Thursday, September 30, 2004


Just finished watching 21 Grams, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts who I went to school with (sorry, had to namedrop). Another topnotch performance from her; she's a very gifted actress really. And Sean Penn, well, what can I say. I love the guy. Great film but god, how depressing. Even a tough cookie like me shed a few tears. I'm now having to watch Inside Idol as an antidote.

friends and all lies

Anyone surprised by this?

Britain has confirmed Australia was invited to take part in planning for war shortly after British and US military officials started preparations nine months before Iraq was invaded.

Wonder what the Rodent's response will be. No doubt something along these lines:
"No, I didn't lie to the Australian people. I mean, just because we were involved in planning to go to war, doesn't mean we were actually intending to go to war."

Right. It was just all talk, no action.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

trash from the treasurer

OK, I'll come out of semi-retirement to say this. He must think we are complete fools:

"I'm treasurer, and I've been the treasurer for eight and a half years and I am running for re-election as treasurer because I think the economic issues are very important," Mr Costello replied. "That's my position. I am running for re-election as a member of parliament and as treasurer."
When pushed again on whether he would pursue the prime minister's job, the treasurer repeated: "My aspiration is to be re-elected to the job that I'm doing."

Duh! Of course you're running for re-election as treasurer, sunshine. Someone called John Howard is running for PM. OK? We get that. That's not in dispute 10 days before the election. What we want to know is, are you up for the PM's job after the election. Why are you guys so squirmy on this issue?
And it's worth quoting Tony Abbott from the Sunday show of 14 March, as printed on The Great Federal Election Scratchie I received in the mail today (I got three Howards, which is a very depressing thought):
You might get..."two years of Howard and one year of Costello, or one year of Howard and two years of Costello."


elsewhere: Tim doesn't appreciate the sleaziness either.

Monday, September 27, 2004

down but not out

Blogging will probably be fairly light to non-existent for the next little while because of Things I Can't Blog About, but hope to be up and inspired again soon. Seeya.

Friday, September 24, 2004

swing lowdown

Just out of curiosity, if I happen to have any readers who have changed their mind about which way they'll vote in the election, they might care to explain why, or if it was something specific, what exactly it was that changed their mind.

non-violent femmes

Further to my post below, here's Judith Brett on the same subject (via backpages):

[T]he so-called doctors' wives - women who put moral values before self-interest - are not new. They are simply continuing a long tradition of women's political engagement.
It is not surprising that the Liberals are finding concerned women across all age groups in many Liberal electorates thinking about changing their vote. What is surprising is that they know so little of their own history that they are surprised by these women's reaction. Did they really think that it was only leftie, pinko inner-city latte drinkers who opposed the war in Iraq, or were ashamed of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers?
As well, the term is extraordinarily patronising, assuming that women should vote according to their husbands' economic interests, that they are someone's wife rather than a citizen in their own right. And further, it is implied that when they don't vote according to their husband's economic interests they are somehow making an inauthentic political choice.
...What this term describes - women's morally motivated political engagement - has a long and proud history. How it is described - in a dismissive and insulting epithet - also has a long history in men's attempts to patronise and diminish women's political voice.

Yeah, exactly.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Hee hee.

Activist Mama
You're an agitator! Your kids have grown up on the
front lines of rallies and pickets, and chances
are that you boycott at least one company for
its bad business practices. Your kids are
learning what matters to you and how they can
change what matters to them.

