Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fuckwit is a Porker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reasons to be Thankful 1-10

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

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

Rainbow Lorikeet outside my bedroom window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mugshots, Melbourne and a little bit of Samba

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

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

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

The Apartment

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

Air Ambulance viewed from our balcony.

Brunswick Street

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

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

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

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

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

Slouch and Jazz very nice

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

Interior of the ground floor cell block of Old Melbourne Jail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sanctimonious and Shameful

Two little Bangladeshi girls, both almost 3 years old, conjoined since birth by the head were separated today. Found in an orphanage, rescued by a well-meaning Australian, Moira Kelly of the "Children First Foundation".

Surgeons at the Royal Children's Hospital successfully separated Krishna and Trishna at 11am and after 32 hours of surgery, these little girls are now in intensive care at Melbourne's Royal Children's hospital and we wait to see if they recover.

I wonder about the ethical dilemma here. Had they remained in Bangladesh, they would surely have died. Unable to ambulate and showing signs of intellectual disability, in an orphanage that could not afford their care.

Nobody has mentioned the cost of the surgery or who's paying. We can only hope since they are not Australian nationals (for whom the surgery would have been free) that the charity will cover the expenditure or the wonderful doctors who performed it and the hospital which provided their facilities have given their services pro bono.

Either way, it makes me wonder, perhaps cruelly, about all the children who might have benefited from something more simple and less costly in a world where charity is dwindling thanks to the GFC and our perceived need to tighten our belts. Eye surgery, immunisation, occupational therapy to correct rickets, AIDS education and care or simply a fresh water pump in their village. Am I cruel for thinking that a glamour event with 25% success rate is denying other children a chance at a better life? I don't begrudge these little poppets their chance at life. I am grateful that a wonderful Australian charity has taken up their cause but I just wonder how you choose . . .who to save . . who to leave. Triage at it's most heart-wrenching.

Sanctimonious and ultimately shameful words from me, while I sit here with my cheapo chardy, dinner on the hob waiting for the family to return and plooking away on my computer. Me, who has just paid $185 because her stupid dog who eats better than most third world families, chose to eat a bee this morning at 7am and puffed up like a Sharpei before 7:45. So distraught was I about her plight, I didn't even take a photograph!

Not Lily but a damn good impression . . .

My priorities are so hypocritical. That's it. I'm doing something about it. I whine about having no money, working 45 hours a week, having recipes that cover a million ways with mince, complaining about not being able to sell my nest egg. I have absolutely NOTHING to worry about. My tap water is potable, I have hot water and a flushing toilet. I have a fridge, access to free health, fabulous cheap fresh food, a roof over my head and the necessities of life. For goodness sakes we have three cars between us - clapped out but working! I'm not flogging my horses to carry firewood or pull tourists around some middle eastern city or to provide food for the hungry although they're well fat enough!. They're just paddock bashing organic lawnmowers bought at a time when money was plentiful and whims were to be satiated. And if all else fails, they can be butchered and eaten! I have a dog that is on weight management dog food, I'm fat as a house and I sleep in a Queen sized bed ! Ashamed doesn't cut it.

"I iz itchy"

Today I am feeling fortunate that by nothing more than sheer luck of birth I was born into a middle class western family. Even the Troll Bitch cannot dampen my gratefulness . . . . my frustration, loneliness, lack of liquidity are absolutely meaningless compared to the trials of others who by some whim of fate ended up in places so much worse than me.

I hope these little mites make it and I hope others are driven to do something pretty special to help the less fortunate who are not brought into the limelight, no matter how small. I know that I am grateful for the things I have even if I whinge constantly for the things I don't.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Me Tarzan . .Need Ladder

It was hot yesterday. It's been hot for a few days. Not quite the heat wave the poor South Australians have endured over the past week but hot enough for the kids to bring a few friends around, muck about in the pool and build an appetite for barbecued take-away ribs and wings

One of my nephew's friends and Clare's old schoolfriend, not the sharpest tool in the shed, decided to take up position in the big gum tree in the front of our house. This offers a nice vantage point to spy the oncoming ribmobile and sound the alarm to hungry punters. Problem is, he didn't tell anyone he was doing it! Climbing up the Wisteria posed no problem.

