Saturday, May 31, 2008
ClareBear had sent a beautifully crafted DVD and two pretty silver bracelets as a belated Mother's Day present so we took both DB's Thailand DVD and ClareBear's effort to flash in front of the grans.
We arrived just moments after Grandad had lathered a little too long in the shower washing his socks (don't ask - old habits die hard) and had slipped on the tiles. He was bearing a nice blue welt on his poor old back and a sprained pinkie but that didn't stop him mashing sweet potatoes with vigour and completing the evening meal. On Friday, apparently it's his turn to cook, sore back or no! Truth be told, whenever we go up there he cooks! We ate salmon tails and overcooked beans and the boys had a Chocolate Bavarian and ice cream before settling into the movie night. I managed to smash a glass quite easily and shower shards of crystal all over the slate floor . . .Top form Baino! Maybe so . . but very typical.
Not your usual slideshow these, the kids had each edited their stills and video, matched with appropriate music - not exactly granny fodder but rockin' good stuff anyway. So after watching ClareBear's South American adventures of Carnivale in Rio, water party in Paratay, St Patrick's day celebrations in Bolivia, random ear piercing of a fellow traveller, Uyuni Salt Flats, Nascar Lines, Pisco earthquake zones, Amazonian trekking, complete with leaf ants and massive hairy arachnids, Titicacan dressups, horse riding, Caman's and Toucans, Death Road mountain biking and lazing on sun drenched beaches . . .we then ventured to Thailand and trips to Pipi, loads of shopping, much beer drinking, scooter riding, elephant walks and Adam and Alex behaving badly in front of the Singaporean navy on Jet Skis . . .not quite the rugged adventure but they had fun nonetheless.
Adam, stonkered by a week of early starts and hard labour went to bed wondering why he laboured to get a degree when his best efforts comprise digging holes and laying a few pavers and Granny and I discussed the virtues or lack thereof within a certain photographic exhibition which has recently been banned, shared a few home truths and a couple of secrets, hugged and cried as we do - downed a couple more chardy's and retired.
Ever fit, the groovies had tennis at 8:30 - despite Grandad's obviously sprained finger and black and blue back - so DrummerBoy and I took advantage of the wonderfully sunny, if not still a little chilly and hazy, morning and went down to The Cove at Terrigal Haven for brekky. We bathed in the sunshine on their verandah and drank in the view . . .
Sitting on the verandah in the sunshine was perfect. Some of the locals were on hand, enjoying the morning sun or wondering if they could 'down' a swimmer before breakfast . . .
The boats bobbed below the haze as they do . . .
Early bird swimmers braced for the cold and swam for the entire time we were there . . I felt very lazy and guilty for some reason . . . but nothing would come between me and my latte . . .
We tried to pick the Grannymansion out of this lot but it looks very different from down here . . .
Eggs Benedict . . .God's breakfast . . .seriously . . .
Then my camera battery went flat . . .bugga!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
You can’t have relationships without trust, let alone good ones. Intimacy depends on it. You can't have a friendship without trust, you can't have a decent family life without trust. You can't run a successful business without trust and governments and countries can't survive without trust . . .the world in it's awful state today is testament to that.
But I want to talk about personal trust. I am nothing if I am not trustworthy. If I say I'll do something, I'll do it. If I say I'll keep a confidence I'll keep it, if I am asked to protect something I will embrace it . . I can be trusted . .
So when someone asks me to betray a trust, I will not, under any circumstances! No matter the consequences. I recently copped some verbal abuse for refusing to share information that I was 'trusted' to keep confidential. It wasn't important, it wasn't life threatening, it wasn't even particularly interesting but I was put in a position of trust not to share it and so it remains confidential and now I have an even stronger bond with the person who placed their trust in me and that makes me feel . . .well . . .'trusted'. What was ironic, that same person had entrusted me with confidential information that I had never shared but seemed to think when the shoe was on the other foot, I would fold and reveal. Big mis-judgement on their part.
I've worked in highly confidential positions with NSW Police as Project Manager, PA with access to criminal records, confidential minutes and Ministerial briefs. Now I work with people's finances, families and futures. They show an incredible amount of trust in the information they share and I take that responsibility very seriously. I have an incredible relationship of trust with my BabyBro which includes shared mortgages and financial arrangements that would make lesser families shudder. Don't get me wrong, I'm also cynical and don't 'trust' others easily but once they have my trust and I have theirs, an unbreakable bond is put in place. Betray that trust and you are toast! Cut off, ostracised.
I suspect more marriages are wrecked by lack of trust than by actual infidelity. The partner who can’t trust the other not to betray him or her will either drive them away or force them into some real or assumed act of faithlessness.
In the workplace too, trust is essential. An organization without trust will be full of backstabbing, fear and paranoid suspicion. If you work for a boss who doesn’t trust subordinates to do the right thing, life is miserable. Being constantly checked upon and corrected or reminded to do this and that is a classic sign of lack of trust. Colleagues who don’t trust one another will need to spend more time watching their backs than doing any useful work. The office politics would make Machiavelli blush.
People who do not trust are constantly keyed-up and tense, watching for rivals or other to launch some covert operation to undermine their position whether its a relationship or in the workplace. They hoard their secrets like they hoard their possessions. They are defensive in nature and suspicious of everyone - imagine the stress! I'm not being unrealistic here. Some level of calculated risk is required and I advocate caution but for someone who is basically quite cynical, I've rarely been disappointed and the rewards have been strong associations, close family bonds, wonderful friendships and a solid (if not a little short) marriage.
Trust like faith takes a conscious act of unconditional belief in that other person’s good sense, ability, honesty or sense of commitment to set the ball rolling. Even though your trust can be misplaced, those close to you will value being trusted and in turn trust your judgement and behaviour. Relationships will thrive and friendships are born. Will your trust sometimes be misplaced? Of course. Life isn’t perfect and some people aren’t trustworthy - I have found that out the hard way too. But will increasing your willingness to trust produce, on balance, provide a positive benefit? Will it make your life more pleasant and less stressful? I believe so. Even if refusal to betray a trust evokes a negative response, you will strengthen the bonds between you and the person who trusted you in the first place.
