Sunday, April 29, 2007
. .well it’s confession time:
I like Who Magazine. I don’t buy it but it’s the first one I gravitate towards in the hairdressers or the surgery . . . Hollywood gossip, pretty dresses, glamorous people.
Astrologyzone online . . . enough said
Dancing (I use the term lightly) on my own late at night. I crank up the music and off I go. Uncoordinated and wild but hey, my dog won’t dob me in . . .
Perving on young men . . . I like a good-looking bronzed labourer. There’s nothing wrong with looking! My mother used to say “A cat can look at a King”. There’s nothing like a nicely formed bod and buns so tight you can bounce ‘em off the walls. Much like men appreciate nubile nymphettes, I’m partial to a sideways glance at a younger man. (Mostly due to my delusional impression of myself.)
I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but I’m the one who ‘cleans up the edges’ of a new ice cream container when I unpack my shopping. It has softened on the way home and just has to be tidied up before it’s put back in the freezer.
Once, after a failed attempt to make my own Caesar Salad dressing, I poured Cardini's Caesar Dressing all over the salad and to this day my sister-in-law raves about it. . . I have never confessed and felt a little guilty for taking the credit!
I watch Big Brother . . . please don’t think any less of me. It just happens to be on during the making-dinner timeslot when there’s little else to watch anyway . . . I told you I had voyeuristic intentions.
My mum was the daughter of a conscientious objector, a simple but gruff man who just wanted his slippers ready when he got home and tea on the table. Her mother also worked but wasn’t the slipper-grabbing kind. She was a flapper, an Auntie Mame, a party girl to whom routine, organisation and dinner at 6 meant nothing. I think this is the reason my own mum was so ‘straight’ and sensible.
They lived in Manchester, the hub of industrialisation and major target during the war. Mum was evacuated to Wales for safety where she lived with her Grandfather, a grocery store owner who dealt in the black market and her Uncle Donald, the “Crunchy Pickles” magnate. Avid Welsh Evangelists who attended Horeb every Sunday, cleansed their souls, then proceeded to operate illegally during the war years.
Her Grandfather’s black market trade wasn’t as we know it today, not guns or drugs, but flour, butter, sugar, sweets and nylons. Apparently he kept the profits of his activities under the bed in an old leather suitcase.
After the war, she trained as a nurse at Withenshaw hospital in Cheshire where she met my Dad while he was visiting a sick relative. She also contracted tuberculosis, nursing sickly children. She had half her lung removed just weeks after getting married and spent the first two years of her married life in hospital.
After her recovery she had four children, me, the eldest, a son, another son and many years later an unexpected but very welcome daughter. We lived well in a nice house on quarter of an acre overlooking a golf course with a country aspect. We didn’t know it but things were getting tough and so when my Dad was offered a position in Bombay or Melbourne, they thought about their options. She would never have lived in India, although I often wonder what I would have been liked raised there and attending boarding school in England. We chose Australia and became ten pound poms – Australia offered assisted passages to migrants in the 60s and early 70’s to bolster their small population. After six weeks on a small cruise liner and separated by 12,000 miles, we landed in Wooloomooloo and spent a few weeks in Sydney before driving to our Melbourne home.
I remember her being incredibly homesick. For two or three years, she cried regularly, missing her beloved Mammy and Daddy and feeling isolated in this strange country that had a term for the English – “Whingeing Poms” because we always complained that the sausages weren’t as tasty, the bacon wasn’t as good as Danish, the furniture was badly made, the shops were shit and the people were unwelcoming. I guess we suffered much like any other migrant family as the waves of different nationalities came into this very multicultural domain. Australia is a nation of poms, spiks, wogs, chinks and curry munchers to the older Aussie Generations. It’s currently the Islamic Lebanese and Somalis that are bearing the brunt of racist venom but next year it will be some other wave of migrants.
After two years in Melbourne, my father was transferred to much more expensive Sydney. They lost money on the sale of their house and had to stretch to buy a modest but comfortable newish home in the North Western Suburbs of Sydney. It was hotter, more humid and she used to feel exhausted in the heat. As the family grew we moved onto acreage and that’s where I find myself now. Living next door to the paternal/maternal home, now occupied by BabyBro.
As we grew, being a stay-at-home mum began to bore her and she became tetchy. She decided to complete her Midwifery certificate and went back to nursing full time. Shifts and all. It was difficult with four kids ranging from 6 to 18 but she was determined and thank God she did. She won an academic prize for her achievement and began working at our local hospital. She was a wonderful midwife and now has a Maternity Ward named after her. Funnily she refused to be present during the birth of all our children, too much tension. She would book us in, take our observations then retreat home and hang by the phone but it was like having our own childcare nurse at our disposal. Poor BabySis had her babies much later and didn’t benefit from her nurturing during that time of life.
She was tough, a disciplinarian and a back-of-the-leg smacker, usually involving wet rubber gloves, but always sentimental and emotionally physical. A hug from her was so intense, you had to prize yourself away, it always felt like the last she would ever bestow. When you were sick, a bed was made up on the lounge with a little table, fizzy drink, some teen magazines and always vegemite soldier boys or in my case baby desserts and ice cream as I was a chronic sufferer of tonsillitis until I had the bastards removed in my 20s.
She liked to work evenings, it gave her the opportunity to taste the day then go to work at 2.00pm – 10.00pm. My Dad used to pick her up (to keep him off the whiskey) but this proved fatal in 1992 when one Wednesday, he went for his usual sojourn to the hospital, just a 10 minute ride from us. He was involved in a head-on collision with a four wheel drive returning from the scene of a murder. Obscure? Bizarre? Fantastic? Absolutely mind-numbing. The protagonist had engineered an ‘accident’ after murdering an ex-girlfriend and dumping her body to give himself an alibi but hadn’t banked on his victim having just half a lung. She died within hours. My father was never the same and we didn’t pursue the issue through the courts - it was all too sudden and too painful. We were told by the police that he was sentenced to 9 years jail on a plea bargain, she was 62 years old and that bastard is now free to wonder the earth.
I still see her fleeting past my kitchen window in her white uniform. She used to come in at 10.00pm occasionally to have a ‘wind down’ chat and a cup of tea before going home to bed. We had private, intimate chats, she helped me enormously with routine, children, relationships, housekeeping, economising and whilst she could turn the mood of the room sour with a single look, she could also cause an eruption of laughter with a well placed joke or naïve action.
I don’t know why I miss her today particularly but I do. She was everything I aspire to be, lively, well-travelled, well-read, gossipy, grouchy, well disciplined, caring and incredibly supportive, although sometimes so naïve it was embarrassing. Upon meeting the parents of one of my brother’s friends (who’s real name she never knew), she smiled boldly, outstretched her hand and said “Oh, pleased to meet you, you must be Wanker’s parents”. Once the faux pas was explained she shrank with embarrassment having no idea that the kid’s real name wasn’t Wanker or even worse what the word wanker meant.
On another drunken after-dinner occasion, we were playing charades. She stood bolt upright, nominated a film, passed wind then fled to the kitchen at speed. Of course, the movie was “Gone with the Wind”. It was so out of character for her to fart that we all rolled on the floor in laughter, tears streaming. It took hours for us to compose ourselves.
I hope she knew that I loved and valued her because I rarely told her. She would be gutted to know that I don’t even visit her little plot at Castlebrook Cemetary. My memories of her are so alive, I can’t bare looking at that pathetic little stone which simply says “Much Loved”. My Dad is now parked next to her after his battle with Cancer in 2002 but that’s another post.
This is just a potted tribute to one of the most important influences on my life.
I love you cariad.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
It’s another wet and chilly Saturday, my loungeroom looks like a Chinese laundry and BabySis, MikTay and the brood have just left after having coffee and a talkfest. ClareBear is finally cleaning her allergy ridden room and there’s Chicken Soup simmering on the hob.