All well and good until he realised getting down was not quite as easy as getting up! None of us knew he was there until someone said "Where's Brownie" and a plaintive voice could be heard coming from the front yard.

Naughty Neph has a ladder, a big one . . .

Little bit trixy . . .

We did get him down in time for tea . . . you can take the man out of the tree, but you can't take the boy out of the man! You'd think they'd learn by the time they turned 25!

Sorry rather fuzzy shots due to much laughter causing camera shake

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Clayton's Friday Fuckwit

Short of posting something awful that some fuckwit has done this week - there are plenty of cruel and desperate people in the world - I really can't find anything funny enough to set you off for the weekend.

Then there were five drunken Brisbane men who decided it would be a good idea to strip off and go through a car wash in the small hours. Fortunately, none had the wherewithal to operate the thing otherwise they'd have been pressure hosed and willy-whipped by rotating rubber flanges until their skin flayed. Twits.

Remember that non alcoholic mixer that bragged "The Drink You're Having When You're Not Having a Drink?" Well here's the Clayton's Friday Fuckwit. . .

So for your entertainment pleasure, and because at this very moment The Man At The Pub is matching me glass for glass with a Friday drinky poo instead of actually going to the pub . . . (impending fatherhood will do that to you!) thought you might like this! Have a great weekend folks! Cheers! *hic*

Thursday, November 12, 2009


We don't have a telephone. Well we did but the line rental was costing more than the calls so, like so many mobile phone bearing families we had it disconnected. Now you have to pay big bucks to call us or contact us on Skype for free!

I cannot for the life of me remember telephone numbers except my sisters' and only because the last digits are 1610 - my birthday 16th October.

I can use a computer, work a DVD recorder, master four remote controls but I can't use predictive text

My first telephone in my first flat was a burnt orange coloured wall phone . . very fashionable in the 70's. It matched my VW Beetle.

I remember walking about 6kms to the nearest telephone box so that I could have a private conversation with my boyfriend and not have my mother nagging me to hang up at home. I never understood why she was so bothered about it. Nobody ever rang us after 7pm.

My Grandpa bought me a marble faux antique telephone for a wedding present. It was packed so badly that it had smashed to smitherines by the time he arrived at the wedding from England in 1979. He just said he was sorry and didn't buy me another present. I suspect someone gave it to him.

I have a wonderful telephone manner and a young voice so I can flirt outrageously with helpdesk and customer service people and they think I'm about 21.

My phone is also my alarm and wakes me up with birdsong every morning, it's so shrill that I have to turn it off in a nanosecond before it wakes everyone else.

I hate answering machines. I hang up. Actually, I'm not fond of talking on the phone but in the absence of lunch and fine wine . . it's the best way to keep in touch.

The best way to deter a caller with sexual harassment on his mind is to have a referee's whistle and blow it loudly at the 'breather'. A nice policeman gave me that tip.

My lifeline is my telephone line. OK it no longer feeds into a conventional phone but it powers my naked ADSL well most of the time. I was without Internet for three hours last night until a nice man called Ari seemed to actually know what he was talking about.

I once called a clairvoyant to see if I could ascertain the identity of someone who nicked a visitor's piece of jewellery. I think she got it right but it cost me $7 a minute!

I first heard this song in 1977 on what was then Double J AM radio . .it's now Triple J FM and I've been listening to the same station ever since. Some of their DJ's weren't even born in 1977! Now that's customer loyalty and I must be one of their oldest fans. Free stuff please TripleJ?

Now go see what other Theme Thursday contributors have conjoured up on their telephones. Or call me, call me now . . . email and I'll give you my Skype address. All you need is a microphone, either in your PC or via headphones and the will to talk to someone in the Antipodes. . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Farnham's Greatest Fan works at Harris Farm Market

One of the perks of my place of work, and believe me there are precious few other than the five lovely men who distract me from one scowling woman, is the fact that I have a Harris Farm Market and wholesale butcher downstairs.

