Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Impending Neutoronomy

Ha! I'm s-o-o-o-o glad I took a day off before my surgery. I started the day right with a half hour lie-in. Hilarious . . woke at 6:00am! Hey! That's a half hour sleep-in! I am a mutant, my internal alarm is persistent and regular as clockwork. I tried to roll over and take it easy but my body was screaming for a cup of tea so pushed the hound off the bed, made a cup of Irish Brekky then checked the blogs. So far, a normal day. Then swanked over to the Vampire's to give blood, that was fun . . . it's still pumpin thank goodness! She bruised me this time so I look like a junkie. Actually I have no problem with needles and feel constantly embarrassed that I don't donate enough blood. Although I don't think my A RH- is very valuable as a cross match these days. So, denuded and a little woosy by the loss of a little blood for my op (just in case, always the pragmatist) and further blood work to make sure they don't pump me full of type O instead of A, I headed off to the Chemist. I have to take 4 super duper antibiotic tablets with a meal tonight and NO ALCOHOL *sobs uncontrollably* So the plan is to have an early afternoon drinky poo then a meal, dry out by 10 then the drugs . . . . sorted!

11:00 am and my lovely Outlaws popped in on their way to a lunch and dropped off all sorts of freezer food. Sadly, none will be left by the time I get out of hospital. DrummerBoy will have consumed the lot: Spinach and Fetta Triangles, Mushroom and Chicken Pasties and a home made Quiche - but at least that means my staple store in the pantry will remain untouched. He prefers 'ready mades' to actually putting ingredients together, even though he's quite the chef so for now, my tomato stir throughs, coconut milk, rice, pasta, baked beans and pizza bases are safe.

Sadly, work got on top of me so I had to go in this afternoon and finish the Newsletter and brief the troops - not my best effort I have to admit. I've left a few loose ends. I still haven't updated the website or completed a big mail merge to clients who will be receiving a Wilderness Calendar for Christmas but then again, it won't do any harm to leave a few things undone . . . proves I actually can justify my existence. Even Sgt Bilko was quite sweet and TheBoss of course. The self-obsessed Elder Statesman cranky as ever said nothing. I hope his prostate plays up over the weekend and gives him a severe case of brewers droop!

While I was at work, the hospital rang with the brief.

Her: "You need to show up at 6.00am with your Medicare card and you'll have to pay your $200 excess prior to admission"
Me: "Ooh nice surprise. I thought I was up for $1000. Do I get a private room"
Her: "Yes if there's one available - are you just staying the one night?"
Me: "Um I don't think so, I'm being neutered"
Her: "Oh, well you'll be with us for a few nights then - in that case, you'll need a clean nightie and some toiletries. Don't forget your toothbrush"

I am in good hands . . .really . . . I think . . . or will they send me home after day 1?

Back in time for a quick chotapeg and chain smoke my remaining cigarettes. Roit . . I think Im ready. I have two new large pinky/bluey T-shirt style nighties and a pretty pair of pink pumps with stars on them - all colour coordinated of course and thankfully they cover my less than fabulous knees, a new 'hotel style' cotton dressing gown, three pairs of black yoga pants, two new T shirts. A bevvy of Bridget Joneses which I'll trade for pretties once the scar heals and just for good measure, I bleached my Havainas so they're nice and turquoisy and clean looking. Packed my toiletries bag, complete with about 3 kilos of Naprogesic. Man that's a wonder drug - I sure hope it works in the area where my bits used to be, certainly did when they were still in place and some ibuprofin just in case. I'm not taking ANY chances on running out of Analgesia, private hospital or no! Also bought some American Indian preparation called Black Cohosh and Red Clover or something which is supposed to be good for menopausal symptoms. Apparently, we're straight into it after the op . . . I'll be flushing and sweating all over the place (Why does that make me think of Fat Bastard from Austen Powers?) DrummerBoy asked if they'd give me the bits in a bottle! I think not baby puppy! I've packed some smellies and lip gloss and of course the ubiquitous curl taming creme so I don't look like a nappy headed ho when visitors come. Bang the Gong, We Are On!

Thank you to all of you who have wished me well. I'm a woos and need the positive reinforcement so it's much appreciated, especially from the progeny of course, Christine Hyphen (who lent me 3 series of Six Foot Under and Hamish Macbeth), Thommo and her lovely, lovely, lovely, seven second hugs, Strawberry Girl, Brian (who's lit a candle for my unrecoverable soul bless his gaelic tattoo), Daz, Vanilla and Steph (means a lot coming from you two ladies who are not in the best of health yourselves right now so reciprocal healing thoughts), BabyBro and BabySis and the rest of you who have ventured into the oestrogen zone recently. (I wonder if I'll be less emotional once I'm neutered?) Anonymous . . . you'd better let me know WTF that bird is or I'll go insane!

I've put my order in for a bit of 'tightening' and a 'tummy tuck' so who knows!

See you in about 5 days! Unless it all goes pear-shaped in which case . . . . it's been a hoot and say 'hello' to Paris for me!

You caption it and make me smile!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is . . . ummm . . . .ummmm

The Groovy Granny rang me last night to ask what I would like for Christmas. Yep, she's an organised possum that one and we have our Christmas celebration with her and Ray's Brother, his wife and their three boys, the week before Christmas day. We now draw a Kris Kringle, a Secret Santa - each draws a name out of a hat and has a maximum $100 spend for one person instead of us all busting the bank for each member of the family. We can then buy a 'decent' gift and spend less time opening and more time sweating around the dining table in 35 degree heat with silly paper hats on, sweating into our traditional European roast dinner, complete with pudding and home made custard before we switch into our sarongs and languish on the deck looking out over the Skillion at Terrigal and noting sagely how very lucky we are.

This year, it's so, so hard. I've been thinking and the things I need are well, none. The things I want are well, few. I like a real 'present' because it shows thought and effort and is received with grace and thanks. I don't much care for a voucher because there's always that $12 that is unspendable at the end of the day unless it's a Coles Myer voucher which I can spend at well, Coles, Target, Liquorland, and a number of other outlets to get full value.

But seriously, beyond the big things, the impossible things like world peace, a new American President, a Qantas round the world ticket and an end to third world poverty what could I possibly need? I'd like a new car . . . the old Accord is starting to behave strangely but ClareBear is going oveseas next year so I'll have a spare. I'd like a holiday but that would never come in at under $100. I'd like a new Canon EOS 400D with interchangeable lenses but that's exorbitant. I'd like DrummerBoy to change his linen once a week. I'd like a Jason recliner and a home theatre system to go with it. I'd like the Japanese to stop killing Minky whales for 'research'. I'd like to buy new blankets for the homeless guys in Parramatta Park. I'd like a nice corporate suit that fits well and makes me look like all the other suits when I'm in boardroom situations but then I'd just be another mumbo jumbo asshole running it up the flagpole or throwing it on the tarmac to see if it sticks. I'd like a new mattress or even a new bed or a 6' 2" hairless German who knows how to cook and give a good foot massage but we all know that aint gonna happen so . . . my list is modest. She won't buy anything on it because she'll consider it trivial and not 'gifty' enough but seriously I'd like:

A pool noodle
New wooden spoons (you know how they get all black weird shaped at the end)
2 new pillows
Some 'melts' to put in my oil burners - Lavender, Sandalwood or Tea Rose
A couple of pairs of anklet socks for walking
A car air freshener
A quirky dashboard ornament
A bronzer in a compact
A new doorknob for my bathroom door (currently held into closed position by a face washer draped over the top of the door to help it wedge tight into the door jamb)
A new Holland blind to replace the one that refuses to roll up in my dining room
A handyman for a day! Now there's one that won't come easy! . . .and of course . . .
some new champagne glasses because I've broken the ones given to me last Christmas.

