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    Today Sucks.

      Be Warned: All ye who enter here will be privy to a lot of whinging….

      M is building a new cat home. One for cat night time sleeping. He is building in a fury, has hit his thumb at least once and is swearing vengance. The Cat-Uzi (despite my airy assertions that merely shaking it menacingly did the trick) is not a success. We wake up, doused in hate, every morning. This morning was particularly bad as we awoke both doused in hate and hungover. StOC is wielding his evil power and destroying our relationship: where before there was a mutual love of cheese and a joint renovation project there is now suspicion that I spit in M’s coffee before I give it to him and a strong intimation that I am not pulling my weight around the house.

      Fatigued and grumpy courtesy of cat-awakenings, M, wreathed in gargoyle-frowns, declaimed that we’re not going to be out of this house until February at the very least.
      “We [he means me] are dawdling. Look at this place,” he ranted, attempting to take in the whole acre in one sweeping arm movement, “no one’s going to pay much for this. We may as well not have even renovated at all – women only look at what’s ‘pretty’ and probably guys as well. There aren’t many people who are going to look beyond the paint job and flowers in the garden.”
      I stood, hungover, waiting for the storm to pass. Waiting for the right moment to say;
      “I’m not doing anything today. I want to go and put some washing on at the laundry and sit on the beach ’til it’s finished.”
      Funnily enough, the time didn’t seem right. Nor could I explain that tomorrow I am going to create the garden around the house. In its entirety. He would just rant ‘why not do it now?’ And I would have to say;
      “Because I feel hungover, because I want to get away from the HOUSE, because I don’t want to juggle a cat-fuelled psycho who, I know, is going to bang his thumb with the hammer and blame either whoever is nearest or the one with the most fur.”
      I can’t say any of those things, so I spent some time putting some transmission fluid in the Humber. (A difficult job, involving putting the car in low gear, finding a rock big enough to sit on the brake pedal because you hate M and the gargoyle he has become and refuse to ask him for help, manoeuvring the dipstick out of the well, scrunching yourself into a ball to make the bottle of fluid get near enough not to spill anywhere, wondering if you’ve put enough in, or too much…)

      And minute by minute, my day at the beach slips away. It’s clouded in angst and domestic disharmony. If I had any friends up here I could say “I’m meeting so-and-so for a coffee…byeee!” But I don’t. So I wait. Feeling M loathing me for doing nothing. Feeling useless because my head aches and I want today off. And then there’s the fact that M’s brother-in-law asked him to come and help dismantle the roof at his work, and that if M helped out we could have the roof tin. If there is one thing we need now (besides a general anaesthetic) it’s corrugated iron – for the sides of the new shed. M said he’d drop by. In M’s brother-in-laws language, that translates as “I’ll see you there at 8am, gloved up and ready to go.” M knows this, and yet stands by the fact that he said he’d ‘drop by’ and that’s what he’ll do – despite the fact that helping dismantle a roof and getting paid in corrugated iron obviously entails a lot more than can be achieved by just ‘dropping by’.

      Right now I would like to disappear through a wrinkle in time, go for a swim, read the paper, eat a cheese sandwich, have another swim and then reappear back at Rollicking Renovationville revved up and ready to go. Gargoyle frowns would roll like water off my puny shoulders as I painted the shed, the gateposts, and the tin for the window awnings. Everything sucks.

      And then…it still sucked.

        More whinging….

        ….So then I decided to buckle under and paint the shed. The shed, at present, is a roof – the walls are just the beams and posts that are holding the roof up. It’s these M wants painted. So I’d painted my first beam – gone up the ladder, dabbed and dabbed, and then I had A Thought. I climbed down the ladder and found M.
        “Are the bits I’m painting going to be under the tin when the shed is finished?”
        “Yep.”
        “So you won’t be able to see whether any of the beams and posts are green?”
        “Nope – but until we get the tin, it will look much better from the road. And because it’s an illegal bloody shed, it needs to look good.”
        I breathed deeply.
        “So all the painting I’m going to be doing is going to be covered up?”
        “Yeah, that’s why you should just do a quick job – water the paint down and slap it on.”
        The new version of me – the one that’s trying to prove she can pull her weight in Renovationville – says (astoundingly), “OK then.” And trudges back to the shed.
        M with a vague realisation of the ridiculousness of what he’s asked me to do, says “I know it’s pretty silly, I’ll do it later if you want?”
        “Oh no,” I say, “I’ll do it, it won’t take long.” While thinking – if we just went down and helped your brother-in-law dismantle his roof we could bring the tin home, paint it and whack it up on the shed. Hello? Hello? Is there anyone at home?
        ——————————-
        Must make belated admission at this point. The tin from the roof was not ours to carry straight home. M says we might not have even got it this side of Christmas. So erase my rant from your memory – I relied on my advisors for information and have since found that information to be incorrect. Obviously not my fault at all, so still feel free to vote for me.
        ——————————-
        I keep quiet. I paint the shed and a large part of myself green. I wonder quietly if a Shed Regulation Nazi – should one happen to pass by – would be so impressed by my paintjob that he would overlook the illegality of our shed. I decide that it’s best not to wonder. Just paint. As instructed. At least I’m outside, the weather’s fine and I am ‘doing work’.

        Book Mail

          My book bounty
           

          These arrived in the post today – improving my outlook immediately. The Patricia Cornwell – a very welcome package from Honeybone Inc. – I began at lunchtime. It’s so weird. I have rarely been more disconcerted by a book. She’s changed from first person to third person – it’s all “Scarpetta says this” and “Scarpetta saw that”. It makes it very hard going, but I am persevering. Apparently she did it in her last Scarpetta effort as well – I am yet to investigate the Saint magazine – it’s more for my Saint collection.

          Small Eye for the Straight Guy

            M’s eye is still manky. Before he went to the doctor, he examined it in the bathroom mirror, and emerged, pale and slightly wild. He stood in front of me, attempting to look casual, but the effect was more of an eyerolling horse about to kick down the stable walls and bolt.
            “Look at my eyes.”
            I looked. He stared back and shifted position.
            “Do you see it? Do you see?”
            “You mean your manky eye?”
            “YES! Do you see what it’s done?”
            “Erm…well…it’s small. It’s gone small compared to your other eye. Is that what you mean?”
            M sighed heavily.
            “Yes, that’s – what – I – mean. Not only do I have a manky eye, I’ve got a small manky eye.”
            I sucked in my cheeks and asked him to cover up his good eye.
            “Do I look smaller? Am I a Size 8 in your small eye vision?”
            M snorted, and narrowed his eyes – rendering the small one almost completely invisible.
            “Hurry up. We’re going to the doctors.”