Largely Fruit and veg, exotic breads, frozen pasta, fresh pasta, dairy foods including lovely cheeses, marscapone and a variety of creams. Homus, fresh salads, salamis, smoked salmon, trout and other deli delights - pasta sauces, pesto, weird Chinese thingies and European cakes and biscuits, even exotic teas and some things I'm not sure what to do with. There's a huge nut bar, where you can help yourself to a variety of unsalted nuts or dried fruit.
Today's specials included Chinese cabbage for 99cents, three bunches of asparagus for $5.00, three bunches of baby bok choy for 99cents, bags of red peppers for $1.00, Macadamias were $14 a kilo and mangoes, the first delicious Bowen yellowness of the season just $19 a box!

The butcher too is huge with a wide variety of meats and due to the high Chinese population in Parramatta serves cuts of meat I've never heard of. In fact I don't really want to know what a Pork Maw is but I tell you it doesn't look much more appetising than the chicken feet. However, they do have fillet steak for $15 a kilo, ham off the bone, not that wet supermarket stuff that comes from sausage shaped pigs, chicken breasts for $6.99 and other daily specials. They have home made sausages (which of course you know I never buy), two small fresh chickens for $8.00.

But what makes this place rather sweet is the spruikers. There are two youngish men, young, solid and looking slightly Lebanese with the tiniest of giveaway accents and booming voices. They clearly love their job and the opportunity to promote their produce.

One stands by an electric frypan, cooking up the special of the day. Today it was sirloin steak, selling for half price at $6.99 a kilo. Marinated and cooked to perfection and being proffered on little toothpicks for any willing punter. His voice bellowed across the entire floor enticing shoppers to take advantage. The other, similarly Lebanese Australian, was just outside the door selling boxes (that's about 24 punnets) of strawberries for $10. Clearly they were all 'ready to eat' and wouldn't have lasted well for more than a couple of days but some entrepreneurial person bought ten or twelve boxes and was selling them up the road for $2.50 a punnet.

The charmer of this little multicultural retail wonderland is a Downs Syndrome kid. He's older than most, at a guess about 25. He has a girlfriend, I know because he told me and his name is Nick and for some reason, he always remembers mine. He's now trying his hand at spruiking. He's hired mainly to stack fruit and sweep the floor and in true 'Downs' fashion is very friendly, very sweet and always ready for a chat if you have the patience to wait and try to understand him. He'll yell something that sounds like 'ga yi blorr anaringes . . thix a tay dillers' which I think is six blood oranges for two dollars. Then I could be mistaken, perhaps he's abusing shoppers suggesting that we're "bloody urang utans and thick as school dinners"

Today, as you do, I hit the sunshine by Parramatta River at lunch time, armed with little more than a Dare Double Espresso iced coffee and a cigarette and this kid was standing on a small wharf which to the world looks like a little stage protruding from the bank out over the river's edge.

His iPod firmly wedged in his ears, he was oblivious to all around him. He performed, he shimmied, he threw a defiant fist in the air and sang. He bowed and thanked the invisible crowd. Or maybe he was thanking the pigeons and seagulls who seemed to enjoy his rendition of John Farnham's "Your the Voice".

You know, it was charming to see someone who clearly knew what they were doing and didn't give a rats arse about who saw him doing it. He spent a full 20 minutes parading with an imaginary microphone, yelling out his encore with the bass clearly banging in his head and 'the voice' screaming his best rendition before graciously saying "Thank you very much, you're a great crowd and here's another one of my favourites . . John Farnham the LEGEND . . and You're the Voice!" (again . . I think it's the only song on his iPod).

I went back into the panic pre-Board paper preparation thinking about these three young men and how they seemed to be loving their work, engaging with shoppers and doing what they do with little or no regard for what people thought of them. They were happy, smiling, clearly making the most of their laborious day.

Now that's freedom, that's being in the zone, that's knowing who and what you are and having it sit so well with you that you don't care what others think . . I long for that kind of self assurance. Pity this little 15 minute respite is over so quickly and I have to go back and face the troll bitch and her scowling face and vicious recriminations of her own staff. How does someone with all the money and power in the world manage to maintain such rage? I think I'd like to work in Harris Farm and entice shoppers to try marinated Pork Maw on the barbie.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Newtown Community Festival

The suburbs (or more appropriately south western part of the CBD) is 'interesting' to say the least. It's scruffy, alternative and areas such as Newtown are buzzing with alternative culture and pop culture as well as the down on their luck. Today was Newtown Festival. Market stalls, music, people from all over and a particular magnet for the dreadlocked, tattooed, heavily pierced and those who dress up their dogs.