There . . . mind you, I'll probably get a lettuce spinner (yes they make such things), a linen shirt with gold embroidery which I shall pass on to the homeless people in Parramatta Park and a bottle of Moet and Chandon which is very nice but gone in an instant.

So kiddywinks . . what's on your Christmas list and don't tell me you haven't even thought about it! December this weekend folks, time to trim the tree, plan the event, dread the rellies (although I don't I must admit, I have a deep affection for Christmas and lots of fun celebrating it - I've already got my Carols by Candelight candles). Time to get into action for that one day of the year that unites and separates. Maybe this year, I'll manage not to smash the table.
Don't ask!

Can you see a little bouncy Santa on the floor . . .
he kept bouncing for about 10 minutes after his traumatic fall from grace!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bewfuls Boy

Becks . .golden balls . . . bless his Pepsi stained soul is in town with the US Galaxy team for a demonstration game tonight. I'm sure he only went to the States for the money to pay for Posh's Jimmy Chu's. ClareBear grabbed tickets to the Sydney United / Queensland Game last night and Posh's hubby ponced onto the field along with his little known American mates, with his slightly unbalanced tattoes and number 4 bob and waved to a less than crowded stadium.

Now I have to say, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. I'm not a great follower of soccer but I know he played for my brother's all time fantabulous team Manchester United (Our house dons an Old Trafford plaque above the front door an other United memorabilia - the man's possessed - Babybro not Becks) before he moved to Real Madrid. I know he can bend it, I know he's sold out to a country who calls football running to the 10 yard line and shouting ' hut hut hut' . . with a funny shaped ball and body armour worthy of a Halo warrior. (Wordnerd and Brianf are gonna kill me!) But, and as you know there's always a but, the guy looks like a GOD in an Armani suit. He's just fine as a man can be until he opens his mouth. Go Becks baby, you're eye candy at worst. But just look at the intellect . . .

"Pele was a complete player. I didn't see him live obviously, because I wasn't born"

"My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about 7"

"I remember so clearly us going into hospital so Victoria could have Brooklyn. I was eating a Lion bar at the time"

"Alex Ferguson is the best manager I've ever had at this level. Well, he's the only manager I've actually had at this level. But he's the best manager I've ever had"

"We're definitely going to get Brooklyn christened, but we don't know into which religion"

"I always used to go for blondes and quiet girls, but Victoria is the total opposite - dark and loud"

"Well, I can play in the centre, on the right and occasionally on the left side"

Versatile or what . . who cares . . he is hawt!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waving to God and Speaking in Tongues

Spot the black, fat lesbian in a wheelchair? No? She's not welcome in this place!

I must be in a serious mood this weekend. Lots of thoughts flowing between the ears (Amazing since there isnt much else in there). One of the commenters on this blog is a cleric. He’s a Minister in the Church of Ireland. He’s very intelligent, funny, politically and geographically aware, the sort that you would probably enjoy hearing a sermon from on any Sunday. Interesting really, as a non-believer, I find his site thought-provoking and his comments on my and other blogs unusually secular. It struck me that in a comment criticising the ”God Squad” that I might have hurt his sensibilities, I think not as he’s very broad minded but it also made me want to clarify the comment.

I am not religious. I was raised an Anglican, the Church of England variety and completed all the usual sacraments. I taught Sunday School in my teens and enjoyed the social side of church life, particularly in Melbourne at a little Church we attended in Donvale many years ago. The move to Sydney disconnected that nice feeling as we found it difficult to find a Parish that emulated it's close knit community and delightful Minister.

My mother was a Welsh Evangalist, quite religious but searching for a Church that suited her so we were dragged through the Baptist, Methodist, Wesley and numerous other breakaways in the hope of finding an ‘appropriate’ venue for my mother to Worship. None really worked for her and our churchgoing life was suspended. My father was Church of England and highly principled yet the Priest who attended him during his dying days was the son of a beloved friend and a Catholic, he always considered himself a non-denominational Christian. I married a Catholic and whilst I didn’t convert, I became accustomed to attending Mass and raised both children through the Catholic Education System as promised. I studied Judaism at University and attended the Great Synagogue on several occasions and dabbled as one does in Buddhism many years ago. So, I’ve had some pretty wide exposure to organised religion. Whilst I don’t believe in God in the traditional sense, and I have great scepticism about the e Church at large, I have deep respect for organisations such as the Salvation Army, St Vincent DePaul, Anglicare and similar philanthropics that do great work for the marginalised, underprivileged and the needy. So, why am I so down on the God Squad? Well I'm not. It's just this particular branch of pentacostal ratbags for whom I have no respect.

About 500metres from my leafy little enclave of acreage, suburbia is encroaching. At the end of our road is a large shopping centre, an ice skating rink, a light industrial park (offices and the like) a Convention Centre and the “Till on the Hill”. This is the Australian Headquarters of the Christian Life Centre – Hillsong. Inspired originally by an ex-pat Kiwi, it is an evangelical and pentacostal religious organisation.

They attract their parishioners very cleverly by offering an alternative to the conventional, a new age bible, rock and roll services, merchandising, counselling, medical centres, youth and women’s conventions and a focus on becoming wealthy through knowing God. It’s a safe place for younglings who have not yet forayed into the sinful world of sex, drugs and Saturday night binge drinking. It’s somewhere kids can go before they terrorise the streets on their P plates and it obviously fills a void that conventional Churches have been so far unable to do.

So what’s the harm? They believe in a benevolent and forgiving God. Hillsong's A-Z service delivery is immense, offering something for everyone from medical practices and psychiatric counselling to coffee shops. They encourage moral behaviour, no sex before marriage, respect for God and each other. They’re normal law abiding citizens, bringing religion into the modern age and believe that living your life blessed is better than living your life rich – or do they?

It is all about money and control. They preach that the more successful and wealthy you are, the better equipped you are to support the fiscal needs of the church and their work. They have commercialised religion beyond its biblical simplicity and now have a tangible, strong, influential and fully emerged business and political influence. Ironic that their medical and psychiatric practices have the pseudonym “Emerge”. The atmosphere during services is unrestrained, friendly and emotional, the responses loud and heartfelt. Hillsong promotes that God wants people to live "healthy and prosperous lives in order to help others more effectively". It is a message of "personal effectiveness" so people can make a bigger difference to the world. They are more like an Anthony Robbins motivational conference than a Church gathering.

At last count there were 1100 Assemblies of God churches in Australia under the presidency of the senior pastor of Hillsong, Brian Houston. They enjoy tax free status, as do all Churches in Australia and the evangelising of the masses has led to a complex web of financial arrangements that is impossible to detangle. Whilst they welcome checking of their accounts ‘via appointment’ any attempt by their parishioners do so is ‘frowned upon’.

Houston told ABC television's Australian Story in August 2005 that in the previous financial year, Hillsong had an income of $50million, and had $100million in "facilities". Little has been said about their worth since then. They hold “Miracle Offering Weekends” to raise cash for their multi-million dollar building projects, one of which includes the massive convention centre that sits beside the current Till. An excerpt from a letter to parishioners requesting their financial generosity to repatriate child soldiers in Uganda read:

“Our commitment is that we will give the greater of either 10 per cent or the first $500,000 of the Miracle Offering. Hillsong Church is not built on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifice of many."

10% well that was big of them - taking the term tithe literally I note. What about the other 90%! They raised $7.2 million! Oh and they can pay via cash, cheque or credit card. I am not averse to fundraising for charitable causes all Churches do it . . . but little is said about the charitable causes and in this case, so little is actually contributed . . . most is sunk into the purchase of valuable land and the building of megalithic facilities and the establishment of new businesses, not to mention lining the pockets of its initiators, Brian and Bobbie Houston.

