Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eat My Leaves then Flush . . .

OK one day of levity which lets me forget the work, financial and emotional shite I'm in but it wasn't all shits and giggles as the photos might suggest. Yep Christmas day was fantastic but there were a few spanners thrown if you know what I mean.

There was a small drama on Christmas eve when my jam-packed fridge decided to go silent. I mean really silent. Then the freezer section cranked up but nothing happening in the main cabinet. Fortunately, we have a large fridge in the pool room so much to the chagrin of the booze hounds, much beer space was replaced with meat, fish and dairy just in case my old girl packed it in. Anyway it worked out alright on the night an nobody's died of botulism or salmonella so all's well that ends well, even if the fridge is still flying at half mast. That's probably a $300 visit from the fridge mechanic or worse $1800 for a new fridge.

Christmas went without a hitch until Babybro had a dummy spit at about midnight and shunned me for reasons known only to both of us. So immature. God that's an old fashioned word. 'Shunned', not immature. So a nice night spoiled only slightly by his royal Grinchiness. Seriously though. If you want to get someone onside, would you verbally abuse them? Keep it up soldier . . . I don't hold grudges but I have a good memory. Still, him being an asshole on occasion doesn't cost anything. Small mercies.

Boxing day clean-up over by about 1:30pm, cruisy afternoon with Clarebear before she headed north in search of the sun for a week . . .Twilight and a couple of Star Wars movies. I even had a snooze on the couch for an hour. Getting ready for bed, flossed my teeth and shebang de crunch. Half a back molar decided to come out of it's own accord. Damn dentists, they berate you if you don't floss and your teeth fall out if you do! OK so I was looking pretty good pay wise but now that's probably $200 down the gurgler. Maybe I should just get a piece of string and find the nearest door knob.

Then yesterday, I ran up to the shops (not literally you fools, of course I drove) to buy pool chlorine because we've had warm weather and lots of rain overnight so a superchlor is required so that grumpy pants next door has a clean pool for his friend's Bucks Party on the 2nd Jan . . .(I really don't know why I bother and should just let them swim in green sludge). The break lights on my dashboard light up like a Christmas tree. Both the Handbrake and ABS lights. It happened a couple of weeks ago so Adam dutifully replaced the almost non-existent brake fluid and Bob's yer uncle. But after 2 weeks, the warning lights begin to flash again. So there's obv
iously something seriously wrong with my breaks. Kiss another $300 goodbye once the mechanic gets his grubby hands on my pads.

Seriously, every time you think you're financially making inroads, shit happens. I should have invented those bumper stickers, not bloody Forrest Gump . . the gimp. Thank goodness Champagne is still on special . . .

All this and yet the major crisis yesterday according to my son was the loss of a rubber gasket from the new $300 RC somewhere in three acres of land and the destruction of some suspension by driving the thing at 75mph into a cyclone fence. I knew it wouldn't last more than 2 days. Boys and their toys! Just give me the $300 and I'll flush it down the loo for you.

Ooh all shiny and new . . . .

Speedy road test on the driveway . . .

Tweek a few rubbery dangly things . . .

Eat my leaves . . . .


Bugga!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Panamanians Rule OK!

What do the Republic of Moldova, Sao Tome and Principe, Pakistan, Yemen, Panama, Svalbard & Jan Mayan Islands and South Georgia have in common? All were ably represented at the Christmas Olympiad held at mine on Christmas Day. The ham and salmon would have to wait, there were games to play!

Seven countries selected arbitrarily by closing eyes and pointing to a list. Seven teams of two selected at random. All dressed totally inappropriately in home made attempts at depicting their country's colours, primed, ready and eager to let the games begin:


Panama represented by a Drug Lord and a Banana Magnate


Pakistan came armed and ready for fight

The Moldovan Olympic Physio and Coach

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands were marooned
with nothing more than Wilson to keep them company
and a bottle of champers by the looks of it


The Yemenites were bonding . . well as long as his wife behaved!


The Sao Tome and Principe ladies shook their booty
and found their geles surprisingly comfy


As for those Svalbard & Jan Mayen Islanders . . all threats and no pillage

Egg nog and spoon race
Each pair has to run a relay with a
Chinese spoonful of eggnog then empty the remaining contents into a shot glass. The first filled to the brim wins. Of course the egg nog is consumed immediately afterwards. No photos I was too busy participating in this one.

Tinsel three-legged race
Partners are tied at the ankle with tinsel and race a gruelling course hampered by rabbit dug
divets, spikey balls that fall off the liquidamba, rain and snapping tinsel. Same deal, very competitive, we were ripped off!

Speed Wrapping
All were given a box, some paper, bows, ribbon,
cellotape and bendy sparkly pipe cleaners to create a wrapped gift of unusual splendour. The efforts were remarkable and each 'country' had to explain their rationale. There was some consternation and an official challenge to Panama by the Sao Tomeans who made a beautiful little reindeer handbag.