We wondered down to meet with some friends for lunch and a browse around the stalls. Markets aren't what they used to be, they're creative, fun, avant garde but really too expensive. The weather was warm but 'mizzling' a mixture of drizzle and mist punctuated by the odd heavy shower that had everyone donning their umbrellas or rushing for cover. It was crowded and difficult to park but fun nonetheless. I have to say though, next time I go to Newtown, I won't bother doing my hair or ironing my shirt. I felt conspicuously overdressed, neat and tidy!

The crowd gathers for lunch on the lawn and live music

Thomas Kenneally talks about the process of writing (he wrote Schindler's Ark among many others, later turned into film as Schindler's List)

Even the police had a little shopping spree although why he's looking through the ladies wear I'm not sure

Everything oozed colour and I took the wrong lens with me!

Pet treats

Watches made out of coconut shells for $10

Every home should have one don't you think?

Handbags made out of old 45s

The bands played

The people danced

The ponies snoozed

And the rain came . . frequently

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Fuckwit (Is that a sausage in your pants or are you just pleased to see me)

Monday, November 2, 2009

© The Cairns Post

A MAN has been caught stuffing sausages down his pants in a bizarre alleged theft at an Innisfail supermarket.

The 38-year-old Innisfail man was charged with stealing after he was seen leaving IGA Innisfail about 6.15pm on Friday.

Police allege he had items of meat concealed in his shorts and several other items in his pockets.

The items were not returned to sale, police said.

The man will appear Innisfail Magistrates’ Court on November 30.

Now if you're going to steal . . .please don't put pureed lips and arseholes down your pants!

Have a great weekend folks. I know the pic is too disturbing but I was more drawn to the appendectomy scar . . what does that say?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Castle (Hampers that is)

Theme Thursday (God I love Theme Thursday) and this week a different take on "Castle" . . .

Well it's November. Half of you are beginning to lament the waning of autumn and the onslaught of winter, while the rest of us are moving into spring. The October Labour Day Weekend is over, Thanksgiving is round the corner but the next celebration for us is Christmas. Now I don't know about you but for me, Babysis, Clarebear and our newest member to the family Jessicapom (my newly returned nephew's girlfriend) are all about mucking around in the kitchen before Christmas. We love the preparation, trying something different, cheap, fresh ingredients and working on spectacular presentation. It never costs much but we adore putting in the effort to make simple food look and taste awesome.

Yet, every January . .there is a massive TV advertising campaign for Crisco Castle Hampers. The idea is that you start paying off your Christmas pogathon early and in December you receive a nice bundle of goodies to set you straight for the festive season. Just open the box, crank up the microwave and Christmas is spread before you in all it's culinary wonder.

So, while we prepare a menu of degustation entrees, glazed ham (often free because someone gets one for a Christmas bonus), Caesar Salad my awesome potato bake and rocket, pumpkin and almond salad and chocolate dip with assorted fruit and marshmallows,working class Australian seems to prefer a rather expensive, pre-prepared hamper.

Pushed for weeks after Christmas as fine yet inexpensive fare. Delivered to their doorstep, paid at $13.60 a week for the cheapy (that's $707.20 a year) and finger's crossed it will arrive on time. What perturbs me is the contents of said hamper, the look, the lack of nutritional value, the awesome boringness and lack of imagination and of course the cost! I manage to feed 12-15 on a couple of hundred dollars each year with breakfast included and plenty of leftovers for the following week. (I don't include alchohold but a Christmas staple is Bacardi for daquiries and a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. Now here's some Castle Christmas fare:
NutriGrain - Breakfast cereal? Crikey doesn't everyone splash out on mangoes and croissants with strawberry preserve, at least at Christmas?

Cadbury Dairy Milk - now I don't know about you but I haven't a problem with the old Cadbury and you yanks could take a lesson from the chocolatiers of the world because you just can't make chocolate (No . .Hershey's Peanut butter lip smackers do not qualify as chocolate!) But at Christmas? Lindt at the very least!

Moccona Instant Coffee: Oh please.

