Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bus Brat

Yep, it's official. I'm a bus snob.

Until recently, the only bus I ever caught was the Castle Hill to City bus because it's cheaper than parking. They're on time, clean and the clientele are usually either suits heading to work, Uni students, the odd tradie or on the weekend, families and shoppers going into the big smoke. But lately . . .

I'm working in a town called Parramatta which outside peak hour traffic is about 20 minutes clear drive. I get a lift in with my SIL at 7am but often, I don't need to wait until she finishes at 5:30 and leave work at about 4pm on the dreaded Parramatta to Rouse Hill bus.

Now this isn't the nice clean soapy smelling bus that frequents the city. It's a little 'nipper' of a bus trawling along the Windsor road, packed with school kids, shift workers, mums with strollers and lost souls who are trying to connect with the Hills District for a variety of reasons. By the time I reach my stop, it's all but empty apart from a few well-behaved schoolies who use it as a connection to get home - but there's something about the Parramatta to Baulkham Hills leg that attracts the crazys - it is bloody woeful.

There's always the screaming baby of a mother who looks like she's only just out of nappies herself and I just want to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to breastfeed the starving tyke NOW! Then there's the scruffy school kid with overly long streaked hair brushed across his eyebrows swearing like a trooper on his mobile phone and refusing to get up for the old lady with the X-Rays neatly tucked in her yellow envelope (and he's only about 12). There's the odd tradie in the hi viz sweater and man he's been sweating on the job all day - 24 hour deodorant man! Please! There's the garlic ridden Vietnamese or Chinese bus driver who drives like he's still negotiating his way around Ho Chi Min city so anyone who's standing is ricocheted to the front of the bus . . and he doesn't understand the words "Green Road please". I get charged something different every time I embark. Then there's the overly loud, grammatically grating, mobile phone girl up the back describing how much commission she made on her last Tupperware party and the man she . . .well trust me she didn't do things that a 'nice' girl would do . .

I hate it. I'm in there, pay my $4.20, $3.80 or $5.20 fare depending on the driver's mood and today, I was sat next to a rather plump, pale and freckly girl who had such bad eczema that her hands were bleeding. Ok she can't help that but . . she was biting her fingernails to the quick, picking her nose and I swear, fluffed a good half dozen times between Lennox Bridge and the Dick Smith Electronics Warehouse before another seat became available and I could move. You just don't fart on a bus babe!

I'm not even sure why I bother . . .it's a 'green' alternative, it's only marginally cheaper than actually finding a parking space . .but it's awful.

I can't put my finger on why the 601 from Parra is so disgusting. The city bus is a pleasure to ride, other buses from Parramatta at different times are also quite welcoming but this one . . it's filthy and small and smelly and an assault on the senses. Makes it almost worth hanging around with the junkies and homeless in Prince Alfred Park waiting for Steph to pick me up . .at least they're polite even if they are bumming cigarettes and asking for small change and trust me, they don't smell as bad!

I sound like a brat don't I?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Soapy Challenge and Hair of the Dog

Ah so you all know where this is even if the surf was a bit flat . .

Really? You dont'?

'course you do? . . .

Perhaps now?

Maybe now?

Surely you do?

Really? You don't?
OK Well it's not really Summer Bay . .
It's Palm Beach the last 'city' beach on the northern end of Barrenjoey Peninsular . . and the location for "Neighbours" rival . . "Home and Away". Even the surf life-saving club has the Home and Away banner blearing for filming. It's really Palm Beach SLSC

Home of Hairy the 10 month old Briard

And even more Hairy

Yep . . and more Hairy . .
And of course Harry my friend's standard Poodle. .who's not so hairy . .

. . And Harry and Hairy

And possibly one of the most gorgeous winter evenings
I've enjoyed in a long, long time!

Pittwater . . the harbour side of Palm Beach . . about 5pm last Sunday . . . just beautiful.
I'm still walking off the fish 'n chips. Lemon Meringue Pie, Chocolate pudding and Vanilla cake. And I haven't got a sweet tooth! Who am I kidding. Please click and enjoy them . .

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today it was bugger the housework. Grey, threatening to rain but didn't. So Clare, her friend Bec and I took off to the chilly blue mountains up the picturesque Bells Line of Road (weird name for a road I know) and did lunch, shopped a little, marvelled at the hippyness and the old schoolness of the place, ate far too much cake and generally had a lovely girly day.

On the map, it looks as if Sydney is surrounded by huge mountains, in fact they are quite distant and part of the Great Dividing Range that separates most of the eastern coast from the inland. It's amazing to think that pioneers actually forged their way through this forest of gum trees to reach rich grazing land in the west but they did.