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Quiz via the blogger on the cast iron balcony.

a mere flesh wound

After watching the PM's performance last night on the 7:30 Report, today's cheery sanctuary prediction is of a Labor landslide. This pre-emptive strike silliness is just about the most ridiculous thing he's said in a long time, and I don't think it's going to play well even with Liberal voters. It's making him sound like a complete foreign policy amateur and everyone knows he's only saying all this crap as an attempt to justify following the Pied Piper into Iraq. This is the man who wants us to believe Australia is in safer hands with him. Get real.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

bombs 'r' us

Anyone else getting this "how to become a terrorist" spam lately? On offer from shadowcrew (clickthru at your own risk--I'm not game to visit the site in case it's a virus):

[a] large selection of bombs and different kinds of rockets such as surface-to-air, surface-to-surface and weaponry available at reduced price. With the following types of rockets you will be able to commit terrorist attacks, destroy buildings, electric power stations, bridges, factories and anything else that comes your mind. [sic]

Well, I'm interested, how about you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

boomtown rat

So he made us a bigger terrorist target and now he wants us to congratulate him on increasing funding to improve facilities to deal with local terror attacks. Cheers, thanks a lot, mate. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

Monday, September 20, 2004

h-hour hotel

That's the name of the Cold Chisel song that is the source of the phrase "doctors' wives" that we've seen bandied about a fair bit lately, according to this story by Max Suich:

It refers to middle-class women, whom the Liberal Party would normally assume would be big-L Liberals, who have been turned off by the Howard Government's support for the Iraq war and are now contemplating voting Green, Labor or for another anti-Coalition party

I'm troubled by the term. It sounds dismissive and negative. Interesting to read the remarks of the Liberal candidate source though:
"Doctors' wives" evokes mock Tudor perhaps, twin-sets and pearls, golf, and a trace of silver in the hair - and the suburbs of Kew, Camberwell and Malvern. But the fact is the women are to be found across all age groups and in most Liberal electorates."

So is there really a gender split on Iraq among the Liberal-voting middle to upper middle class? If true, maybe the wives are onto something and the husbands could try listening to them.

ps: I know I just said I'd stop election blogging for the time being...consider that a non-core promise.

add it up

Um...why does have a banner this morning that says "Australia decides 2004. Days to go: 77"? That would make the election some time in early December, wouldn't it? I count about 19 days, but I've never been that good at maths.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

more schmaltz

Having a baby who is learning to speak is ridiculously sweet. I often hear him "talking" to himself and go to him only to find that, rather than wanting to talk to me, he's deep in conversation with various stuffed friends. It took me a while to twig. Now I just tiptoe away smiling.

the devil we know

Some days I suspect that Howard might still romp it in. That people might just go "better give Latham another three years to learn the ropes and prove himself". I mean, maybe a "Greying Australia" doesn't really mind the idea of having a Greying Prime Minister, instead of some young whippersnapper. Wasn't there a poll last week saying Howard's capturing the Golden Oldies' vote? The Labor focus on "generational change" was probably a mistake. Never mind.
Also, in times of geopolitical uncertainty (we're still a nation at war after all), people might prioritise the economy, because everyone's madly "cocooning" and battening down the hatches (and racking up record household debt; when's that coming home to roost, I wonder).
Anyway, I've decided to stop blogging about politics here for a while in the interests of centralising blogospheric debate (ie. go where the action is). So if I have something to say on the upcoming election I will most likely head to the usual suspects on the blogroll and say it over there.
Just one last thing, have you noticed how those of us in the Anyone-But-Howard camp are constantly being derided as "Howard-haters"? As someone commented somewhere (sorry, I didn't note who), this is a last-ditch attempt by the Coalition to make us look irrational. I don't hate Howard personally at all, I don't even know the guy. We're judging the guy on his record of behavior on the job, not his personality.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

not such a glad wrap

Why does the Australian Electoral Commission feel the need to shrinkwrap its 12-page election brochure--printed on what feels like recycled newsprint--in plastic? Was just wondering.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

should we talk?