Trust equals reliability and delight!
(I'll be off the air for a couple of days. ClareBear sent an amazing DVD of her South American Adventures so we're off to share it with the Groovy Grannies. Have a great weekend!)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
When did we stop eating 'properly'. When did we begin to pile food in meaty towers on huge white plates or substitute a simple bowl of porridge for a breakfast bar dipped in fake yoghurt? When did we begin to believe the manufacturers who told us taking an omega-3 supplement was as good as eating a slice of grilled fish or that beta-carotene in a capsule will cure cancer when all we had to do was eat a carrot?
My mother used to take a banana to work every day "There's a meal in every banana . . " was her mantra. We were packed healthy lunches and forbidden 'snack foods' except at perhaps the odd birthday party and the sharing of a family block of Cadbury's dairy milk on Sunday nights.
On the 7:30 Report tonight I watched a gentle American called Michael Pollan who has just written a book called "In Defense of Food" about food - good food, how to find it, how to eat it and pretty much exposing the marketing Leviathan that tells us "Up and Go" is breakfast, a muesli bar is healthy and that Cocoa Pops are good for our hearts because they contain no fat. We're obsessed with anti-oxidants yet they are present in all vegetables and fruits.
Pollan made the point that the way to make money in the food industry is to take something simple and process the poo out of it. We've forgotten the 'soul of a carrot'. We take out the beta carotene because it was considered the 'cancer preventing' element within a carrot. Turn it into a capsule and sell it in the 'Nutrition' aisle of the supermarket and we'll all live forever. Then it's religiously devoured and the realisation that in combination with alcohol it actually causes cancer. Why, because scientists are not 'sure' that it's beta-carotene in isolation that has the health benefits. Perhaps its beta-carotene working in league with chlorophyll? Perhaps its that element working symbiotically with a number of other chemicals and nutrients that makes the carrot a healthy food. Why not just eat a carrot?
Clearly there's something wrong with the way we're eating. The western diet is literally killing us with frightening levels of obesity, increasing diabetes and heart disease and then there's the environmental problem of over-consuming, grain-eating beef, pork, chicken . . . That grain could be used to feed people! I'm not advocating vegetarianism although I've long held a wish to be one, I am a sucker for a rare fillet steak - with pepper sauce - or red wine jus . . .sorry . . had an omelette for dinner and it didn't quite satisfy. Being a vegetarian is your call if you want to go that way but a healthy diet does not include eating 150kilos of meat a year! And that slab of muscle pushes plants out of our diet and to our detriment.
We are also confused by the proliferation of health claims, the Heart Foundation tick, the wholegrain invasion, the low fat campaign . . how can all this coincide with an obesity epidemic? In our obsession with low fat food, we give a free pass to carbs and sugars and for that reason, we need be careful of food industry commissioned research.
Pollan also gives us a few simpler rules: Use smaller plates, (anyone who's ever been to Weight Watchers knows that one!) make meat a flavouring not the staple of a meal. Use fresh, lightly cooked vegetables, eat wholegrain bread, avoid the pre-packaged convenience foods. Take 'time' to eat - a difficult concept for Aussies who are often seen dashing along busy city streets during the work day with food in hand . . I've never met a country that delights so in eating on the run.
If your Grandma can't recognise it . . you probably shouldn't eat it. Don't eat food that won't ever rot, eat slowly and give your stomach time to alert your brain. My Gran used to administer a teaspoon of cod liver oil a day and a teaspoon of molasses to make it palatable - she died peacefully at 87. Personally, I would have rather had a nice medium Atlantic salmon cutlet but . . that's just me.
I'm overweight and yes, I eat way too much meat and loves me chardy, I can't stand the gym and I have a largely sedentary job . . .excuses . .oh yeah . . but my fridge is full largely of perishables. There's no margarine or cheese in a tube. My freezer contains ice and peas and the odd cold pack for DrummerBoy's weary bones. I know not to boil veg until it turns to moosh or looks an unhealthy sage green. In a country where most fruit and veg from Pineapples to Avocados are available all year round, there's really no excuse to indulging in pre-packaged, over processed food and a window-sill full of supplements! Bottom line, as we've increased quantity in the food growing nations, we've reduced quality.
Clearly, cheese in a tube is weird . . fruit in a 'Roll up' isn't fruit . . .breakfast in a long life tetra pack isn't breakfast and Fruit Loops well . . enough said. Eat food, not too much and mostly plants! And as the Japanese would say "eat until you're four fifths full!"
Now . . all I have to do is take my own advice and whizz past KFC and MacDonalds when I go to feed the horses tomorrow lunchtime . . I wonder what rolled barley in molasses tastes like? Meets with Laurie's seal of approval! Then again . . .I think I'll just have a banana!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Today the Australian Business Council recommended doubling teacher's wages to $130,00. There is of course a catch. Teachers who would receive this salary would be paid for teaching in 'undesirable' schools or rewarded for higher qualifications. It's been tentatively well received by the teacher's union. I agree . . there are many who are worth more than that and $75,000 as the top salary for the educators of our precious young minds seems incredibly low. It had me thinking about teachers who made a difference to my life. And I've been to many schools.
First primary school was Hanforth primary. I don't remember a single teacher there, just being separated from my best friend in the world at the time 'Annarrrison . . . ' the girl who introduced me to Marmite. I lost touch with her in 1975 so if you know her, please point her my way.