For us, it's a boring 1 hour trip on the freeway or a lovely hour and a half
trip along the scenic route. If you ever visit Sydney, well worth the trip to this rather trippy mix of hippy and old school. Once a summer retreat for delicate Victorians (of the era not the state) it's now an odd blend of uber alternative and establishment. Lovely restaurants, weird architecture, a taste of yesteryear and delightfully expensive boutique deli's, clothing shops, Christmas shops, and warm pubs with big open fires. And frankly, amazing views although my last few visits have been in either doomsday cloud or evening. . .Come along and see . . .

Mount Victoria and typical style of housing in the area . .blue is a little unusual . .they have a penchant for 'peach'

Scruffy but quaint Imperial hotel but a fire in every room. . way cosy

Old Baby Grand in the lounge . .this hotel is very Fawlty Towers . . .

Their formal dining room . . quaint and old and musty . . .

Angel Hair Falls at Govett's leap is pretty gorgeous after recent rain

View? What view?

That view . . Govett's leap lookout over the Gross Valley

Leura Lollie Shop . . everything from a Hershey Kiss to a Fry's Mint Chocolate . .

The girls even found "Hello Panda" sweets from Japan . .ah a the memories!

Fun chocs but Kath, at $9 a bar for 100gms, no, I didn't buy . . .

Tea and Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and I don't actually have a sweet tooth . .

Too true, too many boutiques, kitchen shops, stationery, candles . . .

Leura main street . . we decided that although the shops are lovely it's the old fashioned small shop front that's appealing . .so distant from the big malls of today . . .

Country Women's Association sale . .They're everywhere, bless their souls . . .

Typical knick knacky shop window!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fuckwit

Tonight it's one side of our coat of arms, the famous boxing marsupial that gets the coveted monika of Friday Fuckwit . . .

Happy hops damage poppy crops . . .

Wallabies breaking into poppy farms in search of food are getting more than they bargain for.

The mystery of crop circles which have appeared from time to time in and around Tasmania's legal opium poppy fields may have been solved. It seems it is not aliens, but junkie wallabies hopping around in dazed circles!

Poppies are grown in Tasmania for morphine, manufactured by pharmaceutical companies all over the world but it appears humans are not the only ones who have discovered that the poppies contain narcotics.

Recently retired farmer Lyndley Chopping spent more than 30 years growing poppies and he has seen wallabies acting strangely in his fields. "They would just come and eat some poppies and they would go away. They'd come back again and they would do their circle work in the paddock," he said. "They seem to know when they've had enough (unlike the average addict). They'll still be around and they would leave them alone.

But the state's largest poppy producer, Tasmanian Alkaloids, has noticed a pattern in the wallabies' behaviour. Rick Rockliff, the company's field operations manager stated, "Often other forms of food are in short supply in late January/February and poppy capsules, half their weight is actually seed which is very nutritious. It's a seed you see on bread rolls and in bread mixtures and things like that."

"But in the process of eating open the capsule it's quite possible they do ingest a little bit of the capsule material that does contain the alkaloids and this can have some short-term effect. "They are, after all, a narcotic and ingested in big amounts, can have an effect."

there are doubts however that the stoned kangas are becoming addicted. They appear to be free of the predictable digestive problems that would accompany such an addiction. They seem to like their drugs in moderation.

At least it might stop the bouncy bastards from drinking our beer! And . . .what about introducing mobs of kangaroos into Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle . . .problem solved!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Damp Knickers and Men of Harlech

Theme Thursday and I'm not going to bang on about how our summer is better than yours, or lecture you northerners on the fine art of slip, slop slappin' . . . . .no, little reminiscence so gather round, "Are you feeling comfortable? . . .Then I'll begin . . "

Once upon time, before we emigrated to Australia, it was my mum and dad's thing, to sojourn into Wales each summer for the Annual Holiday. I was only 11 when we moved here and remember at least three annual holidays of this kind. My mother being Welsh, it usually comprised a couple of weeks on the Mid to South Wales coast and visits to ageing aunts and uncles who smothered us in wet kisses and let us pick raspberries in their gardens, play on their harps (yep Aunty Ruby had a huge harp in her parlour) and loaded us with Blackberry and Apple Pies and 'sweeties'.

One year, we rented a little old Welsh Cottage. Clearly there was not Internet to check the accommodation out but we were assured that this sizeable slate cottage was in picturesque Mumbles with ocean views and had plenty of sleeping room for our family of three kids, two parents, Babysis in-utero, one large Labrador and for some obscure reason, my father's parents . My 'always seemed old' yet gorgeous and bossomy, ever-so-clever knitter and cuddler Grandma and blind Grandad who did amazing magic tricks and told tales of times hard and wars fought but shared his egg sandwiches with me on a whim.

I don't remember much about the little house other than I think three of us slept in a large bed, it was damp but being kids we didn't care and it rained a lot. My grandma complained, being in the habit of draping her knickers over the end of the bed, that they were damp in the morning (no credit given to Grandad of course) and for some reason the stove wouldn't cook hot enough to brown chips. Weird what you remember.