Brought me to thoughts of comfort food. Not necessarily food you’d order in a restaurant or cook for the family but food you like when you’re feeling under par or is tied to a particular memory or event:
- Vegemite and lashings of butter (not margarine) on freshly baked white bread
- Arnotts Mint Slice Biscuits, guaranteed to make you feel better when you’re sick
- Caramello Koala’s, better than a trip to the psychiatrist
- Chopped tomato, shallots, cheddar cheese and a splash of mayonnaise toasted on bread with generous amounts of freshly ground pepper – the best ever quicksnack
- Hawks Nest Thai Chicken Pies and a chocolate Paddle Pop – then you know you’re on holiday
- Fresh Mango Daquiris, the flavour of Summer/Christmas
- Iced coffee, with Blue Ribbon ice cream but without the whipped cream so you get more coffee scrumptiousness
- Real potato (not that reconstituted rubbish) hot chips from greasy Joes with loads of BBQ sauce or dark gravy
- Pistachio nuts – cos they keep your hands busy
- Roast dinners, just the aroma makes you comfy
I’m sure there are more but it’s time for a toasty.
Friday, April 27, 2007
So after negotiating the front of the building and pushing past the smokers from the Real Estate Agent - two of whom look like flat top marines - I took my life in my hands and wondered across the zebra before being forced to back off by a bloody big bus who felt it had right of way at all costs. "This isn't bloody Bangkok . . " I yelled after him much to the amusement of hundreds of school children waiting for their buses to arrive among the thick bank of the yellow and maroon monsters.
Phew, over the zebra safely, I have to negotiate the minefield of navy and maroon uniforms, emo hairstyles, bizarre piercings (that bolt through the back of the neck isn't very attractive) smoking tartlets spewing words young girls shouldn't know and pre-pubescent boys feeling the need to clear their throads and spit on the pavement. And these are the private school kids! And, at 4:30 in the afternoon, they all smell horrible. I find myself thinking like a grumpy old woman that they should all stand in line two-by-two, get a hair cut and be given detention for behaving like normal kids. What happened to the should be seen and not heard rule! I begin mumbling something about bringing back national service and pulling them all into shape.
Clear of the teenage rampage, I now have to negotiate another double driveway zebra which marks the exit of one of the shopping centre carparks. People are so intent on exiting the car park that they frequently 'bump' pedestrians. I'm lucky today, only a guy on a motorcycle and he's too busy reajusting his crown jewels to notice traffic or pedestrians. Another obstacle out of the way.
Ok it's all going well now, past the taxi rank and the main doors of the mall and it's a quick game of 'spot the aussie' amongst the plethora of Indians, Afghans, Seiks, Lebanese and lately Somali drivers. "I wonder if any speak English" I mutter under my breath. "bet their taxis smell too . . " Oh I'm in a great mood. I love being the boot-licking, gofer . . .
Then I saunter past the discount CD store playing some kind of funked up greek music and briefly imagine myself, sailing in the Agean before reality bites and I've reached National Bank. OK, I don't need to queue, I have an express cheque envelope so I just need to find the friggin' express cheque chute. Past three completely unattentive girls preening and complimenting each other on their nail art "Aww, I love the diamante on your pointy finger . . ." and following the signage . . . yep, there' she is. I can see the word "open" on the chute but there doesn't appear to be a handle, hinge or arrow . . . no instruction on how to get into the thing. I want to look cool, like I do this every day but now I'm getting flustered and looking like some old bag on work experience on her first day of the job. So finally after fiddling around and feeling quite relieved that I don't have long fingernails (I would have broken one for sure), I work out where the 'pull' bit is and deposit my cheque almost quickly enough to prevent my fingers being snapped off by the gaping chute.
Mission accomplished, I decide this time to cross the road and walk on the quieter park side so that I don't have to revisit those smelly shool kids and traffic hazards . . .I look right . . . It's a one way street . . . all clear . . . start crossing the road and nearly get collected by someone driving the wrong bloody way . . .yep . . . I have only three more words and a sort of growly expletive:
Fucking Chinese drivers . . . .fwoooooooaaaaaaar
This week it's all stripey tents and elephants which don't look anything like the circus posters currently being circulated around town. The poster shows two glistening white liberty horses rearing above a roaring lion with a regal mane. But as I glimpsed sidewise at the motly crew of animals who form part of the Stardust Circus I was indeed disappointed. Wet elephants looking very bored and dousing themselves with bedding straw, tiny liberty horses, no more than 11 hands, covered in mud and the scraggiest looking lions, licking their wet paws and looking decidedly sleepy. Cats sleep up to 22 hours a day so I guess that's to be expected.
How delusional we are as children when even the skankiest animal looks like something out of a fairytale. I'm sure they'll scrub up for tonight's performance and the lights will sparkle and pink candy floss and toffee apples will look oh so appetising.
Such is the disillusionment of adulthood, we look at these things with such different eyes. I might take my niece and nephew to see the circus and try to rekindle some of the romance and hope that the elephants look a bit more interested in life.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Among Grandad's Questions to God he asked about the purpose of a wasp and it got me thinking. I can understand that a wasp has a duty in the pollination of plants and the control of bees but what about a mosquito? What possible use can they have?
There's nothing more annoying than that high pitched whine around your ear as you're slipping into the land of nod. Many a time I've chosen to whack myself on the side of the head rather than go to the trouble of getting out of bed and spraying the proboscis ridden annoyance to ensure its immediate demise.
We've spent a fortune on citronella burners and candles, fluorescent mozzie zappers which seem to only fry unsuspecting moths, surface sprays, plug in repellents, sprayed myself with Aerogard (an Australian staple personal repellent) but still the buggers keep coming. I've even tolerated the existance of 20cm Eastern Skinks behind my computer desk and a couple of 10cm diameter Huntsman spiders (hairy bugger below) on curtain rods in the hope that they like the tasty morsels but to no effect.
The Mosquito's sole purpose on earth apparently is to mate and the provision of sustenance for a myriad of other insects, birds and small mammals. The irritation of humans is just God's little joke. (He's featuring heavily this week).
. . . this leads to another question, if just one bite can be responsible for deadly heartworm in dogs and in humans, the transmission of West Nile Fever, Barmah Forest Fever, Ross River Fever, Malaria and Dengue Fever, how come they can't transmit HIV?
To me, they're silly and random rants and unlike BabySis and Hah-Nah, I've never seen a Clairvoyant (some things just shouldn't be tampered with) but when something aligns, there's always that feeling of wonder as a horoscope designed for millions of people born in an 8 week period rings true and 'speaks' to me.
I feel similarly about Psychological Profiling in the workplace. Designed to match the right person for the right job, no square pegs in round holes and as a guide on how to approach and deal with colleagues so that you don't 'push their buttons'. (Doesn't seem to work in my position - I am definitely now a square peg in a round hole - a big picture girl forced into aa highly detailed role - thank God for spell check, calculators and Administration Assistants who can fill in forms).
Oops, I'm wondering again . . .
Over my 30 odd years in the workforce I've had significant career changes from Creative Writer to Practice Manager, Marketing Manager and now job sharing Marketing with the servile Executive Assistant role so I've been profiled more often than not. I've been DISC profiled, Financial DNA Profiled and Myers Briggs'd . . . all of which told me exactly what I already knew. So is it such profiling valuable or just more crystal ball gazing? Consider the characteristics below - these are outcomes of some psychometric profiling and the ones in brackets are those 'predicted' by my horoscope . . . Is it little more than staring into a crystal ball . . .
Initiating, wants to set the agenda (Organised and scheduled)
Loyal and consistent
Sees practical realities (Objective in all things)
Favours logic over emotion (Evaluates both sides of every situation)
Good at meeting and communicating with people (can successfully win over others and project great charm and diplomacy)
Realistic and practical (no nonsense with good taste, neat and tidy)
Responds candidly (Can be brutally honest)
Often discounts ideas and feedback from others (Annoying and quarrelsome)
Can be curt and abrupt (Can be stubborn, don't like taking orders)
May overlook important details (Has an eye for the overall aesthetic without consideration of cost)
Here's the latest in identifying your characteristics for the workplace. Do the Quest Test, it's a little shorter than the full monty. Remember, your score is how you would behave when under pressure or stress not necessarily all the time. Let me know how you go. I'm a combination of 4, 8 and 9. Pretty true really but it still coincides with my horoscope!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
My childhood was incredibly happy. The first 11 years of my life spent in country England when it was safe to ride a tricycle to the local building site and marvel at Irish labourers fiddling with solder - they shared their chips with me and had handkerchiefs on their heads with knots tied on each corner. I was even happier when each birthday, high day and holiday, someone paid for a riding lesson or better still a day trek at the local riding school where we rode and froze our toes off all day and returned for baked potatoes in their jackets and Heinz tomato soup. Soooo good.
