Sunday, December 30, 2012

Balancing a late dinner with a shitty girl

The husb. disappeared more than an hour ago to take one girl to the dairy (where she can join her uncle in the pit and get covered in shit for it is slippery and she is in worn gumbies) and to take the other girl (lets call her "cleany") for a chat with his mother.

Now before he left he said he would be back in time to finish making tea.  He did mention tea would probably be late.

I could stop dribbling to you and pop off and start tea.  Really, I could.  If only I felt like it to any extent.  It is probably a false impression but I feel like I have been cooking non-stop for weeks.  Mind you, this means my husb. has been washing up and hanging washing as an alternate.  Nevertheless, I am just not in the mood for making quiche.  The next step would be to wash a vinegar bottle and use it as a rolling pin to roll then blind bake the pastry.  Doesn't seem appealing.

Perhaps I will just volunteer to de-shit the girl when they get home.  That sounds nicer.

Addendum:  It is now 6.30 pm, the estimated time of arrival of the "late tea" and there is no sign of the husb., cleany or the shit girl. Do you think he will be disappointed that I have not started without him?  Bloody husbands.

Further grumblings:  The husb. returned.  The cleany was clean and shit girl was truely shitty.*  I showered the s.g..  Apparently I should be fine with the revised dinner estimate well after the girls bedtime.  I am not sure why he thinks the s.g. will still be capable of eating that late.  She never has been before. Under the full force of a grumpy wife he made the girls an impromptu meal.  I am currently expecting tea around 8pm.**  Bloody bloody husbands.

* After several visits to the pit in the dairy where she fell into shit every time we threw out that set of clothes.  The smell was never coming out.

** Reading this back later I had a laugh.  Think Sinatra:
     She gets too hungry, for dinner at eight
     She likes the theater, but never come late
     She never bothers with people she hates
     That's why the lady is a tramp

Peace in our time (with some bull)

Lordy lord, I am at peace.  By which I mean for the first time in several weeks I am actually alone.  (Ignoring the many cats and chickens and one dog in the garden and the bull bellowing* in the lane waiting for his lady friends to emerge from the dairy.)

I have just finished a book by Jenny Lawson.  I was going to send her an indemnifying email half way through to ensure she should not face any legal problems in the event of my sudden death.  As it was I survived with several heavy drags of ventolin.  I can now see how improper disposal of wet towels could lead to cat leg amputation, making it more important than ever to keep nagging about them (towels, not cat legs).  Mind you, then I would have one less purple footprint all over the tub.

Possibly I have been holidaying so hard my mind has turned to jelly (definately without carrot).  I am sure I used to make more sense.  Bad luck.

*Bulls do in fact bellow but they also make a huge range of other noises - they can sound like a whole barnyard of animals who all happen to have a husky cold.  Before the husb. I never knew they are the lyre birds of the ruminant world.**

**This is not to suggest the husband is some sort of minotaur, rather that before him I had not happened to sleep less than 15 m from a paddock full of bulls who were living in a malestrom of testoterone as several hundren cows were walked past their fence 4 times per day.***

***Now this is sounding like some kind of bizarre sexual torture for livestock, but the cows were going to and from the dairy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Last lap, pant pant pant.

Tonight is the last lap of the family Christmas marathon.  Around 40 adults, most of whom I either don't know at all or last met when I was pregnant with my almost 7 year old.  I am making 2 giant salads but that is a minor sneeze compared to my amazing (and at this stage very exhausted) mother-in-law, who is assembling a BBQ for 40 (plus children).

The husb. is cooking the meat.  I may bring him home in the boot depending on how greasy he is. Mind you, the boot is carpetted.  Maybe he could perch on the bonnet.

The children are excited to participate in a cousin fest.  There may well be 20 or so of them.  A few first cousins and a flotilla of seconds and removals (or is that removeds? - frankly I made that up).

This will be our big opportunity to deliver the last of our Christmas presents and the delightful home made cards, complete with remarkably accurate spelling, courtesy of Monster1. 

When packing for the holiday I included some homemade cherry jams as gifts then packed a tiny jar of raspberry for us*.  Having demolished the raspberry, the jam addicts (husb. and Monster2) have started on their first jar of commercial jam in several years.  It is low on fruit, absent of texture, lacking brightness of flavour, strangely pip-less and has a strong acid aftertaste.  Pretty typical commercial jam.  I should have some willing helpers in the picking and cutting department for the rest of the jam season (heh heh heh).

After tonight's fandango our holiday will officially begin.  We will hit the pools, beaches and volcanic lakes with gay abandon and several tubes of sunscreen.  The new boards may well hit a wave rather than their current impressive work on the lounge carpet.  I doubt if you can sing a surfing song and dance in a fairy dress on a real wave.

*Well, not me.  I like to make it but don't actually eat it as I can't resist the call of the vegemite when faced with toast. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to cause arachnophobia

We have arrived as houseguests.  The girls are exhasted and look like coming down with bugs.

The little one did not want to go to bed because there were daddy-long-legs in her room.  The husb. told her she would be fine mainly because the house is spider heaven and he did not want to have to de-spider the whole joint.  I told her they hang around near the ceiling and they will eat the mosquitos that otherwise will bite her with joy.

She went to bed in tears.  We put the other monster in our room to get a warm-up sleep before they were put together.  Ten minutes later I still heard sobbing so I asked the lovely husb. to investigate.

It wasn't the little one.  She was lying in bed in exhasted terror because the two daddy-long-legs were less than a foot from her head.  No, the crying was the other one because she was scared of eventually being put into the room with spiders.  I didn't tell her about the webs down the side of my bed.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Family shenanigans in the usual style

Current shenanigans - combined list:

One sibling is not coming, ensuring that our unbroken run of never having met their children continues.  Goodness knows why. 

We are not to provide any admonishing words to another sibling's child because it makes the parents angry.

Number of siblings currently undergoing a dental crisis because their new caps have come adrift - one.

One Aunt has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and an Uncle (her brother) with another form of cancer.  Much sadness and good wishes to both.

Number of family events currently booked - approximately 4.

Current excitement level of the children - stratospheric.

Number of toys they are getting that they claim they have grown out of - most of them.  (Though they were fine on the Christmas list prepared 6 weeks ago.)

Number of bottles of gin the husb. and I may need for the ordeal - probably one but we will keep our options open.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It is still a week til Christmas and I am already zonked

Though to be fair, I did stay up til 12.30 last night reading the trilogy of novels I picked out for my husband to take on the summer holiday, because a bored husband on a holiday is a grouchy, bloody annoying specimen of humanity.

Further, I did go on an emergency jaunt to the doctor last night with Monster2.  It was not a remarkable success.  A low point is when I had to carry her back to the car, then get her out again so she could throw up in the car park (sorry about that car park).  Several hours later she improved remarkably.

The dear husband slept on the floor in her room for the purposes of bucket cleaning, etc.  What a lovey.

Then the Monster fought with her sister all morning, in between bouts of high grade surliness.  I considered calling her exhasted and keeping her home but frankly it is her last day at this school and it would kill her not to say goodbye to her friends.  So I gave the teachers a warning (sorry teachers) and packed her off.

And now I have all her bedding on the line.  Good thing cheap quilts like a regular washing.

Looking back on her year at preschool, I am bemused it took me so long to realise that the plot formed between the Monster and two other vague sweet little things at the beginning of the school year (they were all 4) to dig under the school and blow it up was my sweet pip's idea.  The other two are even vaguer and sweeter than her.  I should have realised straight away.  It only became blindingly clear as I got to know the other two girls.  I blame Wild E. Coyote, or the parents.

The books were good, though.  Pity I am babbling.

Friday, December 14, 2012

For Christmas I would like some nookie, dear husb.

But failing that, I have put down a few fanciful thoughts.

Let see now, possibly a device where you press a button and your hair fundamentally changes nature for ever, from say, frizzy and thick as a hedge, to say, pretty much anything else.  I am a bit sick of hedging.