Mango Daiquiri Sculling
Now this is a travesty in any language, those little glasses of fruity sunshine should be savored not sculled!

Pin the Pom Pom on the Grinch
There's always one at Christmas so we blindfolded the faithful, spun them round three times and made them pin a Christmas pom pom on that Grinch's butt!


Twisted Carol Singing
A carol or Christmas song is randomly selected from a hat then the lyrics read from an obscure book. A favourite being "How to Care for Your Pony" and "The Little Book of Farts". Don't ask.



In the end, Panama won in a games off of trivia selected from the net because there was a three way tie between, Panama, Svalbard and Jan
Mayen Islands and Yemen. Whilst nobody was keen to upset the Yemenites, we were all glad that Pakistan was out of contention. They had weapons and weren't afraid to use them. I found some projectiles on the roof the following day.

To the Victor's went the spoils. Although I think they were bloody lucky! Yes, there were chocolate medals and a trophy!


Smug Conquering cousins

I've just come from visiting
Ces and her beautiful table settings and civilised fare . . she must think we're a bunch of nutters. One day . . we'll have a civilised, sophisticated sit-down meal with fine china and beautiful glassware. Sadly, probably not at Christmas! I hope yours was wonderful. Looking forward to catching up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Felicitations . . .That's posh for Merry Christmas

Thank you everyone not just for commenting on my site but for emailing, Skypeing, posting wonderful tales of family, friends, travels, your fears, your joys, your lives and your loves, your fiction and your truths and allowing me to have a sneak peek into your world. I have met amazing acquaintances and incredible friends over these past years.

I can't see me having much time to post between now and Christmas so let me wish you all a safe, happy and wonderful family holiday. Whether you're wrapped in a blanket of snow or walking barefoot on the beach, resisting the urge to take drugs or enduring the trials of illness, being reunited with returning soldiers or sharing this time with those whom you hold close.

You have made what was an pretty horrible year for me, very tolerable. I know some of my wonderful commenters are not having the best of times whilst others are reunited, happy and fulfilled. You are a diverse bunch and my life would not be as rich without you.

I value your contributions to this humble blog and your friendship. To those for whom Christmas is not going to be such a festive season, I can only offer my support, friendship and an open heart and let you know that you are in my thoughts and have touched my soul.

To those in happier circumstances, I congratulate your verve and lust for life, your humour and your candour.

To those who are planning holidays and a celebration, enjoy it as if it were your last.

Hold those who are alive and close, dear. Remember those who are no longer around with warmth and affection. Wishing you all the very best of the season, no matter your race, colour or creed.

Oh look . .I'm trapped in a bauble!

To any of you . . should you be brave enough to venture to Sydney, and some actually have! There is a sofa bed with your name on it, cold chardy in the fridge and a tour guide for free.

So from the land down under where Santa arrives with six white boomers and is left a coldie and a bag of beer nuts, to you and yours. However you celebrate the festive season. . . much love . . warm wishes and I'll see you on the flip side!

And thank you. No really . . thank you . . .More than you will ever know.


Helen

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fuckwit - Could this be the last?


Some time ago, I had a little protest on my sidebar about internet censorship. Senator Stephen Conroy's consultation paper on mandating the filtering of internet sites by Australian internet service providers suggests that our nation could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world. A 'limited' trial of internet censorship of pornographic and risque sites has been underway for some months and the good Senator said on telly the other night that it was 100% successful. Bloody rubbish . . He's such a fuckwit! The sample was small, comprised volunteers who 'opted in' and only two ISP providers accepted the offer to trial this idiocy. This is the same Senator who proposes protecting children by installing speed humps every 100 metres on Australian freeways. Fucktard.

The idea is to incorporate a list of local and overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material, filter it at ISP level and prevent younglings or sexual predators from accessing. The problem is that it also has the potential to filter innocent sites with unfortunate names or keywords in their Search Engine Optimisation.

There appears to be a commitment to elevate the Refused Classification category to form the backbone of the new "RC content list". This will include material that deals with "sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act", as well as other aspects of the RC regime, far beyond the relatively restricted prohibitions of "child sexual abuse imagery [and] bestiality". OK I know this sounds disgusting and no child should be exposed to sites like this. No adult frankly. The fact that they exist is abhorrent but I do not want the Australian Government banning me because I post something that might be mistaken for an abusive site any more than I want them to choose what I should and should not access via any media.

A significant concern is that in mandating a regulatory regime at odds with most of the Western world. Australia will identify itself with, and give tacit encouragement to, a range of undemocratic political regimes dubbed "enemies of the internet" by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). The list of a dozen or so countries includes Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Indeed, in even considering the embracing of such a mandatory regime, RWB have placed Australia on a watch list as being "under surveillance" – company the nation keeps with Bahrain, Eritrea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Australian research has consistently indicated that a majority of parents choose to negotiate with their children around their access to the internet. They also talk with their children about any content that is troubling to them, including everyday concerns such as bullying and online harassment, which will not be touched at all by these deliberations.