Second primary school was Cherry Tree Primary in Romily, Cheshire where three teachers remain indelibly imprinted. Miss Holland, the principal. Austere, Chanel Suited with grey hair and far too much red lipstick for her age (probably mid 50's) She was stern, smelled of Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass and used to make surprise visits into the classroom, loved poetry and introduced me to the magic of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. Mrs Greenaway, an Aussie on exchange who's perfectly coiffed french roll would end up tussled and aflop on her shoulders at the end of the school day testimony to having had to teach Geoffrey Bailey who also emigrated to Australia. She spoke of Australia and country life and snakes under the bed. I loved her big time. Then Mr Beasley . . I had him in year 4 and 5 before we emigrated. The most devastating thing ever was being slapped with a ruler by a man I loved because I talked as paint was dispensed for an art class. I also had a long and loving relationship with Kevin Fish (student not a teacher) I'm sure he's now gay but we used to gallop around the countryside on our imaginary horses, play dress up, and occasionally did the same with real ones. He had a sweet smile and massive dimples on each cheek. Wonder where he is now?
Then, prior to moving to Australia, HippyBro and I, as the eldest, were moved to Henlow in Hertfordshire to live with our Grandma and spinster aunts for a term, whilst the rest of the family made preparations for the big trip to Australia. We went to Henlow Primary, an archaic little composite school, where we had to learn French and draw ink from an inkwell with a fountain pen. We felt like refugees in this hick little town and I don't remember any of the teachers, just alienation . . .people weren't friendly we were 'eee by gummers' in a southern country town. We made no friends.
Next after the big trip, I had a term as a year six at Manly Primary School and loved the flavour of Devon (luncheon meat, baloney) and tomato sauce sandwiches and liverworst and lettuce. I swapped with a mate whose name is long forgotten, for her salad on wholemeal and familiar flavours. After much persuasion we were allowed Vegimite and lettuce and my Australianisation began. We were taught by a teacher whose name escapes me but my mind remembers long and laboured practice of "Old Father Thames" for and end-of year spectacular which seemed a bit odd in this seaside suburb adorned with shark nets and city ferries and kids wearing shorts and thongs.
Then we moved to Melbourne . . .Donvale Primary to finish year 6, and Mr Vague (I kid you not) was my teacher . . vague by name, vague by nature but somehow strangely memorable. I struggled with maths but hey, my Nana bought me a horse so school life introduced me to Casey Vanderzaag and 'Snoopy'.
I then graduated to Donvale high which was a brand new school adjacent to the primary school, through years 7 - 8 and Mrs Howell introduced me to the magic of the orchestra . . I saw Daniel Barenbaum at the Melbourne Festival Hall and realised the wonderful effect that an emotional symphony can have. She also took us to watch Carla Fracci and reinforced my love of ballet (although I had been lucky enough to have a distant cousin dance at the Doyle Carte with loads of free tickets. By the time I was 11 I'd seen Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Gizelle and the Nutcracker - I also made a red flannellette nightie in sewing but I can't remember the teacher. It was in the day when boys did woodwork and metal work and girls did sewing and typing.
Then we moved back to Sydney and year 9 at Carlingford High School where I met the lovely Katy Jenkins and had a mad crush on the boy who sat opposite this huge shelter where the canteen was housed. I met him 25 years later . .still handsome . . still tempting. As for teachers, only one. We did Domestic Science which was a euphamism for revolting food. Mrs Barry, known more for the fame of her husband who had a psychologist's column in the Sydney Morning Herald. There I met the naughty girls and learned how to make Brain Fricasee as an invalid menu.
Finally, I became settled at Castle Hill High School . . . is it any wonder I'm a homebody . . and my most influential teacher? Mr Jones . .young, humerous and he actually made Science fun. We eventually attended Uni together. Him doing his masters, us as undergrads but he was just lovely. Had I been single, available and more gregarious, I would definitely have made a pass at him . . .Then there were my two art teachers Mr Macnamara who understood that good pottery was made under the influence of cannibis and Mrs Hagar who said my work was rubbish and melted into a glob of submission when my work wenton "Art Express" and exhibition of year 12 artworks around . . AUSTRALIA . .DIE BIATCH
Ok there are probably half a dozen teachers in my entire life (and I'm not even going into my total hatred of Thea Astley, renown Australian Author, my literature tutor who slammed me for spelling errors rather than my fabulous essays) who seriously influenced my life but they were wonderful, gave more of themselves than was required by the job so . . . you people out there who complain about the quality of teaching? Up the ante, pay the good ones more and ditch the bludgers. There are plenty of each. It's high time we paid the good ones what they're worth and get the bad ones to work in private enterprise where they won't last a minute!
Hail Ms Greenaway, Mr Beasley, Ms Holland (who I'm sure is long gone) Ms Howell, Mrs Price, Mr Stanopoulos, Mr McNamara, Mrs Barry - and Thea? Rest in peace, Your novels suck!
And if anyone knows the whereabouts of Kevin Fish . . . . and while we marvel at an attempt to find life on Mars, will someone focus on life on earth other than David Attenborough.
As you can see, my teachers didn't teach me much . .
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I have a crick neck from looking in the treetops every time I hear a lorikeet squeak, he's a red banded lorikeet and looks a little different to our rainbows . . the band around his neck is red, and even though I asked this guy, he was very rude and refused to even answer despite helping himself to my camelias.
Anyway it's been a while since we've ventured out the back as opposed to 'outback' so she led the way up the garden path . . . . her mission, she tells me was to catch a bunny . . a good looking bunny . . .a fat tasty bunny untouched by mixi . . . which was hilarious as the at lest 50 bunnies in our back paddock pinged and zipped away long before she got anywhere near them . . .so we walked along the fenceline . . .
First things first . . . a girl doesn't want to be caught short in the middle of a chase so . . time to powder the nose . . .
Invigorated by an empty bladder it's time to up the ante, put on the pace and flush the little fluffies out of their safety zone with a few polar bear style power leaps in the long grass . . .it was fruitless . . .