Anyway, being the typical British Holidaymakers, hell bent on a good day at the beach and acquiring that oh-so-obvious strap tan . .we wondered down to Mumbles beach. Deck chairs were erected, the gaz stove lit (Can you imagine? Actually making tea at the beach!), the wind breaks fastened and small children cajoled the reluctant old man, who really was very brave in hindsight, to splosh among the breakers in the freezing Atlantic . . or was it the Irish Sea . . either way it was cold!

Grandad was escorted to his chair, dutifully sat and offered a cuppa. The 'ladies' remained on the beach gasbagging no doubt whilst we exhausted our poor dad in the water, made wonderful sand boats and castles and prevented him from actually benefitting from the boiling kettle on the Gaz stove.

Hours must have passed and as the sun faded and even our non responsive nerve endings began to make us shiver . . or was it the ocean washing over our beautifully carved four seater sand speedboat? I don't remember. Either way, the time had come to down buckets and spades and head back for some warmth and succour. Then we saw him . . .

Unused to sunshine . . poor Grandad had been sat in the same spot for over 3 hours and had acquired a delightful duo complexion, red as a beetroot on one side and white as a lily on the other. Clearly the heat wasn't enough to alert him to the fact that he was being burned. Not being able to see, he hadn't followed the path of the sun. God everyone felt awful but he just sat there with an inane smile on his face, he'd had a wonderful day sitting in the sun, sipping tea and listening to the ocean and children giggling and seabirds squawking.

We pulled him out of his deckchair when he finally protested "How much sand is here?" . . my dad replied "plenty why?" Grandad asked: "is it pretty flat?" . . .again my Dad assured him there was plenty of beach . . "Well you could run for a mile without tripping over anything. Why? " . .My Grandad then asked to be pointed in a safe direction and . . .he was off . . he ran . . . he ran as fast as a man of 70 could run . . he did those funny Charlie Chaplin heel kicking things . . he waved his arms . . .his thick mop of white hair springing off his head like the spray from the see . . . this half painted man, red on one side, white on the other let go of the hands that had led him for so long and just ran along the beach. The dog barked, we squealed with delight, Grandma worried. My father ran with him . . .then ahead of him . .and caught this amazing free man in full flight on film.

You know I had to think a bit about this one. I'm very grateful to being forced to write for a theme because it makes me think about things I haven't thunked about for a long time. Watching the video (now transferred from film) of my Grandad enjoying such freedom with no fear of falling, no need of an arm to rest upon was indeed wonderful, even if we had left him out to burn until he looked like 'two-face' is priceless.

Not the best summer I've ever had but when combined with home made buttery 'watch-while-they-made-it, ice cream in Harlech (complete with a family rendition of the famous hymn . . just because!), a nice red-and-white striped, straw boater hat and a lump of Swansea rock . . it wasn't a bad summer at all!

Happy 21st Paduan!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You'll Always Find Me In the Kitchen at Parties!

Managed to squeeze a quickie in for the Madhouse:

I get a little lonely at work actually.

I’ve now had three full and long days, despite being quite close to home, the volume of traffic makes it a long trip in and out. I get a lift with my SIL next door but she leaves early and my start times are flexible so I’m left standing outside a locked door waiting for someone to let me in at about 7:45 each morning.

It’s a huge office. Single floor but there must be a couple of hundred people here. All sitting in our little corners of well-resourced greyness with the exception of half a dozen ‘executive’ staff who appear to have small but very much ‘open-door’ offices. It’s newly furbished, bright and well equipped. We have very generous sized corners of greyness. New desks, new chairs, new HP Computers and nice flat screens but still corners of greyness. I miss my wonder wall.

This is the problem with being a contractor, you never quite ‘take possession’ of your workspace. It’s always a hurriedly cleared desk with the remnants of the previous occupier dangling over the edges. In this case, rolls of development plans and fat files . . I’ve been plonked in the sales and acquisitions department, sandwiched between three men wheeling and dealing on land acquisition, applying to council for Development Applications, devising alternative names for new suburbs and lamenting their private sector cousins with whom they’re in business but whom apparently ‘don’t know what they’re getting into’.

This tangled with all three men’s obsession with their health (something happens to the over 50 mail it’s all cholesterol and prostates and runny eyes and ulcers) . . so there’s little for me to ‘grasp’ onto even for a coffee time chat. People are pleasant but only a few I’d call friendly.

They lunch alone. Two massive fridges in two massive lunch rooms filled with masses of lunches, neatly packed and labelled, just in case someone wants to steal their soy tofu snacks.

They don’t chat much among themselves except in little cliquey pockets. Nobody except the black English girl in Marketing wears colour. Seriously, she’s in a nice green boucle Chanel rip-off suit and I’m in red. Everyone else is grey, beige or combinations of blue, black and white.