Interested to see the reasons that the terrorists claiming responsibility for the Jakarta bombing gave in their statement. We were bombed because (in order of appearance):
* we're "Christian";
* we "took part in the war against [their] brethren in Iraq and supported the invading forces";
* we're infidels ("enemies of God");
* we need to "leave Indonesia";
* we need to "withdraw from Iraq";
* they want "liberation of the lands of Muslims".
Hearing their justifications spelt out like this makes me wonder if we could ever engage in some kind of dialogue with them. I noticed that Brian Deegan, who lost a son in Bali and is campaigning for Alexander Downer's seat, thinks we should. Australia, as we know, categorically refuses to negotiate.
Well, maybe we don't have to negotiate, but I reckon we do have to at least challenge them through the world's media. We may not be able to rationalise with them, but perhaps we can make them appear deranged to their support base by deconstructing their position.
If we had some kind of open dialogue with terrorists, maybe we could ask them curlies like, "at the end of the day, even if there were no Western interests in Muslim countries anywhere, would you really stop bombing us, or would you just keep bombing us for being infidels and/or Christians?"
I mean, if their ultimate message is really killing all non-Muslims, well then, at least they have put paid to their claims that it's about the liberation of Palestine or Iraq or Indonesia or wherever.
The other day I was surprised to read the words of a commenter around at backpages, Fred, who asked, "if they already have one [reason to attack the West], why does one more [Iraq] matter?" Geez. Luckily Glenn Condell was around when Fred tried that line at surfdom.

come to mama

Soon after the Christian prayed for us, my six-month-old washing machine broke, I got attacked by magpies, and I set fire to a teatowel and burnt the oven handle.
Being attacked by the magpie was funny. There I was being pursued down a deserted stretch of road where the “For Sale” signs are still only dotted on bush blocks, not houses. I was alone in the bush, but still, blushing madly. You can’t help feeling ridiculous when it happens, because you’re being chased by a bird, for god’s sake. There was that snap of the beak at my earlobe about ten times before I remembered I had an apple and starting throwing chunks of it at the bird, til it got the hint and withdrew. The baby slept through the whole incident. Later, another magpie (I will assume it wasn’t the same one) calmly walked through the cat-sized crack in the backdoor, took a look around my study, shat on my favorite purple cardie, and walked out again.
Then I was baking a cake (Schwaebischer apfelkuchen) and left the teatowel hanging just slightly in the oven door, and it ignited in two seconds. Luckily my mum was with me at the time because it gave me a fright.
The washer breaking down was the most annoying thing, happening just when the baby was sick and there was five times as much laundry to do. The service guy had to come three times because the first time he didn’t have the spare part handy, and the second time the spare part he brought was broken. So then there was about three hundred loads of washing to catch up on. As it happens I enjoy doing laundry; the neverending ritual of folding little colorful bits of fabric into smaller and smaller squares, standing out in the sunshine pegging out clothes in pleasing color combinations…ah yeah, I love all that. Never would've believed how much more laundry you have to do when you have a baby though.
Yesterday I was thinking about how so much of human behavior is so repetitive. Like many writers no doubt, I have a pretty clean house. And having a baby is an opportunity to get even more anal about it. So now every morning after I let the cats out I get on my hands and knees and wash all the slate in the kitchen and living room. It's totally “I wax on, I wax off”. So Zen. I remember The psych lecturers used to be fond of explaining that the more clean and neat someone is, the more likely it is their mind is all messed up. But surely some of us are just excellent procrastinators. And hey, isn’t cleanliness next to godliness?
I also had to babyproof the house last week because he can drag himself around now. He has the run of the house, which, contrary to expectations gives me more time, since he amuses himself exploring.
Oh, and have I told you lately how I love him? I love how we share the same sense of humor. I love his naughty grin. I love how impressed he is with himself when he masters something. I love how he can "come to mama" now. And I was so relieved he only had some kind of 24 hour bug.
But enough schmaltz, eh?

