Monday, August 31, 2009

One Man's Trash

We're entitled to two council kerbside clean ups each year and I dunno, I guess spring is in the air and it was time for a tidy. The shed was largely full of old tax records, uni materials and fabrics that Clare thought might be worth keeping and some old toys and treasures in plastic bins (I even found a tub with my old cot quilt in it, still clean and dry and well preserved), a Triton work bench and jigsaw table that nobody knows how to use (Melanie I wish you were closer because you'd probably know just what to do with it), a 25 year old Suzuki 500 (my other brother's and I wish he'd take it home!), horse paraphernalia, some of my nieces treasures and then all the stuff that actually belongs in a shed such as tractors and landscaper's gear, tools and tarps, horse feed and fencing equipment, conduit and fluorescent light tubes and five dead and truly dessicated rats that only I had the courage to prize from their gluing sticky points of demise.

Sadly it had all collapsed into a
higgeldy piggeldy mess of pottage, the floor daubed with rat droppings and chaff spillage, oil and muck. Frankly it was disgusting, so much so, I couldn't bear to take a 'before' shot. We killed about 8 unusually large red back spiders living among my nieces Uni exercise books. Clare had a conniption every time she saw one and was relegated to assembling the industrial surface spray contraption and removing saddles for cleaning and future storage. Useless.

A lot of what was in there was rubbish but amongst the 'throw outs' we also had a perfectly good computer desk and bed, removed only 2 weeks ago since Clare installed her double bed and shelving unit. Even the Salvos wouldn't take them despite them being in excellent condition . . fussy these charities, they only want goods in a pristine 'as new' state. I wonder if their clients would mind that a little melamine strip had torn from the front of the keyboard section on what was my computer desk until a fortnight ago! Then there are two screen doors and a few things in the 'container'. If you haven't used it in six years do you really need it? My bro, also tried to give his modular lounge, complete with a double sofa bed to the Salvos but they wouldn't take it because it was a bit grubby on the arm rests. We were insulted frankly because we'd been using these pieces until . .well . . last weekend but apparently our furniture is not good enough for the homeless and down and out. Talk about making us feel grubby.

When my younger brother moved in next door six years ago, we all chipped in and bought an old shipping container . .as you do . . .

No actually the container was to house furniture that belonged to my parents that my other brother said he'd like to keep and a few other bits and pieces that we also thought worthy of hanging on to until we all move on. Most are judiciously wrapped in bubble wrap and sprayed with
Baygon to keep the bugs out. It's not seaworthy but it's pretty weather proof and hides surreptitiously behind the shed.

So on Saturday, it was a bit of a discovery tour as we opened the doors. We were expecting a rat ridden
cobwebfest but actually it wasn't too bad. A few Daddy Long Legs and a bit of mould on the leather suite but basically everything was dry and in good nick. I found a horse rug and some Christmas decorations that I didn't know I had! Mmm treasure!

The upshot of our cleanup was some pretty decent furniture that with a little TLC would revive quite well: A modular lounge suite, a Domino bed base and
Oregon timber bedhead and screws, a computer desk, an entertainment unit, actually another computer desk, a couple of old mattresses (fair enough, mattresses aren't the most hygienic of give-aways - funny, we don't mind putting our own kids in beds they've peed in but don't like giving them to someone else), two fly screen doors and a load of old rubbish that we won't put out until before pickup day because scavengers scatter garbage everywhere looking for something useful.

Within 1 hour, almost all had gone. We put them down at the end of the driveway and the scavengers came in their four wheel drives, sifted through the good and the bad and have taken everything except one two
seater sofa (I suspect because they couldn't fit it in their car and may be back for it tomorrow). It was amazing . . a charity who cares for the underdog, the homeless, the impoverished refused collection, yet some well dressed bloke in his Landcruiser and with a younger fellow for muscle, took just about the lot! I really lament that furniture we were using three days ago was rejected by a charity yet will be recovered, refurbished and resold through some 'vintage' outlet by an enterprising couple. Just goes to show that one man's trash really is another man's treasure.

Ohk! Nobody wanted the workbench . . sign of the times I guess, we don't 'make' anything any more. But if you're interested, it'll be on the kerb next weekend . . I wonder how for how long?

Yeh . . happiness is a clean shed! Well until tomorrow's hay gets delivered. Please note the lack of cobwebbiness. Thank you Adam. Oh, and the leather suite spruced up nicely . .last seen in Babybro's lounge with his wife languishing on one of the recliners!

And sorry about the quality of posts these days. Bloggers block has gripped me big time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fuckwits and a Little Tipple

Police are appealing for information after a man was glued to a public toilet seat in far north Queensland in what police describe as a 'sick joke'.

Police, ambulance officers and fire crews were called to the 70-year-old man's aid after he became stuck at the Cairns Central Shopping Centre toilets about 10:30am AEST on Saturday.

Police say someone smeared strong glue over the toilet seat and the man had to be taken to the Cairns Base Hospital to have the seat removed. Police are urging anyone who saw anything untoward to call Crimestoppers. The poor man involved is recovering, embarrassed but not undone and will be in need of a 'cushion' for a few weeks I'll wager.

Now what sounded like a funny prank was a pretty awful thing to do. Then I guess it beats being mugged. See why I don't do public loos? My aversion to public toilets, perhaps with the exception of those at work I (which I still try to avoid like the plague) has resulted in a colossal ability to 'hold on'. Go you good pelvic floor muscles . . .If that poor soul had those hygienic paper toilet seat covers, he could have saved himself quite a pain in the ass.

Hmmm . .at least that way he'd have just had to take off his shoes!

And finally, vindication for the chardy set.

At last, the research I've been looking for and one GOOD thing about being in your 50's

Elderly people who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol are less likely to develop dementia than teetotallers, an Australian study shows.