Arnotts Shapes: Supermarket hexagonal flavoured biscuits that would taint the flavour of a nice brie or Stilton with little salty snippets of chilli and 'barbecue' seasoning

Cadbury Roses Chocolates: Awful gooey centres and guess who always accidentally bites into the Turkish Delight. Sorry Turks but jelly made out of rosewater is disgusting.

Masterfoods Sauce: BBQ rather nice on eggs or steak. Tomato, an Australian Staple but you DON'T put bottled sauce on yer gobbler! Jesus I spend a day marinating the thing in apricoty sticky honey clovey stuff not to have it spoiled by a splodge of tomato sauce!

Chocolate Frogs: Now I don't know about you but I have a problem eating frogs, chocolate or otherwise but any chocolate that comes in a plastic bag with a hole in the top to slide onto a supermarket prong is not Christmas food!

Steggles Frozen Turkey: OK I suppose if you must go the Turk but frankly, I think it's bland, boring, nobody likes the dark bits and you have leftovers for months. We haven't done a Turkey for God knows how long although I'm tempted to do a Thanksgiving for friends this year because you yanks post some bloody nice recipes for stuffed Turkey.

Bird's Eye Oven Roasted Potatoes: No they're not! They're twice the price of the real deal and are reconstituted potatoes shaped into perfect little chopped spuds with unflavoured caramel on the outside to make them look brown. Potatoes just don't taste like that and they're cheaper to buy fresh.

Frozen Veg: The only frozen veg I ever buy are peas because I simply find it too hard to get the ones in the shell so I'll forgive the peas but hardly Christmas food.

Sarah Lee Sticky Date Pudding: Shove it up your date! Stodgy, expensive, tasteless . . .and not Christmassy at all!

Sausages: No comment other than a collection of lips and arseholes . .what beast I cannot say. To be fair to Chrisco's Castle collection, there is a ham. A yucky de-boned, wet ham so you don't even get to make pea and ham soup from the luscious centre.

Canned Fruit: In Australia, it's summer. Stone fruit is plentiful and cheeeeeeeeeep. I mean really cheap you can pick up a tray of peaches, nectarines, mangoes for less than $15 on a good day.

Vegemite: OK I'm now speechless, without speech.

Nobby's Nuts: Oh yes, only in the country where you have Coon Cheese (I kid you not) could you nibble Nobby's nuts?. . . no thanks.
OK they've thrown in some Blue Ribbon Ice Cream (kudos cos it's really buttery and delishy with strawbs) . . crappy bon bons (crackers) and spaghetti. Also a couple of tins of salmon, processed mince pies and wait for it . . Magie two-minute noodles (Pot Noodles for you Oirsh) Call me a snob, because when it comes to cheap, delicious well presented food, I am! Totally and unequivocally a food snob and the queen of the castle. My home is my castle and there'll be none of this going down! And just how far do they think one bottle of Yellow will go between 15 of us! Sheesh! Break out the thimbles!

Ok I was a little frazzled in 2007. My hair doesn't look like that any more even if my waistline does and I've reverted to screw-top chardy rather than the bubbly stuff but I still love preparing Christmas dinner, in my castle, with my subjects assisting in the kitchen rather than breaking out the can opener.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

For Sale

And so it begins. Hippybro, wants his inheritance. So do I, so does Babysis, so does Babybro. We are four siblings, two are 'investors' and have a larger share, the other two receive a straight inheritance from the place where two of us currently reside.

My father died in September 2001 and we decided that the time was not right to sell. The place hadn't been rezoned for development so the four of us met and decided that we would hang on for a variety of reasons. A sale was not well timed, two of us still lived here, I had two teenagers in year 10 and 12, the market was slowly rising, so we agreed that we'd hang on.

The first hurdle was the provision of a rail corridor which would have demanded 150 metre width of our back property and all the hassles and devaluation that goes with housing around a railway line. I had meeting after meeting about a 'proposed' rail corridor that would have devalued our property. I (and a bunch of other residents) attended councils, lobbied Government and finally the rail corridor was removed. The process was exhausting.

In April 2003, my Babybro was considering capitalising on his renovated house and buying something else. The market was high and so he 'bought out' most of Hippybro's share and moved in next door. Hippybro moved up to the Blue Mountains and bought a block of land and had his architect designed house plans drawn. We all get along pretty well so it was no big deal.

