Saturday, May 25, 2013

Container death

They looked at each other with death eyes.  There were other players at the table but the end-game came down to these two.  The others slipped aside under the sheer force of the need of this last two.

It was a dark irony that these last, two fighters were father and son.  Both equally stubborn, both desperate to be the last man standing.  One of them would lose.  There was no alternative.

Finally, there were just the two of them and the circling began.  There was 1/2 a container left but one must be the last.  One would win.  What possible weapon could they use in this social situation? What deceptive politeness could hide the fact that both men were determined?  Determined to be the last man on the cream container - the last man to drip out the last few precious drops on the waiting bowls of tinned friut.

Pathetic but true.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If I was making children's television...

... I wouldn't have a show where all the characters made squeaky noises - I am looking at you Ickle Pickle.

I mean, aside from the babysitting the little buggers when you might otherwise be slurping gin in quiet motherly desperation, there are very few redeeming qualities to television for children.  Even language development skills go by the way when the inanimate faces of stuffed puppet people don't even pretend to talk.  Jumping up and down and clapping your big puffy hands demonstrates joy but it is a tad limited as education in human interactions.

Then there are plots, or not, in some cases.  I assume some shows are very popular with chronic dope-heads sitting on their sofas eating jumbarooni containers of peanut-related snackies at 4 am.  (Note to self, if I ever take to such hobbies, Costco is just the place for snackies.)  I knew one such lad whose idea of a good night at home was the weather channel.  I love the weather but even I don't want to spend my nights watching storm cells forming over Siberia.

Finally, characterisation.  Not every one plays with their friends and siblings in a kind, flexible and constructive manner.  No, really.  It is true.  Watching Pepper, her snorting little brother and her zoological friends sharing, giggling and generally getting along does not seem entirely accurate to me.  Further, I am not sure it is helping my monsters when they are totally sick of each other and generalised niggling breaks into shouts and shoves, followed by a good, solid kick.

Oh well, on the up side the girls don't watch the lower level crap on commercial TV. There are limited merchandising opportunities on the national broadcaster and no opportunity to convince my children that grease-a-rama crap is a valid dinner choice.

"No, you do not need a Hootabelle umbrella.  You neither."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Girls - an owners guidebook.

Here are some interesting aspects of being an owner/operator of girls:
  • Irrespective of your own views, in-laws will buy your children Barbies. 
  • If you throw away your children's Christmas presents they are scarred for life.
  • If you have to live in a house with Barbie-loving girls, you are scarred for life.
  • Eventually the obsession with pink attenuates slightly - I am hoping for black, emo/ neo-gothic adolescences.
  • None of the craze for exotic dress-ups and styling translates to wanting to be clean.
  • It is possible to inhale a piece of chicken in a millisecond and spend 30 minutes nibbling a piece of lettuce, often both in the same meal.
  • With the same genetic ingredients and the same diet, two girls can have completely different digestive flora and toe-nail growth rates.
  • Two girls can be 15 months apart, have different coloured and cut hair and different coloured eyes, have different shaped frames and faces and quite different personalities and members of your family will not be able to tell them apart.
  • And finally, watching gentle 3-year-old girls have life or death karate fights with burglar goblins is something you have to see once in your life.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ah, I feel all refreshed.

I just reread the last post and I feel all refreshed.  Nothing like a good rant.  People are a bit odd that way.

Apologies for the radio silence.  I have been on a bit of a binge.  Books, that is.  My dear mother loaned me 10 books a couple of weeks ago.  They are not longies - mere snacks - but they sort of follow each other and as I narrow in on the end of book 9, I feel like I have eaten most of a chocolate cake and am gazing at the last couple of mouthfuls wondering if I can get them down.  These books are definitely the chocolate cake of the literary world with great goops of icing pooling around the plate.

Bugger.  Now I am getting hungry for cake and all I have for lunch is a metwurst samo.

On the chocolate topic, this is on my list of things to cook one day.  Phillipa Silby is a living goddess.  I think we can safely assume my version won't look this good.  The recipe can be found here in case you are tempted.  Send me some!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This is why wives and mothers leave.

Because we get sick of saying to husbands and children:
  • Please don't leave bits of food and a foot of bubbles in the sink after you wash up. The detergent drops its payload of grease as the bubbles disappear leaving crusted-on crap to add to the decaying lumps in the sink.  If you want to use half a cup of detergent then deal with the bubbles.
  • We have 3 square inches of sink top in the bathroom.  That means the shaving soap can not live there permanently.  Or toothbrushes.
  • Your clean washing is in the hall. Don't just rustle through it scattering undies around the place instead of putting it away without my having to nag.
  • Oh, about 6000 other things.
And finally, if I go away for five days to a funeral and you all discover you have itchy bottoms, move through the steps.  It is just fucking rude to mention it in passing two days after I get home.  I will now be joining in the worm treatment and washing all the sheets, etc.  It also means my one-woman campaign to upgrade the quality of hand-washing around here has been a complete fail.

I hate living with pigs.  Three of you are small children or furry quadrupeds so you have some defence.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Required attributes of a sleeping partner (cat perspective)

1. Prepared to provide physical comfort in the pre-sleep period.  Caressing around ears, under chin and tummy preferred.

2. Prepared to work around whereever I should choose to sleep in the bed - contortionists preferred.

3. Prepared to be leaned on.

4.  Excellent at falling asleep and sound sleeper - must not toss and turn.

5. Exothermic body preferred.

6. Must like being stood on in the early morning and getting up to let me go out for a morning whizz.

7.  Any reduction of these attributes will lead to fickle bed-hopping.  Deal with it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Oxytocin levels enter the red zone.

Oxytocin, known as 1-({(4R,7S,10S,13S,16S,19R)-19-amino-​7-(2-amino-2-oxoethyl)-​10-(3-amino-3-oxopropyl)-​16-(4-hydroxybenzoyl)-​13-[(1S)-1-methylpropyl]-​6,9,12,15,18-pentaoxo-​1,2-dithia-​5,8,11,14,17-pentaazacycloicosan-4-yl}carbonyl)-​L-prolyl-​L-leucylglycinamide to its more intimate friends, is a bit of a chemical problem around here.

"Hey, I can handle it, its not that strong a drug.  Ha ha haha ha ha ha ahahahahhahhha ha haa!"

Sure, oxytocin has a bit of a rep as the hormone that stops you from abandoning the distended, slime-covered, mewling infant that has just reaped havoc with your perineum.  "Bugger that", says oxytocin, "give it a cuddle and devote the next couple of decades to meeting its every need."

No, oxytocin's real insidiousness is when it creeps up to flood level within the ordinary household.

I live with two girls, you see.  And then the husband is prone to the odd cuddlesome period himself - aided and abeted by testosterone surges in his case, there being a thin line between a cuddle and a grope.

How can you tell the oxytocin levels are red-lining?  You can't put your socks on in the morning because you are being cuddled.  You can't sort the dirty washing because there are girls wound around your legs.  Your sense of personal space is so squeezed, you contemplate running away and joining a comtemplative order where talking is forbidden and touching is right out.  

