Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Take a Breath, Take a Big Breath . . .

I've had my fill of parties, all day/all night barbecues, kissing people I don't really know at midnight although the hug my Father In Law gave me in 1977 still makes my heart sing! And Auld Lang Syne has little resonance for me. I'm up for new friends.

As a young single, New Years pissups were mandatory and often spent travelling, camping, going to the local less-than-savoury country club and party pashes with randoms. Later it became a regular couples camping holiday with friends which was fantastic. Again, often the Yamba Bowling Club or the Gerringong RSL but we were friends together and it didn't matter where New Year's Eve was celebrated.

We've had parties at home, parties at other homes. We've been out to dinner - which is not very satisfactory because after 12 and all the hoopla, free beads and silly whistles, the bar is closed and the tables cleared and that's the end of that. Since children came along, it's been a more low key affair with celebrations at home with family and what friends could attend.

Now that my children are grown, they go their own way on New Year's Eve. DrummerBoy was last seen in Dungog sitting in a spa and drinking a beer wearing his new Christmas pork pie hat (he will be berated if he got it wet!). Clare is at a beach side Eco Lodge in Bermagui on the south coast with friends probably drinking someone else's booze given her current lack of resources. I think her words were "The house is pimpin' " - that's a good thing!

I'm not sure what the rest of the family are up to.

Me? Well I'm home, my house is clean and for the short term immaculate. It's quiet, warm, breezy . . I've read kj's book and had a little cry (not 'cos I'm sad but the book is.) I am feeling very relaxed, and in a way, glad that another year has ended. Fortunately, it has been an uneventful year for me . . not a bad thing considering the trials some people have had to deal with.

