Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Haz Lubly Dawgz

I don't actually celebrate my dog's birthday. She's just a dog and I know she was whelped sometime in December but we doggy types have a habit of gravitating towards each other...Tom at Half Moose With a Twist is celebrating Toby's first big annual event so any excuse to post pictures of the Lilybabe. Happy birthday Tobes . . we're helping you celebrate from 12,000 miles away . . Lily says "You can eat poo . . . just for today" . . . No comments required, just go 'Awwww isn't she lubly"

PS: It's Toby's Birthday Party over at Half Moon With a Twist. . . join in his party and Tom will link pics of your pets!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Fuckwit and la Femme Fablious

Slightly different slant on the Friday Fuckwit tonight since I'm in a total spin . .I mean . . hot flushing and spinning . . .

After much toing and froing between HR about my future at my workplace due to the breakdown in civilities between my boss and I, the HR manager informed me that the Troll Bitch does not want me back under any circumstances and that because I am a valuable member of staff and she is a very 'difficult' person to work with and my current department are over the moon with my efforts, I have two choices. Stay where I am with my five men but drop $7,000 a year, because only General Managers get a Level 4 EA . . . or give 4 weeks notice and leave. The news was delivered gently and positively but I still can't believe that I'm paying because of a total fuckwit who won't lose a cent of her six figure salary because she 'can't get along' with me or anyone else for that matter. I'm beginning to feel that nice girls really do finish last.

Naturally, I have taken the embarrassing demotion because I need a job and despite still applying for other positions have had little interest. From March, I will be a level lower. Buggered if I'm working 45 hours a week for $7,000 less!

Now for the fabulous Femme . . my daughter, up on hearing my 'news' declared a surprise that she's been sitting on for the past couple of months. She declared that she's been rather 'crafty' and would explain all when I got home.

Turns out she's been saving like a mad thing and squirrelling cash away over the past 7 months and has amassed a small fortune so has reserved two tickets to Paris in September including accommodation and a free 'Paris to anywhere in Europe' return ticket as a belated 50th birthday present. Providing she can get leave with her new job which starts in March . . we're off to Paris in September! If leave isn't an option, we'll still go in 2011. Can you believe her! I'm stuck between tears and fears. She offered to either pay off my credit cards (boring option) or treat me to four weeks in PARIS and environs. . . .get me a dart, I need to throw it at a map! Tangiers looks nice . .Rabbat . . Barcelona . . Seville . . .

No not this Paris!

. . I am speechless, I cried, I laughed, I looked dumbstruck, I hesitated - I'm just flabbergasted! Nobody has ever done anything so nice for me. So, the booking has to be paid for by the end of February. I have four weeks to think about whether to be totally sensible and reduce my debt or to be a total fuckwit and enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to France and Spain in September . .


What would you do?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Akubra - It's Australian for "Hat"

Theme Thursday again and a double whammy with "Felt" and "Impression" as the theme. I'm struggling with a dicky keyboard because my nice sleek Apple job has decided that "Y" needs a holiday!

Most people probably consider felt as a type of cloth - smoother and tougher than cotton or woollen fabric, but cloth nonetheless. But really there is little similarity. Unlike cloth, felt is made up of many short, single animal fibres. These fibres interlock; they have a natural tendency to "crawl" and twist when kneaded and manipulated in hot water and steam. Pressure, heat and water are used throughout the felt making process.

Here in Australia there is one famous felt hat. Greg Norman is frequently seen coming in under par in one, farmers wouldn't think of hitting the midday sun without one. . . hell even my son wears one when he's mowing the lawn. Yep, you have to have an Akubra.

Although preferred in country areas, everyone here understands the charm and sheer Aussiness of a genuine rabbit felt Akubra hat. And before you start throwing fake blood at us . . rabbits are a feral pest here. Millions of them cause havoc in semi rural and rural areas. Cute as they are, we aim for them when driving down the road and Lily doesn't mind a bit of road kill for breakfast. I have rabbits under the shed, in the paddock, on the road, in the hedgerows . .they're everywhere. It's not their fault but they are as damaging as any other pest and continue to make a very negative impression on our landscape. And remember, I live in the burbs . . I still find them on the lawn in the morning and literally grazing just outside the carport at dusk.

So when you visit, among your Taiwanese Koalas, non indigenous boomerangs, tacky imported T shirts and fake flags, take home a real Australian . . an Akubra Hat! You'll be sure to make an impression. It's so Aussie . . .we don't even add the word 'hat' you just put on your Akubra.

Now go and visit the others who don't have to bang the shit out of their keyboards to make an impression. My fingers have really felt the pain!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hot 100's, Head Shaves and Ryan's Special Salad

It was a day of nothings. Australia Day and lots happening but nobody to party with so I set my alarm to wake at 5am with intentions to watch 21 hot air balloons launched in a park about 20 minutes drive from me - it didn't go off so I woke at 6:45am knowing I'd missed the spectacle. Watched a couple of boring DVD's then Adam had some friends over for a barbie and it all fell into place.