I was happy when I went to my Nana's each Saturday. She owned a pub in Manchester so while she and my mother drank tea and gossiped, we ran riot in the supply room in the basement, pinching corners of jelly and drinking little bottles of coke and mini packets of chips in the days before they were pre-salted - they had little blue wax papers full of salt in the packet so that you could add your own. She would let us dress up in swags of feathery, sparkly clothes and buckets of cheap jewels. She and my Grandpa never got on, he'd come in and do the breakfasts, she'd saunter out of bed at 2.00 and talk some restaurant into staying open for very posh late lunch. I had my first prawn cocktail when I was 7! I reckon I could write a book about them eventually.
I was pretty happy when I first arrived in Australia although it was very, very different. Big. The fields were bigger, the trees were bigger, the cars were bigger - even that expanse of blue sky looked bigger. It took us a long time to settle and we moved from Melbourne to Sydney - 4 primary schools and 3 high schools later we stayed and I haven't had the urge to move more than 10kms away ever since.
Of course I was happy falling in love, getting married, delivering two perfect children. My pigeon pair. Then 9 years of pretty blissful and uneventful marriage sustained that euphoric state. It wasn't without its moments but in retrospect, I was very happy with my, tiny house, little family and massive mortgage.
I was pretty happy at work too. I had a great bunch of colleagues in a creative environment and we socialised and worked together. I still keep in touch with them and our quarterly lunches at each other's houses are really worth looking forward to. A couple have since moved overseas but the core sticks together. They were halcyon days filled with art and music, differing opinions and weird clothes.
I'm always happy travelling. Even though trips to Fiji, Tahiti, England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Disneyland (I daren't say I saw any of America) seem so long ago, they definitely made me happy and that is now my retirement goal. I'm just going to move around the globe by whatever means necessary.
I was happy camping when the children were younger. I had a little trailer tent which I could put up myself in minutes but as they grew older the trips became few and far between so I sold it, something I regret now. We went from beach to bush, caving, swimming, walking - no TV, no mobiles. Fantastic.
I was happy in 1995 when my house seemed to be full of young men and flirty young women due to a newly divorced sad sack and a handsome foreign house guest who attracted much mirth and merriment. I seemed to be perpetually cooking pasta, curries and BBQ's for the 20 something hoard and they rekindled my love of alternative music. I learned to mosh without my neck hurting and can still be caught dancing alone late at night if the right vibes are being played on Rage
I was very happy when BabyBro moved in next door after our Dad died, the previous occupant, my now estranged BigBro turned out to be a vegetarian narcissistic hedonist by his own admission and choice and we talk only about estate matters these days. He certianly doesn't make me happy . . . he's not happy himself so has no empathy with the emotion.
Breakfast on Sunday makes me happy. We sometimes go to a local cafe or one within the many nurseries around here and indulge in the big breakfast and juice and enough coffee to rev me up for hours.
I'm happy on Saturday mornings when I have coffee and girlchat with BabySis and catch up with the neice and nephew and make sure the 'boys' have been fed and watered even though I barely pass them a cursory glance these days.
I'm happy when the heat finally subsides and we embrace winter and soft woollens and the extra doona gets broken out for night time warmth and I can walk in the mornings without breaking into a sweat, just breathing in the mist and watching the sun come up over the trees.
I'm happy when I have dinner with Thommo, TheMerryWidow, and StruthRuth. There are giggles and tears and we try to get away for a girly weekend each year where we behave badly and are extremely silly in luxury hotel spas.
I'm happy when I blog and that I have some new contacts who write funny, clever, banal, astute, opinionated, silly, intelligent posts and often humble me with their prose, humour and honesty. It's a pleasure to check each morning. And Arky if you're reading this, I'm happy when you MSN me . . . so get crackin'
I'm happiest these days with the little things. That time in the evening just before the sun goes down and it's cooling off and the birds are settling and we sit out in the garden or dangle our legs in the pool. Even more so with a champagne in one hand, chatting about the day's events to whoever will listen and admiring the last vestages of rural life around us, bathed in the very summery fragrance of jasmine and gardenia. Also when we're all home together, usually when it's cold all snuggled like pigs in a blanket watching DVD's or enjoying a family meal and really talking to each other, not just checking in. I marvel at the birds that steal a morsel from the bird feeder outside my family room door, blue/green King Parrots, Crimson Rozellas, underrated pink and grey Galahs and of course the pirates of the bird world, Sulpher Crested Cockatoos who are sometimes so numerous they make it swing wildly in their scramble for sunflower seeds.
So as I sit here, banging away at the keyboard with much needed rain thrashing down outside and gushing dangerously off the too-narrow gutters, I have realised that I'm not ecstatic at the moment. I'm in a shit-load of debt, I have separation anxiety and hair, ageing and weight issues. I don't really like my job at the moment, my car is ancient and likely to keel over any minute, I have $500 to live off until payday because I'm an over-insured substance abuser living on a property I can no longer afford and my only company is a 20cm lizard which is curled up on my router because it's warm and a five year old labrador that rarely lifts her head off my pillow.
So no, I'm not ecstatic . . . and I'm frequently bored these days but I'm blessed with the important things, friends, family, health, and a great environment so I think I'm pretty happy.
Then there was the ‘big’ crash when I was younger . . much younger. . . my parents had decided to do the right thing and let their independent but reliable daughter have a party. They disappeared so that we young things could have some privacy beyond the peering and disapproving eyes of parents. Armed with Earth Wind and Fire, Joe Walsh and other vinyl clasics and multiple casks of Keiser Stuhl Rose good times were happenin'.
All went well until about 10 members of a local outlaw bikie club decided that the local was boring and they’d check out our party. (Someone had told someone who had told someone). It all turned pear shaped and a fight ensued. Two boys were hospitalised, glass broken, dog poo smeared all over our cars, street lights broken and my poor boyfriend at the time, pummelled to a pulp in a walk-in wardrobe (no closet jokes please) and all without the majority of party-goers ever even knowing what happened. But that was a century ago in a suburban house on a suburban street. Still, since then we haven’t had ‘parties’ only ‘gatherings’ and strictly invitation only.
We’re on acreage but still surrounded by suburb. It's a little more remote although our once quiet dead end street (I wouldn’t call it a cul de sac, it just ends. No turning circle but with a pathway through to another road.) is now a short-cut from a plethora of drinking holes to another suburb. And, as civilisation encroaches on our back fence, noise could be an issue. The street is also busier late at night as drunken revellers noisily galavant down the road on their way home.
So . . . do I let the soiree go ahead? Of course I do. They’re older now, responsible. *gulp*. So the rules are: Invitation only, bouncers at the door (hopefully huge Tongans in black jackets), no drugs, a marquee facing the house to muffle the noise and no live music after 11.00pm (there’s a legal limit on noise levels after that time). And fingers crossed, we’ll all be pumpin’ and having a good time. Now all I have to worry about is who’s going to spew outside my bedroom window and tread dog poo through the carpet in the pool room!
However, to say that crime rates have 'blown out of all proportion' in Australia is simply not true.
Before you get your knickers in a not big guy, I have no real opinion on gun ownership other than I believe the person owning a firearm for sport, work or pleasure should be heavily vetted before being allowed to purchase a weapon that can be great fun in the right hands but a pariah when owned by the disenchanted, socially outcast or mentally unstable and I have no doubt that you are a safe and careful firearm user.
After some significant research however, I discovered some interesting facts about gun ownership and crime in Australia:
- Gun deaths have declined by 30% since 1995 and the gun buy-back and tightening regulations. Violent crime is also in decline. The annual average of non accidental gunshot deaths has dropped from 93 in 1996 has to just over 55 per year
- Crime in Australia across the board has decreased
- The 2005 National Household Survey on Drugs shows that illicit drug use has decreased. (Notwithstanding our current ICE problem)
- In the past two years, there has been a 29 per cent decrease in armed robberies. Burglaries have also been declining over this period.
- 42% of organisations surveyed experienced a harmful computer security incident and the virus/worm/trojan infection was the most frequently encountered type of cybercrime indicating white collar crime is on the rise.
- We have fewer than 300 gunshot deaths a year many of which are accidental police shootings, suicides or accidental rural shootings.
Legislation does have an impact on gun killings according to recent research.