  • Kate things can only get better in 2009 there are many in your position thanks to this awful economic downturn. You have a wonderful husband and two great kids . . things will sort themselves out.
  • Commiserations to Jay who had to put one of her precious dogs down today. I thought about you when I took my Princess to have her annual jabs today.
  • Hearts out to Kahlerisms who's dad is not well but hanging on. You know I love you and Brethred very much so chin up and come and see me sometime
  • Cheers to my darling 'virtual son' who is working night shift on New Year's Eve before catching a plane to on New Year's Day to stay with us in Australia - he will be virtual no more - brave effort paduan - I can't wait.
  • Congratulations to Stan who has a new baby and will be having a 'quiet' night in with Natalie, his new bundle of joy and his lovely family.
  • Big hugs to Ces who's had some emotional trials but is now right on track, determined as ever and has become a cool friend despite our political differences
  • Massive thank you to kj for sending me a signed copy of her book.
  • Cheers and bottoms up to Miladysa who was the first to wish me happy new year. According to my clock drinking Bacardi and Coke at 9:30 am!
  • Thank you Melissa for sharing your wonderful words, family, surroundings . . I can't tell you how much I like your blog
  • Massive hugs for Thrifty who's supplied me with hilarious emails throughout the year and a couple of 'back from the pub' cheerios!
  • Big congrats to K8 who is finally in a new home, has broadband and is now able to chat more - give that Laughing Boy and Puppy Child a hug for me
  • Huge thank you to Babysis and the Plumber for taking care of my horses for the past 4 years. I forgot to thank them in the frey that was moving them from one location to another.
  • Much love and apologies to Thommo for dogging her on Boxing Day, don't be mad at me baby. . I've only just learned how to do things for me instead of others.Have a blast in Japan.
  • Hearts out to Gaye . . maybe in 2009 we'll share a drink in the garden
  • Buckets of encouragement to Gledwood who's fighting heroin addiction but trying hardto stick to his Methodone program
  • Greetings and happy new year to Bimbimbi my fellow Aussie who's helping to champion the cause and emails me regularly
  • Thank you Lehners in France, I can't wait for the adventures of Lehners in England
  • Wishing you luck with completing the renno's in France Ernest and thanks for actually making me Rub 2 Neurons - I actually didn't think I had two to spare
  • Wuffa . . maybe you'll be motivated to write something more personal on your blog? But thank you for being such a regular and contributing to the Wonder Wall - be afraid, your part of the world is on my travel agenda.
  • Grannymar you're a champ and I enjoy our Skype chats and your wordly wisdom - wishing you a steady ticker and warm feet this winter.
  • Steph, I loved the video and the Skype chat . . .let's resolve to do it again in the new year and maintain the rage against the Irish Health System
  • Thanks Miley for taking an interest in my blog when yours is a work of linguistic art (except for the paragraph thing)
  • Annie and Megan (you know you come as a pair) . .great getting to know you and love that we chat on Facebook
  • Moon and EM (almost a pair) . . life wouldn't be the same without, travel, dogs and Limoncello, you are both so down to earth, please stay that way in 2009
  • JD hoping you get to realise the dream - you can do it - only you
  • Grandad, I have to say, I like "The Other Fella's" blog . .lovely getting a window into your world. I live vicariously as you know . . .
  • TCL, lovely getting to know you too and best of luck with your travels to Argentina, you stay in touch now and give me the 'dirt' on Quickie and the Mrs.
  • IBeati, you're an inspiration, truly . . wishing you a year of good health - I now count my blessings too
  • Bear . . keep your beary bright wisdom coming
  • AV I've just been on your Flickr site and must admit you need no luck with your photographic skills so here's hoping for the book . . thanks for the funnies, and the emails, and the friendship . .you're a champ and a great mum to Bo.
  • Conortje, party hard dude or go home . . someone told me you're a lightfoot on the dance floor. I wish for you no more leaky ceilings . . .and a big hunk of handsomeness
  • Maxi and JellyMonster . . .keep the laughs coming . . I learn something every day . . not always something I want to learn . . but I learn.You're the only site I have to warn people about in advance!
  • Rev, enjoy your ski trip. You are inspirational if not a little serious but you too make me think about life the universe, and everything (including cricket) and the answer is much, much more than 42. Thank you for your emails.
  • Plugger, you're a cack and the only person I know who is paid to eat chocolate. All the best with the Melbourne move and the Adelaide sale. I do know exactly how frustrating it can be. 2009 for you will be a new adventure.
  • Jack McMadd . . nice to see you back in the frey even if your posts are few and far between. Thank you also for your research on South American 'safety' when Clare was about to embark on her journey, you gave me peace of mind.
  • Terrence, you are hilarious. Nominations for the Irish Blog Awards are on but I'm ineligible to vote. Doh! I hope you find love in the new year, someone else to trial that non stick pan
  • Quickie may there be more Argentinian bottoms and less strike strife, thanks for the journey through Buenos Aires
  • Christopher . .remain my human thesaurus . . will you start a new word of the week?
  • Ropi - keep disagreeing with me and comparing notes . . I love your challenges and wish you luck in your final year in high school. And you did look like a General! And you can dance!
  • Wordnerd - Gaux Tigers (whatever that means)
  • Paddy - only a short cooling off period and you have your new house, now that's a dream come true!
  • Susan, as one leaves home . . hey the other two stay! Absence really does make the heart grow fonder- I know!
  • Carole, I hope one day you have the courage to say hello . . I see you on Skype . .I know you're there!
  • Nick, I hope you manage to get a good vantage point to watch the fireworks tonight because they are spectacular! Next time you visit, you're invited to mine!
  • David, your photos never cease to amaze. You are my online photographic mentor whether you like it or not.I love that you have time to email when I comment. Very gracious considering the size of your blogroll (no pun intended)
  • Ashleigh . .nice that you dump over here now and then. I hope you'll be more frequent in your posts during 2009
  • RyanIam, keep challenging my political views and all the very best with the new job thing (oh and you know that 'leaving' stuff at someone's house means that you want an excuse to come back . .you're welcome any time)
I lost two bloggers this year. Smartassbian and Bird Anonymous . .wherever you are . . may life be kind to you.

I'm not linking you all . . you're all either in the blog roll or know who you are or know each other and you are all special . . it's true, some of my best friends are in my computer but feel free to come out whenever you like! And to my physical friends, few of whom even know I blog let alone read it. Thank you for being there for me, Kaz, Avril, Jayne, Annie, Tina, Ruth, Judy, Damian . .

My daughter may be right . .perhaps I do have an 'obsession' with blogging but I believe it's allowed me to meet personally and virtually the most amazing bunch of diverse people of all ages and persuasions. Thank you for your comments this year, thank you for sharing snippets of your lives, thank you for emailing and becoming more than words on a page

To those of you who have had a good year . . I wish you the same for the next. For those who have had tumultuous times . . I wish for you plain sailing . . . For those who have had some insurmountable obstacles . . I hope you learn to fly. And for those who know that times ahead are going to be tough . . .reach out to your support system . .we/they are there. For those of us who have just travelled along . . I wish us excitement and a few surprises. My new year's eve is contemplative and introspective and that's the way I want it.

Not a Celebration song, not a new year song but one of warmth and love and hope and affection. Sort of explains how I feel about you lot sometimes. (Metaphorically speaking).