How odd to be so invisible or perhaps it’s my ego playing tricks on me.

Despite the strangeness of not-quite-belonging the job is interesting, the coffee tolerable, a street full of cafes to have lunch in (if I had someone to have lunch with) and a great discount fruiterer and butcher downstairs. There’s the murky Parramatta River to sit by at lunchtime if you can avoid having someone trying to bum money or cigarettes after you or your lunch being abducted by seagulls . . .

Actually the only place I’ve spoken more than business lingo or two words to, was Walt, very sweet Walt, who hijacked me in the kitchen . . . clearly I don’t spend enough time around the water bottle! Yep, that's the place to make friends . . for the rest of the week, I'm going to spend, much more time hanging around in the kitchen!

Sorry about the weird font, I've switched to a Mac and it doesn't like "Georgia" (PEBCAK)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story

Well my all day photographic workshop which was to have involved learning about the technical aspects of my Canon 400D SLR . . . and taking lots of lovely shots of our fair city, was nothing short of a washout!

Yep, sunny Sydney has been anything but. Deluged with pouring, gutter-gushing, bus splashing, skin soaking, shoe-sogging, glass-steaming relentless rain. We're just not used to it here! WAH! I got wet, I got damp, I got cold . . . It didn't just pour, it pissed down all day splishy sploshy splatty pookanooie rain! Lubly day for ducks and seagulls but totally sucky for would be photographers!

Despite the lack of photo opportunities because of relentless wet stuff and freezing 17 degrees (c'mon this is Australia that's cold!) . . we did learn plenty (whether I remember any of it remains to be seen) and whilst it might not look like it, each photo has been taken with different ISO, aperture, manual focus and other lar-de-dar manual settings . . .I think I'll just stick to point and shoot! If you're interested (and I can't imagine why . . ) you can click to see the bigger pics. I so must alter my margins in html so that's not necessary . . . WARNING: No photoshop has been used in these images cos that's just plain cheating!

I should have known the skies looked ominous . . .
Nice shot fiddling with light settings

So as the rain set in, we retired to the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe
for Latte and a lecture but didn't sit on their bum-wetting outdoor chairs

Knobs were twiddled and settings were set

Tourists stayed away but the bus remained on time

Popes were unperturbed by the weather

Centrepoint Tower disappeared in the cloud

Another setting shows exactly how pissy the weather really was

Really . . this is 'Irish' rain folks! More changes to aperture,
ISO and shutter speed

I swear I'm developing chill blains!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Fuckwit and A Dinner to Die For

Yeah the biatch is back! The glass is half full . . .so catch-up time for international stupidity. Three to choose from, now you leave your vote. (If I was clever I'd do one of those poll thingies)

Tattoos See Belgian Teenager Seeing Stars
A Belgian teenager has told police how she emerged from a tattoo parlour with 56 stars over one side of her face rather than the three she had asked for, prosecutors have said.

"I said this part, the top, is OK, but not the rest," Kimberley Vlaeminck, from the city of Kortrijk, north-west of Brussels, said. The 18-year-old said she fell asleep during the procedure and woke up in pain when her nose was being tattooed. Now parents . .are we falling for that one?

A spokesman for Kortrijk prosecutors' office said police were investigating after a complaint from the teenager. The tattoo artist said Ms Vlaeminck had agreed to 56 stars.

"She agreed, but when her father saw it the trouble started," Ah now we're getting to it. I'll bet! I'd have whooped her from her to next Friday! Ms Vlaeminck said she wanted to keep the tattoos on her forehead but would have the rest removed.

Am I the only person wondering how you can fall asleep while someone tattoos 56 stars on the side of your face?

Woman Loses $1,000,000 in Mattress

An Israeli woman has mistakenly thrown out a mattress she claims has more than $1 million hidden inside. The woman says she bought a new mattress on Monday and threw out the old one. The next day she remembered she had hidden her life savings inside the old mattress. Now I have the odd 'where are my shoes' moment but I'm pretty sure I'd remember a gazillion under the mattress!

She began a frantic search but rubbish collectors had already taken it. Searches at three separate dumps turned up nothing. Oh, now that's a surprise! Lucky Garbos.

The dump manager confirms she was desperate and his staff were helping her to rummage through the dump (I'll bet!), but said with 2,500 tonnes of rubbish arriving every day, the mattress would be impossible to find. Because dear readers . . I reckon it's been buldozed, exploded and the kish has floated like feathers on the ether. There's probably more than one very happy dump scrounger planning a helluva bar mitzvah!

Young Liberals Use Sex to Attract Subscriptions (aww c'mon they need something!)

Now out here, the 'liberals' are the conservatives - slightly right of centre. The 'labour' party the socialists ever so slightly left of centre - although the difference between them is almost indiscernible.

A Liberal Party student activist is under fire for using pictures of scantily-clad Young Liberal ‘babes’ on his blog in an effort to boost conservative support.