It is ironic that at the very point where Australia seeks recognition as a world leader in its vision for a National Broadband Network it may also gain censure as legitimising a range of repressive policies pursued by some of the globe's least accountable governments. Further, given that the filter will categorise and block websites, but not chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking where the highly illegal activities of those who peddle images of child sexual abuse or worse still engage in predatory behaviour are likely to continue with little additional inconvenience.

The scheme is opposed by child welfare charities, civil liberty groups and professional bodies - and with good reason.

OK that's a long winded way of saying, Government has no right to impose such censorship without guarantees that the sites censored are indeed pornographic and that without the full consent of the Australian public.

Apologies for intermittent posting and less than frequent visiting. Work is very busy, end of year is nigh, Christmas with the outlaws this weekend and I simply am running out of time. Normal services will resume soon . . have a wonderful weekend folks. Looks like rain down under and boy do we need it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Help me . .help me!

Ok it's been three almost 4 days since I've posted and I've got nothin'. Well I did write about the bollix that is the Copenhagen climate change meeting but that's just boring. Work is very hectic. In a good way but it's seen me working very long hours, I'm still a little slow grasping the concept and we're bashing out tenders at a rate of knots so by the time I get home, I'm knackered. Happy to visit but no inclination to post. However, I have a dilemma and you good readers can help me out.

We celebrate Christmas with my in laws next Saturday. It's convenient for everyone to have it a week early. We exchange pressies and usually have a wonderful very Aussie buffet style spread and catch up with a side of the family that we love but don't see that often whilst sweating under the ceiling fans until it's cool enough to sit on their deck and catch a glimpse of the ocean. This year, I volunteered to do an entree. Naturally I wasn't anticipating getting home long after the fresh food shops have shut (only the supermarkets are open until 11 and their fresh produce is rather questionable. I'm always suspicious of food you have to spray with water to keep it looking good!). So, I will have to purchase any thing fresh and de-lovely on Friday evening at Harris Farm and prepare something mindblowing. I have a reputation to maintain you know.
  • Now there are provisos.
  • It must travel well. Whatever I take can be packed into an esky full of ice but can't be 'spilly' or collapse if the traffic's bad
  • It needs to be something that I can prepare on Friday night or 'assemble' on site
  • It needs to be tasty, refreshing and not too heavy, we have high temps forecast this year
  • It can involve a frying pan or a barbie but the oven will be in use
  • It needs to be something a little different. . .a little special. None of this melon and prosciutto or prawn cocktail stuff. It needs to look and taste spesh
At the moment my preference is miniature surf and turf. Tiny filet Mignon, topped with a barbecued king prawn and a dollop of Bearnaise . . .

. . .the perfect entree for 10 people aged 16-81. Fortunately, their tastes are varied and nobody's very fussy about food. OK, Hit me with your best shot . . and go easy you yanks, we don't eat big meals.

Now this looks nutritious . . .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Perfect Day

Today was a lovely day. For no particular reason as Forrest Gump would say. The yard is tidy, the pool is crystal. The sun shone at 28 degrees Celsius and a westerly breeze zephyred through providing cooling relief. Even the parrots appreciated the respite.

Baby Crimson Rosella taking respite in the shade

I lucked out and scored breakfast when I visited my sister this morning. I don't go over as often these days. No horses to feed over there any more, they're now standing head to tail in the shade swatting each other's flies. So our Saturday vigils have sort of faded a bit. But it was gorgeous, eating corn pancakes, eggs and bacon under their pecan tree with the breeze, just glorious.

Came home and rescued a Blue Tongued lizard who had found his way inside and looked a little confused with the 'texture' of the carpet. No I didn't pick him up, well I did but with the safety of a towel just in case he decided to nip. He didn't he was pleased to be released and I have no more Christmas beetle carcases to vacuum, he took them all and then promptly
poo'd on Clare's carpet.

No not the baby I rescued.
One that's been resident in our garden for a while.
The juvie was just about 8 inches long. This gorgeous thing was about a foot long and some.

Clare's crashed on the couch after a big night out with Elvis "Blue Hawaii" twanging on the TV. Adam's taken off to house-sit (read plug in the
PlayStation and play Call of Duty on the Plasma screen with a case of Coopers cooling in the fridge) so I thought I'd upload a few photos that were still sitting in my iPhoto library from my Melbourne trip a few weeks ago.

I store my pics on
Flickr but because I upload so many, I have a "Pro" account. It's cheap, just $24 US a year and I can upload as many as I want. So, my account has expired and had to pay my annual dues which I did so, online.

Within seconds I receive an email from my bank:

Dear MS HELEN E BAINBRIDGE,

Unusual account activity detected on your MasterCard® card

To protect your account we have temporarily blocked your MasterCard® after monitoring systems detected unusual activity on your account. The block will prevent you from using the card to make purchases or withdrawals while we investigate these suspected fraudulent transactions.