I believe in miracles

Do I walk around with a sign on my head saying that I need to be saved? I swear I'm not trying to sound like a character in a Flannery O'Connor novel, this religious stuff just keeps happening.
The Christian who dropped around a Bible while Harley was sick last week asked if he could say a prayer for the baby and I thought, what harm can it do? I said Harley was on the mend anyway but sure, go ahead. He said he would have to hold the baby, if that was alright.
Well, I could hardly say no, and besides the man has seven children of his own. He held the baby, rubbed his tummy, and said some kind of prayer which I assume was in Hebrew. Then he declared, "you are now HEALED through the Lord Jesus" and handed the baby back. As he was leaving he reminded me to start reading the Bible at Matthew and promised he would leave it with me, because he wasn’t “that kind of salesman”. Which I figure at least is an admission he’s trying to sell me something.
As if this wasn’t enough I was speaking with an old friend whose father tries on new religions like they’re going out of fashion, and she said now that they’ve made their seachange from Sydney to a small country town that has a large population of followers of new or alternative religions, her father is keen to preach some new religion he’s into, a religion that amounts to "Christ without Church". (Yeah, I know, it’s too Flannery.)
I start telling my friend about the visits from the Christian and she urges me to read the Old Testament first. Apparently her father’s beliefs centre around the Messianic Judao-Christian worldview instead of, she says it sounds like, my neighbor’s Pentecostal Christianity. She never used to be religious, but living with her father again, an artist who has a very powerful personality, has drawn it out of her, I think.
I say it kind of annoys me a bit how people try and convert me. I say I'm quite happy with my world-view; shouldn’t people respect that? My philosophy is pretty simple: be kind to yourself, be kind to others, be kind to the planet. I see no need for a sky-god, and I don’t need to beg forgiveness just for being alive. As for the seven sins, I think some of them are fun, so I’m probably beyond redemption anyway.

Friday, September 10, 2004

alarmed and alarmed

Just briefly wanted to comment on the tragedy at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.
How can this be read as anything other than a warning? Doesn't matter how much you say "we won't allow terrorists to decide our election!", they are obviously going to try and do it anyway.
Is this election going to be provoked in the worst possible way into being a referendum on Iraq? How does Howard get himself out of this one?
Wait...he's got an out. Remember how he said he'd pull out of Iraq if Iraq asked us to? And isn't his best buddy the President of the United States of America? So can't he get his mate to "encourage" Iraq ask us to have our military involvement in their country reduced to humanitarian involvement under the UN (remember that thing?)? Might just save a few lives.
And while I'm at it, instead of getting goddamn fridge magnets I'd really like some reassurance that the intelligence agencies are up to doing their job, that underlings aren't too scared to pass information up that might conflict with what the Prime Minister's telling the people, that public servants aren't frightened to come out and raise doubts and expose errors just because of what happens to the Wilkies, Keeltys, Scraftons.
That's all. I've got to go worry about something else--Harley's got some kind of gastro; his first, so excuse me if things get quiet around here. See you soon, I'm sure!

ps: I'm sorry about the problems with comments. I have no idea what's going on, it's a bit now-you-see-it-now-you-don't, isn't it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

just when you thought it was safe to go back
in the polling booth

Oh-oh, here she comes.

update: Ouch. In introducing a guest post by Darryl Rosin, the Australian Greens' Candidate for Griffith in Queensland, Tim at surfdom mentions how the One Nation party got treated worse than how the Greens are being treated now. And here I am guilty of ridiculing Pauline Hanson at the first opportunity. I guess the difference is that One Nation's ideas were far wackier than those of the Greens, in my opinion anyway, and therefore deserved the criticism and the ridicule, if not the vitriol.

a strange love affair

Such is the life of a single mum that it takes me til Wednesday to get to read the Saturday papers. Still, this story, called "Dubya delivers, putting PM first among equals", by Greg Sheridan in the Weekend Australian is worth returning to.
Essentially he's saying George Bush did John Howard a favour in praising him at the American presidential convention, but that he didn't really do it out of appreciation of Howard's foreign policy, but rather because it works for him (Bush):

"Bush and his speechwriters have decided that Australia's reputation is so high it helps Bush politically to be associated with it.
Australia enjoys a standing in the US among Republicans and Democrats it has never enjoyed before.
This is an enormous national asset.
But right now it has also delivered a real political dividend for Howard.