Former head of the Liberal Students’ Federation Tim Andrews posted the photos on his blog to support the ‘Babe Theory of Politics’. The pictures show dozens of young women who belong to uni Liberal Clubs across the country. Some are in bikinis, one is wearing suspenders and several are lying suggestively on a bed. Good taste prevents me from displaying them here!

The ‘Babe Theory of Politics’, according to Andrews, posits that if a political or social movement has ‘hot babes’, men will show up in droves. Well the kid has a point. Sex does sell but these chicks are not to my mind 'that hot'. “Here in Australia the fiscal vandalism of the Rudd Government is unparalleled in our history. Things seem bleak indeed,” he writes. “However – there is reason for hope! For optimism! Definite proof that here in Australia we shall triumph!

“How do I know this? Easy – the Babe Theory Of Politics. To put it simply – we have all the hot girls.” But NSW Liberal MP and former Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward is unimpressed by Andrews’s efforts.

"I'm disappointed that he's misjudged the importance of a political party like ours that for so long has defended the dignity of men and women," she said. "We do need to recruit young people...and I commend Tim for having a go, but I think that we have to remember that people join political parties because of the facts, not the figures." Tell 'er she's dreamin'

And last but not least . . .

Some Friday Fucking Fantastic news! I have a contract . .yay . .4-6 weeks work with a possibility of extension and interesting stuff at that.

To celebrate, my daughter, motivated by Master Chef (we're addicted) and not the best cook in the world, made this for dinner last night . .trust me, this is a big breakthrough and tasted awesome:

Smoked Salmon parcels filled with chili crab and bell pepper mayonnaise,
with citrus chilli vinegrette and baby leaf salad!
Thank you Master Chef! Thank you Clare, it tasted fantastic.

However the Billiecart Salmon Champers is being held until a permanent job comes alive!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Little Men with Big Sacks

Relax . .not my roof!

I live in a typically 70's style but slightly-larger-than-usual . .ranch style house which has an enormous roof and verandah. I'm surrounded by eucalyptus, affectionately dubbed 'gum' trees here due to the unusual amount of sap that drips and curls and plops and furls like syrupy residue.

One slight misconception about gum trees is that they're evergreen. Well yes they are but I like to think of them as perennially deciduous, their leaves drop at the slightest breeze, their bark falls with a change in temperature and their branches . . . hold fast during the most horrendous storms only to creak and crash downwards with an audible thud when you least expect it.

Back to the roof . . .it's a normal roof, 120 degree pitch with a flat pitch verandah cover which provides cool and shade in the summer . .it's a great place to sit and supp on hot summer nights, good to dry your washing when it's pissing down. But in order to have a roof such as this, there are three or four 'valley gutters' and of course the normal guttering that accumulate the lovely lemon and eucalyptus scented leaves that fall from the surrounding trees with aplomb and great regularity.

So . . I hires a man. A little man. He's quoted $125 to clear out the gutters, clear leaves from the roof, bag 'em, tag 'em and take 'em away.

Said lovely man arrives as predicted on a work morning at about 7am . . shower time for the lady of the house, and is greeted by well-endowed woman wrapped in little more than a yellow towel and the clothes God gave her.

"Fine . .you know what needs to be done . .I'll be off to work soon but will leave a cheque in the mailbox - there's the roof . . see the leaves? Work your magic!"

So 'little man' hits the roof and begins cleaning.

I'm in the bathroom, moisturising, mascararing, lip lining and glossing when I see this dark shadow reflected in the mirror and hear this almighty thump followed by a muffled

"Fuck . .shit . .". . . .

I'm like

"Oh my God, Little Man's only been here five minutes and fallen off the roof . . he's landed on his back . .he's immobile . .he's a paraplegic . ."

So, I belt out, fully made up . . hair done, teeth brushed but still donning said yellow towel and nothing other than what God gave me underneath and in a state of abject panic . . there's a dark lump on the floor, not moving, not breathing and all I can think about is "I hope he brushed his teeth . ."

There's no movement from the dark lump. It's lifeless, brown, just listless and lying on the driveway like a limp sausage . . . then . . .I hear a voice from above. Perhaps there is a God and one of his Angels is speaking . .

"Noice get-up luv, goin' to a weddin'"

Bastard was happily balancing on the roof and had been 'hanging' large hessian bags along the guttering as he deposited said leaves, when one bag, with a misdirected grip, fell with a thud, prior to being fully packed . . He'd expressed a few expletives and carried on with the job at hand . .

I can't tell you the adrenalin rush, feelings of panic and the prospect of my towel coming undone whilst administering CPR or worse . . relief dosen't cut it! (He wasn't a very attractive man!)

These days I let my brother or son do it . .they have public liability insurance!

There's more about the 'roof' right here . . .