With one small exception, my brother decided to . . get this . . .set up a TV on the pool concourse to watch the Tennis. What moron sets up a TV outside when a bunch of rambunctious boys are in the swimming pool? I warned him but he stood his ground and now he and wife Stressany are suffering quite severe sunburn rather than give ground and retreat into a room where TV should be watched.

So . . apart from Adam deciding to shave his head because it was hot just as guests arrived (as you do),

We played poker under the Carob tree, dangled in the pool, drank, and had the ubiquitous Aussie Barbie and listened to the Triple J Hottest 100.

Aint it great when your 23 year old son marinates chicken filets in garlic, chilli and soy and his friend actually brings a salad - that he made himself! Usually it's just bread rolls snags and barbecue sauce.

Punters who listen to this public but 'alternative' radio station vote for their favourite song which unfortunately this year was accidentally exposed a little early but a good choice. nonetheless . . .Parties are held all over the country by Triple J aficionados and bets are laid.

I thought Lily Allen's "The Fear" might have done it this year or Phoenix "Listomania" or even the funky and saucy "Parle Vous Francais" by Baccara . . or any one of half a dozen releases by the very lanky and talented Calvin Harris. . but no . . .the winner was and is, Mumford and Sons', Little Lion Man. . . It's sweet. I'm drunk. Poker is still going on and the night is cooling off comfortably . Happy Australia Day !

Monday, January 25, 2010

In Australia, we enjoy enjoy quite a few long weekends. Usually the Monday is the designated public holiday. We have Easter Monday, Queen's Birthday weekend in June, the October Long weekend and those in the banking sector get a day off sometime but since it doesn't affect me I couldn't tell you when but some public holidays fall on the date they are due. Christmas and Boxing Day and New Year's Day of course, Australia day on the 26th
January and ANZAC day on the 25th April.

This year, Australia Day falls on a Tuesday and so today . . . Australia chucked a sickie . . .
en masse

We receive between 9 and 22 paid 'Personal Leave' days a year. These can be used for illness, or to support an immediate relative during times of illness or need. Apparently Australians take an average 91/2 days a year, their European counterparts, just 7. Big Whoop!

Personal leave is of course fully paid, accumulative and not redeemable upon resignation or termination so most Aussies take their full complement during the year. This is on top of 20 days paid Annual leave for most, some careers even more. Teachers for instance have 11 weeks paid leave and 22 sick days.

Apparently around 500,000 workers blew off work today to snare themselves a four-day weekend. Even more elected to take a day's legitimate leave and enjoy a four-day weekend (I would have, but since I haven't accrued much leave and had to forfeit quite a bit during the Christmas close-down . . I did turn up to work!)

The head of the Retailers Association, Scott Driscoll, says people who joined the mass sick day are un-Australian. Oh what a crock of horse shit. Aussies are 'master's at the engineered sickie!

Research conducted by absence-management firm Direct Health Solutions shows that the increase in workers taking sick days today will cost the economy about $257 million. WOW! And Nick Behrens, the general manager of policy at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Queensland, says workers who fake illness today are being selfish. No, employers are being greedy and stupid expecting anything else.

Oh for goodness sakes . . who's bright idea was it to have the day off 'on the day'. I mean, we have Easter conveniently at whatever equinox happens to be around and enjoy a Friday and a Monday off. Nobody says "right, Good Friday is on the 22nd April every year . . " which in itself is stupid I mean, how did Christ get crucified and rise again on a different day each year!

Mr Behrens says having the day off will hurt employers and contribute to a $30 billion annual sick day bill for the Australian economy. Well duh! Have the holiday on the MONDAY. Let's face it. Our indigenous population doesn't mind the idea of celebrating being Australian but does have a problem with it being the date of 'invasion' when Capt. Cook declared 'terra nullis' despite the presence of a huge aboriginal population!

The twat also said, "Employers have stepped up over the last 12 to 18 months and done everything possible to ensure that they have not had to let their employees go when there wasn't necessarily the work for them to do." Oh for goodness sakes, that's a load of gobshite. I for one lost my job thanks to the GFC and so did thousands of others!

Apparently the most likely to 'fake' illness today were, Union members and mums and dads and Generation X (who let's face it take a sickie if they didn't get to watch the last episode of True Blood). Let me tell you, after working for one company for 15 years and being retrenched, then another for 9 years and being retrenched I don't appreciate being 'preached' to about loyalty!