OK, so since it's bipartisan, it's got nothing to do with Howard's support for Dubya and Iraq, right? It must be something else. So what is it that America allegedly loves about Australia, then? Sheridan isn't any help. Whaddya reckon, is it our tourism? Is it our celebrities? Do we have Kylie, Elle, Cate and Nicole to blame for this? And why does Howard personally benefit from it?
I can't figure it out. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought most Americans couldn't find us on a map.

related: backpages on Murdoch's Daily Terrograph.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

tutti frutti

Moved right along from animals, now the Coalition's getting fruity:

"They are watermelons many of them - green on the outside and very, very, very red on the inside."
John Anderson, Nationals leader, on the Greens.

I'm counting on something juicy from Sedgwick shortly.

update: Oh, I see Greens leader Bob Brown has already "hit back":
Senator Brown said the Greens were more like avocados - green on the inside and outside.

And they kind of look fact the word "avocado" comes from the Mexican word for...but maybe we won't go there.

Monday, September 06, 2004

low profile

Just to change the subject, had to have a laugh at disgraced businessman Rodney Adler's expense at the weekend. He granted Richard Zachariah at the Sunday Tele an "exclusive" (or so it said in the print edition) to air some dirty laundry of his, a little dispute he's having with North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club over $20 or $50 depending on who you believe. Apparently some "derogatory remarks" about him were made.

"He (Mr Wright) asked me if I was having financial difficulties. The bill was $20. Who is he to ask me about financial problems?" Mr Adler said, adding, "I had moved houses a couple of times and never received the bill." The increasingly reclusive businessman told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday: "I have been trying to lead a peaceful life. I have a criminal case coming up in February (related to the collapse of insurer HIH) and I don't need the profile. Your readers would blame me for the collapse of HIH, yet I was one of 10 non-executive directors. The one person they have heard of is me."

Memo to Rodney: Giving an exclusive about something like this to a Sunday tabloid isn't exactly going to help.

method in the madness

God, the more you read about it, the worse it gets. Those poor people.
What I find particularly chilling is how the terrorists built the building itself into the weapon:

Security forces alleged the attack had been meticulously planned days before pupils returned to school on Wednesday after the summer break.
"We found a large amount of explosives and mines and their number says that this attack was planned in advance," the top local security official for the southern Russian region, Valery Andreyev, said.
"The armaments were hidden on the school grounds."
Another official said the militants has posed as builders in July, and snuck in bombs, mines, rocket launchers along with other weapons disguised as construction material.

That methodology is so al-Qaeda, they're sure to be involved in some way.
It's a really sinister idea to think a building can be taken in such a way. Makes you hope our intelligence agencies are going over possible targets at home with a fine tooth comb.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

how could they?

Only a psychopath could look into a child's terrified eyes and feel nothing. These murderers are obviously psychopaths. It strikes me that where our armies would surely deliberately screen out applicants who score high on measures of psychopathology, terrorist recruiters probably deliberately screen them in. Wouldn't surprise me at all.

by the way In the post below, commenter Parallel asks if I "see this [Ruddock's comments] as "exploiting" the tragedy merely because you don't like the speakers". It's true I've been wondering whether perhaps I could be accused of opportunistically polilticising the situation myself, by referring to it on a blog that's obviously anti-Liberal.
But I reckon I would've said the same thing if a Labor (or other) minister had come out with that. Regular readers know that I disapprove of Howard but that I don't automatically support Labor either. I have criticised Labor on this blog a number of times (for instance just below, in the post about Latham on Sunrise, where I said Labor should bring out their policies already).
Parallel asks, "Should Mark Latham mention Iraqi casualties in the course of criticising Howard's foreign policy, is that "exploiting" them?" the difference is our country's direct involvement in that conflict (ie Howard's foreign policy). Surely that makes it a legitimate topic.
This tragedy wasn't about us or our election. It's not an opportunity for tacking "...and that's why you should vote Liberal" onto it.

