Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Invisible Man


I'm at home again nursing a deadly dose of sinusitus. This virus is virulent! So me being me, I decided to put on a load of washing before embracing my couch with whom I have had a close and intimate relationship over the past couple of weeks. (Yes, I am personalising an inanimate object - I told you we were close). However, whilst hanging out said washing, I realised that there is someone other than ClareBear and DrummerBoy living in my house. He's well endowed and a healthy size to boot. Apparently, he is without a large, brown and white long sleeved T-shirt with some cool slogan printed on the front, an Everlast 'wife basher' singlet top and two pairs of large cotton jersey fitted boxers. Who are you? Where are you and why am I doing your washing?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kiss Kiss

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, my Nana missed her only daughter so much that she paid for the entire family to return to Manchester for a six week Christmas holiday. It was exciting, I was 16, HippyBro 14, BabyBro 12 and BabySis 7 years old.

It was one of the most amazing holidays of my young life because I was given a freedom that I wasn’t permitted back home. I had a 12:00 curfew, boyfriends had to be vetted and were threatened with testicular torture if they missed the hour. If a quick front seat pash was in order, my father used to stand in front of the amber glass front door in his boxer shorts, singlet and socks flicking the light switch so that I would be aware of the strobe effect the porch light made with his incessant desperate attempt to get me inside - just to let me know that he knew I was home and up to no good.

My Nana, comparable only to Auntie Mame owned a pub which was frequented by younglings, Manchester off duty policemen and Geordy oil riggers to name a few. It was lively and due to the presence of police, stayed open way beyond the crazy British Licensing laws allowed. I spent evenings drinking fluffy ducks and eating cheese and biscuits and trying to decipher dialects and accents with limited success.

To celebrate our arrival in town she hosted a fancy dress party. We went to a really posh hire place, were given a sherry and had the clothes modelled for us! The overly gay blade owner dressed us all in exquisite and elaborate costumes. I became the pink and sparkly harem girl (I had a waist and olive skin in those days) and felt a million dollars, alluring and very glam.

The party was a blast, the music young, the patrons young and there I met a young man. The brother of one of the regulars and someone with whom I would have a six year long-distance relationship. That winter was the best in my life. Young love and I were allowed out late. We toured the countryside, I went to discos even though I was under age, we lay on tiny boats through the Blue John Mines, watched the Muppets together, kissed in his little Morris Minor with blue stars painted on the roof . . .great pickup line that . . .do you want to see the stars on my roof? Worked like a charm. Met his parents, went to the soccer. Every moment with him was absolutely magic. He was much older than me at 24 years but pft. I loved the attention and was mature for my age.

Once back in Australia, I reminded myself daily of him through Art Garfunkels' 'Breakaway' and Carly Simon. We saw other people, worked, indulged in our own hobbies and interests but we remained close correspondents. If only we had the internet back then, things might have worked out very differently. Letters took 10 days to deliver and so a letter a month was a good run rate by anyone’s standards.

I returned to England again after a painful relationship breakup when I was 21 and guess what? He was still single and up for a rendezvous. I didn’t tell him I was in the country, just rang and within minutes he was at my door. We had another another fantastic three months of romance. Everything was perfect a plan was hatched to meet again in Canada the following year and then real decisions about where this relationship was headed would have to be made. In the interim, he gave me a silver ingot on a chain which I wore for years . . . It was serious stuff.

Well as is obvious, Canada never happened. I met Ray, was swept off my feet and within 18 months was married and happy as a pig in poo. I still wrote to my English friend but he lost interest after that and the only other time I’ve ever heard about his welfare was after Ray died. I just wanted to make sure he was OK and that his life had panned out a little better than mine. It had. He had married, had two little girls but had never ventured to Canada as planned. All too painful apparently. We had a quiet and friendly conversation and agreed there was little profit in maintaining contact now that we had spent so much time apart. He was sorry for my loss, I happy for his gain.

So why this post. His are the pile of air letters tied with a red satin ribbon in my big red suitcase of dreams, my time capsule. I often wonder how he is and what he’s doing and whether if he ever travelled out here would he look me up. Tomorrow is his birthday, he will be 58, probably paunchy and balding with whiskers growing out of his nose and ears. He may even wear a flat cap and ride a bike . . .he could be a grandad or a widower . . .or lost all his beautiful pearly teeth . . . then again, he might be a gently aged, handsome man who’s made someone else very, very happy.

Happy birthday Ian.


Kiss Kiss

Sunday, July 29, 2007

There Used to Be More Wasps On Mars

Apparently, Mars was awash with wasps until one stung the War Planet hero NaughtyNeph, who then anhilated them with his crystal laser. Now there's only one wasp left which is controlled by Maddie and doesn't sting any more which is good because Mighty Max is in residence in Skull Mountain and will retain the universal balance of things. The giant Space Wolf of Zoron is standing guard (or actually pinching prime possie on the quilt that I've spread out on the cold slate floor as a play mat) and threatening to attack the transformers.


I'd forgotten the simplicity of the childish mind and how absorbed they get in made up games. They stayed over last night whilst BabySis and the Plumber went out and of course she forgot to pack shoes and socks. This means that despite the prospect of a chilly but lovely 'spring' like day, we are locked inside. These two are TV kids. They'll watch 10 videos consecutively if allowed so when they're here I try to expose them to fresh air and sunshine, ducks and dogs or at least toys that require some manipulation and imagination. Otherwise, they'll sit zombie like in front of the TV for hours.

Despite my reputation as a tosser (a thrower outer of unused things) I have retained three large plastic bins with DrummerBoy's toys. Mainly Mighty Max, War Planets, Transformers and Ninja Turtles, and assortment of model planes, the everlasting lego bricks and Hot Wheel cars of course. These have only just been revived after about 14 years and are being enjoyed to the highest level by NaughtyNeph and Maddie.

Just listening to their play talk is hilarious but I have to remain accutely interested and in the background cooking pancakes with cookies and cream ice cream and chocolate chips (hey, they're not my kids so why should I give them Weet Bix). Only one thing disturbs me . . .the whole script is spoken in American accents . . . oops gotta go, I think the Space Wolf has eaten Optimus Prime!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Be All and the End All

We all want our children to be educational successes - well don't we? We pay for private education, out of hours tutoring (well I didn't but many do), we make them sit selective school exams, we nag about homework, attend Parent Teacher evenings and reward them if some $35,000 a year teacher says they're great and berate them if they're not. We frame their certificates, display their trophies, send them on excursions to Japan and Vanauatu that we can't afford and take great kudos from their academic achievements as if they are the best in show. But the bottom line is, all you can give your kids is a good education and that's not just via the school system. I don't necessarily mean an expensive private education but pay attention to what they're doing at school, support educational initiatives at home and let them know what is available to them when they make that year 12 choice. It isn't easy at 18 to decide what you want to be when you grow up and it certainly isn't made easier when parents have the expectation that their fabulous young prodegy will become a Rocket Scientist.

My two have both attended university. ClareBear sort of likes what she does as a Graphic Designer but is now thinking of moving into Account Management or Web Design. My son is close to the end of his Horticulture degree and one of only 4 students who passed year 3! He's thinking of event management. (Just as well because he's a shit gardener). My niece is a really bright girl. Went to uni and is now serving in a bar and living with a DJ. Another niece scored a great university admission indicator - pursued Optometry for 3 weeks and ended up as a shop assistant. Both my brothers are Electricians and earning more money than I could ever hope to achieve. My brother-in-law is a plumber and simply doesn't do poo any more. My year 10 qualifying sister in law is managing a major health fund branch and making more than I am. My uber bright nephew mucked around in high school and with an intellect that could have seen him achieve an academic career, simply didn't have the application but now he has a trade that will see him well into the future. I'm a teacher who couldn't cop the pace as a youngling and became a copywriter and very ordinary administrator.

My point? Take the pressure off. It's great to have kids who are in the gifted and talented class in 3rd grade, to flash their report cards or brag about their reading age but it's no indication of what they'll become, study or achieve. It's crazy to expect an 18 year old to make a career based decision and choose an educational path to get them there which is why so many flounder in second or third year apprenticeships and university.

Years ago, in a more affluent time, I had cleaners who came in once a fortnight to do bathrooms and floors . . their income was double my so called degree vocation and far more satisfying. They cleaned like dervishes, the house was visibly fantastic when I came home and smelled all disinfecty and wonderful. Neither could read or write but enjoyed an overseas holiday each year, set their children up with a small deposit on their homes and retired fat and happy to Queensland.

As someone who has survived the rigors of good employment, bad employment, temping, redundancy and now a job that pays well but is ultimately unsatisfying, I really wish I hadn't felt the parental pressure to attend university. I would have had so much more satisfaction out of nursing or social work or even dog breeding . . . we are the sum of our parts and educational achievement is a nanospec of our many capabilities and talents. Let's help our younglings discover what's available - only with knowledge comes the ability to make an informed decision about their future - and if it's a wrong decision . . .it's not a hanging offence, there's always time to begin again and try something new.

