Monday, December 31, 2007
I'm not going to write a 2007 retrospective because very little of any significance happened in the Baino household throughout 2007 and all the important events have been reviewed and reviled by the media or posted here throughout the year. Plus I'm one for looking forward rather than back! For us, 'little significance' means no major disasters or family issues, no huge financial setbacks or poor health. But today, I'm at a loose end. ClareBear is in Nambucca Heads with friends enjoying the shark infested waters and will no doubt imbibe tonight to welcome in 2008. DrummerBoy is at work then off to Lemmermans for a party so it's unlikely he and the Fringelet will surface before lunchtime tomorrow. Even then there will be a brief encounter while I drive them to a recovery party at The Mean Fiddler on New Year's Day. BabyBro and Stressany rarely do much on NYE and I for one, don't really see what all the fuss is about but haven't received any invitations to do anything anyway so I'm pretending I don't give a shit.
So, I'm being pathetic, sitting in front of my PC talking people I've never met (not that that's a bad thing mind you), taking my dog for a walk, watching the odd DVD, staring at the three books I should be reading and contemplating tidying my wardrobe or the dreaded bathroom cupboard.
I've had massive New Year celebrations in the past but they've all involved eating a lot, drinking a lot, kissing people I don't really care about at midnight, singing Auld Lang Syne which bores me to tears, then coming home and wondering why we blew so much dosh on a new frock and a date change.
When the kids were smaller, we used to go into the city, picnic at Lady Macquarie's Chair and watch the 9.00pm and midnight fireworks then queue with the other 2 million Sydneysiders to get back home. It was fun and there's no doubt that Sydney puts on a NYE night like no other. A couple of times, a veritable crowd of us booked hotel rooms and had a leisurely walk too and from our viewing vantage point, wading through the drunks and the rubbish left by so many people and telling the kids that 'that nice man is just having a little snooze before the big fireworks go off." All in all, it's a lot of expense and exertion for 15 minutes of fabulous pyrotechnics.We've done the NYE at home thing and that was OK apart from the cleaning up the next day and regular body removal but nothing special about that. It happens whenever the kids have an event! We've done the dinner out thing but it's rather forced and you're usually unceremoniously tossed out at 12:30 just when the party's getting started. I've even done the quiet dinner at home thing with BabyBro and Stressany or Thommo, TheBoss and The Merry Widow and watched the fireworks on telly which is civilised and pleasant but hardly celebratory.
I'm toying with the idea of going into the city alone. We have buses running all day every half hour for the special event. I could take the camera and snap some shots but since I lost a pair of $250 Raybans on NYE once, I'm a bit reluctant to take a $1500 worth of camera equipment. Still, I could go and 'oooh' and 'aaaah' with the rest of Sydney but it's not the same on your own. I'd feel a bit like that sad little Leunig cartoon that contemplates loneliness, the univers and his diminutive place within it.
So, I'm on my tod. On my lonesome. Flying solo. It's off to Costi's for a nice little lobster methinks, a bottle of something delish like Verve Cliquot and a disgustingly fattening tub of Norgen Vaas or Grand Marnier, coffee and Chocolate Covered Almond Conoisseur Ice Cream. I might even blow dry the frizz, put on a dress and lay a table for one plus dog. I'll have a very nice little dinner, watch the fireworks on telly and pop my fat ass into bed at 12:05! What a saddo! (now stop feeling sorry for me, I didn't try very hard to get a gig tonight!)
At least I know of one person who's working all night and another who's researching migration to Australia rather than partying hard so I don't feel totally left out. For the rest of you revellers - go hard or go home - well done - enjoy your night, I hope it goes of with a bang (metaphorically speaking) and I'll talk to you all next year.
Happy New Year . . .Crikey . . it's just a number!
This morning I went for a walk. A habit I've got to get back into and when the weather's hot, the only time to do it is early in the morning. This morning I saw a plethora of wildlife, Myna's - Indian and Noisy, Lorikeets, a White Winged Chuff on it's mud nest while the rest of the family fought with a bunch of magpies. A fox which scampered across the road pursued by birds of all description. There were ducks preening themselves on my swimming pool, cockatoos and corellas making a racket as only large parrots can and rabbits . . . loads of rabbits. Now whilst I love the little fluffy buggers, they're feral here. Introduced by European settlers to satiate their hunting desires they are in plague proportions, overly urbanised and a bloody nuisance. And here's why:
Rabbits breed from 3-4 months of age,
Rabbits are pregnant for 30 days and give birth to litters of 4-7 young,
A mature female rabbit can be continuously pregnant for between 6-8 months per year under favourable conditions,
A single pair of rabbits can produce 30-40 young per year
And they're all living at my place!
Besides eating everything that's green and leafy, (except Gardenias, I 've found and thankfully they can't reach the hanging baskets filled with Fijian Impatiens) they dig holes in the lawn and have completely undermined our shed and back paddock with metre deep potholes and warrens. They're even worse in the country. So, as I watched the little cottontails scattering in all directions and of course being a gunless pacifist (not that I could hit one if I tried) I mulled over how to get rid of the buggers. The local council will provide pindone bait to people on acreage but its very attractive to dogs. No good, I have three dogs. Plus it works similarly to rat poisoning by preventing blood coagulation and believe me, it's not a good way to die!
Then there's the prospect of just filling in the holes. Clean fill is easy enough to get from excavation sites and there's plenty of that going on around here but then I need a Bobcat to fill the extensive warren in the back paddock then smooth over the top with no guarantee the little feral perils won't dig their way out. In fact, when we build up our bonfire over the year, the rabbits find it a fabulous haven. We have to drop bungers down the warrens to avoid the 1995 fiasco where a sparkling rabbit, resembling something made out of optic fibres, sprang from the inferno and frightened all the little children with it's screams. An unfortunate occasion where a brick came in handy to put the poor thing out of it's misery.
An early recorded attempt at biological control in Australia was the release in the 1890s of three hundred cats. They were released in an attempt to stop rabbits spreading further into Western Australia. Many of the cats starved, many bred and became part of another feral problem and the rabbits were hardly affected.