In Australia, recreational shooting is not considered negatively but then again, the gun lobby here is small. Licenses are granted to farmers to control pigs, foxes, rabbits, brumbies and kangaroos. Social or sporting shooters are also easily licensed but have to be members of a club - indeed, we have two Olympic Gold Medallists in shooting of whom we are very proud.I know it's a hot topic and I don't know what the solution is but stricter controls have worked over here. From what I understand, the right to bear arms within the US Constitution is a ticklish issue. It isn't written into ours. We came here as unarmed convicts and famine ridden settlers so the culture of gun ownership isn't historically entrenched. Whereas the US has a long historical tradition of the gun from early occupation by the English, French and Spanish through to the taming of the west and the Civil War (Australia is one of the only nations in the world to achieve Federation via a vote rather than a Civil War). Such a long tradition and the 'right' to own a gun is so entrenched in the American culture that it will be impossible to legislate any differently.
That having been said, psychos and the mob will always find a gun on the black market. But for the rest of us let's insist on strict profiling prior to issuing a license and addressing the social issues behind the perceived 'need' to own a gun. It is true, guns don't kill people, people do - but they're a very effective tool for destruction in the wrong hands.
No hard feelings now Podcasters. And we're not perfect, historically we did use guns to decimate our indigenous population which to this day is treated abysmally because they are a largely silent minority but that is for another blog, another day.
Love your work!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The sad thing is that the focus is so largely and squarely placed on this one battle that we forget the many other conflicts that our service people have engaged in and are still engaging in, particularly in East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. It's as if no other soldier ever fought except the 'Diggers' at Gallipoli which incidentally was an absolute disaster, an embarrassment, yet we still celebrate it.
Recently a number of old soldiers attended a ceremony in France to commemorate the thousands of Aussie troops who died on the French Front, particularly in the Somme. Not one consulate official from Australia, nor any dignitary (I use the term loosely - this is what happens to politicians when they leave the front bench) attended the event much to the chagrin of the elderly Aussies attending. Yet tomorrow, they'll all be out to March wearing their Vietnam medals or their father's and grandfather's gold badges of courage, mixing it with the vets, shaking hands and kissing babies. It's an insult to the solemnity of the event.
I don't like war, I don't condone it but sometimes you just get stuck in it. And when you do, it's important to support those who are or have been on the front line. So, I'll be watching the parade tomorrow and sparing a thought for our kids overseas no matter how small our contingent. It's important that we commemorate these events but a real shame that it doesn't stop history repeating - Lest We Forget.
Now, on a less profound level, I was pondering how different things might be if women went into battle, it would be more like preparing for the sales.
- First, we'd design practical but attractive uniforms with a little metallic or lace trim.
- We'd plan everything meticulously before-hand including a list of our expectations and a discreet exit strategy. Every soldier would have a clean pair of knickers (you don't want to be wounded with dirty underwear) and $50 in their pocket for a taxi home.
- We wouldn't be afraid to ask for directions on the way to the front and would very probably get lost a few times before we actually arrived, cutting down actual battle time significantly
- Once facing the enemy, we'd probably decide to have a little sit down, a Cappucino and some Raisin Toast to give us an energy boost before the assault.
- We'd reapply the lip gloss
- Change into our sensible shoes and wait patiently for the appropriate countdown before rushing over to the enemy screaming blue murder and flailing arms
- We'd then determinedly bitch slap them to Tuesday, smearing their mascara and humiliating them into defeat.
- We'd retreat, straighten our hair, slip into something more comfortable, reapply the lip gloss and go home to finish the washing, pick the kids up from school and prepare dinner.
Monday, April 23, 2007
The old notions, the English are dirty, the Irish are stupid, the Chinese spit in the kitchen sink, Americans are Hawaiian shirted parochials, Samoans are wife bashers, Arabs are terrorists, Greeks smell of garlic - it's really not the case. I thought, "How many people from different nations do I really know, have I come in close contact with and really understand". Actually, very few. I have met one Malaysian moslem, quite a few Chinese Australians, mainly due to the high asian influence in the area in which I live, my doctor is Indian, I work with a Polish Argentinian, an Irishman, a Mauritian an Italian and a South African. One of my dear friends is a Cypriot and another a Macedonian, my family by marriage has a strong German and Welsh connection and I have a load of Greek and Italian friends but that's about it. So I judge their nationhood based solely on them and their representation of their homeland. Really, apart from the tourists one meets abroad, I've only had close contact with one American family.
They were lovely. Mum, Dad and two kids who's Hotel had let them down after booking tickets and flights to attend the Sydney Olympics in 2000, a friend who owned a hotel and had taken their frantic plea for accommodation to heart rang me, knowing my living situation. Our house is more of a compound. A main house where Babybro, Stressany and their progeny now live and my house, divided only by a pool room and entertaining area so could be made really self-contained and the perfect location for Olympic venues. . .I agreed to this family staying in my house for two weeks while the Olympics were on. They paid handsomley and I scored a new microwave and outdoor BBQ table and some fresh linen for them to sleep in. I also agreed to drive them to the appropriate bus locations so that they could meet their events. They were terrific ambassadors for their country.
This isn't an apology, just a recognition that my assumptions about a people are rarely true to form. He was a solicitor, his wife an educator but not wealthy. He defended Washington State farmers from improper land acquisition for development. Their kids were normal, happy 14 and 16 year olds attending government schools and we had quite a few nice encounters with them from BBQ's to taking them shopping at the local mall. I haven't kept in touch, mainly my own slackness, they sent me a Christmas card that year but I guess I was just their landlady for a short time but to the Perkins Family, you were a credit to your nation, sweet, intelligent, patriotic, informative and good company and not at all the brash Americans that we in Australia tend to associate with that leviathon of a nation.
There is a groundswell here that Americans are all parochial, gun-toting, uninformed, domineering and brash. "Oh do you speak Aboriginal", (you can buy T-shirts in Europe that claim "There are no Kangaroos in Austria".
However, that hasn't been my experience either in America or at home. I correspond with a few Americans and they don't fit my assumptive mould. Who could blame them for thinking we're a nation of beer-swilling, khaki clad crocodile wrestlers with foul mouths and a love of bottom feeding seafood. But Brian . . .I have to keep the 'anti torch' burning. Don't take me too seriously. I still want to have a wine tasting in your basement!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
It's players are not intellectual giants but big boofheads with broken noses, cauliflower ears and an inability to pronounce 'th' in any way uvver van 'f'.
Then there's Aussie Rules or Arial Ping Pong. Similar to rugby only the players jump to 'mark' the ball and there's more kicking than tackling. The latest fraccas is in relation to sledging, trash-talking, verbally insulting each other on the field took place between two AFL players but it's pretty indicative of what happens all the time.
Player 1: See that tatoo on your arm? (tattoo of young girl). I boffed her last night!"
Player 2: That's my daughter you fug *biffs said sledger on the nose for his trouble*
Both are called before the Aussie Footy League Tribunal and let off because it's a blatent case of he said, he said.
This little incident in one of last week's games has caused a whole debate on whether sledging is an issue or not. When I was an ankle biter, sledging was something you did in the snowy hills during winter on a wooden contraption made by your dad out of building site wood and copper piping for the runners - but here, it's verbal 'abuse' (and I use the term loosely) a sports crime. It happens on the footy field, in cricket, on the tennis court. These so called 'elite' sportspeople are tough, trained, skilled (well that's arguable in the world of Rugby League) so why are they so 'sensitive' on the pitch. The same players are constantly being hauled over the coals for bad behaviour in public, drunken brawls, sexual assault, drunk driving and the like but someone says "can't bowl, can't bat" or calls you a "curry muncher" or "you've got a head like a bowling ball" and all hell breaks loose, precious little possums.
Personally, I'm a lover of sledging . . .I liked the McEnroe's and Connor's of the world having a tanty on the court, tennis has become so polite since their departure. I love to see a cricketer brought to tears because someone says he bowls like a girl . . . bring it on . . .but please . . . take it off the TV, it's hardly a world event and definitely not worthy of so much time during our all too brief newscasts.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
My apologies in the highest to the olfactory challenged and the sensitive and If I know that's your state, like when you visit Thailand and mingle with the Buddhist tigers, no fragrance no make-up no garish clothings to offend the great cat's sense of smell I will refrain from spraying myself with that mist of civet or ambergris . . otherwise, it's part of the daily ritual and as important as soft toilet tissue. I love my French perfume . . .melts, oil burners and air fresheners or even just the natural scent of orange jasmine on a warm night, wafting through my bedroom window. Even now, in the autumn, I can smell the gardenias, on their last legs but still producing that seductive summer wave of fragrance.