The study, led by Dr. Kaarin Anstey of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in Canberra, analysed the results of several researches that involved some 10,000 people globally.

"We found that light to moderate drinkers were 28 percent less likely to develop Alzheimers than non-drinkers, 25 per cent less likely to develop vascular dementia, and 26 per cent less likely to develop any dementia," she claimed.

Anstey (Why am I reading that as 'Antsy') said it wasn't clear why moderate consumption of alcohol could reduce the risk of dementia, but suggested that it could be to do with a protective effect of alcohol in reducing inflammation and heart disease or the benefits of social interaction associated with drinking. Oh be still my beating heart!

The report is published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. So where's the fuckwittery I hear you ask? Reports on three or four sites that I've seen have stated that 28 drinks a week help prevent dementia . . twats . . it's 28% less likely to develop Alzheimers . . and I think I've got a poor eye for detail. . . I hate tabloid journalism. . .really . . .I do. I wish medicos did recomment four drinks each night! Clearly I'm going to be super smaht!

Have a great weekend folks. Light rain in the antipodes in the morning, just enough to give my marigolds a drink then a sunny 28 degrees and time to clean out the . .SHED FROM HELL! Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Limousines used to be for the rich and famous. The white gloved, the black gloved the brass-tacked, the high-heeled, the well-heeled. They used to drive at a snails pace to the horse race or glide by with a glimpse of a royal wave for a flag-waving public.

Today, Limousines are the perogative of the celebrity, schoolies formal clan, the crass, the cheap, the wannabes and the has-beens. The're the ostentation that good taste forbids and the wanky swank of those who have champagne tastes on beer budgets. They're the bling fling for rappers and knicker-less feast for the Papparazi.

The classic Lincoln, Mercedes or Cadillac have been replaced by the overly stretched the pink swank wank or the gold and stone encrusted. Sleek lines give way to that almighty pariah of the road - the stretch hummer . . more arse than class . . .

I hired a limousine once because at $50 an hour and able to take 8 of us from the airport to our holiday flat on the Gold Coast, it was cheaper than a taxi . . what's the world come to? A limo is cheaper than a taxi . . speaks volumes really. I wouldn't be caught dead in one. I have as much class as arse thank you! You know the word comes from the long cloaks worn by Limousin cattle herders . . now they herd cows of a different kind.

Take a peek at the other contributions for Theme Thursday
Apologies punters but I'm running so far behind . . I'll catch up by the weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Strange Delivery

My mother on my wedding day . . .age 53 . . .the age I will be in October

My mother was a midwife. A damn good one. I don't know how many babies she delivered or mums she helped with the fourth-day blues
or showed how to suckle a reluctant infant but she was highly-skilled and well-loved at the hospital where she worked. She lived her work, she cared deeply for her patients and she suffered when they did, shared their joy when they did and loved her work more than anyone I know.

She denied promotion in to more administrative positions because she was 'hands-on' and loved the contact with young mums, delivering babies and helping those first formative days become as natural as possible.

The only time she couldn't do her job was when my sister-in-law and I had our babies (five between us). She couldn't be in labour ward watching her own deliver! Probably just as well! Sadly, she wasn't around for the delivery of her two youngest grandchildren, my sister had her babies after my mother died. Such a shame because she was an enormous help to us young mums when we needed it most.

Most of our young life, she was a stay-at-home mum but at 46, she decided that she wanted a career. We were old enough to cope and much to my darling but rather old-fashioned father's objections (it was a slight on his ability to be a breadwinner but really a need for her to do something other than participate in total domesticity), she went back to nursing school.

We didn't suffer. We had a roster of jobs, even the youngest taking out the milk bottles and me making dinner and cleaning. The boys washed up and laid the table, put the garbage out and she was able to pursue her passion. It was a little tricky during her nigh shift blocks but we got through it and barely any of us remember much more than her taping her lectures and playing them back whilst preparing meals happily in the kitchen. All of us know far more about post partum haemorrhages than we should! We were asked to 'quizz' her on all sorts of anomalies before each exam.

Already a Registered Nurse and having transferred her credentials to the Australian system, she studied midwifery before going back to work at 46 years of age and passed with flying colours. Top in
NSW in fact. Not bad for a 'mature aged' student, who hadn't seen a hospital since her mid-20's.

She had her first job at a brand new private hospital in the Hills. So much was she appreciated, that after she was killed in 1992, the staff there erected a plaque and named one of their maternity wards, the Pam Dunn ward. We were very proud that she had been recognised in such a way and the plaque was still there a couple of years ago when I was desexed, I ended up in 'her' ward, now redecorated as the children's ward. (Obs and
Gyny was full so I was nursed by kiddy nurses and had pink elephants on the curtains!)

This hospital is now being re-assigned as a Rehabilitation Centre and an enormous, brighter private hospital is being built not far away. So the Pam Dunn Ward is no more and the plaque is being removed.

A quick email from
Babysis tonight announced that the plaque would be delivered to us as a parting gesture sometime this week. I wonder why they can't transport it to the new hospital? I would have liked to have seen it stand when my own daughter has her baby. I suppose there are precious few of her old colleagues to remember her. She would be 79 this year.

So tomorrow, not a baby but a plaque will be delivered. . .and for the life of me, I don't know what to do with it. I guess my sister will keep it for posterity, she's sentimental like that.

It's incredibly sad really. At least Kings and Queens, poets, philosophers, villains and famous philanthropists have their statues, libraries, galleries, portraits and commemorative icons for future generations to remember. A good woman, an amazing mother, a playful
Nana and a loving wife and a woman who delivered probably hundreds of babies in her 20 odd year career, will only be remembered by her family and those women whom she helped deliver over two decades ago.