Here endeth the first lesson.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mind Your Manners

Thank you DrummerBoy and ClareBear for being the epitome of well brung up progeny. (Apart from your colourful language, I can’t fault either of you). I can’t tell you how often people say I should be proud of such fantastic, well mannered young adults. Brings a tear to my eye and makes me realise that all those hours, locking you in the shed and making you face the wall with a pointy hat have paid off. I’ve even got DrummerBoy eating Broccoli and Fish and ClareBear tidying her room on Saturdays.

I have drilled good table manners and the P’s and Q’s into my own children and despair of those who take a treat without saying thank you – ask for a drink without saying please or don’t give up their seat on public transport for the elderly, disabled or heavily pregnant. I have been tempted to purchase one of those inflatable hammers that you can get in a Royal Easter Show Bag just to throttle inconsiderate laptop hammerers and teens plugged into their “I’m-ignoring-you-pods”

It’s not necessary for someone to open a car door for me, or pull out a chair . . .but it is appreciated. Much as I’d hold a door open for someone coming the other way regardless of sex. The price we’ve paid for women’s lib is having to make some sacrifices but politeness shouldn’t be among them. I shake hands with people I’ve never met, it seems polite. And if I ask someone how they are, I make eye contact and genuinely wait for their response! If I accidentally bump into someone, I apologise. I smile at security guards and I acknowledge check-out kids as human beings even if they are stricken with a glumness that only a 16 year old can express facially. I am courteous and polite and expect it of others (silly woman).

I also have impeccable table manners. I know how to hold a knife and fork. I know to start with cutlery from the outside in and even as a left hander, I can lay a table appropriately. I have great difficulty in understanding why so many people are either not taught manners at home any more or more particularly those who choose to ignore them – this is is always noticable when visiting restaurants, attending functions or being in the public eye. So it comes as some surprise (well not really) that the Australian Football League has instigated an ‘etiquette’ course for it’s first division players because they:

  • Have never been taught how to greet someone appropriately. “G’day, har ye garn” is no way to treat a dignitary
  • Don’t know that burping after swigging a schooner of beer is inappropriate at the dinner table
  • Similarly lifting a leg and farting at the opposition is just a tad rude
  • Slapping the waitress on the arse is not a sign of food appreciation
  • Bread rolls are not for wiping your plate clean
  • Licking your knife is a no-no
  • Serviettes shouldn’t be tucked into your shirt collar
  • Elbows should not be on the table
  • Knives and forks should be held between the thumb, index and third finger, not held with a fist and used in a stabbing motion
  • You don’t slurp your soup, tea, coffee,

I was stunned that out of 13 teams, so few of these young men had any idea about what I took forgranted - simple manners.

I have a ‘test’ for new boyfriends and girlfriends that enter my domain. Nope, I don’t care about their tats or hairdo, their piercings or speech (well actually I do care that they say ‘thing’ not ‘fing’). After the third date, when things are starting to look like an ongoing relationship, they must attend a family dinner. Nothing super formal but usually involving me scrutinising their table manners. Do they scoff or nibble. Do they know the difference between a red and white wine glass. Do they sip or guzzle. Do they burp at the table. Do they know how to use a serviette and most importantly, do they offer to wash up or clear the table! (Rarely pass that one).

Seriously though, I hate it when someone brushes past me on the travellator without a backward glance, crashes into me with a baby stroller or elbows me out of a queue. I get really irritated when people eat with their fingers in semi-formal situations (Eating ribs, prawns, tacos, burritos and pizza doesn’t count of course). I can’t stand the way Americans cut their food into baby pieces then stab at it with their forks instead of using the knife to gently push their food onto the fork. It grates on me when people hold their spoon with a fistJust look at the way those girls in Sex in the City eat their lunch . . it's disgusting!

Do manners maketh man? Probably not but I think it’s a sign of a good and disceplined upbringing, respect for food and wine and of course for the host/hostess - I like people to grace my table instead of slobbering all over it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dear John

Thank you John Howard. Just as I was losing faith, I have received a CPI raise and tax cut in my salary (stipulated in the May 2005/6 budget mind you and deferred to 2006/7) and a whopper of a tax return. About $500 more than I was expecting so it's paid for ClareBears little dinner last week and half my dental work. Funny how we feel elated when we get our own money back!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And another thing . . .

I went to the dentist today. Vitawheat multigrain had taken it's toll and dislodged a 30 year old molar filling. I'm up for some cosmetic work. Veneers and a necesary root canal due to the death of a nerve. $4000 worth of work. Now if you're delicate . . .avert your eyes. My health fund will cover $900 of a fucking fuckety fucky fuck fuck fuckfest and I so want to say that 'c' word - $4000 reconstructive work. I pay $285 per month! I've have had one 2-day hospitalisation for one of my kids and free prescriptions for ClareBear's contraceptive pill because it's diagnosed for her 'skin' (nudge nudge wink wink). I reckon since being in a health fund. I've paid close to $50,000 over the past 30 years and received about $2,000 in benefits. I hope you freebie hip replacements appreciate the donation.

Australia . . .don't become America! Oops. Too late.

Loves yous all

Cranky Pants

Nellienomics

Maybe there's someone out there who can explain in simple terms some basic economic principles to me. We are in a resources boom. Consumer spending is up, debt levels are at an all time high, unemployment at an all time low, the dollar is .88 cents to the greenback, the economy is booming and an election is looming so why, please tell me why, would the Reserve Bank put up interest rates! We're at a point of all time prosperity by Australian terms but mortagees are defaulting, housing has slumped, credit card and mortgage debt is unrealistic and the hope of the Australian dream - owning your little 500sqm block of land with an eve-less house and no room for a dog - is becoming a fading reality. Surely if things are prosperous, the population benefits but I just don't get it. Who's pockets are being lined? Not mine that's for sure.

When I bought my first home, interest rates were 16% and we had a further 'first home buyers' loan which was government sponsored for 12%. Inflation was at 7% and the country was so close to being fucked it wasn't funny. Vegetables were cheap, meat was cheap, services were cheap. Today, we're paying 7.5% tops in mortgage interest . . .things are good. OK broccoli is expensive today $7.00 a kilo for the smelly florette, but most people don't like broccoli. Meat is unaffordable - for a country that has survived on the sheep's back, lamb is more expensive than lobster and I bought two Atlantic Salmon tails for DrummerBoy and I tonight at $26.00 a kilo. Farmed locally in Tasmania! WTF? The drought has broken or so we're told so why, oh why are things so expensive and why the need to charge us more. It's enough to make me embrace socialism to be honest.

My income - generous by most standards (but sadly single) is considered the average. Fuck knows how people on less than me survive. I really need to bone up on economics because it seems the more prosperous the country gets, the more the individual pays and I'm jack of it quite frankly. I can't be placated with tax cuts that will see $6.0o a week show in my net income and a social security system that doesn't consider superannuation an 'asset' in their assets test. (sorry retirees) Just as things seem to be going good - the 'economists' preach doom and gloom and spoil it. So if you can explain to me why in one of the most prosperous nations of the world, interest rates might rise . . I'm ready to listen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Play Me or Don't Dance Like You're Drinking Weird

These are the words spelled out in a nonsensical sentence from a whole bunch of "Party Words" given to me as a Kris Kringle present last Christmas and they're amongst a bunch of stuff on my fridge door that kind of define my family. Whilst I'd love a stainless steel, plain fronted fridge, mine is covered with little bits of everyones' lives from Aktor Fridge Magnets to a lovely photo of me, TheBoss and Thommo taken at a wedding last year. The items that end up on your fridge, are quite telling about the owners:
Magnets: Norwest Veterinary Clinic, The Kellyville Vet, Wires Wildlife Rescue, Seal a Fridge and the Recycling Service. Postcards from Paris and Talin, the latest in many that I leave there to remind me there is a world at large. A Magnetic Calendar which reminds me which bins to put out each week . . .Yellow lids fortnightly, green lids weekly . . .an invitation or two to the latest 21st birthday celebration. There's also a large magnetic HELEN . . .stolen from the production board at my long gone creative writing years, the rates bill, to remind me how exhorbitant it is to live on acreage. A list of Onga swimming pool pumps and their variously required chemical needs, a list of iron rich foods to remind me that I'm starving my daughter of red meat and a little magnetic clip that stores 5% off petrol vouchers for anyone to pinch as needed and a photo of a life long family friend holding a crocodile in the Northern Territory. No matter how I try to keep the surface clear, things that have no home elsewhere, end up on my fridge. What's on yours?