Even the cat is adding to the loving crowd, though in her case it might the onset of cold weather making me seem like an ambulating heat source.

I hate to complain but some days I am being loved to death.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mission fail on chocolate addiction.

One of my aims as a parent was to raise kids without raging sugar addictions and in particular, chocolate.  As a lifetime addict I just wanted something better for my girls.

There is a theory peddled by child development types that if you keep babies and toddlers away from very sugary food they will not develop the taste for it.  So I assiduously kept the oldest away from sweets and chocolate and even sweet yoghurt, etc.  This meant warding off shop keepers giving out toffee apples and being pretty bloody firm with grandparents, those insidious, sugar-peddling fiends.

By the time the little one got to two, the oldest was allowed the occasional lolly because she knew about them and what can you say to a three year old when she asks why she can't ever have any treats obviously targeted to children.  And so the younger one got to start earlier.

In both cases, as soon as they had sweet food they loved it.  So much for that theory.  Maybe you need to keep them clear for 30 years rather than 2-3 years, which is all I could manage in our sugar-saturated society.

Sadly, they both took to chocolate like junkies.  They get some chocolate for Christmas, Easter and their birthdays but not really any in between.  Unfortunately, as the older monster worked out, if you eak out each lot of chocolate to say, 5-10 grams per day, you can get from Christmas to mid April with almost a continual supply.

Mmmm, eggy goodness.

That supply has now ended and the sustained intake has meant they are suffering terrible withdrawals.  Like many junkies before them, they are turning to crime.

The other day when we were leaving a friend's house, two little eggs dropped out of the jumper one of the monsters was very carefully holding.  She had to go back and return them and have a solid talking-to when she got home.

Two days later, I noticed little nibble marks in my chocolate supply.  A rat?  Not one that can open a fridge.  No, that is a girl nibble.  I asked them about it and the usual shifty lies followed, but it was perfectly obvious it was the other monster this time.  More talking-to.

Maybe I should let them have a little amount each day - a chocolate methadone program.  I prefer not. I prefer for them to dry out and have a chance to wind back their addictions.  (Best not to point out that I have a daily dose.  At least I have moved past the (extended) period of my life where I could not have any in the house lest I scoff the lot.)

In any case I think we can comprehensively fail my mission to have savoury-preferring children.  Sadly, I think the theory was crap and the application insufficient in length.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy anniversary, dear husb.

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of our 8th year together.  As you know I am not keen on cards so here is a blob instead.

Looking back on this time, I feel it is apprope to make several comments on how things have gone so far.

Firstly, we made nice kids.  Obviously a bit crafty and lazy in the cleaning up department, but generally, they are a delight.  Our genetic combination has produced girls who bunny hop to the loo when they realise the morning wee is overdue, and who pick 'love' as their favourite word starting with 'l' for their alphabet reminder poster.

Secondly, with some stress and hearty discussion here and there, we ride the changes together, whether these have been financial, health-related or in terms of our time management.  I particularly love that you learned to cook and the roast chicken with almonds, olives and mustard served with a rocket mountain is magnificient.  Thank you.

Thirdly, we are getting older.  Aside from the droopy bits, grey bits, tired spells, etc, I am looking forward to continuing to do this with you.  Some time in the next 15 years we may have more time to spend talking together about topics other than plumbing repairs and paying gymnastics fees.  I look forward to that time and in particular I love the fact that I have no idea what topics may arise.  Probably most of them.

Finally, and I am aware of your concurrent view on this, we need more time together - nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cat stalks beagle.

A few weeks after we got Toast, then a little ball of furry snooziness, we started letting her out in the garden.  After the first week of tentativeness she discovered the cat entrance to the shed and dashed in there and hid whenever she was outside.  She gradually got braver but the scratch evidence suggested that, in fights, she was either running away or lying passively on her back. 

Then she grew some more. 

A couple of days ago I came home to find a tom hanging around the front yard.  This is the same tom that tortured  Mousie in the last few months of her life and left unpleasant fragrances and heaps around the back door just to make it perfectly clear that poor little Mouse had ceded her territory in her decrepitude.  (The cat world is a cruel one.)

Later, the husband heard a cat fight and dashed outside to see the stripey tom and Toast flash by, with the tom in the lead

Then, today, a beagle came into the garden.  Toast disappeared into the basil patch then 20 seconds later came out and started stalking the beagle.  The beagle got slightly freaked (as you would being stalked by a smallish cat) and went and hid behind the disused chicken yard.

Lets face it, our little Toasty has hit her prime.  Bring on the wildebeest.

Just watch the horns Toasty, and save me the ribs - I have a recipe.

Absence of menace.

One of the things that has gone the way of the dodo as a result of this whole child raising gig is menace.  I mean, I never had oodles of it laying about - the odd scary book or movie but not lots.  It all began when I was preggers when even the news could reduce me to a sobbing mess.

Nearly eight years later and I have never really recovered.

I was recently loaned a book by a friend about a 12 year old who kills someone.  I read the back of the book and that was creepy enough.  I decided that whatever had happened to the character to make him decide to kill people by the time he was 12, it was not in my interests to find out.  If my children get arrested in a few years with a sneer and a smoking gun I may well regret it, having completely missed the early signs.

I remember the day when I realised I had probably changed forever.  I was on leave from work looking after the first baby.  At that time I was working in an area that dealt with some - ahem - pretty dark topics.  I had visited a friend at work and was on my way out of the office struggling with the secure entrance door.  Some older bloke was coming in the other way and he held the door for the pram and he said, in an avuncular manner, "Ah, a future employee, I assume".  I said, "No", quite sharply, with a "over my runny corpse" undertone.

I could not imagine my wide-eyed little pip, who didn't even know how to keep a mouthful of mush from sliding sideways out of her mouth, working in such a terrible field.  It is not as though the work is not necessary but I just couldn't stand the thought that she would one day know the things I learned at work.

When I returned to work I swapped jobs within a couple of weeks and began working on climate change - a much cheerier issue all around.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chatting about nipples.

One of the charms of bringing up children is the conversations you have, nipples being a case in point.  If you are 5, you have no idea why your nipples are different from Mum's and what yours may turn out like.  Best ask.

I was watching a very silly movie the other day that included a girl about the same age as my older girl.  She asked her mother about how babies were made. Her mother asked what she thought happened.  The explanation, fresh from the labyrinthine mind of the girl was weird and highly inaccurate (unless I did it wrong, which is possible though unlikely because I did end up with babies - I certainly don't remember a big flap opening at the top of my backside).

Then her mother, in order to ease social embarrassment (there were others present), and presumably because uptight puritanism is preferable to giving your children accurate information, lied her tail off and said, "Yes, that is right."

I try to be accurate.   I also try to give the right amount of information.  Two year olds probably need to know where babies are squeezed out but not about cervical dilation as an indicator of progress of labour.