One day, I'll write her story . . soon, because she deserves it!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Self Cleaning Ovens Are an Oxymoron

I was over at Ribbon's not too long ago and she was singing the praises of washing soda in relation to cleaning those yucky brown sticky bits on your oven racks. Damn the superlatively zen woman because I was then overcome with a wave of cleaning guilt because I haven't cleaned my oven for 4 years, actually given my memory, it's probably about six years because I bought a new one when I had my kitchen redone and nope, I've NEVER cleaned it.

Now anyone who knows me, also knows that this is totally out of character as I'm a total clean freak (bloody impossible endeavour on five acres I tell you). But anyone who knows me also knows that I'm not much of a 'baker' so the most my oven sees is garlic bread (Adam's addicted) the odd pizza and the Sunday Roast . . still, it was, I am ashamed to say, filthy to the point where I almost contemplated scrapping it and buying a new one.

To cut a long story short, I have spent the best part of my gloriously sunny afternoon washing horse rugs and cleaning the oven. Not in any particular order! And yep, the washing soda is working but this laborious pursuit prevented my Sunday excursion being anything more than a trip to the supermarket. Such is my life of excitement!

So in the absence of any pretty pics or Q Station adventures . . .I give you 12 things about me.

Why 12? Because Nicole over at Super Bloginess and Ribbon at Fragments Treasures Memory tagged me with the same meme "Six Things About You" so here goes. I'm not going to tag anyone for fear of being accused of favouritism, and you know I loves yous all, but feel free to run with it . . unless that is, I've guilted you into cleaning your oven!

I tell you if Adam as much as puts a single piece of grated cheese in that oven I'll kill him . . . slowly!
  1. I am outwardly a very confident and assertive person, inwardly I'm introspective and incredibly insecure

  2. I cannot stand doing anything by myself other than taking photographs which suit solitude. Even then, I always have my dog with me. So in reality, I am never alone.

  3. I always wanted a shimmery, schparkly, backless dress like one I saw Shirley Bassey wear about 30 years ago, almost exposing a hint of bum cleavage. Sadly, I don't have the figure or that lovely coffee toned skin for it.

  4. I love alternative rock music but for the life of me can never remember the name of the song or who sung it and am forever singing riffs to Clare and asking her "Who sings this song and what's it called". She's very patient.

  5. I hate bras, even pretty, sexy ones. (not that they make many in my size! I am cursed with big norgs) Bras are uncomfortable, unnatural and I can't wait to whip it off the minute I get home. Over shoulder boulder holders give me the shits. Oh and I've never been able to do them up at the back. I'm a front-fastener.

  6. When the new job finally comes through, I'm going to have hypnotherapy to try to give up smoking and just hope I don't break into the chicken dance whenever someone says "What's for dinner?" Then again it could be a good daily exercise regime.

  7. I love the stinky pooey, grassy-breathed, sweaty smell of horses . . really it's intoxicating. Although recently I read that you're supposed to 'clean' your grey gelding's crusty penis with vegetable oil in order to prevent melanoma . . .Oh God . . what will the 'neigh'bours think (pun intended), me on my milking stool rubbing an Arab's willy with olive oil! Big issue is, I know he'll actually like it!

  8. I love that I can sit at my computer with all the doors and windows open, in little more than a pair of yoga pants and a T shirt on, with, 12 inch skinks skitting across the room, Butcher Birds having their tree-to-tree arguments, pretty grey and pink galahs grazing in the back garden and the sound of Lorikeets in the trees. Sunday BLISS! The only thing lacking is the odd grey kangaroo! We're too urban for the marsupials here.

  9. I think I have Agony Aunt written on my forehead but strangely, I like it when people confide in me, and they do! It's very flattering and I hope I can help because I have an overactive empathy gland

  10. I am trying to work out what my 'passion' is. I haven't felt 'real' joy for a long time. I'm happy, generally, very happy, but not joyful.

  11. I miss my dad more than I miss my husband . . is that bad?

  12. I do like to pick my nose . .but not in public and I wipe it on a tissue . . well you asked!
Right, time to see if the washing soda has done it's job . . I am never using my oven again.

How Awesome is this woman!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday 'Slightly Flummoxed' Fuckwits

Quickie tonight. I'm all blogged out after this week. I took two sanity days yesterday and today and have visited just about every blog on the blogroll - and some, so, time to rest the eyes a little.

SCOOP: Tightarse Baino managed to score a Grey and a Navy suit for less $250 for both. Man I love a bargain! SCORE! And, a new Mac Keyboard (which is proving a bit trixy cos it's like a flat laptop keyboard and I'm not crash hot on it yet.)

OK Down to business two little fuckwits this Friday:

A man vying for the title of New Zealand's most incompetent criminal left his name and contact details with a shop before robbing it and fleeing.

The man - a regular customer of the music shop in the southern city of Christchurch - grabbed handfuls of notes from the till with four surveillance cameras trained on him on Friday, the shop's manager told a local newspaper.

Just minutes before the robbery, the man had approached the assistant saying he wanted a copy of Pink Floyd's album The Wall held for him and provided his correct address and contact details.

Manager Garry Knight says although the shop assistant was distracted with helping another customer, two other people in the store witnessed the theft.

"It's comical," he said.

He also had other long-standing requests for albums at the shop, also accompanied by his name and contact details.

Wot a twat!

So why pick on the New Zealanders when idiocy is international:

Thieves in Oregon were much luckier well, initially -

Police Chief Steve Scibelli said it was pretty embarrassing to have a thief hit his downtown station last week, stealing a radio, two stun guns and a Crown Victoria patrol car. The one saving grace is that police made a quick arrest.

