.

No internet. None. I distinctly remember the first modem I clapped my eyes on, about age 9 (and remember here, that this was in the home of Grandpa Phil, so we were quite technologically advanced). It would transmit and receive data at the astonishing speed of 2400 baud (loosely translated, this is approximately 2.4 kbp/s) and was useful for precisely 9/10ths of stuffall. We used it to log on to 'bulletin boards', which were the distant ancestors of web pages.

But no email. None. Not until 1995 did I get my first email address (and I was one of the first ones).

As I'm sitting down writing this, I'm realising that even some of the things that I'm writing about, like cell phones and desktop computers, could be obsolete by the time that you get ready to use them. Who can say what form the internet will take in the year 2015 when you're 10? My trusty playstation will certainly be out of date, although I do promise to save a copy of Grand Theft Auto for when you turn 18. CD players, which were the cool of cool when I was about 10, are now all but gone.

It's becoming increasingly likely to my mind that by the time you get around to listening to your own music, the idea that one had to physically collect something and put it in a receptacle to play some toons or a movie or a game might be as old as the hills. That connection will be your birthright. That you will be able to get what you want when you want it, as long as you can pay for it. Or, more to the point, as long as I can pay for it.

Love you.

November 18, 2004

grandparental nomenclature

So, pumpkin, i wrote this post earlier today, but blogger ate it. I'm going to attempt to re-create the highpoints for you, but I warn that the pressures of work have worked their mojo on my brain, and that ennui may have a detrimental effect on what is to follow...

Last night, your mother and I went out to dinner with three of your grandparents, one of your uncles and one of your aunts. The conversation did not revolve ENTIRELY around you, but you made up a healthy portion of the evening's discourse.

The topic of 'what pumpkin should call his/her grandparents' arose, and we rose with it. Your grandad Ian decided that he would be called grandad, which was fairly straightforward and to the point. I think that this sort of a name will be difficult to confuse with other people's, and should present you with no great difficulty.

Your grandmother Linda appears to be fond of 'nana', but I'm sure that she's open to discussion if you decide that you're unhappy with this particular moniker. Your grandfather Phil wasn't around for this discussion, so we will await his thoughts on the matter at a later date.

Jann, the antipodean matriarch of the Penford Dennis Kowalski Kotsiris McConnell Skinner clan, says that she's FAR TOO YOUNG at the tender age of 42 (although I might add that she's been this age for the entire seven years that I've known her) to be called a grandmother, and that she would like to be called Auntie Jann. She also says that we are able to add modifiers to this name, and that such things as Fabulous Aunt Jann or Incredibly Glamorous Aunt Jann would be acceptable.

Apparently your mother's mum has been being called "Grannie Annie" around the office, but I'm not sure that she will be too happy with this. We will find out soon enough, in January, when your other set of grandparents arrive to feel your mum's expanding bump.

Love you.

November 12, 2004

working for the weekend

It's Friday arvo, pumpkin, don't expect a lot out of your dad except longing glances towards the door and the sunshine outside.

Picking up your grandmother tomorrow morning. Very excited.

Love you.

November 11, 2004

all present and accounted for

Your grandmother Linda is coming to see your mum's bump on the weekend. She is bringing some mystery gifts that I will tell you about later, some of which I know all about, some of which I do not. Your grandmother is one of the world's great gift givers. She is consistent in her desire to provide people with just the right thing, and will go to great lengths to procure said thing. It can be awesome to behold.

The thing about your grandmother's gift giving prowess is that it is not reciprocal. She, when pressed about what gift she would like for any occasion, will be more likely to answer "a card" than anything else. When further pressured, she will be likely to say that she wants you to MAKE her a card. This will, I'm sure, lead to some fun games with cardboard and glue in your early years.

My mother has an astonishing attachment to things that kids bring home from school. She keeps them all in some of the wide and interesting array of storage places that she has secreted about her mountain hideaway (picture provided for reference) and often brings them out at inopportune occasions.

There are cardboard angels on her christmas tree, pumpkin, that your uncle David and I made when we were in kindergarten. Mine is considerably less recognisable as an angel than his, but then I was always more into surrealism than he was.