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Madhouse again. . . and it's someday . . not some day . .but someday . . .there's a subtle difference:

Someday . . .
I'll sell my land to a money-hungry greedy developer for less than it's really worth and be filthy rich and racked with guilt, but today I'm just glad we've burned all the shrapnel that falls off these damn trees and the place actually looks half tidy and there are no rats in my roof despite torrential rain.

Someday . . .
I'll give my daughter away at her beach wedding in little more than bare feet and a sarong but today, I'm wearing a suit and red-rimmed corporate glasses so that I look professional at two interviews I'm scheduled to attend.

Someday . . .
I'll travel the world and do the 'big trip', climb the Eiffel tower and visit far-away places despite my fear of flying but today, I'm cranking up the jalopy, slipping up to the dry cleaners in the pouring rain and chopping vegetables for a chicken casserole

Someday . . .
I'll be a 'qualified' Pets As Therapy handler and take the Lilydog to chat with the infirm and less able and put a smile on their face but today . . I'm waiting for us to pass our good 'behaviour' test

Someday . . .
I'll pay off my son's HECS debt and buy him a snazzy ute with "Garden Assault" graphics but today, I'm filling up the old Honda tank so he can drive to his girlfriend's in some level of comfort instead of taxing the van from hell with 417,000 kms on the dial!

Someday . . .
I'll let my hair go grey (thank you Collette Amelia) and not be concerned that it makes me look my age but today . . I'm touching up the roots

Someday . . .
I'll be nursing a grandchild and being thankful that it's happy, healthy and as beautiful as it's parent but today . . I'm wincing at the thought, they smell funny and leak at both ends

Someday . . .
I'll actually buy a lock for my bathroom door, but for now, the face cloth on the top of the door is enough to firmly hold it in place when the door's closed and provides us showertime privacy

Someday . . .
I really will really learn to knit a pair of woolly socks for winter . .today, I dragged out the half completed scarf that's been sitting in my dresser drawer for . . 3 YEARS!

Someday . . .
I'll give up smoking . . I think it might be Monday but for now . . .I'm driving my kids insane being home all day and lighting up every time I have a caniption. The Glade company are making a fortune in concentrated air deodorisers.

Someday . . .
I'll master the bloody manual settings on my camera but today, I'm just looking forward to having a whole day's workshop next Saturday with a Sydney photographer who will hopefully set me straight. Andy Piggot, my craft rests with you!

Someday . . .
I will find out what they put in sausages . .but today . . I'd rather not know!

Someday . . .
I'll actually dig out that pasta maker that the kids bought me for Mother's day three years ago and make something super delicious (probably involving crab or lobster) . .but for now . . I'm slicing open a box of Barilla Fusilli, it's so much quicker and oh so pwitty.

Someday . . .
I will realise that life is not a rehearsal and begin to breathe in everything around me, but for now . . .I'll keep banging my head against the wall wondering how I can be an instrument of change.

Someday . . .
I'll scoop up that massive dead rat that's carked it outside the roller door on the feed shed . .but not until it's nicely dessicated

Someday . . .
I could go on and on but someday, I'll actually stop saying 'someday' and get the bloody hell on with it!

*shutup Clare*

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ciao Bella

Sad news today. No, unfair and tragic news today. A blogger that I often visit but rarely comment and have seen making comments on many others' and one with whom I identify closely now . . . lost her husband on Saturday. He passed away suddenly reminding us all just how fragile we are.

Even though I don't know her, I know many who are extremely close to her and the shock ripples have reached the antipodes with lightening speed. I'm always amazed how bad news travels so fast.

I know it happens every day. I know there are many worse off but my heart goes out to this woman who now finds herself in the same predicament I did so many years ago with two young children and without her life companion by her side. Very sad and right in the middle of their prepared move from a position in Japan to back home in the States.

She will be traveling with one less precious member of her family to start a new life back home. She doesn't comment here, we've never emailed, yet I feel and identify so closely with everything she's going through right now and am deeply sad for her loss. So bless you Bella and your sweet children. I hope things go smoothly with the move and be assured that whatever you're going through right now, has the potential to touch people you don't even know.

Funny isn't is . . .we never fully comprehend the impact of our thoughts, words, actions and interactions or life events on others. If this affects me so deeply, I can't imagine how I would feel to lose any of you. So stay safe, be well and know that for many of you, someone you've never met, values your contact and friendship more than you'll ever know. This song was played at my dear and gorgeous friend Paul's funeral . .it's been chosen by my best friend for hers and just reminds me of those I've loved and lost . . I hope it brings you comfort.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Curriculum Vitae

Helen Bainbridge, Ba. JP

Career Objective
A secure yet challenging role that will engender job satisfaction and reward for effort. And won't be a patronising bastard.