Friday, September 03, 2004

i thought the world was supposed to be a safer place

Very poor taste, Philip Ruddock. And the PM only compounds the error:

"I think that is a completely unreasonable comment to make on what Mr Ruddock has said," [Howard] said. "He quite rightly asserts that by reference to particular events that we live in a very difficult international environment and that our credentials on fighting terrorism and on national security are stronger and superior to those of the Labor Party."

Oh yeah.... Like that isn't opportunistically politicising the Russian hostage crisis.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

morning glory

Mark Latham's performance on Sunrise just now wasn't bad at all. Here were his key phrases (transcript up later):

do it the Australian way
work hard and have a chance in life
advancing a fair and better country
frontline services for the benefit of the people

He pledged:
- to improve health and education
- to keep the economy in surplus through lean and efficient government
-lots of new initiatives
- to use the fact that there would be both Federal and State Labor Governments to work together with the States
- not to increase the GST
- there'd be no change in negative gearing rules
- to reverse the Government's 25% increase in HECS
- to abolish full fee places
- to increase resources to universities

David Koch said he was obviously chasing the "family vote" and asked why we should "risk" electing an unknown quantity, someone whose experience in government at Liverpool Council amounted to a "chook raffle", when we've got a booming economy. Latham replied "it's not a time for complacency", saying there's still plenty of room for improvement. He mentioned that in some parts of Australia there's 30% youth unemployment, that mature age unemployment in some areas "would break your heart". He said we can't afford to "rest on our laurels".
The only other dig at the Prime Minister came when he said his government would stop all this 'buckpassing and blameshifting'.
Latham promised to release economicy policy within two weeks. (He should release it sooner; what've they been doing all this time? Isn't it ready?) He deflected the question about raising the top tax threshold by saying all would soon be revealed.
Have to say he looked very well. By the way, isn't Kerry Stokes' Sunrise outrating Kerry Packer's Today Show these days?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

of marsupials and prime ministers

Via counterspin, this:

"I have thrown a grenade but it is only the first week of the campaign. John Howard still has time to show true leadership."
--Russell Galt.

...beautiful. And this:
The Australian goes a step further, quoting an unnamed advertising source that suggests the Liberal campaign would turn Latham into "a negative brand proposition. "There will be a (mnemonic) device that they are going to attach to Latham," the source said.

It'll have to be good to compete with Lying Rodent.

win some, lose some

i'm wondering how I'll feel if Howard doesn't lose. Will I still feel like blogging? I might just be rendered speechless.

elsewhere: Rob's doing his best to blog despite technical difficulties so could someone who knows about such things please get over there and give him a hand. All those codes are making my eyes water.

do not feed the rodent

Don't miss the Backpages Election 04 Gaffe Award for all that's going on in the animal world.