"I'm so upset about it, I can't even find any humor in it," Scibelli told The Register-Guard newspaper. "It's pretty embarrassing."

Robert Lloyd Finder, 26, remained in the Coos County Jail on Wednesday, facing just about every charge the police could think up: burglary, possession of burglary tools, theft, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving.

Scibelli, who oversees a department of 16 officers - including himself - said the burglary occurred when all the officers left a section of the building to respond to an assault call. Finder, according to the chief, later told investigators he was walking near the station and noticed most of the police cars were gone so decided to help himself to a few tidbits and the last remaining patrol car! So what's the term for a group of twats?

Have a great weekend folks. It's a warm 25 degrees and the north westerley's are freshening the air . . Spring is just 2 weeks away.

I was looking for a killer rap song about the weekend that I've heard on radio but I'm buggered if I know who recorded it. My music guru's haven't a clue, probably dude to my inability to sing the chorus adequately (this keyboard is very annoying) and . . . yes the Google Queen has been flummoxed. So and for no particular reason enjoy some silliness from NZ comedians Flight of the Conchords!

Havta go . . . Drummerboy is playing a Samba! "It's Fri-Day, yes Fri-Day . . "

KK Chardy time and I loves yous all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I used to be afraid of shadows, particularly the reflection and shadowy shimmer that a shiny spoon made on the ceiling. I must have been about 2 years old and in a high chair and totally losing the plot each time my mother shovelled some sort of gloop into my gob because all I could see was this little darting shadow on the ceiling. Amazing that I remember it.

These days shadows mean sunshine and shade and they're a great photographic subject. So in the absence of any creative juice I offer some of my shadowy shots.

Olympic Park Awning

Shadecloth covered walkway at Olympic Park. I love this shot. It just shimmers shadows.

Strand Arcade Ballustrade

Shadow of the Victorian Ballustrade in Sydney's beautifully restored Strand Arcade.


Shadow of our Liquid Amber on a 45 degree day . . .

King Street Wharf

Shadows bouncing on beneath the pier at Sydney's King Street Wharf

I had to post this again, I'd have saved it from the Q Station post had I known this week's theme.

I'm sure there are far more creative efforts over at Theme Thursday so take some time to have a look.

Now, time to get moving and see if I can't become a shadow of my former self!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Job You Have When There's No Job To Have

Last week, my boss told me about two secret EA jobs that were being advertised at Landcom through my agency. Within seconds, Agency Girl was on the blower saying she'd put my CV forward.

You'd have never guessed it was where I was working from the advertisement. They made it sound like private enterprise. Well in a way it is. A government agency that has been incorporated and is responsible to a Board but still a government agency who find, buy and develop land for sustainable, affordable housing (big initiative from the Federal Budget). It's a weird mix of old public servants and new blood. Propriety prevents me from discussing the role too much but it's a good one with a dynamic female General Manager as head of the largest head count in the company. She needs a wing-girl!

Anyway, Agency Girl was very positive about my attributes (nice to know that a 25 year old living at home and who can' spell has faith in me) and an interview was arranged for Wednesday 12th August. All fine and dandy. I've had a public service interview before and began familiarising myself with all the weird stuff like Equal Employment Opportunity policies and the Finance Act. Well the Position Description said I had to know this stuff!

So, Monday morning, the agency rings and says they've cancelled Wednesday interviews and want me to front up to one of the boardrooms at 2:45 on Monday! GAH . . talk about lack of preparation! I began to lament not wearing a suit and having only my very sexy but not so corporate black trenchcoat.

It was a strange interview. The Managing Director's EA, HR Manager and my prospective boss, the General Manager, IT, Corporate Services and Finance . . .three women! This could go either way, you know how objective women are . . were they looking at my nails or the fact I was wearing a very expensive trenchcoat instead of a black suit? Was my hair corporate enough, my body language demure enough. Would I be too bolshy, to bimbo'ish . . I've been dumbing myself down a bit lately due to the constant "You're overqualified, you'll get bored!" reaction.

Basically it ended up being a 'Tell us about yourself' sales pitch. The only real question being "Would you call yourself a team player or do you prefer to work alone". This actually made sense since they were interviewing for two positions. One a work alone appointment-making, and collating the monthly Board Meeting Agenda and the other far more dynamic and people oriented position. Naturally I was really vying for the team option.

So after 40 minutes chat . . back to work I went. The whole process being very secretive and nobody even knowing that the interviews were taking place except a select few.

My current boss was rooting for me big time and putting in an amazingly good word for me. My agency rep calling me every 10 minutes to 'see how it went'. Loads of positive affirmation then Tuesday evening, another informal hour with my prospective boss, laying out the landscape, explaining her mandate and declaring that she wants me on board because we're 'peas in a pod'. Fantastic! At this point I'm thinking of taking the kids out to an expensive restaurant and cracking open the Billecart Salmon to celebrate . . . .screeeeeeeeeech . . .Hold yer horses Hells . . . just as I'm ready to accept with glee she says "I just have to run this past Belinda first."

What? Belinda is the GM's PA and has a reputation for being 2IC within the organisation. Belinda doesn't like you . . .no go! Actually she was lovely. We'll get along just fine and I received her wholehearted endorsement.

But I know you want more . .and that was the "Wednesday" reference on Saturday's Post. One more hurdle. I have to meet the MD and Director of Urban Planning, both of whom earn more than the Prime Minister. If they like me, I'm in like Flynn. So I met with them today, lovely chaps and yep. I got the job!