When my mother was a lassie, being a nice Catholic girl at an all-girls school she was held in complete biological ignorance.  It was probably not a deliberate policy of her mother, just generational embarrassment.  My mother got lucky.  She had a much older sister studying medicine.  A quiet but solid read of one of her sister's text-books later and a whole class of pre-teens had a better understanding of the technical aspects of procreation than they were ever getting from their parents or the elderly nuns.  That is assuming my mother understood the text and reproduced it accurately.  Frankly, even a garbled version was probably better than myth, rumour and a nasty surprise in the back of some boy's car.

The main piece of sexual advice my mum got, nun-style, was that if you were going to chance death and or damnation by sitting on a boy's lap, make sure there was a phone book there first.  The nuns probably knew less about the technicalities than my 11 year old mother.

You can't tell from the photo but those Domincans were all wearing slinky ballgowns under their habits.

My own parents tried to be honest but they did cop out a bit and buy us each a book aimed at our developmental level.  My 4 year older brother's book turned out to be the most interesting one.  Mine was kind of dull.

Anyway, onward ho with nipples and "how does the sperm meet the egg" conversations.  At least the monsters have the ground work.  Without a rooster about, hen eggs won't ever hatch. 

Call me a doctor.  This chicken/ rooster looks remarkably like my husband.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mushroom hunt curtailed due to flappy feet.

On Saturday we went on a picnic.  The location was a planting of northern hemisphere trees in the middle of a forest of eucalyptus in the mountains.  We were off to gaze at the Autumn mushroom crop.

A perfect day for a stroll in a forest.

It involved several kilometres of walking each way.  Shh - no one tell the little monster - she will be too tired.

Given the distance, I opt for boots.  Admittedly purchased in 1996 and worn hard for a number of years, a little torn on the inside lining but they looked good for one more outing.  It has been several years since I wore them.  I repeat, they looked good.

One kilometre up the path, what is that attached to my boot flapping about - ooops - the sole.  And the other is just as bad.  Stop, sit in a patch of spiky bombs (term coined by little monster circa 2012), husband does repairs from the first aid kit.  Luckily the tape is similarly elderly and has developed a vicious stickiness.

The shoes make it to the arboretum.  We gaze at some mushrooms, eat a magnificent picnic and note the interestingly large variety of some weird insect we have no idea what - it looks like a pileup on a luggage carousel.

Sadly the mushrooms were not prolific.  The husband and I got into an argument over varieties.  "Edible", I said, "hallucinogenic", he said.  Luckily we weren't tempted to try.  In an unlikely turn of events, he was right.  Toxic, too.

Hello Fly Agaric.  Your spots are charming.

We sloop back along the path, all foot weary.  I am pronating like a champion as my soles depart in strange directions.  More taping in transit. 

Ah, back to the car.  Boots cut off, oh no, I forgot to wee first.  Good thing no cars went by.  Sorry ants.

Yippee for tape.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The subtle art of avoiding avoidance

Here is the thing, I am trying to get some work done.  Not piffly, "that would be nice but whatever" work like the gardening.  But real, "if I get my splintered mind together someone may actually pay me" work.

Arrrrggggg.  Avoidance.  What a blot.  My life conspires to distract me and I am aiding and abetting it.

When I was young I used to do the usual amateur night things - drinking too much coffee, creating weirdo hairstyles and cleaning out the sock drawer when I was supposed to be studying for exams.

This is not me playing with hairstyles - it is how my hair looks if I ignore it.  Just joshing. Not me at all.

Aside from my ongoing caffeine addiction, the vanity of the long-haired monsters and the proliferation of sock drawers within my realm of responsibilities, I have 10,000 new ways to distract myself, things that need doing and have a reasonable claim upon my time.  Things like:
  • ensuring the fire hose of fresh food flows through the house
  • doing reading with children and otherwise supervising homework (do you know how many animals begin with X - several in fact, but only if you look them up on the internet because there are none in the 3 dictionaries I checked - I know, I know, what was I doing with a printed reference source - sooo pre-wikipedia)
  • caring whether the 453 brown marks on the girls legs are bruises or smears of dirt from falling off the monkey bars (I am looking at you, spaghetti-arms)
  • occasionally removing the 424 specimens that turn out to be dirt
  • getting exercise, because that may actually contribute to the work
  • getting the children to clean their rooms - surely one of the most pointlessly difficult tasks among the pantheon of human endeavor
  • picking long and convoluted recipes that are a pain to shop for and more pain to cook, especially later in the week when even takeaway is looking pretty good because you never did buy that rocket and if you never open the pan drawer again it will be a relief, especially as one of the sloth girls jammed the frying pan in so badly that getting the drawer open is going to be a considerable topological puzzle
  • starting new novels at 9.45 at night and then finishing them (oops - not sure I can put that one in this list - note to self - start a new list of avoidance activities that are unsaleable as needing doing - call list "Things I like to do if only I could relax and spend my life playing about like a monkey in a fruiting tree")
  • reading notices from the school, because tomorrow is cross country running day and if I had ordered the special morning tea from the canteen before the cutoff two days ago, my children would be joining the 5 million others lining up for their biscuit and milk instead of gazing at the bruised fruit and bottle of warm water sludging around their lunchboxes.  Meh.  Let them eat fruit.  They will probably get dragged off with asthma attacks half way around the course so morning tea will be a moot point.
Anyway, before I get too crabby, there are lots of avoidance options available.  Which to choose?

I know, I will write a blog.  That is sure to help.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On my list of things to do and other fantasies.

On my list of things to do is to trim the grasses that line the path at the front of the house.  I am not sure if I got what I expected.  I was hoping for a neat avenue of grasses around 3-4 foot high tickling up to the path and inviting people to the house.  I was also hoping for plants without any overly fussy care needs, like water. 

Sadly, I seem to have gotten the wrong ones.  They are over 7 foot.  If you use the path after rain or dew you pretty well need to be in a wet suit.  On the up side, during some horrific heat waves this summer where many of the dry-land plants were starting to collapse in desperation, the grasses just kept their stalks up and waited it out.

So, in the absence of several hundred smackeroos or a propagating fest to replace the dear things, I thought I would give them a hair cut and just manage their legginess with regular trims.  (Cue dark, sarcastic chuckle.)

I intended to do this about a year ago.  No action so far.*

On the up side, they do make a nice swishy wave when the wind blows.  A recent rearrangement of the lounge means I can sit on the sofa and watch them swoosh, spreading their seeds about the garden with the clear intent of total domination - kind of like triffids but with less lethality and propensity to wait around for your corpse to decompose.

*I like to think that a recent (weeeeellll, three years ago) accident with the secateurs involving a fast doctor visit, a tetanus injection, a week of dressing changes and a course of antibiotics is a contributing factor to my trimming sloth

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An axe-murderer cat is a good cat.

A couple of weeks ago the cat had a crisis.  What started as an abcess turned out to be a difficult UTI with a side order of rat poison.

She spend a week under the bed, creeping out with horrifying frequency to wee blood and nibble a little food (thankfully, the stuff laced with medicine).  We did not know if the little poof was going to make it.  She misplaced 20% of her weight including all her body fat.  She was a sad little bag of bones.

Then, one Sunday night, she disappeared under the bottom of the curtain.  Suddenly, her little furry mug peered out with Jack Nicholson's expression on her face - the one from the Shining where he has just gone through the door with the axe.