Technically not bunnies but they made a weird noise and all stood to attention . . .had to be held back from this one fearing an Alpaca stampede . . . .
Just a tad bigger than a bunny and pack a mean punch on the end of those flight after fright fetlocks. . . again, deterred from giving chase (man the offcuts from their hooves taste great when the farrier tosses them her way)
Snoof around the billabong. . . no action there . . . .
"Hey, how about this . . .looks just like a bunny apart from the beak, the long neck, the feathers and the fact it only has two feet and is about the same size as me?" . . . "nah honey . . it aint a bunny!"
At last . . at the end of the path around the lake, standing bolt upright and looking a little too tame for his own good . . his royal Bunninness stands guard . . .
Hang on . . . . . this isn't a feral bunnikins, this is a cute little tame pet bunny that's found it's way out of the hutch . . .lead goes on . . . "suffferinsuckatashsnoofletmeatthim" noises from the would be Jack Russell in Labrador clothing . . . .
Yep, definitely a tame bunny . . pretty light brown, very plump and clean and almost game to walk up to me apart from the fact I'm restraining a very frustrated dawg. I'm tempted to pick it up but with a camera over one shoulder and a dog on a leash dying to eat the thing in the other hand . . .and remembering how they can scratch . . I choose to snap rather than grab . . .there's plenty of feed around and he's so tame that someone will surely find him. He was standing out in the open almost begging to be rescued . . .hope he doesn't meet a feral cat . . .(Kath Lockett are you paying attention? Lost bunny . . . should have had a target on it's chest - Bummer of a birthmark Hal!)
Poor thing is terrified and retreats to the bushes . . .Lily is very pissed off right now and growling, something she rarely does . . ."Mummy gimme the bunny . . gimme the bunny or your slippers gets it . . GIMME THE FUCKING BUNNY!" it's as close as she'll EVER get to the real McCoy . . .
Hope it finds its way to the bunny condo in our creek wall!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
He's still got it. Less chest, a few more wrinkles, much of the same but different! Just came back from watching his latest with DrummerBoy, armed with a large popcorn, Berry Boost Crush and token Indiana Jones plastic coke cup! Harrison looks great, Karen Allen looks great . . love the kid from Transformers and John Williams music but the Crystal Skull looked like it was filled with GladWrap! Impossible chases, fight scenes, storyline, waterfall crashes and . . . well I won't spoil it for you . . .sci-fi meets adventure flick. Impossible escapism well needed in today's mad world. Two thumbs and both toes up!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I've decided Wednesday is not hump day, it's the day where stuff happens that brings a smile to my dial. Not big stuff just, not ROFLMHO stuff. Began with a Skype chat that had me giggling by 7:30. Then a slightly tipsy and very chatty Mattie about taking his landlord to court and the need for a liquid lunch after the ordeal (which explained his loquaciousness), while he logged in remotely to my PC. I always find it amusing, watching his little curser zip around my dbserver! I wish I had a little nerdy dude for a cursor . . I hope he didn't delete anything important!
Whizzed out to Glenordinary to feed the old boy who chatted and muttered and walked as slowly as possible for 50 metres before reaching the fence, biting chippy on the ear and tucking into his rolled oats. Chippy getting his cummupence is always hilarious. He's like a short man, everyone wants to beat him up cos he's an arrogant little shit.
Poor, poor best friend Thommo who has two weeks to recover from a nasty bout of bronchitis before swanning over to some remote Greek Island that doesn't have a loo! But jeez she sounds funny . . her larynx is the first to go with the flu and she sounds like a transvestite! Culling CV's was a hoot!
Caught a glimpse of the Argentinian on his lunchtime walk with the iPod plugged in, full business regalia - crisp sage green perfectly ironed shirt and slightly less green equally pressed perfect trousers - white runners and lifting funny little hand weights above his head with wide and high arm swrings in a suburban street, oblivious to traffic stares . . . hilarious! Obviously works cos he's a 'tight' little guy! Discarded 10 job applications for people my age . . .talk about ageist but they simply wouldn't do the job for $30,000 we need a sucker teen to slog all day for that money!
Then received a foetal ultrasound with superimposed head of Stan the Man, advertising his latest achievement . . yep he really isn't gay, the Nickster is pregnant! Go you Dishy Daddy . .you could have been mine . . all mine . . .if only I'd been 12 years younger!
Giggled with Char who thinks that the sunlight reflected off the crane opposite our office is 'romantic' and the climax of my scintillating day, a meeting with a very nice and handsome real estate agent from Cutcliffe's who was seriously trying to sus my situation when all that was going through my head was his name: "Darren Roots!"
Hahah . . well you all know I need a life but "Darren Roots" . . classic!
Then the final realisation that Winter has hit with a vengeance until I looked at the spring weather in Ireland . . .hahaha . . .your spring is as cold as our Winter!
John and Yoko (aka DrummerBoy and Fringlet) are tucked in bed - BEFORE TEA - fully clothed watching a movie so loud that my windows are vibrating). They used the excuse that they were providing privacy for Darren Roots (hahahahaha . . doesn't matter how many times you say it . . damn funny) and I to discuss development opportunities.
Wednesday TV is fantastic so no hanging around the computer tonight so here's a little taste of what I'll be watching. Sorry possums, nothing happening down under so go visit a real blog! But watch the clip first . . .
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Australians are going overseas, to Thailand and the like to have cosmetic dentistry because it's cheaper than health cover here. I pay $300 a month in health care and can claim just $700 a year on family dentistry. My recent root canal cost $640 (okay there were a couple of veneer's thrown in). Fluoride in the water we are told has enhanced dental health . . . maybe so . . . and a new initiative by the Rudd Government to inspect teenagers' dental health is being poo-poo'd by the doubters.