We have sent you this email because we were alerted to this activity at a time when it would have been
inappropriate to contact you immediately by telephone.

At first I thought it was spam, but called the number and sure enough it was
Westpac bank saying that someone had made an unusual withdrawal.

Apparently it's common for credit card fraudsters to withdraw a small amount to 'test' the validity of the card. For some reason, there was a transaction fee of $1.10 on the new
Flickr subscription which was drawn separately to the subscription amount and MasterCard were onto it in a flash.

Nice to know they're protecting my interests although it's a desperate fraudster who tries to raid my
MasterCard, I think after my Christmas online spending I'm maxed out!

Anyway, all good. it's 3:44, time for an ice cold Horton's
Semillon and a leg dangle in the pool . .

Lilly dips, oh yes she does.

C'mon you didn't expect a picture of me in the cossies did you? Fat chance . . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fuckwit

A LUCKLESS romeo has sued cosmetics firm Lynx after he failed to land a girlfriend during seven years of using their products.

Indian Vaibhav Bedi, 26, is seeking £50,000 from parent company Unilever for the "depression and psychological damage" caused by the lack of any Lynx effect.

Court officials in New Delhi have accepted dozens of half-used body washes, shampoos, anti-perspirants and hair gels for forensic tests.

Lynx - marketed as Axe in India - is famous for its saucy ads showing barely clothed women throwing themselves at men.

Vaibhav said in his court petition: "The company cheated me because in its advertisements, it says women will be attracted to you if you use Axe. I used it for seven years but no girl came to me."

Unilever refused to comment on the case.

But India's leading compensation lawyer Ram Jethmalani said: "There is no data to substantiate the supposition that unattractive and unintelligent men don't attract women.

"In fact, some of the bestlooking women have been known to marry and date absolutely ghoulish guys.

"I'd suggest the firm settle this issue out of court."



Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have very few snow days. It's expensive and a 6 hour drive and only happens between late June and August:

Europeans and Americans and even a few New Zealanders do this:



Aussies do this:


What? It's just melted snow!

See more views on "Snow Day" by visiting Theme Thursday.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Drawn to Shiny Objects


Babybro has festooned his half of the verandah with a haphazard mess of fairy lights and a gaudy flashing star in what can only be described as an OH&S hazard. This year it's a bit of a race on my part and a battle between good taste and over the top kitch. I got in quickly with my icicle lights on our shared patio for Christmas and DrummerBoy has managed to bludge three bags of no longer needed sparklies from the almost-a-father-in-law who's such a Yulephile that he actually travelled to the Rothenburg Christmas shop earlier this year to stock up.

Our habit Christmas week is to pile into the car and visit the Council publicised streets who are lit up like National Lampoon's
Griswald's house and ooh and ahh at their sparkly splendour, their inflatable characters and moving models. Usually, streets like these do it for charity and we're only too happy to put a couple of dollars in the Bush Fire Brigade bucket. But it got me thinking.

In my childhood I remember two particular sparkly events
pre-Christmas. No not the epiphany kind but pretty lights and sparkly stuff that kids love.

The Blackpool Illuminations (or eliminations as my father would call them)
I think we only went once and I distinctly remember it being summer because we also went to an outdoor pool where I jumped in the deep end by mistake and stubbed my toe and lost my tatty blanket and had to stop at my grandparents in search of a substitute - one of my Grandpa's string vests, in order to be consoled.
Yeh I was one of those kids with a blanky and an imaginary friend called Rena.

From memory, the Blackpool Illuminations were lights strung across streets in the early 60's that people travelled from far and wide to gloat over. I don't remember them being worth the two hour journey then, I was obsessed with my big toe and the loss of 'tatty'.

The other was the windows of large department store in Manchester at Christmas, could have been
Kendalls, or Lewis's I'm not sure but the most fantastic pantomime stories displayed in each window and then a visit to Santa's Grotto. Not the 'throne' parked in the middle of the food court that we have here, donned by grizzly tots in their best get-ups posing for pictures that the grandparents probably stuff in a drawer as soon as the day is over.

This was a
fairy grotto, sparkly and dimly lit with elves and fairies and long queues to see Santa who sat in all his glory at the end of a long corridor in a huge Christmassy cavern with a bag full of free presents for every child who sat on his knee and asked for a pony. All I wanted was a pair of Cinderella slippers. I didn't get them but I'm pretty sure I scored something reasonable like a game of Cluedo or Snakes and Ladders and for nicks! I blame Santa for my lack of interest in shoes, he shattered me, totally!



We used to have a Christmas parade in Sydney when Santa came to Myer, one of our large department stores. Used to be such fun to take the
littlies, bands, kids, the Christmas Fairy and Santa sweltering in his red suit under the southern sun. They still have one in Adelaide and poor Santa had to tolerate 45 degrees. I'd have given him a bit of leeway and allowed red budgie smugglers with a bit of strategically placed fluff.