            On the way to the doctors I was barely able to contain myself. I sang the theme from Baghdad Cafe – “Eyeeeeeeeee eye eye eye, am caaaaaalling you- can you hear see me? Eyeeeeeeeee eye eye eye, am caaaaaalling you…”. I pointed out huge stupid Queensland 4WD cars, and wondered aloud if they looked like Mini’s in Small Eye Vision – which lead me to wonder what would happen if an actual Mini crossed our path – would Small Eye Vision even register it’s existence? Luckily I was driving.
            The doctor excavated M’s eye and prescribed some antibiotic ointment. M exited the surgery looking violated.
            “What did he say about the smallness? Did you ask him about it?”
            “No,” M said shortly, “he was too busy poking it. He hurt me. Let’s go.”
            We went and claimed back our $27.50 on Medicare, marvelling that it was still possible, and headed for the paint shop. The guy there is probably one of the most ‘normal’ people we have met around here. M showed him the mank. The guy – I will call him PaintBoy – laughed cruelly, and then laughed even harder when I pointed out the smallness. They discussed pus for a few minutes, as boys are wont to do, which segued neatly with M’s request for some more paint.
            “What colour?” asked Paintboy.
            It was like M’s small eye was speaking on his behalf.
            “Cream colour.”
            Paintboy guffawed. “That pus coloured cream? The paint the colour of your small-eye mank?” (See how well he knows us?)
            M nodded sadly. “Yep.”
            Paintboy made up M’s cream paint, and then some charcoal paint for me. I noticed that he wrote ‘Beth’s Shade of Charcoal’ on the lid, and as we went to pay for them both, I saw that he’d written on M’s paint tin:
            ‘M’s Small-Eye Cream’.

            Ebay Saves My Life

              Buying things on Ebay gives a strange kind of satisfaction. Although you’ve actually paid hard cash for your item – it almost feels like a present when it appears in the post. The money that changes hands is intangible – usually flying through the air via Deposit Express – and because I don’t tend to buy hugely expensive items (after The Case of the Stolen Laptop) the impact on my bank balance is fairly minimal. My Saint magazine from the other day cost about $3 and my new Humber Poster was about $6. It arrived yesterday – an original advertisement for my exact model – it is soooo funny. There’s a picture of a chauffeur driving an older man in hat and glasses reading an ‘important document’ while smoking a cigar. Pure class. Then the advertisement reads:

              As it happens, more Humber Super Snipes are chauffeur driven than any other car. But most Super Snipe owners are selfish [yes - it's true - I'm selfish, and that's why I have no chauffeur]. They want the thrill of piloting this beauty for themselves. And in the case of Humber, beauty is not just skin deep. every Humber is precision engineered to the last nut and bolt. That’s why Humber is the accepted name for quality – an image justly earned by two great cars, the fully automatic Super Snipe [mine] and the compact Vogue [my sister's - it's so dinky]. Got your eye on a Humber? You’ve got your eye on the finest car in Australia.

              Also – it has the prices of what the car cost in (I’m assuming) about 1965 (it’s a 1964 model). So now I’m scouring the web to find how to translate £2,039 into current value…Oh – and if anyone is living near Sydney – there is a car the same as mine, but a different colour, for sale on ebay for only $1000. I swear – if the house was sold and I was back in Melbourne I’d snap it up. [mope].

              Bad Me.

                I mocked the Small Eye. I taunted it and sang it evil songs. No wonder it refused to improve. Now M has to go and see a specialist on Friday. In the meantime he languishes, and can’t possibly be expected to do the dishes that are also languishing and have been so since last night. Poor M. He says he has an almost unavoidable inclination to engage in endless games of I Spy With My Little Eye. I can hardly blame him.

                Humberiffic!

                  Oh. My. God. Kartar bought the Humber! Congratulations! Join the Humber Club!

                  A Full Day

                    The local paper, that arrives on Thursdays when the rubbish gets collected, contained marvellous bounty. There was a Suzuki 3.5hp outboard motor advertised for $150 – just what I need for Oomoo – so this morning we went and checked it out. You don’t need a license for anything up to 4 horsepower, so this was perfect. The guy who was selling it seemed very nice and honest – let this be a warning. We had a look at the motor, watched him start it up – and didn’t blink when he said “I’ll just put the cowling back on it now it’s running.” The cowling (I learnt) is the lid that sits on top of the motor. Later, after we’d laid out the money and congratulated ourselves on a good buy, we realised he’d done this because there was some corrosion that lets water leak through. Bastard. So now we are weighing our options – I am erring towards turning up at his place and starting a sit-in and refusing to leave until he gives me at least $50 so I can get it fixed. Gah.

                    Next on the agenda was another advertisement in the paper – one that made M gasp and his small eye water. There was a Sailfish for sale. For $100. We took one look and snapped it up (we shall be living on rice for the next fortnight) – and in doing so got Oomoo completely fitted out with all the bits and pieces that would have cost us untold millions if we’d bought them at a chandlery. Also, it saved M from building a mast and boom – he is very thankful. For pictures, see mysmallboat.com I spent the rest of the day putting in plants and painting stumps grey. Beth’s Shade of Charcoal, actually.

                    Busy Busy & Relativity

                      Spent yesterday painting every stump around the outside of the house Beth’s Shade of Charcoal – got completely bitten by mozzies and only just escaped a large spider. Exhausting. Then I painted the stump-toppers green (I will upload a photo, so this at least makes some attempt at sense) and then the gateposts. StOC hung out with me – I swear he is part dog. I did washing and visited M’s mother, whom we haven’t seen for over a month. There is a standoff going on, which I am all too aware of – which is largely to do with M’s inability to keep in close contact with his family – or to keep as close as they would like [sigh]. Anyway – I visited.