But I know you want more . . .however, new legislation passed on Friday night, due to a Government hiring freeze, demands that a Business Case be put forward for every new Government position whether you're a several hundred million dollar Corporation or not. So less than 2 hours ago, I'm sitting with two very frustrated women having this explained to me. The Business Case has been rushed off to Premier's Department but they have no way of knowing how long this 'hopefully' Rubber Stamp will take. There is a very remote possibility that Premiers will reject the business case and knock the job on the head . . so . . for now

I have a job . . but there isn't a job to have . . .they'll keep me busy until they hear word . . .but nobody knows how long that will take! Could be Monday (since I'm sure I'm one of the first candidates to test the new Legislation so they can't claim a 'backlog') could be next month!

Time to put pressure on my agency to increase my hourly rate and reduce their commission since I'm such a bloody good candidate and if passed, they'll receive 12% of my first years salary as payment!

So, no champagne . . and after a week in the fridge, it's ice cold . . but I am going out for dinner for a 'Claytons" celebration to celebrate the job that isn't a job, the job that might be . . sometime . . .

Don't you love the bureaucracy that is the public service! I just hope I live to see my job materialise!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drumming it Into Me

I'm sitting here really trying to come up with something and listening to Adam drumming in the pool room. I don't know how he coordinates four limbs to hold a different beat. It's actually very nice to listen to.

I remember buying him his first kit. Both children would visit their grandparents at the seaside for 3 weeks each January because I had to work during school holidays. He was 12 and wanted all things a 12 year old wants. Nintendo Game Boys, mountain bikes,
Playstations . . .and a drum kit.

He couldn't play but was having lessons at school in
preparation for a number of musicals over the years and after the Trumpet practice from the primary school band I was relieved. So as a surprise upon his return from holidays with Granny, I had a drum kit ready and waiting. It cost me $500 for the 'starter kit'.

There were weeks of sort of rhythm. The kid definitely had something but needed some help refining the skill. The racket was less than lovely and practice was restricted to
pre-6pm or when nobody was home. But practice he did. Every day.

A few lessons later and he's getting the hang of the things. Sounding tolerable, quite expert in fact so the 'band' was born. "Indecent Exposure" not to be confused with the little known boy band of the 80's. The kids were about 14 and I was the '
Drummy Mummy'. We had the space for them to practice so our pool room became the rehearsal space. There were gigs in far flung places, community rock events, even a paid session at the local ice rink for the dancing pleasure of the skaters. It's amazing how much drum kit you can fit into the back of a hatch-back Corolla. By the time they turned 17, the band had fractured and each went their own way, still mates but no longer a unit.

Then, came
Aktor . . probably about 3 years old now. Writing original material but more beer drinking at rehearsal than practice. They did OK with pub gigs and now he was old enough to transport his own kit, I was somewhat relieved. At the end of 2008 they entered a Worldwide Rock Competition. They did very well to reach the Australian finals. The winner won a a trip to Germany to strut their stuff. My little Drummer Boy however, was voted best drummer and won himself a nice new kit. Then life took hold. They still wrote, they still practiced but as everyone left Uni and became involved in the real world. It was harder to gig and harder to rehearse. Girlfriends came, jobs came, exams came . . fame left and for a while so did a little dedication.

The band is still together. We had a great night recently at a nightclub in the city, normally known for it's dance music rather than alternative Rock but the boys had an early start and a paid gig. The next is at Conception Day at a local University and whilst the verve isn't quite there and I don't think they're going to be the next U2, they have fun and they sound great.

Which brings me to now. My son . .after acquiring a Bachelor of
Horticulture, a Landscape Construction Certificate and six months of running his own business . . wants to be a musician. I was horrified. I want him to get a good career, be independent, run his own business . . get himself sorted financially and move out with his lovely Amy . . not in any way the 'groupie' type but she tolerates his passion.

Then tonight, I can hear him, I can see the look on his face! He's in his special place when he drums. He can play different genre's from rock to jazz, he can tinkle and smooth, he can 'go nuts' and double kick. He can fill and hammer . . he's not just good, he's brilliant . . OK he's not dissecting the human genome or curing AIDS but he's doing what he loves and he's good at it. Maybe he should follow his passion . . I didn't, and that was a huge mistake.

And for the brave . . one reason why you shouldn't post your Friday Night drunken exploits on Facebook when your mother is a 'friend'. The boy is versatile! These are electronic drums, played to video hits and Guitar Hero on a rather . . . drunken Friday. Language warning. I'm such a cool mum. He'll kill me for posting this. No really, he will! I love you Addy. . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sea, Sunshine and Spectres

As a slight departure to my Sunday habit . .Clare and I headed out towards the coast again on Saturday. The weather was glorious. She couldn't wait to feel the sand beneath her feet so we enjoyed fish and chips on Manly Beach and walked along the cliff edge to Cabbage Tree Bay and Shelley beach before heading to North Head where the old Quarantine Station is now a tourist resort and historical site.

Into Spring Bay's shining waters ran a contaminated tank stream. Above it's crystal depths flew a yellow flag indicating that disease was afoot and none should wonder hither . . . This is now known as Quarantine Bay. A picturesque little cove on Sydney Harbour's West Head, just north of Manly beach where from 1873 - 1984 it was a Quarantine Station in full working order.

The North Head site was chosen as a safe anchorage, reasonably isolated, and there was the presence of natural springs to ensure a water supply. Unfortunately, they placed the graveyard within metres of the fresh water supply within the first five years, and soon learned that was not a great idea.

Migrant ships arriving in Sydney with suspected contagious disease stopped inside North Head and off-loaded passengers and crew into quarantine. Their clothes were fumigated in giant autoclaves, they were showered in carbolic acid which still leaves a lingering odour and then accommodated according to their 'ticket class'.

Those showing symptoms of bubonic plague, smallpox, Typhoid or Spanish Influenza were led to the infirmaries where sunshine and wide verandahs provided nature's cure. Some were fumigated or given 'vapours' in locked and darkened rooms whilst others, less lucky found their way into the morgue.