You can take a breath now:

Happy, happy New Year! w00t!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Leapin' Lizards!

The weather here has been strange this summer. Normally December and January are hot and sunny with late afternoon storms which clear things up and cool things down before bedtime. Instead, we've had cold days, hot days, dry days, wet days, exhausting humidity.

On the super hot dry days the flies are too hot to buzz in the garden and hover in the cool alcove near my front door and Dragon Flies come into the kitchen and bash aimlessly at the fly screen, mosquitoes make their presence unknown by hiding in the Christmas Tree only to be exposed by a toxic spray each morning.

The last three days have been very hot. Sunny, breezy and stinky. Sweat on the lip, whack the fan on hot. Dogs spread eagle on the slate hot. Buzzy insects in the laundry that you're not-quite-sure-what-they-are hot. The horses stand head to tail and swat each other's flies hot.

Yesterday afternoon for instance. It was about 37 degrees so we sat by the pool with the required alcamoaholly drinks late in the afternoon until a thunderstorm threatened and only retreated to the verandah when the rain began to dilute our chardy or soggify our cigarettes. It's sooooo good being rained on when it's stinkin'. Then within 20 minutes, no clouds!

Wanna hear something funny, I couldn't bare to throw the ham bone away so am brewing pea and ham soup in the height of summer . . crazy woman! The kids are away and they don't like it so . . hey . . indulge me.

There are some in inhabitants however, who are thriving in the heat. The cold blooded lodgers of my house and garden. I don't know if it's sexy time for lizards but they've been a plenty . . just hope there's a few around to scare the bejeezus out of my houseguest. I have at least four residents INSIDE the house. And any number outside to whose presence I'm alerted by panicky birds.

This was snapped whilst blogging near my PC, literally while I'm talking to someone in Ireland, lamenting the cold . . .he's about 20cms long and eats the Christmas Beetles (which I have found out are June Bugs) and the fly carcasses that land around the skirting boards. Grab him by the tail and he'll drop it to make a quick escape whilst said appendage squirms to distract the predator. I've seen them with red, green and yellow side stripes.

These little guys (Eastern Skinks), I've mentioned before. They live in the damp course around the house. They hibernate in winter but are very active in summer. They do poo on the carpet but I've learned now to let it dry before vacuuming and they provide a 'snake' like scare if you see their dislocatbable tails disappear under your couch but they're oh so cute. I'd rather have them than not. My SIL however can be palpably heard screaming when one ventures into her house.

This gives an idea of the size compared to the French Door window pane and skirting board.

No my windows aren't dirty, they have 'snow' sprayed on them for Christmas . .

This guy is a youngster and the Noisy Minors (birds) have a special alarm sound for ground slinky things. We always know if there's a lizard or a snake, they sound the alarm. This fellow was about 3 metres from my back door and a willing subject. Very docile. Again about 30 cms long which isn't too big but nice and chunky with a shiny skin which suggests he's just shed and out looking for the girlies. You can pick them up, even though they're wild, as long as you support their body weight from the back with a flat hand. Adam poked him and he 'hissed' that was as far as tough guy would go . . can you see his blue tongue? Hence the name "Blue Tongued Lizard".

He's watching . . .No snails in my garden thanks to these guys . . .

And finally a little dinosaur . . a young Bearded Dragon . . .spickly and spikey. . I once tried to feed one some mince . . he was eager and went for the meat on my finger but bit the tip, I panicked and flicked my hand and the thing went flying through the air . . my dad came round the corner and declared "Well I never . . . I didn't know that dragons could jump!" They won't move until totally provoked so a few have sacrificed themselves to the tractor mowing blades . . .they're so hard to see but so beautiful . . .again dead passive and happy to be picked up as long as their underbelly is supported.

Herro Mr bewfuls . . I know you're rookin' at me!

Just thought I'd share.

(Oh and kj, your book arrived . .thank you so much!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Thank God)

All a bit of a blur now . . .

My niece in Melbourne emailed a couple of weeks ago and asked could we have a 'theme' this Christmas. Usually it's a colour theme only in relation to table settings and decorations. We've had blue and silver, bronze, red and white. Then a kitch Reject Shop T Shirt Christmas but this year we outdid ourselves with the 'kitch' aspect and came as our favourite Christmas 'thing'. Hilarious. It was a HUGE day and I mean HUGE, we started at 11:30am on the 25th and at 2:30am on the 26th, Stressany, Babybro and I as the last 'men' standing, decided that attempting to play Anarchy in the UK on Guitar Hero World Tour was totally beyond us and dragged ourselves to bed!