                      She is old and wily. I play young and ditzy.
                      “Hi!” I bubble, bouncing through her back door.
                      She is sequestered in her chair, opposite a flat panel television larger than our fridge.
                      “Oh Beth, hello darling…”
                      I wait for the thrust.
                      “…I thought you’d gone back to Melbourne.”
                      I look dumbfounded.
                      Really? Noooo. We haven’t seen you for ages, so I just thought I’d visit and break the drought.”
                      She looks as if she’s about to have another go, so I jump in, dangling an irresistible carrot.
                      “So – how’ve you been? Has your back been playing up?”
                      I get twenty minutes of crumbling vertebrae, dry skin, ankles so swollen that the doctor was afraid the skin would split open – interrupted only once by the bloke from next door, who drops around to say he’ll be in tomorrow to take the rest of the turf. The turf that was supposed to be for our house, that, because of the stand-off, we haven’t been around to claim. Now it’s gone.
                      “I told M that he could have it, but you never let me know, and I haven’t seen you for months, so…”
                      “Yes. Sorry about that. My Dad came up to visit…”
                      “So I heard.”
                      “…and we’ve been working really hard on the house.”
                      I’m aware of my lameness, but can’t seem to do anything about it.
                      “I don’t even ring you anymore you know. When I do ring I just get that machine, and I won’t speak to it. I won’t. I just hang up.” She is imperturbable.
                      “Well that’s just annoying,” I say, daringly. “I was underneath the house today, painting stumps, and the phone rang twice in the room that was above me and there was nothing I could do. Whoever it was just hung up. It’s a pain.”
                      She changes tack.
                      “Well whenever I have left a message, no one calls me back, so I’ve just given up.”
                      She slumps back in her seat and groans in a way that says her vertebrae are crumbling as we speak.
                      I have one more try. “I work every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m right by the phone – my boss calls me all the time – you could just ring then. I always answer.”
                      “Oh, I can’t remember to call on particular days love, I have to just call when I need to call.”
                      We stalemate, and speak of other things.
                      On the drive home, I reach over to my bag and something falls on me and runs away. I indicate and pull sedately over to the side of the road, where I erupt from the car and dance beside it, lit up by the headlights of passing cars, trying to make sure that whatever it was hasn’t got stuck in my shorts. I don’t know how she did it, but I know she did it.

                      The Help

                        There are ominous sounds coming from the bathroom. I cleaned it all yesterday except for the shower stall. I scrubbed the toilet, the basin, the scum from around the taps, vacuumned and shook out the bath mat. However. I know from past experience M has a fundamental disbelief that I can ever clean the bathroom to meet his high standards. Of course, these standards only arise when guests are imminent. This morning I cleaned the outside of the shower stall with window cleaner, and coated the inside with shower cleaning stuff for him to wash off when he cleans underneath the wooden slats that you stand on, boatlike, that are impossible for me to get out.
                        “Did you do the walls inside the shower?” he asks loudly, with a dangerous politeness.
                        “No,” I try to shriek in modulated tones from my seat in the study, “there wasn’t enough shower cleaning stuff left – but I did the glass walls and the whole thing to just above ankle height where it gets manky.”
                        “Righhhhhht.” I hear him heave the sort of sigh that questions my right to existence. Like it was my fault that the shower cleaner ran out.
                        He’s still in there – things are being banged around just a little bit too loudly…

                        Update: All fine – we are companionably working our way through a carton of Coopers Sparkling Ale – alllll is right with the world.

                        Stumped

                           

                          Red Whine & Sandpaper

                            M & J drank two of those litre bottles of red wine last night! Chris and I stuck to a couple of beers and stayed up to watch it all fall apart ;-)
                            This morning I let the cats out of their nighttime quarters, rescued a little dragonfly with a wet wing from the only drop of water in the kitchen sink and shorted out the safety switch on the house by trying to boil the kettle without any water. M is outside back to sanding Oomoo. He checked the website last night and was truly horrified at what we have spent so far. I tried to explain that we would never have been able to buy a little boat outright, so paying for it in dribs and drabs is actually the best (and only) way for us to do it. I don’t understand how he’s standing, let alone sanding, after his efforts last night. He hasn’t even had breakfast yet. I’m off to make a pot of tea.

                            I Wanna Be Sedated

                              Another Ramone gone….

                              Lost Weekend

                                The weekend has been lost in a haze of fishing, sun, fishing, hostliness, fishing, beer, fishing and playing games of cards. Last night I learnt Gin Rummy and Manila – tonight I trounced M and Chris and was Gin Rummy Victor – Chris them promptly savaged me at a game of Concentration – I got five pairs – she got the rest. Hopeless. M is having a flounce, proclaiming that including the cost-count on mysmallboat is a ‘stupid idea’. I would beg to differ, but I’m going to make Chris watch the ‘Cat Orgy‘ episode of South Park instead.

                                The Catch

                                  We set off this morning to Burrum Heads, hired a boat, and were motoring off into the blue yonder by about 11:15am. Chris had been desperate to get on the water at some point during her ‘holiday week’ and when we finally admitted to ourselves that Oomoo simply wouldn’t be ready in time, hiring a boat was the only remaining option (besides borrowing M’s brother-in-law’s leaky tinny – which I refused to do). We settled down to some serious fishing, with concentration borne of the knowledge that it was Chris’s last big chance to show her fish prowess. It was unfortunate that I neglected my hostly attempts at being considerate and landed a mo-fo bream with amazing drama and astounding finesse. I hadn’t had any bites prior to this, and so was somewhat mentally underprepared.

                                  For Example:
                                  Something big and whalelike bites my line.
                                  B: A whale! A whale! I’ve got a WHALE!
                                  Chris: Oooh. Look at her rod! It must be a whale [with dawning hope] …or maybe a crocodile…
                                  M: It looks big! It looks big!
                                  B: It is big. It’s a MO-FO!
                                  [Shrieks repeatedly, thus alerting all other fish in the perimeter that they were under potential threat. They leave.]
                                  M: [turning into penis -powered fishing fuhrer] DON’T BREAK THE LINE! DON’T BREAK THE LINE!
                                  B: Shut up M. SHUT UP. How do I ‘not break the line’? The whale is going to break the line, not me. Be QUIET.
                                  Chris: [giggles, and looks wistfully at my line that is bending in a 'U' shape toward the sea.]
                                  M: [is momentarily cowed] Just concentrate on the fish…
                                  B: Whale
                                  M: Whale.
                                  Chris: Go Bith! Pull it in! Pull it in!
                                  I pull in a Very. Large. Bream.
                                  We all cheer. In our innocence, we do not know that this is to be the solitary fish du jour. During the next four hours I;
                                  1) Pull down the boat awning so it collapses on to Chris’s head,
                                  2) Cast over enthusiastically, cutting Chris’s fishing line in half with my backswing, sending her sinker and her baited hook gracefully to the bottom of the sea,
                                  3) Mishear M warning us that he’s about to do his cowboy style hand-reel cast; I thought he said “Look out for your heads and wallets,” and get his line wrapped around my Jarvis Walker FishHunter Series II. He insists he said “…heads and rods.”

                                  But anyway – we had our first swim of the season and made it home in one piece – even my monster fish…I let him go.