Love you.

November 10, 2004

one legged man, wallpapering

It is true, my sweet and scrumptious punkling, that your dad is considered at his job to be what's known as a 'subject matter expert'. In this particular case, the subject in question is business documentation.

A title of this type, whilst useful in fostering a workplace environment that contains a good deal of change and variety in one's daily regimen, can have its drawbacks.

In business, as in life, it is difficult to plan your strategies for improvement if you do not have an accurate idea of your starting point. Regular updating of variables is essential to ensure that your attack is up to date and correctly targeted.

Unfortunately, pumpkin, the whole world has conspired against me to decide that such reporting must be undertaken in all instances on or around the first week of any given month.
The first days of November, then, have been composed for your dad almost entirely of:

Talking to two people about some figures, getting different answers then trying to figure out which one is right or indeed if they are both wrong

Composing lengthy documents that must at some stage contain a mixture of the wrong figures and the right figures contained at random places throughout said document

Printing a draft of the documents to show his boss, being told that the figures therein are 'not the right shape' and having to go back to the original number provider and ask for a new one

As I'm sure you can understand, this type of sustained workload gives little opportunity for the updating of pumpkindiaries.

This is, unfortunately, the way that all great projects are created. An architect will have a vision, and then lackeys will spend significant periods of time attempting to interpret the architect's thoughts into reality. Your father, pumpkin, is a lackey, albeit a well-paid and respected one.

Ultimately in life, with the exception of a very very few people, we are all lackeys. Even those of us fortunate enough to run our own, successful business, such as two of your three grandfathers, are lackeys, just to their bank managers rather than their bosses. The trick, pumpkin, is to get to the stage where you're a lackey to as few people as possible.

PS while you live under my roof, you live by my rules. This makes you my lackey by definition. Get used to it, I'm only doing it for your own good.

Love you.

November 08, 2004

equestrian follies, inglorious downfalls

Your father, pumpkin, was in his youth a fair to middling horseman. He used to be capable of not only remaining seated on a galloping steed, pumpkin, but of looking good doing it.

It became apparent on the weekend that this is no longer the case.

After substantial and sustained cajoling from your aunt Liz, your dad, who's not very clever, agreed to go horse riding on the weekend, at a place we used to go many years ago on the other side of Healesville.

Of course, never ones to do things by halves, your aunt and I decided that a two hour ride was out of the question, and that we would be far better off going on a 'half day' extravaganza. After arising at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning, I loaded up the blönk and made my way down the freeway to your aunt's house in the middle of a torrential downpour.

Our cousin Minka was also in attendance, and after stopping for a quick bowl of porridge, we hit the road. Thornton, where the ride took place, is on the other side of the Dandenongs, and so it was my theory that the weather should have been different once we got over the mountains.

I was wrong.

Once we arrived at our destination (slightly late, due to some roadworks halfway up Black Spur), the sky remained dark and forbidding, but remained dry for the moment. We saddled up and mounted up and set off on our way.

As we began, it became obvious to me fairly quickly that I was not the horseman I had been in my youth. A rising trot seemed to be utterly beyond my capabilities, and it was all I could muster to remain seated while I bounced about in a decidedly unglamorous manner. A short halt and the lengthening of my stirrups helped matters somewhat, but it was still obvious that I had No Business being in charge of a large, old, crotchety, cantankerous animal.

Once the cantering began in earnest, I was forced to ask the ride's leader for some advice in "how to feel like I'm in charge of what's going on". Adam, who was lovely, offered some advice that helped somewhat, but there was nonetheless a voice in my brain saying loudly "ow, this hurts, you used to be able to do this, ow, ow, ow, make the stupid horse stop ow, what do you mean you can't make it stop ow ow ow"

Fast forward through about two more hours of this running commentary.

As we began our journey back towards the farm, Liz decided that her back was beginning to hurt. After much urging, she was convinced to get off her horse and walk around a bit. This, pumpkin, was a mistake. On remounting, she slipped on some wet grass, and hurt her ankle. We told her that she didn't have to get back on the horse, and that we could get a car to come and get her out, but she was a real trooper and got back on.

