Abundance of Everything

This summer, with all the rain, our garden has burst into life again. Trees are thrusting out crowds of leaves, creepers shoot out tendrils, weeds sprout overnight, grass swarms up between the bricks, flowers erupt.

There are flocks of birds, chattering in the flowering gums, spattering my nice clean washing with their poo, swooping between the trees and sometimes smashing into our big window - blackbirds, wattle birds, rainbow lorikeets. In the evenings, swarms of mosquitoes lie in wait to ambush innocent ankles. Beetles, flies, slaters, mantises, snails are all more visible than in previous years.

And then there are the spiders.

Alice is terrified of spiders. And this year, they are EVERYWHERE. Some days it seems that every ceiling corner has its own resident daddy-long-legs. Tiny jumping spiders appear from nowhere. I've found a red-back inside a watering-can. Overnight, webs spring up inside shoes and across doorways; they drape themselves over picture frames. I have to carry out a nightly spider check before Alice can turn off her bedroom light. We're not even supposed to use the word 'spider' -- for some reason, she prefers the term 'black snake,' though personally, I know which I'd rather find inside my gumboot.

But I'm not complaining. After the last few parched years, it's lovely to be surrounded by all this eager, pulsating life. Even the black snakes are welcome.


6th January

2012 (aged 45)
Michael's gone to the gym,  the girls to the studio with the-other-Evie's mum. First time I've had the house to myself since school broke up. So what am I going to do? Blog, of course! And listen to the cricket on the radio.
2009 (aged 42)
Alice, at the beach, asks to be buried. Evie: Do you want to go to heaven?
2008 (aged 41)
I ask Alice the 'On the Spot' questions in the Saturday paper.
Guilty pleasure? Splashing in the bath.
Last time you were scared? When there was that big spider in the kitchen. I was shaking.
Happiest moment? When Evie was born, giving Evie her first cuddle. (thinks) Well, that might not be my absolute happiest. But I was happy.
2006 (aged 39)
2005: The year I learned to drive. The year I wrote 'Taste of Lightning.' The year '10th Power' was published.
2001 (aged 34)
2000: WHAT A MASSIVE YEAR!! The year we bought our beautiful little house and moved to Thornbury. The year I got pregnant. Isn't that enough? The year Y2K didn't happen. The year I was on Sale of the Century. The year of Tremaris. The year we changed from JJJ to 3LO. And this year: BABY YEAR...
1997 (aged 30)
Woke up in fantastic mood. Set up a date with A (3pm today). Called the agents (they haven't read it yet). Woke up to Kate Bush on the radio - 'I just know that something good is going to happen...'
1996 (aged 29)
1995: The year I left Warner and went to Sony. The year L got pregnant. The year C went overseas. The year I went to the Film Festival alone. The year of enormous phone bills.
1993 (aged 26)
Resolutions: swim every day (or as often as poss); complete a piece of work every month
1992 (aged 25)
Edinburgh Read 2 articles in Melody Maker - one about the Sugarcubes - grabbing life by the throat, doing crazy things every minute of the day etc; and the other about Ned's Atomic Dustbin touring and getting sick and feeling insane and disconnected and wanting to go home & get a grip on who they were. So sad, because I want to be like a Sugarcube, but I'm really a Ned at heart...
1991 (aged 24)
Sitting at home recovering after being knocked off my bike on Friday afternoon. Bruised and grazed all over but nothing broken. Feeling very sorry for myself.
1988 (aged 21)
Paris Set off to the Gare du Austerlitz so S could allay her fears about the Swiss train. Bought 2 hunks of cheese and 2 bloody great baguettes which got in the way like you wouldn't believe until we ate them... Jardin des Plantes, Left Bank book stalls, Sainte-Chapelle, Eiffel Tower, Sorbonne... Getting tired by now so back to hostel on the Metro.
1987 (aged 20)
Ten days since I last wrote, can't remember a THING. Gave S fish and chips for tea. Took down Chrissie cards.
1986 (aged 19)
Slept vr badly. Breakfast of potato salad and Tim Tams with B & D. Missing P. Why doesn't he ring me?? bastard bastard bastard
1981 (aged 14)
I am at present at loggerheads with Mum. She has finally realised how bloody selfishly lazy I am.
1978 (aged 11)
This morning we went to the dentist. He pulled out my loose tooth and it hurt. There was a horrid man there. Then we went to the Powells. (AFTER LUNCH) Lisette and I drew a huge picture of Nash. (A COUNTRY IN MY HEAD) It looks good. We went to the Pioneer Club and saw some television programs. They were mostly awful.


2011: A Year of Reading

I read 107 books this year. What's that, about two books a week? That sounds about right. Of course, many of them were rather short. I can whip through an Antonia Forest or a KM Peyton in less than a day. (I'm not counting books read aloud to my children, because I don't keep a record of those, though perhaps I should.)

The gender breakdown was about what I'd have expected, roughly two thirds books written by women, and one third written by men. It's skewed because I read a lot of kids and young adult novels, most of which are written by women. Also skewed because the authors I 'discovered' this last year and read everything I could get my hands on, were all women.
Total titles by women: 74. Titles by men: 35.*

I read 38 books by Australian authors, and 69 by overseas authors. Hm, I might need to read a few more Aussie books next this year. Though actually I don't think that balance is too bad, considering how many books are pumped out of the US and UK. Sadly, I don't think I read a single book that wasn't originally written in English. Now that's something to work on.

I read 44 books written for adults, and 63 children's/YA books, of which twenty were read for book group. So if I took those out, the balance is about even. Considering how much shorter kids books generally are than adult books, I'm quite impressed I did so much adult reading!

I read 71 fiction titles, and 36 non-fiction. That's a lot more non-fiction than I expected. Also, nearly all my 'adult' books turn out to have been non-fiction. Hm. Perhaps not surprising, since I find a lot of adult fiction tedious in the extreme. But since I was pleasantly surprised by some adult fiction I read late in the year (Olive Kitteridge, In This House of Brede) maybe I need to persevere.

Authors 'discovered' in 2011: Rumer Godden, KM Peyton, Cynthia Voight
Favourite book: Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (adult fiction, so there you go)
Least favourite book: The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley (I can say that cos he's dead. Also the only book read on an electronic device. Not that that proves anything, of course.)

Biggest surprise: Open by Andre Agassi. It was absolutely gripping. And I don't even like tennis.
Biggest disappointment: I'd rather not say... but I'll tell you if you ask me! And millions of other people love it to death, so it must be just me that the magic didn't work on.

* Two books were co-authored by one man and one woman, which is why the figures don't add up.