In March 2004, we were gazetted into 21 x 700square metre building blocks along with our neighbours to the south. Our immediate neighbours to the north were zoned "Educational Facility" and have been bought with the intention of building a school.

We waited for developers to knock on our door with their bowler hats and suitcases full of cash but it didn't happen. Again, my southern neighbour rallied to the cause and we had meeting after meeting with developers. We approached them directly, we spoke with them, we negotiated, we set prices and conditions. We even had an offer that we accepted in 2008 only to have it withdrawn due to unmitigatable conditions. I was out of pocket for legal fees to the tune of $2,800 which at the time I could ill afford.

That brings me to 2009. Babybro and his family live next door, I live in a house built for two small children and now have two adults and a dog. Babysis bought a knock down which is still waiting to be knocked down and we have been on the market for five years. In hindsight, we should have sold when Hippybro wanted out but we didn't. We didn't see the housing market fall coming. We certainly didn't see the global economic crisis and the new 'lending' arrangements between banks and developers. In short, I think we were greedy.

We took anecdotal advice and really believed that our land was worth the asking price. I don't think it was. So now, we are in that uncomfortable, familiar and familial conundrum of how to sell. We'll drop our price. Babybro won't like it. I'll be comfortable as I have the largest share. Hippybro will take what he can and finally finish that house on his lovely block in the Blue Mountains. Babysis will knock down her 'knock down' and build her dream home and I will be free . . financially at least.

Time for a new round of letters to a plethora of developers, multi-list with an army of bloodsucking real estate agents and more exhausting lobbying to Council to reduce a very hefty 'contribution' tax put on the land which deters developers and hope that in the long run, our family relationships will remain intact.

How to go about it during a 'recovery'. Any suggestions? I'm thinking of a banner on the roof for helicopter bound speculators . . .Property for sale! Any reasonable offer.

Much as I'd hate this . . .

To be turned into this . . .

It really is time. Whatever we sell it for, I am eternally grateful to a 50 year old man who took a huge punt on a huge mortgage with a young family
to provide this legacy for his children.
I just hope we all remember that!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Memelicious Monday

Writer's block has hit big time. I have lots of ideas but little inclination. Didn't even feel like a Friday Fuckwit last week, due in no small part to a 'warning interview' by the woman I work for who doesn't want me to put things on her desk when she's absent, doesn't want me to organise her diary, doesn't want to communicate via email and doesn't think I'm capable of attending to detail. Basically, we just don't like each other. Not one bit. I am a disappointment so she's farmed me off to the loveliest man and his project team right down the other end of the office. I still have to be her Executive Assistant, but on a day to day level, I'm working with a gentleman and five of the nicest men you could hope to meet. While the sword of Damocles hangs over my head, I'll stick it out until I actually do vomit before leaving for work in the morning (I've come close!) So here's a little meme to lighten what is otherwise a rather stressful existence at the moment.

My earliest memory is . . . being in my high chair and terrified at the shimmery shadow a spoon made on the ceiling. Oh that and sitting under the kitchen table sharing the dog's Winalot!

At high school I… met my best friend in the world, in year 9, after going to three different high schools and 9 different primary schools. She's still my best friend was my Maid of Honour and I her bridesmaid. I love her but I treat her badly.

My first relationship was… Well apart from my riding partner Casey Vanderzaag who I dumped after 2 years of lovely friendship because he wore white socks to a party - Steven Rodriguez who was the best eucalyptus and honey tasting kisser on the planet. The whole thing was quashed when I moved from Melbourne to Sydney and my prying mother found his letters . . yep . . he used the 'F' word and I was banned from corresponding! (Haha . . if she could hear me now!)

I wish I’d never worn… a pink corduroy pant suit that my Nana bought for me to the Monkees show in Melbourne. I stood out like the Pink Panther at an Amish service! Didn't stop me standing on my seat and screaming like a banshee. Oh and a poorly inserted tampon when I was 14 and rode a horse all the way down Windsor and North Rocks Road (about 15 kms) . . .