Me: "Adam, I'm 50 years old what do I know about dance music"
DrummerBoy: "Yeh but your cool, you know what chicks like . . "
ME; "Well better talk to your sister, her playlist is more doof doof"
DrummerBoy: "Ok but when we rehearse before the show will you stand out front and give us some constructive criticism on the sound levels . . "
Me: "OMG, I'm an ageing roady . . .I need a black T-shirt - testing, testing,
one two three . . ."
No seriously, I think we'll go for Panic at the Disco, Block Party, Gorillaz, Gotye, Chemical Brothers and maybe a little Hill Top Hoods . . . definitely no Sting . . Eric Clapton or ACDC (except maybe It's a Long Way to the Top if you Wanna Rock ' n' Roll ) which is affectionately known here as It's a Long Way to the Shop if You Want a Sausage Roll . . . I'm more in touch than I thought.
I once sought out an 'older person' at a Smashing Pumpkins concert and latched onto a grey bearded bikie because I thought I looked younger than him . . .
I’ve always said that I’m alone but never lonely. Although now I seem to have too much time to myself, especially on the weekends. I am beginning to get a little lonely. DrummerBoy works on Saturdays and parties hard on Saturday night so he rarely surfaces before Sunday afternoon. He’s involved now with the Fringelet so even if he is in recovery mode they’re generally scoffing Portuguese Chicken Burgers (good hangover cure apparently) or veging in the pool room together. The scenario is much the same with ClareBear although she does often come with me to Babysis’ place on Saturday mornings for coffee and girltalk. Her weekends are full and I only see her fleetingly.
But by 4.00 on Saturday afternoon, the chores of the day done, I’m twiddling my thumbs. There’s plenty I could do to keep me busy, but nothing that keeps me company other than ThePrincess of course (I speak fluent labrador so we have great conversations on the way to and from the washing line).
People have often asked me why I never married again. Well firstly, nobody has asked me! And secondly . . . it took a l-o-n-g time for me to feel the need for a relationship.
When the partner you really love dies there isn’t the same resentment or need to get back on the proverbial horse. In the beginning, I was young, slim, reasonably attractive, financially independent but just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t deserted, there was no other woman, no hatred, no vindictiveness, no pressure just this overwhelming sadness and the feeling that if I did meet someone, I would somehow be betraying my previous relationship. I also had two small children who became my absolute focus. I was embroiled with a bevy of stay-at-home yummy mummys so went to Playgroup on Wednesdays, played tennis on Thursdays, had drinks on Fridays, made my own baby food, started sewing, built a house and spent quality time with my growing family. Socialising comprised weekends camping, extended family do's, BBQ’s with friends and a plethora of children's birthday parties, largely with married and/or divorced women so no availability of single men.
Then once I’d built my house, I went back to work. Firstly for stimulation but not long after because I needed the money. Basically for 15 years, my life was family, work and married friends. The single friends I had, and there were a few, were at least 10-15 years my junior so it was fun, not flirtatious.
I woke up one morning and 18 years had gone by. Toddlers became teenagers and teenagers became twenty’s. They became more independent. I’d become financially indebted. My friends felt uncomfortable with ‘singles’ (not you Thommo, you’ve never let me down) and I’d let old acquaintances slip whilst I’d been absorbed in my own private Idaho.
So now I’m in the unenviable position of actually feeling lonely more often than not. I’m not alone (I live with seven people for crying out loud) but I am beginning to rekindle relationships with people that I haven’t seen for ages and I have a collection of terrific friends from my previous place of work but I’m slack and don’t play with them as often as I should. Time now to get back in the saddle. Who knows Mr Right might be out there or even Mr You'll Do. Unfortunately, he’s now 50 something (a real problem because until I look in the mirror I’m sure I’m the silf-like, raven-haired beauty of my imagination). The more mature male is also either having a pacemaker fitted, embarking on an affair with someone half his age, happily married or commitment phobic after his very expensive divorce . . . Ah well, that shouldn’t stop me swinging a leg over that proverbial horse . . . the problem is, I just can't do it these days without standing on a milk crate!
- Change the sheets and doona covers
- Do about 6 loads of washing and peg it on the line after turning countless pairs of socks the right way out (that really shits me)
- Dust and damp wipe all surfaces (except those in the kids rooms because I can't see any)
- Clean the bathrooms and toilets
- Vaccum and sweep the floorspace that is visible (again not an issue in the kids rooms)
- Wash the slate floors (living areas and bathrooms)
- Have a smoko and a cup of coffee with my sister and check the welfare of our horses
- Come back home and crank up the leaf blower
- Check that there aren't ducks fouling the pool, backwash and chlorinate
- Throw out this week's recycle stuff (mainly empties)
- Bring in the 6 loads of washing only to find that DrummerBoy has another load in the back of his car
- Duck out to the shops for something for dinner (I usually eat alone on Saturday so it's an opportunity for something a little out of the ordinary) and of course the mandatory two bottles of bubbly and evening dose of cigarettes
- That my friends is the reality of my Saturday and by this time, I'll be ready to check the blogs, pour a glass and relax.
Is this real enough?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I had absolutely no idea that these emails had been sent to the recipients of my criticism until that call from the Elder Statesman . . .why the protaganists went to him instead of confronting me, I don't know and why he waited almost 2 weeks to broach the subject is even more of a mystery.
Maybe I'm not the team leader and popular influencer that I thought I was but . . . the phone call was clear "we need to talk about this and our confidence in your ability etc. etc." Absolutely contrite, guilty, embarrassed and completely hammered, I immediately issued a heartfelt apology to both the recipients. I've been getting on really well with BossTwo lately despite a rough early start and didn't want to jeopardise our business relationship any further. They were gracious and replied with warming testimonials, forgiveness was theirs to bestow and they did, both acknowledging that they valued my business acumen, liked working with me and understood that sometimes these things happen. I apologised profusely and they accepted with grace and candour.
TheBoss however, was horrified "Fuck Nell, not again" (like I do this all the time). He had his own agenda and this was the last thing he needed. Now I had someone else to apologise to. The blood rose to his forehead visibly as I spoke with him and he discarded me with disgust. I was gutted.
Now tomorrow, I face the firing squad, literally. I'm afraid I might lose my job over this. Not because the content of the emails was that bad but because I've inaugurated questions about my 'ability' 'confidentiality' 'sensitivity' and might not be the right person for the position. And The ElderStatesman also has a problem with me over a previous contretemps on a personal level. I've spent the afternoon in tears, feeling sick and thinking that if I get fired I'm in more than a pickle and the alternatives are daunting - one thing I am, is well insured. I am low . . . very low . . .I hate being redressed like a schoolgirl but this was a biggy. I'm not the only one with these sentiments, just the only one stupid enough to articulate them and forward them to the parties concerned. 'Fucking idiot' doesn't cut the mustard.
The world will turn, the sun will rise, Iraquis will still blow each other up, Grandpa's will kiss their grandchildren and blogs will continue but I'm feeling like I've comitted some awful crime and tomorrow, at 3.00pm I will have to plead with my life to keep a job upon which I totally depend. That in itself is such a debilitating need. I am soft, stupid, careless . . . and even though those who have forgiven me have done so with candour and honesty . . . the ElderStatesman will not be so gentle, he wants me to squirm and I will. I hate working for other people. I wish I'd had the guts to start my own business when I was younger and in less debt. I feel land-locked and useless and totally guilty (justifiably so) for this stupid error.
I'm really sorry guys. It was indescreet and totally fucked up. But I'm human . . .to err is human, to forgive is devine. God I wish I wasn't an atheist. And I need a hug from someone.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Here we have extremely relaxed censorship laws. Our TV stations have a code of conduct in terms of advertising and explicit material which cannot be played prior to 8.00pm with the exception of video clips showing bags of booty and sexually explicit posturing - Damn those Pussy Cat Dolls (but that's a topic for another blog and the Bratz brigade). Apart from that, we have a variety of TV stations, some more 'liberal' than others, particularly the public stations ABC and SBS and similarly radio stations which are explicit, particularly in terms of politics, sexuality and language. Similarly, pornography is easily accessible via DVD or magazine and of course the net and indeed, we have a whole suburb in Sydney dedicated to the sex industry.