Then we introduced the myxoma virus but noticed that it's virulence has changed. I remember having a rabbit blinded by the slow-killing myxomitosis desease, bump straight through the back door and my brother banging it on the head with a shovel as the most readily available form of euthanasia. (We seem to have a history of rabbit thumping!) It was common when we first moved here to see diseased rabbits with their blinded putrid eyes bumbling around the place but not any more. They're healthy enough to clean out Mr McGregor's garden a hundred times over!
Rabbit calicivirus was tested and accidentally released from quarantine in the 90's, proving a fast and effective way of nobbling wabbits but it too seems to have been diluted on the Eastern coast, given the increasing numbers of fluffers in my back yard! It seems that rabbits are among the most resilient of creatures and their immune systems are incredible. Within a couple of generations, these viral controls simply don't work.
I could employ a couple of ferrets . . I once watched a couple of old fellas ferreting rabbits way back when I was a youngling. It was fascinating. They sent the weasels down the hole and dutifully they returned with rabbits. The necks of the fuzzballs were broken and the carcasses gutted and skinned and the little ferrets received the giblets as a reward before being whacked in an old hessian sack. The rabbits were then strung to a shoulder pole and off the old geezers went with dinner and pelts. I don't much care for ferrets, they smell and they bite and . . . well they don't look very nice.
It's weird, if rabbits were spiders, I'd have no problem getting the Flick man in or squishing them with a thong. If they were bull ants, I'd just pour petrol down their nest but they're not. They're cute, fluffy, sweet faced likkle bunny wunny wabbits . . . I can't even run over one when it stands bolt upright in front of a car, blinded by the headlights.
So I guess I'll just have to get used to holes, plant native shrubs and trees and hope that encroaching civilisation will simply reduce their habitat or employ Wallace and Gromit and their handy wabbit gwabber.
Meanwhile, I have 3 acres of lush green paddock after recent rain and can't bring the boys back for fear one of them will stumble in a bloody rabbit hole! The last thing I want is to lose a horse down a rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland. Then again, it would reduce my feed and vet bills . . .mmm . . .more thought required on that one!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
And there's not much more to say about living in Australia today! I think I might get that tan after all!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I'm not a political animal but with ClareBear's impending departure and adventure tour througth half a dozen South American countries, the conservative in me is increasingly worried about the stability and safety of countries she will be visiting. Mainly through what I have 'heard' or 'read' not due to any real knowledge of what's going on over there. Some are captained by dictators, others are known for their drug running and corruption, others for their sheer poverty and appalling human rights issues and some for their willingness to take western hostages to make their point known. But is this concern warranted or are we being fed a lot of paranoid press and semantics to paint these resource laden countries as dangerous, emerging leftist nations with unpopular governments? Sure, it's not safe, majority white, Christian Australia and the drinking water is a little dodgy . . . but is it what it was in the 70's and 80's? Now most of the bad guys are gone and the many countries in South America are trying to develop economically and politically without the interference of rightist governments who even have a list of 'friendly dictators' with whom they deal on a daily basis.
Brian Damage has written a short article on the assistance being provided by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to release international hostages who have been held in Colombia by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Under the plan, Venezuelan aeroplanes and helicopters will fly into Colombia with representatives of France, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Ecuador, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Assistance from the US is strangely absent but then they had trouble rescuing their own after Hurricane Katrina!
It struck me that there is a universal fear and loathing of many emerging South American Regimes based largely on their leftist politics and the semantics used in discussions about these nations. In the past, this fear has to some degree been justified with dreadful human rights injustices committed largely by US supported regimes such as Pinochet in Chile! Sure, they're emerging, they're learning and many have suffered heavily under the dictatorships of people such as Pinochet but others are bulding viable economies. As of early 2007, South America is experiencing great economic development, with Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru growing their economies by over 8% per annum. Chile is also experiencing continued growth of 6% for the last few years on the back of copper prices. Indeed, Brasil's economy is ranked 12th in the world! The US economic growth forecasts are for a paltry 1.2% and our own expected to reach just 5.5%.
However, the language used by some to discuss south American politics is emotionally charged and misleading in many cases and has an effect on the way we perceive South America and it's often 'different' political stance.
The use of the term "populist", rather than "popular" is often used to demonise would-be dictators or politicians. Those personalities considered 'friendly' to the US are called "leftist firebrands" . . . intimating that whilst their politics may not be aligned with the US, they are exciting, enthusiastic and instruments of change. Whereas someone like Hugo Chavez "has made a sport of taunting the US" and is considered a threat. A progressive Mexican presidential candidate is "famous for dispensing government funds", thus raising a faint whiff of corruption; why not "investing government funds"?
Some leaders are considered to "pander to supporters", rather than to US-based investors, as has historically been the norm in the region. Imagine a government doing what it was elected to do and meet the expectation of their citizens.
A new trade agreement between Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela is "specifically meant to undermine the efforts by Bush to extend free trade through the Americas" where "free trade" is used in the Orwellian sense of trade that protects the rights of US corporations and wealthy investors at the expense of the poor. Don't get me started on US and European trade subsidies so that their inefficient farming practices can compete on the world stage.
Brasil's president Lula da Silva was 'credited' with winning back the confidence of foreign (read American) investors rather than adopting the policies which favoured foreign investors at the expense of the domestic population.
George Bush, distracted by terrorism and Iraq, has failed to pay sufficient attention to his neighbours to the south and since anything left of right is fascism in the eyes of the US this poses a problem. Washington now finds itself largely powerless to halt the shift to the left in these countries but why does it want to? Why is a leftist regime more terrifying than the extreme right.The word 'leftist' is flung around as if this is a bad thing . . it need not be.
The concept of left-wing, refers to a segment of the political spectrum that considers achieving social equality through collective rights (social), as opposed to purely individual interests (private) and a traditional view of society. Surely this is the main aim of a socially unequal South America. This move should be considered reformist. In general, the left-wing tends to uphold a secular, egalitarian and multicultural society. Although in South America, secularism is not widespread as it is one of the most non secular continents in the world with 64.34% of it's population being Roman Catholic. Still, I wonder why is it superpower's business become involved in the politics of sovereign nations.