"If you believe in Jesus," says Hillsong’s leader Brian Houston, "He will reward you here on earth as well as in Heaven”. It is this prosperity gospel teaching that puts him at odds with conventional religious leaders.

And don’t even get me started on Bobbie Houston’s philosophy on women. Young Hillsong women go to high schools to teach female students about make-up and skin care. Fat is out. Do some exercise. Bobbie Houston (the wifey poo) "If I carry weight I feel like a retard.” (I was unaware that being intellectually challenged was linked to weight gain) ... And then there’s this – “How are you going to do anything to surprise your man when you need a hydraulic crane just to turn over in bed?" She also recommends having plastic surgery, if it makes you feel better and it is for the right reasons, and "girls, pelvic floor exercises - can you believe I am saying this? - you know, I have heard that orgasm is not as strong if you are really sloppy in that area". and on her CD She Loves and Values Her Sexuality. Which is all about ‘catching a man’. If you don't look great, you won't get a decent looking husband and, if you already have one, to quote Bobbie, “he'll leave you!”

Tomorrow I will post something funny . . . promise!

Labor Landslide

Kevin Rudd - The New Prime Monster of Australia

"Now we can implement our 'real' agenda! *evil laughter ensues*

I am not a 'political' animal but like most, I listen to policy promises that affect me, my life, my children. So this time round, yep, I voted Labor and Labor won. Our new leader, Kevin Rudd is a babe in politics so has much to prove in bringing his conservatively left wing Government into the limelight and proving they can do as good a job as the outgoing Liberal conservatives. He also has his work cut out for him containing the rampantly left wing Deputy Julia Gillard in ensuring we don't sink back into the union controlled Australia of the 70's and 80's. Remember Electricity rationing, the Wharf disputes?

Last night's landslide result, a win of a 22 seat margin by labour in the House of Representatives has proven that Australians are ready for a change after 11 years of Howard Government. Well done Aussies for getting off your political backsides. As I said yesterday, John Howard has done a good job on the most part, bringing Australia into the fore as an economy to be reckoned with even if the world doesn't know where we are. Among his victories:

  • Free trade agreement with the US (nobody seems to realise what a biggie this is for a nation who relies so heavily on its primary production and resource sales an has to compete with heavily subsidised US and European Markets)
  • A booming economy
  • Less than 5% Unemployment
  • A budget surplus over the past 8 years of above $4 billion
However over his 11 years in Government Howard has also, made Australia one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world despite offering tax cuts three years in a row to average Australians. Despite promising there would be no GST in Australia, he implemented it (Goods and Services Tax). He introduced compulsary fees for Tertiary education which in my day was free . . thats right . . . free. My kids will graduate each with a $25,000 debt to be repaid once their earnings peak at $38,000 pa. This move seriously hampering the ability of bright students from low socio-economic backgrounds to enter the tertiary system. He even introduced higher fees for TAFE (Technical and Further Education) which should have been the bastion of education for our tradesmen and skilled workers. He built Detention Centres for refugees where the authentic and the fraudulent simmered for years before the dinosaur that is our public service processed them - allowed the good guys in and sent the bad guys home. He blindly followed the US into the War against Iraq when popular opinion was clearly against it, without seeking a plebicite from the people. And of course Work Choices Legislation which allows individual workplace agreements to be negotiated between employer and employee and the abolition of the Unfair Dismissal Tribunal.

So voting for a new Government wasn't easy. My mind seriously wasn't made up until last Friday and I'm not 'elated' by the result but pleased. One good thing about a Federal Labor Government is that it is now aligned with every State and Territory in Australia which has had Labor State Governments for many years. Hopefully, this means that State Governments will now be more receptive to Federal initiatives. The way I read it, the Commonwealth provides the funds for infrastructure, Health, Education and the States choose how to spend it. In NSW particularly (I speak of this because it's where I live), our public health system is in crisis, medical staff are in short supply, our schools are ill-equipped, Child Care absorbs up to 40% of the working family wage and the roads are in need of improvement. The Environment, including climate change has only been on the agenda this year as an election 'sweetener'.

Another 'good' thing about this result is in the Senate, essentially, the forum where laws are discussed and approved. Once a majority Liberal Senate, it was easy to 'sneak' legislation through. Now the Greens hold the balance of power which hopefully means that there will be healthy debate on any laws being fronted (despite their labour leanings). This too can only be a good thing rather than legislation being a 'given' in a largely impotent Senate.

So there you have it in a nutshell. My children have never known anything other than a Liberal Australia . . .Lets see how it all pans out shall we?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Different Name - Same Difference

Out with the old?

"I can't find my name on the ballot paper?"

Today, 24 November 2007 is Federal Election Day. There are two major parties - the ruling party is the Liberal/National Coalition. A right wing city based party married to an equally right wing country party. They've been in power for 11 years. The name 'liberal' is not literal, they are centre-right wing conservatives but through the resources boom have managed to bring Australia into a strong economic position by selling off our precious minerals and natural resources to industrialising nations such as China, subjugating our indigenous population, reducing corporate tax to just about zippity and over taxing the general population through income tax, fuel tax, superannuation tax, fuel tax, airport tax bla bla bla . . .the list goes on. They took us to war in Iraq, they also built detention centres for refugees and detained them for years whilst awaiting processing. But, thanks in no small part to restrictive Workplace Agreements, employment is at an all time high and to counter the rising interest rates over the past three years, we have been given an extra few dollars a month in tax cuts - DUH! That makes sense! Stop the economy running off the inflationary scale by encouraging people to spend . . .well done dickheads! The environment is barely on the Agenda, government spending is irresponsible and 'sweetner' is not a dirty word.

Then there's the "Labor" party who when voted out 11 years ago, had poor economic management, high income tax, record unemployment, high interest rates, a similar disregard for the environment and a violent liar of a leader who has since written a book about the corruption and dissention within his own party. They've had big leadership issues and finally elected a leader who looks like . . . um - who was a private school boy bearing an uncanny resemblence to Tin Tin. He has pretty much emulated all the existing government policies despite being branded as a left wing unionist - pish! He has an inexperienced cabinet, including a shadow Minister for the Environment who blurted out to a shock jock that Labor would change everything when they're in power anyway! That's what you get for putting a rock star in a position of power. Yep, Midnight Oil's own Peter Garret, the bald headed master of the faux pas and now new parliamentary puppet who hasn't got the balls to prevent a new pulp mill pumping dioxin into the pristine rivers and bays of Tasmania.

So, these are our choices. Of course, there's The Greens, the Democrats, Advance Australia, Carers Alliance, Cheaper Petrol Party, Alliance for Climate Change, Communist Party, No Aircraft Noise Party, Democratic Socialists, One Nation, Republican Party, Reconcile Australia Party, Nuclear Disarmament Party, Family First and a plethora of teensy weensy parties who will give their preferences to the major two. I think the Marijuhana Party forgot to register - too busy giggling and eating toasted cheese sandwiches.

So here I am, the polls are open. I will have to queue at the local high school for about 20 minutes and be inundated with the smell of fatty barbecuing sausages put on by the local soccer club. Then I'll be accosted by representatives of the various parties who have dessimated a small forest to produce their glossy brochures donning smiling "would you buy a car from this man" and "How to Vote" pamphlets before being ticked off the electoral roll by some frosty little unemployed shit who's taking advantage of the tax free earnings offered if you work at a polling booth on election day. They have a demeanour similar to that of Medical Secretaries with their snooty "I work for a doctor you know, therefore I am holier than you" looks.

The ballot paper is about two metres wide and there's a Senate Paper of similar size that will have to be completed in a cardboard booth the size of an aeroplane toilet. Both will be rolled into cylinders and placed in their respective ballot boxes before we unceremoniously hold our noses on departure to avoid the fatty sausage man spruiking his fundraising offal filled sandwiches to passers by.