"Ah, thank goodness", I sighed.  "The cat has recovered."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sometimes you make the right decision

The husb. used to have a thing for ludicrously coloured soft drink.  All his favourites looked like they were waste water from either a nuclear reactor or a dehydrated cat.  After we had the first girl I suggested he give it up before she got to 8 months because I sure as heck didn't want to know what happens when you give babies luminous green colouring.  He agreed with sad reluctance and reverted to lemon cordial.

When our oldest girl was 2ish she asked why she couldn't have cordial.  Some rapid dissembling later, "Not til you are five" we said, thinking that was eons away.  Then in a twinkling she was five and we wished we had chosen 42 like we did with alcohol.  So then we had to use the arbitrary parental power to make up a new rule - one glass on Saturday and one on Sunday only.  Ha ha, take that small sugar-lover.

In contrast, with birthday parties we got it right.  One party per monster each every two years -  take it or leave it.  As a parent of two this means I have to organise one a year but that is only 1/2 the pain of two a year.

Other parents seem quite shocked about this.  They do one rain or shine every year and twice in leap years, it seems.  "Meh", I say.  I only had about 2 parties when I was a kid.  I don't remember being overly scarred by it.  I bet most of the other mothers were the same.  Why the heck do the little buggers need one every year now?  Why, why, I ask you?

In any case the deed is done for the year.  Eggs were dropped off spoons, celebrity heads were guessed (with some pretty broad clues) and the grass was soft enough for three-legged crashes.  It is interesting how some children are utterly focussed at winning party games and others are ho-hum-ish.

This is nothing like the cake I made.  Imagine how bloody loopy some kids would get after a bit.  You would want to put them in the boot to take them home. 
One four year old girl polished off a whole slice of brie, which was probably a good thing as she only weighs about 13 kg (possibly 14 now).   One of the 7 year olds kept coming back for giant hand fulls the BBQ chips til they were gone (good thing I didn't get Cheezels or it would have been me).

Another 4 year old was constantly outsmarting his father to return to the plate of lollies.  He would be back every 90 seconds, his father would say "No more", the boy would circle away, move carefully out of his father's eye-line and be back for another.  Sneaky and effective - I predict a big future for that boy as long as he is not done for insider trading.

I was a bit surprised at our girls.  We only buy chips once or twice a year and rarely have lollies.  After an initial nibble of the rarities, the girls seemed to return to their usual food - the fruit took a hard hit.

All in all it went well and I have made a big decision - in 15 months time, when the little monster turns 7, I am letting the husband organise the lot.  He had better start practising cake-making.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tickity tick tick

Make chocolate cake filled with firm but satisfying chocolately goodness (and some sour cream) - Tick

Make orange butter frosting and apply to cake in three layers - Tick

Send children to denude small camellia of leaves, wash then paint leaves with chocolate ready for peeling and adding to top of cake - Tick

Assembly of riduculous masks to be used as blindfolds, directing children to decorate same  - Tick

Return of some semblence of sanity without addressing unlying issues -  Tick

Friday, March 15, 2013

How dull is that - I posted about socks.

We have a birthday party on Sunday.  Not much preparation has taken place so far.  I am praying to the gods of dirty floors (The Great Purple Fluff and Oh Mystery Stain) against rain because it is due to take place in a park and the thought of having to clean the house to have the party here is alarming.

Any moment now I am going to leap up and make the birthday cake.  I just have to get over the trauma of cleaning the loos.  Sometimes monsters are truly monstrous.

I think I may have developed an allergy to being a stay at home parent.  The thought of not being responsible for cat litter purchasing or choosing celebrity heads that 7 year olds will know fills me with insane joy.

What I need is a wife.  It is a pity I opted for a great galumphing husb. instead.

Later - apologies.  I have no idea how that grumpy bastard escaped. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eke, eke, eke.

The girls changed schools this year which meant new school uniforms.  Further, the new school has a stricter approach to uniforms.  At the last one, if you wore the right colour t-shirt it was considered close enough.  And frankly, they weren't all that fussy on the shade, style, or degree of fadedness.  Nice!

Sadly, we are at a low ebb, financially.  This begs the question: how do you afford summer and winter school clothes for two girls who grow like topsy?  Just to make things worst, there are no hand-me-down options around here.  If the younger one doesn't slow down and the older one doesn't hurry up, the 5 year old may be able to start passing things to her 7 year old sister when she has grown out of them.  As things stand they are mostly the same size.

I got a running start at the school fete last year when I purchased a number of 2nd hand items for $2 each.  Sadly, being inexperienced in the uniformy arts (see vague-o t-shirt requirements, above), I assumed I needed to purchase uniforms in the size they wear in normal clothes.

It turns out uniforms are sized differently.  The appropriate summer dress size for my girls is 7 (which is refreshing because one of them is 7 and the other is a human string bean), whereas I usually buy around 9 or 10 for them.  The result is that most of the bargains may be OK in a year or two but at the moment are cupboard cloggers.

Much as I hate it like the plague (nobody wants buboes buggering up the line of their pants), I took in the waist of 17 million pairs* of skorts to get the girls through summer.  This is not happening with winter pants because I refuse point blank to take up legs as well as waists.  As I get paid $20 a week from consolidated revenue, I am definitely not getting enough for that sort of malarky.

So, as Autumn tickles along (only in theory so far with a sustained balmy stretch) I have been thinking of how to eke out the summer gear.  To this end I purchased some long socks.  Maybe that will keep the little devils going for a while before the hard frosts start to turn their knees blue.

*Some exaggeration may have slipped in at this point but if you were trying to push a needle through 4 layers of cotton drill that was so tightly woven it may as well be carbon fibre sheeting, you would be bitter too. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why I dislike major public events.

1. The food.  If you are going to organise catering in a tent, where you have to be able to serve, conservatively, 600 meals an hour (that is 10 plates of food every minute), the likelihood that the food you are serving is going to have been kept cold enough during transit and storage, and heated to a high enough temperature not to give you a roaring bottom is low. What is more, I do not want to queue for an hour to play gastro-roulette with something that is surprisingly expensive given the coating of cheese-like substance that bears a closer resemblance to erasers than a dairy product.

2. Surreal street theatre. Now personally, I like a gaggle of angels dancing around, riding tricycles, then getting all stressed out when one of them strips to an overly hairy body-stocking and runs away from attempts to re-dress him by his angel cohorts.  Sadly the children find this confusing.  It seems it is difficult for children to process that someone would pay a group of people to dress up and attempt silliness at a public event with no particular audience except whoever is around at the time.

I once went to an event where there were demonstrations of different types of dances.  There was a group of Morris dancers who broke out into jingly, hanky floofing, knee wiggling splendor during a number of time in the afternoon but only if they could find a spot where there were very few possible watchers.  Chronically shy Morris dancers seems odder to me than hirsute stripper angels.

3. Noise. Call me old and grumpy but I don't like sound systems that make your ears hurt.  Just think how much grumpier I am going to get when I am actually old - bet you can't wait.