My Immune System is in Overdrive or How to Survive Daytime TV

Apparently, my immune system is in tip top shape because it's streaming snot and inflaming the little cavities where my tonsils used to be in order to dispell one of the worst head colds and sore throats I've had in a long time. It seems this virulent cold is easily transmitted and if not nailed on the head by R & R reoccurs to infect everyone around me. So in the absence of a modicum of creativity while I behave in a very manly way, complaining, moaning, downing copious amounts of vitamins and Sudafed (which doesn't work by the way) I am now reduced to wiping my nose with toilet paper as the tissues have run out and I can't drag my acheing arse out to replace them. After three days bonding with my couch and a very comfy doona, I still feel like shit. So where's the cure? Apparently, because colds are hundreds of different viruses, it's not viable to come up with a cure so scientists are working on the immune response - the snotbox effect.

Personally, I think its a conspiracy on the part of drug companies and the medical fraternity to keep people sick so that they purchase boxes of the cold and flu preparations available over the counter and to force them into the surgery to be told the obvious "You have a virus, theres nothing I can do." This is where I have to go today to procure a Dr's cert because I've had two days off adjacent to a weekend. A rule stipulated in my own sick leave policy.

I snookered myself as key workplace policy maker by ensuring that our gen X and Y workforce, which seems to think sickies are a right and should be utilised at all costs, procured a Doctor's certificate if they had a sick day either side of a weekend or more than two consecutive days off. The little blighters thwarted that one by taking no more than 2 days or spreading them through the week with illnesses such as, and I kid you not: haemerroids, back injuries which miraculously disappeared after a day in bed, lack of sleep, the sniffles which again miraculously disappeared after a day off work, a broken fingernail (poor baby couldn't type), 'allergic reaction' to what I don't know and didn't dare to ask, Thrush and one particular employee has more gastro-intestinal infections than a Rawandan amid an Ebola epidemic and for all her 90 kilos, should be thin as a whip!

Another delight I've experienced whilst rubbing on the Vicks is daytime TV. And if it wasn't for brief conversations with my overseas bloggers to break up the day, I may have employed a brick to cause serious screen damage. Between Oprah and Dr Phil are the daytime serials, Days of Our Lives (yes the hourglass is still pouring the sands of time) and The Young and the Restless who are now middle aged and less tetchy but still managing to have affairs with each other. Then there are the He Cooks She Cooks, Heweys Cooking Adventures and a myriad of furry costumed children's entertainers singing silly songs about going to the shops and fairies. Needless to say, the DVD hire has been on the boil but now I'm down to the 3 day rental section and reviewing films I've seen before. The Hannibal series has copped a hammering as has Lord of the Rings except I doze off during the battle scenes . . . so today it's a toss up between cleaning out my bathroom cupboard which is always a discovery tour in itself or revisiting Terminator. And unlike Arnie, I'm hopeful that after three days alone, my cold wil NOT be back!



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Boys Will Be Girls

I hate boys that have good legs. Probably because mine are nothing to write about at all, let alone 'write home about'. But there's something about men that when given the opportunity, they are only too willing to bear the pins, pop on a pretty little frock and ponce around being prissy. I've been to many a fancy dress party where there are more men dressed as women than men . . .even my own better half would relish the opportunity to whack on a swimsuit and a pair of fishnets. go totally overboard with the lippy and turn up as Dr Frankenfurter from the Rocky Horror Show. But my nephew JimmiD who is currently Kontiki'ing around Europe, and has been known to show at parties in a nurses uniform amongst other female attire, has finally taken the cake having lost a bet and being forced to walk through Venice for an entire day, in nothing but a pretty little floral number. Judging from the photo, he took his mission seriously. Dolce and Gabanna should enlist his services for the next Paris Fashion Week!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Wish I Was Married to a Plumber

My brother-in-law ThePlumber is a very handy man. Today whilst Babysis and I sat drinking coffee in the cold, he had purchased a combustion stove via ebay and was merrily cutting holes in his roof, installing a brick base and assembling a bevvy of pipes to ensure that tonight, the family could toast marshmallows and sleep snugly in their beds. I don't often complement ThePlumber, he plumbed my house and forgot the flashing on our valley gutter which led to all sorts of problems with leaf blockage and water spilling under the tiles and into the roof during summer storms. The ensuing stain on my loungeroom ceiling which is regularly painted over with mould preventor is a lasting reminder of his early incompetence. He no longer does toilets or septic tanks so the crises we've encountered over the past few years, usually involving floods or poo have been very expensively repaired by strangers.

But . . . in the long run, he's been a good boy. Like the time Bumper ran over the outdoor tap with the tractor and left a gushing geyser spewing precious potable water 50 metres in the air - he came round in the cold, stemmed the flow and then went home for dinner. He connected taps and ballcocks to the bath in the horse paddock and has replaced my hot water system twice with no charge.

My 25 year old toilets flush, my showers don't leak and the taps are the originals. He's rennovated an entire house (again while Babysis drank a lot of coffee), brings in a good income (well he charges more than a bleedin' brain surgeon) and is one of those restless types that would rather be refurbishing his pool filter than loungeing on the couch. He's built a vegetable garden that an Italian farmer would be proud to own, fenced his own property with a creasote covered gloop that turned my grey ponies into dappled chargers, cleared his block of all but protected turpentines, filled in the dam at the bottom of the garden, knocked down and rebuilt fences and has formed a particularly close bond with Lasalle Royal Flash (Laurie) whom he feeds for me each morning.

Babysis slobdanovich on the other hand (I love her, really I do) spends his money on pretty shiny things, has cappucinos with the soccer mums and loves a long lunch, rarely cleans her house, is pathetic at disciplining her kids and regularly blows car engines with her erratic driving habits. I think sometimes, she doesn't realise how lucky she is to have such a workaholic for a hubby.

And he's very handy at rigging a flaming flying fox to light bonfires . . . or trails of petrol soaked toilet paper as a form of ignition . . . I could do with a man who is 'handy' but perhaps not one who is so 'bandy'.

Outlaws and Nut Buses

ClareBear decided that she didn't want to attend her Graduation Ceremony last March. The humiliation of wearing a silly cap and gown and the boredom of waiting 3 hours for her 30 seconds of fame was too much for a Clare to bear. So we resolved to hire a nut bus to take us all on a family dinner to Tebbutts Observatory once her degree unceremoniously arrived in the mail. That was last night. I'm still nursing a hangover this morning. So, the outlaws came down from Terrigal. The Groovy Grannies that are Ray's parents, BabyBro, Han-nah and boyfriend RuggerBugger, DrummerBoy and the Fringelet, Doo Doo ThePlumber, Naughty Neph and Maddie and of course ClareBear and I packed into the nutbus with bucketsful of booze and trapsed off to this really nice little restaurant. Very rustic and Australiana with fruit bats in the trees and a tour of Great Grandad Tebbut's telescope and observatory thrown in for free.

We looked at Jupiter, marvelled at the moon which NaughtyNeph said was much more 'lumpy' than he'd previously imagined and pogged into lamb shanks and steaks, scallops and chook and a very spiffy chocolatey better than sex dessert. We also put a big hole in Mr Goundrey's chardonnay stocks. We'll have to wait for next year's vintage before he is able to be our providore again. No big speeches just a little "Mummy's very proud of you" toast to the very snotty ClareBear and then the nut bus appeared to take us home before coffee. Well so we thought. All 13 of us packed up and wondered into the freezing night air to find that it wasn't the bus at all - Han-Nah had misinformed everyone so we had time of course to go back into the warm and finish our drinks. All in all, a good night, much merriment and gossip and the reason I'm up so early. These Groovy Grannies have headed back home at 6:30am to make their tennis comp and I've discovered that I really do have the most comfy couch on the planet. Congratulations snotbox, you now have a piece of paper to show for your 4 years of hard work.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dissolvey Bits

Dodgy post tonight.

Work has been hectic and everyone's got the flu except the healthy smoker. TheBoss and Sgt Bilko are having major disagreements about how to run the business so I'm the peacekeeper extraordinaire, the Henry Kissinger of the workplace, it's like standing between Stalin and Kennedy and not speaking either of their languages.

My perfume arrived. $173 dollar's worth. Calvin Klein Escape, Eternity and Rochas Byzance. I will smell like a tart's boudoir tomorrow. It arrived in a box packed with those little wormy foamy things but they are GREAT. They dissolve in hot water so you just run the tap (don't tell the water board) and sloosh em down the sink. Incredible. Simple things, simple minds and all that!

I did a podcast on the weekend. I was the only one in a timezone where drinking was acceptible due to the lateness of the hour, when everyone else was eating brekky and I turned into a gasbagging banshee and broke my fave champagne glass. Apologies to fellow podcasters who fought to get a word in edgeways, it's not typical of my future behaviour. Now that's optimism for you, they probably won't ask me back!