But this isn't the difficult bit. Who the flying fuck am I going to vote for? I've only had about a year to think about this and I feel as guilty as someone who's forgotten a family birthday, like we didn't know it was coming!

The solution was handed to me on a platter yesterday via link to a "How Should I Vote" site. I think the site is pretty unbiased and poses a number of questions about your political position, issues that are important then when the 20 questions are completed (it does assume you have an opinion on such things as refugees, the economy, tax, the environment etc.) it generates a preference list so that you can vote for the most appropriate local candidate. Apparently, the current encumbents, the Liberal Party in their abject arrogance, has not embraced the site and hasn't posted many candidates - idiots, because half, yes half, the voting public have actually used it to help them make their decisions. This gives you an idea of the sheer arrogance of the current Government. The only thing that will save them is the public's unwillingness to embrace a new and largely untested opposition. Then Australians are notoriously apathetic and we don't like change.

So, armed with my little list of rather weird candidates varying from "Me too" Labor to the leftist Greens and even a rather conservative Family First dude, I will use a computer program to decide my vote. Why? Dunno really since I live in a blue ribbon Liberal seat full of the religious right, I'm really just cancelling one of their votes. Then again, to knock just one Hillsong God Squad voter off their high and mighty moral perch is worth it. Watch this space, it's going to be a close contest or a landslide victory - how's that for hedging my bets?

In with the new?

"You what? You think mouth looks like a cats arse? Sit on this Johnny!"

Friday, November 23, 2007

Formally Speaking

It's school formal time in the land down under. This is a weird phenomenon which didn't quite exist when I was a school leaver but now it has a life of its own. When I was a girl, there was one school formal. It marked the right of passage from year 12 (6th form in my day) into the wide world. It was usually themed and there was no compulsion to have a 'partner', just attend, have a soft drink, chippies and dinner in the local Community Hall, a few speeches a bit of a dance. I made mine in a borrowed Sailor's Outfit to match the boyf's . . not quite your feminine icon but the trousers were comfy. Then an after party where we smooched to Led Zeppelin or Earth Wind and Fire or had a spliff in the corner whilst chilling to Dark Side of the Moon or Smokey Mountain Way. Revelry was followed by a long drive to Palm Beach the next day to sleep and recover.

When my kids were in their mid school years - year 10 to be specific, the formal is a big thing. It's like a bloody Debutante's Ball. Black tie and long dresses. Hair is professionally coloured and coiffed, make-up professionally done, months are spent planning the outfitand 'the look'. I had to work really hard on DrummerBoy to convince him that wearing a bright blue suit would make him look like Dick Tracey's alter ego and that a stylish black suit with an uber flashy waistcoat might be a better choice but at least with him, the cost was mitigated by a hired item. All we had to purchase was the shirt and a nice pair of shoes which incidentally were never worn again!

ClareBear was more of a challenge as we scoured shopping centres from Penrith to Double Bay looking for something different. She didn't want to look like a merangue or have one of those stiff satin hired jobs. After an exhausting ordeal we finally settled on a pretty bright pink chiffony bias cut shoestring with sparkly Jimmy Chu style strappies.

Then there's the vehicles - the mode of transport to take you to the formal had to be weird and wonderful - a fire engine, police car, tank or at the very least something vintage or veteran. The arrival at the venue of choice (which in itself was always somewhere posh) was very, very important. Adam chose vintage, Clare - sirens and a police escort - someone's dad would be in trouble! Yep,they were real police cars!

Year 12 is a far more sedate affair. More of a cocktail do where the kids dine in front of the parents' shared tables of 8 at the back. I didn't attend either of my children's Year 12 formals for that reason. What's the point of me sitting next to some parent I've never met whilst my kids and their partners are waaaaaay over there having fun and not really caring whether I was there or not. Then I have to take the steak because there are only two menu choices served alternately, aeroplane style. The person next to me doesn't eat red meat and I really wanted the Chicken Kiev. Formal speeches, formal meal. Lots of sucking up to teachers and a few awards then the brats are set free on the world. Strip into their beach gear and lob on some unsuspecting parent's premises to party hard while we all go home and lament our lost youth.

Now the coup de gras . . . Whilst prattling in the quadrangle at work today as we admin girly swats often do . . .I discovered that there are now three series of formals attended by Australian school children. Year 10 and 12 we've covered . . . University leaving? Nope, they're way over that formal stuff by their early 20's . . .guess, go on . . .Year six! Yep, last year of primary school. They're now hiring suits, getting their hair and make-up done, even choosing novelty transport. The parents have to learn a special dance and the night begins to cost. Instead of the old bottle of red pop and a packet of crisps, it's now a catered affair, a date necessary, a corsage a must . . . I dunno, what's the world coming to . . .next thing you know there will be Kindy Formals, Day Care Debs or God forbid a passing out parade for newborns . . .if so, just make sure you point the camera the other way please!

Happy Thanksgiving

Ooh ooh ooh . . .Happy thanksgiving to my American bloglings and podlings: Brianf, Jefferson Davis, Wordnerd, Kate Moon Topples and Dr Don. And the plethora of anonymous US visitors who are too shy to comment! Wish I was there!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some of My Best Friends Are Geeks

Now before I get into this angsty bit of prose, it's important that you know I am not an IT person. I have two home computers, a Mac which I have no idea to use as it's ClareBear's Design Machine and a cheap as chips 5 year old Dell which is now considered an antique but serves my bloggy purposes for the moment. My skill is influencing and communication according to a barage of psychometric tests I've endured over my many careers. I am considered a 'creative' with the ability to communicate complex issues with abject simplicity. I think that means so that a moron will understand. I think this is why I've always been nominated to 'deal' with IT types. I have patience, ask the right questions and I'm not afraid to have a go at the simpler troubleshooting.

However, I returned to work today amid chaos and collusion. The planned server upgrade for the weekend, orchestrated by our lovely little IT Geekybyte failed over the weekend. An issue with our industry database and some data integration instructions not being available. OK that sounds like I know what I'm talking about but basically it means that Geekybyte wasn't well supported and had to halt proceedings - all would be completed next weekend.

Despite an email I had sent to all staff saying that if the new servers weren't fully implemented this weekend, they would be next weekend, absolutely everyone assumed they would roll in on Monday to a bigger, brighter, better, faster (Gawd, sounds like a Daft Punk lyric) operating system. Obviously, disappointed they began to fume. Whilst I was standing next to Arky at an Automatic teller in Federation Square, all hell was breaking loose at work. Outlook had stalled, people couldn't log in, Word was freezing, Excel was crashing . . . only the very cool Argentinian had nothing to say about the matter. I was contacted by Charmers to troubleshoot the Outlook issue and thanks to Arky was able to resolve that particular problem over the phone but today . . . ahh today . . .

Every man and his dog reported problems. The message I got was, Geekybyte will be in on Friday to resolve them. Now that's not in his contract, he's supposed to offer support within 4 hours! Apparently Charmers had fought with Geekybyte who had been arrogant in response. Thommo had clashed with Geekybyte and the hairs on her arms were still raised with angry static. TheMostAnnoyingParaplannerInTheWorld (TMAPITW) signed incessantly at the slowness of her computer and the odd surprise pop up. TheBoss retained his Sgt Schultz demeanour. Sgt Bilko seemed unaware that anything untoward was going on. TheReceptionist was all a flutter and TheMauritian managed to delete a whole Excel Worksheet and blame it on server malfunction.