As always, it began well. We had family members dressed as - baubles, presents, champagne, elves, aussie yobs and Rudolf (propriety prevents me showing you our family pic which is the funniest screen saver I've ever put up on the old Dell!) Trust me a little bit of cardboard and a lot of glitter goes a long way!

Below of course is Clarebear as a Christmas tree, me as some sort of Yuletide fat fairy and DrummerBoy as . . you guessed it, Jesus (we were commemorating his birthday after all!) See what a good Catholic education does?

Even Lily did not escape decoration . . .

There were plenty of presents under the tree, and The Plumber and his little elf helped distribute them to family members - don't you love a Santa that wears green thongs!

The table was set, looking neat and tidy with kitch bouncy Santa's and a couple of tea light Christmas Trees . . .

This bouncy Santa survived a nasty fall a couple of years ago when the glass table top shattered, no such accidents this year . . .

Even the glassware wore bling . . .

There were raspberry competitions . . Adam won of course

There was bubble blowing . . .

Some barefoot barbecuing of tiny Filet Mignon served with Bearnaise sauce as well as Thai chicken skewers . . .to be followed by an apricot glazed baked ham and Caesar salad.

There were Kris Kringle pressies at the lunch table while we nibbled . . .this was a 'slow food' day.

There was Twister Scram, sort of like musical chairs, you twist a colour and each has to race and stand on a correspondingly coloured pad. The loser removes a pad of each colour and the last man standing wins.

There was Zap you General Knowledge . . get the question wrong and you're electrocuted. Hours of family fun!

Then there was face painting . . .

and not just for the little kids . . . .

Guitar hero and Monster's of Rock . . .

Late night dipping into the potato bake whilst also being the adjudicator of Trivial Pursuit . . .

The table had fallen into disrepute . . .

So much fun, so much booze and food that the next day was definitely a blur. By the time family had left and the cleanup been completed, I dogged my best friend's Boxing Day gig to reacquaint myself with the comfiest couch in the world! I'm rather glad Christmas comes but once a year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Rotund-Her from Down Under

In case you hadn't noticed, Christmas is just a couple of days away so last night, we buggered the carbon footprint, piled into the car and did our usual Christmas Light vigil and visited some of the 'illuminating' homes in the backwaters of our suburb.

Tacky, oh yes! Gaudy? definitely. Tasteless? Absolutely but so much fun and little sign that people are paring back because of impending recession. Hey, we need a little Christmas -right this very minute!

This will be the last post for a couple of days as preparations take over. So wishing you all a very Merry, wonderful and safe Christmas. I know for some, it will be bittersweet and for others it will be a fantastic connection with friends and family. Thank you all for your comments throughout the year and hopefully, you'll keep stopping by.

So from the Rotund-her from Down Under . . . Season's Greetings!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hung-ry Like a Horse

Iznt we cutz? "Daddy can I have a pony?"

A warning to the parents of little girls . . .think long and hard before you actually buy them a pony.

I've blogged about this before. When my sister was trying to get pregnant, and nothing was happening other than some mattress calisthenics she decided to distract herself with a new hobby - dressage. Clare, Babysis and I drove around the state for three or four weekends seeking an appropriate charger for her cause. We had the paddock, I was happy to feed in her absence, an instructor was found and a neighbour had agreed to let her use their dressage ring for tuition. She spent a shitload on the gear and even had custom made top boots for competition.

Dressage, for the uninitiated is the 'dancing' that you train horses to do. Unusual and difficult steps such as extended trots and sideways moves - you know, it's the point in Olympic coverage where your daughters won't let you switch to the news because they want to watch the pretty horses and the bank of Orange clad Dutch spectators.

It's particular and difficult for a horse to accomplish. Since a horse uses 75% of it's brain to coordinate it's legs for walking, trotting and running, walking crossways across an arena is a huge task, dancing on the spot almost impossible. Dressage is amazing albeit a little dull to watch unless you're a horsey type. The whole training is done with gentle pressure on the bit and lots of bum moving and leg pressure although the impression you have to give must be seamless. And the judges are harsh. The slightest miss-step or sign of lameness and you're toast.

Anyhoooooo. . . .we finally found a mature horse "Brutus" 17 hands heavy built thoroughbred who knew his moves. His racing name "Big and Fast" had failed him and he'd been relegated to the Dressage world. His mum had tired of him and wanted a more flashy competitor so Babysis bought him for a song.

