SockBunny vs Cthulhu

One of the amazing things about having a baby on the way is that people get excited and give you stuff. We have received lots of wonderful gifts from very generous people. Its pretty special, actually.

I want to draw attention to two recent gifts, simply because Jenni made big posts about them! Crafty types out there might find this inspirational!

Baby Quilt & Sock Bunny

(We have also appreciated all gifts that did not come with blog posts attached.)

Thanks so much Jenni!

Thanks Dad

My dad just dropped around to drop off some lemonade and food treats, on account of hearing that I’m home with a cold.

He is a good man, my dad.

It’s just a little cold. I hope. Fascinating sleeplessness night-before-last though, as the sickness rolled in on me like a stormfront, and I found myself lying awake nearly face-down on the pillow and with the clear awareness that my head was a seamless component of an enormous crystalline array of cubes constructed of thought. Ideas represented as small visual icons flipped through the cubes to line up in long significant sequences, but it was impossible to complete a thought because the meaning always extended out of reach into the distant extent of the array. I was awake and asleep at once, like a lucid dream that perfectly overlapped with reality. Heh. Consciousness is fun.

But, thanks dad! Yum. Red licorice.

I Am Become Dad

The cat is out of the bag. (Poor cat, stuck in that bag!) Cal and I are having a baby.

morguecal baby FAQ:

That’s not a question, mum, but I’m glad you’re excited.

2. When is it due?
December 15, so even odds say it’s gonna arrive on Christmas day.

3. Is it a boy baby or a girl baby?
We dunno yet, too early. We’ll probably find out though, so we know whether to decorate baby’s room with pink butterflies wearing make-up or blue trucks kickboxing each other.

4. So this is why you moved to the Hutt?
Surprisingly, no. We found out the day we moved. We came out here to get a dog. With baby-future, we made sad and difficult decision to postpone dog a few years. Sorry Gusto, lovely SPCA dog we were thinking of adopting. It was pretty heartbreaking actually. (Happy ending: Gusto has been adopted by another family and is presumably now very happy with them!)

5. That house in the Hutt is pretty spooky, isn’t it? What with the instant connection and the family history and making you magically pregnant the day you move in?
I know right!

6. So… how does it feel, being a dad-to-be?
Good. It feels really good.

Suburban Gothic

Cal posted the other day about getting into the Hutt groove. It’s been playing on my mind, too, as I settle back into the neighbourhood of my yoof. I can feel old channels reopening, old patterns reigniting. Leafy streets and low garden walls and drawn curtains and the line of the hills. Older marrieds, high schoolers. Empty streets after dark. The feeling that everything is one step back from view.

Suburbs work out community differently, spacing everyone out, reducing the social importance of physical proximity. Freedom to grow each plot of land in a different way; people do. Lots of worlds unhindered.

We don’t stop at the skin. We’re networked, social, contextual. Our environment is part of who and what we are. Suburbs shape a particular imagination. Curious, respectful, measured, gothic. Vast tracts of surface calm, punctuated by moments of upheaval which quickly sink from view. Intrusions from unstable worlds. The suburbs encourage an imaginative structure where causality is concealed, even impenetrable. Where the observer cannot uncover the web of connections that would make sense of an event. I’m reading ‘The Big Sleep’ right now, and Chandler’s detective stories are chronicles of the big city. There, the fundamental principle is that of overlap, of constant surface tension, the precise opposite of the suburban reality.

The first novel I wrote, “in move”, was set in the world I knew best: the Hutt Valley, mid-90s, teenage boys. (Brian maintains it should be titled “Hutt Boys”.) It’s intensely autobiographical in the sense that it captures the emotional truth I felt growing up here. Looking back on it now, after over a decade away from here, I can see more clearly how it also captures the place. The logic of that novel is essentially suburban. The four central characters are all sealed in their own impenetrable, unstable worlds, and the story is about what happens when they are forced to cross boundaries and negotiate new alignments. The story wouldn’t work in a different environment.

It’s good to be back. I know how this works, I know how my creative energy plays out in this space, I know how the hills look in the morning. I’m excited to see what we can reach.

It’s Easy To Have A Child To Stay

We had little nibling James staying with us all weekend, and it was good fun times. It was our first serious nibling-babysitting, and ironically we double-booked ourselves with a wedding, so we the babysitters had to subcontract out to some other babysitters for Saturday evening. (Thanks Miri and Matt!)

Things I learned:
* going around on a runalong bike never stops being fun
* going down a slide never stops being fun
* waking up in an unfamiliar place is not fun
* the appropriate thing to do when you have had enough food is to carry what you didn’t eat around in your hand for the next two hours in case you get hungry again
* more bike!

He can come back, I reckon.

Oor Hoose, and ANZAC day.

And so it is.

A week in, and we’re sorted at last – the internets and phone lines were the last things to get connected up. Boxes are now stacked empty in the garage and the rooms themselves are full of stuff. It feels comfortable, already. I think we’ll come to love living here.

Here’s a funny thing, though. If you stand at the front door and look out, you see directly across the way the house where my mother grew up. We knew was there was a family place somewhere on the street, but we didn’t know it was so close until after making an offer. I’ve since learned that my great-grandfather Felix used to sit on the steps outside the front door there and watch the passers-by. It was a railways street so I expect he knew most everyone who passed. I like the idea that our new house was one of the ones he watched over in the late days of his life.

The last few ANZAC days I’ve excerpted from Felix’s war diaries. Here’s 29 September, 1918:

3.30am. Away went a very poor barrage and over we went. Took Welsh Ridge and four lines of trenches and hundreds of prisoners and village of Vacquerie. Got to our objective and consolidated. Casualties very light. Got a lot of officer prisoners and our boys have loads of souvenirs, glasses, [?], matches etc. A very successful stunt. Especially as it was pitch dark until we got up to our objective and Fritz had a lot of wire in front. The Boache seemed to me to surrender very easily. One of our Companies got too far ahead and lost two platoons. The Huns only took the fit men, dressing our wounded and leaving them until we came along.

The action at Welsh Ridge was near the end of hostilities, part of the “Hundred Days Offensive” that broke through the Western front. It was also an important experience for Felix. John H. Gray’s Quid Non Pro Patria: The Short Distinguished Military Life of Henry James Nicholas VC MM relies on Felix’s diaries for detail and colour, for Felix and VC-winner Henry Nicholas were in many of the same places. It includes some words from Felix’s daughter Mary (my grandmother’s sister) on something that happened at Welsh Ridge when he found a bugle:

He told us that during the battle he was pinned down and took shelter where he could. In so doing he found himself alongside the body of a German soldier. On his back was an unusual article covered in scrim. It was the bugle, so covered presumably to prevent reflection from its shiny surface.

He turned the body over and was struck by its youth and by its beauty. An olive-skinned young man of fine features, little more than a child. Killed he presumed by blast as he was unmarked.

Her father had said more than once over the years, that the sight of that dead boy encapsulated for him the futility of war, and picking up the bugle he had said, at least to himself – “I’ll take this and keep it for you.”

Felix kept the bugle, and every night thereafter he prayed for that young German.


So we’ve bought this hoose.

It’s in the lovely Hutt suburb of Waiwhetu. It’s pretty close to my old stomping ground, easy walking distance to my parents and my grandmother and an easy drive to Cal’s sisters.

Moving date still to be confirmed, mid-April sometime.

I am excited!