All I can say is that my workplace was like a ghost town today. I don't know who took sickies or who had legitimate
e leave but the place was empty. It was wonderful. The phones didn't ring, I could flit from desk to desk doing the filing for my five men and leave at 5pm, right on time! Thank you sickie takers, you made my day. I was more productive so at least made up for a couple of dodgy absences. At least thanks to Kyle . . fewer people are confessing on FB:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Funny Fuckwit

I'm still nursing very funny eyes due largely I think to the rigours of air conditioning then coming home to 32/100 degrees at 7pm but they are improving thanks to tea bags and Visine. And for those of you who referred to the 'poo' floaters . . you went there . .please notice I refrained!

Yep we're in for a hot weekend out West. The best I can do is soak a sarong in iced water and drip around the house trying to catch a breeze. I just did that, walked 30 metres to the back fence to feed two very hot and sticky horses and within 15 minutes I was dry as a bone! My computer fan sounds like a V8 under stress so I'd better get on with this as quick as a rat up a drain pipe.

Tonight's FF isn't really a fuckwit. He's a former 'shock jock' who has been employed by the Lamb Marketing Board and each year we look forward to Sam's outrageous encouragement to eat lamb . .especially Australian lamb . . this year he's touched a few taboos, thrown political correctness not just out the window but well over into the next state . .Take it all with a pinch of salt . . .and eat . .well . . lamb!

Whatever you think, this is very typical of Australian humour . . Right . . .I'm outta here, way behind on Theme Thursday catch ups and so must depart . . . in the shake of a lamb's tail! Translation available if you need it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Well a 'floater' if you live out here is a pie smothered in mushy peas. A South Australian or Harry's Cafe de Wheels special but frankly . . . I've been working such long hours lately that I have 'floaters' or the beautifully named 'mucus' in my eyes. Both of them! I spend the best part of my day in front of a PC, then come home and play on a PC and today, the floatage is unbearable. What do do?

Harry's Cafe de Wheel's Pie Floater

Have you had them? Pay attention! Floaters, not pies! I've heard of them but never really experienced the little jellyness that hits your peepers at about 3:30 in the afternoon. I drive home picking and poking and delving into my eyes at stop lights. Once home, I'm feeling better but then back on the PC and I'm wiping little jelly goobers and smearing my mascara.

What on earth causes the buggars?

Apparently the causes are:
  • Too much time on the computer (DUH)
  • Fluorescent light (work in it!)
  • Smoking (I know . .shuddup . .but I'm actually smoking LESS because I'm not drinking)
  • Lack of sleep (more DUH)

Jesus I should be a fucking doctor! I could have told you that! Tonight, my eyes are positively sore and unfocussed and I'm only 20% through catching up on posts.

What really pisses me off is the fact that I use spreadsheets created by others that have such tiny type and when you enlarge them, they just don't make sense because navigating the things is tantamount to Magellan rounding Cape Horn so I've spent the entire day 'squinting' at my computer screen at about 5pt type and entering tender stats . . Oh Hai!I work for the Government, perhaps some OH&S leave is called for.

So . .apologies to those I don't visit but I feel like I'm looking through bottle bottom glasses with sticky eyelashes, which peturbs me even more given that I was gifted some lovely Chanel mascara for Christms which ends up wiped across my cheeks by the time I arrive home. A couple of days R & R and I'll be back on board. Then again, maybe I'll just hit the Visine and cross my fingers or my eyes.

No . . can't see them . .they're sneaky like that

Monday, January 18, 2010

Memelicious Monday

This one's based on 'Obsession' which I've seen pop up on a few blogs. Apart from my cleaning obsession, my problem with the t'backy and alcomahol and my obsession with job security or lack thereof. Oh and there's French perfume and soft toilet paper and plumped cushions and nice linen and cream in coffee (jeez I have a few) . . so here's just sample:

  • The Harbour . . I can go there in any weather, any day and just love it. I really do like my city and mucking about on boats.
  • Seafood . . .Yum. .Can't wait to spend the Christmas voucher that Clare bought me for Doyles! Very clever . . a voucher for lunch for two I wonder who she thinks I might ask to accompany me?
  • Clare . . .of course, my best friend, my oldest child, my intrepid traveller and young businesswoman, my soulmate and my conscience. The voice of reason when I'm in a flap. She is an old soul with a young heart.
  • My iMac . .OK it's a little old, it's even a hand me down from Clare's Uni days but it's reliable, virus free and all my friends live inside it. Without it I couldn't feed my other obsessions . . blogging and Skyping and Facebooking . . .such a nerd
  • Horses . . not necessarily mine. I just love them. I love their look, their smell, their sound . . .everything about them. Lasalle Royal Flash (Laurie to the uninitiated) is just a special, chatty, friendly grump. He's such a grandpa.
  • Travel . . OK I'm not crazy about the flying bit but it's a means to an end . . .I live, wait, long, to travel again. I was very brave and took that whilst taking off instead of grabbing under the seat to make sure there really was a life jacket there.
  • Lily . . my third child the rolly polly labrador with an obsessive nature. She's like me needy and in need of a cuddle all the time. I've created a monster.
  • My darling boy. Adam . . .he's naughty, rude, smelly, untidy but man he gives good hugs, cooks up a storm, a fantastic help with the 'heavy' stuff. He's strong and manly and talented and clever and soft centred and is without doubt the best boyfriend to his sweet Amy and wonderful son. Just don't tell him or he'll never change his sheets.
  • Oh and of course . . .my trusty camera my constant companion and still a mystery to me in many ways.