Not to be outdone at the time, it seemed a rather nice idea to buy a couple of paddock bashers so the three of us could trail ride (there were trails in those days). And, little miss dedication, had never had 'could try harder' on her six years of primary reports so . . we bought a horse. Lasalle Royal Flash (Laurie). Bred by a priest in Orange (the town not the colour), owned first by a teenage boy then by an impetuous girl who wanted to upgrade her Arab gelding. He doesn't like women much.

Problem was, we (read I) bought a horse that I thought I could also ride. Too big for the kid (who was only 12 at the time) and far too temperamental. We had rearing and refusals and teeth grinding and ears bending (and that's just the horse). So, since she'd matched me dollar for dollar, I kept the grinch for myself and bought her a little steel grey dapple Welsh Mountain Pony (Chippy).

For a few years, we had a blast. Me, Clare, Adam in tow (usually dressed as a Pirate) on his BMX bike and a big black lab that once ended up with heat exhaustion and 2 days in the vet being rehydrated, trail rode our little socks off. We joined a riding club (as opposed to a pony club) and she enjoyed weekend camps and we learned dressage and jumping and cross country, bending and all sorts of horsey pursuits and some of the best sausage rolls with tomato sauce ever! Brutus however turned out to be hopeless on the trail. First sign of a green verge and all the racing memories came back he just wanted to bolt!

12 years later Brutus is long gone. Babysis has two beautiful babies and we still have the nags. Laurie at 15.3 and 29 years old, Chippy at 13.5 and just shy of 18 years old. Chips is a little on the short side which means he has attitude. The little shit is like a brick dunny and I defy any emu to knock him down.

So four years ago, when our paddock was sparse, we moved them to Babysis lush paddocks where they thrived on nothing but grass. Se lives on a particularly lush ridge where the Kykuyu grass is prevalent and plentiful. Although last year, they decided to demolish their front paddock fence as a house sale was on the cards and they felt an expanse of lawn looked better. The upshot? A paddock too small to sustain two horses on grass alone. (even though it was about 3 acres).

It was my fault. She offered to feed and did - but not enough. I went over for coffee and a pat on Saturdays but never checked under the rug and at the beginning of Spring, I took off the rug and discovered this . . .

Bear in mind he has his long winter coat but way, way, too skinny. Lethargic and snoozy, disinterested and not bolloxed to fight for his lunch with the marauding Welshy.

So, with the paddock denuded and the Plumber's newly planted Japanese Maples eaten to a crisp, we brought them back to Chez Fairway (or Old Trafford as my brother insists on calling it) and into a very overgrown paddock with a newly taut fence (thanks Ads). We filled the bath with cool clean H2O after scooping out the redbacks and bark we set the boys free on the cusp of suburbia. Two feeds a day for the skinny man and even after 2 weeks, we're seeing some real progress. He's happy, very happy . .I know because he never shuts up. He's eating well, he's aggressive and fighting off Chippy who has a wiley technique for stealing food and after Clare gave him a purple bath on Thursday (fluoro shampoo makes them brighter than bright), he's clean. Actually he's more than clean . . . he's fresh, he's horny! All I have to do is tickle the guy and wham! So if you have little girls looking at the pretty pony be ready for some sticky questions . .yes . .geldings masturbate . .they also get their jollies with a bit of a back rub and they do weird things when you stroke them gently (on their coat of course) like buckling their legs and yep . . flaunting the willy! Or maybe that's Laurie . .he's a bit weird that way . . .

What can I say . .the boy can multi-task . . .scratch and pee at the same time
and he never splashes on his trousers - please click on this one because it's a great shot!

I have a new view

He's so pretty for an old boy

Now this is how excited he was looking at a car!

Voila - le Wall of Wonder

Ok for those who have been submerged within their inner cave . . .this is the glass wall adjacent to my work station and since I won't be sitting there until the 19th January, for now this is the Wonderwall as at Friday. Don't let that stop you adding to it over the next month, there's room for all!

You can click to make it bigger

So, from top right to left we have Kath Lockett reminding herself of things to do, Conortje wondering if I've been naughty or nice, Quickroute's tango lesson, Clare and Jem's Excellent Adventures looking suspiciously like Bill and Ted, Jack McMad and his squeeze in the alps, Grannymar's Speckled Hen, ready to email.