Fine, fine, fine . . the Bitch is back with her battle gear on so Geekybyte was emailed, frostily I might add. Aspersions about his ability and perhaps having bitten off more than he could chew were made. I also called his mobile but to no avail. Even I became a little hot under the collar, flung the 'F' word about in relation to IT people having crap communication skills, vented via MSN to Ark and aroused as much sympathy as a shrew deserves by the way, they stick together you know. By three I even shouted at a Tree Hugging Hippie volunteer manning the phones at the Wilderness Society because he couldn't operate a telephone . . poor mite, wasn't his fault.

So you get the picture. The workplace is a festering viper pit. Men pretty calm. Women like a rampaging rut of pre-menstrual monsters all ready to lynch this 8 stone, kid with skin that's never seen sunlight because their computers were . . well . . .SLOW?

Poor little lamb must have got a fright from the catty email. Departed his conference in Canberra and turned up on the doorstep at 4:30 to 'explain' what had happened. All was plausible. Most of the issues very simple to resolve and the slowness . . . well that will just have to wait until next weekend when the new servers are up and running. The whole thing was a lack of communication and for the most part a misunderstanding.

Now, herein lies the rub. Non computery types don't want to know how to use computers, they want someone there, 24/7 to pander to their whims and solve their problems . Geekybyte types want to solve their problems but in this case are outsourced and have a 4 hour telephone response time and a 12 hour on-site response time. Clearly something had been lost in the communication. Umm, that would be my fault.

He said: She was rude and snapped at me and wanted an immediate on site response
She said: he was arrogant and took an hour to call me back
He said: These problems won't exist next week
She said: it's all your fault I can't log on
He said: well maybe but you just have to change "Administrator" to "Parkside"
She said: Well it shouldn't have been changed to "Administrator" in the first place
He said: Point taken, sorry about that
She said: My excel spreadsheet is empty
He said: well you've deleted data
She said: but this didn't ever happen before you came along

Get the drift? Add another 20 lines and you see my afternoon with absolute clarity (I was not the 'she' saying these things by the way - they are a composite of complaints)

So, tomorrow I will have to call a meeting of the minds. Explain the 'arrangement' we have with our outsourcer and lower service expectations. Some smartass will try to change the subject completely and ask for a new screen. Another will then demand that we get someone who is capable of answering our every beck and call but for $150 an hour. (Tell 'em they're dreamin') Then, I'll have to go to Geekybyte and ask him not to be 'arrogant' and 'patronising' which are actually euphemisms for knowledgeable and technically minded.

I don't mind him. OK he says funny words like, 'offline' and 'hung applications' and 'go to start run'. But for some reason, my workplace wants his head on a platter more desperately than Herod wanted John the Baptist. Who's gonna protect him whilst I'm gone? Some of my best friends are geeks of the highest order. TheBenchwarmer isn't rude or arrogant, Arky certainly isn't rude or arrogant and I really don't think GeekyByte is either, just a little lacking in communication skills but in my experience, they make world class macchiatos, damn good tour guides and delicious barbecued beef. Not to mention a natural ability to play Guitar Hero Where would we be without their geeky little bones? They'd just say "Meh" and rule the world anyway . . .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hot Flushes, Road Trips and Fun With Friends

I'm back from what is arguably one of the most beautiful pieces of coastline in Australia, the Great Ocean road extending from Airey's Inlet to beyond Pt Cambell. It's wild, blue, rugged and has the most amazing cliffs and free standing rock pylons battered by the sea. Of course, my camera decided to do a bunk on the first day and refused to open the lense so I had the advantage of borrowing TheTeacher's Sony D-SLR. I think I've found my new interest and may make the investment and buy myself an early Christmas Present.

The trip started slightly whacky as we waited at the wrong gate to board our plane. Qantas ended up combining three empty flights and changed the boarding gate but we were so enjoying our $9 champagnes and nattering at the bar that we didn't hear the announcement "Greaves Le Nevez and Bainbridge . . . you are delaying QF 546 to Melbourne, please make your way to Gate 23". Ah, it was all in good fun although I realised that I haven't actually 'run' anywhere for quite some time, let alone from gate 11 to 23 on a shiny terazzo floor! Maybe that's why I don't feel crash hot. Could have damaged some of the wobbly bits.

We started with eggs benedict in a book shop - the only way to start a day then moved on to Monsalvat, home of the Heidleberg school of artists, a higgledy piggledy hotch potch of french reproduction buildings that encourages craftsmanship and artists from all over Victoria. From guitar makers to dressmakers, painters and sculptors, it's well worth the $10 entry to wonder around and the photo opportunities are plentiful.

Monsalvat Artists' Retreat - Heidelberg

Then we hit the road. It was hilarious, old friends, catching up for the first time in a year. Four women, two hot flushing, two awaiting the joys of menopause, all in great need of good coffee, managed to road trip from Melbourne along the Geelong coast and down to Airey's Inlet and in great comfort and style I might add. We were comfortably packed into a state-of-the-art Toyota Kluger, complete with ringing bells and whistles, GPS navigation and all the electronica to ensure we were heading in the right direction. Although the argument is still going on as to whether it was 'gold' or 'mushroom' in colour. I think Struth Ruth is mixing her metaphorical mushrooms if you know what I mean.

We stayed in the cutest, most cluttered(in a nautically overdecorated way) little blue weatherboard house surrounded by a lovely cottage garden. We nattered, we giggled, we cooked, we shopped, we blissfully talked about the lack of mugaccinos and the crappy Saturday markets at Apollo bay. We walked the beach, we fossicked in the rockpools, we admired stunning views, walked up to the lighthouse that featured in Mad Max and Round the Twist and enjoyed a restaurant dinner which was way overpriced but hey . . .we were on holiday.

The highlight of the trip, besides being with good friends, was definitely the 12 Apostles. It's a long drive along the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria but unlike the rest of Australia, the scenery seems to change more frequently. Once we emerged from a towering forest of Mountain Ash and headed towards that, wind-battered, rugged, cliff-lined coastline, it's well worth the trip. It's windy, very windy. The surf was huge, the Southern Ocean blue as the Amalfi Coast. Very spectacular and quite frankly, took my breath away. No photo can do it justice and I've seen plenty. Hopefully my shots will turn out and once TheTeacher downloads them, I'll upload them to Flickr.

Beginning of the 12 Apostles - thanks to the one in the foreground falling over,
there are now only 11 but many more in the making

After four days our local guide, TheTeacher, who lives in Melbourne, dropped us at the airport. We hugged and lamented that it would be a while before we see each other again. Thommo and Struth Ruth went home, I caught the shuttle to Flinders Street Station and was met by Arky and his lovely partner 'Nore and felt very important sitting in his vintage Mercedes to spend a couple of days them in the city. After scouring specific city stores for a particular cut of beef, the name of which escapes me but was very important for Ark to procure, we headed back to their little house and cracked open um . . . I think it was about 8 bottles all up but we stopped counting after 4. It's the first time I'd met 'Nore even though I'd talked to her on Skype and we'd emailed and thrown stuff at each other on Facebook. She's lovely, emotional, strong-willed, easy to talk to - Her first words to me "We are going to have fun!" Bless . . .and it all started out just right. These are two of my internetty friends . . .well not quite. Met Ark on a Helldesk and he was so helpful and friendly that we played a little via email and stayed in touch even though he's now moved on to better things. I didn't know it at the time but 'Nore also worked for a company with whom I have dealings. He visited me in March so it only seemed right to connect when I had the opportunity. Whilst 'Nore spent time with her own visiting family, Ark and I discovered the highlights of the city including a brief walk through Crown Casino (mainly because it was cool!) Federation Square. A masterpiece of modern architecture housing various artsy fartsy buildings, cafes, forecourts and a stage, shops and arts centre. You either love it or hate it. Actually, only the intense heat emanating from the cobbled square made me hate it . . . quite a lot.