The bottom line is, oral hygiene is a predictor of health. If I've had chemo or radiation therapy that has fucked my teeth, I should be allowed to have cost effective treatment. Well apparently I can . .but I have to virtually have some form of sepsis and present to and emergency department to get things fixed. Why is there no medicare rebate for dentistry? 40% of Australians don't visit a dentist, 32,000 a year are hospitalised with severe dentally related disease and a growing group of Australians are going to Thailand or Malaysia to have their dental hygiene attended to . ..because it's cheaper than being in Australia. This flabbergasts me in a country where public health is generally very good. It seems that if you have an abscess on your arse it's more economically treated than an abscess on your gums.
Our current Government with whom I have been hitherto impressed have cancelled a scheme which aids public dentistry . .mainly due to the fact that health is controlled by the states. Now that we have a Labour Government and all labour states, wouldn't you think they'd agree? Apparently one poor soul poured battery acid on his aching tooth to relieve the pain. Only the chronically ill receive a Medicare rebate on dentistry. Who's to blame? Greedy dentists who have cushy practices in city limits or the State Governments for not considering the mouth as important as the arse!
We've all received tax cuts after the recent May Budget. That money, put towards dental health would accumulate around $4 billion . . surely that's enough to make sure we all have happy healthy smiles (apologies to Steph for stealing her thunder). I'm really annoyed that I can't get a rebate for my dental health . . I'm really annoyed that Dentists don't want to be part of the Medicare system . . I'm even more annoyed that this very basic health need is ignored by State and Commonwealth governments who are supposed to be on the same side!
Monday, May 19, 2008
As usual Mattie Rattie and Roarin Rowan came to my rescue today whilst we had all sorts of IT problems . . although I did score a nice 24 inch screen so big everyone can see me Skyping and blogging when I should be at work (DOH!).I don't want to sit in front of a computer any more today so here's one I prepared earlier!
I once spent a couple of holidays during the long summer break on a Dairy Farm in St Albans. I was a teenager at the time and the farm was a working farm but a tax haven for my friend's father's friend. He was an Advertising Executive. An ugly rotund man. So fat I always wondered how he not only married such a beautiful North Shore type of wife but kept her after three children. They drove a fire engine red Volvo Station Wagon which I always thought was a rather cool statement . . posh car, ugly model and colour sort of middle finger to the silver BMW SUV drivers. We would pack in the car, horse float on the back and travel about 2 hours from home, unpack, revile at the smell of cow poo, unpack and let our hair down.
It was one of those experiences that a child never forgets. The poo smell seemed to dissipate within an hour or so but of course I was just getting used to it but we had amazing experiences on this farm. The 'owners' house was a beautifully but small renovated weatherboard. Cute as a button with a big country kitchen but small bedrooms, each with a fireplace and a plethora of bunk beds to accommodate children and friends. The Manager's house was a brick dwelling about 500 metres away and closer to the sheds that housed hay, tractors and a variety of machines whose use escaped me. Our little 'home' was close to the dairy.
I loved getting up at 5:00am. It was cool and misty and the Currawong's distinctive call filled the air - along with the bok bok of chickens scratching and scraping their way around the back steps. The cows would be waiting. Heavy with milk the older ones voluntarily came up to the yard, the others needed a little prompting with two mangy looking Blue Heelers who were chained when not working and never fed more than leftovers or what they could catch during their brief hours of freedom. I felt sorry for them. I still have an empathy for real working dogs, of course if they were a bit tired, we'd use the ute:
We'd wake up early in the morning, wash udders, pour feed, fix milkers and release cows. We'd hose down the yards then skim the cream off the huge aluminium vat into which the milk was dispensed before being picked up by the tankers - we had to be quick as an agitator mixed the cream in at 9.00 exactly so if we wanted cream for the morning it had to be collected at 7.00am. We scooped ladles of the stuff to pour straight from the chilly vat onto our cornflakes. Let me tell you, cornflakes, strawberries and cream taste awesome. As the day progressed we were all given chores. Whether it was picking sweet corn or bringing Clinton the gay bull up from the back paddock - he was gay. A very expensive bull, very handsome but absolutely no interest in the ladies. That remained Wally's job. A great big Fresian performer of gargantuan proportions.
My friend and I would saddle up in the afternoon and pretend to be stockmen on our city ponies (who were both terrified of cows). But traversing the property just before sunset was fabulous and the perfect time to ride through a mob of kangaroos and set them to flight before falling off because my horse didn't know what they were and jumped sideways while I kept going in a straight line!
Afternoon milking bought it's own pleasures. Poo fights. Again, the 'girls', heavily laden would volunteer and stand neatly in the holding yard as the first in queue waddled in for milking. We would hide among the cows and chuck cow pats at each other. A score was a full slop of shit on the head. Somehow, this was hilarious and nothing that the dairy hose couldn't deal with. I managed to escape the honour.
Occasionally, we'd drive poddy calves (those who have been taken away from their mothers) down to the common. These were the young females. Males were separated from their mums after about 4 days and hand reared before being sent to market as vealers. The cries of the cows would go on through the night as they mourned their younglings. It was almost enough to make me a vegetarian. The girls were somewhat luckier and had a life of sex and pregnancy to look forward to. As youngsters, these calves were driven down the road for about 12 kms. Allowed to graze by the river while the Manager and farm hand had a beer at the pub, then driven another couple of kilometres to the St Albans Common. A patch of land where grazing was free for all local farmers and where these little ladies would spend their winter before their true purpose became apparent. We of course, being under age, were allowed a lemonade lime and bitters for our efforts and left on the verandah with the dogs.
The horses we rode to take these poddies to the Common were stock horses. Ugly Australians. Cantankerous and likely to kick, bite and buck but once aboard it was sit and forget. They knew what to do so it was a case of sit, shut up and hang on. They dove down embankments to bring back stray juniors. Plonked along compliantly when all went well and could turn on a sixpence. They didn't mind a creek crossing and didn't blink an eye at cars or trucks. Brilliant old Gidget, Madge and Santa . . .