Second row from right to left: Laughing Wolf's Peggy's Cove, one of Thrifty's little angels being tickled by a tree, Ces' coffee invitation, the very squeezable Kahlerisms and his equally squeezable Brethred (thanks for the Chrissy deco, it's lubly), Steph's Viking boat, (well not hers obviously but she took the pic),

Third row from right to left: Moon playing with a heffalump, Bimbimbie's little Yulewing, TCL sandboarding, Ropi in Palotas costume, Melissa's little darlings in their snowman pj's, Mr Waldrup's Croatian Stamp collection, (which is weird because he's from Tennesee) and Ryan's Kookaburra pose with two idiots behind him, one of whom is my son. (Ryan's a commenter, my free IT consultant and political nemesis).

Down a notch and we have Nicky's gorgeous Kruger Zebra who I sincerely hope has not become lunch since her trip there a few months back, Nick and Jenny with whom I'm having lunch tomorrow, Miles' alter ego and just below that Mattie's (another commenter) schematic of a helpdesk, Stan (a lurker) and his beached sperm whale (sperm is appropriate since they had a baby this week but no name . . go figure) and Ces examining autumn leaves.

Finally, the bottom right photo is the lovely Megan (with progeny) who submitted her blurry visage just before I skipped work yesterday!). She started this whole ball rolling. Did I miss anyone?

Seriously, this has been so much fun. It's given me the chance to talk to some of you via email, exchange war stories and it's absolutely lovely to see what some of you look like. There are more to come I'm sure. Just send them on to bainbridge 1610 a the g spot and I'll post 'em up when I return to work . . .did I mention I'm on leave for a MONTH *much w00t_age*
If you're so inclined . . why not start one of your own?

PS I am going totally loony in my forgetful old age and missed out posting kj and Englishmum . . it will be fixed! I am bad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poker Prawns and Presents

We had Christmas at the in-laws last weekend. Whilst we keep in touch with the Groovy Grannies, we don't have much contact through the year with my brother in law and his wife although this year, things may change. Two of their sons are on Facebook so the communication links are re-established and Jack's already tagged me for a friend.

Anyway . . . the kids went up on Saturday while I did the usual cleaning, bailing water out of my dysfunctional washing machine and sealed the slate floor. I ran up early the next morning (plans were to go together but washing machine hassles prevented that happening).

The day started dramatically. It was hot and windy. Unusual for this time of the year . The Groovy Grannies have a lovely home with a big elevated deck out the back. Nice to sit and chat and smoke and drink and admire the distant sea view. But despite Adam's best efforts to anchor the two sun brollies, one took flight and ended up on the roof. While the boys were arguing about who was fit enough to retrieve the wayward brolly and Grandma restrained a rather frail Grandad who was up for the challenge . . a gust of wind brought it down harmlessly, narrowly missing Clare's windscreen.

BIL is a Real Estate Agent on the Central Coast and SIL a beautician who works from home. They have three boys 16, 21 and 23 who are . . .well - were . . . less than savoury but this year something was different. Everyone got along, Nick and Sam refrained from thumping each other and going home in a huff. They've long since moved out and it seems to have matured them somewhat. Conversations about bath sheets and washing machines coming out of their mouths seemed a little odd but also rather connecting since my washing machine has given up the ghost. SIL is always lovely, beautifully groomed and pleasant and chatty. BIL was in and out as clients demanded his attention but sweet and good company with the exception of having the golf on telly while we were eating . . .

Christmas there is a very different affair to our own with it's Mezzo plates and themed table. There's the predictable Poinsettia plastic table cloth, nuts and nibblies, tinsel adorned ficus and a Christmas Platypus hanging from the ceiling fan and the meal predictably finished with Mango Tiramisu - but it's homely and friendly and unpretentious and Grandad keeps the glasses filled with alarming regularity. We pop our crackers and reveal nothing more than tweezers, yoyos and silly paper crowns. We laugh and chat and eat and generally have a fantastic time.
To my mind, it's very Aussie although in recent years they've deviated from the hot and sweaty roast to a slightly cooler cold-cut lunch although I know Art loves his baked dinner and suspect he'll enjoy one on Christmas day whether it's 15 or 50 degrees in the shade!

Before lunch there was poker . . .

. . .and presents . . .

and prawns . . .

Grandad grilled souffle'd oysters . . totally awesome . .

After what seemed ages at the buffet table . . .
we sat down to eat in our silly hats

After watching DVD's of nephew Jack's Japanese travels and
Clare's European leg the munchies set in.

. . . and frankly by 11:30 I was totally shitfaced!