So, this weekend, we'll festoon and fuss, get the lights going and begin to watch the Polar Express,
Scrooged, The Santa Claus and a plethora of Christmas DVD's to get in the mood. Yep, finally, I'm beginning to feel a little Christmassy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Beetles (Beatles) - New Cure for Writer's Block

Okay I wrote a whiny post and an uninspired meme and then went on to You Tube for that little bit extra but basically . . . the meme was spineless and deserves more conscious thought than I have in me right now.

I remembered hearing this young guy on Triple J some time ago. I was actually really surprised. Not because the station's mandate is 'new music' and tends to be a much younger demographic but because they played this guy, and a Beatles tune? WTF?

I was mesmerised, simply blown away by what he does with . . not a bass, not a Gibson guitar, not a synthesis or DJ deck, not a piano . . just a little Ukulele. I've heard him many times and he is simply wonderful. The boy is a Hawaiian. Famous. And a stunning talent.

So while I wrestle with evening heat, click beetles landing in my glass and Christmas beetles getting stuck in my hair or bouncing off the walls (what you Americans call June Bugs) and a lack of heart to post, please listen beyond the first few strums to the delightful Jake Shimabukuro who tackles a beetle of a different kind.

This is wonderful (I may have posted him before I'm so impressed).


Friday, December 04, 2009

Your chance to make your voice heard on climate change.


Friday Fuckwit - Steady on Tiger!


"I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves." So said Tiger Woods after being caught almost red handed having an affair .. .well having a crash which led to news of him having not one but several affairs. Bloody idiot.

Oh yeah, had to go there. The most admired, talented and highly paid professional golfer in the world, role model to millions, all round nice guy has turned out to be a cad. He was recently paid $3million just to appear at the Australian Masters. Gooness knows how much he won! Very disappointing although I'm nominating three fuckwits this week all related to the stupid, greedy and avaricious Mr Woods who clearly has a problem keeping his pencil in his pocket.

First fuckwit, the media - everywhere - . . if I see another report on phone messages, what happened, was he drunk, did his wife smash his window with a golf club? I'll spew. Who gives a flying fuck about his indiscretions. Surely there is more worthy news to splash all over the tabloids and 7:30pm TV. I don't care. Really, I don't. The recent bombing of medical graduates in Somalia barely got a shoe in an only on public television yet some voice message supposedly Tiger asking his mistress to remove his name from her phone was headline news. Shame on you.

Tiger, yeh yer the second fuckwit. You got caught. You did it more than once. You have everything and you risked throwing it away you power hungry twat. I hope your putter fails you and someone pinches your Big Bertha.

And finally, his greatest fan. The transgressions of Tiger Woods have proved too much John Ziegler, the pastor of the First Church of Tiger Woods - www.tigerwoodsisgod.com - has announced in a statement on the blog that the organisation is being dissolved because of the golfer's "personal sins".

The church, whose home page has now been rechristened "The Damnation of Tiger Woods", was launched by radio host Ziegler in 1996 to "celebrate the emergence of the 'true messiah". Oh for fuck's sake, no wonder we have this saying 'only in America' I just hope he wasn't getting a tax break for starting a new 'religion'.

The church had it's own "Prayer for Tiger" and "Ten Tiger Commandments".

However, Ziegler's reaction appears to fly in the face of the 10th of the "Tiger commandments" - "Thou shall pay no attention to Tiger's apparent flaws".

All three of you are flawed Friday fuckwits!

There you go. . . steady on there Tiger. Bloody silly name too.

Have a great weekend everyone. Pay me a thought as I do the Christmas shopping Marathon on Saturday and attempt to purchase all my family's stocking stuffers in one short day! Amid grizzling toddlers, twittering tweens and the rest of the Christmas shopping madness. God, I need a few chardy's to steele myself!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Friend

I have a friend!

She's pretty decent. Young, attractive, optimistic, articulate, fun loving and generally happy.

She's well educated, cultured, artistic, creative. She has a great level head on her shoulders and runs her own business, earns a good living. She brings me back to reality when I go off on my diatribes. She calms my temper she soothes my savage breast when I'm hormonal or depressed. She knows more about me than any other person on the planet with perhaps one other exception. She buys me flowers for no reason at all and can read my moods.

We cry together, we laugh together we drink together, we dine together. We holiday together but not all the time. We car pool, we share money and friends. We drink together and have nibbly bits on Friday whilst dangling our feet in the pool. We go to concerts together, and festivals together. We walk the dog, watch soppy chick flicks. We used to ride horses together and in many ways I taught her most of what she knows in terms of respecting others, being compassionate, understanding differences but being hard enough to ask for what you want and to not let people walk over you. She taught me to be more patient, optimistic and grateful. She taught me great love. That big love that makes you feel like bursting. That enduring, unconditional, incredible overwhelming, tear-welling love. But we are not lovers. We are very different.