Alternately, another device with a slightly larger button where when you press it every person in a position of power in the world has a startling perspective change and stops focussing on the aggregation of power and instead considers what could may be done to help those in need, possibly by trusting and working with others in power.  It might need to be a big button.*

A small feathery miscellaneous thingie that inexplicably reminds you of baby ducks or sleepy kittens or furry rocks** and makes you smile and feel calm whenever your gaze falls upon it.

A mute button for children, or better yet, a freeze frame that you can leave on for, say, a long weekend without causing damage. 

A big pile of funny books.   I am taking a Wodehouse and "Lets Pretend It Never Happened" on holiday so if I should die of an asthma attack brought on by laughing, know that I died happy.  Mind you,  I am also taking several Graham Greene books so possibly I could read an antidote before I cark it.

A device that inexplicably tempts the cat to insert each of her four feet as she passes through the laundry, whereupon each paw is gently cleaned and dried, guarenteed to remove grit, burrs and mulberry stains.

More gin and a stack of limes. 

All we need now is ice and tonic and Bob's your Auntie Jean.

*Reading this back later I feel like a beauty contestant playing the "world peace" card but with better adjectives and less pertness.

** The rock thing was my husband's suggestion - I have no idea what it signifies - nobody ask a Freudianist.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Further bad habits of the feline

You know that when one of the branches on the Christmas tree is shuddering, little bits of tinsel are falling onto the floor and one of the shiny balls flies across the room, the cat is mollocking (though none of the farm servants get pregnant so possibly that is the wrong word - is it Seth-specific?).

When you have purple/black paw prints in the bath, around the bath, in the sink, on the toilet seat, in the bowl of the toilet (!!!??!!!!), on the window sill and over the floor, you know the cat has been under the mulberry tree and is continuing to refuse to sip from anything so common as her drinking bowl.  Possibly she objects to the frog bowl.  Not bone china, you know.

When she gets trapped under the house and the husband rescues her, she comes to give you a loving rub in bed.  The rub brings the items she collected in her fur, whiskers and paws.  This includes grit, webs and the occasional spider.  We have red-backs under the house.

Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti
Best avoided. Or you could pop off to hospital if bitten.

Lastly, and it is somewhat Christmassy, she likes to do some happy laps of the house early in the morning.  Quite early.  So the mornings start with the crazed tinkle of two little bells on her collar.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Right of reply from extant husb. re selection of replacement

I would like to make one comment about my strengths that seems to have failed to be included.  That is, the ability to back a trailer reliably.  With that I need to say no more.

PS My wife is lovely.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Character traits I would aim for in my next husband (mythical)

Not that I am considering disposing of the one I have, but would I pick a similar husb. a second time?

For the purpose of this analysis, please assume away the children.

I think I would first have to consider whether I would bother a second time.  I mean, the husb. is very nice and all that, but the thought of having my life back to myself but for the patter of little paws with as much reading and bike riding time as can be imagined - well, that would be a tricky one.  I will be buggered for a blog if I continue down this path so assume I will dip my toes into the marital swamp again.  (I am getting to be a natty assumer.)

While in the neighbourhood I will also assume (in my simple and unaffected manner) that I can attract any type of chappie I fancy.  It is OK, George.  You are safe.  I must be the only straight woman over 40 who doesn't have you on her "exception to general policy of faithfulness" short list.

So, what sort of character traits does the extant husb. have and would I go for something similar?

Let us start with geekiness.  I speak fluent geek.

When I was younger my brother (a geek king) would throw big parties.  There would always be a clutch of sad lads too socially inept to speak to anyone.  My brother would drag me over and introduce me to one, whereupon I asked them several questions til I discovered a topic they were competent to converse upon (encryption algorithms, online gaming, collecting interesting mathematical t-shirts), chat to them for a bit then dodge out and hide somewhere.  Then my brother would find me and drag me off to some other malnourished brainy dude with stunted social skills.

Don't even think the brother was doing it on my behalf.  No, no.  He just knew his friends would feel they had some degree of success if they spoke to someone at the party.  I did not mind too much because it is nice to make a stranger a little happier, in smallish doses.  If I kept clear of my brother for a while I could meet more interesting people, like a couple who told me in graphic detail what happens if you attempt to use your penis as a vase for a solitary rose.  (To summarise, it doesn't end well.  The folks in casualty laugh and the medical students take photos and spread them around the uni.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  The current husb. comes fairly high on the geeky scale.  Not as high as my brother and his troop of deeply involved coders, mathematicians and engineers.  High enough that before meeting me he would have no idea what you were talking about if you mentioned Austen, Machiavelli, or Stalin but he would recognise Maxwell, Pascal and Watt.

You know, it would be tempting to go for someone who would be happy to converse on the religious aspects of the 30 year war, or at least have some chance of knowing when you are making a reference to something, say, cultural in general conversation.  But on the other hand, such bounty may bring terrible sacrifices.  If the new husb. was ignorant of Mr Georg Ohn and his work, you may end up having to pay an electrician for minor electrical work.

Go Georg, you sexy thing.

Mind you, if I were to assume the next husb. was considerably weathier, we could get his assistant to supervise general repairs and tradespeople while we were holidaying for several weeks each year somewhere of historical, culinary and cultural interest.

To postulate further, such a refined type is unlikely to have any curiosity about storm water drains, or what would happen if you tried to electroplate an annoying shop assistant (without actually killing them, of course).

Hmm, I can see this is going to be tricky. I cannot really expect any type of genuine hybrid,so in balance, I think I am happy to go for a reasonable amount of geekiness next time as well.

Jeez Louise.  It is past bedtime and all I have considered re husb. #2 is optimal degree of geekiness (43 - 68% with 5% error).  I will have to continue this bit of fluff another day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Embarrassment cleaning

Hem.  Well, I was so embarrassed to reread my blog I decided to tackle the laundry floor.

This involved removing:

  • mud from the last rain - a while ago now - further hemming in embarrassment
  • mulberry stains from the feet of girls and cat - at least the girls wash theirs in the laundry
  • scunge that appears from under the washing machine - I hope this doesn't mean it has started spraying oil - surely it is too young for that sign of decepitude
  • dust devils that roll about between the sink and wall and behind the door, evolving into higher lifeforms and planning a takeover of the house
  • zero - zip - nuthin' in the way of overflows from the litter tray.  The usual litter was unavailable several weeks ago and she hates the replacement.  Now she just crosses her furry legs and waits for the back door to open so she can dig up the seedlings.  The litter is for emergency use only.  Great result.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's probably not hygenic but ...

... I spend quite a lot of time on the toilet pulling burs out of the cat's tail.

... on an average day, exploration of the girl's hair would yield several globs of jam and 1/2 cup of sand glued in with sunburn cream.

... my darling husband once let our crawling baby eat duck shit.  When questioned about the wisdom of the practice, he said "she only ate one bit."

A wood duck.  Not so tasty poo, apparently.

... I haven't cleaned the laundry floor in so long it seems too dirty to attempt.

... in the time of my previous cat, a close examination of the area around the back door would reveal several dessicated mouse noses, because apparently they weren't that tasty.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

5 things I don't want for Christmas

I incline to the Tim Minchin view of Christmas gifts (the socks, jocks and chocs approach).  I also rather fancy the idea I don't need any more stuff so nothing is fine.  Failing that, if it isn't covering in chocolate or enables me to purchase a book of my own selection, please don't.  Or you could buy someone a goat - I hope it is not a stroppy one.

Nevertheless here is a list of things that could be given to me that would give me the roaring heebies.

1 Clothes.  You are unlikely to get my size right.  If you did, it will probably be designed for someone shorter.  I am particular about colour, cut, fabric choice and pattern (generally no to the last point).  Essentially, I am a fussy fussy bastard.  Please don't buy me clothes.*

2 Books.  I have no idea what I am going to read next.  How could anyone else possibly know?

3 Small electrical kitchen implements.  Do I look like I am made of bench space?  I am happy with the current toaster.  I do not desire one that has egg-cooking pretensions.

4 Jewellery, scent, makeup, skin goop, etc.  See 1. re  fussy bastard-ness.  Further, I am one of the least adorned people on the planet.  I am clean and I try to keep my hair from looking like I just crawled out of a bush (its natural style, along with some seasonal fuzz).  That is pretty much the limit of my endeavors.  Take it or leave it people.