Don't forget . . no matter how small your donation . . .ShelterBox.

1,700 ShelterBoxes have already been dispatched and a further 1,600 will leave from the UK this week directly for Port au Prince, Haiti. This is a total of 3,300 boxes with more to follow. That's accommodation and essential tools for 33,000 people within 8 days of the quake. And your donation, no matter how small, has helped.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bloggers for Haiti - Pass it On

English Mum has been busy organising some proactive support for the victims of the Haitian earthquake. Media focus has been on the wounded and the death toll but there are over 300,000 disposessed people whose homes are no more. Naturally, there are hundreds of charities vying for your dollar/pound but I'm backing this one established by Bloggers for Haiti, why? Because they're providing immediate relief on the ground and donations can be accepted from several countries.

ShelterBoxes are not cheap. Each box costs an average of £490, (US$797.25, 554 Euro or AU$853) including all materials, packing, storage and distribution to individual recipients worldwide. Based on six months use only this equates to 27 pence per person per day. Already 1500 have been sent to Haiti, that's accommodation and supplies for 15,000 people! Right now when they need it most. The beauty of this magic box is in it's contents:

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten-person tent. It is custom made for ShelterBox by Vango, one of the world’s leading tent manufacturers, and is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, high winds and heavy rainfall. Internally, each tent has privacy partitions that allow recipients to divide the space as they see fit.

A smile
Every box contains a children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens. For children who have lost most, if not all,their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.

Warmth and protection
In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life saving means of water purification. Water supplies often become contaminated after a major disaster, as infrastructure and sanitation systems are destroyed, this presents a secondary but no less dangerous threat to survivors than the initial disaster itself.

Self sufficiency
A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. These items enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine, for example. Then, when it is possible, to start repairing or rebuilding the home they were forced to leave.

Fit for purpose
Every item is durable, practical and brand new. The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past - from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.

A heart to the home
A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove - that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.

Contents are adapted to a specific disaster. For example, following the Javanese earthquake in 2006, when some resources were available locally or could be salvaged from one storey buildings, the overwhelming need was for shelter – so we just sent tents, packing two in each box.

If you are in the UK, donate through JustGiving. It's simple, fast and totally secure. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - raise more while giving.

If you are outside the UK and want to avoid exchange rate fees, you can donate by clicking the appropriate tab here.

If you can't donate, please promote this
or put the widget on your sidebar for a few weeks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fuckwit and I couldn't spell 'mweeeeeee" so I said it

Friday already? Holy Moley . . where did the week go? We've had heat, rain, a cool change and now a comfortable but muggy evening with the gentle chirrup of crickets, the intermittent buzz of cicadas and the constant whine of mosquitoes and so . . tonight's Friday Fuckwit is dedicated to that most useless of insects, the one invented solely for population control with virtually no virtue and one that has been keeping me awake at night . . regularly . . .often and interrupting my otherwise erotic dreams.

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful weekend. Spare a thought for those souls lost and struggling in Haiti and give if you can. Dreadful times for a people poor enough without such tragedy. Count your blessings. I know I am.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surface . .

Sustainable Hobbit House . .Wales

Theme Thursday has struck again, this week "Surface". After a week of 40 plus temperatures in South Australia, Victoria and inland NSW and just 3 days of oppressive heat in Sydney, I'm wondering why this time held idea hasn't been propagated world wide

After heat waves before and after Christmas, just ask any Australian whether they think living on the surface is fun. It's hot, it's expensive to run air conditioning and swimming pools, there's no relief other than heading for the shopping centres or movie theatres and even blackouts are blamed on overtaxing the energy grid.

In the north, they're besieged by snow and blizzards, sub-zero temperatures and a similar story with the overconsumption of energy to retain warmth. So, why is such a simple prospect as living below the surface not more common?

If you've ever been caving or even just touring a cave, you'll appreciate the constant temperature, the stillness, the fantastic acoustic value, the fresh springs and the sheer beauty of this world beneath the surface.

Temple of Bahl . .Jenolan Caves NSW

Half way between Adelaide and Alice Springs, is Coober Pedy. It is an opal mining town in the middle of nowhere and produces more opal than any other place in the world.

Coober Pedy's population hovers around 4000 - give or take a few thousand, depending on the time and size of the last notable opal find.

But you wouldn't guess it when you first look at the place, because most of the people in Coober Pedy live underground.

The name Coober Pedy developed from the Aboriginal "kupa piti", meaning "white man in a hole".