Actually it was a really nice day/night and although we don't see BIL and SIL but twice a year, it is always nice to catch up . . .I often wonder if I'd remarried whether I'd have bothered keeping in touch . . then I remember what terrific, ordinary, welcoming people they are and I'm very glad I do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paris and the Presets

I'm rather lazy taking up meme tags and frankly I've forgotten who tagged this one, I think it started as 7 things, then 5 now it's petered down to 3. Yep, I'm slowly getting into relaxation mode. Ticking boxes at work, getting sorted, almost finished the painting, brought the horses home (God they add to the view and after tomorrow's wash I may post photos of the white wonders), getting the pool into shape, thinking about our Christmas day menu and ready to finally tackle those three 30% read books on my nightstand which have remained collecting dust all year . . .looking Sooooo forward to meeting Nickhearandnow on Sunday and having another little ex-blogger over in January . . .so intellectual laziness leads to memes (not really I think they're pretty fun).

1. Helen
2. Mum
3. Nellie (don't ask, my father called me Little Nell all his life and it stuck!)

1. Eyes, brown, warm and I have long eyelashes
2. Strength, I'm not afraid of hard work and can pitch in with the best of them.
3. Lips, they're nice and even and not to shabby

1. Hair
2. Weight, I don't know how it got to this and getting it off is ... *sigh*
3. How everything points south like an Elizabethan glass window pane, you know, where the glass is thicker at the bottom.

1. English
2. Welsh
3. Irish (although I can't prove that apart from my maiden name)

1. Fires, they so easily get out of control
2. Being lonely
3. Being taken forgranted

1. Cigarettes . . .ah, I'm trying, very trying
2. Blogging/Facebook
3. Deodorant and perfume . . I like to smell nice.

1. Silver Havianas skinny strap thongs . .(which apparently is pronounced 'habianass' only you say the 'h' as if you're clearing your throat) Ooh I love em, even more since I found out they're made in Brasil
2. Black fold top lycra and cotton yoga pants, uber, uber comfy
3. White T Shirt (newbie bought by the MIL on the weekend, but It won't stay white.)

1. Peter Gabriel
2. Birds of Tokyo
3. This is too hard, I have very eclectic taste. We're listening to 2WS Gold at work and I know all the songs but I'm a Triple J alternative listener and don't know any of the words - um . . .today . . Santana - their music never ages.

1. Birds of Tokyo - Wild Eyed Boy
2. Girl Talk - What's it All About
3. Don't Worry 'bout Nothin - Murph and Plutonic

1. He must be breathing
2. Laughter
3. Respect

1. Smile
2. Height (must be over 172cm - i.e. taller than me)
3. Great hugs - I mean those big wide, lift you off the ground, nuzzle your neck and blow raspberry type hugs!

1. Photography
2. Horse riding - but I haven't done it for a while although I adore mucking about with the things.
3. Writing (but I never share)

1. Go on leave (three more sleeps)
2. Convince my daughter that a visiting 21 year old, whom I've never met, isn't an axe murderer
3. Tidy the kiddywink spreadage that's hit my dining table

1. Archeology - love the idea of digging in the dirt and finding something that someone like me held hundreds or thousands of years ago.
2. Publican - I'd love a little country pub with home cooked counter meals and blue singleted bushies saying 'that was the best meat pie I've ever eaten luv" (wouldn't be hard)
3. To be the Benevolent Dictator of the world (I might need help from Thrifty, Maxi, K8 and a couple of others)

1. PARIS . .for goodness sakes, PARIS, PARIS, PARIS (and Prague and Patagonia and Peru and Perth and Popocatepetl and Phnom Pen and . . .)
2. Czech Republic - Clare's photos of the place, particularly Prague, are nothing short of stunning and I want to drink 'real' Absynthe which is only available there
3. New Zealand - especially Murawai to visit Stan and the Insta Fam - oh dammit, the WORLD mwuhahaha!

1. Adam
2. Clare
3. Liam (actually there are a few Irish names I like - Darragh, Enda, Siobhan, Ciara . . .)

1. Travel to . . PARIS
2. See my children happily getting on with life (but visiting regularly)
3. Sell my property which will lead to financial security and TRAVEL to . . . you guessed it - PARIS

1. Never go anywhere without a little lip gloss and mascara
2. Terribly good housewife. I cook , clean, wash, fold, blow (leaves boys, leaves) . . like a tidy place.
3. I hate it when the toilet seat is left up. Or men say the 'C' word in my presence. I have some standards.

