Two very nice emails from my Ma last week:
1) Notifying my sisters and me of a slime mould oscillating its way across the wood chips at Harlot Heights. (This was a very pleasing e-pistle indeedeeoh, and I have boasted to everyone I've met over the last week that my parents are growing a slime mould. Such disclosures seem to clear space on public transport.)
2) Notifying me (only) that she had repainted the garden gnome I gave her for Christmas in 1990.
This garden gnome was orginally advertised in the Target catalogue for $9.95, an exorbitant proportion of my personal GDP for the 1990/91 financial year. I was so enraptured, though, with the thought of giving a garden gnome to my mother (who had never before shown the slightest interest in ceramic men in dungarees), that I overrode the advice from Treasury and made a special expedition with my sister to Chatswood Target. Here - in horror - I watched the checkout kiddy swipe his bar code and request $12.95. And here my valiant sister stood up to her full height and demanded a price-check on my behalf. (This, as far as I was concerned, deserved some sort of national award for bravery, which I think I never got round to conferring.) Even at $9.95, our garden gnome broke the bank, and I was reduced to giving the Pa a set of ten hand-knitted toe warmers, in a fetching aqua acrylic yarn I happened to have at home. Meanwhile, the 'rents embrace my mother's new garden gnome like a prodigal son, and here he is today, replete with rouge and a brand new pair of scarlet Birkenstocks. The paint for which (though the Ma didn't tell me and I haven't asked) would have left $9.95 for dead.