DrummerBoy has discovered the purity that is good quality coffee. He's working at the Tutti Fruitti Rose Farm and Orchard and they have a cafe with Cappuccinos to die for. Now he's criticising my Lavazza because it isn't smooth enough . . .everyone's a barista these days.

ThePrincess has taken to doing runners on a regular basis and eating building apprentices lunches. The electric fence is proving a nil deterrent and I think her collar is broken, she gets a beep and a little buz but the good old thwack that is designed to keep her confined to five acres is just not being delivered. It's a great way to meet good looking leathery young men in shorts and singlets who take pity on her, ring me at work and I have to run off to pick her up or better still, they pop round and drop her home. I've become quite close to Mick, Tom and Sledge who insisted on refusing to allow me to buy them a BLT to replace their stolen googgy egg sarnies. She is now relegated to the dog run and literally in the dog house so to speak. I now have the numbers of five decent blokes in my mobile. *evil laughter*

I've given up watching LOST it has a new timeslot of 10:30, what a waste of three seasons. I never knew what was going on anyway. Ah well, time for my latest bout of eye candy, Big Brother's on . .such is the life of the everyday housewife, mother, worker, cook, washerwoman, financier and dog catcher.

Caio:)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Grandad Syndrome



You know how Grandad is always banging on about shooting tourists, hating giving directions and being inordinately cruel to people who wear sunglasses on their head? . . .well I have the Grandad Syndrome. It's an inate desire to keep undesirables out of our neighbourhood only I've managed almost single handedly (huk huk) to convince the world - with a little help from my now passed colleague Steve Irwin, that Australia is a dangerous place. We don't need terrorists, we have enough harbingers of stinginess hidden within. The now departed (but still watchful) Daz commented "What's it like living in a country where everything wants to kill you?". Well it's quite consoling actually because we know how to handle them and the tourists don't. So here are some hot tips if you're brave enough to travel Up Over.

Sharks - If you're swimming in shark infested waters, you're a nit wit. Only tastey surfers, abalone divers and the odd dog actually get attacked. If they come in too close, the alarm sounds and lots of fat people run in a sticky outey leg kind of way to reach the shallows. All the splashing frightens the beasties. If you're unlucky to come too close to one ask it if it's a Bull Shark, a White Pointer or a Wobbygong - you only need to worry about the first two, the last one will suck you to death. Just poke it's eye out. Easy peasy Sharkenteasy.

Snakes: We have the most poisonous snake in the world but you have to go tromping barefoot through the sugar cane fields to be unlucky enough to tread on one. Hang on, where do all the backpackers go to find work in Spring? . . .Ah that's right, natural tourist control. We have a few red bellied blacks around here but they run away metaphorically speaking. Remember all snakes are DEAF so shouting "shoo" at them won't work. Just stamp your foot in a petulant manner and they'll push off.

Spiders: Well there's only the Sydney Funnel web that you have to worry about. Redbacks just make you a bit sickly and a bite from one is a good excuse to take a sickie off work. Huntsmen are big and hairy - not as intimidating as those movie spiders from Mexico but they're pretty speedy so spray quickly with Mortein Spider and Outdoor Insect Spray and thwack em with a rubber thong. (Warning: don't try to dab them with your skimpy knickers, it doesn't work).
Back to the funnel web. They don't like the light and rarely come inside. The fact that they like dark cool places is a great deterrent for teenagers not to leave their clothes, damp towels and linen on their bedroom floors however, my son has never been bitten despite tempting the little buggers on a daily basis.

Fruit Bats: the only Australian mammal that has a nasty disease transmittable to humans via a bite. Fortunately, they are so numerous and smell so bad that the worse thing about them is the sticky figgy poo they drop whilst flying overhead. You can hear them coming so just duck and don't try to feed them fruit. Whateve you do, never, and I mean never, park your car under a Moreton Bay Fig tree in Sydney, it'll end up looking like one of the 101 Dalmations.

Platypus: Yep the cute little duck billed chappy has poisonous barbs on it's hind feet but since you'll only ever see one behind the glass at Australia Zoo . . no need to worry.

Blue Ringed Octopussys: They're tiny, they're pretty but who wants to pick up an Octopus . . think about it.

Stingray's: Only a fully experienced, mad environmentalist would try to pick one up by the tail and look what happened to him silly bugger. But remember, even if they're dead, some of the electric ones will straighten your pubic hair and cripple yer nipples. (Yes I have trodden on one)

Box Jellyfish: Swim with your panty hose on. Yep, you too fellas. The tentacles can't attach. And don't plan a holiday on the far north coast between February and April. It's hot, wet and sticky and as they said in Good Morning Vietnam - fine if you're with a woman but . . .

Bluebottles: You will be stung! If they wash up on the beach. Don't swim they hurt like buggery but won't kill you.

Crocodiles: They are stupid, can't chew, can't run, can only turn their heads 45 degrees so if you get eaten by one you must have been lying in a creek with "Eat Me" plastered all over your chest.

Victorian Mobsters: Just don't do what that Dutch Tourist did and try to rescue a girl who's being dragged by the hair into a car. He got shot for his troubles.

So as the ad goes "Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" Who's up for a BBQ at my place?



A salty I picked out of my pool with the leaf scoop last Saturday, I released him in the Paramatta River

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Right You Naughty Boy - You're On Detention!

Fourteen days ago, we arrested an Indian doctor who had been working in a Queensland hospital for 2 years (apparently met all the immigration and qualification criteria at the time) attempting to leave Brisbane airport because his second cousin three million times removed happened to be involved in the failed English terror attempts. Apparently, 11 months ago, the hapless Doctor had given a sim card to said second cousin three million times removed and it was found in the Jeep - driven - in the failed attack on Glasgow airport. Probably down the back of a seat where it’s been living for the past 11 months like a kids lost biscuit or a MacDonald’s chip.

So Oz is abuzz. Finally we have a terrorist other than hapless David Hicks and innocent Hamaad Abib – niether of whom could knock the skin of a rice pudding. (Yeay happy claps the world will take notice of us now surely?) He was detained under our new terror laws which say that if you like kebabs and have dark skin and a moustache we can hold you indefinitely without charge. Needless to say, more and more Australians are clean shaven these days and tubes of blonding crème have sold out.

He endured a brief hearing at a local court and not enough evidence was provided to commit to trial by the Australian Federal Police so what did they do? Checked his “character” because we don’t want any drop kicks in here. If you a criminal record, live in a hot and rocky country within three million miles of Osama Bin Laden or arrive on a rickety boat we have nice specialised hostels for you called Detention Centres where we can hold you indefinitely and delay the processing of your exit or temporary residence visa before packing you on the next Qaintarse flight to the back of beyond. They’re nice. They’re new, they have shiny razor wire on the fence (Oooh I like shiny things) but other than that, you have a warm bed to sleep in and a hot meal and we’ll teach you English if you’re very, very good so that you’ll really stand out like a sore thumb when you’re repatriated to Wherethefuckistan.

Although we’re not that fussy. We’ve actually locked up two of our own by mistake in the past, one poor sausage because she was schizophrenic and couldn’t tell them her name. Spent 3 months in a detention centre before someone realised she was an Australian national (she’ll be rich when her law suit completes).

Circumventing a court order to free him after Federal prosecutors failed to convince a magistrate the Indian-born man was deemed too dangerous to release. Despite the fact that he’d tried to return to his homeland using his real name, a real passport and had his flight booked well in advance of the English explosions. His wife is still in India so maybe he was just going home for a bit of nookie.

What’s truly remarkable is the new lack of separation between justice and politics. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews was apparently given “unspecified advice” to revoke the 27-year-old's visa shortly after magistrate agreed to release the doctor on $10,000 bail. What the?

Though most legal minds were outraged, Former head of the National Crime Commission offered his full support. "The truth is, we don't want anyone here, coming into this country, who we suspect is a terrorist," Mr Faris (fair enough) said. "That's different to saying we can prove they've committed terrorist offences." What the? (did I say that twice?) So now if you look a bit dodgy, are of middle eastern or Indonesian descent or have a funny name and a beard and a funny hat you will not be allowed in Australia just in case.

"If we see people who've got a connection like he has to a terrorist group, well, obviously we wouldn't let them come in here."

Well fair do’s . . . we did bar David Irving, Gerry Adams and Snoop Dog . . . look out Fitty Cent!






Monday, July 16, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm very emotional at the momen about someone I’ve, 'known' only for three months but have come to like very much yet we've never met. Daz has called it quits. He’s not podcasting, he’s not blogging he’s leaving the virtual world and it’s virtual charms in a wave of beration. He has spat his virtual dummy, packed his virtual kit and his typical 'fuck'em' attitude and like Pinocchio is dedicating life from hereonafter to becoming a real boy. I’ll miss the little tyke. He was funny, intelligent, disrespectful . . .and one of the first to begin commenting on my humble efforts. Thanks Daz, I appreciated it very much. He said what he thought and rarely thought about what he said until after he'd said it. . . .I think. Nevertheless, virtual life is a little less exciting for his passing out. Vale Hospital Daze and Dario Sanchez's Angry Dome. Good luck kiddo . . . send me an email now and then because I’m not an avatar and I don’t live in Second Life . . and I need to know where you are so I can shout you a Sambuca when we finally meet!