I just can't help thinking that sticking our oar in the politics of these countries without having a plan for democratisation or developing a strong code for human rights is really any of our business unless our expertise is requested by that sovereign nation. It seems to me that South America's woes are entirely due to political unrest. Maybe if we left them alone to stabilise without the influence and interventions of the rest of the world, they might get the formula right whether it's an American style Right Wing Republic, a British Style Westminster based Democracy or a Socialist Democratic Republic. I can't help but think that intervention has not been successful there any more than it will be in Iraq or it was in Zimbabwe where we simply cut and ran!
I don't know enough about the region to take a strong political stance (not that you'd know it from this little tyrade) but it seems unreasonable that a basically right wing democratic west which prides itself on independence and political freedom, should wish to exercise such influence over other nations with a different ideology. And it concerns me greatly that my little treasure is stepping into this mele. Hopefully, all she will have to worry about is altitude sickness and running out of money! These are two things I can quickly fix with a minimum of intervention.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I have a voice. Welsh background and all that, don't they all sing? I always fancied myself in a Shirley Bassey sparkly dress with a plunging backline. As a child, we used to watch the Shirley Bassey Show and she came on once with this sparkling floor length black number, discreet at the front but almost showing cleavage at the back. Dead sexy! Not like a plumber's crack, just a glimpse of naughtiness. If I was black, I'd have booty . . I mean look at Missy Elliot, Queen Latifa, Aretha Franklin . . they're of the larger ilk but still 'got it'. Sadly, I'm not. I have frizzy spirally hair and a broad beam so I'm just a pudgy white chick.
Seriously, I can harmonise, I can do the moves I don't have the look just the secret desire - I'd definitely 'shoop de wah' for pretty much anyone. "I wanna get down . . right now". Jamiriqai, definitely. OK he's a cocky little knob but cool hats and great backing singers! Ahh, just a liddle bid of history repeating . . .
The day after Boxing Day, Thursday 27th December . . . thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of Australians will front up at Department stores to snag a bargain. It's traditionally the first day of the Summer Sales which will last for a couple of weeks when stores Australia wide will wildly discount, offer you interest free terms or nothing to pay until 2009 to entice you to buy clothes that don't fit, appliances you don't need, and accessories to clog up the top shelf of your wardrobe (isn't that where they all end up?).
My understanding of economics is scant. I pick up a few things from the Financial Advisers for whom I work but basically, overspending by a country's population and government leads to inflation which causes the monetary regulators to raise interest rates. Simplistic, I fear so but if you can put it more succinctly, please let me know. So what drives these people, overspent by too much indulgence at Christmas, maxed out on their credit cards, to queue in front of department stores overnight, to charge through their opening doors at 7.00am, rummage through the specials tables, abuse shop assistants, grab items out of the hands of fellow shoppers and generally spend, spend, spend at the post Christmas sales?
Is it need or greed? Who needs more than one television, one XBox or PS2, who needs 22 pairs of shoes, 16 handbags or a wardrobe of clothes to make a film star envious. Who needs a new fridge just because it's interest free for 2 years. Who is compelled to go out and buy a car because there's 40% off after Christmas. In fact today, shoppers waited in long queues outside jewellers Swarovski and bag stores Guess, Coach and Oroton in central Sydney because these shops chose to 'regulate' the amount of shoppers they allowed to enter. What! We have homeless youth, problems in indigenous Australia, drug addiction, a failing health and education system and people are queuing to buy jewellery and handbags. It's INSANE!
Sales here seem to be more and more common. Even before Christmas we were shopping for backpacks in Kathmandu and they had a 50% sale BEFORE Christmas. There are the post Christmas sales, the Spring Sales, the half yearly sales the twice a year clearances and offer us cash for a HUGE discount! If they can afford to entice us to buy with low or no interest, 5o% off, Clearances and post Christmas mark downs . . why can't prices be a little more affordable before the event or consistent throughout the year?
If you're a saver, I guess high interest rates are fantastic but how many of us have NO debt? No credit card outstanding, no mortgage, no personal loans? Not many I'll wager. What makes us want to buy, acquire, own? Personally, I've had to deal with the 'estates' of three members of my own family and the bulk of what they 'bought' is just junk to be disposed of by those of us who remain. I'm not a minimalist in the white-walled, white-tiled, single-chair in a room fashion but I don't believe in purchasing 'things' just because someone else has them or because they're cheap or necessary to 'acquire'. I don't see the need for a lettuce spinner or a rice cooker in the modern kitchen. I don't need an electric peppermill or a cappucino machine (they never taste as good as Barista bought anyway!). I don't like designer dresses that are made in sweat shops or shoes made in China then badged by some silly designer with their name and sold for $300. I don't need a TV that extends accross an entire wall. Don't get me wrong, I like my little luxuries but they're practical, economical and useful and I could live just as well with a few simple implements as a kitchen full of gadgetry.
I have friends who have a TV in every room so they don't speak much to their children who also have their own PS2's or X Boxes. They have air-conditioning, dryers, gadgets and gizmos and have lost the art of doing things intuitively and simply. They have electric garage doors because it's too difficult to get out of the car and open a door. They have the latest coffee makers, the flashest cars. They have GPS systems because it's too hard to look up a Gregorys or UBD and buy water which in Australia is no better quality than that which comes out of the tap. They are dripping in jewellery, handbags and shoes . . . but these things don't always make them happy and in many cases, they just surround themselves with debt and the knowledge that they've managed to keep up with the Joneses.
Please Australia, think before you buy: Do I need it, Do I want it and if so why? Can I live without it? Will it really make me happy? What effect will my purchase have on the economy? And in my case . . .can I really afford it. The answer is invariably no.