Funnily even before the 8.00 curfew I know that to get an erection, all I need is a nasal spray and to get pregnant I just need to call a certain fertility clinic. Although apparently if I use a tampon it will enable me to get the hunky guy, enjoy the outdoor life, look good in a g-string (thong for yous foreigners) and a slinky dress but nowhere in the advertisement are they allowed to tell me where this little stringed pellet goes or what on earth it is for! I digress.
Political censorship is rife on commercial channels who rely on sponsorship deals to survive and constant US feeds of biased republican reporting via CNN and friends that shows only one side of every story. (Not to mention the barrage of nasty US shows such as CSI, SVU, Greys Anatomy, Oprah, Dr Phil, Jordan's Crossing, Bones bloody hell the list goes on - why pick on the US, theres also The Bill, The East Enders, Miss Marple et al - thank God for The Simpsons, House, MythBusters, Black Books and Smack the Pony!) And I'm not even going to get into the abject lies often told by tabloid journalists - I've touched on that before.
The one jewel in the crown is single free to air multi-cultural channel and it's fantastic and presents a balanced world view from many perspectives.
I'm talking free to air here - I don't have Foxtel or Sky or any of the other cable TV packages.
I've never believed in censorship other than hard core porn and violence. If you don't like something, walk away, turn it off or don't read it.
Even when my family was young, they were permitted to watch videos beyond their age and were exposed to current affairs and the news providing there was parental supervision and the opportunity for explanation (although I found one way to clear a room of youngsters is to put on a current affairs program or a bloody horror film) and apart from washing my six year old's mouth out with soap for swearing at me and confiscating a couple of those awful porn magazines gleaned from an adjacent building site (you know the ones with shots of skanky girlfriends in compromising positions) . . . censorship at home has been loose. This has led to broad discussion on a wide range of topics, an incredible openness in my relationship with my kids and the devlepment of well adjusted young adults who are comfortable in their own skins.
This having been said, censorship exists in a far more insidious way - it has now been disguised as political correctness and has in many cases been legislated via anti-vilification laws and the establishment of tribunals for media whereby just one complaint can shut down a show, remove a billboard or cause the demise of a TV/Radio personality.
How we describe people of different race, colour or sexual orientation is a very sensitive issue, particularly in relation to the Aboriginal and Middle Eastern community. The recent American sportscaster's demise due to naming a basket ball team 'nappy headed hos' is a perfect example of a silly man making a silly comment that has blown into global proportions. How we represent children and women in public advertising is another touchy subject, yet we will repatriate a released paedophile with a new persona just 200kms from a primary school and advertise Lee jeans with an obviously underage provocatively posed girl sucking a lollipop! Explain that one to your tween.
This I find in my neck of the woods is exacerbated by the pentacostal and Anglican 'rightwing' who are having a greater influence on politics and policy. Without offending the Irish Catholic contingency who review this blog . . .my ethics are fine. Yes they probably are grounded in my early Christian upbringing but I am an atheist - I still have principals and a moral code and good manners without these religious ratbags or conservative policy makers trying to tell me how to live my life, educate my children, modify my lifestyle or 'serve' my husband (if I had one) and I refuse to take the good book literally or revert to the precious days of "Good Housekeeping" and misogynistic practices - sorry I told you it was a rant.
This now brings me to the blogstory that was bandied earlier in the week and the idea of not just establishing but possibly legislating a code of conduct for bloggers. Good bloody luck. To me the beauty of blogging is the lack of control and censorship and while I'm sure there are a whole bunch of weirdos out their spruiking their perversions, I treat it generally as a way of communicating with electronic pen pals. It's far more anonymous than actually using snail mail and if people want to be known to you, they can reveal their details. It all boils down to one basic dictum "Common sense" which is of course unusually uncommon. And, I agree with others, the minute you force me to do something, the hackles rise up and it's game on.
I agree with my fellow blogpals that I am capable of self regulation, I won't write anything that hurts others physically or emotionally (unless it's intentional). I just want to vent a little of myself, make some political and social comment, meet some new friends and generally be a bit funny as often as I can. My BCC (Bugger the Code of Conduct) logo is under development.
On a cynical note, George Dubya wasted no time catching the bus to Virginia? Bit different to the Katrina debacle!
Monday, April 16, 2007
This isn't the last trip but it's the big one. . .the one I was supposed to enjoy for my last birthday but lack of investor interest in my humble property thwarted me. If I don't plan it, I'm afraid I may never do it until I'm wheelchair bound and catheter ridden and so, motivated by one of my new e-pals who's yet another person off to see Paris before me, I'm gonna work out a rough itinerary.
ClareBear and Toots are travelling to South America next year. I have no interest in eating guinea pigs, piercing Alpaca ears, or learning spanish and thanks to DrummerBoy's obsession with Mexican food, Tacos, Burritos, and any other kind of tos have been done to death in the Baino household. I can however, hold my own when ordering a cervezas and perhaps I would like to go to the Galapagos Archipelago so who knows . . . Her travelling companion is planning a longer stay and so they'll probably split up and go their separate ways once they're back in the US.
So, here's the deal, I travel to Washington DC and spend a couple of days recouperating and giving George Dubbya the finger before checking out the local monuments and memorials and try to understand the US legislative system which will bore the pants of my progeny. Then we meet up and travel north around Chesapeake and up to New York. Then, a ride in Central Park, visit The Guggenheim, eat a chilli dawg, see a show, shop in Sears or somewhere that I've seen in a movie, check out Greenwich Village and buy a big New York Coat for the not so cold Australian Winter (they just look so snooxy and warm). Then travel up the East Coast to New Haven or maybe venture into Massachussetts 'witch country' then Providence, Boston (gotta try those beans) and up through Maine (Murder She Wrote looked so cute) then back down to a cross Atlantic connection (haven't worked that one out yet).
Next stop - London just because I love it. Fantastic city, buzzy lifestyle, easy to get around, filled with tradition and off the wall stuff and they speak the language.
Then Paris . . oui, oui, oui. . .a week at the George Saint, Champs Elysees, Latin Quarter - did you know that about 30% of the Moulin Rouge dancers are Australian? There you go. Not interested in that dive tho. Notre Dame and maybe a trip to the country - Eppernay for, you guessed it Champagne . . . fine beading, slight wood nose, soft dry pallet and . . . who am I kidding, it just tastes good. Sex in a bottle my lovelies, sex in a bottle.
Then, a quick trip over to Italy to watch the bareback race in Sienna, flog around Florence and perhaps change my opinion of shoes (I'm not a shopper and only have a few pairs, contrary to the average woman who I blieve has at least 12 pairs of shoes) then vanish in Venice for a few days before ferrying off to Santorini to have a relax by the sea in a little white Greek cottage with a blue door . . .
Yep . . .sounds like a plan!
Is your ankle wankle feeling better pookie wookie - no moshing at the Chilli Peppers tonight now!
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
but I keep trying and I won’t quit and that must be worth something more . .
than a strongman who believes, that there’s nothing left to try for
And I can be cold I know, I know but a woman is a warm breath on the back of your neck and a warm belly pressed against yours.
And ah ah oh we need to feel the sum of all our parts
I’m more than what’s laid out on lines upon our palms
Ah oh . . Our hands aren’t tied but we move as though they are . . .
There’s one house in every town that everyone fears and everyone steers clear.
And I don’t’ wanna live like that, I wanna live somewhere more like you . . .
By the sea . . .
Where the cliffs keep sentry, watching over me
And it can get rough out there I know but a woman is a sail that remains unfurled so stay ahead of the wind man, or you won’t catch her.
And ah ha oh we need to feel the sum of all our parts
I’m more than what’s laid out on lines upon our palms
Ah hoh . . Our hands aren’t tied but we move as though they are
Until we’re bound by branching out . . .
Sometimes I know where I am and what I’m doing and what things might become,
But that always seems such a fleeting state for the remainder of the time I feel that I am a babe in the woods, out for deliverance.
And I can be cold I know, I know but a woman is a warm breath on the back of your neck and a warm belly pressedagainst yours.
Josh Pyke 2007 "Lines on Palms"
I’m gonna have a little cry now . . a man can be a warm breath too and I miss it. I wish I could have posted the music as well. Sing this to your girl and you’ll melt even the hardest sack of potatoes into a lily livered lava lamp.