. . .So what does one do when feeling depressed and emotional. Go to the movies of course!. No chick flicks for this little black duck, no pretentious English Drama or predictable American thriller . . . I’m going with Speilberg - Transformers here I come!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

If You Don't Use It - Lose It

Whilst I collect the things that are meaningful to me: Little camels from Dubai and Tiki's from Vanuatu, my grans old Harvest Jar and T-Pot, a Victorian Barometer that doesn't work and an old treadle sewing machine among many 'pieces' that I simply can't part with. I am without doubt a tosser. My house is minimalist and devoid of clutter (except the kid's rooms of course). If it hasn't been worn for 2 years, it gets chucked in the rag bag (we have the best dressed homeless people in Sydney thanks to the many donations of still labelled items that I bought without trying on and disliked or found skimmed my curves a little too tightly). We have a 'tradition' here and I think also in the US that if you have a significant amount of well-preserved stuff, you have a Garage Sale. Bugger e-Bay, you can sell the lot by whacking all your junk into the carport or garage, putting an ad in the paper and signage on adjacent street light poles and hundreds of people will come and buy your rubbish and you'll make a tidy profit.

I hear of loads of people who say it's worth spending 2 days arranging stuff, pricing it, getting some change ready for those fuckers who bring $100 bills for a $2.00 book . . .so we did it. The family churned out clothes, books, vinyls and CD's, obsolete china, tubey bunks, bar stools and all those non-matching mugs that breed in the corner cupboard. A little bit of costume jewellery, electric lawn mower and whipper snipper, numerous blow up mattresses, a dog kennel and wire run, food processor and miscellaneous electricals and a huge TV.

The browsers come early despite the ad stating it starts at 9.00am. They're mostly the second hand dealers looking for hidden valuables. Then there are the cruisers who pop in and offer you 50cents for that Trent Nathan designer dress that no longer fits and you think - shit, I might have been going to throw it out but it's worth more than that! And the ruthless Garage Sale browsers who want a whole pile of stuff 'delivered' as if we're a friggin' courier service! Then there's the little old lady who cruises through the paperweights, ums and ahs and comes back three times before making a paltry offer. She's on the pension we think so throw in a couple for free before she drives away in her Beamer . . .sucked in again . . . old people are so devious.

Our garage sale was a disaster. We sold an old History of England and after it left I realised it was an 1850 first edition (bitch slap me to Tuesday for not realising it's value) and a Shelley China Tea set, the telly went and a few ods and sods but a plethora of stuff remained. I don't know why nobody bought the James Last Dance Album or the Reader's Digest collections, not to mention the delightful baby bouncer that you adhere to a door frame, whack the ankle biter into and watch them bounce up and down until their face goes blue. Great training for future bungy jumpers.

So we had to pile the rest in neat bags and tidy stacks so that St Vinnies could pick it up and use it in their op shop. The kennel and dog run earned $250 which was probably worth sitting outside all day and one of the punters was bitten by a bull ant which was very amusing. (not for him - it would be a few days before he'd get his shoes on!). All in all it was a total flop and a waste of time but there was something nice about sitting in the sunshine with my sister and daughter, drinking champagne and devising ways of spending all the money that we didn't make!

Fairly Tanked?


A MAN accused of driving an armoured personnel carrier (APC) into mobile phone towers in Sydney has been charged with numerous offences. Police say the 45-year-old man led officers for 90 minutes through six western Sydney suburbs as he crashed the privately-owned APC through fences and into mobile phone towers, telecommunication relay sheds and an electrical sub-station.

Mobile phone services in the area have been disrupted while technicians wait to gain entry to the crime scenes. Police on patrol in Minchinbury noticed APC being used to destroy an electricity substation about 2am (AEST) today.

The tank was allegedly stolen from A-One Lift Truck Services, where it was available for hire and was popular with students who used it for school formals.

After calling for back-up, they followed the carrier through the suburbs of Mt Druitt, Dharruk, Emerton, Glendenning and Plumpton. The APC left a path of destruction, bringing down a number of mobile phone towers and relay sheds, police said. The pursuit ended in Dean Park after about 90 minutes, when the vehicle stalled as it was being driven towards another mobile phone tower. Police arrested a 45-year-old Dharruk man there and later charged with with numerous offences. The man claimed he was 'authorised to 'service' the mobile phone towers'.

He was charged with six counts of malicious damage, break, enter and steal, predatory driving, possession of a prohibited drug, use of a weapon to avoid apprehension and driving in a dangerous manner.

Suck that Optus . . .I knew your 24 month plan was too expensive!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fashionably On Time

I am a puncutal person. Not the first to arrive but I contrive very carefully to never be more than 15 minutes after the official start time. It's inherrant, my kids call it anal but if someone invites you for 7:30, you arrive at 7:45. For years, I lived with a man for whom puncutality was a nonsense. I missed the first 20 minutes of I don't know how many movies, some who exposed the plot early in the peace and made little sense because of the lost time. I've been locked out of concerts and theatres for not arriving on time and had the shit ragged out of me by half witted comediens for arriving late. We'd arrive at a Chinese Banquet after the Sang Choy Bow, miss the harbour cruise and have to drive to the next stop to catch the boat. Even whilst in labour with my second child, he's having a natter at 5:30 in the morning while I'm in the first stages of delivery. We missed flights, appointments or arrived unfashionably late at parties when the chips had all been eaten then got immensely drunk because of empty stomachs. So to this day, I am punctual and I expect others to be the same. Anally retentive - probably. Courteous to be on time? Certainly. Please don't keep me waiting. I don't take kindly to hanging around waiting for others to get their shit together. Then again, arrive at my place for dinner at 7.00 and expect to eat at 9.00 . . Okay, I get distracted with conversation and a few drinks but that's different.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fwoooaaaar!

I've been into emotional battle today. Work was ballistic with correspondence a plenty, the demands of non multi-tasking males unreasonable and the email running hot. I've annoyed more than 4 people with glib comments that weren't meant to be too serious but obviously hit a raw nerve, stressed to the max, apologised profusely and realised that my daughter no longer needs my emotional protection. I think things are back to normal? So tonight, the curls get let down at the Jolly Frog where I'm going to watch my little lad smash the bejeezus out of a drum kit.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Secret Trove

If there were two objects I had to remove in a national disaster, bushfire, earthquake or something of that calibre they would be my grey briefcase and a large red, 1960's suitcase.

The grey briefcase, I bought for Ray when he left his IT position to enter sales. It now contains our birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, degrees and diplomas, and a few more death certificates than I would like to imagine. It resides under my bed for a quick getaway. It contains indeed the documents needed to identify who we are and from whence we came.

The red suitcase is one of those large leather valises, very fashionable for its time and probably accompanied by a few matching partners that have since vanished into the ether - It's about a metre and a half long by half a metre wide but deep, about 25 - 3o cm deep and it contains my life. In a moments of nostalgia and self indulgence, I peruse its contents. Very infrequently I might add, perhaps every three or four years but it contains part of me and experiences I've had. It's my time capsule. Even my children are unaware of its contents. Not because they're secret but because it normally resides on the top shelf of my wardrobe and sits there anonymous and unnoticed by those stealing pop-socks or scrounging pillows and spare linen for sleep overs.