4. The toilets.  Probably most of what I have to say on this topic is covered in Kenny, a film about corporate toilet rental.  I prefer to put my 2-lumpy-pregnancy-addled pelvic floor to the test rather than chance fate in a high-usage rental convenience.*

I will leave you with a quote from that august piece of film-making:

     "There's another classic example of someone having a two inch arsehole and us having installed
       only one inch piping."

* Though I do remember having to make significant amendments to my "I am not going there" rule when I was pregnant.  Put it this way, I am never intending to urinate in the toilet block behind the Geranium** hall again.

** "Geranium is a town with 60 residents, and has a hall, two churches, a store, a garage, extensive sporting facilities*** and the only other bowling green in the area make it an important local centre, and an attractive township for farmers to retire to."

*** This may be an exaggeration.  For those who understand the significance of this, Geranium is too small to have a football team in the local Mallee League.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to make a cat fly.

If you spend several hours in the evening vomiting so hard you sound like you are possessed by demons, so hard that your child wakes up and comes out of her room dragging her entire bedding for comfort and your husband has to put her back to bed while you battle the dark adversary in the loo, then you finally fall asleep with your light on and your bucket beside you because you never know when your last vomit will be, and your husband sleeps at the foot of the bed because only a madman would sleep next to a vomit wife, and you are half awoken at 4 am by a gentle tinkling of bells by your pillow and in a millisecond you realise your cat is about to use your head as a launching off point to catch a moth up the wall attracted by your bedside light, and if, in that groggy split second, you swipe the cat and she goes flying across the bed, over your husbands feet, and wipes everything off your husband's bedside table so that he has to get up to pick up his clock radio, and the cat limps off grumpily, and you turn off your light and it takes you an hour to get back to sleep because you have a sore tummy and back where your muscles have had the unaccustomed work of emptying you out down to your toes, then it is really the cat's fault - not the vomit but the swipe.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And then a miracle occurred

My little monster started school this year.  Organisation is not her strong suit and the first couple of weeks have been marked by exhaustion and buckling under the pressure of getting ready to attend.

Many is the day where we have been scrabbling to get out the door, with me slapping on sun screen and brushing hair and ordering her to pick up her shoes and socks and put them on in the car.

The worst days are the ones where she has to empty the dishwasher before getting dressed.  We are talking here about someone who works one fork at a time, pausing between each item to sing a tune and possibly wriggle a little dance.  Occasionally, a full ballet breaks out.

The dear husb. has been working on the dishwasher front.  He spent a week showing her short cuts (say, three forks at a time), and generally gingering her up.

I have been organising the carrot and stick collection.

I have made a poster (with pictures) for the fridge that lists the morning tasks in order.  I have come down hard on either monster getting out toys and playing with things before the list is complete.  I have explained several million times that if she doodles around during getting ready time, she will not have any play time at the end.

I also try  to finish my tasks early enough to be ready to play before we leave.

Slowly, with a number of leaps backwards, we are seeing improvement.  Some days we leave the house 10 minutes before ETD and goof around outside: shooting some hoops; swinging on the swing; and getting the school uniform nice and muddy.  Other days, we leave early and take some of the journey to school on foot, pausing to compare opinions about people's garden plants.

It is like a miracle.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saw giant fish, fell down a drain

On Saturday night we did something we rarely do.  We went out with the monsters after their bedtimes.  There is an event on around here where they pick a bunch of largely white public buildings and light them up with beautiful projections.

This is a library.

We thought we were going to send 1/2 the party.  The little (ignoring leg length) one gets tired and she was doubtful as to whether she wanted to go.  It was also surprisingly chilly for the second day of Autumn.  As is often the case, the process of the husb. and sibling preparing was too much for her finely tuned sibling rivalry so we all joined in.

While I did nag them into warmer clothes (another 5 minutes of my life I will never see again) I did not achieve optimal results.  The wind was fairly bitey so the little (yes, I know she is a giant among 5 year olds) one was cold and whiney.  I donated my coat to her which she wore as a fetching full length dress.

The actual doings involved wandering around paths between a group of public buildings going "ooh", and occasionally "ahhh".  There was a dark bit and a hill between some of the sites.  The husb. and one girl went over and tired girl and I went around.  The path was dark and crowded so I walked on the edge with the drain.  One piece of drain cover was in fact missing so in I went.  Just one leg but it was not very pleasant.

By the time I said "thanks I am fine" to some nice women who were worried I had broken my leg, assembled myself and the girl, bolted around the hill to meet the others, found someone in charge and taken them back to the hole so they could stop other lucky souls falling in, and met the family back at the car, it was not as pleasant and relaxing as it might have been.  

Also, I now have a lovely bruise.

The fish were good though, as were the choreographed, illuminated stilt walkers.

The buildings were beautiful and the whole things suggests there will be a time in the future where we can actually go out after 7.30 pm.  Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You know time is creeping up on you like a thirsty mozzie when ...


  • you put some clips in the front of your hair to get the fuzz off your face and you acquire brand new wrinkles around your eyes
  • you wake up one random morning and find you have transmogrified into Richard III overnight, complete with asymetric hunch and nasty attitude
Kevin Spacey, the Old Vic's Artistic Director, stars in the Sam Mendes directed 2011 production.
Though p'raps not the Kevin Spacey version because you look crap in shoulder pads.
  • "jowly" is a word that enters your visual vocab
  • your husband quietly abandons the thought that he will ever have a flat stomach again and starts buying low riding jeans
  • shaving your legs makes them so dry you have no choice but to grease 'em up afterwards
  • you and your partner do an audit of elderly relatives and realise you may have to attend 25 interstate funerals over the next 20 years
  • you are facing (probably) a decade more of PMT and the glories of the blood without having any further functional use for that particular set of innards
  • your parents think you are lying your ass off when you claim not to be dying your hair and you just worry that they must be too blind to drive if they can't see the colonies of greys up there
  • you have been with your partner for so long you can't quite remember why you wanted one and subsequently, chick lit seems tediously self-involved and unreadable, and
  • your daughters are so disappointed with your trenchant lack of glamour they are determined to make their way to the painted, high-heeled and sparkly land without you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dancing in the summer rain

Well, we had a little rain today.  Aside from one other big storm it has been a mainly dry spring and summer.  Summer rain is delightful.

We had just finished bike riding down by the lake.  I was walking after the little monster who has just learned the two wheel arts.  We were about to go back to the car when it down came in buckets.

We all sheltered under the awning of a kiosk but it just kept bucketing.  One monster couldn't stand it.  She started doing laps out into the rain getting just a touch wet - a little wetter with each lap.

Eventually the desire built up in me too and I joined her.  We went to the edge of the lake and commiserated as it got wet.  We stomped in puddles.  We looked down drains.  We danced.

Not us but you get the idea.  Doesn't it make your feet itch?

We both turned into drowned rats.

Meanwhile, my husband and other monster stood under the awning getting stressed in their own way.  This monster was getting worried about how we were going to get back to the car and it was all too much.

The little wet duck was starting to shake with cold so we peeled off her cotton top and put on her (carefully preserved) dry polar fleece.