"Slide finger under flap" - this is the instruction on aluminium foil and GladWrap boxes which leads to lacerated finger tips and the entire metallic strip twisting around your wrist.
"Lift and pull ring" Unless you have teflon fingernails, you need a knife to wedge under the ring pull and again, end up lacerating your wrists in the attempt. Tip: If you have a moustache, don't drink from ring-pull cans. That goes for the men too.
"Remove foil before pouring" This appears on bottles of reconstituted juice, sauce bottles, toothpaste etc. After trying vainly to pour something from such dispensers, you realise that the top of the bottle has foil on it which needs to be removed by only your teeth. Ever got a bit of foil stuck in your filling? It's more fun than sucking a 9Volt battery.
"Vacuum packed for freshness" means that when you finally open the bastard brick of foil wrapped coffee - and again teeth are useful, the contents relax all over the bleedin' floor and dogs will not lick up coffee grains.
"Open other end" - aha! Now this is just a cunning stunt to get you to splosh pouring cream all over your new TShirt, it's a dirty trick - always open the end marked Open Other End.
"Pull to open" appears on plastic lided bottles. You know where you have to tear the tiny strip of plastic around the bottle top to release the lid as in thickened cream, juice and Maggie Beer's Pheasant Farm Pate. Again usually most effective using your teeth and invariably results in contents sploshing in your eye and all over your clothes. Orange juice causes temporary blindness.
They also make sticky tape where you can't find the end, noisy chip packets specifically for eating in the cinema, tissues which aren't properly perforated and empty the box in a continuous stream, impossible to erect folding strollers, child proof caps that you have to ask your 8 year old to open because you can't push down and twist and those pepper mills with the teensy weensy screw ball on the top that always falls on the floor and rolls under the fridge when you want to replace peppercorns.
Anyway, the blogfest over the past day or so has been largely about the irresponsibility of tabloid journalists and journalism blowing just about everything out of proportion. This might have begun as a British-American trend but believe me, it's now international with the sensationalisation of just about everything. Recently in Australia for instance (I'm trying to steer clear of politics here but you'll get my drift) we've had the World Swimming Championships. Each night on the evening news (although there's only 10 minutes of news and 20 minutes of sports) we heard how many medals the Aussies won and of course the legendary performance of that Phelps dude. You could be forgiven for getting the impression that the whole event was a US/Australian comp - guess who won the most medals? Russia! Barely got a mention and they won double the medals won by America despite Phelps' sterling efforts. Australia tied 5th with France! Now if that's not biased reporting I don't know what is. And, the television coverage didn't show a single Russian Gold Medal achievement. (You should have been here during the Olympics - we won everything!)
Another instance, we all know "The Body" Elle McPherson (settle down boys). Well she and former Ms Universe Jennifer Hawkins hosted two separate lingerie launches in Sydney last week. Both on the same night and in the same city. Next thing you know, it's friggin front page news, Hawkins vs McPherson - The Battle for the Bra! Apparently there is unhealthy conflict between the two bombshells (who incidentally don't even know each other).
Also, Australia seems to have this need, this desire, this obsession with giving the world or at least it's own citizens the impression that we're suffering as badly as everyone else. That there's destruction, pain and heartache aplenty - comparable to the dreadful Indonesian Sunami, poverty in the Sudan or similar racial tention to Soweto. Here are some home truths:
Our Involvement in Iraq:
Australia's Huge Contribution to the Coalition of the Willing
Our contribution to Iraq and Afghanistan is less than 1000 troops. Iraqui troops are safely placed in the south or protecting Japanese Engineers who are now heading home. We have a small contingency of special forces in Afghanistan. Our sacrifice is microscopic (even though I disagree vehemently with the invasion of Iraq we now have an obligation to finish the job). Also, soldiers join the army to fight, not just to get a trade! It's a combatant career you idiots and sadly, occasionally they die. Fortunately Australia's only death in this four year conflict is embarassingly some nitwit called Jake Kovco who shot himself playing with a loaded gun and that was a year ago and its STILL in the news. Oh plug my bleeding heart!
Australia Faces Sunami Threat
Well no it doesn't. We evacuated citizens of a far north Queensland town because there was a tidal wave in the Solomon Islands which was impactful on the very low lying coastal areas. So the Government combats this by putting a satellite sunami warning system between NZ and Australia in the Tasman Sea (no where near the threat zone) Why there? Because it's half paid for by New Zealand. At least Christchurch is safe Dodge.
John Howard Meets George W Bush for Vital Talks on Iraq
Does anyone outside Australia know who John Howard is? He's our Prime Minister - head of Government - you know the one that goes walking in someone else's left over Wallabies track suit. I wish he'd shut the fuck up and leave us as the quiet little oasis in the arsehole of the world that we are. We don't want the terrorists to make the trip, just tourists with lots of kish.
HIV Threat from Immigration
Where do they get this from? We have fewer than 200 Somali Refugee families in Australia. Seeing a black man on our streets is as rare as hen's teeth and the Somali's are particularly conspicuous with their incredibly blue black complexions. They're usually collecting trolley's outside K-Mart in their Tommy Hilfiger tracky daks. They're not a threat. They're the rich ones that were fortunate enough to come here legally (otherwise they'd be pushing jelly uphill with a hot pin in a detention centre on Christmas Island - yep, we have 'em). They've been AIDS tested and they're clean you boloxy bimbos. We should worry more about the fact that our children have forgotten the AIDS issue and are being more carelessly promiscuous than 20 years ago. Time for another grim reaper reminder methinks. Our Somali immigrants speak English for fuck's sake. How many Australian's speak Somali or for that matter, how many of our asian immigrants speak English. My Korean neighbour has been here for 20 years and doesn't speak a word! If I have a neighbourhood issue, I have to talk to his daughter-in-law! Give them a break, they're not gansta rappers or gun toting bully boys, they just want to start a decent life in a fabulous country.
So, just three of the stupid headlines from the tabloids this week. I won't even expand on:
Croc Doc's Arm Reattached (Idiot shouldn't have put it in the crocodile's mouth in the first place)
Man Falls 20 Metres Down Cliff (don't drink and abseil at the same time you bozo)
Mysteries of Sex Unravelled at World Congress (What the? They need a congress to work that one out?)
Kidman Spouse Fights Demons (Poor rich, country singer . . . all that wealth and he stil wants to put stuff up his nose)
. . . and my personal favourite:
Train Driver Blinded by Sausage Roll (I have to expand on this one, he was leaning out of the window and someone threw it from a passing train . . . sorry fella but this led me into one of those uncontrollable, knicker-wetting, laughing fits, tears streaming . . .Gold!)
I guess the thing here is not to believe all you read or see on TV. Take it with a grain of salt, try to understand the motivation. Watch Tabloid TV by all means because it lets you know what the underbelly of society thinks is truth but please . . . at all costs, try to expose the shams and scams. Read the Koran for an alternative perspective, check Al Jazeera online occasionally (there are English translations and in Oz we're particularly xenophobic in terms of our tiny muslim population). Talk to your middle eastern, african, asian, chinese, polynesian neighbour and try to understand where they're coming from and establish the truth from a position of knowledge and empathy.
So what are the sillies in your part of the world?
Speaking of eye candy and TV trash - when does Big Brother start again?
Friday, April 13, 2007
In the interim, we watch development go on around us. Our road has been turned into a patchwork quilt of bitumen thanks to the installation of sewer and recycled water mains. Beyond the back fence, million dollar houses (I kid you not) are being built at the expense of 200 year old gum trees.
Now I'm no fan of the gum tree or Eucalypt to the uninitiated. Native to Australia and circulated around the world to California, Hawaii and New Zealand by the non-quarantine conscious Joseph Banks during Captain Cook's global adventure but . . . they are a true symbol of Australia. Magestic, tall, hardwood, evergreen! Evergreen my toe! The bastards drop their leaves and branches all year round and shed their skin twice a year leaving metre lengths of bark strewn across the lawn like giant banana peels. Hence my love affair with the leaf blower and mowing deck. Still, there's something wildly destructive bout the growling of a high powered chain saw then the inevitable earth-pounding crunch as one of these giants hits the ground to make way for a 700sq metre block upon which a rendered architectural masterpiece (I use the term loosely) will be hoisted for some upper middle class unenvironmental family with 7 televisions, 2 playstations, an XBox and lap pool. (There won't be enough room for a proper swimming pool by the time the mansion is built.) At least they won't need a leaf catcher, 'cos they've decimated all the gum trees.