After an average time of 40 days, most passengers were released to settle as Australian residents. Their experiences of quarantine varied. Some passengers experienced a first class resort, making new friends and sharing dreams of a bright new future. For others it was a far more frightening experience of disempowerment, disease and death.

First class had nice cottage accommodation, second comfortable although overlooking what was to become a graveyard and third still pretty tolerable but fourth class steerage? Pretty much left to themselves with little more than a few dorms and a rice cooker although they received the same medical attention as everyone else.

But it wasn't all bad news . . many families enjoyed their 'incubation' time and were released. Out of almost 530,000 passengers over the years, only 576 died on the site . . but it is said . . many remain on this most haunted place. Although I was a bit disappointed. Not so much as an orb or a cold breath.

Now owned by private enterprise but oversighted by the NSW Parks and Wildlife, it is an historical site with the A Class huts having been converted into hotel suites. The Third Class Dining room a wedding venue and the "Boiler Room" quite a posh restaurant. Frankly, despite the 25 degree, sunny and gorgeous day . . it was still a little eerie.

So, not being able to convince Clare to join me in one of their Ghost Tours (they run adult and children's tours and three people I know say they've seen ghosts there) we did the "Historical Tour". Interestingly, our National Parks guide, knocked on every door she unlocked . . just in case and refused to take us into one building unless we really, really wanted to see it . .we didn't.

Quarantine bay where ships would offload their passengers who's treatment and facilities varied according to their tickets. Also the site of two hospital hulks over the years where men were treated at times of overcrowding. There were as many as 8 ships at a time being cleansed while their inhabitants sought treatment or refuge on land. The flagpole in the distance would fly a yellow flag if the site was being used and infectious disease prevalent.

After disembarking, being identified and their luggage removed. Patrons were showered with a carbolic acid shower. Each cubicle has three compartments. This is the 'dirty' aisle. Either side of these compartments was the 'clean' aisle. One disrobed in the first, showered in the second, dressed in cleaned and fumigated clothes and left on the clean side.

Luggage and personal belongings were steamed in one of two enormous autoclaves. Again, this is the dirty side where luggage was loaded via rail tracks directly from the ships. Even workers there were required to take carbolic showers at the end of their shifts.

Those diagnosed with infectious disease or showing symptoms were transferred to one of four infirmary buildings where the view, fresh air and sunshine were considered a necessary part of their recovery.

Less crowded than 'in the day' this 1940's hospital ward stands pretty much as it did.

The less fortunate found themselves in the Morgue attached to a pathology department. Quick diagnosies of the cause of death was necessary to avoid more ending up on the concrete autopsy table.

The 'Asiatic' quarters were less salubrious. They had no proper kitchen and bunk bed dorm accommodation and little more than a fire and rice pot to prepare their meals.

Our guide knocked upon each building door before opening it. We didn't say too much until she'd done it about three times. Not too fussed about the more ethereal inhabitants, she was warning them of our entry. This house is the Gravedigger's family's house. She wouldn't take us there unless we expressly wanted to see it - Clare didn't! And frankly, neither did our guide.

The third class kitchen is still equpped with a magnificent old wood fired oven and the dining room now used for conferences and wedding receptions.

Scratched on a frosted window pane in the Third Class dining room, Sgt. Gregory - 1940

The view from the Third Class quarters. Marginally unchanged apart from th distant cityscape and the absence of tombstones, removed from the gravesites in the foreground. Now nobody knows who's buried there and the use of DDT plus the possibility of surviving bacteria in the soil six feet under prevents archeological exploration.

First Class quarters have now been transformed into the Q Station Hotel. You can have a garden view room or an entire cottage. I'm not sure I fancy staying there though.

Whilst waiting to be cleared. Residents busied themselves by carving their names and ship icons on the Sydney Sandstone. This beautiful memorials are dotted all over the site and tell the tale of contamination and incarceration still standing memorial to those who stayed there.

One of two 'vapour' rooms where patrons endured claustrophobic unctions to clear their lungs. Ah . . perhaps there are ghosties afoot! Now who are those spooks reflected on the wall!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday (Anonymous) Fuckwit

We like Big Things.

So news of a Big Thing facing it's demise is just devastating. I mean where would we be without the Big Pineapple and the Big Banana to name but two. Penguin wouldn't be Penguin without a big well . . Penguin and frankly the Northern NSW town of Ballina just isn't worth visiting for more than a refuel and a slurpy at the local BP but for it's amazing landmark. It's the very reason the words "rich and fair" were included in our national anthem. But no . . .in his wisdom, the owner of the Big Prawn has decided that this particular landmark has had it's day and that he wants to demolish this thing of beauty, this icon of all that is Australian, this animal for which we are known world-wide for chucking on a barbie!

The days of a New South Wales north coast landmark may be numbered.

The Ballina Shire Council has received a submission seeking permission to demolish the Big Prawn.The Ballina mayor, Phillip Silver, says it is hard to say if the aging fibreglass structure is an icon or an eyesore. He says while some would be sad to see it go, he has already heard suggestions that it should be replaced by a big pelican. Oooh now that's tasteful!

"The seabird rescue station there at North Creek Road is a very, very interesting place to visit. Maybe if the prawn is in demise, then this will be a little bit of opportunity for them to take up the slack," Cr Silver said.

Farewell you fabulous thing . . .maybe someone will love you and move you, just like they did the Big Merino.

Have a great weekend everyone . . .I'm off to catch up on Theme Thursdays which will probably take me into next week!

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist . . .another big thing . . .

Push it, you know you're gonna wiggle!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going Troppo

Sorry folks been AWOL for a couple of days on la Blog. Hopefully I will have an explanation by next Wednesday evening.