In this red case reside:
  • A wooden string puppet that I received for my 8th birthday and never mastered.
  • My school recorder
  • A pair of Pakistani Wedding slippers that my father brought back from the East when it was a land far, far away
  • A swag of postcards that he mailed whilst on business trips from India, Hong Kong, Kualar Lumpar, Singapore and other exotic places
  • A sari
  • Love letters from the man I would have followed to Canada had I not met my husband
  • Pressed flowers from a picnic that was particularly romantic
  • The decorations from my wedding cake and my wedding veil - the something borrowed that I never returned.
  • Delft china liqueur bottles that my Grandpa brought with him when he flew out to my wedding on KLM
  • Thai silk that looked so cool in Thailand, I bought bolts of the stuff only to realise that it really didn't look right here
  • My children's first pairs of shoes
  • The little brown envelope given to me with Ray's belongings after he died - his wedding ring, glasses, gold cross and watch
  • A tiny picture of a horse and foal, given to me as a farewell present by Anne Harrison, my best friend when I left England at age 11. I have lost her.
  • A Spanish Fan from the Canary Islands which I received as a birthday gift whilst visiting there
  • A plastic envelope with Tahitian tourist information - a memento of the most wonderful holiday I ever had before I married - the honeymoon you have before the honeymoon
  • My father's tin 'ditty box' with his dog tags and an old five pound note, Uncle Walter's Medal from the first world war and a few other little tidbits that remind me my Dad was once an 18 year old.
  • My mother's RSN nurses badge and her nametag. The ward on which she worked just before she was killed is now the "Pamela Dunn Maternity Ward"
  • Wedding invitations from people I knew in my youth who are now divorced
  • My own wedding and engagement ring
  • A litre Stein that I pinched from the Löwenbräu Keller
  • A 'winners' patch cut from my darling friend's Track Pants after winning the International Kneeboard Title
  • A Manchester United Scarf that I bought during my travels and wore fleeing from an angry Chelsea mob after a game
  • Silver charms from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, England, Jersey which I never had adhered to my charm bracelet
  • My Christening Dress (Also ClareBear's, DrummerBoy's, Naughty Neph, Bec and Hannah Bannanah's)
  • Numerous coasters from obscure bars where I pashed beautiful boys whose names I never knew
  • I'm sure there are other things that I've forgotten - time to re-open Baino's Box
There are other bits of bric-o-brac wedged tightly and wrapped lovingly in tissue paper. These are things about me that my family will enjoy when I'm no longer around. Things that will make them say "I didn't know that about her . . ." I talk a lot about myself, my life, my kids but even I have hidden treasures and a few secrets.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Great Wall

This has been around in Australia for a while but I thought it might amuse some of you internationals:

Little Mercies



I have sort of given up mid-week drinking. Kinda . . . I've had to compromise on my expensive champagne tastes and succumb to goon due to my beer budget and the fact that by the 11th of the month, I have a bout five bucks in my account (payday on 15th of the month). Goon for the uninitiated is wine in a box. Another great Australian invention. When it no longer pours from the badly fitting valve invented by Bastards Inc. you can blow into the valve, turn it into a silvery pillow and pour out every last drop before playing catch with the remaining bladder. You can buy 5 litres for $7! It's cheaper than metho or petrol! The only problem is that it's so full of chemicals and made with the slops that it gives me a mighty headache so it's drunk with copious amounts of ice or soda water to make it more palatable - so desperate have I become. (there's Yoda popping in again!).

So I've discovered the little 2 litre 'quaffing' goon which has little stamps on it saying "2006 Winner - Qaffing Wine". They're gold and shiny so it must be good right? Gawd no. I don't know my French wines other than champagne and a bottle of Verve or Moet is definitely Christmas and Birthday fare or if I'm good at work I might score a Lanson or bottle of Bolly. When Frank dropped in and bought me a lovely bottle of champagne for doing a little flyer for his workplace, I dropped to my knees. Said a little athiestic prayer to Manon and chucked it in the freezer. Yeay, it's hump day and I have a bottle of bubbly to drink with my chicken noodle soup. Bless his cotton socks for small mercies. I told him he shouldn't have but I'm glad he did.
I now have something classy to drink whilst donning my trakky daks and holey socks. Thanks Frank for small mercies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grant Me a Wish


In my workaday boredom, I’ve been contemplating alternative employment. But I’m well over one foot in the grave and paid quite well for what I do, so finding something appropriate at my age isn’t easy or particularly lucrative.

I should have been the brains behind the Super Nanny franchise. She has stolen all my child-raising and parent-training tips from naughty mats to reward systems and she can’t even enunciate ‘asseptable’ acceptably.

Then there’s that American boofhead Caesar who trains the parents of naughty dogs. I could do that. Imagine being paid a motza by celebrities who simply want to stop their Chihuahua peeing in their purse? Cinch, give me three weeks with a dog and I’ll have it sitting, staying, heeling and doing a trick or two.

Well those boats have long gone so I thought bout post-grad study and some sort of University grant for doing research to prove more of the bleedin’ obvious.

For instance, Researchers at the University of California were paid to actually research the hypothesis that muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiselled peers. Duh! isn’t that a revelation after two years of researching the sexual habits of muscly men . . now that’s a job for which I might take a drop in salary.

Or maybe similar research to that which recently tested the hypothesis that there is a link between beards and hierarchical seniority in tertiary institutions. The survey was done by doctoral students who were inspired by an "impressively hairy" supervisor at the University of London. The answer appears to be yes. While 10.5 per cent of lecturers were bewhiskered, the figure rose to 13.6 per cent for senior lecturers, 16.7 per cent for readers and 21.4 per cent for professors. So there you go the hirsute among you . . . pash rash must be commonplace among nerds and post menopausal women is all I can say. (That’s a girl joke – we get it!)

Or, for the religious, there is a new study analysing whether active prayer by complete strangers can affect the out come of illness (there goes another for Australia’s one and only candidates for sainthood

Parishioner: “I prayed to Mary McKillop and that fella over there that I’ve never met got out of his wheelchair and walked away”.

Priest: “Yes my child, but you know that research has proven that your intercessory prayers have little effect on curing illness, so poor old Mary will have to remain in the queue. Beatified but not sanctified."

(c’mon Popey baby . . give us our first foikn Saint!

Apparently the use of prayers requesting devine intervention by strangers on patients recovering from serious illness or major surgery has little effect on the person. What evidence the study provides does however leans in the direction of prayer being harmful- if the person being prayed for knows about it. Iwonder how much they paid that lot to go to Church and interview the faithful.

An Ohio Air Force laboratory asked for $7.5 million last year to build a non-lethal 'gay bomb'. A weapon that would encourage enemies to make love, not war. The weapon would use strong aphrodisiacs to make enemy troops so sexually attracted to each other that they'd lose interest in fighting. Or maybe the researchers would become affected and gain interest in their research. Or. Maybe I could be a test case and eat lots of Oysters (Salandaise, Kilpatrick, Mornay, Au naturel).

Surely someone will pay me $75,000 a year to research the bleedin' obvious.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Conversations with Computers

Part of my job includes chasing up social security issues for clients, particularly age pensions and entitlements, health cards and the like. Centrelink, our fantastic and paradoxically de-centralised social security branch of the Federal Government has one of those fantastic recorded messages that asks you to ‘speak’ into the mouthpiece of your phone so that they can identify your query and move you on to the appropriate department, which again paradoxically is never the most appropriate department. I had a lovely conversation with a nice lady machine this afternoon:

“If you require pensions, say pensions
“If you need to register for Centrelink, say register
“If you need unemployment assistance, say employment””

So says I: “Pensions

She comes back and asks me to identify which pensions I’m after:

“If you have an enquiry about the age pension say age pension
If you are enquiring about a single parenting allowance say single

Again, I comply and say ‘age pension’

So far so good. The last machine like this was at a Share Registry last week. Their lady widget somehow thought that Bluescope Steel sounded EXACTLY like Coles Myer Limited. Needless to say, we had a fight but she retained her compusure and eventually put me through to a real live operator.

Back to Centrelink. After about 5 minutes of Barber’s Adagio with Strings strumming soporifically in my ear, another nice lady comes along and says:

Please say your 9 digit reference number

Well she asked so nicely so obediently, and whilst wiping the dribble from the side of my mouth as I had fallen asleep listening to the adagio, I clearly enunciated “087 465 321B”

Was that “087 465 321P” she asks “If yes, press #”

. . . . "no no no" I yelled down the phone
It’s “087 465 321B” As in bugger, bastard, bum, biatch . . .

“I’m sorry but that number does not exist on our system”

Clunk.

And the reason for the call? Centrelink in their wisdom had revoked our ability to enquire about this client on their behalf because “the client has requested it”.

No they didn’t. It turns out that the nominee authority expires after 3 years and because they don’t have an appropriate form letter to send to nominees notifying them of their need to renew, they send one that simply tells big fibs.

Ah the public service. I think it’s the same around the world.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Oooo . . .I'm So Scared . . . .


I remember during my late teens when I paid my way through school and uni by working in a delightfully sacky red and white uniform at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now called KFC to avoid saying the 'fried' word. We had a great bunch of pals working there, all friends or relatives and after closing at 10:00 on a Saturday night, we'd all wind our way back to one of our houses, depending upon who's parents weren't home, armed with a couple of ounces of the green dream, a box of Keiser Stuhl Rose, and a bag full of chicken wings. In those days, pubs closed at 10, TV finished at midnight, there was absolutely nothing to do but make your own fun. So we did. We got shit faced, ate our munchies, danced to Alice Cooper and Grace Jones or watched the Saturday Night Creature Feature.

I've been reminded of this time in life by a couple of other bloggers discussing the corn that used to be on late night TV from 'Them' to 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes'. Fantastic horror films with larger than life characters, real or otherwise. Giant plants, lizards poor things with something usually glued to their backs or invisible villains and screeming busty women who's makeup and coiffure remained intact through the entire program. High pants heroes with flexible eyebrows. They would be the source of much laughter as the ganja kicked in. Some of the best were the herioc historical films, the Epic Theatre - gladiatorial and usually dubbed in English because they were Italian. Hercules and pals. Over muscled and greased up they walked like they had a carrot stuck up their bums. Ah, they don't make films like that any more. It's all blood and gore, intestines and brains. Nothing is left to the imagination any more.