                                   

                                  Absorbing News

                                    On Monday I recieved an odd shaped parcel in the mail. M looked perplexed, but I felt a genetic twinge and realised that I knew what it contained. Two sponges. Not just any sponges. High class sponges. Sponges that, if they had names, would be called Barbara and Felicity. Harrumph. When my Dad came to stay a few weeks back, he whined like a baby about how useless our sponges were – and sadly, he was fairly close to the mark. We get them in bulk from Bunnings and they scour a hundred times better than they absorb – i.e. they don’t. He threatened that he was going to send us some ‘proper’ sponges in the post when he returned to civilisation…and lo….! Now we have two, high priced, fancy sponges (this is from the man who thinks that spending anything more than $10 on a bottle of wine is dire treachery) and I am waiting for them to prove their worth.

                                    Much Higher Education

                                      For quite a while I have been dabbling with the idea of attempting a Phd. With the experience of my Masters being so demoralising, I’ve been becoming keen on attempting some proper, hands on, non-correspondence study that I can get my teeth into. So when I saw an advertisement in The Australian for a Doctorate in Creative Writing at Queensland Uni, I got very inspired, and contacted them by email. Surprisingly enough, they called me today, and I was able to have a great discussion about what my proposal might be with someone who sounded vaguely interested! I am now in a frenzy, trying to come up with ideas…any suggestions are welcome (well, almost any) – generally related to the internet, writing, and/or crime fiction.

                                      Coddled

                                        Over at Adam Ford’s website there is a fantastic story about a Chicken Rescue. I am always uplifted by this kind of story – I would love to be a Chicken Rescuer, but will have to wait until I am going to be living somewhere that is;
                                        a) not a tiny house with a bricked courtyard,
                                        b) not somewhere that I’m planning on leaving in the next two months,
                                        c) chicken friendly, with lots of dirt to scratch around in, and well fenced.

                                        When we moved here we found an old chook shed up the back. M dug out a lot of dirt from it and created our (now dead by drought) vegie garden. The dirt had obviously been very well chickened, because things sprang from the earth like an advertisement for garden fertiliser. So poo is another good reason to rescue a chicken or two. Roosters are another matter. I can hear one RIGHT NOW and it makes me want to kill. If they observed their proper times of yodel, I wouldn’t be the Anti-Rooster, but as it is, we live between two related roosters, who insist on conversing with each other at least once an hour. Every hour.

                                        Teeth to Toast

                                          When talking to my Small Brother in the UK the other day, the topic of M’s SmallEye virus came up, and Small Brother said “Does he look like that guy in that picture book – you know, with the naggy horse and the squinting eye…?” and I knew exactly who he meant, but neither of us could remember the name. It took a couple of days, but as I was in the van with M and Chris the other day, driving along the interminable goat-trackesque Hervey Bay roads, I remembered. Mulga Bill!! I even remember some chunks of it to recite – but now I’ve come to read it I’ve realised that I’ve had Mulga Bill and another bushy kind of bloke intertwined into one in my head. Luckily I could remember three consectutive words from the unknown one ‘teeth to toast’. This was enough for Google, which found The Oath of Bad Brown Bill – it’s got fantastic illustrations and was one of my favourite picture books.

                                          This is the ‘teeth to toast’ bit:

                                          Right there and then he galloped off,
                                          To find himself a ghost.
                                          And that same night he saw a sight,
                                          That turned his teeth to toast.
                                          He’s come across a hideous ghoul,
                                          Astride a rotten log.
                                          It grinned a slimy, slippery grin,
                                          And breathed a damp green fog.

                                          …if you want to read the whole thing, I put it here for a bit.

                                          Flying Close to the Edge

                                            We’ve gone through the money we got back from the bank, and my long awaited tax return has been whittled to nothing by sheds, soil, landscaping and bills. Today I spent our last $4.40 on two loads of wash. I went to the coin laundry that’s 20cents more expensive but is near the water – so I swam while my clothes (and the guest towels and sheets) got themselves cleaned up. I got home, salty fresh, and encountered two good things. One was an offer in the letter box, from the evil Commonwealth Bank, to increase my poor exhausted credit limit – and the other was large mounds of dirt and rock that M had wheedled out of the shutupandstopit from next door. We will use it as a base for the little concrete slab, and to fill the dam out the back. There’s heaps. Literally. So we have decided to use the extra bit of credit limit to build the laundry and the fence and then (fingers crossed) we should be ready to sell up. (Although if M reads this, he will just shrug in a kind of Latin manner, and look to the sky and repeat his mantra; “there’s still a lot of tweaking to do…”. Grand Final tomorrow. Think I might be going for Brisbane…for purely geographic reasons, and the lack of a Melbourne team…of course.

                                            Fill It Up!

                                              Last night:

                                               

                                              This Morning:

                                               

                                              Perfection. So Close.

                                                M is having trouble. I am nearing the status of perfect girlfriend and he’s beginning to look gun shy, gazing about with the whites of his eyes rolling hither and thither. Not only have I started dragging him into shops filled with boating accessories, today I dragged him to Bunnings [gasp] and then made him sit out the Grand Final in the pub (the pub that we have only ever been to once before – last Grand Final day). There I proceeded to drink beer with him, share chips and a noxious garlic pizza, while wearing thongs, a singlet and paint splattered shorts (the visit to the pub was not planned). Had it not been for my brassiere I would have had a free pass to blokedom. Unfortunately I missed ascending the pedestal after I knocked beer over M and refused to walk to the end of the pier with him after the game finished. So near…but yet so far.

                                                Free Associate

                                                  1. Diminishing:: Disappearing

                                                  2. Fed up:: Shut up
                                                  3. 3:00 AM:: Awake
                                                  4. Interfere:: Cow
                                                  5. Often:: Mostly
                                                  6. Hay:: Bale
                                                  7. Prediction:: Future
                                                  8. Homophobia:: Stupid
                                                  9. Booty call:: Something to do with Beyonce
                                                  10. Enunciate:: Speak clearly

                                                  …from

                                                  ShutUpAndKillIt

                                                    Stupid man from next door began slashing his paddock which directly adjoins our property. This is not the stupid bit. The stupid bit is that M was doing the last coat of Oomoo in direct view of ShutUpAndStopIt, who didn’t tell us what he was planning to do or warn us that he would be raising a huge mo-fo amount of flying dust and grass. Not happy. Not happy at all. I will just add this to my proposed revenge, the one that will begin as soon as the house is sold. Gah.