I then headed off through the pelt to the car, after all, I wasn't getting any wetter.  After wading across the lower car park that was doing a cunning imitation of a floodway, I got to the car and drove to the others.  We whacked the bikes on the car and went home for lunch.

I am very glad I have grown myself a playmate for summer rain.  It was lovely.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mission accomplished

After four long years I have finally finished painting the hall.  When I started both of the girls were toddlers - now leggy schoolgirls.

February 2009 - the saga begins with painting the ceiling.

This is not to suggest I have been at it all that time with, say, a toothbrush.  The application to the cause has been a little gappy.  Nevertheless, I feel proud.  It may take my arms a week to recover and my pysche some months but the job is done.

This is the older monster from the beginning of the hall-works.  She found the whole process so fascinating she spent her "rest" getting out all the sheets and spreading them around the floor of her bedroom, then conked out part way through.

Well, almost.  There is just the removal of rags and tape, etc to do. Sounds like husband-work to me.

All I have to do now is paint:

  • the rest of the gutters, a job my husband left 2/3 done when he returned to work in 2011 (mind you, given the painting he did on all the rotten steel window frames, he deserved a medal)
  • the older monster's room, which still has the marks on the ceiling where I removed a large fluro light when I bought the house 12 years ago, and
  • the little monster's room, because if the older monster gets actual colour rather than the usual boring beige, the whines of "that's not fair" will be heard quite a lot.
Well, that lot should take me through to 2021.


*  Said with a mix of hysteria and sarcasm - an unusal tonal combination.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ventilated cat a talented spitter

The cat has been recently ventilated.  Luckily I realised there was trouble at mill early in the piece and we visited the vet, both unwillingly.  She was not keen on the box, the journey or the prodding - especially the thermometer but I can see her point.  I also have a philosophical objection to having strange objects shoved up my posterior.  I was merely cringing at the devastating potential of the bill in these delicate budgetary times.

The sum result - cat lost fight, cat has holey abdomen, cat needs pill twice a day.

The bill was not too bad.  We will just have to sell one of the girl's spare kidneys, leaving one to sell on another rainy day.

Now my husband, being a courageous man, has agree to take on the bitey end of the process a mere 8 years into our relationship that has roamed across two cats, one of which had a very pilly old age.  I now do the bit that stops her furriness going backwards or inserting her front claws into he-who-is-about-to-be-bitten.

My favourite part of the process is when the husb. has her jaws clamped shut, willing the little oofie to swallow.  Meanwhile, Toast has a mulish look on her face in between mouth movements that are designed to move the pill to just behind the front teeth where it can be spat out as soon as the husband gives up his clenching vigil.

Oh, what fun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When your arms fall off

I am finally near the end of a seemingly never-ending cycle of painting the hall.  Following a six week break over Christmas and school holidays, I have three down and only one painting day left in this job.

The only problem with taking a break while I was riddled with feral children is that whatever arm and shoulder strength I had gained last year dissipated under the combined effect of too many pavlovas and heat-induced sloth.  Ah, summer!

My arms now feel like they are made of pink blancmange during a 7.5 Richter scale event.  At the end of a painting day, my hands shake so hard I could use them to whisk eggs.  I certainly wouldn't attempt to carry a hot drink unless I was in the mood for burned hands and cleaning the floor (which I never am).

You see, I am the possessor of a tremor at the best of times but unusual exercise drives my arms crazy.

I am in a mad struggle to finish the job, not just because we are extremely sick of having the usual contents of the hall and the painting bits distributed around the house.  I am such a lucky little duck I am starting jury duty next week.

I wonder what you can wear to increase the chance you will be discarded from jury selection?  A tea cosy on the head and bras on the outside maybe?  Is it too late to develop a major twitch combined with an intermittent pained yell?  If only my tremor was more extensive than my arms.  Poop.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A vomit girl and a Costco jolly

Well, the girls have been back at school for two weeks and we have our first little gift from the education system - a vomit girl.  She is currently sleeping off her latest bucket-filler while I write the shopping list and realise I will not be able to do anything on my task list today.

The poor little mookie.  I had to practically decant her into the car (with bucket) so I could get the other girl to school.

In unrelated news, I went on a jolly to Costco yesterday afternoon.  I have never been to Costco before and what a pleasure it was, too.  Some thoughts on the cultural treats awaiting me there:

  • The pizzas are indeed very large.  Just larger than my oven, I estimate.  I was not tempted.
  • There are an amazing number of products that involve glueing popcorn and nuts together with sugar, fat and salt.
  • If a refrigerated "dessert" has a used by date over six months ahead, check the ingredient list.  If there are over 50 ingredients, laugh and move on.
  • The mens clothing appears to be built for very short men.  I do not wish to see my husband's belly button in the ordinary course of events.
  • I have developed a slight fixation with how many 500g packets of cheezels it would take to fill the interior of a car up to the windows.  I may need to buy an older car with vinyl seats and floor mats before I experiment.  I am sure the bright orange dust would never come off grey upholstery.
  •  Some people must eat a lot of cheese. 
  • A 30 pack of cornettos for $32 is a tremendous bargain but I am not sure if I would be a happier person if I ate them.  Rounder but probably not happier. 
Classic Blue Ribbon Flavour Vanilla Choc Nut
Not six - 30 of these things.  30, people, 30.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Summer footwear of our childhood - a comparitive guide

I was mostly raised in the hills around Adelaide.  The summers are long and hot.  I had thick skin on the bottom of my feet because we tended to not wear shoes.  I did once burn large blisters through the many skin layers walking on black bitumum when it was over 40 degrees (104 F) but generally we were barefoot.

Now my tender-footed husband grew up on a farm.  He wore gumboots all year round, even when it was stinking hot - especially when it was stinking hot. His calves are relatively hair free, I suspect because of gumboot friction.

Why this gumbootage?  Well, in winter it was the mud.  There is lots of mud in natural dairy country.

When summer had finally dryed out the mud there was a new reason for gumbies: snakes - lots of 'em.  Tiger snakes, red bellied black snakes and the odd copperhead.  These range from highly venomous to extremely venomous.  Thumping around the grass in the paddocks or the dams, especially near grain or silage that attracts rodents, they met their fair share.  He accidentally stepped on snakes and fortunately (though not for the snake) broke their backs.  He also had a number of episodes when they were under or inside the (extremely gappy) house.

Living in a mostly suburban area, though near a large native park, I had only a little snakeyness in my life.   We would occasionally see a brown or black snake (the black tiger snake - no pretty red bellies for us) if we were walking through long grass.  There were tiger snakes, death adders and copperheads around but we never met them.

Our next door neighbour's cat SamFred (or maybe FredSam - who could tell - they were brothers) once met a brown snake in our back yard.  The snake won.*  SamFred was lucky to escape with only passing paralysis and a nasty vet bill.  The snake had probably run low on venom laying out the mice living in our recycling heap.

A similar cat to SamFred and FredSam: may they rest somewhere they can never torture basset hounds again.

I remember having my heart leap a number of times when I caught sight of a reptilian face.  Then a blue tongue would flick out or I would see a leg and go, "Whew - just a sleepy or blue tongue lizard."