5 Cookbooks.  Now you would think you are on a winner here.  I have 2 shelves of them and I do like to cook.  Possibly a trap for new players.  The last two big, expensive cookbooks I have been given I have given away.   My shelves are full.  In order to take on a new book, it has to be more interesting and desirable than the ones I already have.  Not an easy ask.

Interestingly, I will probably get at least 3 of these 5.  Oh well, it is the thought that counts and someone will enjoy them.

That is one giant chocolate doobie for the top of the Black Forest Cake

*That being said, a friend's mother bought her something that didn't suit her so she gave it to me on spec.  I had a peek and thought, "not my colour: I hate sleeveless".  But I took it home and tried it on.  For exactly the same reason it didn't suit her it suited me flawlessly.  I wore it on a rare date with the husb.  He had to take a moment to get over my more sophisticated look.  He also probably breathed out when I told him I had not been out buying expensive ensembles.  This is the first time in my life (43 and counting) a gifted item of clothes has worked out for me.  It may happen again but I doubt I'll make it to 86.

Stained fingers and thighs

The early stage of the jam season is all dark fruit.  In the last week I have pitted 4 kilos of cherries and murked about with several kilos of mulberries.  Dark purple juice all over my hands, down my arms and over my thighs for hours on end.  It is a lot less erotic than it sounds.  It takes days to wear off.   I look grimy and the acid is not great for the skin.  The jam is good, though.  Back to a dry season and the fruit quality is up.

Mmmm, cherries.

In other news, the oldest monster had her first sleepover last night.  The husb. and I nearly died laughing as we fielded a series of questions and comments from the guest and Monster1 after the official bed time.

Apparently they were having trouble going to sleep and they trialed a number of remedies including changing beds, reading in bed, turning out lights, turning on lights and reading again, etc.  At no time did it occur to them to stop talking to each other.  We did suggest it.  Really, we did.

Meanwhile, their upsie-downie-ness and discussion kept Monster2 awake.  The poor little mite felt very left out from the bigger girls (though technically she is quite a bit bigger than both of the others).

We finally got a result at 10pm when we went for the old fashioned method of threatening the girls with moving Monster1 to the lounge room if they didn't stop nattering and get to sleep.

They were up pretty nippily this morning so I harnessed the adrenal rush and had all three out picking berries by 8.30 am.

Monster2 paid the heaviest toll.  She started her afternoon nap at 10.30 am on the sofa. She couldn't face lunch even though it included a salami sandwich (heavens to Betsy - a Christmas miracle).  We just decanted her from the sofa to bed to finish the job.  She was snoozing again through dinner time.  She will probably need an extra apple for breakfast tomorrow.

[Late breaking news - Monster2 is sporting a jaunty new virus, hence her sluggedlyness.]

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I need to get a job

Well, the obvious answer is the slow slide into financial oblivion that has already taken so many luxuries such as after school activities for the girls, a clothes budget that is anything other than piffly and the cleaner (sob, sob).

But there is a deeper answer.  At the moment the girls primarily see me in housefrau mode.  When you ask Monster2 what she wants to do when she is grown-up she says "Stay home and look after the children, like you, Mum."

"Arrg", I scream.  How can you explain to a five year old that she is unlikely to be able to afford a mortgage on one income when her time comes and that we only just can now but we are luckier than most.  How can I explain that I have chosen this after great gobs of education and an interesting career, one that I could return to in a snap if I wished.  How can I explain that one of the reasons I can stand being at home is that I have had an interesting career and I will probably do so again in some form but this is just a breather - time aside to focus on them.

And finally, this is a girl who can make emptying the dishwasher last for over an hour (one fork at a time, hum a tune between each one, possibly with a little dance) and that she is completely unsuited to a life where you have to impose your own structure.

  • Reason number 3 - every month that goes by without an income, the husband seems to value my time less and less.
  • Reason number 4 - every month that goes by without an professional occupation, my confidence fades a little more.
  • Reason number 5 - the intellectual gratification of blogging has faded to a marginal return.  I need something chunky to think about or I will go through cranial melt down after which I will sit on the sofa drooling and reciting Dr Seuss.
  • Reason number 6 - neither of us want to clean the toilet again.  We want our cleaners back real bad.

Like this, but sludgier.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Literacy problems in children

I am starting to get concerned about several literacy problems I have been having around here.  Two problems, really.

Firstly, it used to be that I could tell my husband time-critical girl-excluded messages by spelling strategic words out.  This is no longer possible.  I think Monster1 would decrypt the words faster than the husband (who is not a nippy speller).  Monster2 has not even started school and she could probably have a good go at some words.   If the husb. and I both spoke another language we could use that.  It would have the natty side effect of generating bilingual children.

My second literacy problem relates to reading.  For the first time this year I have had to hide my Christmas shopping list.  It is hugely annoying.  You don't have these types of problems with illiterate children. 

My mother was the fortunate recipient of an education in a particular form of shorthand that became fashionable in 1964 then disappeared without a trace. It must have been handy for hiding things from us when we were children.

My mother once went overseas for some weeks when my brother and I were at university.  We had been left some money to pay bills, etc but we were running out of money to buy food.  We knew she had a bag of small change and we knew she would not mind if we snuffled in to it but we just couldn't find it.  When the parents returned from dining their way around regional France, we said, "We nearly starved.  For lords sake, woman, where was the spare change?"

She picked up a scrap of paper from her dressing table containing several small squiggles, and said, "under the bed."

Yep, unless a passing burglar had done shorthand in 1964, preferably at the hands of the Dominicans, that change was safe, safe, safe.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surprise baby and a phenomenal act of memory

I went to my friend's birthday picnic today.  There was a baby wriggling around a rug that at some stage grabbed my hem.  I had to give several tugs to free myself before my skirt went skittering down demonstrating the voluminous nature of my undies.

An hour and a half into this picnic I realised the person paying the most attention to the baby was the mother.  I have known her for years, via my friend, but I did not even know she was pregnant much less the mother of an almost toddler.  Possibly I had been told and I vagued it out.  In any case these surprise babies are a bit of a shock on the old system.  It seemed like a nice one - round and smiley.

Mother and baby had gotten over a rough start and are in the groove.  It must be relieving if you start with a baby too small to register on the growth chart to hit the 50th percentile.

On a related picnic matter, I generally have a good memory (aside from the years lost to pregnancy and small children, of which I remember very little).  Its weakness is faces.  I am not great at them.

A woman arrived at the party and I started chatting to her.  I think we were both thinking, "how do I know this person?"  Then she took off her sunglasses.  She had very unusual pale green eyes.  I said, "Didn't we work together at XXX in about 2000?"  She was stunned. Then, to top it off, I said, "[address of the building],1st floor, to the left of the lifts."  Frankly, I was a little bit stunned myself.  You have to admit, I may miss entire pregnancies but sometimes I am a clever munchkin.

Thank you very much.  (Said in an Elvis accent)

Invocation of right of reply

 Re previous post

In his defense, the husband said he was looking forward to the roast chicken.

He also claims he understands my point of view and will never do it again.

I suspect the "understanding" was boosted by a certain sheepishness.  He had arrived at work and announced his lunch-less state to his co-workers and made the call to me in front of them. The result was clear enough for several of them to laugh themselves silly, while the dear husband sat with a pale face, saying, "I won't do that again."

Friday, November 23, 2012

You are a grown-up. Please organise your own lunch

On Wednesday morning Monster2 and I were lurking in some playground when we got a call from the school.  Monster1 had forgotten her lunch.

I rounded up the little monster and we rode off to the rescue.

Now last night was the husb's Christmas work dinner and he missed roast chicken.  I cooked enough for him and packed it up for him to take for lunch.  At 8.45 this morning, when anyone remotely knowledgeable about children knows is"harrying the children out the door while stacking the dishwasher" time, he rang.

This is where it gets suicidal.

Now I am prepared to spend 15 minutes taking a 6 year old her lunch.  She is not particularly forgetful and she is a little pip.