Relevant skills Short Courses
MS Office
Effective Office Management
COIN Financial Software
Writing Operational Policies and Procedures
Writing Effective Business Plans
Corel Draw
Writing for Digital Media
Dealing with Difficult People

Parkside InvestorPlus – Financial Planning
December 2000 – May 2009
Practice Manager – Marketing Communications – Executive Assistant

Practice Management
This function entailed ensuring the smooth running of a SME financial planning office including the implementation of policies and procedures which will improve the productivity of staff. Maintenance and updating of HR, office services, database management, records management, general administrative procedures, contract and lease negotiation, event management and monitoring staff achievement against key performance indicators.

Information Technology

Establishment and monitoring of data integrity Maintenance of data rules and the establishment of policies, processes and communication of same to staff.
Ensure adherence to data rules, accuracy and timeliness of delivery.
Ensure upgrades and system requirements are met
Troubleshoot minor IT problems and liaison with Helpdesks on more complex issues
Make recommendations on directory management
Recruited IT Outsourcer for technical troubleshooting
Ensure data backup and restore
Liaison with IT outsourcers for regular maintenance and repair (because my nemesis had a caniption fit whenever she spoke to an IT person)
Establishment of good administration practices
Documentation and automation of all office procedures from client initiation to implementation.
Maintain awareness of best practice, OH&S and other issues affecting the workplace.
Creation and implementation of policies and procedures affecting the business Orientation, leave, study, OH&S, Disaster Recovery etc.
Engineered myself out of a job cos it's all working like clockwork. Oh and sent an email to one of the partners that was less than 'flattering' three years ago and he never forgave me. He's clearly Devine!
Human Resources
Establishment and maintenance of HR Files
Creation and maintenance of position descriptions and employee agreements
Establishment and maintenance of regular appraisals
Staff recruitment/dismissal including orientation plans through to termination procedures
Chair and minute meetings
Only person who could stop arguments . . 'Nell, go fix that . ."
Facilities Management
Negotiation and maintenance of contracts/licences with goods and service providers
Purchasing – equipment, print, services etc.
Organisation and oversight of two storey refurbishment
Negotiation of leases for office machinery
First point of contact for security company
Painted the office yellow and blue and put pretty frosted glass on the outside. Everyone complained but now they're used to it.

Marketing Communications
Provision of marketing and communications expertise in the creation, coordination and promotion of products and services. Follow through all marketing initiatives from concept to completion on time and within budget.
Development and revision of client and COI (Centres of Influence) Marketing Plans and associated implementation plans including value proposition
Research, write and submit content for website
Research, write and arrange for publication of promotional materials, including e-newsletters, brochures, newsletters, financial services guide, complex correspondence, quarterly reports, stationery
Establishment and propagation of corporate identity through publications and signage
Organisation and promotion of client incentive events (Reward for Referrals)
Creation and lodgement of all corporate templates for correspondence, forms, plans, agenda, reports etc.
Synthesis of industry and research publications and rewrite into ‘plain English’ for inclusion into client publications and website
Ongoing review of all written materials dispatched from PFG group to ensure consistent client experience and quality
Event Management; Organisation and evaluation of Seminars, mini seminars, workshops, brainstorming sessions, strategic planning sessions, client dinners and events.
Redeemed a client out of a closed fund but managed to fix it and he was one of five who wished me well when I was shafted . .I mean 'left'

Executive Assistant
Provision of Executive assistance to Partner and daily liaison with clients
Screen phone calls
Diary management and maintenance of task lists via COIN CRM
Screen and distribute mail
Creation of complex correspondence and Records of Advice
Book, record and maintain conference bookings for planners and advise Compliance Officer of any PD points acquired
Participate in records management and archiving
Flight bookings and itineraries
Assist clients with all enquiries on non-advice related issues
Make appointments with clients.
Prepare all documentation related to investments, redemptions, distributions, share trades etc. for client signature and return for all products and investments
Ensure planners meet their service level obligations through diarisation of contact and follow up.
Follow up with fund managers/share registries on client actions and outcomes
Creation and maintenance of compliant client files
Washed tea towels every week for nine years

National Exchange of Police Information
August 1996 – September 2000
Executive Officer – EA and Special Projects Officer

Executive Assistance to the Director including all correspondence, diary management, travel arrangements
Assistance in the development of Business Cases
Coordination of communication between political and geographical police jurisdictions comprising fingerprint specialists, equipment and training providers during $5 million Y2K compliancy upgrade of the National Fingerprint Identification System
Preparation of complex Agenda for governing agency meetings including Police Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner meetings for 8 jurisdictions
Preparation of complex submissions for State and Federal Ministries resulting in the successful granting of funds
Assistance in creation of successful outsource tenders, transition planning and staff retention planning during the transition of this national police initiative from Parramatta Offices to the Department of Defence in Canberra
Prioritisation of workload
Effective interpersonal, and communication skills for handling enquiries relating to often politically sensitive and confidential issues from high level internal and external clients
Maintenance of confidentiality
Development and management of relationships with a diverse range of people
Drove a Lord of the Realm to the airport and he insisted I called him by his first name . .bless!
Organised their closing Christmas party . .great send off!
Regularly do lunch with ex-Nepians!