Then I've never been much of a shopper but I have still managed to get myself into credit card debt. I 'need' a new computer but hey. As long as the old one has legs, I can wait for five minutes while it navigates its way around the web. I need a new car but basically $250 spent on new brakes will tide me over. I need a new washing machine but if I spin stuff twice, it's dry enough to peg out. I need very little actually. I need my friends, my family, a roof over my head and a hot shower each day. I need a minimum of implements and mod cons. I need my dog, a standard fan and a stereo to fill my house with music. I need a coldy in the fridge, food in my belly and the love of my children. Needless to say, I will not be smashing through the doors of Myers because basically, there's nothing more that I need! And lets face it, I certainly don't need another rise in interest rates when the Reserve Bank meets on the first Tuesday in January!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
On Christmas Eve, ClareBear, Jem, Hannabannana and I took once more to the streets to check out Christmas lights on a street that had turned off its lights the night before. We weren't disappointed! The street was crawling with people and critical neighbours were parked on the nature strip cryptically analysing each home and display, their esky beside their folding chair and knowing glances towards each other as they made their deliberations on the best decorations. I suspect they were residents of the area and familiar with last year's efforts as there was much, "mmm . . he should have brought out the three D reindeer" and "I think the giant spike would have looked better on the roof". Anyway, while we were clogging up the roadway and admiring our neighbour's handywork we were approached by a young man dressed as a Christmas present . . yep, tights, box and the bow. He was accompanied by the world's best Will Farrell impersonator ever, dressed as Will did in Elf with an American accent to boot. This duo were giving out what appeared to be business cards for a young man called Josh who wants to be on the next season of Big Brother . . .a local boy . . .they were out grabbing support.
Now much as I hate to admit it, I love BigBrother. It fills a timeslot here which is just around tea time and there's little else on TV other than tabloid news so why not . . . for the most part it's boring . . for the best part, it gives me something to discuss with the younglings at work on Monday morning. C'mon, we all have our favourites. Now don't judge me . . .I just like it. I told you I live vicariously! So, the card has a picture of a very 'normal' looking 20 something, dressed like a bad taste golfer pouring what looks like chocolate milk over his deer stalker cap and www.hijosh.com printed on it. OK, I'm curious. I thought Big Brother contenstants largely sent in a DVD of themselves and were ultimately selected by the producers of the show to be as antagonistic and controversial as possible, but this guy is canvassing votes on Christmas Eve, dressed as a Christmas present? What the? So, just because he had the audacity and a creative video . . a neat website, he likes chocolate milk and he's a local and he has a square tongue . . . he's got my vote. And just for the record, no I don't actually vote for people on the show but if he turns out to be a dick, I just might!
C'mon . . it's Boxing Day, you didn't expect an intellectual dissitation the day after Christmas Day did you?
Monday, December 24, 2007
ClareBear has a penchant for shiny things so it was no surprise when she asked who would be interested in going to peruse one of the few things we like inheriting from the Americans, our Grizwald Family style house decorations. These are becoming so popular that now our council offers a prize for the best dressed house and/or street. There's even an internet 'guide' on the best streets in your area. So, armed with our guide, DrummerBoy, Fringelet, Cimenti, ClareBear and I piled into the car and went a sparkle hunting.
I'm still mastering the art of ISO and shutter speed so DrummerBoy took most of the photos, his technical mindset far more patient with knob twiddling and lense turning. The streets around the burbs were literally littered with dedicated followers of all things sparkly. A couple of the houses were raising funds for Make a Wish Foundation and Child Heart Desease so we were happy to part with some gold coins.
We stopped at Bella Vista and discovered a rather nice Italian/Pizza restaurant and were dutifully given candy canes upon departing (another rather American idea that we quite like!) We then ventured up to Castle Hill, Kellyville and Beaumont Hills (yes we live in the Hills District) for more carusing and perusing and discovered Geraldine Avenue . . . now this display made me feel better about admiring so much electricity . . apparently it only costs $60 per month to run a display of this magnitude so their power consumption isn't as terrible as I first thought. Oh but the sparkles, the time taken for intricate window displays.
The spirit was lovely, people were friendly, Grandpa's took their grand kids and wished everyone Merry Christmas and generally, it felt very Christmassy indeed. Stark contrast to our earlier grocery shopping experience where we couldn't wait to get out of the mad mele of shoppers. . . . of course whilst in this street a carful of foul mouthed middle eastern twats chose to abuse the onlookers, deride Christmas and fly the finger at 80kms down the street! Chicken shits, would they have been as brave on foot! I doubt it. What drives someone to make such an effort to be rude! Pricks.
By the time we hit Beaumont hills it was 11:40 and a few of the displays had been curtailed for the night.
The only dampner on the night, and right at the end as we're dropping Cimenti home, we were attracted by fast approaching flashing lights of a different kind . ClareBear, the only driver on the road at that moment, is pulled over by an over zealous policeman. Why? Well we don't know other than perhaps he was trying to impress his pretty off sider with his RBT skills or perhaps because she was driving my car and displaying green 'P' plates and forgot her date of birth when he shone his maglight into her eyes. Perhaps it was the silly Christmas hats being worn by two of the passengers or her flashing green and red earrings. Perhaps he thought Santa had chosen a new mode of transport this year or more likely that we were pissed as newts after attending the Castle Hill Tav . . either way he didn't get his way . . . she wasn't speeding, she hadn't been drinking, the car was registered and roadworthy and the P plates not illegal so he had to gulp back a dose of humble pie and turn his Christmas lights off (blue and red just isn't Christmassy). Rather ungraciously I might add, he took his merry time checking out her licence and our registration. No Christmas spirit in that lad - he must be rostered on tomorrow! So, poor chicken, feeling a bit intimidated and shaken up, despite being totally innocent, drove on and dropped everyone home
We found one street that we're going to revisit tonight and maybe I'll get my hand a little steadier and my shutter speed right. If not, I'll just ooh and ahh . . and hope that we don't get quizzed and random breath tested by a testy policeboy . . .for no 'man' would pull over five sober revellers in a fully registered, non-speeding 16 year old Honda . . poor thing must have been desperate for a booking!