Her ankle, however, was very painful, so she couldn't manage much more than a walk. Adam, who was, it should be said, lovely, said that he would stay back with her if I wanted to go for a bit of a canter. This was also a mistake. On deciding that the horse was going a little bit too quickly, I tried to convince it to slow down. It did so, a tad more quickly than I had anticipated, and your father, as the common phrase would have it, went arse over tit.

Your father now has a large, painful bruise on his bot-bot.

Hearing the ancient phrase running through my head, I knew that my primary goal was to get back on the horse. Of course, said horse was condescendingly walking up the track at a pace only slightly faster than my bruised bum could manage. After catching up with said mount, I regained my seat, and my composure, for long enough to catch up with the main group.

That's when it started to rain.


It was a long walk back.

Sufficient, pumpkin, to say that neither I nor your Aunt Liz will be taking you horseriding anytime in the near future.

Love you.

November 05, 2004

rainy day, dream away

It's raining today, pumpkin. Steady, soaking rain.

People around me are bemoaning their drive in to work, shaking drops off umbrellas, bustling about avoiding going outside. I'm happy.

Rain makes me happy, happy that I'm dry and warm, happy that the blönk is a safe car, happy that my herbs and vegies are getting all the water that they need. The sound of raindrops on the roof when I go to bed engenders feelings of snug comfort. I love thunderstorms too, the epic bangs and crashes, lightning strikes and pummeling rain.

I hope, however, that it rains itself out today, because tomorrow I'm going horseriding with your Aunt Liz.

The weekend should also see some gardening work, after miss Purdey decided that she didn't like my beautiful bathtub herb garden, which is to be replanted and augmented with an electric fence, and the beginnings of our thinking about how we're going to change the house around when you arrive. If possible I might also try to find time to go and visit Sam, who tells me he's looking forward to you arriving.

As you grow older, pumpkin, you will likely get used to the phrase 'three steps forward, two steps back'. This is the way that we live much of our lives, gaining tiny increments whilst much of our efforts are expended simply in maintaining forward momentum.

Love you.

November 04, 2004

the prodigal dad

So I've been slack, pumpkin. More slack than any dad has any right to be. I'm sorry. I feel bad about not talking to you for so long, if that helps any.

Lots has happened since last time we chatted, with a few major changes in the world and in our lives. I guess the last time I talked to you was before the long weekend, so I'd best update you on everything I can remember.

In Melbourne, where your mum and I live, there is a horse race every year. It's called, funnily enough, the Melbourne Cup, and whilst I have very little interest in horse racing, I am incredibly grateful for the fact that we are extended a public holiday for the occasion. Added to that is the fact that the race in question falls on a Tuesday. This means that, if one takes a day of annual leave on the previous Monday, one can take a full four day weekend.

A four day weekend, pumpkin, a double weekend, if you will, is, for an adult, the stuff of which dreams are made. A four day weekend means that one can accomplish all that one would accomplish in an ordinary weekend, of the cleaning, mowing, fixing variety, and still have a full weekend of leisure time left at the end. It also means that when one does finally go back to work, that one only has to be at work for another three days before it's the weekend again.

This is the way it should be always.

Of course, being in a high pressure, very busy, very important job means that I have to do five days work in those three days, but it turns out for the best, I think.

Over the course of the long weekend, your mum and I installed an electric dogfence, to stop miss Purdey and miss Kudra from digging through to next door to play with the rabbit. We did a truckload of gardening, and bought a new couch.

The couch (called Elliot, for reasons that remain a mystery), is the biggest couch known to mankind. The lovely Amber, who sold Elliot to us, gave us a special fabric protectiony thing that, she says, is guaranteed for the life of the couch. If, pumpkin, you are ever able to make a stain on the couch that we can't get off, then we can take it back, and they will replace the panel of fabric. This sounds like an awesome deal to me, no matter how much it cost, so I was careful to specifically ask if it covered baby vomit when we bought it.

Love you