We sighted the Aussie Netball team after their world cup victory, browsed an occult bookshop, bought geeky gadgets at Minotaur. This is a great shop. Pop Culture icons, fantasy, science fiction, models, dolls, t-shirts. I could have spent much longer there and managed to purchase talking dashboard toys for the kids . . . Darth Vader was a winner!

We marvelled at the ceiling in the ANZ bank and winced at an exhibition of art which comprised some bloke smashing and eating vinyl records and dragging a guitar behind a ute in someone's back paddock. I just hope he didn't get a government grant for the works otherwise I'm in the wrong game. We managed to visit five bars in an attempt to regain our composure after trapsing around in the heat. And before you make assumptions, only three beers and two champagnes were imbibed . . .soft drink was far more thirst quenching! We then met up with 'Nore and family for a light dinner. Crown Casino disappointed as the forecourt flames which are supposed to ignite every hour on the hour were a no show so after another round of Lemon Lime and Bitters, we headed home to put on our comfies. I love staying with people who wear tracky daks and T shirts.

We were pretty exhausted by Tuesday and frankly, I felt a lurgy coming on, held at bay only by some borrowed analgesic so we lounged and watched Ark mastering Guitar Hero and viewed multiple episodes of six feet under and the latest download of Top Gear while we all lamented the loss of winter. Melbourne was HOT. . . too hot . . . I shan't be disparaging about their cold climate again.

Then flew back Tuesday night. My fear of flying pretty much conquered althought I still hate that taking off bit. I was very brave and flew on my own. Naturally, the man in the seat next to me was doused in Joop, possibly the most disgusting aftershave ever created. It manages to blend with that end-of-the-day man smell and simply proliferates the sickly combination of cheap musk and body odour! Of course, I booked a seat over the wing so that if it did fall out of the sky, I'd be the first to go. I didn't even panic when we had to go into a holding pattern over Wollongong due to only one runway approach being used thanks to high winds in Sydney. May have had something to do with my oncoming delirium. Not sure what's wrong. No cold, no cough but definitely feeling flushy and fluey. So after six days leave I have lost all credibility with my employers by ringing in sick! Hence the rather banal post today, my imagination is feeling a little run down.

So to my darling friends, TheTeacher, Struth Ruth, Thommo, Ark and 'Nore . . . thank you all for making it a real break before my house arrest from next week. I love you all and look forward to doing it again next year! And if anyone knows where I can buy the full set of Six Feet Under . . . gimme the heads up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gimme A Ball Park Finger

I'm too excited to post today so in deference to my Irish friends, an oldie but a bloody funny sound byte. Bear with it and you won't ever wonder why I have such an affinity for the Irish:

Back on the 21st! Have a great weekend . . . I certainly will! *goes to the toilet for the 10th time due to cabin fever*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Let the Festival Begin (In a Coupla Months)

God I love this building . . .

Today I was researching our Summer Corporate Newsletter and I've realised that January is a pretty good month for the yarts, in Sydney. Despite the pretty wonderful weather ( with the exception of the welcome odd summer drenching as an evening storm wafts through), there's loads to do. Sydney Festival an event that tempts us arty farty types through the month with loads of cool events from performance to exhibitions, the avant garde and the commercial. Where else can you see Brian Wilson feebly pretending to sing "Good Vibrations" and Cyprus Hill perform at "Good Vibrations" all in the same month. and . If you're into Theatre, Ballet, Opera . . the ole oprey is lit up in her best but it's expensive.

Me, I like the freebies and over past years we've seen some fantastic stuff from Portuguese Dance troupes spraying the crowd with fireworks during a bawdy play on the opera house steps . . Shakespeare in the park . . . free concerts on the Opera House Forecourt, Lady Chatterly's Lover at Vaucluse House (complete with nude sex scenes, that was a bit confronting I don't mind telling you) and outdoor cinema and fireworks at Mrs Macquarie's Chair. There you watch films on a screen which is hydraulically lifted from a pontoon floating on the water. The harbour is just beautiful, with the lights, Opera House and the old coathanger in the background. You don't mind paying $30 entry and $10 for a glass of Verve or risking being bombed by fruit bats as they migrate towards the Moreton Bay fig trees at dusk, in the Botanical gardens. Believe me, you don't want to receive a little figgy parcel from a flying rodent, the size of a small cat!

Innocent enough from the air

A little bigger up close!

The city is bathed with coloured lights, significant buildings highlighted and the foreshore comes alive with everything from buskers to art installations.

It all starts with the New Year's eve Fireworks. Now that the kids are older we don’t spend as much time there. We used to pile in the car after school and head straight for the city. We have however, spent many a New Year's Eve arriving at Mrs Macquarie's chair at 2.00pm, picnicking with friends and taking turns to stretch our legs around the Botanical Gardens whilst someone remains to secure our vantage point. There are fireworks at 9.00pm which are enough to satiate little children but the real charmers go off at Midnight and the harbour is awash with boats from the humble 'tinny' to the classy catamarans all bobbing up and down like so much flotsam and jetsum. The crowds are huge but it all seems to go without too much malice. Except once I lost a pair of $200 Raybans in the dark. There is now a well shaded garbo wondering Sydney with my very spesh sunglasses on. I learned my lesson and now by them from the local servo for $12.

Nothing sets off fireworks like the Harbour Bridge. That little heart is a firework! Seriously.

Among the free events this year are some which captured my imagination. Now I'm not being paid by festival organisers, honestly. It's just that with daylight saving and balmy nights, you'd have to be mad not to take advantage of this very special time and place:

Movies in the Overflow - free movies are screened on Friday and Saturday nights throughout January at a natural amphitheatre in the 2000 Olympic site. Can't do better than a freebie.

Darling Harbour is a restaurant and tourist district. It's normally very well 'Westy' and a place to be avoided but for a couple of weekends in January, there is a French performance installation "Iiotopie". Apparently, they use light, sound and pyrotechnics to tell the story of an everyday man whose humdrum life is turned upside down one morning when his head inexplicably bursts into flames. Everyday objects are transformed into mythical creatures, - all ingeniously floating on the surface of the water.

Airvag are installations that fill parks and streets with colourful interactive sculptures that delight adults and children alike. As night falls, these beautiful objects begin to glow and sway transforming familiar spaces. 1500 square metres of structures to be climbed and jumped on, to chase around or just lie on and look up into the sky.

Then if we can be bothered to go early, there is Jazz, Opera and Symphony in the Domain on three successive weekends. The Domain is a large green inner city space. When I first came to Australia, you could wander through this park on a Sunday morning and those with an opinion would be mounted on their soap boxes chanting religious warnings or pointing political fingers. I'm not sure if they still do it. I suspect it's one of those nice European traditions that has finally died out. This year there's El Barrio or Spanish Harlem Jazz, Mendellssohn and Stravinsky's Firebird with some more modern additions by John Adams, Benjamin Britten and Antonin Dvorak. Then finally, the opera (um, I'll ditch that one. Not a fan . . I put it in the same box as Poetry . . . I know it' clever, I know it's art but I just don't like it. My apologies to any poets out there . . it's not you . . it's me . . . only two exceptions John Donne's Mending Walls and any opera that has a zebra in it!)

The Domain stage

Finally there's Ghostgarden which promises to take us on a surreal journey through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Punters are given GPS technology and Pocket PC's to unravel a trail of the 1800s, when Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens were a zoo and parklands. We are to be immersed in the tale of Jack and Lucy and their impossible love. The narrative unravels as we wander the Royal Botanic Gardens' paths and gardens. Sounds intriguing doesn't it.

Interestingly, whilst writing this post about high art and entertainment . . . I have been brought back to the real world of commercial theatre - a Ticketmaster email announcing the dubious launch of "Singalong Sound of Music" . . If it's what I think it is . . . you'll find me in the Ghostgarden, not following the bouncing ball!