She reads a lot, parties hard and drives like a maniac. I hardly ever read a book except when on holiday. I'm a bit of a voluntary social recluse and drive like a 'Nana' apparently. She's slim, attractive with lovely fine grained skin and long auburn hair. I'm chubby and ageing and have a bonce loaded with greying frizz. She burps and farts and swears like a trooper a lot, then giggles afterwards. I save most of that for my private time or when I'm hanging washing on the line. She hates to cook, I love it. She adores the beach. I hate getting sand in my crack. She travels constantly . . I travel vicariously.

In many ways we're proof that opposites attract. She's a bit of a slob, I'm anally retentive. She doesn't mind roughing it, I like a hot shower and my bed turned down. She loves desserts and I crave savouries. She drinks beer, I drink wine. She looks stunning in a little black dress, I prefer my yoga pants and a t-shirt. Mess doesn't bother her, it drives me crazy. Her blood group is O, mine's A. Her eyes are hazel, mine are brown, her fingers are slender, mine are stumpy.

I don't have many friends. The ones I have, I treasure and they're loyal even if I am neglectful. I do forget their birthdays, anniversaries, high days and holidays but I never forget the milestones in
her life and there have been many, I've been there for them all. She's the sweetest thing on the planet. The most honest and determined soul I know. Indeed an 'old soul' she's been here before I swear!

There is one very important thing that we share . . . she carries my genes. I look at her every day and think she looks nothing like me and wonder from where did such a creature emerge. Yet others see a similarity. She is ying to my yang, black to my white, softness to my brutality. She's the light in my dark and the stars in my sky.

It's her birthday tomorrow and she'll be 25 years old. I am so, so, grateful to have a daughter who is proud to call me friend and a friend that I am proud to call my daughter.


I grew that! Al by my selfses. Erm she's blowing hot soup
while we were sitting around one of our winter bonfire
s

Happy birthday baby. I love you and I like you . . you are without a shadow of a doubt my best friend.

Ok you can all have a group hug now!

Now that you've either thrown-up or sobbed your hearts out. Check out the other 'Friends' contributing to Theme Thursday.


And for the record. I'm not one of those mother's who mollycoddled their kids and displayed every bloody certificate and trophy they won. I didn't brag about them when they were growing but these days, I find it hard not to share my appreciation and affection for them. They've seen me through an awful year and been bloody awesome. I share more with them than I should but that's what makes us a 'unit'. They even know my pin number! Just as well there's diddly in the account!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Just My Cuppa Tea?


Mr Toasty at Hot Toast and Jam and friends are having a Christmas Tea party and much as I'd like to be pointing the pinkie and sipping Earl Grey out of Shelley China on the slopes in Aspen, hanging with the hoi palloy and delicately savouring my cucumber and smoked salmon ribbon sarnies and cup cakes doused with hundreds and thousands - I'm going traditional and outdoorsy. I know it's cold! But I have a campfire a cozy swag, a Dryzabone and a billy on the boil!

I thought a recipe for good old fashioned Billy Tea might be a goer.OK a Billy as we all know is what the Swagman (traveller) in "Waltzing Matilda" (song about a bedroll, sheep and a thief who drowned in a waterhole) watched boil while he was contemplating nicking jumbucks (Baa Lambs). But believe it or not, no bush campfire is complete without tea made in a billy over an open fire. Fire bans notwithstanding.

The billy itself is simply a metal cooking pot, the luxury version comes with a lid and a bucket handle. The water is boiled on an open fire and tea made all in the same pot. After a bit of use, the outside is black and sooty but the inside is kept clean. This does nothing for the tea but adds to the authenticity.

True bushies don't carry fresh milk. It goes sour in the heat. And only wusses and motel goers use long life milk. It is traditional to flavour billy tea with tinned sweetened condensed milk. (I know, a travesty for real tea drinkers - the stuff yer ma used to make toffee out of!)

You will need:
  • Strong black tea any kind is best but Billy Tea is authentic
  • Billycan of suitable size
  • Water (clean and fresh if possible)
  • Campfire - but not between October and March without a permit!
  • Tin mugs (250 ml or larger) Just because
  • Gum leaf (optional)
  • Milk, sugar or condensed milk, as available.
How to go about it:
  • Fill the billy can with water: at least 250 ml per person.
  • Cover with lid and put on the fire to boil.
  • When the water boils, take off the fire by lifting the handle with a forked stick and remove lid. Be careful – everything is very hot.
  • Sprinkle a handful of tea on the top . . use your hands people! No spoons in the bush! For 'herbal' tea, add a gum leaf or lemon myrtle, traditional bush tucker to give it a lemony zing.
  • Now for the tricky, bushy stirry bit -



    Swing the billy over your shoulder in a full circle bringing it back up past your knee then back over your shoulder and so completing a full circle. Do this three or four times. The reason for doing this is that it drives practically all of the tea-leaves to the bottom of the billy so you can pour a drink without filling the cup with tea leaves. No tea strainers other than your teeth in the bush.