I had my first french kiss on a tractor . . .the older son of the family fancied me and my 15 year old booty but I didn't care too much for him. Still, a dare was a dare . . .then I threw poo at him.
I saw carpet snakes (non venomous) in the barn . . .with huge lumps in their bellies where they'd eaten rats or mice, too fat to move, they just gave us disdainful looks "Not those bloody kids again . . ." and we'd pick them up and move them out of the way before playing in the hay. I saw a doberman give birth to nine puppies and one die a day later - the balance had their tails docked 4 days later which I thought was cruel, they couldn't even see and someone chopped off their tails. I saw a bull's penis . . now that's a sight for sore eyes . . and artificial insemination. I saw the birth of many calves and finally understood what a placenta was - I never could understand how the mother ate it! Plus the euthanasia of an old cow. I saw the castration of young males with nothing more than a tin of Germolene and a pair of what looked like pliers. I had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in my cordial because there was only tank water available and I saw my first red-bellied black whilst cleaning out irrigation channels with a hoe and a row boat!
I lifted lino in the house of a neighbour (they all seemed to be named Jurd) and discovered 1920's newspapers underneath and spent the afternoon reading about the funny fashions and eating home made Gramma Pie. I swam in the river and dodged a brown snake who was trying to dodge me. I saw a horse being hot shod for the first time. Ours are all cold shod out here. The old furnace farrier is no more or few and far between.
Most importantly, I saw life, death and everything in between it was an education. One that so few children sitting in front of their XBoxes and Playstations have the opportunity to experience. Some don't know that milk comes from anything other than a 2 litre plastic bottle. Few have eaten corn off the cob, harvested minutes ago, picked their own strawberries or collected their own eggs (they might think twice if they knew their googy eggs came from a chicken's cloaca!) or skimmed cream from a dairy vat. Few have definitely not had poo fights at evening milking so I feel quite priviliged at having had the experience. An education for all children should be a few weeks in the country!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I love the internet. Seriously . .I've been blogging now for around 18 months and I've met such interesting people . . well not literally but most of my blogroll peeps email or Skype which I find really cool. My children once thought me a nutter for having conversations with total strangers but now, one has a blog of her own and the other, no problem with me chatting to a 20 year old or a 60 year old on the other side of the world. Interesting when your children become your minders and warn of internet predators!
One blogger has recently moved here and is living just 10 minutes away and hopefully when she's settled we'll catch up. Another is visiting Australia within the next couple of months. Another planning a visit in the new year. Another is in Ireland as we speak, meeting his bloggers and people he's met via the net for the first time. Others have stopped blogging but email to keep in touch or offer advice on where it's safe to travel in South America (earlier panicky mum needed to know). Others chat online about their lives, their families and the points we have in common and some, who live in my City (yes it is mine, all mine) wish to remain anonymous but still have fun via the blog and share so much. Anonymous, that's targetted at you!
With some I have a bond in angst, life experiences, family, work . . I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and grateful to you for even bothering to pop by. Meeting you is an objective, unless you don't want to be met. I know a few because they're local. I feel like I know a few more because you keep in touch and I want to know others because where else in the world would I come into contact with people like you? I have grannies, poets, photographers . . writers, musicians and students, patients, sled dog trainers, drug addicts, conservationists, libertarians, students, geeks (I loves me geeks), hill climbers, teachers and principals . . younglings and oldies, married and single, hetero and gay . . .you all enrich me with the little things you share.
Blogging has given me an outlet for my own frustrations and concerns as well as an opportunity to stand on my pathetic soap box or to vent some banal spleen or share my thrills and woes in this rather odd journal. Some of you are like me, some are world's apart yet through this odd medium, we collaborate, argue, agree, support, joke, suck up or disagree . . ultimately, we wish each other well. So at the risk of sounding sycophantic, and without dropping any names. Thanks a heap . . .I sleep soundly knowing that some have offered refuge to Clare should she come unstuck overseas and wait with anticipation to meet those of you who venture to the antipodes.
Better still I hope that should I wonder to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Capetown, Hungary, Adelaide, Belfast, England, Adelaide, Queensland, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Mexico, Dubai, Dublin or Belfast . . you'll put on a smile and welcome me into your parlour - and allow me to shout you a drink! Or in your case Ropi . . an ice cream!
Cheers! OK Time to get the roast on!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Prior to the DVD I watched this arvo were ads for digitally remastered Star Wars, ET etc. and I realised what a fantastic movie theme writer John Williams is. Not to be confused with the brilliant classical Australian guitarist of the same name . . He wrote the themes for Superman, Star Wars, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Hook, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan . . and I'm sure a whole lot more. . . .could he be the Tchaikovsky of the 20th Century. Actually I think he's in a battle with Danny Elfmann, Tim Burton's favourite in Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse's Bride, Harry Potter, Good Will Hunting, Spiderman and Charlotte's Web to name a few.
Damn, they're playing The Prodigy and their sub-woofer is WAY louder than mine! Parental unit goes into mummy mode! NO ONE has a more powerful sub woofer than me and lives to tell the tale!
Then I think that music makes the movie ... it's subtle and unnoticed . . .subliminal are these the unnoticed composers of our times . . .Hell, I thought the theme to transformers was brilliant! Can you think of any others? (Am I the only person in the world who actually liked the soundtrack to Titanic?)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Remember the 80s? Brilliant! I had the hair . . It was the only decade where my mad curls found their natural habitat, where I felt comfortable rising with bedhead that just needed a lttle 'zhoozh' and off we go. Others paid $50 for spiral perms. I'm not sure how to spell 'zhoozh' but I had it. Jeans or flares flowing tops, b-i-g belts and weird stuff in your hair. Masses of curls . . pert enough not to wear a bra and far too much eye makeup. I had a great job, great guy, great family . . happy times before the fall.