Them heels are a aloive wiv duh sound of myoooozeeeek!
an' sawngs I 'av 'erd for a fousand yeeeeeeers!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Black Fingernails and Blue Hair

I was asked over the weekend how to bring a wayward teenager back onto the ropes. Not a truly wayward teen but one whose dress code doesn’t fit his parents expectations, one who’s giving a bit of lip to his mum. One who’s going through that sulky, baggy-panted, hoody phase. One who’s finding his feet and showing signs of disrespect. Anyone who’s had teenagers in that 13-16 age group probably knows what I mean. We used to call my niece a ‘teenage poo’ for her tantrums and arguments, her messiness and disrespectful chat but she’s all 'growed up' now, cleaning house, working hard, finished her degree and in a successful relationship – I think her being happy has a lot to do with her disposition these days and I can’t wait to see her at Christmas.

I don’t know what I did right. I didn’t have perfect teenagers but I didn’t have the moods or tantrums either. Good and responsible behaviour was rewarded with little freedoms and it seemed to work. Respect was engendered and most of all issues were and are, discussed in intimate detail and they have always had the opportunity to put their point forward whether I agreed or not. The phrase ‘never go to bed on an argument’ comes to mind. Most of all, I wasn’t afraid to tell them that I was new at all this too. I had never raised kids before and that I was also on a learning curve and didn’t have all the answers. Mind you, being a widow helped. Instead of blaming my situation, it was actually advantageous. There was one rule, one arbiter, one court of appeal and I was defender, prosecutor, judge and jury. Firm but benevolent.

Children are wonderful at finding the chinks in your armour and taking advantage. If mum and dad are arguing or separated, they’ll take advantage of that and use it for an excuse not to conform, to be rude, to assert themselves and to play one parent off another. If mum and dad are too authoritarian, they’ll use that as an excuse and sneak out the window when grounded. If mum and dad are set in their ways, inflexible and uncommunicative, their child will be the same an remain closed and uncommunicative about issues that may be of the highest importance or conflict with their parent’s beliefs.

Let’s face it, these betweeny years are difficult for kids. Too young to be treated as independent adults, too old to be treated as children. Little access to social networking beyond the playground, hanging round the mall, joining the local church group or spending hours in front of a computer. Can’t drive, can’t work beyond getting a few bob for washing dad’s car, mowing the neighbour’s lawn or babysitting the brats next door.

I was the eldest and therefore the most highly disciplined. My objections were tame and I was never too controversial, although I remember almighty rows with my parents. mainly over lack of freedom and being judgemental about boyfriends. Even at 20, my father used to stand and flick the outside light on and off when I was being dropped home, just to let me know that he knew where I was and probably what I was doing. I had a 12:00 curfew and was often locked out of the house if I missed it, dragging a sleepy 11 year old out of bed to let me in.

My siblings were different. The hold over them diminished according to their age. In those days, the worst thing the boys did was grow long flowing locks and smoke behind the toilets at school. This for some reason didn’t cause anywhere near as much consternation as the long hair which irked my mother beyond reason. She then worked on my father and almighty arguments would arise over what? The length of their hair? It was clean, well-groomed just long. It’s just a way of showing parents that you’re fledging the nest. That you want to be different to their generation even though you might be conforming to another group. Emos don’t see their dress code as a uniform despite the fact that large groups of them huddle all dressed in black with half mast trousers, silver chains and black spikey hair. The surf culture don’t think they’re conforming but they wouldn’t be seen dead in Best and Less clothing, it has to be Billabong boardies or Mambo T-s. The surf is God and Beer comes close. The Hoodies emulate black American gangs with their oversized tracky daks and secret hand shakes. Even the language includes words like ‘dawg’ and ‘bounce’.

My point is, that the teen years are years of rebellion. It just happens in varying degrees. It’s not fair to expect your kids to be exactly like you, to want to conform to your ideals, politics and ideas of good behaviour. What’s important is good manners, values, principles and morals and you can have those no matter what you look like. And being able to cut free from the ties that bind – even just a little bit - is also good for a kid's self esteem. Of course if your kid’s right off the rails, it’s harder to bring them back on track by the time they've reached their teens, closeness needs to be cultivated while they’re young through love, conversation and non violent discipline.

If they’re doing drugs, underage drinking, breaking and entering or indulging in violent behaviour then that’s a whole different problem that needs more discussion than I’m capable of offering here

My advice. Keep your marital problems to yourselves, it’s not an issue for your children to deal with. Keep pillow talk where it belongs – in the bedroom. Show a united front with your children and discuss your differences in private. Be there when they need you and hang in the shadows when they don’t. Be understanding of their mistakes, not condemning. Show them love and physical affection. Don’t try to buy them off. If they’re just breaking the mould, dressing differently, listening to music you hate, being rowdy with mates - that’s normal. Encourage them to come home and make it easy for them to entertain friends without you prying. Drop them off and pick them up from parties and gatherings. Set a curfew but make it reasonable. These days things start late and end late. And you thought sleep deprevation ended with infants!

Respect is a two-way street. Don’t think for a minute that you haven’t been observed in your behaviour. Every disrespectful thing you do is burned into their psyche and will more likely than not be thrust back at you when the time is right.

For some, it’s an easy passage to adulthood. I was lucky. Mine have never used their home situation as an excuse for bad behaviour. I was a firm disciplinarian but also an understanding parent. There’s nothing they don’t know about me and little I don’t know about them. An open, honest relationship, plenty of trust and a little responsibility plus an ongoing dialogue in the teens probably helped. Most importantly, keep perspective. Don't sweat the small stuff, save the lectures for the really important issues. To be honest, my house has been filled with tatooed, pierced, dreadlocked alternative types over the years and the ones I've had to look out for are the clean cut straights. Butter might not melt in their mouth but they can be deviously deceptive.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

There Was a Moth in My Knickers

I was bringing in the washing today, as you do. Folding myriads of g-strings, pop socks, jeans, Tshirts and socks and a moth flew out of my knickers. (The ones I was folding, not the ones I was wearing). So, in the contemplative mood that I was . . I began to think about what the hell does one wear for 5-6 days in hospital. And then there's the knickers . . .people will SEE THEM. I mean, I know my mother always told me to wear a nice pair just in case I was run over by a bus but really . . .This time . . .lots of people will see them and just because they're medical professionals . . . I have my pride! So it's time to revamp the lingerie. I'm not the pyjama kind although I do have a couple of Peter Alexander bottoms which I generally wear with a Tshirt. I don't want to be swathed in 'brunch coat' or a chenille dressing gown but my very expensive velour one might be a bit ostentatious. I bought it in a fit of peak for a girly weekend and have worn it once. Silk . . nah, not for this sows ear so here I am planning a bloody wardrobe for a hospital visit! I figure I'll be in a gown for a couple of days. You know those lovely blue scrubs with yer ass hangin' out. But for the rest, one should look presentable. Visitors will come and go and lets face it, vanity, thy name is woman.

Apparently footwear of some sort for wondering the corridors of ailments is mandatory. I'm not sure my ugg boots will fit the bill. Ok, I've got that nailed with a pair of Havaianas (thongs or flip flops to those who don't know). And I bought a couple of pairs of uber comfy yoga pants so that's the bottom bits sorted. I guess the tops will be ruled by temperature. I mean gone are the days of the 'matinee set' or the 'bedcoat' and I don't want my visitors to see me in my jimmy jams. I have a $100 David Jones voucher that I got for my birthday which will buy me a silky nightie or a single pair of pyjamas so that's not really a good use of the funds and frankly, I'm not the slinky type. So, yoga pants and 3/4 T's it is and I can recycle them when I get home. Easy peasy . . so all that's left is a few pairs of half decent knickers, hopefully without the Bogongs attached.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fear of Flying

I have a fear of flying. I suspect my aviophobia extends beyond the fear of handing over a boarding pass but that's where it starts. I'm afraid of a lot of things . . . change, anaesthetics, giving up the cigs, rejection, jaywalking, dark alleys, under the bed, walking into pubs alone . . . but enough of my insecurities . . .