  • Pour into tin mugs leaving tea leaves in the bottom of the billy.
  • Flavour with milk, sugar or condensed milk if liked.
Serve with damper and Cocky's Joy.

Keep it clean folks, a 'cocky' besides being someone who's cheeky or a sulphur crested cockatoo is also a farmer and 'Cocky's Joy' is simply golden syrup!


Use the dregs of the tea from cups and billy to pour onto the fire to help put it out before leaving the camp.

Ok I know you're all snug little snow bunnies tucked away inside in your gladrags and sipping Ceylon but for real tea-time enjoyment, there's nothing like a cool night, starry skies, a camp fire and a cup of billy tea!

Ok I'm getting cold, can I come in for a cup of Chai?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fuckwit is a Porker

A PORTLY pig with flatulence triggered a minor emergency near Bendigo this week when smells wafting from the 120kg porker sparked fears of a potentially dangerous gas leak.

Two Country Fire Authority tankers and 15 firefighters turned out in darkness to search the source of the leak at a property at Axedale, east of Bendigo. But the likely culprit was soon sniffed out, the pet sow startled from slumber in the dead of night.

"She got very excited when two trucks and 15 firies turned up and she squealed and farted and squealed and farted," said fire chief Peter Harkins.

"I haven't heard too many pigs fart but I would describe it as very full-on."

Mr Harkins said the family had done the right thing by calling 000 to report a suspected gas leak: "It's all bottled gas up here and a leaking cylinder could pose a major fire risk.

As my Grandma would say "Where ere you be, let your wind go free!" Just make sure you're upwind from the Fire Brigade or a dinosaur.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reasons to be Thankful 1-10

My sweet Western Australian and as yet unmet friend Ribbon has had some hassles with their new property. So much so, she's had to move out for a while so that repairs can be done, asbestos removed etc. But tonight she posted 10 reasons why she loves where she lives despite the inconvenience and hassles they've had over past months so here goes. After haggling with two developers agents last night and tonight, being told we're not worth much, that the electricity easement is a problem and that our price is unrealistic . . .10 reasons why I love living where I live:

I have the most beautiful parrots. The kind people are arrested for trying to take overseas, Sulfur crested Cockatoos
, Rainbow Lorikeets, Mountain Lowry's, Crimson Rosellas, Galahs and in winter even the odd yellow tipped black cockatoo.

Rainbow Lorikeet outside my bedroom window

It has been the most wonderful place to raise children. No need for Playstations
and computers, here it was all bikes and cubby houses, cricket pitches and even now, they create putt putt courses out of old pipes and wheel barrows and have as much fun as they did making raspberry noises on their little trikes. Or in latter days, pocket bikes.

Adam and the short-lived Pocket Bike in the back paddock

There is no traffic noise. At the moment I'm listening to duelling and I suspect very sexy frogs having a vocal battle that is nothing but deafening. I've been Googling frog noises all night to try to find out what they are because it's a new noise to our garden. But they are LOUD and determined. Venturing out with the Maglight didn't help but I did rescue a little bell frog from the pool.

I can't hear my neighbours. Their music is never too loud, their arguments unheard.

We have enough room for two families and can maintain our distance or share our company. Perfect.


Clare's Peruvian hammock gets a Sunday workout - often!

The smell of our gardenia hedge heralds summer, it's laden with pretty white heavily scented flowers that just scream Christmas!

I can leave everything unlocked. Well for the short term. As suburbia encroaches, we have more people crossing our paths but I don't even own a front door key, can you imagine?

It's fantastic for parties. The kids can make noise, invite 100 people over and barely make a dent.
Party time . . . the theme . . black light!

I can have horses. My silliest expenditure but the most beautiful boys in the world. I might starve but they do not. I love glancing to the right when I'm at the computer and seeing these beautiful white (once grey) boys grazing peacefully in the back paddock.

My two old men . . .Laurie on the left and Chippy on the right

This place is filled with memories of two of the most amazing people in my life. My parents. They bought it when there wasn't even a sealed road. At 50 years of age, my dad fancied a green change, took the plunge and never looked back. It's been the place for family reunions, birthdays, funerals, family dinners and the birth of all but two of our children. The memories here, good and bad make for grand meditations. It's not perfect, it's not manicured, it's not gold class but it's home and even though I hanker to leave, I will miss it . . .I'll also miss it when strangers stop dropping in.

In the still of the morning . . accidentally landing in the back paddock!

Thanks Ribbon . . on this Thanksgiving evening, it's not just the Americans who should reflect on their good fortune.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate and if anyone knows how to silence shrieking frogs please drop me a line! I won't sleep much tonight. I video taped them just to get a sound byte but can't find the chord to upload. Trust me . . siren's would be peaceful by comparison!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mugshots, Melbourne and a little bit of Samba



C'mon, I was posing a'aight? It's a mug shot and I look a damn site better than Nick Nolte
(and a whole lot worse than usual)

We four girls pack a lot into three days in Melbourne. Four friends who have known each other longer than I care to remember and one absent (she thought Bali would be more exciting) gathered at an apartment lent to us by another friend and did the sights, sounds, smells and wonder that is Melbourne.