1. I swear like a trooper - except for THAT word
2. Love Top Gear but I'm not a car enthusiast
3. I can out-drink most of them (not proud, I just can)

No tags but if you get home from work late, can't be bothered fighting the sins of the world but feel the compulsion to post . . .go ahead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Building Walls

Well the Wonder Wall has begun. Took me long enough but last week was rather hectic. So far I have a lovely photo of Peggy's Inlet in Canada from Laughing Wolf, Thrifty's gorgeous little three year old looking giggly and sneezy in autumnal leaves, a lovely drawing from Ces extolling the virtues of blog friendship and the totally huggable Kahlerisms and Brethred who come as a pair naturally. Then there's Moon with a very dozy looking Thai elephant, TCL about to 'sandboard' down an enormous Dune, the lovely and lanky Ropi in his Palotas uniform, worn during a school traditional dance, Forge Light's gorgeous little girls in their Snowman jammies. Next to them Christopher at 'Just Write' has mad a philatelic offering of Croatian stamps. Drop down another level and there's a Zebra that AV photographed just for me during her recent trip to Kruger National Park, the lovely Nick from Nickhereandnow and his partner Jenny (with whom I am having lunch on Sunday - they're visiting Sydney from Belfast! Wahey!) The ever anonymous and paraphobic Miles McClagan from 'Jungs Programme Notes' dressed suspiciously as a glamorous tennis player (I worry about that man's gender confusion) and Stan the Man with a beached Sperm Whale "Your Beached Bro!" A little schematic from Rattie Mattie from the COIN Helldesk and kj's reward poem for being her 20,000th commenter! Oh and can you see a picture of Bimbimbie's Yulewing? A little Felt decoration that is now adorning my Christmas Tree! I'll have to take an updated pic because I forgot Quickie's contribution although one is definitely not for the wall! (Very handsome Brasilian dude but due to his being in da nude . .not suitable for the office but definitely easy on the eye! And Grannymar has also made an offering that I'm yet to put up on the wall. You don't have to have a blog . . just be a commenter or even a lurker. Email your bits to bainbridge1610 at the g spot.

As you can see, there's plenty of space and the idea's originator Megan from "All I Need is Everything" has yet to send me something . . So if you have a photograph of something funny, meaningful, close to your heart, kitch or cute, clean and personal send it over . . . Your smiling faces, gorgeous places and silly bits brighten my little corner of the workplace!

Click to enlarge and have a proper look!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Stuckwit

Got ya thinkin' haven't I. This week has been in no uncertain terms bizarre. It's been a week of insecurity and redundancy at work, friends in crisis, friends with flu, friends being published, kids having birthdays, car crash payments, car hunting, car pooling, pouring rain in the middle of summer and arranging for horses to be returned to their rightful place in my back yard. It's been a week of too much drinking, broken cupboards and me collapsing in emotional outburst because I have 1.5 unemployed people living in my house, soaring credit and no cash and a shed full of spiders . . . am I making sense . .God no . . . I really do Thank God That It's Friday . . .so instead of a fuckwit (sorry just love that word), we're going for Stuckwits.

FIREFIGHTERS (Ooh please Father Christmas, if you love me at all . . bring me a Firefighter! Although Crispy has threatened to send me strippers and toys for Christmas which might be OK) were called to a bizarre rescue mission at a Northern Territory shopping centre after a little boy climbed up the prize chute of a claw arcade game and got stuck inside with the toys. The really entertaining thing was it's all on CCTV . . the little devil just climbed up the chute and ended up with the fluffy bunnies he was only 2 and a half bless his soggy nappy.

A six-man crew from the Palmerston Fire Station rushed to the nearby Oasis Shopping Village after receiving a call that a child was trapped in a toy vending machine at 3.25pm on Saturday 6 December. Shoppers watched on - most of them trying to control their laughter - as the firies used the jaws of life and then a hacksaw to cut the padlock on the machine.

The firies (affectionate term for Fire Fighters God Bless their Calendars) then had to pry the glass door open - all while the boy's parents stood by trying to calm him down through the glass. One onlooker told the Northern Territory News that everyone found it "extremely amusing".
Senior firefighter Brendon Magnoli said it was "definitely'' one of the most bizarre call-outs he had to attend in his seven years on the job. "We certainly don't get these often,'' he said.

Well in trying to find an image for this little event apparently it's not uncommon . . enjoy. We're off to the Outlaws for the weekend and an early Christmas, not before time I might add!

Looks happy enough in floofyland

Whoever dressed that child needs to
be locked up in a fluffy toy vending machine!

Our own little shute crawler

One way to meet Firemen (if only I could squeeze up a shute)

Comfortably numb?

Bit of a squeeze?

Finally, look at the expression of surprise on the Blue Bear!
(the kid looks less than impressed)