Back to literal flying. I also have a great love of travelling so in order to do one, I must face the other. I've travelled a lot, not as much as I would like but in some ways the long hauls are better than the short. After spending 28 hours in a plane, you become blase and the fear subsides and you get free booze and cute little trays with funny food and free movies which make sitting next to the smelly Christian Bikie from Hell more bearable. For me, when air travel is involved, the destination becomes more important than the journey, meeting up with someone you've never met or haven't seen for simply ages is its own reward. It's the island hops and short stops that really make me fearful.

It begins with the booking. These days all done over the internet with a piece of plastic, automated and no ticket issued, just a reference number. It's the first disappointment and the first point of panic. No 'issued' ticket so you don't get the feeling that you have just bought yourself a nice little gift, just the horrible hollow panicky feeling that you might have made a mistake and booked a trip to Timbuktoo instead of Melbourne. So much so that you have to look at the unceremoniously named 'e-ticket' a hundred times to make sure you got the destination and the date right and that your credit card isn't going to be debited for $3000 instead of $300.

Then there's a lull until a week before the trip. And that awful sick, "God I've got to organise how to get on the plane . . " feeling hits. My travelling companion starts talking about whether to drive, get a taxi, get a lift to the airport, park overnight and all I can think about is twiddling knobs and checking that the seat belt works and are the safety directions are clear, how old is the plane and is my Will in order and who will feed the dog if I die? It's all-pervasive and invades every thought with that odd blend of excitement and terror.

Then we arrive at the airport and that wonderful smell of aircraft fuel and the incessant hum of warming engines and the occasional scream of incoming and outgoing jets gets the adrenalin rushing but not in a pleasurable way. I always manage to travel with someone who wants to be the first on the plane and sit there for 20 minutes waiting for other travellers to bustle by. Not this little black duck. I'm in the transit bar downing Gin and Tonics as if it's lolly water, taking my pulse and willing myself back into a resting state. Then it really is last call time and as one of the last to enter the flying coffin, I'm in a cold sweat. The stewards smile sweetly and point me to my seat oblivious to the fact that I'm dying inside. Bags stowed, belt checked, aircon twiddled and a cursory glance over the wing to make sure all its 'bits' are intact and we start to move backwards before turning towards the runway. Some guy who sounds like he's pinching his nose tells me the weather conditions and mentions in passing that it might be a little bumpy but we hope to reach our destination at 18:30 . . . quick check under the seat to make sure the life jacket is there . . . as if I'd get enough time to put it on as we plummet towards the Tasman or into the Great Dividing Range.

Then the worst bit, the bit the kids like, the bit that makes most people go "Weee here we go!" and reminds them of thrill rides at cheap amusement parks. The bit where the bile climbs into my throat and I think I'm going to be sick . . .nope, not the take off . . .the seconds before . . that pause at the end of the runway where things go incredibly quiet before becoming incredibly loud and we roar off towards the mouth of Botany Bay and I'm sure we're going to end up in the drink. The bit that makes me feel like I'm being pulled backwards by the Demon before being launched at a thousand miles an hour down an infinite loop.

Once up, I'm fine . . its a fate accompli . . . I'm out of control . . .my life is in someone else's hands so might as well relax, read the in-flight magazine and order another G & T until it's time to descend. Unless of course there's turbulence which there often is on the shorter flights . . .the minute they stop serving beverages, I freeze like a wax dummy and think about all the unfinished business I have even though I thought it was all under control.

I know we're heading down long before anyone else. The pressure builds in my head while business men browse their Financial Reviews and giggly women chat incessantly about the special purchases they're going to make once on the ground and how much they enjoyed Phantom of the Opera last time they visited. Mummies prepare their children by wiping their snotty noses and briefing them on what Granny looks like. Snooty stewards are policing the aisles making sure everything is stowed and your half full glass of gin is confiscated with a flourish.

Im already worrying about the landing although by now the G & T's have kicked in and a warm, lustrous glow surrounds me. I look and feel like a halo'd angel with a Mona Lisa smile until we really start to dip and I have to clutch the arms of the seat until my knuckles go white and clench the glutes until my bum's sore. I grit my teeth and hope that my ageing fillings can stand the pressure. My ears pop and now, worst of all, there's a widescreen displaying our descent and approach and I can see the tilt of the plane as the tarmac rises to greet us . . . I know you see, that most accidents happen on landing or take off. This is why the panic ensues at these particular times. I'm not comfortable until the nose wheel is on the ground, the red lights go off and the plane is dawdling at walking place into the terminal. Actually, I'm not happy until I'm off the thing and hugging friends at the airport and looking forward to quality time with people I spend so little time around these days.

Well over the next few weeks, I'm doing a lot of flying. Not just in the literal sense but venturing into the unknown and I'm surprisingly calm this time. Maybe all those long hauls and island hops have finally desensitised me. Maybe I've decided that facing fear is better than avoiding it. Perhaps not quite like Erica Jong's Isadora . . .but I can embrace these new events and deal with the fear in a more mature and resigned way . . . if not, there's always Gin and Tonic. I just which they served it in a schooner glass.

Friday Frippery

I have been in battle with a smartass from a fund manager all day
I have $1.92 in the bank
It is raining very hard and has been all week
Crispy isn't happy cos his KISS cover band is changing lineup
Daz is incommunicado or in love, I've yet to ascertain which
Brian is having a long weekend and drinking Vodka
JD is off with the pixies
Grandad is tearing the health system apart
AV is waxing lyrical in her darkroom
DrummerBoy will be Drumming
ClareBear will be partying
Thommo has her day off
TheBoss has gone on a golfing holiday
K8 is playing nursmaid and cleaning windows
Kate is probably knitting and nursing a migraine
Nonny will be up to high jinks
Anonymous will be taking pics
Terrence is probably tipping cows
Wordnerd will be watching the game
Ian preparing his sermon
Ryan is counting down the days till he gets his shiny new 'ute'
TheBenchwarmer will be drinking coffee, lamenting lost love and smoking too much . . .
If I left anyone out, I'm sorry . . .

So to the rest of my bloggy friends . . . . . . . have a lovely weekend wherever you are. It's all good . . COS IT'S TIME TO GO HOME . . . .

And here's a little Aussie band with a song that I like, I just wish I was young enough to go to their concerts without looking conspicuous - Gyroscope with 'Snakeskin' - not quite what someone my age should enjoy . . .but then, I'm a little different.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Obey . . Obey . . . Obey

OK we're all now adults but it's still my house, my mortgage, my rules. (Gawd, I sound like a Dalek " Obey . . obey . . .obey . ." We have had a rule in our house for yonks "Let me know where you are going, who you are with and what time you'll be home."

OK When they were in their teens, I had some control over my younglings and frankly, keeping me informed has become largely habit. By obliging over the years, they have been granted more and more freedoms when their playmates were often not allowed to venture forth. I allowed a 16 year old girl to stay out all night during the Olympics . . .and a 16 year old boy to go camping in the wilds with others of his age simply because they were very good at practicing this little rule.

As they grow older however, they sort of think it's no longer necessary. Their life is their own and theyshould be allowed to do as they please. Not so, says the Dalek master, they must still inform me of their whereabouts so that I sleep at night, don't cook meals for people who are a no show or have nothing in the fridge when there are six for dinner that I didn't know about.

So, the rule stay's chickens, as long as you stay. It's simply good manners to let your parent, flatmate, wife, husband, partner or housemate's know your movements . . . except the bowel kind, that's just nasty.