If living underground sounds horrible, as in dark, damp and cramped, think again entirely livable, environmentally practical and retain a constant temperature.

Much is built underground to avoid the oppressive heat from shops, hotels, motels and backpackers quarters to even a swimming pool and churches.

Maybe it's my recent career move into housing project management that has me focusing on sustainable living, energy efficiency and teaching us how to deal with a warming planet but there are many good reasons to build underground:

Underground dwellings can be built on steep surfaces and can maximise space in small areas by going below the ground. In addition the materials excavated in construction can be used in the building process. They can be built inexpensively. Ah therein lies the rub. Imagine a third world revolution building houses for humanity underground that are affordable, safe, energy efficient and comfortable. Perish the thought. Ask the Haitians what they think about living above ground!

Underground dwellings have less surface area so fewer building materials are used, and maintenance costs are lower. They are also wind, fire and earthquake resistant, providing a secure and safe environment in extreme weather.

Not too shabby?

Most importantly, they are energy efficient. The earth's subsurface temperature remains stable, so underground dwellings benefit from geothermal mass and heat exchange, staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This saves around 80% in energy costs. By incorporating solar design this energy bill can be reduced to zero, providing hot water and heat to the home all year round. An additional benefit of the surrounding earth is noise insulation. Underground homes are exceptionally quiet places to live.

Finally, underground houses can be created so easily to blend with the natural landscape, and have minimum impact on the local ecology. This is not only aesthetically pleasing but ensures that the maximum habitat is left alone for flora and fauna. Ironically, our own Parliament House, the Federal seat of Government is built largely underground.

What's good for the goose isn't necessarily what's good for . . .

I am constantly sick of Governments barking on about global warming and climate change when they need to actually address it in a practical way. It really is time to begin thinking outside the box. As I'm typing this I'm listening to some boxhead politician talk about 'environmental action' and 'time to do something' but not coming up with any other solution than 'Australians will judge me on initiatives . . ' Boloxy bastard. Our new economic, political and environmental climate needs change and innovative solutions if we are to exist for decades to come.

Frankly it's a win/win situation if only we can convince levy hungry councils ad the captains of industry to embrace environmental innovations, to pass development applications in suburban areas for alternative living and to encourage industries to branch into more environmentally sound construction methods, we might have a glimmer of hope.

However I feel that the concept, like the head on a good pint of Guinness, will take a long time to rise to the surface.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You know it's hot when . . .

You know it's hot when:

You're old horse literally volunteers for a wash . . .28 years young and absolutely loving the bath. Seriously, I was using the hose to clean out their water trough and up he came, let me spray him with water. I only had to tie him up to wash his face! The violet shampoo brings out the white. He looks a bit embarrassed about being seen in purple though don't you think? Of course the other one wasn't coming anywhere near the hose and it was too hot to bother chasing him. He can stay filthy.

Dragonflies adhere to your cool kitchen walls for respite . . . .Normally found hovering over the pool in the heat, my kitchen had about five of them yesterday, remaining perfectly still, just hanging, keeping cool. As soon as the sun went down, they were off on their merry way, except for one who got stuck my Japanese lamp and was released at 3am this morning due to flapping and buzzing.

The skinks have a field day with dead flies . . . I didn't crop this so that you can see the size of these little guys compared to the castors on our typing chair. I have three regulars inside the house. Yes INSIDE during the summer months. This one is number 2 and fighting for supremacy with fat bat number 1 who proved a little camera shy today. Number 3 doesn't get a look in and is still not prepared to have his photo taken. They eat the dead flies and Christmas beetles, spiders, mosquitoes and pretty much any bug that drops around the skirting boards and window tracks. I 'euthanased' a rather large spider the other night but left it on the carpet and no trace of its carcass in the morning. No wonder they're getting bigger and fatter! They're Eastern Skinks and drop their tails as an escape mechanism when cornered but these fellows rule the roost with absolute confidence. Only once has Lily got close enough to scare one into dropping a wiggly tail but it grew back by the following summer. I know which one it is because there's a slight 'join' where the new tail has grown. Hot tip . .don't vacuum their poo until it's completely dry! Hmm really must clean under that filing cabinet.

Blue Tongue lizards crave the shade . . .These are my absolute favourites. Normally in the sunshine but this one had been cornered by birds in my front border. We rescued a baby from Clare's bedroom just before Christmas. This is still a youngster, very shiny, clean with no battle scars and brave enough to come close to the house. Very docile. Easy to catch and quite happy to be handled as long as you support its belly. They do hiss and stick out their blue tongues but can I get one to do it when I have a camera in my hand? They're often mistaken for snakes, especially if you just sight their tail. They're pretty big. 18-24 inches long, and chunky dudes, slow moving and an easy target for predators which is why I don't own a cat. They're also an asset to the garden, they eat aphids, snails and slugs . . .