Again I'm faced with that paradox of environmentalism and self-interest. We want to SELL. Our block will sustain 21 of these postage stamps for urban housing eventually and we can't wait to get our hands on godzillions of dollars to go and buy one of our own. But (and yes you can start a sentence with a conjunction) as I look outside on this gorgeous autumn day after a good deal of much-needed rain, everything is green and dappled and quiet - except for the humming of that bloody chain saw and the silent screams of those cursed trees.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Then there's 'well this is IT" kiss. The one that scores a 10 and you're intent on keeping him. It's hawt - and that's enough said. Once you're married, it's the nuptual kiss. The peck on the cheek as he goes out to work while the kids are screaming for breakky, the 'are you awake love kiss' which is a precurser to only one thing or the 'sitting in front of the TV on Sunday kiss' which is the really romantic one that tells you how important you are. Not too long, not too lingering and with no expectations. Then there's the 'I'm so sorry kiss'. The one your father gives you when you've lost the love of your life, with the look of helplessness in his eyes but that look of undying love. The 'you'll always have us' kiss that your mother bestows on you with such strength that you can hear her jaw crack as she embraces you just that little bit too hard. Then there's the greatest kiss of all, the toddler kiss . . . innocent, unsolicited, usually sticky with ice cream or lolly goo . . .now that's special and even as my children are now in their 20's there's the 'don't worry' or 'I'll stick by you' or 'night mum, thanks for dinner kiss'. It's impossible to choose between them . . .I've never been a big kisser of strangers but I'm warming to the Italian once on each cheek kiss. I think the middle eastern twice on each cheek is a bit over the top. But no matter how you look at it, as life changes, so do the kisses . . .either way . . .they all have value and show you just how much you are loved. Long live the kiss. *schmack*
After 7 days of leave, I'm having trouble getting motivated to shift my arse. I think it's the thought of setting up rather than the task at hand. Shouldn't women be baking muffins and darning socks and makeing scrapbooks?
I can't find last year's paint brushes so I'll have to go to Bunnings then I'll get distracted looking at contact glues whilst trying to find some metallic Knead-It to fix the blower choke which has broken again. Then I'll think, mmm maybe I can find a washer the right size for the split pin in the tractor mowing deck. Then invariably I'll get hungry and saunter over to the Lions Club Sausage Sizzle before really focussing on finding Mission Brown paint and the right equipment to do the job. On the way, I'll trip over one of the 'specials' bins and decide that I really do need 12 cans of Black Flag (used to be a good band with Henry Rollins) fly spray and an oversized sponge (even though we're on level 4 water restrictions), just in case.
Then, after I've dripped BBQ sauce from my sausage sandwich all over the front of my white T-shirt, I'll have to look for something bulky to hide the stain at the checkout - mmm, I need a new washing basket . . . .there's another half-hour wasted walking down the gadget lined aisles. Naturally, I'll come out of the shop with the fly spray, some fence-cutters (just because they're cool and might be useful in the future) and a new washing basket and forget completely about the paint job . . .
One of the delights of blogging is that you don't think anyone is reading your rubbish until you get linked to someone's site and they don't know that you're reading their efforts unless you comment. Whilst my blog isn't really interesting enough for anyone other than TheBenchwarmer or ClareBear to comment upon, I followed a couple of links of my own and love it. I rarely comment but one is a 25 year old Melbourne Girl who gives a bold insight into the single white female psyche and the desire to be ever-beautiful, slim and purchase shoes until she's cold in the grave, the other, more my age, an American who has a penchant for guns and a great connection with his Irish ancestry. He's funny, sometimes parochial but invariably interesting. Of course their sites, link to other's and before you know it, six degrees of separation has well and truly been established and voyeuristic intentions abound.
Blogging is fun. It may be for those who have nothing better to do with their time but it fills that 'half hour' a day where there's shite on TV, or you're waiting for the dinner to cook, the washing machine to finish spinning or just chillaxing before getting on with the stuff that invariably comes your way or of course to get things off your chest without recrimination or even the people you're blogging about knowing that you're giving them a serve. More people should do it . . .it's cathartic, voyeuristic but mysteriously anonymous. Blog on!
I have very independent hair, it has a mind of it's own, curls when it feels like it and frizzess more often than not, even gets a bit 'dready' if I put the right product in it. It's long, about 10cm past my shoulders which for someone my age is considered mutton dressed up as lamb unless dutifully trussed in a french roll or piled judiciously on top of my noggin.
So, as I walk into "Mario and Raymond's" salon, I'm greeted by three young ladies who look like they're just out of night nappies, in tight black jeans and pretty pink T-shirts which are all two sizes too small and bearing enough midriff to tout their varied belly button piercings and a gay blade with far too spikey hair and eybrows that have obviously seen a beautician more than once.
I'm ushered to a leather and chrome bouncy chair in front of a full length fucking mirror. I hate those things. It's bad enough seeing your face under fluorescent light let alone the whole shebang and of course, thanks to the crimson wave, I'm also touting a large blind pimple on the centre of my right cheek that seems to be exacerbated by the huge expanse of mirror before me. I cautiously remove the clip holding the swag of hair high on my nut and down comes the tumbling mass of brown and grey frizz.
Then they're straight into it. Takes two you see . . . One passing sticky stuff and foils the other splitting hairs and packing on the bleach. She's so short that she's standing on tip-toe whilst pasting this foul smelling unction on my hair. I have foils down the centre which means by the time she's finished and my root preparation is put in to hide the grey, I look like an overweight Jean Simmons without the makeup. Then the 'overcolour', I've chosen a nice warm chocolate which I know will end up looking like my normal hair colour but it looked pretty nice on the synthetic hair pallette they showed me. Now I really look like Jean Simmons only with makeup on my hair instead of my face.
I politely decline tea or coffee from the Cafe Bar (it tastes like soap) and commence reading a 2004 Women's Weekly. Oprah's secrets, a bio on Susan Sarandon with photos quite obviously focussed on her sagging breasts and some rather nice things to do with Mangoes (not very helpful now that the season is over). Anyway, the massive volume keeps me distracted until the only thing I love about going to the hair dressers - the wash and conditioning massage. Even the hard neck rest doesn't deter me from experiencing one of life's little luxuries - having a deep conditioning treatment and a little snipppet of a chicky babe massaging the scalp with the devil's fingers. Fantaaaaaaastic. All too soon it's over. Shorty comes back, stands on tippy toes again and does the cutting.
Tippy: "How would you like it?" she asks:
Me: "I don't care, you're the hairdresser, have fun"
Tippy: "Yes but do you want it layered?"
Me: "Shit I don't know, you're the hairdresser, just give me soft curls Susan Sarandon or Oprah"
Tippy: "Oh, I think you should have layers, it will make it less weighty at the bottom . . "
Me: (she isn't listening) "Ok Go for it. Not too short but I want masses of loose curls, not frizz"
Tippy: "No problem, we have fantastic products to control frizz"
Me: *aha, she did listen*
Easy peasy. She snips for far too shorter a time, whacks in some product and dries with a diffuser. I look OK, not spectacular but the colour's nice, the curls are soft 'ish. It's not completely dry when she rings up the $160 bill . . . I know it's a lot but remember I haven't had a cut for over a year so pro-rata'd that's not too much to ask.
I drop into our local Welcome Mart on the way home:
Shop Assistant: "What have you done to your hair?"
mmm . . . maybe something's happened to it on the way home from the hairdressers.
The kids arrive home in quick succession:
ClareBare: "Hey the foils look nice but I'm not sure about wearing it down"
DrummerBoy: "Hey, how you goin' Frizzgirl, you're not going out tonight are you?"
I obviously haven't spent enough time preening in front of the mirror since I got back so go and check . . OMGWTF . . .
It looks EXACTLY the same as it did before, only with five blonde foils and a little shorter. Fuck it . . $160 to get rid of some grey roots which I probably could have done at home for $11.
So my mission today . . .to get out all the anti-frizz, straighteners, curl enhancers, tongs, GHD straightener and 'play'.
At my age, weight, stage in life . . . why am I so obsessed with hair? It's like those really ugly people who want to go onto extreme make-over to get their nose straightened when really darlings, the nose isn't the problem.
I wish I had Oprah and Susan's hairdresser.