I am not prepared to spend an hour taking a man who is well into his forties his lunch.  He is a grown-up.  Even if I was not fantastically busy today (which, if he used his brain he would have remembered I was), it is rude to undervalue my time.

You forgot it.  Buy something.  Monster2 ate yours.

That is all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The rose and pumpkin beads don't fit the string

It looks like Monster 2 is making me a bracelet.

In unrelated news, the Monsters are off on a jolly this weekend, leaving the husb. and I to our devices.  One of those will be the beater.  Step back people and take a deep cooling breath.  I refer to the beater to make a proprodigious amount of cream - breathe again - to construct a black forest cake to feed 20 people.

The last such creation, packed ready for picnicking.
You see, my lovely Grasshoppery friend is having a birthday picnic.  And frankly, if you must picnic under a tree in Spring, possibly drinking a glass of champagne, cake is quite essential.

It was her 40th several years ago and so I made cake for 30-odd people.  I probably made cake for 40 and boy oh boy, was she happy with a take-home wodge of cherry deliciousity.  She is a talented cake eker and made it last for days.

Meanwhile, I was biting my fingernails at the thought that cream that had already been on a picnic was being stretched to its bio-hazard limit.  Nobody wants to poison someone for their birthday.  Well, maybe terminal spousal relationships and people with really annoying children.  But then you would have to clean the vomit off the sheets and that way madness lies.  Best not to poison people.  Moving on.

On a related topic, I was speaking to my mother and she told me she had just had some quince jelly for lunch.  My quince jelly.  I have not made quince jelly for about 2 1/2 years.  If I could work out a way to make preserves spontaneously combust after a year, I would.  Not a big explosion that would blacked the cupboard and wipe out the biscuits.  A burn that would leave a small heap of ash in the jar, possibly with just enough heat to combust the label as well, because those labels are a cow to get off.

I do tell people not to keep things for more than a year.  I date the jars.  Preserves are not a suicide sport, people. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

I live with jam wolves

We had a preliminary pick of the mulberry tree yesterday.  Well, not pick.  The friut is still too high after the mega-trim so we went with the put down a sheet and shake the branches technique.  Monster2 did an excellent job crawling around the sheet for the precious berries.

It is still early in the season and it was not a major success.  Only 700g of berries.  Pack that out with a couple of green apples and a kilo of sugar and I made two and a half jars of jam.

Now there has been a mulberry jam drought around here.  The mega-trim was 18 months ago and so last summer was a pass on mulberry jam.

All eyes were turned towards the jars awaiting labels as the toast went in this morning.  There was some wolfish snarling as berries were counted out.

The famed raspberry patch, with the edge of the mulberry at right.
Now we have just over two jars of mulberry jam.  Oh, and a sheet with dark stains.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I hate Christmas shopping

[On an unrelated topic, Norman is a radio quiz.]

The husb. and I have a theory that the closer it gets to Christmas, the more desperate present buyers become, and the remoter the connection between the gift and the recipient.  Though I think there are some people who have such a vague conception of the personalities of their near relatives that they would get something randomly inappropriate even if they started in the June sales.

I have to say I don't really care what I get given.  I figure if I don't want it, I can just give it to someone who does, including letting my local op-shop work out who wants it.  I certainly don't have Aunt Sadie's porcelain antlers in the back of the cupboard just in case she hits town.  Aside from a lack of Aunt Sadies and antlers, my cupboard space is meager and precious.  I have one change of sheets and towels because that is all that fits in.

I am not even in it for the Christmas dinner because if I were to write a list of my favourite dishes, roast turkey and fruit pudding would not come in the top 10,000.  I do like seeing the family, though. I also like the excitement of the kids.  They are a bit cashed up at the moment and I have to restrain them from buying themselves things I know they are getting without giving too much away.

I wonder when they will start looking under painting rags in the shed.  I have no idea why we didn't look there when we were kids but I don't remember really looking for them at all.  Perhaps I was too dopey to be curious.  Monster1 is working on her interrogation techniques in the hope we will let something slip.

One of my brothers once did his Christmas shopping at the only shop he found open on the way to Christmas dinner (a pharmacist), so he gave my other brother a packet of condoms.  I think my father got Old Spice, and I can't remember what I got but the event was memorable for its sheer silliness.

This is what happens when you let Monster2 near several colours of play dough, much to the annoyance of Monster1, a non-mixer.
Speaking of which, I was fishing something out of the top of my wardrobe and I came across an envelope with my father's name on it.  Inside was a Christmas card and some cash.  I must have forgotten to give it to him, possibly this year, possibly a previous one.  I hope he doesn't read this because I have put it in my purse for general frivelling.  Bad luck, Dad.  I guess that is not much better than the pharmacy debacle, so you see, it must run in the family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yelling at Norman

Sometimes Norman makes me so frustrated I want to yell at him.  I try not to as I am fighting a war against screaming monsters so I like to set a good example.  Sadly, sometimes I just break out and yell.

It is mortifying.  He asks such good questions. 

Mostly I just listen to Norman.  I talk but he usually doesn't listen.  Only occasionally does he give me his undivided attention.  He is a great listener when he focuses.  If I do try to talk to him, things go to custard and my brain refuses to function.  I can hardly speak.  It is very embarrassing.

I love Norman, but I hate him too.

It is not a case of husband betrayal.  He knows all about Norman and can accept my passion.  He is a very tolerant man, lying beside me as I speak to Norman in the evenings.  I am listening to Norman croon at me now as I type.  The dear husband is reading a magazine beside me, not at all jealous.  He is not fussed by Norman - he can take him or leave him.

Norman has come into my life quite recently. He first arrived by accident as I was driving to some social event, years ago.  Then there he was in my car.   But I resisted him then.  I could have loved him for years but it is only recently that our relationship bloomed.   

I don't like to tell other people about my relationship with Norman.  It is a bit embarrassing, really.  Don't tell anyone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 more reasons I love my husband

1 When we first had a baby he trained himself to walk in from work ready to help out should it be required and he still does, even if it just to pour a drink as I cook tea.

2 He generally copes very well when I get attacks of devilment even though they may cost him.

3 He grows vegetables and installs watering systems, the latter leading to a plummeting in the death rate of plants.

4 He is willing to converse on a broad range of topics and have Jane Austen novels read to him.

5 Sometimes he needs to go out for cake.

6 He started as a man who dreamed of steak* and could not cook, and now he is willing to cook meals involving lentils (though he still dreams of steak - we just can't afford it).

7 A keen nookyist.

8 Turn-off-able hearing - generally considered a design fault in men but very handy for child wrangling when I have overdosed on noise and run away to my bedroom to wear industrial ear-muffs.

 9 Jam-lover - an essential acquisition for a non-eating jam-maker. (Though he does have a keen associate in Monster2.  They are prone to count how many whole mulberries they spy on each other's toast.)

10 Remarkable cat tolerater. 

A happy vegie patch, courtesy of the husb.

* The steak quality measures include a propensity to hang over the edges of the plate and a creamy sauce.

A monster bit the sun

Well, Christmas is starting to lurk with intent around here.  The girls are getting curious about the content of deliveries.  They are also starting to ask well-reasoned and sceptical questions about the activities of Mr Claus, vis a vis the time taken to accomplish his tasks, as well as the whole flying reindeer malarky.  I am fobbing them off in a general way with explanations of the time dilatory effect of the international date zone, assuming he goes around the right way.

I may well get away with it this year but the end is nigh.  I am ambivalent about this - it is a very silly concept and I am for rationalist children.  Not that I am against the idea of a little magic, but I am not displeased the monsters can think their way through it.

There are still several major impediments to focusing too fully on  Christmas-related matters, namely the endless painting task (1st enamel coat today) and the small matter of the opening of the jam season in a week or so.

The mulberry tree is looking like it could do with a pick, which is a bit early.  I was hoping for a week or two more to concentrate on painting.  It is also odd that the mulberry tree is running early when the raspberries (only 8 feet away) are running on time.  In any case, I expect to make 5-6 batches between the two of them by the time Santa is doing his final departure checklist (ho ho ho).  The stone friut comes in conveniently later around here - that will be a late January job.