                                                    (Have found out the reason why the block on the other side of ShutUpAndStopIt’s won’t sell. Apparently every time he sees someone looking at it, he heads out the back of his place and starts swearing very loudly at the kids, the dog, his wife…and not surprisingly, the prospective buyers begin slowly backing away, return to their inevitable four wheel drives and disappear over the hill. What this tells me is, not only is he a thuglike lout, he recognises his thuglike loutishness and utilises it to his own end! Which also demonstrates that he is slightly more enterprising than I had given him credit for. )

                                                    Visitations

                                                      Lisa and D arrived on Sunday, after leaving Melbourne at about 3pm on Friday. That is a B-I-G drive. However, they made it in one piece and came bearing gifts – and a bottle of Hardy’s Oomoo Shiraz. They thought it was a coincidence. I told them that the boat was named in honour of the wine, but that I would spit some over the bow at the launch (not wanting to bash the boat with a bottle – waste of wine, and bad for boat). So despite some drunken debauchery on the first night by the boys, we have all been rubbing along nicely. Lisa and I rabbit on about crime novels and risotto, the boys dig holes, fill them with concrete and posts and say they’re building fences.

                                                      Of course, I have to work today, Wednesday and Thursday, so they have wisely decided to take their 4WD over to Fraser Island (after much deliberation) for a night or two. So M and I are in the peachy position of having guests that aren’t actually here! It’s kind of nice, in a weird kind of way. M spent all day sanding. Not the usual kind. He was spreading out the ten tonnes of sand we had delivered (thank god for evil credit card increases). Check it out!

                                                      This makes such a difference. It has settled all the horrible dust. We’re going to sprinkle grass seed everywhere asap (and try to forget that It Still Hasn’t Rained).

                                                      Rude Awakening

                                                        I was stumbling around the outside of the house this morning, watering my garden that insists on drooping pathetically from about 10am to 3pm regardless of how lovingly I tend it. The mulch I bought isn’t very good (but it was cheap, and now I must suffer) so I have begun sticking the hose into the ground next to each of the bigger plants – the Nerium Oleander, Alyogyne Heugelii, Brunfelsia latifolia, Tibouchina Jazzie (?!), Tibouchina Alstonville and my favourite rampant climbing jasmine that I’m training to cling to the front steps. Then I went around the other side of the house, which gets even more sun, to water my three different daisies, and then moved down to sprinkle the natives – who don’t seem to need as much attention. Callistemon viminalis, Callistemon Cameo Pink and a couple more variations on the type. I reached the second one – still drowsy eyed from a bad sleep – and tipped the watering can over a bit further to fill a depression in the earth near the base of the shrub. There was no warning; with a horrible sucking sound a GINORMOUS cane toad leapt vertically out of the ground I was watering and bounded like a small dog under the house. If our neighbours weren’t awake already, I helped them along by shrieking like a B-grade schlock horror movie screen goddess. M doesn’t even come running anymore. He just sauntered around the corner a few minutes later, assessed the tableau of me, watering can and huge cane toad exit hole – shrugged, looked skywards, and went back to the boat.

                                                        Traction

                                                          Some days the feeling of just wanting to rip off ones own face, and then the rest of ones skin to allow oneself to morph into a cool quiet shallow pool of innardly organs is almost too much to resist. So is the option of removing ones eyeballs and leaving them to bathe in a in a lightly chilled bath of saline. I take the Vitamin B, but still they bite me. May begin drinking straight citronella oil.

                                                          Update: OK, after seeing this, I really have not much to moan about.

                                                          The Plague

                                                             

                                                            This is our female guests leg. It and she just returned from a harrowing visit to Fraser Island – where they were assaulted by sandflies. She has had something of an allergic reaction.

                                                            Meat and Greet

                                                              Have been being busy being a hostess, painting a fence, creating a garden and being a hostess. Trying times. Am dreading trip to Perth. Haven’t even had time to blog – have not touched email for two days [gasp]. Yesterday M and I were roped into helping out his sister, who is a devout Rotarian. I dragged unwilling M, determined to inject him with some proper, familylike, helpful feelings. There was a minor issue – we had to go past lots and lots of stalls to get to where we were going. It was hard. Lack of money helped considerably. We finally made it, signed on, and were installed behind a makeshift counter. I got to see M serving steak sandwiches ($5 – with chips) to the great unwashed. He was actually very good at it. I had a great time – it was quite high pressure because people seemed to eat constantly from 10:30am through to 2 o’clock – but this was a good thing. I like working with a sense of urgency – something my stupid day job is completely devoid of – so I was buzzing around, giving people stuff to eat that I’d never even heard of. A PlutoPup? They turned out to be hideous deep battered hot dogs on sticks.

                                                              At the time, and even for the twenty four hours later, I was still pondering the contents of the poor persons alternative to the steak sanger. For a dollar less, you got a burger (no chips) with swap meat instead of steak. (Lisa and I had been dicussing, for no reason, during the previous days, how revolting we found the title ‘Loose Meat Sandwich’ [shudder].) The swap meat was shaped into little square patties, which you put into the ready made bun – and then add fried onions. It wasn’t until to day that I realised (even though Lisa bleached me blonder last night) that the ‘swap meat’ wasn’t some scary Queensland brand of concocted pre-made meat – but was just ordinary scary defrosted-then-cooked processed meat patties dressed up with the name ‘Swap Meet Burger’ in honour of….[boom boom] the Swap Meet. I swear I was actually this stupid even before I went blonder. On the way out of the grounds I found a cat night light. Odd, but sort of cute!

                                                               

                                                              Stamina

                                                                Lisa continues to be bitten; pustules form and then leak scary pustule juice down her leg. Yet still, this morning when she realised that today is her last day here, she said she’d be sad to leave! She has stamina. She is stoic amidst her sea of malingering pustulation. She should be awarded the Order of the Sandfly for merely surviving – I don’t think she is made for the great biting outdoors.

                                                                Au Revoir…Again

                                                                  I am leaving in about 15 minutes to be driven to Brisbane with Lisa and Dennis, leaving behind M, Saf and Mow :-( I am very sad to be leaving, as I thought I would be up here until we moved down to Melbourne, however, my boss had other ideas. I leave Brisbane tomorrow for Perth and this stupid conference, where yet again I will know no one and know nothing. Lisa has suggested I take up smoking for the duration so I have an excuse to race outside a couple of times an hour and escape. I can’t believe I’m seriously considering it. Gah. There is no hotel booked, that I can discover – and of course, my boss knows nothing about anything. I give up. Bye. Expect some mournful I-am-a-social-incompetent posts from the west…

                                                                  Blogging from Perth

                                                                    OK. I am blogging from an iMac in some litte coffee shop in the UWA. The keyboard is a floppy plastic thing that appears to be suctioned to the wooden countertop, but what the hell – it’s free. My boss took off to a ‘high level’ meeting five minutes ago, and I took the opportunity to slip away and give myself some necessary computer time. This conference isn’t as bad as the last one – at least I can understand the language, and actually know a few people. I dipped out of the ‘dinner’ (which was apparently more like extensive snacky things) at the winery last night and felt very decadent kicking back in my hotel room – we are two hours behind the time that I’m used to – so I passed out at about 8:30pm.