Note the house name "Didyabringyergrogalong"
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Ark and Brethred have gone to the extraordinary length of flying to New Zealand to see KISS and Ozzie Ozborne but to me they're the 80's glam rock Gold FM bands. My friends or people of my age are steeped in the tradition of Sting, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker et al and pay hundreds of dollars to sit in the back seat of a stadium and listen to great music but . . .these artists are of an age gone by. I'd no longer buy a VanMorrison ticket or front up for a 60 year old Robert Plant than fly. I resisted U2 last year for the same reason. They've lost that Under a Blood Red Sky verve, vim and vigour but I love emerging bands. I guess having a musician in the family and a dyed in the wool Festival goer has put paid to that. I want to go and see The Kill, Daft Punk, Josh Pyke, The Killers . . .Ok, so I'm not going to camp out at Splendour in the Grass and not change my clothes for three days. I'm not going to Falls Festival and chill on the Great Ocean Road, I'm not even going to the Big Day out for fear I get mistaken for a babysitter for some fluoro donned tween . . .I want to . . .but . . .I'll settle for the DVD's and thank God for You Tube (Adam! Hand me that glo stick and pass me an Eccie!)
I think of her everytime I look at it!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Jack McMad has left his run a little late. Now he's faced with the fine art of gift wrapping for Lady McMad and it's causing a conundrum. So, if you don't have your presents yet . . get cracking. Here are some 'hot tips' on wrapping for morons (read men) who traditionally have as much success wrapping gifts as they do finding a matching pair of socks under their very noses. And before you get your grundies in a twist, this is not a sexist statement - it's entirely factual:
- Buy jewellery - the jeweller will wrap it for you in a pretty little gift box and we all know what you get when you give a woman jewellery fellas? If you don't, I'm not going to tell you
- Buy the gift in a large shopping centre where they offer 'free giftwrapping' at the information counter. Yes, that means you have to do what the rest of us do and drive to the multi level car park, exact road rage on the person who pinches the first space after you've been stalking it's previous inhabitant for half an hour, venture into the mall and actually find a shop that offers a suitable gift. If you spend a set amount within the centre, just present your receipts and two pretty nubile nymphettes will wrap your present for you, smile at you and if you're lucky, provide a glimpse of cleavage from their scanty Santa's Little Helper's wraparound tops.
- Buy a gift bag. Make sure it's big enough for your present and has a Christmas theme. Receiving a Christmas gift in a Birthday bag for a five year old (unless you are five) is not cool and it looks like you've recycled which is cheap and tasteless. Whack in the gift, stuff a bit of tisue paper on the top and you're home and hosed.
- Buy a voucher/gift card. Any sort of voucher but don't be cheap $10 at the local supermarket is not a Christmas gift. Ramp it up a bit to a $50 or $100 gift voucher for Coles Myer, David Jones or a specialty store where you know she likes to shop. This could be any Jewellery store or Day Spa vouchers for manicures, pedicures, facials and massages. For Pete's sake, don't give her a voucher for Bunnings or the Electronics Boutique unless you know she's a geeky gardener!
- Call your mum and ask her to come round in a hurry and wrap it for you but that's lame ass and your significant other will certainly know that the mother in law has had a hand in the wrapping. Plus the mother in law will want to make sure that the significant other KNOWS she had a hand in the wrapping.
- The total act of desperation - buy a Christmas card and write "Your Present this year is a weekend in a luxury hotel of your choice and at a time of your choosing". Then she does the hard work and you just flash the credit card when the time comes!
This one checked out my number while I was doing some online shopping!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
He had this wonderful way of touching our faces to see how much we'd grown and changed each six months he caught up with us. It never seemed odd to us because we'd never known any different. He used to do magic tricks that resulted in chocolate being found exactly where he said it would be. Took us years to work out that my father was in cahoots and planting Picnic and Mars bars all over the country. He sat in his Grandfather chair, smoking a pipe and recounting stories of better days and ate his egg and bacon breakfast in a sandwich because it was easier than negotiating a knife and fork.
Whenever we stayed with our grandparents, we were allowed to wonder through his vegetable garden and pick fresh strawberries or rhubarb which we dipped in sugar to counteract it's awful sourness. We helped him make ginger wine and I don't know how he did it but he managed to erect a rope swing in the alleyway between the house and the garage so we could play there if it rained.
He wasn't one to smile often but he had a kind face. I think his milky eyes made him look rather sad and pathetic but he wasn't. He came on holiday with us once to Wales. My mum parked him in a deck chair whilst we all sploshed in the freezing water off Oxwich Bay and she made a cup of tea on a gaz stove, surrounded by a canvas wind break . . . she forgot to check the direction of the sun and the poor old bugger got awfully sunburned.
During the same holiday, my dad took home movies and we have a movie of him running freely on the beach at about 70 years of age, confident that he couldn't fall over anything or bump into anything or do himself or anyone else harm and the look on his ageing face was priceless, he beamed at the freedom. I often think that if he'd swallowed his pride and taken that short vacation and learned how to use a guide dog, he would have enjoyed more independence, more freedom but it wasn't for a proud old soldier like him. Silly really, it's just not an issue to have a cane or a dog these days.
I never took him for a religious man but he used to sit quietly on his bed listening to a record playing Bible stories and other 'talking books' long before I knew what they were. I'd be allowed to sit beside him on this monstrous high double bed, he with his arm around my pudgy little shoulders, me snuggled into his chest, neither saying a thing other than when the record finished, he'd announce "Well that's it then . . we'd better be off for a cuppa tea lass!".
Another one of his 'sayings' lives today . . he'd chastise naughty behaviour with a booming voice and in reply to our 'Sorry Grandad' . he'd gruffly say. ."Sorry be damned, ye'll have te be thoomped!" He exaggerated his thick northern accent then would melt into a smile, knowing full well that if we did a runner, he'd have no hope of catching us, much less of actually connecting!