Contract Assignments
December 1996 – August 1996
PA/Executive Assistant Contract Assignments through Select Recruitment with:
Olympic Coordination Authority, Transfield Australia, Penrith TAFE, Station 12 Global Shipping Satellites

Amway of Australia
September 1979 - October 1996
Marketing Communications Coordinator/Copywriter

Research, write and edit full colour monthly consumer magazine “Amagram”, full-colour product specific newsletters, Product and merchandising brochures, training manuals and catalogues
Interviewing of Distributors for biographical features
Development of concepts, storyboards and advertisements in conjunction with Art Directors and Graphic Designers
Booking of models, makeup artists and photographers and photographic spaces
Prop sourcing
Development of product names
Point of Sale Advertising
Voice Over for audio product
Collaboration on advertising campaigns
Administrative duties associated with the position
Dressed up as an Orange for a photo shoot
Met four of the most wonderful people in my life to date! Kenton, Avril, Karen, Jayne.

Just puttin' it out there! Six degrees of separation and all that! See, I haz skillz . .just nobody wantz dem!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bonfire of the Insanities

We had our annual Baino's Bonfire Bash on Saturday and it was fun . . no it was better than fun. It was awesome, hilarious, stimulating, inebriating and probably the only time I really enjoy a hot sausage at 6pm then again at 2am.

Strange though, as people get older they lose the joy of just sitting around a big fire, chatting, catching up, drinking a little. It's too cold, too uncomfortable, too smokey, too dirty, too much poo underfoot! For me, this is one of life's simple pleasures and and the absolute joy of living on normally high maintenance acreage. The usual crowd shuffles in to join us each year and have done for as long as most of them could hold a sparkler.

Great way to get rid of the rubbish that falls off gum trees all year round. Even better way to get your son to tidy up the back yard, wield a chainsaw and a whippersnipper and be motivated enough to pick up the debris that has fallen all over our massive 'lawn' (I use the term loosely) over the past month or so.

This is an illegal bonfire. It's supposed to be 2 metres at the base and no higher than 1.5 . . .'Bruce' at the Rural Fire Service was quite explicit about size and location . . if only he knew. But it's safe. There's a water supply, we mowed 20 metres around it and no trees above it. What you can't see is a further stockpile of fodder which was dispensed with throughout the night. We did have a visit from the police who had received a complaint not about the techno music emanating from Jimmy's souped up four-wheel-drive but because we'd lit a fire! Interfering bastards. I hate the encroachment of suburbia. They think our back paddock is public land and a group of people enjoying the warmth a bunch of vandals! Satiated that we had a safe environment and the appropriate permit . . the police went on their way to do what they should be doing . . .And thanks Sarge for pointing that bloody LED torch straight in my eyes, I'm still seeing red dots you prick!

It's the easiest night in the world . . no canapes or anti-pasto platters for this hungry hoarde . .

A few bread rolls and a few dozen snags with classy accoutrements such as Tomato and Barbecue sauce, American Mustard (yep, the yanks do some things really well) and sweet Chili Sauce. . no expense spared here my friends . . .

. . .and of course a few nibbly bits and marshmallows to toast . . . .

Some bought their tents . . . .

Others their 'bean' couch . . . .

The boy took care of the barbie . . .and loves any excuse
to wear his hugely oversized orange pants . . .sartorially elegant to the end!

While friends discussed the nuances of sausage flavourings . . .
'Herb and garlic vs Italian tomato . . .'

After a petrol soaked trail of loo paper, sparklers and home made bombs
. . .(I know . .I know . . ) the thing went off with a bang . . literally . . .

Eskies and chairs at the ready . . it's time to have a few bevvies and catch up . . .

Warm the buns . . .

Pour a glass and discuss the state of the world . . .

Show off the latest fashions in the field . . . .erm . . .literally!

Girl talk with possibly the best pair of wellies I've ever seen . . .Bec . .I want them!

I love these evenings with the younglings. My bro, sister and I were the only attendees over 40! I just wish that friends my age didn't have this 'too cold', 'too muddy', 'too hard', 'not fun' thing going on. I'm beginning to think I am alone in my love of a snag in a bun, a glass of wine, trudging through the cold and dark in a paddock full of horse poo and enjoying a roaring fire and good conversation, shuffling your chair ever closer to the heat as the pyre diminishes . .God's country and the best night out. Thank you younglings for tolerating an old fart, cleaning up this morning and being such good company - I really enjoy these nights.

Now. I have the difficult task of convincing two ageing horses that it's safe to return to the BIG paddock without something exploding underfoot . . .they're not having a bar of it!