                                                                    It was a welcome breathing space, having been a hostess for the past week. Lisa and Dennis let me scam a lift with them to Brisbane – and because they drove (well, Dennis drove – or, to be more specific, did his kind of half driving/half hooning) I was a malleable tagalong and didn’t do much but read my book and go out for a dodgy laksa. Of course, we turned up at the international terminal the next morning and were informed that my instructions were wrong – my flight left from the domestic terminal – thus I got up at 5am instead of sleeping in until a quarter to seven. Grrr. I was hoping that this wasn’t an omen for the next five days – so far it hasn’t been.

                                                                    Jock and Steph – my very good friends – happened to be in Perth. They met me at the airport and drove me to the university – all waaaay too nice of them, considering that they were flying back to Melbourne that afternoon. It was lovely to see them – I donated them Lisa’s copy of Lauren Henderson’s Freeze My Margarita and they told me what I should do on Sunday – my one day off. I am going to go to Fremantle markets, and then to Rottnest Island to meet the Quokka of my dreams. Jock also commanded me to go to the Sail and Anchor – his fave Perth pub. I am feeling a little bit more confident about travelling with my boss this time. I have a hotel room of my OWN and I am not being such a boneless chicken. Huzzah! Am looking forward to Melbourne on Monday, though I will have only six days or so and will not fit in too much fun. Poor M is taking care of his sickly mother back home.

                                                                    However, I heard from him yesterday that Oomoo is FINISHED! Oh my goodness – can’t wait to get back. I’ll be able to update mysmallboat.com once I get back to work – am now kicking myself that I didn’t bring my laptop. Times like these make my lust for a wifi card for my Palm T3 reach even greater heights. One of the conference people came back in after lunch having roamed the uni for a wifi point – he found two and was able to check his email etc. I was green eyed with envy. I even squeaked. One day I will get one, and no doubt it will be immediately superseded by something even cooler….d’oh.

                                                                    Club Lounge Recovery

                                                                      I spent the majority of yesterday cycling around Rottnest Island. So there are some perks to four days of conference hell, punctuated only by brief flashes of wonder (which were the morning/afternoon tea and lunch breaks). The ‘Gala Dinner’ was a scary faux Greek-wedding affair, with dodgy food, free flowing alcohol and people old enough to know better dancing to the aptly named horrifying cover band ‘Our Generation’. My table was non-plussed – it was anything but our generation – and cranked out the hits with such relentless predictability that we began guessing what they would play next…My SharonaRiver Deep, Mountain High…they were infatigable. I was not.

                                                                      Yesterday most people left, but my intrepid boss wanted to go to Rottnest Island. I – the humble employee – agreed. Of course it inevitably cost more than I could afford, and, of course, he (on his comparably stratospheric salary) didn’t notice. So I kept getting out my poor little exhausted plastic square. The weather on the way over was completely dire – slashing rain, huge waves, howling wind – in fact, it was so exciting that I didn’t feel seasick at all! Once we got there it cleared, and thus I am sunburnt. Again. Rottnest Island is extremely beautiful – and having completed my reconnaissance by bicycle, I have decided that M and I must return there by boat. The water is so clear and the Quokkas! Let me just say that they were lucky that I didn’t have a basket attached my bike, or I would have taken one with me. At least one. I took an obsessive amount of photos of a Quokka that had a little tiny Quok in it’s pouch – I almost died of its cuteness.

                                                                      I am typing from the [gasp] Qantas Club at Perth airport – smuggled in by my boss. Bliss. Free internet, coffee, tea and trashy magazines that, alas, I cannot indulge in. It would only confirm my blondeness to the other conference people that are lurking about. There are accented blokes in suits doing deals on their phones all around my cubicle and I am feeling very jet set. Oh. Flight has been delayed half an hour. It takes So Long to get back to Melbourne. Gah. I’d best go and find a phone and begin bartering for accomodation.

                                                                      William Tell

                                                                        M introduced me to the term ‘the tell’. It’s when you do something that gives you away – e.g. like when John Howard says he knows nothing about something and blames his advisers – that’s a tell that he’s lying (and oh, what fun the next three l-o-n-g years are going to be…). Thankfully my boss has a tell – or I would have probably lost my job at least thirty-seven times already. He has a terribly annoying habit of clearing his throat. Constantly. So whenever he is slinking up behind me when I am, for example, blogging in the Qantas Lounge – I always get enough warning to switch to the other page I have open in the background. Usually something like this. I am aware I am breaking an essential rule of blogging here i.e. ‘never discuss your workplace online or you may be dooced‘ however, sometimes it’s necessary to either vent – or rampage through the airport causing a national incident. Gah.

                                                                        Quokka

                                                                          Oh the pinnacle of cuteness. Quokka and baby.

                                                                           

                                                                          The very well positioned Dome Cafe on Rottnest Island (where the Quokka pic was taken).

                                                                           

                                                                          Getting Around the Issue

                                                                            I have just updated mysmallboat.com (my internet connection here is so fast it makes me weep) and I went to check the site’s email – which is a gmail address. That’s when I realised that they’ve finally done it. They have blocked all major webmail sites. This has been ‘in place’ since February – but hasn’t actually worked until now. So then, of course I had to spend the next 20 minutes figuring out how to get around it. I played around with different proxy settings and then found this site – and after plowing through a mix of helpful suggestions and self-righteous pronouncements, I hit paydirt. I can get to gmail without being blocked by using https://gmail.google.com/ – it’s the ‘s’ in the http that apparently makes it too hard for the proxy server to deal with. Chalk one up to me – a small victory against the system.

                                                                            Red the Wonderdog

                                                                              Via Random Acts Of Reality there is a great story about a dog called Red in the Battersea Dog’s Home who managed, on several occasions, to break out of his cage, free some other dogs and then indulge in minor rampaging and midnight feasts…it’s a picture book waiting to happen.

                                                                              I Miss M

                                                                                 

                                                                                Good At Research

                                                                                  Somebody did it before I did. This is in Redfern. Impressive.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  (If you voted Liberal I will hunt you down and KILL YOU…I don’t know where you live but I am very good @ research.)