Bearded dragons don't freeze but scarper for the trees . . . Now this little treasure is a bearded dragon that I just happened to spy from my computer desk. He had his head raised among the leaf litter on the lawn and I went to investigate. Normally they freeze in the face of a predator until truly frightened then take off like a rocket. This guy let me take three photos and that was it . . up a tree in lightening speed . . .

There are probably hundreds of them but how would you know. Just look at that camouflage!

And finally . . clean bony boy, no more dreadlocks:

I should look so good at his age!
Now, to get that purple shampoo out of my fingernails before work tomorrow and vaccum up the skink poo. An hour later and the dragon is still in the tree yelling "You can't see me, I iz invizible"

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Fuckwit - 繁體中文版 有在我的鼻子的一雙筷子

Yes, it's back. Didn't think you'd get away with three weeks without a Fuckwit making an appearance now did you?

It's a well known fact that kids love to see what will fit up their nose. I once tried putting a corkscrew up the dog's nose but had the good sense to leave my own well enough alone. My nephew firmly lodged a pea that was only discovered three weeks later when his rancid breath began to raise suspicions and my other nephew managed to have his eardrum pierced by his big sister who decided poking a pencil in the offending orifice to see if it would emerge on the other side might be fun.

A toddler in China went a little further.

According to the boy's mother, the toddler, Li Jingchao, age 14 months, was playing with the chopsticks in the family kitchen and wedged one clear up his nasal passage and into his brain.

Turned away by the small local hospitals that we not prepared with technology or equipment to safely remove the chopstick, Li's parents had to drive 10 hours north to Beijing to receive treatment for their little guy.

Fortunately, despite the neurosurgeons' concern that removal of the chopstick could lead to internal hemorrhaging once removed, causing possible paralysis or even death, there was very little bleeding after doctors extracted the implement from Li's brain and an ensuing infection was his only serious side effect and is being successfully treated with antibiotics.

Apparently the doctors in Beijing were not surprised by Li's incident. They have extensive experience removing chopsticks from eyes, foreheads and necks. (Foreheads! That's some force required to stick a chopstick through yer noggin!)

At least you can't blame a toddler for not reading the instructions:

Makes my mother's advice to go and play on the motorway with a bread knife seem rather complex. She could have just given me a chopstick!

What unusual implement have you stuck where it doesn't belong? Keep it clean . . I might be fond of the 'magic' word but this is a family friendly site!

Well my leave is officially over and access to you and the internet will depend on the constraints of work and life generally. It's been a grand 2 weeks on all networking media and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Don't feel left out if I don't post or visit as frequently, I'll catch up eventually. Have a great weekend folks. Hot weather is forecast for us so I might finally have my second dip of the season . . .under cover of darkness of course, you never know when those Greenpeace fanatics might be lurking and attempt to rehabilitate me into the wide open ocean!

Hoisted on My Own Petard

It's no secret that there's 'friendly' rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis - we highly contest just about everything from Cricket and Rugby to sheep shagging and take off each other's accents (well why wouldn't you rag someone who eats fush and chups with vunuger), but I think this time, I've cooked my goose, opened my mouth before putting the brain into gear and slammed one of New Zealand's finest by berating her choice of Polka Dots for Theme Thursday . . but please, before you allow me to hoist myself on my own petard, cut me a little slack, show me a little tea and sympathy - the TT site did accredit the theme to our well travelled, French speaking Kiwi.

In the true spirit of engendering good diplomacy and enhancing trans-Tasman relations and and because I don't want her coming over here and doing the Haka in my face and because one day I might need a couch whilst touring the land of the Long White Cloud . . apologies to Siobhan . . apparently, we were misinformed, she didn't suggest the theme!

Anyway, it all turned out for the best. Good effort by everyone I thought and the banter between Siobhan and I this morning has been interesting to say the least. So, allies I hope we remain in the true spirit of ANZAC.

Haere rā, Siobhan and hei konā. .

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Polka Dots - Or How to Waste a Morning Searching for A Theme

Siobhan . . did you know I was almost Christened with that name but my mother thought it too hard to spell? I could reach across the Tasman and stick a few Polka Dots where the sun don't shine right now!! How hard is this one? Theme Thursday, suggested by our NZ sweetie, once again and my New Zealand, used to be friend, came up with "Polka Dots" What was she smoking?

Ok I could bore you with old cartoons:

Or quirky dot-obsessed Americans:

Or God forbid that Itsy Bitsy song which I'm sure someone will post.

Not quite what you were hopin' for boys. Hey its a bitch in a bikini!

But no, this was a challenge. I didn't want to go cutesy with fashion or fabulous cakes. I didn't want to post animals with Dots or believe me, I did research ladybirds, Polka Dot Box Fish and spotty horses . . .

I sought spiritual Guidance:

I clicked through pages of Google Images:

Then . . after lunch at the Norman Lindsay Galleries, I found him. Mr Polka Dot head himself . . The Magic Pudding . . quite a character from this Bohemian Aussie writer/artist.