I actually remember the tankard in use. My dad used to walk him about 500 metres to The Crown at the end of Henlow High Street. If they went during the day in summer, we'd go with them to watch the Morris Dancers flick their coloured handkerchiefs and whack each other on the head with an inflated pigs bladder (such is English folk culture). They would both take their own silver plated pints . . . order a couple of bevvies, catch up with the old fellas and return, empty pints in hand, replete and connected. Arm in arm, never drunk but mellowed by the experience. My Dad often said how much he enjoyed those solitary walks down to the pub without the hub of the women drowning out Jack's quiet and considered conversation.
There's nothing left of him or my Grandma now. They're buried together at St Mary's in Henlow, with nobody left in England to mourn or visit and all that marks their passing are our fading memories and a little stone plaque. Rather sad really that these memories only last a couple of generations. Very zen. But I remember him and his silly silver tankard so that's all that matters right now.
BabyBro wanted to throw it away but I couldn't see it go. It's dead plain, no inscription, no decoration, not even a glass bottom but it's solid, heavy with an epns mark on the base. It's a working class recepticle and because I remember him using it, I wanted to hang on to it. Another addition to the Red Suitcase or the Curiosity Corner . . I'll polish it up and see if it warrants display. Strange behaviour for someone who's basically a tosser.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I have nothing today. I'm ready to slash my wrists or enjoy a little Slash. Heavy rock is always a better alternative to self-harm I find!
I'm a little tired. Finishing Christmas shopping, ordering DrummerBoy about and pressure hosing our concrete which has blackened due to warm and humid La Ninia weather patterns and feeling ever-frustrated at not being able to do what I usually do. We're in get-ready-for-Christmas mode, tidying, refurbishing and redecorating. Nope, I'm not bending or lifting more than 5 kilos although it's killing me and I did give the Dyson a gentle push around the loungeroom to gather up a few Christmas beetle carcasses. I'm cranky and have fallen out with ClareBear about my expectations of her housekeeping and her lack of doing things when I want them done (which of course is now, if not sooner!).
Being a control freak has its downside. I've also managed to piss off DrummerBoy with constant demands and nags that he doesn't do things as well at home as he does for his landscaping clients or in the exacting timeframe that I demand . . . but hey, I'm in the throes of giving up nicotine, a prisoner in my own household and frustrated by doctor's orders that I take it easy for a month . . .I can't wait to bleach the bejeezus out of everything, get into the cobwebs and damp dust my skirting boards. I can't wait to clean out the cupboards and tidy my pantry. I can't wait to give the crevice tool a run around the window frames although the skinks are doing a good job of getting rid of the dead bugs that collect around the base. I can't wait to change my own sheets and plump up my sofa pillows. I can't wait to hang out my washing so that it comes in flat and foldable, not creased and crinkled. I can't wait to get behind the wheel of a car so that I can run up and get my own champers instead of demanding one of the kids do it, and now! I can't wait to crank up my leaf blower and do a proper job of removing gum leaves, cobwebs and dog hair from every external crevice. It is so frustrating watching others do things in a different way and in a laxadaisical manner and taking twice the time to achieve the result. I'm methodical, routine, a perfectionist and it's frankly driving my kiddywinks up the wall and me insane.
Ahh, but the Christmas shopping is complete, the tree is replete and the pressies wrapped and ready. Only one more challenge, the food shopping next Sunday and we're all ready to roll. Plus December 29 marks week 4 of my trials and I can drive . . I can get out of my own volition and run amok! And belive me much amok-ing is planned! So, in the absence of anything further to discuss today, I leave you with a little bit of tipsy Slash and Velvet Revolver - Oh and kudos to Arky for booking a flight to New Zealand to see KISS and Ozzy Osborne! Awesome my young friendling! (there's no accounting for taste in music!)
Monday, December 17, 2007
How about now?
this bird was on the move!
The dreaded Bush Turkey, or Brush or Scrub Turkey is more at home in the rain forest areas of northern NSW and Queensland so what this one is doing in Terrigal, I don't know. They build huge mounds (usually by turfing over your newly planted saplings and ground covers) then the male of the species attracts a female to lay her egs within the mound and he then regulates it's temperature until the progeny hatch. He adds mulch or removes debris as required to ensure a consistent temperature. The mounds however can be as high as 1.5m and about 3 metres across! How'd you like them apples?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Right now, the only way to add a URL to your name when commenting is to sign your comment with OpenID.Off to the outlaws tomorrow for an early Chrismas Dinner and pressie exchange (ooooh I love pressies!) so back on 17th with more banal banter. Have a great weekend everyone!
Friday, December 14, 2007
The Kyoto Protocol was developed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change. It is an agreement negotiated by many countries in December 1997 and came into force with
The agreement requires the reduction of the following gaseous emissions via ‘trading’ with developing nations and the reduction of emissions in developed countries:
- Methane (CH4)
- Nitrous oxide (N2O)
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
hexafluoride (SF6) Sulphur
The goals of
India and China, which have ratified the Kyoto protocol, are not obligated to reduce greenhouse gas production at the moment as they are developing countries however, since it’s inception, China is about to overtake the USA in emissions. The West has effectively outsourced much of its carbon emissions to
While almost every country in the world has signed the Kyoto Protocol, the signature is a token gesture. Only formal ratification of the Treaty carries legal obligations and effectively becomes a contractual arrangement. 169 countries have ratified the agreement. Of the signatories, only 2 refused to ratify
What makes the
Politicians and diplomats will continue to argue, finger point and delay massive action and participants seem to be concerned only about their own parochial interests. Only a few voices in the wilderness seem to be thinking globally on this issue. Whether you are a protagonist or a detracter on the issue of whether Carbon Emissions create Global Warming, there is no doubt that the planning is warming. Reducing these emissions can only be a good thing, even if it constitutes a reduction of pollution alone. I’m hopeful that Kevin Rudd and his new Government will be able to wield some influence and that his rather veiled remonstrations at the recent
There’s more: I want office workers to stop printing out their emails and transition to paperless technologies – turn off their lights at night and power down their desktops and printers. I want food producers to quit over spraying and over packaging. I want young mothers to stop using disposable (of course they are not in any way disposable) nappies for their children because they’re too lazy to soak and wash. I want us to think about the amount of meat and leather we consume and use – cows produce methane. I want everyone to conserve energy and water which down under is a precious commodity. I want people to recycle their garbage, to compost and move away from the ‘disposable’ mentality. You don’t need 15 spray cleaners to achieve a sparkling shower and toilet. I want drug companies to quit their expensive patents on medicines that can cure
It’s all about consequences. We teach our children about responsibility, sharing, fairness and to be mindful of the consequences of their actions yet when it comes to global environmental responsibility, we ignore our own advice. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE whether we like it or not and we WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES of neglect and inaction.