Who wouldn't love me?  I eat snails and flowers and am just lovely.

We used to think that if you had large lizards you didn't get snakes but I suspect that is rubbish.  If I was a snake I would think a lizard is a very conveniently shaped meal.

Getting to the point, several years ago my husband and I were walking in the park near my parent's home on a nice hot day.  We were wearing sandals and walking along a footpad through tall grass.  I stopped because a brown snake crossed the path ahead of me.  They are pretty shy and it was going about its snakey business.  I thought, "What a pretty snake but it needs some space."  My poor husband, whose snake history is much busier and more intimate, nearly had a fit.  I bet he wish he had brought his gum boots.

*It is hard to have much sympathy.  SamFred and FredSam operated as a two-member bikie gang.  They worked together to torture the other neighbourhood animals.  If you ever need a sound effect for a nightmare, I highly recommend the sound of a basset hound screaming in fear as it was bailed up in a small tin shed by two Siamese cats.  Poor Cindy.  She was a dopey dog but didn't deserve that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pregnant with hickeys - an inadvisable office combination

When I was pregnant with one of the monsters I worked in a open plan office.  I worked part time because I had a toddler with a limited tolerance for child care.  I also liked to take a large amount of sick leave to deal with snot and earaches (the child) and extended bouts of vomitatiousness (both of us).

Nevertheless, I did attend work occasionally.  I shared a super-pod with 3 other people: a woman in her early thirties with two children; a young woman and a young man, the latter two both single and around 23.  You probably can see where this is going but read the title and think again.

I had an enormous amount of experience at the job at hand.  The elder of the woman had different experience and the two youngies were just young.  Part of my role was to help all three to learn how to do this sort of job before I disappeared back into the world of nappies and sludged carrot for the duration.

I was a number of years older than the other three, and possibly because of personality differences and my very solid presence, just seemed more mature.

One morning we were all sitting there facing each other talking about some work doobie with another very young woman from a related work area.  The woman opposite me, the one with the children, said, "Have you got a hickey?  You have something all over your neck."

Now I am sure she did not really think I had a hickey.  I think what she meant was, "You have a somewhat awkward coffee stain or mark on your neck and I am going to embarrass you because it looks a bit hickyish."

After all, I was a very sensible woman.  I was 7 months pregnant and certainly did not look like the sort of person you would bite.  But frankly, one of the few advantages I found with pregnancy (other than the eventual acquisition of a mewling infant) was that it made nookie an easy, hilarious, sure thing.  My husband, being a very sensible man, was taking full advantage of this state of affairs and had got a bit carried away in the neckular region.

If I wasn't so bloody exhausted I may have remembered to hide it.  Or maybe not.  Who can be bothered with that sort of rubbish when you are trying to get a toddler to childcare before racing to work in time for your regular morning spew?

So I said, "Oh, yes." and left it at that.  The other four almost combusted with embarrassment.  I mean, elderly, heavily pregnant and showing signs of being the subject of unbridled lust.  How weird and disgusting is that?

I still laugh about it, even though the other person there at the time is now a giant among 5 year-olds.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The hell that is covering school books

For the first time in the lives of my tender offspring they have brought home school books that need a cover on them, STAT!  (I have no idea why people say that in hospitals when there is a hurry on but it seemed apprope.)

Anyhoo, two girls = a gazillion books.

How much cover do I need - measure, measure X (a gazillion) = metres of the stuff.

Go shopping.  Shop all out, look at empty shelf surrounded by cloud of other desperate, hovering mothers.  Try another shop.  Masses of covering stuff purchased.  No bananas this week because I spent all the money.  Bad luck, monkey girls.

Sit down with book mountain, ruler, scissors and covering.

Measure, measure, cut, cut, put around to check - oh bugger, missed by that much*.

Crumple up and throw out.  Oh bugger.  If that wasn't so damned crumpled I could have used it for a smaller book.

Moving on, measure, measure, cut, cut, check size, peel off backing paper, get sticky bit attached to arm, depilate arm removing sticky bit, sticky bits stick together, reluctant to come apart, roll into ball, cursing and swearing and throw it into bin with now hairless arm.

Start again, measure, measure, cut, cut, check, peel, stick, "How the hell did that bubble appear?", push bubble, "How the hell did that fold appear?", "Who cares!", tuck in the edges and finish the thing.

Repeat X (a gazillion).

Wake up sweating, accidently kick cat leaning on my leg, retrieve pillow from floor after feeling around in the dark, take slurp from glass hoping the cat has not beem there first and contemplate the hell that is coming tomorrow when I actually have to do this task.

Tickle cat, flop back down and hope to dream of grown-up children complaining about having to cover their children's books.

* Said in a Maxwell Smart accent - sense of humour still holding out at this stage.

Addendum: 13 seconds of research later, there appears to be some mothers who have a slightly more professional approach to their mothering duties.  I highly recommend this woman or this one (with a helpful video) if you find yourself in a pickle, though I wouldn't peek if you are at all prone to feel inadequate or half-arsed.  Bring on a stiff gin, I say.  Don't hold the limes.

Addendum 2 - the ginier one.  Whatever you do, don't follow those links.  If you are reading my blog you are probably not psychologically prepared to watch a video of how to fold fitted sheets.  Don't do it, people - maddness will follow.  Aaarrrrgggggggg.  I warned you, I warned you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eating sea lice and a centrepiece for a zombie feast

I have watched several bits of the new Masterchef series.  (For those foreign or non-TV types, it is usually a show that gets non-chefs to cook things in rather silly circumstances*.)  The new series involves actual chefs and it mostly consists of people doing what they usually do at work.

In light of this tele-boredom, the husb. and I thought of some tricksier cooking challenges that could be inflicted upon these cheffy types.  Voila...

Test 1.  Start with a bewildering collection of ingredients (the entire range of food additives in identical jars but all unlabelled**, parsnip seeds, and sea lice, etc) and an array of unusual equipment (an industrial furnace that gets hot enough to melt glass, a centrifuge, and mould-making equipment used by makers of artificial prostheses).

Gee, you look tasty Mr Louse.

Then get Heston Blumenthal (that crazed munchy-imagino artiste) in to compete against the contestants and give them all 8 hours to make a large, edible centrepiece for a zombie feast.  It must be at least 8 foot high and should not explode on contact.

A team of expert judges should be specially assembled, all between the ages of 14 and 18 and who have watched "Shaun of the Dead" at least 11 times***.

Test 2.  Make a vegetarian feast featuring tofu for a group of C-grade rugby league players for their end of season dinner.  (Think big big blokes hoping to eat 1/2 cow and a pig each to go with the odd drink.)

"Eek - vegetables - run away!"

Test 3.  Make a savoury plate using only 5 ingredients including both broccoli and pickled herring for a group of 2 year-olds in child care centre.  It must be served at 4 in the afternoon when the little pips are a sliver away from exhausted hysteria.  The pips then get to vote on which one was the nicest.  If every child refuses to try one of the offerings, that chef is immediately eliminated.

Oh, yeah, that strong, pungent goodness is going to go down a treat with the toddlers.

This last test may have the advantage of wiping out all of the contestants.