While the mango season is upon us in all its tropical madness, I have decided to skip mango chutney this year. I think I need a spicier recipe.  In any case, there is the call of the paintbrush.  Only three coats to go and the drop sheets are drop-kicked.

My dearest Monster1 wrote a very comprehensive list to Santa.  Now I am a bit worried we will be getting her too much on her list, especially when you consider the generosity of my kind parents. Oh well.  She can have bread and spit for her birthday.

Speaking of which, happy birthday to the husband for tomorrow.  Today I love you because whenever we paint a room, you change over the stained, flickery power points.  Much better than flowers.

Last year it rained so much the clay became full as a boot so it leached under the house and made a swamp.  Pumps are not keen on immersion.
PS Today's title comes from a quote from a boy observing the solar eclipse this morning.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Arg, I have squeezed out another coat

In the never-ending saga of painting the hall I have just done the final undercoat.  Hand me the tape and I start on enamel woodwork next week. 

Meanwhile, the contents of the hall, a surprising amount considering it is a small and almost empty room in normal circumstances, are scattered around the house, still.  My not very big bedroom has had 3 large painting boxes for months (and a wall mirror and pelmet).  My nights crackle to the sound of the cat playing under the drop sheets for her 2am frolic.

Now my ambition, and I can see this is pushing it, is to finish this year.  Meanwhile, I have at least 6 coats of 3 different paints (taping in between) left to do and the calender is fast filling up with the pre-Christmas social and school-related event frenzy, 95% of which I would skip for a cupcake.  (Mind you, this is not a small set when you think of all the things you would not do for a really good cupcake with a dreadful amount of chocolate icing.)

Chocolate cupcakes
Focus, woman.  Right, coats of paint.  I figure I can slip on this ambitious time frame a bit.  Two of the coats are the outside of the front door.  This does not require painting sheets and taping over the entire hall.  And in fact, the front screen door could go back on, meaning we could cool the house on warm spring nights without the little Monster and I being attacked by formations of mosquitoes.  The other two will be bite-free as long as the girl and I act as bait.

So possibly my ambition is that by Christmas I hope to have no tape, furniture back in and the house less like it has been turned upside down by a clown with a very large spoon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I prefer my nuts deactivated and my water tappy, thanks

I have to say my general attitude to celebrity diets is, "meh!"  Mind you, the idea of eating activated almonds, alkalised water and organic spirulina is just a bit, oh, silly, really.

I can see that some people are very keen to turn their bodies from mere processing and waste disposal facilities to high-end, ultra-efficient nutrient uptake devices.  And possibly you get a reward for that.  Maybe your eyes pop open every morning with a faint pinging noise, only to leap up and do an hour of yoga, including those eye-poppingly tricky positions  with 20 minutes meditation at the end, before settling in for your organic spirulina with a slightly alkalised water with a cheery grin, a tidy waistline and a clear and alert mind.

Personally I prefer to turn off the radio when the sports starts after the main news, stumble down the corridor, spend quite a while in the first wee because the cat sits on the end of the bath for a morning tickle, then I like to stomp into the kitchen to greet the monsters and start the coffee and toast processes.  Not glamorous but I like it.  It makes the cat happy too.

You have to laugh, though ... alkalised water.  The human body is bloody keen on keeping itself at its preferred pH.  It is called human homeostasis or body pH.  Bad things happen if your pH level gets out of whack so there are a raft of mechanisms to make sure this doesn't happen from anything you pour down your throat, aside from other causes.

\rm H_2O+CO_2 \leftrightarrow H_2CO_3 \leftrightarrow H^++HCO_3^-
Scary chemistry bit

This system can be overwhelmed by say, a pint of drain cleaner, but I am pretty confident it can laugh off alkalised water.  I mean, sure, alkalised water is apparently a cure to:
  • High blood pressure
  • Morning sickness
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Hyper-acidity
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Common colds
  • Water retention
  • Muscle aches
  • Hangovers
  • Urea Stones
  • Body odour
  • Slow wound healing
  • Obesity
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Gout & arthritis, and
  • Gastric problems 
But then so were the patent medicines of the late Victorian era, assuming you didn't OD on the morphine in them. And frankly, people, when you see a list like that, shouldn't your bullshit filter be red-lining and making a whoop-whoop noise?

I am all for water - drink heaps of it.  From a tap.  In a glass.  Not a cure for urea stones and body odour (as far as I know), but fine, I am sure.  I am just glad to live in a place where the tap water does not make you ill.

Mind you, if you want your water to come in packaging on a long truck trip so your body can change its pH in a zillisecond, go right ahead.  I hope it is expensive.

Lets just leave the activation level of my nuts for another day.

Oops, lost a week

Well, that one whizzed by.  I have emerged from bed after a week of flu, tired, weak and in desperate need of something delicious.  Sadly the tummy is not ready for deliciousity so I shall continue with the raw veg and toast for a little longer. 

After a number of days without, I had a weak coffee with skim milk this morning.  Two things I wish to say about that.  Firstly, I can't be that much of a caffeine addict if I can go without for days simply because I couldn't get out of bed to make it (or hold it down should I attempt to sip). Definitely not an addict, haha haha ha!  Secondly, weak coffee on skim is CRAP, but it is better than no coffee at all (said in a pathetic, grateful voice).

So you see, I must be better.

Mind you, it definitely doesn't help when you are contemplating yet another slice of toast and your father describes the cheesecake he is just about to fork into for morning tea.  Bad father. Go back to your rust patch, you dessert gloater.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The cat lay on the parsnips and leeks

My husband has a veggie garden.  It is primarily for the production of tomatoes and zucchinis (T&Zs).  We love T&Zs though things get a little torrid in a heatwave.  In one particularly bad year, after the 20th kilo of Tommy Toes came in to the kitchen, I ordered the husband to pull out the plants.  The larger tomatoes were coming in by then and those little devils were driving me crazy.

I have a book of collected T&Z recipes, each recipe using at least a kilo of either or both.  In a hot week I have a lot more than 7 kg of each to dispose of.  Chutney, anyone?  Alternately, I have spread a wave of culinary mystery around work as I give people yellow bobbly zucchinis shaped like a slumped pear with the instructions that you can fry em or stuff em and bake em and they taste like peanuts.*You might be able to steam them but I suspect wet, peanutty sludge would result.

Ye gads - are they aliens?
Then there was last year's pumpkin crop.  It was a wet year and aside from the twenty-five 2 kg doobies we ate over winter, there was a rogue Queensland Blue that self-seeded in a fertile spot beside the vegie patch.  It roamed around the garden for months leaving 12 kg rocks of pumpkiny goodness as it went  Now if you cut a kilo off a 12 kg monster and use it in a soup, you have 11 kgs of pumpkin to go.  This takes up the entire milk shelf in the fridge.  No milk.  Further, do you think you can use it up the rest in a week before it goes funny?

We gazed at the beasts drying in a row under the clothes line and made the big decision.  I called a food charity to come and get 60 kg of pumpkin.  They seemed pleased about it.  Good luck with that.  Delicious to eat but try an axe.

Being spring, the garden has just been planted with a range of things.  It has a net to discourage the birds from pecking up seedlings and stealing the worms.  The net also keeps the cabbage moths from laying eggs so the seedlings aren't decimated by green caterpillars.

If we had a serious bird or possum problem the net would not really help but the mulberry tree is a sacrificial anode for the vegies and raspberries.  You do get a fair bit of sloppy pink poo about though.  It goes through a digestive tract pretty quickly, a mulberry diet.

Now the cat has a special skill.  She can lift things and sneak under.  This can make walking around the house at night tricky as she may well be skulking under a rug.  Needless to say, her adept little paws have no problem with with a light net.  She likes to lay.  The seedlings are tiny.  Poor husband.
Cat practicing stealth
*Technically a yellow crookneck bush squash.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bullshit filter maintenance

I have worked out a fatal flaw in blogging about the contents of your skull.  You can inadvertently tell your husband more than he needs to know about your thought processes.

