A morning in Philadelphia.

A morning off in Philadelphia.

State Flower (The state bird is the Ruffed Grouse!)/ Social realism. Granite relief murals on the side of the 9th Street Post Office. / City Hall. The figure on the top is the city’s founder, William Penn. There once stood a sort of gentlemen’s agreement that no building could be built higher than he stood. / Reading Terminal Market / Where the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was signed. And where I got growled by security guards for bypassing the 200+ people waiting in line to see the Liberty Bell across the road. (Pro tip: the back wall of the room that houses the bell is made of glass!) / Chasing Dreams. Outside the National Museum of Jewish American History. / A cute place I can’t remember! But I’m sure Benjamin Franklin had something to do with it. / Oh, Nerd Street. / Above an ice cream parlour. / A handsome fellow I almost got run over trying to say hello to, near Penn’s Landing (if anyone knows his name, please let me know). / And then, after all that, I curled back into bed at the hotel with my jet lag and these treats from Reading Terminal Market. / Okay…and maybe also these. (Coconut and Key Lime from Beilers. They were 95c each, and honestly so good I can’t even. Sitting on a pristine hotel bed, in the dappled morning light, on the other side of the world, eating a donut may be my new experience to beat.)

(Click on the photo’s to enlarge.)

Poem: Stillness Dancing.

phantom
As seen as a part of the Poetry on Posters campaign and in the Phantom Billstickers Café Reader #3.

With joyous love and tremendous thanks to Phantom. Who have been so kind as to invite me to perform at this:
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If you know anyone in Philadelphia, make sure and send them along. It’s going to be really something.

La cucina piccola fa la casa grande: A Snapshot.

‘A little kitchen makes a large home.’

While I make dinner they sit at the kitchen table. Their limbs swinging from chairs they still have to climb on to. There are always pens and paper there, in a reckless pile. Scissors making fast confetti of yesterdays masterpieces.

I have a poetry show tomorrow night; I’ve been practicing to the bathroom mirror. They applaud in all the right wrong places, which makes me feel special. Theo writes his first poem.

‘Clouds brung rain
the sunshine brung light
Kings and knights
fight with their swords
the end’.

I couldn’t be prouder. He doesn’t want to read it aloud to me, though he tells me I am a good audience. He says he will only perform it at the Pallet Pavilion, where I did my last show. Straight to the top, Bubba. To the moon.

Meanwhile, while the vegetables steam, my daughter makes something elaborate. A piece of paper, folded as a fan. Covered in hieroglyphics of deep meaning, if the fervency of their scribble is anything to go by. It’s covered in glue.

‘Mama! Put on your boots and get me some string! I have made a fox trap! We need to hang it in a tree right now! We’re going to catch bad foxes in the garden! …are there foxes in New Zealand? I’ve made this! Just in case!’

I tie up the ends with a length of pink wool. I do it all wrong, naturally. I’m just he capable hands of my daughters vision. She takes over, the former metre cut down by little pink hands in little pink scissors; she’s ruthless and maniacal, mad with power. Tiny pieces of fluff now stuck on to the fox trap.

And I realise, just now, I’ve had a child’s hood, liberated from its jacket (perhaps to catch foxes) on my head this whole time.

Farts & Photographs: A Snapshot.

I just had my daughter scoot after me, bare-bottomed on her potty, across the wooden floors.

‘I CAN SEE YOU MAMA! I AM COMING TO GET YOU!’

I try not to laugh so hard that she can still understand me when I say ‘look out for the rug!’

Then, as she sat on my lap, readying herself for the bath, she did an enormous, resonant fart – omitting the type of smell that shouldn’t come from a person so diminutive – and literally laughed so hard she cried. ‘SMELL MY STINKY FART!’ she roars, desperate for breath. ‘SMELL MY FINGER!’…I don’t know where she gets this stuff. Honestly, I think it just comes to her.

Life is made up of moments like these.

I’ve just gotten a new passport – the old one suffering too many beer-soaked nights as my only I.D; all my stamps ripped out and given away with my phone number, over the last 10 ridiculous years attempting to be casually glamorous. Though I am fated to forever look like a German boy in my passport photo. Many a bouncer has sucked in through his teeth, ‘Geeze, girl!’. I know! I know! I was 19 and life was hard, you know? Yellow isn’t a flattering colour for me; I know that now. No one looks good under-lit.