once in a blue moon

"I fell over today," my friend says and I laugh. "Fell on my face. I was walking in Chinatown with my cousin and I tripped over a chair. You know--glasses flying, bruised arms and legs, everything. Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing." We laugh. Then she says,
"And I had a car accident today, too. I was reversing out of the garage and I ran into the fence."
I tell her it’s the second accident I’ve been told about today. This morning, another friend’s wife was knocked off her motorbike. Then I realise it’s actually the third motor accident I’ve been told of today. My neighbor who stopped by this afternoon to invite me to Bible fellowship told me that he’d been in a head-on smash recently and had walked away without a scratch.
"I’m just so tired lately," my friend says. "I’ve been doing all these double shifts." She works in respite, with disabled children. They’ve had a lot of funding cuts and staff cuts, and as a result all the staff are doing these crazy stretches of double shifts.
She says, "And a boy attacked me today, Gianna, and another boy ran away. Yeah. The younger one, the one who ran away, he was missing for about an hour until they found him in the park where luckily a picnicking family had found him. Yeah. He just walked off down the road. We had to call Emergency."
This happened yesterday in Sydney's West. The boy took off while she was cooking the children’s lunch. Apparently he has done it many times before. I become angry at the Department. "I mean, how can you be expected to watch them all as well as cook their lunch, for god’s sake? You can't be in two places at once.”
"Well, that's the thing."
"Were both these boys autistic?"
"Jesus. And you know, you would’ve been the one who was blamed if something had happened. And what happened with the boy who attacked you?"
"He scratched me right across the chest. Well, he didn’t mean to hurt me. He just got overexcited. Sometimes these kids, they get so agitated, you know? Agitated, but happy. They get so kind of wound up, they can accidentally hurt you. So this boy--he’s about fourteen, really tall, and you know, really strong--was kind of wrestling me, and I was trying to restrain him, this giant...I tell you Gianna, all my karate skills came in handy.”
"And I bet they’d want to keep all this hush-hush," I say, furious at the Government—Tony Abbott in particular--for cutting health funding.
My friend says, "Anyway, it’s a full moon today. Maybe that’s got something to do with it."
"And it’s a blue moon." I say. "They're meant to be good for lovers," I add. While I’m out the back talking to her on the portable phone I suddenly become aware of some kind of electronic melody coming from about a hundred metres away, down the back of the house towards the creek. I’m thinking it’s someone across the valley playing with a synthesiser until I realise it’s frogs doing these harmonies.
"That reminds me," I say to my friend, "I had a visit from the devout Christian up the road this afternoon. He came to tell me about the Lord Jesus." He's a big man, a professional fisherman by trade, and would be handsome except for his one black front tooth. He and his wife, knowing I’m a single mother, are determined to fix me up with a good husband. In the past they've tried to engineer a meeting with a local widower who lost his wife and children in a car accident. Now my neighbor mentioned this man again. "He’s embraced the Lord," he said with satisfaction.
All the while the messenger of the Lord was in my living room, the baby grinned and drooled and jumped up and down with pleasure as I held him, and I was reminded of his reaction to Clara, who also happened to be a devout Christian.
"He likes me," my neighbor said. "Babies can tell." I didn't tell him the baby likes all men; those deep-voiced faces with the silver or white or red hair on their heads and sometimes their chins as well.
I told my neighbor I didn’t really get into religion. I said I had more of a Zen kind of philosophy, where you might say everything is divine, and you don’t have to do anything about it either.
The man snapped his fingers. "Ah, but you can’t be forgiven until you take Jesus as your Lord. Don’t you want to be forgiven?"
I told him I didn't think I needed to be forgiven for anything at the moment actually. I felt like I had disappointed him so I agreed to his request that I read the Bible, because I’ve never actually read it. I said I would be happy to read it as a piece of literature. He said he’d bring me one and that I should start at Matthew.
"Can’t I just start at the beginning," I said. He said that was the beginning. I said then why did he have to tell me to start there.
"It’s the start of the Second Testament," he said. "You know how there’s two Testaments?"-–here he smiled indulgently as if I was a bit of a fool-—"one, written four hundred years before Christ, and then one written after the Lord has died and gone to Heaven." He made a movement with his hand as if someone was swimming towards the ceiling.
Now, listening to the frogs, I tell my friend who got attacked, crashed her car, fell over and lost a boy today, that there's one thing about these people that always fascinates me: how they give off this amazing positive energy, this radiance borne of their absolute certainty.
Anyway, I'm thinking maybe I’ll go along to the fellowship after all, just out of curiosity. Go along and be a spy in the house of certainty. Could be interesting.

all of the above

Six months. May start to cling. Turns to sounds. Chuckles. Babbles. Watches adults across the room. Watches hands. Objects put into mouth. Starting to find feet and hands interesting. Putting feet and toys in mouth. Plays with toes.