For example, the other night I was persistently questioning him about printer head cleaning.  I was not just being annoying - I was testing to see how far he would go before his manly pride collapsed and he admitted he had no idea how to clean them.  At the time he just thought I was tired and overly dogmatic.  In fact I exercising my bullshit filter to keep it in form and to see how long he would string along with nonsensical crap before he squeezed his ignorance out between gritted teeth.

If I hadn't blogged about it he would not have known that I approach his techno-babble with a touch of scepticism.  He just assumed he was getting away with it, or that I cared so little about things that go beep, I could not be arsed even considering whether he was talking rubbish.

I suspect that part of the problem is that I am at home with the children.  I used to work in public policy, a line of work where your whole day could be spent playing round upon round of "spot the bullshit" with triple points when you caught your Minister at it.  (Though you lose a point if you could reasonably attribute the rubbish to the narcissistic self-delusion so common in politicians.)

This is not to say that the girls don't give me a workout.  They are liable to lie their little bottoms off on a range of topics, a number of which involve hygiene or lack thereof.  You can, for example, reasonably entertain suspicions of a lack of stock rotation when you do two days worth of washing and it involves no socks from one girl an no underpants from the other.  This is a sure sign the grotty little monsters are in three day old pants and socks and several rounds of fibbing have taken place. Though missing items from the wash can also mean that there are manky heaps of washing lying under beds or in the bookshelves, neatly interleaved between the books because that was quicker by at least 3 seconds than taking it to the laundry basket during the last you-can-watch-TV-when-your-room-is-clean clean.

But this is just casual, everyday, I-prefer-a-stinky-bottom lying.  The other sort of lie that children specialise in is where they make an initial statement they know is false, but then after 10 minutes screaming about it, they have rewritten events in their mind and they are now sure it is entirely true.  This one commonly emerges while one girl is doing a time-out for whacking her sister.

I think the problem is that neither my husband's lies of manly delusion, or the girl's lies of convenience or lies of the heart really tax my capacities to any extent.  Tedious, yes.  Tricky, no.

I suspect I need to get back to a job that involves considering the extent of lies as part of the work.   After all, as long as they keep their smelly bits away from me, the girls probably will survive their disgusting habits.

And it will certainly help my marriage if my husband doesn't realise the range of topics I switch on the bullshit filter for when we talk about things.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The obliteration of the mending mountain

I like to think there are some people who have a canny understanding of their own desires and the sheckles and self control to ditch items of clothing that need alteration or repair. Sadly I suspect 99.9% of the pop. has a mending mountain that eventually gets so immense it  begins to swallow the entire wardrobe.  Those lucky enough to have a spare room probably open the door one day only to be flattened by an avalanche of too-long pants and button-less shirt.  Dogs have to be sent into the fields of debris to find the near-expiring bodies and excavation is required to dig them out before life ceases.

Today, after removing 2/3 cup of grease from assorted surfaces in the kitchen, I decided to tackle the MM.  Now those newbies can be tricked by thinking this involves everything in the stack.  "Hah", I say.  Certain categories can be safely ignored - items completely out of season, items for which the chances of your fitting them any time soon is a mere twinkle in the eye, and new bits of fabric that may turn into a piece of clothing should a miracle and some cutting and sewing occur.

No, just the things that, if they were the right length or the straps were reattached or were less holey or button-less, would be worn right now.  This reduces the problem down to 9 or 10 items.

Sadly, they were almost all sewing machine jobbies.  Even worst, every single one was a completely different colour, requiring me to dig through the hardly-used-thread tin and winding a new bobbin for every item.  What are the odds of that? 

The hand sewing ones tend to move through the queue faster.  There is nothing more satisfying than going for a loooonnnnngggg coffee on a Monday morning after disposing thoughtfully of the monsters at school.  I like to sit for several hours, casually disposing of a hand-sewing repairs in between bits of a newspaper and more caffeine than is good for me.

So, out comes the crappo sewing machine and off we go.  Several hours pass.  Swearing occurs.  Monster 2 is required to strip several times as she is acting as the model for her own repairs and her sister's.

I am now sitting here a model of hausfrauly excellence.  New items are ready for service.  Oldies return to battle for another bruising encounter.  Barbie's bridal gown and a fairy dress have their straps reestablished.

What can I say.  Boring as cow dung but done.

Duck, sadly departed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You shouldn't paint the cat.

You shouldn't paint the cat.  There is just so much to that sentence.

I could mean that I can but you can't.  My cat, my colour choice.  Blue could be nice - we could pretend she is British and much pricier than her actual moggie-ness.

Secondly, I could mean "you shouldn't paint the cat".  Outrageous suggestion.  Right out of the question.  The RSPCA will be informed.  Charges laid.  Bad bad cat painter.

Alternately, "you shouldn't paint the cat".  A spot of stencilling, say, would be fine, maybe a leaf motif or butterflies to represent her favourite snack.  Light shaving would also be acceptable, as long as you don't shave swear word into her back.  Piercing, yes, painting, no, a little too far.

Lastly, and this is the meaning I intend.  If you are painting some doors and door frames, including the front door, try to maximise the application of paint on the doors and frames.  Hungry creatures who take advantage of an open door to nip in and snack should be discouraged just after you have painted the door step.  Also, rubbing against newly painted surfaces is a bad thing no matter how appealing it may seem to a young cat.

This can be a bit tricky when you have the front door ajar to let it dry so you can paint the other side, meanwhile you have your back turned working on another door.  It is not as though you can set up a cat containment zone in the front garden.  The screen door would work but that is in the shed having a dusty holi while you paint the door frame. 

Further, curious little noses and paws should should be gently shooed from the paint tray, especially a tray balanced somewhat precariously on top of a plastic box.  The problems with a painty cat are manifold and various.  Nobody wants painty cat prints on the carpet.  Sofas are also bad places.  Further, cats are somewhat reluctant to be cleaned.  "Just a little rub with a wet flannel, dear, it is water-based so it should come off in a jiffy."  Ha ha hahahaha!

I do wonder if paint is toxic to cats.  I will let you know.

Does she look ill?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time to wonder (mostly about tanning but with some giant squid)

The problem with this whole stay-at-home lurk (aside from being responsible for grot-removal), is the time you have to wonder, as opposed to limited time to wander, because how far can you get before 3pm monster retrieval?  Not anywhere tropical, that's for sure.

I tend to spend whole acres of time considering the most ridiculous collection of crap.  It is like there is a random thought generator in there spitting out wildebeest and red dwarves (the suns, not people with small shoes and a tanning accident) all the time.

I tease the husband when he loses focus halfway through a conversation when his libido switch accidentally shuts off brain function.  I try not to mention when my brain zoops off somewhere obscure.  Much as I love to hear about the corporate policies of the big three IT companies on the planet, there are times when I might be considering the bait you would use to catch giant squid and how far down the water column you would need to set your bait.  Not that I am considering running away to sea to go giant squid-hunting, mind, just wondering.

Then there is the question of what would happen if you were to cross breed a high end psephologist (someone who studies elections - a variety of pointy-headed nerdiness I am particularly attracted to) with, say, some pop culture princess who is famous for a sex tape and the assiduous application of make-up.

Which genetic traits do you think would dominate?  Would the resulting offspring speak fluent Hare-Clark and operate a strict Robson Rotation on the kindergarten crayons, or would the capacity to keep the spaces between their toes a golden shade of brown dominate?

You see my problem?  I have now blown a ridiculous amount of time researching the tan between toes question (37 seconds I will never see again), and it turns out that should I ever swap my funereal pallor for a fake bronzing, I will probably continue to be pale-toed, between-wise.

Let's face it, Anthony Green is never going to marry me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The problem with pedometers

The husband's work is having a spring fitness binge and is encouraging teams to get pedometers and compete for weekly aggregates.  At various times I have attempted to use pedometers as a way of measuring and promoting exercise. 

I have never had much luck with the little devices.  I have dropped them on tiles and concrete, had accuracy problems (possibly I have defective hips), and lastly, I have assassinated several by forgetting about them while visiting the loo and giving them unexpected swims.  They turn out not to be trauma-proof, much less water resistant to a depth of 4 inches.  It could be the corrosive effects of a weak urine solution but it seems an obscure topic for further investigation so we shall leave that thought there.