Yuppies were everywhere and remote control's weren't. Kylie loved Jason, Freddie was king. Glam Rock was born. Michael Jackson still had a nose and poor old John Bonham choked on his own spew. Band Aid was born and we heard the birth of the power ballad.
Phantom was at the Opera! Too poor to go out much we had big Barbecues and BYO. It was BC (before children) in the early years followed by a total boobfest as we delivered our progeny in succession - we were all young mothers and after work drinks with loads of the ankle biters around were par for the course. We had shoulder pads that would make a Samurai shrink like a violet and power dressing definitely on the Agenda.
Women began to be recognised as equals and our idea of video gaming was a Nintendo with PacMan or Donkey Kong. We all messed about with a Rubic's Cube and Harrison Ford was drop-dead gorgeous. Rainy days were spent playing Trivial Pursuit. Lucky kids received a Cabbage Patch Kid for their birthday and the boys all wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Microwaves got smaller and Walkman's were everywhere. Aerobics was the exercise of choice and I bought my first Compact Disc (ahem . . Playschool . . .) Beta and VHS were still arguing over who would rule. Brand names became vernacular and we all wanted Nikes and Raybans. The boys wanted thin leather ties and scrunched up their suit sleeves to look like the guys in Duran Duran. Cholesteral was discovered (boo hiss). MTV was cool and Australia hit the world stage with that lame ass movie Crocodile Dundee! The yanks pretended to boycott the Olympics then smashed the Russian Ice Hockey team to win the gold medal. In Oz the mullet was born . . .
Sky television invaded our rooftops with satellite dishes and Australia won the America's cup only to have the sponsor of the boat later jailed for fraud. The Cosby show ruled the roost, big breakthrough for American Blacks and East Enders depressed the brits. It was Speilberg's decade with Raiders, The Empire Strikes Back, ET and we all sulked along with the Breakfast Club. . .
I'm sure there was shit going Thatcherism gripped the UK and the Brits took on the Falklands. The poor old pope was shot but the Berlin Wall came down . . In Australia, a Trade Union President became Prime Monster and served for nearly the entire decade pre-empting the 'recession we had to have'.
Most exciting . . I had babies in 1984 and 1986. Family was strong and happy, everyone was alive and lively . . .It was a decade of music, madness, children, get-togethers, solidarity, happiness and abject sadness but . . boy did I have great hair!
OK it's music Friday and the pop charts of 1985 might have looked a little like this:
Wham!'Everything she wants'
Simple Minds 'Don't You Forget About Me'
Tears for Fears -'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'
Harold Faltermeyer - 'Axel F'
Sade 'Smooth Operator'
Madonna 'Crazy For You'
Murray Head 'One Night In Bangkok'
Billy Ocean 'Suddenly'
The Power Station -'Some Like It Hot
Howard Jones 'Things Can Only Get Better'
But because it's Friday, here's something truly 'gay' (a word of the nineties that has no correlation to sexuality . . )
Thursday, May 15, 2008
As I walked into OPSM across plush carpet swimming with beautiful women in white coats which apparently make them look more scientific and credible, I wondered into the optometrists room to have my eyes puffed with little whisps of air, to be embarrassed because I couldn't’t read the middle line of the eye chart and to listen to a chirpy little optometrist the age of my daughter tell me what I already knew, that I need new reading glasses, it struck me how lucky I am to be who I am and where I am. I wondered out after having my cornea’s photographed and much lens flicking with a shiny new prescription to browse the rows of Dolce and Gabana, Rayban, Sophia Lauren, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren and Chanel frames . . .of course I picked out a lovely little sage green Chanel number and sat whilst sweet little teen tried to sell me transition lenses and antiglare coating before cranking the figures to tell me that my new specs would cost a cool $800 after the refund from my health fund. I happily ordered said glasses which will appease my vanity and make me look cool typing into a computer where nobody can see my face anyway.
I sauntered home, breezed in to say hello to Otley and DrummerBoy happily shooting Mexican Terrorists, was greeted by a well groomed labrador with a stick in her mouth, pleased to have the alpha female back in da house, poured a nice glass of Preece Semillon Blanc, . . . then came in and watched the news.
How privileged I am . . .my only child, mother, father, sister, aunt haven’t suddenly been extinguished by the force of nature in Northern China and buried under tons of inaccessible rubble. . .My house hasn’t been devastated by mud slides cyclone and I’m not waiting after 7 days without water for a ruthless military junta to allow a paltry 30 Thai doctors in to relieve the devastation while the rest of the world, eager to help, is left in fragile negotiations with idiots on about how to dispense aid. I’m not afraid for my family still in Zimbabwe whilst I labour doing someone else’s ironing in South Africa and wondering if my mother and child have fallen victim to a racist machete. I’m not in a feeding queue in Darfour with a starving baby that resembles the progeny of some alien with wide fly-infested eyes and a swollen belly. I’m not in some middle eastern town masked and wired with explosives prepared to give my life to kill the infidel and meet my 17 virgins. I’m not even in the outback sniffing petrol and watching in an induced stupor as my children are sexually abused by their uncles and neighbours or shooting up against the wall and selling my body to slimy old men in Kings Cross. I’m not lying cold and hungry and disoriented with schizophrenic voices arguing in my head in Parramatta Park. I’m home, warm, loved, drinking wine, a roof over my head, a family who loves me, friends who care about me and so much fat on my body that if there was a famine tomorrow, I’d be the last to go!
I know where my children are, even if one is living in a Hostel in San Francisco. Thanks to the marvels of the internet and Skype I am able to talk to her today and any other day and tell her I love her. I know my son is happy, employed, well-adjusted and fabulously silly, in a relationship and offering to 'shout' me pizza. I moan about my expanding waistline, my sore knees and my rising level of debt but there’s food in my fridge and my dog has just had the remains of Tuesday’s Rogan Josh which could, if expanded with a little rice or potatoes feed a family of 20 in some starving corner of the earth. I feed a skinny old horse who should be converted into dog food or glue, on molasses softened barley to help him gain weight that would be sustenance to - I don't know how many people if only they could receive it.