Theme Thursday this week explores "Festival". Since it's winter here, apart from the rather wacky Winter Equinox festival in the Blue Mountains where we tree huggin' hippie druid types all pretend that we're Northern Europeans enjoying midwinter and celebrating Christmas in July and the soon to be celebrated Tulip Festival in Canberra, there's not much on the Festival scene in Oz.

In summer however, we're inundated with rock festivals, the Sydney Festival of course even the Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras! Summer is our festive season and with the weather, damn good timing.

During the Sydney Festival there are free events in what's called the "Domain" a large green space in the centre of Sydney. On each of four weekends in January there is Opera in the Park, Symphony In the Park, Jazz In the Park. In February, a little treasure for would-be movie makers as young as 9 and as old as you like. You might remember a little Oscar Winner called Harvie Krumpet who started his claymation life as a short film.

This is a night of short films, projected on a big screen under the stars. Well sometimes it rains but nothing a plastic poncho can't protect against, even stops your brie going soggy and your chardy diluting.

Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival, and is regarded as one of our most iconic cultural events and best of all, it's free. It is also the largest short film festival in the world.

Founded in 1993 by film director John Polson, the ‘Tropicana Short Film Festival’ started as an informal short film screening for cast, crew and friends at the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney’s uber artsy Darlinghurst. More than 200 people showed up. Inspired by the turn out, John decided that a fully-fledged short film festival was the next step.

Eighteen years on, Tropfest attracts a live national audience of more than 150,000 people on a single night. The event is hosted at Sydney’s Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, with live satellite links to outdoor locations in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Surfer’s Paradise.

The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of his or her background or experience. Sixteen finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 650 entries and compete for more than $200k in prizes. It's often the 'big break' for would-be film makers on the world stage.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

There's Something About Mary

Today was gorgeous. Crisp, blue, chilly but the sun shone and now I know where all the Hills District suburbanites go on a Sunday . . down to the beach.

I went to Dee Why . . a
beachside suburb just north of Sydney to meet an avid reader and sometimes commenter on the blog, Mary from Lancashire.

Mary and I have emailed a couple of times and she invited me to meet which I happily accepted. She was very naughty and would not let me pay for the beautifully cooked Atlantic Salmon on warm Salad Nicoise or the delicious Sauvignon Blanc and yet barely touched her double cooked crisp pork belly on Asian greens at Deck 23. That's us, just next to the black pillar just left of Centre (well not really but we were camera shy so that'll have to do!)

Being the driver, it saddened me to sip only a glass or two but Mary did me proud and polished off the rest. Good
onya girl but you're a 'cork sniffer!' . . Had I not been driving, I'd have polished off two of those! Bottles that is!

It was lovely to meet her. She's a diminutive 5'3"
Lancashire lass with a family of four who emigrated, went back then did what so many English people do, came back to Australia once again. She's missing friends in Perth where they first settled upon coming to Australia many years ago. I think people underestimate the size of this country and Perth may well as be the Moon if you live on the east coast. She has one son who chose to remain in England and is close to finishing his Medical degree. He's entrenched in a relationship there an unlikely to move back to Australia. Two other sons and a daughter are settled here and enjoying life in the sun.

I asked her why she doesn't blog because she's chatty and has plenty say, "I'm a two fingered typist and the words don't flow" was her answer. Shame, because I think she could write some inspirational stuff.

The main boulevard next to the ocean. Similar to many of it's kind with restaurants dotted along the corso, and beyond those Norfolk Pines . . .

Dee Why Beach . . one of Clare's favourites and clearly a favourite with surfers despite the chill.

If you don't have one of your own, you can hire one from the surf club or book in for lessons and these are what you'll use to learn the craft

Sometimes there's little left to do but wait for that seventh wave. I watched for about half an hour and it's true, the seventh wave is worthy of a ride.

He's had enough . . cold tootsies . . .

And the view from our table. Bless her, she asked especially for a waterfront view and that we had. Thank you Mary, it was wonderful. Next time, my shout and maybe on a slightly warmer day . . .

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Fuckwits

I heard this earlier during the week so saved it for later. This Friday I'm slagging half the population of Australia . .well the married half . .the arguably 'better' half . . I'll never get a kiss after this!

Australian men make the worst husbands in the world because they loathe helping out with the housework, a British study claims.

An economist from Oxford University found that women wanting to settle down were better off finding a bloke from Scandinavia, the United States or Britain than Australia.

Study author Dr Almudena Sevilla-Sanz said that based on her study of 12 developed countries, men and women were both more likely to cohabit or marry if they believed their partner would help out with the household chores and child care.

But it appears that when it comes to finding a husband willing to help out, Australian women have a tough time.

Dr Sevilla-Sanz's study ranked Australia as the least egalitarian society, making its men unattractive marriage partners because they were more unlikely to do household chores.

Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, the US and Northern Ireland were judged to be the most egalitarian countries.

Next were the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Austria and Australia in last place.

Apparently men in egalitarian societies take on more of a domestic role, so the likelihood of forming a harmonious household becomes greater, resulting in a higher proportion of couples setting up households. Ahhh can't you just feel the domestic bliss?

The study's findings were based on a survey of 13,500 men and women aged 20 to 45 from each of the 12 countries.

The study found that women living in less egalitarian countries were 20 to 50 per cent less likely to live with a man compared with women in more egalitarian societies. Wayeh! I have an excuse for remaining single!

Yeh but if we go all egalitarian and stuff, does that mean I have to start carrying the Esky, mowing the lawn and putting out the sulo bins?

Thanks to the Cambridge Women's Photography Collective

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Crash into Me . .Please . . and SOON!