Now there's food for another blog post.

Ta daaaaa! What? . . . Shuddup . . . Those are polka dots on his head aren't they!

Sorry . . that's all I've got.

As for you Ms Siobhan in the land of the Long White Cloud . . Kia ora kōrua. E noho ra . . .Tongi . . now to reek my revenge and come up with a tough one!

Have to admit that I'm thrilled I have the time to cruise through the contributors this week cos this is a doozey!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I'll Have Matrimony - but Hold the Trimmings

There once were 10 couples who did almost everything together. Some divorced and remarried, most had children and some couldn't. We spent weekends together, we holidayed together, we raised our children together. Now we're spread across two states and two of us have lost our husbands another has happily remarried. One couple rarely keep in touch. But, for about 10-12 years of our lives our children were born within a short time of each other, they grew up together and we were in every way 'tight'. So, the first to get married is my best friend's son.

Yep, received a wedding invitation for March. They've been together for four years, living together for about 8 months and time has come to tie the knot. I love this boy and I like his choice of bride but was surprised a little that he's gone down the conventional wedding path.

This got me thinking about weddings (not marriage) and there relevance to Gen Y. Whilst I'm over the moon and delighted to be part of his celebration, I can't help thinking that perhaps they do something more constructive with the money. So much to consider with weddings, especially when your folks are paying the bill:

First, there's the guest list. Big family vs small family, work friends vs old friends, demands of in-laws and parents, who makes the list? Do you include children, girlfriends and boyfriends? Adam was invited, but his girlfriend of 3 years (who both the bride and groom know very well) was not. I know they're mindful of numbers but . . .seems a little odd.

Then who pays for who? I have this rather old fashioned thing that if you move out and live together, you pay for your own wedding. OK, I'll buy the booze or help with the caterers but hey? You're grown up enough to work, vote, fight . . why do you need your folks to pay for your party?

I also think that you should do it your way. Just because Aunt Mable sends you a crocheted tea towel for Christmas doesn't warrant an invitation or her condemnation because you want to get married on a beach or not wear shoes. If you're paying for the gig, invite who you like. If you're not . . well I guess you have to suck it and see. Dress how you like and be as conventional or as bohemian as you like. Again the proviso being that if your event is being paid for by someone else, you are subject to their whims. With sponsorship, come conditions and demands.

Where to have the ceremony? OK you're not religious but you want a church wedding because that little Chapel in the Rocks looks oh so beautiful for your photos and Elton John married a girl there even though he's a screaming queen (this is not the venue chosen for this particular wedding by the way, they're not doing the Church thing) If you don't believe in God, why marry in a Church? I actually understand Cleric's points of view on this. I married a Catholic and so there were certain 'conditions' but I loved him and it was important to him so I conceded. But a Church wedding would not have been my choice. My sister was married in our garden, it was lovely, heartfelt and truthful.

Gift registries. Now I know that receiving a smashed alabaster telephone wasn't the highlight of my wedding. Nor were the three toasters and golf trophy towel sets with bath towels so small they'd barely dry a Bichon Frise, so I guess a gift registry has merit but keep it realistic. A plate of Chicken Cordon Bleu and soggy vegetables and half a bottle of spumante does not equate to a full set of Royal Doulton China so leave some alternatives for the cheapskates. Personally I think a Bamix is very handy. I hasten to add that this is not 'wedding specific' this particular wedding will be very well stocked in the wine department thanks to the fine taste of the Groom's father.

The gear. Now my wedding dress and bridesmaids outfits cost less than the shoes. Thanks to Thommo who made the lot. All I did was a few hems. Baby sis spent about $3000 on her dress, worn once. Of course for the men it's not about the get-up, they do as they're told and hire the appropriate suits. The biggest expense a new pair of shoes, tie or buttonhole. Sometimes men make sense. Take it easy . . not often . . .sometimes!

The Reception. I had mine at home on a property that we'd only moved into six months prior. We prettied up where the garage would eventually be with a marquee and had very simple catering. My enduring memory was me with 'The Dress' tucked in my knickers whilst doing the time warp and Uncle Jack whining because we were partying too late.

Two of my siblings also had weddings at home in varying degrees of salubrity but they were all pretty cool and moderately inexpensive. So I don't get the expensive 'reception' thing with beautiful tables and an 11pm curfew. The last wedding I went to, must have cost close to $10,000 that's two first-class round the world tickets AND accommodation in my book. And I pinched the table centre because it was so pretty and couldn't bear to see it go into the bin.

Photographs - these days the ceremony takes place around 4 or 5. The Reception venue is rarely available until 6 or 7 so all the guests go and get pissed at the club while the happy couple have an hour of photos . . hang on . . that's an awesome idea . .cuts down on the open bar. Clearly invented by the groom's family. Then you have a wonderful CD with mushy music and a lovely black and white mood print hanging over your bedhead to remind you through the years how slim and young you looked as your whole body goes south and your sexual positions change to incorporate the missionary position because lying on your back makes you look younger (God did I say that?). I spent far too much on my wedding photos which are unceremoniously stuck in the top of my wardrobe and never regarded.