Many of the folks at the husband's work have intersected with a pedometer app for their fancy phones.  This would work very well as there are managers who are permanently attached to their phones, and the young folk the husband supervises, who are also permanently attached to their phones.  Different reason of course.  The fledglings prefer to be in touch with their little cadres at all times of the day or night, in case a friend's Facebook entry needs to be collectively analysed.  Maybe it is not that different from the middle-aged, middle managers, who are prone to strange outbreaks of collectivism themselves (new VW, anyone)?

Sadly, husb. has a work-issued phone that is so old and juvenile it does little more that make phone calls.  When I have to leave a message I am somewhat flummoxed by the fact I appear to be leaving a message for a strange "Mike", who is probably retired and dead by now.   Definitely pre-app.  In fact he has a whole drawer full of these fossils should anyone be writing a thesis on the history of phones and the old messages found buried deep within them. 

So, the dear husband purchased a pedometer - the cheapest he could find.  The Monsters had some fun adding hundreds of steps by running laps around the house just before bedtime.

Eventually the device went to work for the commencement of competition.  He dropped it in the first week.  Since then it has been reluctant to act as a measuring instrument.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pointless conversation seeking outcome with MWM

The time is fast approaching when I am will send one of those awful Christmas letters in a card so that distant relatives can find out what we have been up to in 2012.

I only started producing them a couple of years ago after disliking the genre all my life.  "Tiffany is excelling at gymnastics and came 4th in the State Champs."  You know the stuff - it makes you want to vomit.

Nevertheless, it is a sadly efficient way to let people know what we are up to as the Monsters rip through the development stages, so I started writing them.

I have been having a little trouble this year.  You see nothing happened.  Lots of nothing.  A whole year of it, it transpired.  We are living on one income so our "holiday" this year was 2 nights in a 70s vintage caravan in the mountains about 3 hours away.  We saw cows.  We had flu.  It was crappy in so many special ways.
Can you believe the excitement?  We saw a hydro-electric power station on our holiday.  Better even than cows.

We haven't been anywhere or done anything on a fairly comprehensive scale.  I find myself writing that we have had picnics (very reasonably priced) and are painting the hall.  This is a dreadful letter.

To try and zazz things up, rather then printing a couple of photos and shoving them in the card, I thought I would include little pics in the letter this year.  Sophisticated, yes I know.  Consider me a newly-minted expert on the crop function.

The draft is written and the first version printed on our nasty printer.  The pictures have red lines through them.

So I said to the husband, "Why have the pictures got red lines through them?"

"Ah yes" he said, "That is an indicator the heads need cleaning."

"Can you clean them?"

"I believe so."

Can you smell the bullshit, people?  I take a calming breath and continue: "Do you actually know how to clean them?"

Several more iterations of clarity avoidance occur at this point, til finally, via my UN-unsanctioned interrogation technique he spits out, along with small particles of teeth and the last of his manly techno-pride: "I know they can be cleaned but I don't know how you actually do it."

So there you have it.  Crappy letter, zero content and red liney pictures.  Should be a collectors item.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Migration time is near

There are so many reasons to love my husband but a biggie relates to the seasonal migration that occurs in our bed.

During winter the husb. manfully sleeps on the window side - braving not just the radiating cold but also the blasts of ice that come from the heating vent before the hot air flows. 

This latter effect tends to give me an asthma attack every time the heating goes on.

I enjoy the winter side of the bed.  It has a bookcase nearby so the teetering stack of books on my bedside table has a place to rest when it is picked up off the floor.

Mind you, when I say he sleeps on the window side, he does have a propensity to scrooch over to borrow some heat on cold nights.  Thus, he spends winter much closer to the middle of the bed than on his side.

In spring we swap sides.  I get hot in summer and like the night zephrs.  He stays resolutely bequilted and lies in my lee to get away from the breeze. 

It is almost swap time again.  I am readying for the migration by reducing the number of books I am half way through.  I am hoping to be down to less than 5 when the call comes.   It will be nice to be mistress of the window (especially as I have cleaned it), but I will miss the extra shelves.

I suppose it also has some effect on the sleeping flexibility of us both.  After many years of sleeping on one side, I suppose some couples could find swapping a bit much.  It is not nearly as kinky as it sounds.  You should try it people.  I am not suggesting swapping him indoors for a drooling rugby player, you know.

Lastly, the bed would probably die if we tried to move it around the room so it is a bit like a holiday every time the swap happens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Husband and daughter missing, believed exhasted

Some time ago my dear husband took the oldest monster on a bike ride.  Little monster and I stayed home on the grounds that LM has the lung capacity of a hamster at this time. 

The plan was to ride towards the lake.  A return trip of less than an hour.  A lot less.

Several hours have now gone by.  There is a suspicious lack of girl and husband.  Did he take his mobile?  No.

Did they take water to drink?  No.

I can not even go on a rescue mission as the car is off looking at other cars.  This is not an automotive lust thing but a car shopping expedition undertaken by a friend.

Ahh, they have returned.  They went all around the lake (miss-estimation of distance already ridden when you hit the playground), then got lost on the final run through the (admitably cryptic) neighbouring suburb.  I have also misplaced myself there.

The girl only fell off once, apparently.

The last 500 metres was at a push.

The monster is quite grumpy - possibly exhaustion is a contributing factor.  The husband is only marginally better.  Lucky it is my turn to make tea tonight.

This tree fell down in a storm several years ago.  Terribly handy as it was on the death list, the suckery devil.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cat plus moths equals chaos

With the arrival of the spring a new horror has entered our lives. The warmer weather has bought little brown moths - slender flutterers that can work their way past the fly screen to adore the light in the bathroom.  This is driving Toast, our adolescent cat, into a frenzy.  She is climbing the screens and the curtains, pushing things off ledges and shelves, falling into the toilet, all in a desperate attempt to get them rascally moths.

We never had this problem with her predecessor, Mouse.  Now in her day Mouse did like to leap for a Bogong, but this is quite a different kettle of moth.  If you are unaware, a Bogong is a big, fat, slow moth, also brown and hopelessly attracted to lights.  The Bogongs will pass here in their millions soon on their migration.  Mouse wasn't averse to catching them in the air above the back door mat but that was a few years ago now, before she lost her leap. In any case Bogongs weren't a problem.  They rarely came inside mainly because you could catch them with a tennis racket.

You can see the attraction of a Bogong to a cat.  They are slow, vague, and there is good eating on them.

The sad little things Toast is chasing are not legitimate prey.  Mouse never bothered with things that tasted like dust.

It is just that Toast is such a keen participant.  The husband caught her rolling a snail around on the cement, tossing it in the air, batting it off into the lawn only to pounce again.  You can't be too carefully with your common garden snail, though.  They can be very tricky buggers if you don't watch them like a hawk.  A mere 20 minutes of inattention and they will have found a fence to walk up.

On the up side, when the Bogongs do arrive we can probably skip feeding the cat.  Damn!  That won't work; we don't let her out after dark.   Maybe we could take the screen off the bathroom window, leave the door shut, the light on, and Toast in there to feast.  Mind you, I don't fancy stepping over leftover wings and other less tasty morsels on my way to the morning wee.

This may take some further thought.  In the mean time, she is making daytime hay with the cabbage moths so that should take some of the stress off the husbands brassicas (it is not dirty - look it up).

Case of the stinkypants trickster

Yesterday the 5 year old monster wore her underpants with love hearts on them  - boy legs that tend to disappear up flanges and grommits.  Things were slow this morning around here, what with cleaning, drawing and general stuffing about.

When the time came when we were close to actually leaving the house, I suggested she got dressed, remembering to change her UPs.

Several minutes went by, I mopped another disgusting surface but no action on the getting dressed front.  I assume you are familiar with the next part of the plot - further suggestions for getting dressed, further reminders to change her UPs.