I love the horror genre and a good horror flick is worth it's weight in plasma but I do miss the silly stuff. I like the idea of Triffids taking over the planet and tomatoes being more than a salad ingredient. Here are a few to keep you mesmerised: Attack of the Giant Leeches; The Blob; Brides of Dracula; The Fly; Carnival of Souls; Terror in the Crypt; The Mummy's Shroud.
If it had Vincent Price and/or Peter Cushing in it - all the better!


Saturday, July 07, 2007

I Am a Very Angry Person

On something more serious now. I have been blog browsing. Mainly through links twice removed from blogs I know and I have discovered a disturbing trend 'some' and I reiterate 'some' writer's blogs have filled me with umm . . . petulance. I was on one blog, can't remember whose but the comments were all 'would be' writers talking about their creative bent and stroking each other's massive egos. The basic conversation was "well we're creative so we're not normal. Normal is boring . . ." or "I don't believe in putting people into boxes . . .we're creative so we don't fit into one". Hello . . you just did! Imagine the absolute narcissism of actually acknowledging that you are a 'creative' person and then having the gaul to create your own little creative 'box' and deny that you are actually able to be categorised. Fuckwits. Now you know I'm cross!

The bottom line was a bunch of creative (so they say) wannabe's deciding that their 'box' was different to everyone elses. They were outside the square, different, off the wall, creative. Fuck me stupid! Now I'm sorry but good literature has often come from the most normal of sources. Vicar's daughters, lonely moorland dwellers, alchoholics, University drop outs, middle class normal kids with little else to fill their time, travellers, mums who couldn't get their kids to sleep . . psychopaths and sociopath's. Not one of these 'sources' of great literature ever thought of themselves as 'creative'. What absolute arrogance to stand up in front of a crowd and declare "I am creative". Please stop using this silly word. Creative is thinking of a solution beyond the norm, in science, literature, medicine, astronomy, cooking - whatever! I was very creative the other night. I learned how to make a white tiger outfit using a borrowed computerised sewing machine. But as usual . . I digress.

What happened to humility. I don't stand up in front of a crowd and say "I'm a fucking fantastic mother!" or "I am a superior user of MS word" so why, if you think you have a slightly artistic bent do you need to annoucne to the the world that you are 'creative'. Creativity is bestowed, like respect, it's earned not declared. Some of you have 'talent' but I'm sorry, many of you are complete egomanical wankers (and I think I was being creative in my use of that word.)

In defense of those I truly admire as potential writers, I love your work and you know who you are. But I have to say , the most creative amongst you are also the most humble. Normal is not a dirty word and normal and creative are not mutually exclusive. Stay humble, keep writing, get published, then I'll take notice.

Post Script: take a look at some really creative blogs. The ones that make your heart pump, you're tears well, your cockles warm and your inner child giggle. I thought briefly of linking some in here but then . . there are too many and most don't even know I visit their sites. I'm putting a vote up here for normal writers, those who have narrative, humour, a good command of the English language and a connection with their readers. Don't tell me JK Rawlins writes shite. She is much loved by millions. Don't tell me Stephen King is a nutter because I don't care, his books are captivating and if I hear one more more pompous ass tell me that the DaVinci Code is fiction I'll fucking stufff a dead dingo up his arse. I know it's fiction but it was a great read! Come into the real word you pretentious pricks and either decide to be nobodies on the blogosphere or write something that people want to read. Jane Austin was lonely, the Bronte's isolated, Johnathon Swift could not spell, Dickens and Steinbeck were journalists . . . none of them pretentious 'creatives' but all of them brilliant writers.

Here endeth the first lesson. Phew. I feel so much better now. Wanna fight . . . get you're dukes up!

So You Wanted Philosophy

Sorry to disappoint. Tonight's blog is about peas. These are humble veg and the ONLY veg that I buy frozen. There are some things that just can't be eaten without peas, fresh or otherwise. Grilled fish . . Atlantic Salmon tails with soy simply must be served with new potatoes slightly buttered or mashed potato and peas. Lamb . . . whether you marinate or not . . . simply goes with peas.

Apparently peas along with broccoli and cauliflower are the most disliked vegetables by the 2-12 age group, mainly because of the lack of digestive tolerance - hard to believe that your 2 year old knows best. Don't ever believe that your 2 year old doesn't know what they can and can't eat. But sweet, green, gently warmed, succulent little teeny weeny baby peas are heaven in the right combination. Crikey . . even the Thais put peas in thei red curry to sweeten it. If you grow them, they're fun to shell, if you're lazy like me . . buy the baby versions, not their tasteless older cousins, No water, in the micro for 3 minutes and perfecto!

I can't believe I blogged about peas.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Yanks are HERE!


Yep, ventured into the city last night. Did the green thing and caught the city bus, travelled through the bridge gridlock due to a train derailement that caused traffic havoc and walked the windy streets from city East to West towards the Opera House (God I love that building). On the way, the city seemed to be swarming with suits and busy-busy office workers on their way home - all wearing black - which made me swear that however unlikely, if I ever worked in the city, I'd wear a red coat and stand out like an ageing version of that little girl in Schindler's List.

Anyway, I digress. There seemed a disproportionate amount of rather young, strangely dressed, well trimmed men in groups of six or eight milling through the historic Rocks area obviously out for a good time. Yep, the US Kitty Hawk is one of four US visiting warships but the only aircraft carrier among them and it is in town. It's amazing. I never cease to surprise and slightly disappoint myself that I'm so impressed with weapons of mass destruction. I love an air show finale when the F-18 do a fuel dump and fly by. I love big things, especially when they're lit up and shiny (oooh shiny things . . .*gravitates towards them like a Christmas Beetle to a light bulb*).

This ship is mammoth, 7,000 personnel on board, it is supposed to inject $2 million a day into the Sydney economy. Woolooomooloo residents are mightily pissed off because their roads have been closed to accommodate the thousands of visitors who can go on board for just 10 buckaroos.

In an embarrassing bungle by the State Government apparently jeopardised the security of the visiting US warships by posting sensitive details on the internet. The arrival date, times and berthing details of the USS Kitty Hawk, USS Cowpens, USS Juneau and USS Tortuga were published by the Sydney Ports Corporation, despite requests from the US to keep the information secret. I think that's a joke, how do you keep 3 acres of aircraft carrier a secret? Ah well, serves them right for asking us to join the Coalition of the 'do we really have to - we only joined the military to get a trade' Willing.

Anyway, it's a great piece of machinery and I'm impressed. It's the ultimate big boy's/girl's toy.

So for the technical here are it's specs:
displacement: 80,800 tons
length: 1,047½ feet
beam: 129 feet 4 inches; extreme width: 252 feet
draft: 37 feet
speed: 35 knots
complement: 4,582 permanent crew
armament: Sea Sparrow launchers, 3 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts
class: Kitty Hawk
facilities: 5 gymnasiums, 3 mess halls
built: Philadelphia shipyard 1961
fuel: Deisel

What's to keep secret?

So Sydney, stash away your vegemite, warm up your pies, chill your beer (real beer not that American diluted slop), break out the stuffed Koalas, lock up your daughters, dispense your condoms and say 'ello sailor'. She's in port for the next four days.


8 Things

K8's tagging (and I don't know the difference between 'it' and meme either). So here's 8 things some of you don't know about me:

  1. I have a fearful obsession about burning to death (let's start on a cheery note!)
  2. I am the only person in the universe who hasn't been to Paris and it shits me to tears
  3. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up - time is running out.
  4. I constantly talk to myself and re-live scenarios where I didn't get to say what I really meant. I sort those fuckers out loud all over again while I'm driving home.
  5. I have the same small strawberry mark above my knee that my mother, sister and grandmother have/had
  6. I can make fancy dress outfits: Telly Tubby's, White Tigers, Wizards, Medusa, Snow White to name a few
  7. I can't stay on one of those pool dolphins
  8. I've never dated anyone with a tattoo and this bothers me although I don't know why

I've never tagged so here goes:

Kahlerisms - Open up quiet man
Benchwarmer - only 7 days to go
Jen - you're a real blogger now

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gigglefest

Not much to post today. Just got back from the twinkly harbour city and the beautiful Opera House playhouse where I giggled myself stupid to Wil Anderson, a rare Aussie comedy and satirical talent who had ClareBear, Thommo and The Boss and I in stitches. A good night and I'm off tomorrow . . .yeay . . .I need to do my income tax.
G'night punters. It was $80 bucks well spent. My face hurts.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hyperflop

I've always been a lover of Red Dwarf. Who can forget the black scouse Lister, the lacklustre computer Holly, the 'cat', Duane Dibbley and the holographic Rimmer. It was off the wall, beautifully written and ultimately funny. The props were tacky, the spaceships impossible and the little puffs of space smoke generated with nothing more than a bit of dry ice dripped with moisture. I think that's when I discovered my inner geek, laughed out loud alone and totally enjoyed the ubiquitous Crighton who put all other robotic characters to shame with his knowledge, experience and pathos. Sheer genius worthy of ongoing dress-up conventions.