I'm not sure I want to live there as the weather is inclement to say the least but it has a unique character and lack of pretention that you find in cosmopolitan and rather 'up itself' Sydney. I'm not going to give you a blow by blow description because there's just too much for one post but I will give you two highlights of the weekend . . no maybe three, OK four at a push.


The Apartment

Usually, I stay with my friend Kahlerisms and Brethred then maybe a night or two in a hotel but this time was a girly weekend at a beautiful apartment in Albert Park donated free by another friend. Brand spanking with two double loft bedrooms, all mod cons, close to the tram line and right next to the Alfred hospital. I was a little worried that we'd be kept awake by ambulances and the frequent arrival and departure of rescue helicopters (which was very exciting except for the fact that some poor sod needed airlifting to hospital) but they miraculously seemed to disappear at night.

Air Ambulance viewed from our balcony.

Brunswick Street

This is on the outskirts of the CBD. It's long, very long and daubed with curiosity and vintage shops, African cafes and shops at one end and just about everything from factory outlets, boutiques, restaurants, bars and florists linking the 4km expanse.

Upmarket boutique surrounded by pretty awesome graffiti.
Bought me a Boo Radley top I did, proper swish.

The day we were there a Hispanic festival just off the main drag had us doing the samba down the corso and eating amazing food.

Paella anyone . . I'll need a new cooktop for a pan that big

Then we found The Alchemist. Gorgeous little wine bar with a jazz band, patronised by old and young alike. Shabby chic Victoriana in red and gold and just the perfect place to rest our weary feet and enjoy something that simply doesn't exist in Sydney and intimate, friendly, small, and quirky venue where everyone feels part of the furniture.


Slouch and Jazz very nice

Old Melbourne Gaol
I've never been here. Famous for housing such people as Ned Kelly and the sight of many colonial incarcerations and hangings. It's beautifully preserved, unusual for Australia which lets pretty new historical buildings decay and eerie to tour.

Interior of the ground floor cell block of Old Melbourne Jail

And old Ned's Death Mask. He doesn't look a bit like Mick Jagger or Heath Ledger

We engaged in a rather touristy Watch House tour where we were marched in and 'processed' after our arrest by a tiny but bolshy police woman who gave us an idea of what it might be like to be arrested and detained here temporarily. The Watch House was only closed in 1995 and housed all sorts of perpetrators, mostly drunks and prostitutes but did see the likes of Squizzi Taylor, Chopper Read and the Hoddle Street Bomber processed prior to their trials.


Women's 'holding pen' latrine door . . .many stories scratched there

The Lanes
Intertwined between the regimented city grid are a series of grubby laneways. A sort of Caucasian version of Bangkok or Vietnamese alleys with fantastic well-spruiked restaurants, coffee shops, bars, vintage boutiques, pawn shops and just charismatic characters. You can't sit there without someone asking you for money or cigarettes or trying to raise funds for the homeless or unfortunate but everyone seems to put out whether it's a dollar or a local restaurateur offering a pastry or mug of soup. It's where the affluent meets the weird, wonderful and woeful. A magnet for tourists but also clearly the hangout of locals. I ran into Kahlerism just walking up the lane, iPod in ears . . who'd have thought I'd run into him. He didn't know I was in Melbourne and these days he doesn't work in the CBD but there he was, bold as brass and a little set back when I flung myself at him in the middle of the lane!

The man in the flat cap had scored more money than I earn in a week, a mug of soup and two Danish pastries in just 50 metres. No wonder he can afford Colorado boots!

Ok that's just a taste I'll post on Flickr and more in my sidebar on the weekend. I'm not sure I'd want to live there but it's a lovely and very underrated city to visit. I recommend Melbourne but get off the beaten track and explore.

Did I access the internet whilst away? No . .not for a minute and oddly, I didn't miss it although it was lovely to get back and see all the TT well wishers. Seriously I was the brunt of many internet addict jokes but didn't feel a pang until perhaps our wait for a return flight. So, still catching up on your news but I will eventually. If you ever venture over here, see Sydney and the Queensland Coast but don't write Melbourne off. It has plenty to offer. Including four seasons in one day! Take your sunscreen and a brolly. And thank you my darling girls. . .you are all on the top of my 'ten things' list even if I don't tell you so.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Late


I am never late. So how to manage a post and be on time when I'm actually interstate? Ah love Blogger's Post Options so if this works, I'll actually be on time for Theme Thursday.

I'm off to Melbourne for a long weekend, some Christmas shopping, giggles with the girls, fine food, fine wine and whatever shenanagins we can get up to at our age! Catch you Monday!

Don't be late for Theme Thursday . . . . .and the best thing . . a tight-arse fare of $175 and free accommodation thanks to a friend of a friend!

However, I will be late catching up with your efforts so be patient! Have a wonderful weekend.