Finally, we are ready to leave - the monster is dressed but I can see little love hearts peeping over the top of her trousers.  "Go and change your underpants", repeated three or four times, blah, blah, blah.  I think at this point she tucked them in.  She said she had changed them.

During the flurry of the next few hours the UP problem is forgotten.  Later in the afternoon, I notice she is deflanging in the bottom region and the hearts are on view again.  I accuse her of lying to me and she swears she changed them.  So I say, "Go and get me yesterday's stinky pants".  Quick as a flash she comes back with a clean pair and her soft petal eyes and earnest little voice are absolutely sure these are yesterday's pants.  White with pink elastic.  Crisp and clean.

Well, it is pyjama time and threats of death by misadventure are uttered.  The girl is pjed, and she is wearing pink UPs with green elastic. I checked.  Thank the lord, or whomever.  I thought I was going to have to hold her down and peel her like an orange.

Sadly, I will have to remember the colour and we will probably have the same conversation tomorrow.

The SPT herself

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 2 of school holis - situation under control

After a long weekend of playing with the husband, the school holidays have started in earnest.

Part way through day 2, we have:
  • been to an organised event at the National Portrait Gallery
  • gone out to lunch - salty but good
  • bought sneakers for the skinny-footed monster
  • bought a package of barbie shoes to arrive from Hong Kong in several weeks time
  • taken delivery of a tardis teapot - as the resident Dr Who fan said, due to its dimensional paradox, in theory you would only ever need to make one pot of tea and it should never run out - might get cold though
  • gazed at further pink dollery
  • made a slightly dodgy lemon cheesecake - faintly reminiscent of a full fat extravaganza at best
  • went to a playground and gazed at cygnets, climbed a web, played on rocks and played on a playground
  • done some colouring-in
  • done the weekly supermarket shopping, pausing for a moment outside to redraft the list from memory because it was sitting unhelpfully on the kitchen table, and finally
  • completed the monster's haircut that was incomplete due to discovery of lice several weeks ago.
No wonder we are pooped.  If only we could have some chill-out time at home without it degenerating into world war three due to boredom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The curious case of the polly kicking

So, you are sitting in a pub in a foreign country and you see some politician giving an interview to a TV crew.  Someone (also probably drunk) dares you to go and give them a kick so you do.  On camera.  During the day.  And the politician is a former police officer and tries to arrest you.  The politician is being interviewed because it is the middle of an election campaign.  Which the politician's party subsequently wins.  And the politician becomes the new Attorney General.

The latter bits are a touch of bad luck, obviously.  You may not have been au fait enough with local affairs to realise you were about to assault an ex-cop soon to be AG.  The cops and the prosecutors are not likely to let that one slide through to the keeper.  Not with his being an ex-cop and their new boss, and all.

But still, aside from being pissed enough that this seemed like a really good idea, you must have been lacking in judgement to kick someone who is actually being filmed by professionals at the time.  Some sort of disguise may have been in order.  You may want to up your overall level of cunning before your next drunken bet. 

Sadly, while you won the $200 bet, you copped a fine of $2200, so either your travel fund is about to take a lurch southward or you are going to have to pop off and serve a sentence in a nearby jail.

Lets hope the feds don't hear about it because they may revoke your visa and sling you out of the country for being a convicted dickhead.  Bad luck all round, really.

[I didn't make this up ... see here.]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Books of detrimental value

There are a variety of reasons why people choose to read books.  There is no rule that people should only read books that are of benefit to them.  Nevertheless, I contend that there are some books that are out the other side of a neutral effect and detriment the psyche of the reader.

This effect can sometimes depend on the current mental state of the reader.  For example, if you were generally prone to depression and were going through a particularly tough time of your life (especially if you were feeling a bit middle-aged and under-rewarded) I wouldn't launch on a Graham Greene binge.

Then there is the entire genre of crime.  How can a literary diet of torture and suffering, often against women and children, improve your view of human nature?  Ah, some say, these are generally moral tales where ultimately good triumphs over evil.  That alcoholic, dysfunctional, slumpy detective will eventually catch this evil perpetrator.  The fact that the detective (and reader) will gather psychic damage from their entry into the world of an imaginatively violent psychopathic killer is considered of secondary effect to the edification of the reader from the ultimate acquisition of justice, no matter how imperfectly acquired.

Not only do I doubt the maths of this equation, but I think a cumulative degenerative effect is achieved by the regular application of books of this genre.  Repeated doses chip away at a reader's generally positive view of the fundamental nature of humans.  Psychopathy is apparently quite rare, but it is common as dirt in these types of novels.  How can you regularly read them and not dwell on the evil that lurks in the hearts of strangers?

I put it in the same category as the increase in reporting of violent crimes leading to people being convinced they are more in danger of violence then they have been in the past.  It is not the incidence of violence that is increasing, but its popularity as a form of journalism.

Another generally degenerative class is the classic romance novel.  It conditions women away from a realistic view of relationships in the same way that pornography conditions men.  This drift from reality means neither party is in a healthy state to engage in a sensible relationship involving give and take.  (I can't even be bothered talking about low-end erotica  because the thought of all that submissive behavior gives me the screaming erks.)

Finally, I should like to tell you about a novel I just started by Philip Roth.  I read Portnoy's Complaint in my teenage years.  At that time it seemed a novel that was 90% about masturbation was new enough to have some merit in its elucidation of the sexually obsessed mind of a teenage boy.  I started reading a relatively recent Roth novel yesterday.  While I only read the first and last chapter, it seemed unlikely that the sex life of the novel's protagonist was going to be omitted from any intervening page.  It stuns me that in the 30 years between these two works, there had not been any increase in the maturity of the main character or their obsessive interest in sex generally, and masturbation specifically.  Are all his other novels on the same topic?

Frankly, I don't care to know the answer.  Whatever mild sexual thrill may be obtained from this stuff is well and truly counteracted by the exposition of a personality so immature and destructive.  People's own experience of sex can fuck them up without reading 400 tedious pages of someone else's attempts to destroy their own life and the life of everyone around them with the pursuit of continuous, dirty sex. 

Sigh. Possibly I should have written a blog about the range of possible edifying effects of reading.  I may need to save that for another time, but please, consider asking yourself, "Is your reading making you a happier person and is it strengthening your view of the nature of humanity?"  If the answer is a big no, then why are you doing it, and would you be better off seeking out something with a more neutral or positive effect?

Or not, you choose.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I poked my eyeball into your eyeball

No idea what this means - 'tis a monster quote.

My dearest husband likes to adjust things around the house.  Electrical things, mostly.  If anyone other that the husb attempted to live here they would be a little frustrated as they may not actually be able to operate some things.  {Note to self: get written instructions pre-trade-in.}

The potable watering system is a write-off of complexity, for example.  The air conditioning has a cut-off switch that is mysteriously placed at best.  Even getting the microwave to spring to life would fox anyone lacking in imagination.

It is all for a good cause but frankly, some of it is difficult.  (!#%#&%*)

In the spirit of praise I mention two things that are early designs that go like a train.

We have a little freezer that likes to frost.  In its frosty state it tends to pop its little door open.  Thawing occurs followed rapidly by spoilage.  Entire freezer-loads of goodies have been consigned to smelly oblivion.  One little black box and a spot of soldering later, when the door is left open for three minutes a little buzzer goes off.  This little buzzer has gone off so many times it is squeaky and hoarse.  It is fantastic.

Second exhibit: we live in a very dry climate.  Water is expensive and getting rarer.  Water restrictions are ubiquitous.  Sitting under our house is a big rubbish bin and a pump.  There is another bin at the top of the block.  When we shower, wash our hands or do washing (and believe me, we do the odd load of washing) the water goes into the bottom tank, up to the top tank and out into the garden in one smooth flow.

The husbandal unit made this thingie years ago before they became all trendy and available in kits.  It is wonderful.  It probably shifts a couple of hundred litres of grey water per day on to the garden.  It has just been brought back to life as spring sprongs about the joint.

So while things you expect to work (like being able to turn on the computer) sometimes mysteriously don't, there are some things you just have to smile about and appreciate.  Thanks love.

Now I am hungry, damn this photo.