                                                                                  Flopsy, Mopsy, Sonic and Hazard

                                                                                    I am just going to keep on posting pictures. I’m sure no one minds. This is a rabbit that I met this morning – it’s on the same level of cuteness as the Quokka…

                                                                                     

                                                                                    At present I am in the pleasant situation of having the keys to three different households in my possession. Obviously tonight I will stay where the bunny is – then tomorrow…[looks thoughtful] I may move on to visit Sonic the Cat, having already spent some valuable quality time with Hazard ( the TerrorCat of Coburg). Then on the weekend I will finally bestow some affection on Chris’s new little stumpy dwarf cat Eric…

                                                                                    Maternal Guilt

                                                                                      The phone rings this morning. At 7:45am. It is my mother, who has already left some messages about ‘seeing me when I’m in town’. This doesn’t mean she will meet up with me in the city. Nor does it mean we will meet up halfway. It means it that I go to her end of town, for that is my proper, daughterly duty.

                                                                                      Me: Hi mum.
                                                                                      Her: Hi B. Where are you? On your way to work?
                                                                                      Me: No. I’m at Mung’s – he lives near the city, I don’t have to leave until 8:30 to get to work.
                                                                                      Her: [sighing] Oh.
                                                                                      [I hold the pause.]
                                                                                      Her: How was band practice?
                                                                                      Me: [In shock. She has never asked me this before. And now I have to lie, because it was cancelled at the last minute, suddenly making mother/daughter quality time an option. She must never know.] It was good. Just quiet – we’re trying to learn new songs.
                                                                                      Her: [As if I hadn't spoken.] Well do you know if your brother’s arriving?
                                                                                      Me: No. He would had to have left London on Wednesday – he’s not coming.
                                                                                      Her: [Sounding like she's glad she only had three children - if she'd had more they would probably have also turned out to be evil little treacherous no-shows.] Oh.
                                                                                      Me: Yeah so it sounds like he’s taken that job in India.
                                                                                      Her: Oh.
                                                                                      Me: So….?
                                                                                      [This is where the guilt begins to tighten around my psyche.]
                                                                                      Her: So. It doesn’t look like I’m going to see you.
                                                                                      Me: No, well I’ve only got six days in Melbourne. I’m working every day
                                                                                      Her: Have you seen Dad?
                                                                                      Me: Yeah – we had lunch on Monday. In The City.
                                                                                      Her: Oh. Well. What about tonight? Dinner?
                                                                                      Me: I have to go to a work dinner…
                                                                                      Her: [Sounding like I'm personally pounding the nails that are pinning her to the martyred cross of motherhood] Oh. Right. Well, have a good trip home.
                                                                                      Me: Der. Good on you Mum. I’ll give you a call on the weekend.
                                                                                      Her: Well I go to yoga at 11:30 tomorrow morning, so try to call before that.
                                                                                      [Meaning: I bet you'll be hungover to hell when you wake up the night after your 'work dinner' and have to clog the basin with vomit upon getting out of bed. That wouldn't have happened if you had caught up with me.]
                                                                                      Me: [Trying to sound chirpy and failing - she's begun to drag me down to where she is, like some giant deep sea squid.] Yeah OK. I’ll call then. Maybe you’ll have recovered from your slump….
                                                                                      Her: [Pathetically.] I just want to see you…
                                                                                      Me: Yeah, well, I said I’d call. I’ll call. I’ll be staying right near you. God!

                                                                                      And that’s how my day began. Even Mung and Rachel’s screaming baby was a blissful addition to my morning after the thumbscrew torture of the I’m-so-diappointed-in-you-but-will-never-actually-say-so thwarted mother. Gah. If my BROTHER had not decided against VISITING, and my SISTER wasn’t ODD all the maternal hope for family INTERACTION wouldn’t be pinned on ME.

                                                                                      Sunday Morning

                                                                                        OK, so I submitted to my mother (what a surprise) and had a nice lunch on Saturday and then a wander around the shops – where I scored a rather excellent badge for my car (photo to to appear later). Naturally she made me fix her printer [sigh] but that was to be expected. I managed (for the most part) to bite my tongue and not shriek; “I told you not to buy this piece of antiquated crap that you call a ‘laptop’. It would be more useful as a doorstop.” Gah. Slow computers make my teeth grind, but ex-Education Department Acer laptops make me want to kill. Despite this, all was well – I went home to my temporary abode, ate the rest of Ellise’s leftovers and flicked between The Parent Trap and Crocodile Dundee.

                                                                                        Sonic spent the night on my feet, under the doona, which was a blessing as I was a freezing block of ice, due to my crappy circulation and inability to work the heater. I woke up at 5:30am, jumped in the borrowed Volvo and went to take on Camberwell Market yeeeha! Two dresses, two tops, two trousers (that it would later emerge that I was too fat to fit into), one man’s shirt, a Shure microphone case, Lauren Henderson’s Chained and a signed first edition of Peter Temple’s Bad Debts later I was driving back to the palace. No band practice…again. So I killed a few hours by putting more hair-dye and sitting in the sun with Sonic. The weather was divine. So divine that I didn’t really want to waste an hour of it by getting public transport from Hampton to Preston, but it had to be done. I tidied up, left the house/car keys in a burglar proof spot and carefully pulled the front door shut – usefully leaving my mobile phone upstairs in the study. ARGH! Proceeded to the station, where a psychic feeling came upon me which urged me to buy a ticket – so I did, and was pounced on by ticket inspectors two stations later. I was able to smile smugly, and wonder if they were getting penalty rates for working on a Sunday.

                                                                                        The tram journey from the city to Plenty Road should be bottled and sold as sleeping potion. I finally made it. Chris greeted me in between coughs and I got fed chocolate cake, beer, wine, chili prawns and a strawberry ice-cream. She made me watch Australian Idol – which was kind of like watching a car crash circa 1986, and I finally put faces to the names that I read about over at TSSH.
                                                                                        Oh. Other highlight. Met Chris and Jody’s new cat – Eric. He has stumpy legs and is a Burmese. Extremely cute. He goes to work with Jody at the nursing home – half the people there think Eric is a chihuahua, and the other half assume he’s their cat they haven’t seen for 50 years. Luckily, Eric appears to be very amiable – purrs on cue and is happy to be patted. His only shortcomings (ha ha ha) are his legs – and his I-am-a-lost-stray-who-may-never-be-fed-again routine at feeding time. Kind of like M and a bottle of good red.