Well tonight, after going out to dinner with the kiddywinks and enjoying a couple of delicious chardy's with a fillet steak and oysters salandaise (just popped that in to make you slaver) I thought I'd give the new age Red Dwarf a go. A show called Hyperdrive. What a load of rubbish
. None of the glib script or funny characters. It's an over- costumed digitised lame attempt to launch Britain as the bright centre of the universe in an impossible cosmos. Now there's a thought. Unfunny, stilted (that's my word of the week) and totally lacking in quality characterisation. None of the quotable quotes that mean absolutely nothing but encourage side-splitting laughter. OK it was a cult obsession and I even wore a Rimmer T shirt in my heyday but who can forget:

" Please rush me my portable walrus polishing kit. Four super brushes that will clean even the trickiest of seabound mammals. Yes, I am over eighteen, though my IQ isn't. "

"I am Holly, the ship's computer, with an IQ of 6000, the same IQ as 6000 PE teachers. "

" (Pointing at Hitler) Ignore him. He's a complete and total nutter! AND he's only got one testicle! "

" Causality? Well, OK, you know, one event causes another, OK, but sometimes, you just gotta say, the laws of time and space? Who gives a smeg!' "

"Oh Smeg! What the smeg's he smegging done? He's smegging killed me! "

"Now kindly cluck off, before I extract your gibblets, and shove a large seasoned onion between the lips you never kiss with. "

Ooops, that last one sounds like it could have been me!




Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Spliff

A while back K8 lamented my constant damage and breakdown woes by saying if it was her, she'd have gone for a long walk and a spliff by now. Never heard of it says I. Aha . . well now I know.

NOUN: Slang A large marijuana cigarette. Usually mixed with tobacco.
ETYMOLOGY: Jamaican English.

I have been in a position to research this unusual word. I'm familiar with dope, ganga, blaze bongs and buds. I'm au fait with bucket and milk carton bongs and have even loaded the odd cone and smoked the odd lid (all in my mis-spent youth of course) but I've never heard of a spliff.

Mixing tobacco in withcannabis is much more common in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, Turkey and Iran partly because the majority of cannabis is resin which cannot be smoked on its own in a joint. People who use tobacco claim it helps the joint burn, when loose tobacco acts as kindling to ignite the moister and denser cannabis. Some smokers also avoid mixing cannabis with tobacco for fear of becoming addicted to tobacco. Ha ha . . that's funny.

I guess since ours is that fabulous hydroponic stuff that blows your head off, it's more moist, and ready to roll.

This option of tobacco mix is very rarely used in the United States, Latin America or Australia. Of course, down under, we prefer to bong on or use a cone or roll some nice sticky heads all on their own in a good quality tally ho paper.

I might have one just so I can say "I rolled myself a spliff . . ."

Then again, I prefer a nice wooded chardonney or a sparkling pinot noir . . .it tastes better, the effect is similar and your eyes don't go puffy, nor do you need copious amounts of munchies half an hour after imbibing.

I just have to remember not to take the trike out after a tipple . . .

I'd Rather Remain Faceless

Corporate photographs. That’s what they want to put on our Financial Services Guide, our website and worst of all to provide to our licensee so that the lab rat’s faces can be emlazoned on the next Partner’s conference big screen to show what happy little campers we are to now be part of the ipac conglomerate.

So here I sit in my gladrags waiting for some amateur shutterbug to snap my mug so that I can be heralded as one of the backbones of the administration team. But they’re going to photograph us ‘in situ’ at our workstations, beavering away and looking like office staff. How fascinating that must be for the onlookers who have only gone to the conference for the junket.

I hate having my photo taken. I am not photogenic and always seem to be caught wincing or looking cranky and disapproving (a look I have mastered apparently) or my hair’s too frizzy or that zit on my chin is sticking out like a spare appendage. I hate looking in the mirror for that matter. Not because I’m ugly,.because I’m not, but I’m far from breathtaking and the reflection I see in the mirror these days is a mere shadow of my former self. I hate having to confront the creeping loss of youth unless the lights are dim and the flash is turned off.

I will take some photos when our camera is fixed. Hopefully this week but I’ll be very selective about what I post. I’ve decided that I have a good camera angle and that’s shots taken slightly from the left at about 2 metres. The distance blurs the wrinkles and hides the hair friz and sort of evens out the body shape a bit. How I’m going to achieve that sitting in my small corner, I don’t know. It’s weird, I don’t know why I’m so self-conscious. I think I prefer people to get to know the whole package, not just the image, yet I love looking at other people’s photos.

I think most of all, I hate having my photograph used as a sales pitch to make other financial planning businesses feel warm and fuzzy towards me. Especially without an extreme make-over (sorry Grandad) and a professional panel beater and spray painter I mean stylist). It’s not just me, we’re all going to be used as examples of blissful little supporters to a room full of Equity Partners who are really only swanning around on the Queensland coast in a luxury hotel for the afteroon golf and the evening booze up.

Fortunately, she who is taking the photos, is unwell today.
Fuck. That means I’ll have to wear a suit and battle the ‘do’ again tomorrow.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Rusty Poo


Ok Rusty Poo is the name that Dodge gives to NZ Guinness but I've found a new definition. Whilst watching 'Border Patrol' tonight, a show about the amazing and disgusting things that people try to bring into Australia and usually get caught with - they picked up on a beautifully polished box, emblazoned with a pewter logo and carefully compartmentalised with samples of what looks like normal roasted coffee beans, obviously expensive. It turns out that this is Kopi Luwak coffee. Now I like a medium roast arabica as much as the next guy but apparently, there is little animal that lives in Indonesia. It eats coffee beans and is very selective about the quality of coffee beans it consumes. Only the most expensive, ripe and high quality for this little diner. The soft outer coating is digested and the bean remains, is passed - yep poo'd. The poo is picked up, (imagine that for a job), processed and packaged for gourmet consumers and shipped around the world. Can you imagine? So next time someone offers you a cup of java, make sure it hasn't been pre digested by a Palm Civet!


Believe it - or Not!

I'm a Clean Freak


Clarebear: “Mum, do you mind if I pack my own lunch from now on?”

Me: “Of course not, why?”

ClareBear: “I’m a bit sick of soap bubbles in my pasta.”


Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Am a Happy Camper


Today I had a lovely day. Quiet. The bonfire revellers stayed over and I love being surrounded by handsome young men all sleepy eyed and hungry. DrummerBoy cooked them eggs and bacon on the BBQ and rekindled the fire. I managed to get all the washing in despite the requisite odd socks. Sean the Prawn came over to finish Actor's Website. I talked to Brian for god knows how long with no d-e-l-a-y, we covered religion and politics and of course the recipe exchange without falling out and he managed to keep the C-bomb to himself then did a brief bit of grocery shopping before watching Smoking Aces with ClareBear and finishing with a noice prawny pastery thing cos it was just the girls home for tea. Not bad consideriong my mega lunch was cancelled due to the flu so my jaunt to the seaside was postponed. Life is good and I'm feeling - replete.

One Man's Trash is . . .

Relaxing late this evening, Clare and I were watching Blood Diamond, not a bad movie actually, whe Jem and Clone popped in with a surprise visitor. He's about 1.5 metres tall, bad tempered, wearing little more than a grass skirt and clutching a DVD holder. He looks mad actually, like someone punched him in one eye and the other is wincing and waiting for the next blow. I felt compulsed to take him under my wing and immediately placed him in the bath. He was dirty, black, African looking . . but now, all clean and sweet smelling, he's been quite happy sitting/standing (it seams he prefers to stand) in the corner of my living room.

I so wish my camera wasn't in for repair . . .Clare apparently had been under the affluence of incohol a few weeks back and scrummaged through a friend's throw out garbage, had found said African, felt sorry for him and rescued him from the chipper chopper of death. So now, and I must admit I have become quite attached to the grumpy fellow, he is standing in my living room, clean, wood oiled and sweet-smelling and leaves me with the feeling that when the lights go out, he might come to life and raid my fridge or worse crawl onto the base of my bed. Thank God I sleep with a dog. *bless*. What started as a joke has now become part of the family. I just wish he had a smile on his face. This pic is the same guy but stolen from ebay. Mine/ours of course is much more handsome and I wouldn't have the bad taste to paint a brick wall white! I will take a photo once my camera is repaired. This doesn't really do him justice. Name suggestions please?