Thursday, March 20, 2008

Australia Four: watering the boys

We’ve had a watery few days over here, which seems sensible in the extraordinary heat (up to 100 F!!). The past few liquid days seem luxurious in Australia’s long drought, and rather improbable given my firm position on bathing suits. I’m agin ‘em. Firmly. Resolutely.

But dammit, it was hot.

On Sunday, one of my cousins (the sweet, lovely one, I told QG. I thought they were all sweet and lovely? she asked. They are, I said smugly) came with wife and children and swept us off to a pool. Except, of course, that there were four pools, two specifically designed for small, and not-quite-swimming children. The boys had a wonderful time, going on water slides, having water poured on them by oddly rounded fish shapes and bobbing in the water with floating tubes and kickboards. I can swim! said the previously hydro-anxious Eldest. Although, he conceded, he still couldn’t float. But who could reflect on the oddities of life, when the Toddles is streaking, fully dressed, for the water? While the Eldest went home pleased and proud, the Toddles grumped over the loss of the wonderful water.

Delighted with ourselves, we went home and collected QG, informing her that the trend must continue. Tomorrow: the Melbourne Aquarium.

The Melbourne Aquarium is amazingly expensive, and quite small. It makes up for this with an astonishing giant tank, with thick, thick plexiglass making a tunnel through which you can walk. We walked it twice, looking at the huge sharks and stingrays swimming over our heads. A helpful sign explained how the curvature of the tunnel’s walls can make the sea-creatures seem up to a third smaller than they really are. I considered the big white shark over my head, and shuddered.

Our heads full of flat fish, big sharky teeth and Japanese spider crabs, we held a family meeting. One by one we all voted: to go back to the pool. And back we went, and the Eldest wrapped himself and the Toddles in a pair of floating tubes, and towed them both around. QG and I pretended to be fishermen and sharks, and chased the laughing kids. I swim like a fish! said the Toddles. And everyone else swim like a shark. It was easy. It was absolutely splendid, and nobody missed lunch as it slid past us. We stopped at a health food store on the way home (Macro, on High Street), and munched our way through fruit and soy-mung bean chips. No, really. Soybean and mung bean chips.

Later, I collected a pair of elderly ladies and an assistant, and swished off to a concert. The Estonian Youth String Orchestras, product of a pair of musical schools, were in town. They’d joined forces with the Melbourne String Ensemble to produce entertainment guaranteed to delight the old and overtired.

I am, as it happens, terrible at concerts of classical music. My brain likes different sorts of interactions, and amuses itself by making up personal histories for the musicians. That one, over there – she’s very heavy, but is wearing skin tight clothes. And if you look at her hair, it’s beautifully cut and streaked in a happy, funky way. I bet she loves her body, and is dressing herself based on what makes her happy, rather than the current skinny aesthetic. Oh, and that one, with the oh-so demure haircut and serious face. She never looks away from the conductor, and nods to herself every time she takes direction from him. Hm. And look at the wee little blond lad there. He can’t be more than eight. Wonder how he got here? What is his relationship like withhis parents? Do they pressure him or is he truly happy? Blah, blah not-shut-upable blah.

Eventually, I realized that the waves of lovely music had actually silenced me. Vaughn Williams, Tchaikovsky, Estonian folk music, and even a little Mozart. I did rebel when presented with something by a Jaan Raats, in which the music tried to lull me while making no sense I could see. Irritated, I made to do lists until the orchestra offered some ragtime to make me smile.

I kept the to-do lists, though. After all, the next day we were off to see kangaroos. I needed to be prepared.
This looks good, not to mention appropriate. We're having some version of it for dinner. With fried tofu and leftover wine and raisins and oooh, yep. There it went, right down a pair of young gullets.

Tomorrow night, herbed burgers. I'll take the wonderful mild ground beef, toss in all available herbs (and my aunt and uncle cherish a small series of herb-containing pots) and broil the dickens out of them. Heh. Down the gullet:the rerun. Or did I just jinx myself with overconfidence?


jg fellow said...

I swim like an oyster. Clearly, that's my problem.

mama o' the matrices said...

hmm. no comment?

The Blogger said...

You haven't touched the surface when it comes to making up histories for the musicians. You need to imagine them:
+ practicing.
+ hating the conductor
+ doing their tax forms.
+ traveling with their instruments.

- toby robison

mama o' the matrices said...

tax forms? In Estonia? This might be beyond me. Although the conductor did especially thank one Melburnian who (apparently) made the travelling with instruments thing possible. Hm. Clearly a tougher one than I'd thought.

Especially for that tiny person playing the giant bass fiddle. Oh, my.