Theo is looking over my new one; it encompasses so much that he enjoys: technology, the idea of travel; rules and regulations.

‘Mama? You look adorable in this photograph in your new passbook.’

Life is made up of moments like these, too, remember.

A Royal Visit: Mae-Mae Style

Mabel asks:

‘Who is the Queen?’

I explain.

‘What is her name?’

I tell her.

‘Elizabeth! Like your middle name, Mama! What’s her last name?’

I see where this is going.

‘Vagina?’

No.

‘Regina!’

But then

‘…Does the Queen have a fanny or a vagina?’

Which is a good question, really. But I explain, as best as I can, to someone who refuses acknowledge the proper terminology. (‘I JUST HAVE HEAPS OF FANNIES!’ she roars when the subject is anatomically discussed)

‘Yes. I KNOW. But what does the Queen call her one? …I’ll ask her. Where does she live?’

Well…

‘Why doesn’t she live in New Zealand?’

Uh…

‘Can we go to her house?’

Not really…

‘Well I’m going to!’

Dear Mabel Poppy,

When you were 3 years old, you were hell-bent on going to Buckingham Palace to ask Queen Elizabeth how she refers to her bits.
Please, never stop asking the hard questions. Your sense of fearless equality is something this world needs a little more of.

With adoration and allegiance,
Your Mother x

Pre-Party Ritual.

Mabel: Mama, have you seen my skirt?

Alice: Which skirt, baby?

Mabel: My skirt! The one I like!

Alice: Hmm…what colour is it?

Mabel: Colourful!

Alice: …Colourful?

Mabel: Yes! It’s colourful and it has a top and a bottom!

Alice: Colourful. Has a top and a bottom. Can you tell me anything else about it?

Mabel: It looks like a lily!

Alice: Colourful. Has a top and a bottom. And it looks like a lily? Oh! colourful has a top and a bottom and it looks like a lily!

Mabel: Yes, mama. Why was that so hard for you?

(She doesn’t like photos at the moment – so you’ll have to use your imagination…it’s an old one from Rock Your Baby. They still show up on Ebay sometimes x)

 

 

A love letter to my Mother on her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mumma.

Right now, my weird sausage dog is repeatedly trying to eat a small black diamante that Mabel has stashed in my bed for safe keeping from her brother. You’d be horrified, but not surprised by that statement. Don’t worry, I’ve taken it off him.

Thank you for being so accepting of me. Though I’d live in the bed if I could and my will is made of iron and I’ve been so messy and both too quiet and too loud and there’s always a book in my handbag and I used to crash my bike into the house when I’d been out drinking and make you come out, in your nighty, and search the garden for my cell phone, which turned out to be in my hand. And there was that time I had a baby in your kitchen. And the time I put you in a headlock when I had a baby in my bedroom. Thank you for being so endlessly there for me. Especially when my choices were so far from what you would have wished for me. You always welcomed me home.

Thank you for always creating an environment of empathy, of care and of humour. Thank you for being a safe place. And not just for me and the babies and my myriad of bizarre and brilliant friends and animals over the years. But in the work you do. The excellence you are able to see in people. Your ability to nurture and nourish. Your enthusiasm. Your passion for your art and your interests is forever inspiring and motivating. ‘It feels good to work hard’ is such a powerful and promising lesson, especially for someone who was so scared of beginning. Who is scared of who they might, or mightn’t be. What they can or can’t do. The strengths you have taught me by example are some of the best things about me. I know a lot of people feel that way about you.

Thank you for always telling me the truth, even when I wasn’t listening. Thank you for your boundless love, even when I was working so hard to test all boundaries. You have taught me about worth and value and truth and love. You have shown me how to be a mother and how to be myself. You’ve shown me the importance of both.

Theo has sat next to me the whole time I’ve been writing this, asking all his questions, wanting to make sure I get it just right. Mabel has just burst into the room; ‘Mama!’ she’s roared in my face, clutching on to me with force. ‘I know what I want to make Gabba! I want to make her a statue of a duck because she misses her ducks so much!’. You’re loved, Mumma. You’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved.

Your vitality enriches everything it comes into contact with. You’re so beautiful. You’re such a gift.

Happy Birthday to you.

All my love,
Alice Elizabeth Lambikins Bunnykins.

I like Gabba’s carrots. (a message from Theo)