All in all, I think weddings are a scam. This particular groom booked a '50th birthday' and received a discounted reception. Had he booked a wedding reception, they'd have hoicked up the price. Savvy kid our 'Frank.'*

Right, your turn . . . did you pay for your wedding? Did you have one? Was it formal? Casual? Would you do/ have done it differently if you had control? I'd love to hear your stories. Spill . . .go on . . .

* Not his real name.

Some of you will have seen this before but it still makes me smile:

Bless you Frank and Binnie. We're really looking forward to being part of your special day and drinking your dad's booze! Oh and we accept the invitation . . the Bainos are bombarding!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Saturday Shitheads but Fuckwits on Friday

Oooh exciting. You can tell I've had a very cruisy week. I've been trying to do some audio for a while but having difficulty finding the free software. Thanks to Poetikat for the tip on Podomatic but I still needed a recording application because it wouldn't record my voice for some reason. So yeh, this is how I spent my Saturday instead of cleaning out the cupboards that I said I would, or spring cleaning Clare's bedroom while she's swanning in luxury at Byron Bay . . hey it's been raining! I'm on leave! Cut me some slack here. Seriously though, some of you have 'wondered' what I sound like whether I have a strong Aussie Accent. No, I'm not a female version of Steve Irwin despite the odd Crikey slipping into the lingo! Some of you know what I sound like because you Skype, I was a bit nervous and spoke a bit fast but . . .here goes, oops gotta go. big storm coming . .How do I know? A 35 kg Labrador becomes the size of a miniature poodle and wedges between the couch and the computer desk:

Friday, January 01, 2010

All Over Bar the Hangover

I was prepared to hunker in for a night of telly and a bottle of Christmas Moet Chandon this New Year but Thommo came to the rescue and a bunch of us headed out.

First stop, the
Cremorne Orpheum. A lovely art deco theatre where we bought tickets for "Bright Star" the story of John Keats love affair with Fanny Brawne (or should I say a sniffathon and coughing spree because there was no real 'contact' in the story). Beautifully filmed, stunningly acted and pathetically slow and laborious despite it's gazillion star rating. My com padres bar one were left snivelling in their popcorn. I managed to be woken from my mid film doze by my phone going off, right in the middle of a tense scene. Very embarrassing to have it singing "Hellooooo Answer the phone . . answer the phone . . ." Still it woke me up.

Snack Bar at the Orpheum. I wasn't allowed to take pictures without 'written permission'

We indulged in arguably one of the best Thai meals I've had in a very long time. Lots of Goong and Larb, a nice chardy and a lovely sparkling red before walking 2 kms downhill (always a bad thing because you know you have to walk back up again!) towards Cremorne Point for the early fireworks. Sydney has two sessions. A lesser display at nine then the big bang at midnight. Being old farts, we weren't prepared to hang around for the late night show.

"Special Event" parking restrictions were in place and in this case, strictly enforced. These guys are towing cars parked in a no parking zone!"

Still, the crowd control was friendly enough. This is 'family time' so the yahoos were only on their 19th beer and hanging off balconies despite the 'alcohol free' zone signs planted everywhere. They'd emerge later I guess when the mums and dads wonder home with their sleepykins.

I love the harbour in that twilight twinkliness. This wasn't the best vantage point unfortunately, the bridge blocked by Kirribilli Point where Kev o sev is probably hunkered down waiting for the spectacle to begin. Then I'm nos sure he's in the country. Our Prime Minister is frequently in absentia . . .

See, isn't it pretty as dusk fades. All the little boats bobbing on the water and the buildings beginning to twinkle.

After a short wait at 9pm on the nose, the fireworks began. I was very pleased with the performance of my 50mm lens because I've had great difficulty getting night shots and for a hand held job, these turned out pretty cool.

Such a shame about that bloody tree . . .

Still a good night was enjoyed. The walk back up the hill not too strenuous and a quiet but pleasant evening with friends was indeed a nice respite from spending New Year's Eve alone.

For those who have the stamina to find a good spot early, or take a harbour cruise or even own a boat, the midnight fireworks are indeed worth seeing. I watched them on telly and downed a few bevvies . . now this is why they close the bridge:

When I arrived home, I was puzzled as to why Lily's head and body were quite wet. It seems that people around us had also been letting off fireworks and the poor thing had spent most of the night under a slightly dripping shower in the shower cubicle!

So to all . . once again I hope you have a wonderful New Year's Eve no matter how you choose to spend it and here's to a new year, a new decade where we can learn from the mistakes of the past and open a new page for the future. Warm wishes and all the very best to you all.