A mercifully short post for this Theme Thursday because it kinda tears at my heart. Kisses these days are pecks on the cheek. Often married with a warm embrace and well-meaning but not romantic. The lingering kiss is now relegated to my fantasy life and a thing of the past.

Word's cannot describe the feeling of a truly amazing kiss. I know because I've had a few. In the words of Jodi Mitchell, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." Oh man I miss them.

It's been a long time and I want one, or two, or three, or . . .

Wait Until They find out . . .We Eat Our Coat of Arms

After learning the government had announced $10 million for a camel management plan that will include culling, Erin Burnett, an anchor on the US financial news channel CNBC, said:

"There is a serial killer in Australia and we are going to put a picture up so we can see who it is," Miss Burnett said, before showing a large photograph of Mr Rudd.

"He has launched air strikes - air strikes - against camels in the outback."

Miss Burnett is more accustomed to analysing the stock movements on Wall Street, but she broke away from normal coverage to concentrate on camels, complaining the meat and milk from the culled animals would be wasted.

Jim Cramer, CNBC's colourful financial guru, said Mr Rudd was guilty of "camelcide".

Australia is currently struggling to control more than one million feral camels that roam unchecked through the outback. Our camels are left-over's from the building of the Ghan Railway from Adelaide to Alice springs and they're thriving so well that we even export them back to the middle east. However they now number in their millions. The herds destroy fragile ecosystems and trample over sacred indigenous sites.

I really wish I could show you a clip of this woman's rant, it was hilarious. Especially coming from a country that has no hesitation in killing it's native animals (bears and wolves from helicopters for instance).

I wonder what she'd say if she knew we eat both the animals on our coat of arms:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Soulless Surburbia

I've been reading a few blogs as people in the northern hemisphere enjoy road trips to their quaint past, re-visit their childhood villages in England or prepare for the old fashioned delights of French cottage holidays or indeed just live in picturesque little country towns where there is a sense of unchanging community. People know each other, chat with each other. Go to their 'local' to meet and greet and the same man has owned the sweet shop or the little bakery for ever and ever. Nothing much has changed over past decades.

Working for Landcom has been an education in urban planning for me. With the recent budget stimulus to encourage 'affordable housing' Landcom is madly creating subdivisions in Sydney's outer suburbs. Planned recreation grounds, integrated shops and businesses, sweet little houses that are oh-so-modern and all with predictably kitch names such as Cecil Hills, The Ponds, Newbury and Red Gum. "Excellence in social and environmental sustainability" because they have 'people' in mind. And yes, they're lovely but much like the environs in which I now find myself . . totally without soul or the things that 'make' a community - People actually coming together, interacting and enjoying the facilities built for their use.

My neck of the woods was once all market gardens and bronzed Italians labouring over their brussel sprouts and flower fields and now it's just huge, clean, characterless urban sprawl. Man- made beauty that all of a sudden looks decidedly ugly.

I took my dog and my camera for the Sunday walk was along the usual route. What was once picturesque fields with kiddy constructed cubby houses and arm breaking tyre swings, huge gum trees, winding creeks, riding tracks and ramshackle abandoned homesteads, is now pristine light commercial industrial 'park' and over-priced McMansions but nobody seems to mind building an expensive house in the middle of an office complex, around a fake lake and where all the trees have been felled to maximise land usage. They don't seem to 'enjoy' a sense of community . . .at least on a warm Sunday afternoon.

We left through the back paddock fence. I think Laurie would have liked to come with us but having just had his rug taken off after a week, he promptly found the dirtiest patch in the paddock and rolled in it . . I'm not taking him anywhere dressed like that!

We headed about 200 metres through our back fence onto the yellow brick road which now wends it's artificially planted way towards Bella Vista Homestead . .

To the right, there are expensive McMansions right in the shadow of the Woolworths Head Office, an absolute towering monstrosity. I wouldn't want to be the person who delivers the mail to each department, they'd need a golf cart to get round. Who pays for these $800,000 - $1.2 million houses next to an office block?

We are a "Tidy Town" The place is littered with rubbish bins that nobody uses . . .

Playgrounds so ergonomically correct and risk-free that children don't want to play on them.
I have never seen this one used.

Barbecue / picnic tables that have never hosted a red and white chequered tablecloth let alone a snag in a bun!

Suburban park benches that nobody sits on . . well there's no view, just a park bench on a man-made path lined with man-made gardens, looking over man-made roofage.

The streets are bare. Nobody walking, nobody gardening. Where are they all? And the most significant thing is the lack of sound. Not so much as a dog bark or a child's laugh. Of course these places are so expensive that their inhabitants' children have probably all grown up and moved away. Peering into back yards, I saw lap pools and pergolas, shade cloth entertainment areas and water features but not a single child's plaything or swing.

Oh it's very pretty with a man-made lake and a man-made fountain which is adjacent to a man-made 4 lane boulevard streaming with so much traffic hey had to build a walkway under the road so that people can cross . . .

Man-made offices and man made shops and a bunch of man-made restaurants and we're supposed to believe this emulates a 'harbour' view. Hey, chuck a few ducks on it and we'll have the punters eating out of our hands.

Man-made roundabouts that nobody goes round and man-made gardens with carefully contrived, maintenance-free, drought-hardy native plants and dyed pinebark so that it retains it's red colour. The natural stuff goes grey in days and that would never do.

Back past the roundabout, along the man-made path around the man-made lake and back to my little piece of country. We walked about 5kms and barely saw a soul apart from the Chinese fisherman trying to catch the introduced decorative carp in the man-made lake and a nice elderly couple taking some stale bread to feed the ducks.

Laurie's still there, standing at the back paddock gate an hour or so later . . not happy but eager to check out the camera . . hey, it might be man-made but it could possibly be edible!