My mother told me… If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all and always have $50 in your pocket for a cab and wear clean underwear. Oh and don't burn a roux and eat your vegetables and a banana is a meal in itself and "I love you . . "

I wish I had… Money . . lots of it. Then I'd work in a job I liked not one I need. Oh and I'd pay the kids' HECs debts and buy Adam a new van with army camouflage on it and big "Garden Assault: plastered all over the side! Then I'd book my holiday . . .

My most humiliating moment was… I'm only allowed one? Let's keep it funny . . Farting rather loudly in a car full of five twenty-somethings because I was laughing so much. It wasn't that humiliating except it's been remembered and reminisced frequently and after 30 years . . .move on girls!

At home I cook… most of the time. Deciding what to cook for the fam 24/7 x 365 is getting a little laborious. Although Adam's pretty good and fills in now and then.

My last meal would be… Hot and cold seafood platter without the 8 legged thingamies with suckers and a bottle of champagne. OK maybe a little pot of chocolate mousse to finish and a flat white, extra strong with one.

I’m very bad at… managing money, paying attention to detail apparently, keeping in touch with good friends, relaxing, looking on the bright side, swimming in the surf, making pavlova, controlling my emotions, biting my tongue and . .well that's enough for now . . I'm very bad at a lot of things.

When I was a child… every birthday found me asking for the money for a "Day Trek" at the local stables. I was allowed out until the street lights came on . . didn't matter where and to eat rhubarb from my Granddad's patch without washing it and pouring lashings of castor sugar in the groove . . I have never had an allergy in my life so I put that down to childhood, grubbiness and a good immune system.

The book that changed my life is… Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth . . I'm not a great reader but this one has never left me.

It’s not fashionable, but I love… rubber thongs, yoga pants and DJ's T shirts. So much so that I have multiple 'units' oh and not wearing a bra on the weekends. Go girls!

Friends say I am… bolshy, confident, argumentative, unreliable and I snore. I'm also loyal, helpful, there in a crisis and can always be the voice of reason.

The song I’d like played at my funeral is… Again only one! Every time I hear something I like I think 'yeh, that's the funeral song'. I vacillate between the absurd, Ween Push the Little Daisies, the serene, Pachobel's Canon (Remix) and the dreamy, Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah! There are more but they would bore.

If only I could… hug my parents just once more, walk into a room of strangers by myself, operate a camera on totally manual settings, work for a worthy cause and not worry about the salary. Give up my fondness for wine and cigarettes, lose weight, meet a goodly bunch of you . . especially the emailers with whom I've formed a some very close relationships. Swing the leg over a horse without fear of rupturing something important.

The last big belly laugh I had was…you know, I can't remember. I love that contagious uncontrollable laughter that makes your eyes water and your bladder leak. I'm having a weekend with the girls in November and that is their challenge! Make me lose it ladies!

What I don’t find amusing is… my internet disconnecting so frequently, control freaks, racist or sexist humour, Camry drivers, sycophants, animal cruelty and people who think they have power abusing it. I'm also not fond of people traffickers, Japanese whaling for 'ressearch', poor planning decisions by Government and an inability to find a lighter that works when in desperate need of a nurrell! I am also not fond of beer bottles on the window sill and smelly landscaper's clothes left on the floor for a week!

I’m always being asked… 'are you alright', 'how's the new job?', 'why don't you come out more often?', 'what's for dinner?'.

If I wasn’t me…then who would I be? Is that the point of this question? If I wasn't me, I wouldn't be. Although sometimes I wish I was Richard Branson.

At the moment I’m listening to… Triple J, Clare's career and travel plans, ABC News and crickets!

My favourite work of art is… anything Klimpt but I would like to see the Last Supper just to check out that effeminate apostle! And I long for a cruise around the Louvre. Actually I love art, any of it in any shape and form. I love looking at it, touching it and marveling at the skill behind it. I do have a problem with a piece in the National Gallery of Australia called PMS450 which is just a square of blue. Hell I can do that!

If I were a car I’d be… A Jeep Troopy . . .uncomfortable, practical, dirt coloured and able to tow a trailer.

I often wonder… What my life would be like if my husband had survived, if indeed I will ever live to sell this house and feel financially secure. Whether I'll meet a man young enough to interest me but be a tad older than my son!