* For goodness sake, Dalai Lama, what were you thinking?

** This would include literally hundreds of bottles of identical white powders.

*** Did you know that the US Centre for Disease Control has published a graphic novel on preparedness for a zombie invasion?  These things make me happy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crazy Pink Fluff, or is that Blancmange?

Further to the wonderful world of culinary dogs, last week I had a recipe that required 20ml of evaporated milk.  This left me with 390mL left in the tin.  Now I don't know about you but I never use evaporated milk.  What the hell should I do with it?

As in other cases of culinary desperation, I turned to my mother.  Apparently, if you cool it in the fridge, make some jelly til it is just about to set, then whip the milk then add the jelly, you have instant fluff, or blancmange, or whatever you want to call it.

Well, I made the jelly but I was somewhat inattentive and missed the "just set" stage by, say, a good 24 hours.  OK, lets go backwards a bit and whack it in a sink filled with warm water to soften it up.  Does jelly re-set?

Then beat the milk.  Will it beat up?  You betcha red pants it will.  Huge and fluffy.  Add the jelly, bit more beating, and I have a big bowl of pink fluff.  I tried it.  Kinda boring and pointless - like artfully arranged pink air.

Ah, but I am not a 5 or 6 year old girl.  Lets try it on them.  Hmm, not a resounding success.  This stuff is so damned fluffy, after a big bowl you feel as though you haven't eaten at all.  And it made a lot - did I mention?

So, several days go by with pink fluff served on various things - pink fluff on peaches, on strawberries, on a ham sandwich (not really but I was getting a bit desperate) and I still have more fluff.

Don't tell me it's magic fluff, like that bloody cut and come again pudding of my childhood.  No, there is just so much of it it seems to be reproducing.

Eventually I just chucked it in the sink - let me tell you pink fluff is a bit of a bugger to get down the drain hole.  Reluctant to flush, if you get my drift.

And that was the adventure of the pink fluff.  I bet you wish you were me.  It is so exciting I can hardly stand it myself.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Attempted attitude change fails miserably

Having sworn and cursed about the lunch box blues in the previous post, I decided to get all positive and motherly via the construction of apricot and oat muffins.

I didn't have a recipe for apricot and oat muffins so I buggered about with adapted another recipe that had no apricots and no oats.

Oats are dry so I thought I would add more milk and eggs.

There turned out to be only 1 egg so I put in extra extra milk.

There was also a surprise canola oil drought and I couldn't use peanut oil without attracting the wrath of the schooling system, so I used extra virgin olive oil.

The mix came out kinda runny so I added more flour - spelt flour - world renowned for it reluctance to rise in a cakey manner.

So to the taste test:  curiously olivey, a bit flat, plain in flavour and overall, weird.

One of the monsters has already stated she doesn't want them in her lunch box and prefers a piece of fruit.

Arrgg, not tomato - I hate tomato. It's yucky.

As we move inexorably towards the commencement of the school year (18 hours, 11 minutes and counting), my mind turns to the vexed issue of lunch boxes.

Now I don't know about you but those articles that appear in a myriad of printed matter with lunch box suggestions and recipes piss me off.  I am not about to make zuchinni muffins and tuna slice just for lunch boxes.  The worms at the school worm farm are already suffering fatty livers from overfeeding.
Only 40 minutes to prepare, people - the worms will love it.

One of my monsters is almost certain to pass on anything that is not a cheese, hommus and lettuce sandwich.  On a good day, you might get away with substituting green capsicum for lettuce.  Three years ago we started a long war of attrition with a cheese and nothing else samo and we have been fighting in the trenches since.  Great strides, people, great strides.

The other monster will rotate randomly through unwelcome items to be removed and discarded, including any veg, meat, or, in fact, the bread itself.  About the only items certain to be eaten are salami and anything sufficiently coated in tomato sauce.  One day cucumber is verboten, the next day, munched unnoticed.

When I was a child I knew one kid who ate a roll with honey exclusively all the way through primary and high school and another kid in year 10 who was meeting his mother at the school gate at the start of lunch period to pick up his freshly made banana sandwich.  Every school day.  For eleven years.  Personally, I think his mother needed more help than he did*.

Looking back into the dim dark ages I suspect I was just as annoying.  I remember my mother asking if I liked my sandwich one afternoon and I said, "What was it?"  She said, "It was mock chicken - I was trying out the recipe."  "Ah", I said.  "No wonder I couldn't recognise it.  I threw it out."

Of course the monsters dream of a lunch box filled with supermarket lunch box food - crunchy things that pretend they are not chips, grainy bars held together with sugar, and little tubes of "yoghurt" that have a much closer relationship with colour fixers, thickening agents and antioxidants then, say, a cow.

Strap on your helmets, soldiers.  In a another 17 hours and 29 minutes we are going over the top and it's ugly out there.

*Treatment for a rampaging separation anxiety, one assumes.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Giving up hausfrauing

I have been a full time hausfrau (h.f.) for two years now.  It started as leave from work but eventually I had to quit when it became obvious I was not planning to return any time soon.  Toodle pip windowless dusty office and giant piles of crappy correspondence.

Generally the time has gone by without much consideration of the different roles of working part time with my children in child care and being a h.f.  In some respects they are both shitty and in other respects, both good options.  You get a closer relationship with the munchkins and a slightly less crazy life if you are there to apply medicinal peas to new bumps, but you get career respect, intellectual stimulation and a healther budget if you work and parent.  Mind you, you also get to hang washing on the line at 9pm when the temperature is about 4 degrees Celcius - here's a tip - wear gloves.

Ocassionally it does hit.  About six months ago I decided to go the whole hog phone-wise.  I went to a shop to sign a contract.  Imagine the shock on the young woman's face when she asked me about my income and I said "Zero, zip, absolutely none at all", times several repetitions because the concept was a terrible struggle for her.  I had not thought of myself as indigent but if my husband hadn't been there to mention his income (and keep those sticky, button-mad monsters away from the handsets), I might not have gotten a phone at all.

In my BC (before children) life, I had no problems with buying a house, car or whatever.  The monotonous regularity of my income made me an object of delight to drooling debt providers.  Mind you, they were heady times in the financial sector.  It seemed for a while they were applying the "upright and breathing" test to debt applicants and one out of two would do. 

I think the thing that narks me most in the h.f. role is the way my husband and my opinions of myself have changed.  I think my husband forgets that I was once sharply dressed and sharp in mind.  I have such  informal, faded attire and a brain full of library book day, he has forgotten I ever looked a bit scarey and was considered so in my profession. 

I think much the same transformation has happened in my head.  As time is spent colouring-in princesses and nagging about hand washing, my confidence in my professional capacities has faded.  It becomes hard for me to remember a time when people would seek my opinion on difficult issues, rather than just whether they should wear a t-shirt under their dress today.  And that last question was really just a request to check the weather on the new phone.

So, even though it is a crappy and difficult balance to manage, I am going to attempt the part time work while motherising gig again, this time aided by the regular application of children to the schooling system.  All I need to do is get them there (come on Monday) and find some work before we are completely broke.