To my mind,
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I like to think of myself as a fairly savvy marketer. I began my life as a Copywriter for a large multinational in-house studio and I think I'm pretty good with the gift of the gab but I have no formal qualifications beyond a major in literature and haven't the technical skill to foray too hard into viral or internet marketing but every now and then . . rarely . . there's a site that inspires and The Golden Compass is one of them. Mind you it helps having the finances of New Line Cinema behind you. Not only is it beautiful, it's a brilliant piece of marketing with downloads, online shops, sneak previews. I stole the link from Fishboy who has this and a load of other 'interesting' downloads and funny bits which often tickle my fancy.
The movie opens here on Boxing Day. Unlike him, I haven't read the books but the movie looks spectacular if you're a lover of mystery and fantasy, armoured polar bears, Daniel Craig or Nicole Kidman it will be worth a look! Have a go at establishing your own Daemon by moving to Downloads or judge me on the accuracy of mine.
It's fun . . it's Christmas . . have a go you mugs
http://www.goldencompassmovie.com/ and click on Downloads and "Meet Your Daemon"
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I can't stand shopping for clothes and shoes, nothing fits, the change rooms are hot, the shop assistants are snooty and the prices are inflated. I come away feeling fat, and depressed and ripped off. So I avoid the feeling by avoiding the activity that leads to it. But this afternoon, ClareBear's very generous employer Australian Radio Network (thank you guys) let my little chicken have a half day for Christmas shopping and since I am still yet to get behind a wheel . . .we went together. Now this is a whole different scenario, shopping with company!
Normally if the two of us shop together it's usually me dragging her under duress to wheel the trolley while I reach for the bottles of Morning Fresh and the tins of Tomato with Basil and Garlic or me taking her to buy something special, but today, it was shopping for others . . Christmas shopping and we resolved to nail as many family members as possible within the 4 hour timeframe. I'm still feeling a little tired and am not permitted to carry more than 6 kilos so poor CB was the packhorse. And a mighty job the little trojan did!
We started, well - we got a parking spot. Miraculous given the amount of people buzzing around Castle Towers our mega maul . . I mean mall. There's everything you need there in 2 kms of enclosed shopping mall complete with Christmas durges (seriously, one store was playing a musical version of the Lord's Prayer!) and the usual rocked up Mariah Carey "All I Want for Christmas" kinda stuff. Even Santa was sitting on his throne looking rather bored becuse nobody wanted a picture with him. There are specials a plenty, lots of shiny things which are a constant distraction - "Oooooh look, . . . .LED lights for Christmas Trees . . .ahh . . . a Santa train . . .I've always wanted a Lava Lamp . . .oh look at those retro toasters, they're so . . retro " Back to business girls.
The power shopping began in Target because we get Fly Buys and they have pretty good homewares stuff. And Dunlop Volleys and Sandwich Makers . . . we nailed a few there but they were heavy so needed to procure a trolley . . .I didn't buy much but souvenired two boxes of Lindor Balls . . .Chocolate? What Chocolate?
We stacked the car and went off for round two. Into Priceline. A discount pharmacy and gift store where we were distracted once again by chocolate. EVERYTHING from chocolate shoes . .( yes shoes) to Belgian truffles and macadamias and . . . .then that bitch with the three wheeled stroller just left her toddler bang slap in the middle of the aisle to go browsing . . .I hate those things. We even have parking spaces for "Cars with Prams" What the? I had to lug a heavy Aprica stroller and two toddlers from the roof top parking and these days yummy mummies get to park right near the sliding doors with their lightweight moon buggies and their designer babies and stroll into the shops. *Grumpy Old Woman moment*. Spoiled young biatches! They should do it tough like we did and soak their nappies instead of buying disposables and walk the distance and negotiate escalators with one in tow and one in the stroller!
So we walk another kilometre to "House" fantastic housewares and we're distracted by Piggy Banks . . these are the hot item this Christmas. Pigs with polka dots, gold crowns, green stripes . . . they're sooooo cute!
Into Peter Alexander the pyjama king. Oh my God . . they have ruby slippers. Little sparkly red sequined pumps and boxed pyjamas and paper cups with noses on them so when you drink you can pick your nose because the cup has pictures of noses on the side (not pick your nose literally) and more chocolate with obscenities about men driving you to cocoa on the pack. Fabulous! Out comes the girly Virgin Mastercard . . yes it's pink . . it screams 'use me' every 30 seconds and shop assistants squeal "Oh my what a pretty credit card . . . that's $98 please"
I'm getting a bit tired and hungry by now and Clare being the trooper she is, carries the heavy shit while I ponce down the mezzanine with my flash Peter Alexander bag with nothing more than a singlet top in it . . we head to Wendy's . American hot dogs . . .chocolate milk shakes and a quick sit before I notice that Strawberries and Mangoes are on special. My nether regions are now reminding me that I'm less than 2 weeks since major surgery but hey, it's Christmas . . .must press on . . must finish shopping . . .into Uncle Petes for a squizz at toys. Nemo fish that you put in a bucket of water and they triple their size. How do they do that? Gotta have 2. Bendy swords, Barrels of Monkey's remember those? Robot dogs and Star Wars models . . . Whoooaaaa. . another twin stroller with whingeing 2 year olds blocks our exit. I find myself unconsciously holding my abdomen in the event a wayward 4 year old careens into me.
Onward and upward into Diva . . cheap jewellery but hey, it's waaaaaay schparkly and Fringelet loves that stuff so we ponce with the younglings and pick out more glitz but we don't want the $7 lip gloss that's being foisted on us by the pubescent shop assistant who's obviously been coached to flog as much of the stuff as possible to everyone presenting at the till.