I don’t want to swap my life with anyone less fortunate. I want to help and do what little I can but I thank the powers that be, for the little, insignificant, minuscule twist of fate that landed me where I am today. When the worst thing that could happen is my Internet dies, my washing machine is banjaxed or a bank cheque bounces . . .all I can surmise is that life is pretty wonderful on my side of the fence and although I'm not a religious person, my prayers go out to those who suffer.
I don't look through my Chanel glasses and see a perfect world. No pink lenses for me. All at once, I can see the lonely, the disenfranchised, the desperate, the hungry, the politically misguided, the bigots the purists . . But I am grateful for my position, given to me by a chance meeting between a sperm and an ovum - even though it's been hard at times, I have not experienced anything compared to some in this world and today . . because of that realisation, I am happy and eternally grateful and desperately sad that our third rock from the sun is such an awesomely and totally fucked-up place.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Did you know that Panama hats are actually made in Bolivia?
So . . .time for bed Zebidee . . .after all, it's Wednesday!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I mentioned last week about the tantrum one of my colleagues kid indulged in when asked to take out his earring. This incident then prompted a discussion about what kids can and can't do at school. I'm sitting in my little corner listening to two young mother's getting very hot under the collar about schools demanding children wear uniforms, not allowing piercings and tattoos (their children are 8 and 12). "Why does my little precious have to wear a tie and a regulation sun hat?" (mandatory in all playgrounds). "Why can't he wear his blue and white Nike running shoes?" . . "Why can't he use his mobile phone at recess?" "Why doesn't the canteen sell soft drink, chips and lollies?" Both of their sons are 'behaviour' problems because basically, they're over-indulged, precocious (and not in a Mary Poppins way) In short, they're spoiled brats just waiting to fledge into proper little teenage bastards. Relationship break-ups with both mothers have led to overcompensation and bribery when it comes to their progeny. These little darlings have every mod con from XBoxes to mobile phones . . .yep an 8 year old with a mobile phone. They are dressed in Nike and Billabong, spoiled with XBoxes and PS3, whilst their mothers complain about the price of regulation black leather school shoes. Their weekends are filled with every activity from sport to moviegoing and of course the mandatory indulgence of their disenfranchised fathers. They're fed junk at home because that's what the little darlings want to eat. And in the next breath, they're complaining about children who won't touch a vegetable or a piece of fruit! But all of a sudden, bringing up baby has become the responsibility of the education system not the family.
I feel for teachers. They are expected to teach non-academic subjects such as sex education, health, social justice, aboriginal culture and a language in primary school. While at school, primary age children learn about bicycle and train safety, nutrition, drugs, sex education, stranger danger, aboriginal heritage, how to care for animals. They are expected to instill good manners and good moral values as well as teach music, sport and arts. The current syllabus includes the following units of work:
English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Human Society and its Environment, Creative Arts, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education.
I've often told the Merry Widow and Struth Ruth that they have the best part-time jobs in the world but in reality, the pay is ordinary unless you take on a swag of extra-curricular stuff. Parents can be abusive. Children know exactly how to manipulate the system and particularly in primary school, the day does not end at 3:30pm!
When it comes to classroom discipline, teachers are not allowed to 'touch' a child . . even in a consoling way after a playground spat or a spate of tears. School children who accuse their teacher of verbally or psychologically abusing them have been given the right to complain to child protection investigators. Teachers who are abused both physically and verbally are regarded as guilty until proven innocent and lugged before a tribunal to defend their position. Teachers also are prevented from "socially isolating" children who are disruptive or naughty in the classroom. So much for 'time out'.
Maybe this would work:
Monday, May 12, 2008
I did negotiate some stairs and a wall ladder and managed to descend before being taken out by a sniper. I was the victim of much giggling and a true test of patience for the master who had no problem shimmying around rooftops, repelling down walls and pwning the enemy!
Then there's a little map that tells you where your team mates are and you're supposed to watch that as well as wait for the enemy to ambush you and shoot them appropriately before they kill you. And an irritating woman who keeps telling you to go down back alleys and find alternative routes. For the beginners, you can have up to 10 'spawns' which allow you to get up again after being fatally mutilated by some mad Mexican drug lord . . .get the picture. It's bloody hard and I'm 'woeful' at it. Not the game but the bloody controller. Ok I'm a total nOOb and I was pwned big time despite the multiple spawns. To top it off, I die with a masculine groan!
I'm not chasing a life of all-nighters in front of the PS3 or XBox, just trying to understand why it's so much fun and I would like to get in the first easy peasy preliminary round without being nailed by some virtual terrorist!
This morning, I could hardly type. My hands are sore from Grevillea scratches and knob twiddling . . I have new respect for you gamey dudes . . .it's harder than it looks and very frustrating.
Why is pwned pronounced 'owned'. New language in a new dimension . . I may practice in private and shock the lot of them, however unlikely . . .
*Goes to soak sore fingins in Voltarin*
Saturday, May 10, 2008
First you have to get it started:
Then you use it to make a lot of noise and cut the grass
Then you take it into the back paddock so all the neighbours can hear it, just in case they didn't know what the unholy racket was in the first place . . . .
Then you discover that it's missing a beat and the fuel line sounds funny
So you whizz by and head up to the shed for tools and things:
Then you spend the best part of an hour trying to fix it before you realise you previously installed your carburetor upside down!
After all that sweating, grease, hi octane fuel and in your day clothes . . .you give up until tomorrow and have a beer!
Then he acquiesces to come grocery shopping (I have a sneaking suspicion that today might turn out to be tommorrow's Mother's Day present!) Then we get a call from ClareBear in San Diego . . . perfect day . . .just because