Then a bit of class . . into David Jones for a handbag. Red, practical . . trendy but suitable for a Granny (it's OK she doesn't read the blog). AND it's 20% off . . perfect. Snuck some Bonds coloured socks in there for ClareBear too . . .crazy colours and she'll prolly never wear them but I thought they were cute.
So we're almost done. We've bought all we need for everyone with the exception of BabyBro who wants a Led Zeppelin DVD and some Golf Balls . . .fuck that . . boring as batshit . . the jury is still out on what he is to receive this Christmas but it won't be balls and a DVD.
Last port of call, the Reject Shop . . full of westie housewives buying light em up santas and cheap wrapping . . . nothing in here for us this year although we did purchase our bouncy Santas from them last year. Again a stroller cuts us off at the pass . . and a rather rude "Excuse me" from the driver because we push past before she can manouvre us out of the way. By this point I want to behave like Herod and eradicate all two year olds and their chatty non concentrating mums from the planet.
So, exhausted after carrying well . . not much of anything . . . Poor Clare is absolutely bedraggled with tons of shopping bags and a sore toe that she stubbed yesterday so we mosied back to the car and sojourned home. All in all . . proof that Christmas shopping can be painless. It can be achieved in 3 hours flat with some dedication and aggressive shopping, proof that Wendy's hot dogs are still delicious and that sparkly things still attract. I'm done! With the exception of that pesky BabyBro . . . so any ideas what to buy a sporty, musical, fidgetty 48 year old, 6 foot male? Please . . I need some clues.
Ahh, tis the season to be exhausted and exhilarated . . .now where's that wrapping paper? Buried under this lot somewhere . . .
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Here are the rules of the Meme:
Post on your blog . . .
Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
- I like weird, off the wall, point of difference people. Seriously, normal people like me bore the pants of me so I like the odd bods, geeks, creatives, nutters, musicians - even some Americans
- My mother once made me sit at the table for 3 hours because I refused to eat Cauliflower Au Gratin - it smelled like sick - a neighbour came in and hand fed me the cold slop so I could go and play . . . it scarred me indelibly. I now love anything with a cheese sauce
- I spent some time in a solitary confinement cell in a pretty floral dress and a pair of red stilettos.
- I have driven a Police Range Rover down the M1 with the siren on and lights flashing and no, it didn't result in my spending time in a solitary confinement cell.
- I now only own three pairs of shoes - all of them sensible
- I bought a horse at an auction and had nowhere to put it when it was delivered. It spent three nights inside the swimming pool enclosure without falling in
- I talk to myself incessantly. I am often caught out having a heated conversation with myself or others, alive and/or dead. Does that make me mad?
Clare and Jem
Little AB came into the world in a hurry and hit the ground running. I almost had him in the lift . . no time for comforting epidural’s with this little tyke he was ready and able. He was a sweet toddler with masses of curly blonde hair and a propensity to blow wet raspberries when ‘driving’ any form of equipment from tricycles to Tonka Trucks and despite the lack of influence from a male adult, he grew up decidedly blokey. Yep, the usual porn under the mattress, swearing like a trouper to the point that his mouth was often washed out with Morning Fresh as a deterrent and getting into trouble for doing doughnuts in cul de sacs and underage drinking resulting in projectile vomit all over my dashboard. Bless my little angel!
He applied himself to his education as needed and survived the HSC and three years of university, I suspect without reading more than a dust jacket which surely is a mark of super intelligence. He wasn’t a great sportsman but had an interest in golf, baseball and soccer Xbox and Playstation. In fact for a long time, our DrummerBoy had just a select few friends and could be considered quiet a loner. That is until motor bikes came along . . remote control cars, pocket bikes and the band. When he turned 12, I bought him a ready made drum kit as a surprise . . . he jumped out of his skin. Since then the kit has been refurbished and new cymbals and skins added but it’s basically the same little budget set. The following few years saw him put together a little band called Indecent Exposure at a time before he could drive. I was the Drummy Mummy, helping lug equipment to and from spurious venues from the local ice rink to dodgy dives. When he literally ‘grew’ out of them he and a friend established Aktor . . .now he’s excelled in his field and has been offered gigs with quite reputable bands but he’s loyal to his posse and will stay until there is no reason to remain. The title Rock God suits him . . he is a legend in his own lunchtime.
DrummerBoy is obliging . . he’s a hard worker whether it’s crawling through roof and wall cavities for BabyBro threading data cables or lugging 25 kilo bags of salt for pool shop customers or pruning roses and laying fertiliser for Tutti Frutti Nursery . . .physical labour has never bothered him. He will mow when asked (bear in mind this is about 3 hours’ work on acreage), he lugs when asked. He maintains our swimming pool which is more than any of the other men in our household have ever attempted to do. He begrudgingly puts out the sulo bins each week and brings them in again but he does it. He is moral and has a strong sense of what is right and fair . . woe betide anyone who treats him unfairly or tries to rip him off. He is the master of the consumer complaint and justice will be his. He is a fine chef. Messy as all hell with a tendency to add just one secret ingredient too many but the boy can cook!
He is more like me than I care to admit. He won’t be told but has to experiment. He has a life plan and is doggedly focussed on achieving it. He is a tender and attentive boyfriend without being pussywhipped. He will have the last word (which sometimes takes a while if the two of us are at it). He is incredibly fair and a creature of reason. He’s gracious and well-mannered and reason for the many compliments I receive on his upbringing. He rarely leaves the toilet seat up and has only once attempted to blow up the house with balsamic vinegar and pool acid!
He’s a born organiser (not domestically but you know what I mean) and effectively Aktor’s Manager by default. He is fiscally irresponsible and spends more than he earns (another trait he has inherited from his mother) but he’s also very generous when money is flowing in.
And today . . . he’s 21 years old. We're not having a big celebration, just Thai in Parramatta but it's a special event nonetheless . . . My baby no more. Happy birthday sweetness and light. I’m proud to be your mum!