                                                                                        Petition: Save the Palace

                                                                                          OK – I haven’t seen heaps of shows at the Palace; those that I can remember include Dinosaur Jnr (I then had a headache for three days – LOUD!) , Weezer, um – I didn’t get admitted to see the Wonderstuff because I had no ID (groan) – who else? Can’t recall, but this topic is bringing to mind lots of other killer shows I’ve been to in St Kilda – the Juliana Hatfield Three, Belly, Morphine, Jeff Buckley, oh – and getting a boot in the face seeing Rancid at the P.O.W.
                                                                                          Anyway. The point I’m trying to make, is that by shutting down the Palace, Melbourne will be losing one of it’s more kick arse venues. It’s bigger than the Corner and the P.O.W, but it’s not the Rod Laver Arena. It needs to stay. Fuck the ‘developers’. Surely it should be obvious to everyone by now that the last few ‘developments’ in St Kilda should be removed with some kind of giant hoover. I remember in 1994 writing a feature article on the ‘development’ of the St Kilda Sea Baths. What a joke they turned into. Why don’t they redevelop the Novotel? OK – the Palace isn’t a wildly attractive piece of architecture, but it plays an essential role in Melbournes live music scene. Thus, I have signed the petition to save it, and you should too…

                                                                                          Pulling the Wool

                                                                                            I was very lax and didn’t remember to book my train ticket from Brisbane to Hervey Bay until Saturday. Even then I didn’t book it. Why? Because when I tried, I was told that the train was full!! Yike! So I booked a seat on a [shudder] bus, but continued calling the train booking number on a regular basis. Poor Chris, Jody and Eric got up very valiantly at 5am to get me to the 6am plane. Chris’s flu/cold thing was so bad at that point that she coughed and hacked with streaming eyes all the way there, absently changing gears when necessary :-(

                                                                                            The plane was fine. I hit Brissy at 8am and immediately called the train booking line, again. They had just had a cancellation. In business class. I was beyond caring, just wanting to get home, so I took it. It was only about $25 extra. That’s about $6 an hour (in bus terms – the bus takes about 5.5 hours, the train takes 3.5). It was worth it – and it meant I got to catch up with Ellise and Dave on arrival, before they took off back to Brisbane to fly home to their impeccably looked after house….hee hee. So I sashayed to Maryborough in style – the seat was about double the size, free juice on departure, a bathroom bigger than a cupboard and copious amounts of legroom. Plus – I also got to ogle Colin Firth in Girl With a Pearl Earring for the last 90 minutes of the journey. Too good.

                                                                                            Arrival! Fabulously happy to see M. Pashed him soundly – much to the amusement of the people on the train, I’m sure. Then got to see Ellise and Dave – which was lovely. We all chattered madly and decided to go and get a drink – as E & D had only about an hour or two to spare. M and I jumped in the van, and they followed in their fancy-pants hire car. M was busy telling me about what he’d been up to. Then he told me that he’d got me a very very exciting present for Oomoo.

                                                                                            I bounced up and down.
                                                                                            “What is it? What is it?!”
                                                                                            M shook his head secretively. “I can’t tell you. But you’ll like it.”
                                                                                            I groaned. We drove on for another minute or two.
                                                                                            “No!” declaimed M. “I have to show you what it is. Right now. It’s in the back of the van. I was going to wait until we got home but…”
                                                                                            He pulled over to the side of the road. The hire car pulled up behind us. Dave did a ‘what’s going on?’ face and I shrugged and said;
                                                                                            “I’m getting a present?!”
                                                                                            M opened the sliding door of the van.
                                                                                            “It’s quite big. It’s under the tarpaulin.”
                                                                                            Frazzled with excitement, I yanked the tarpaulin, and saw an arm. My first thought was – ‘He’s killed someone and needs me to hide the body. Oh. My. God.’
                                                                                            Then I yanked more of the tarp and found my brother!! I think I screamed loud enough to be heard by my mother in Melbourne (though she hasn’t called, so she might have missed it). I couldn’t believe it. I had been thoroughly done over by everyone – all of whom were cackling. Small Brother emerged slightly bedraggled, but still smartly coiffured. I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then apologised to him for telling everyone I knew he was a nob for not coming over. I had been so convinced that he’d decided to stay in London, but he had been here with M since Tuesday!! Unbelievable.

                                                                                            I had to drink three shandies to recover.

                                                                                            B Did a Bad Bad Thing

                                                                                              I’ve hardly touched my computer this week – this is due to M and I being determined to finish the house in the quickest possible time. It is also due to my extreme politeness – instead of spending my nights on tweaking webpages and blogging, I have been hostessly – playing new card games, reclining on the couch and being generally conversational. Small Brother is being very handy to have around – he and M have built a very cute little laundry, which will help the house along, and now he is working on a path to the front steps.

                                                                                              Unfortunately the progress of the house has me to contend with. Our back room has two walls of louvre windows. They are manky, to put it mildly. I decided that my first assault on finishing the house would begin in this room. We painted it a year ago, but it is now coated almost entirely with bugs and the louvres have never been cleaned. Think of the dirtiest windows you can, and then multiply the dirt by seven. So I took out one wall of louvres and washed them all, chipped of paint splashes etc. but almost as soon I’d taken out the first lot I realised how disgusting the frames were. Rusty, cobwebby bleugh. So I found some KillRust: Superior Protection Epoxy Enamel – it’s very cool, because it’s silver – so I thought I would make the frames look new. I also thought that I’d better begin doing this while M and Small Brother were at the tip, because I knew M would frown on it as ‘unecessary’ and ‘too time consuming and fiddly’. That was my first transgression. But really, that’s nothing compared to what I did next.

                                                                                              The house is pretty filthy – a combination of all the sand that we’ve spread around outside, general dust and accumulated debris. Last night – after a very exhausting day, I decided to do a quick vacuum to get rid of the worst of the sand. I did the back room, the kitchen, dining room and a bit of the lounge. It was then I noticed a lot of scratches had appeared on our beautiful polished floor. In fact, they had appeared everywhere I had vack-ed. OMG. I was in BIG trouble. Not only had I trashed our lovely floor, but I had trashed our lovely floor that M had sweated blood over. M came in just as Small Brother and I had cracked open a stubby of Coopers Sparkling each. I set my jaw and grimly owned up to what I’d done.
                                                                                              “Don’t worry about it darlin’,” said M, “it’ll be fine.”
                                                                                              My whole body sagged in relief. We played cards, watched Kath & Kim and, sat there horrified, as M consumed vast amounts of beer, the stinkiest blue cheese you can imagine, and some sardines. I instructed him not to come to bed before bonding closely with some Listerine.

                                                                                              The first words I heard His Stinkieth utter when he walked out of the bedroom into the dining room were anguished.
                                                                                              “Oh noooooooo.”
                                                                                              I immediately assumed that I’d walked in my sleep, emptied the teapot down the sink, and blocked the drain again.
                                                                                              M came back and put me straight. He was pale, breathing erratically.
                                                                                              “I’ve just seen what you did to the floor. How could you?”
                                                                                              He left the bedroom and I looked heavenward, waiting for a lightning bolt to wipe me out – or at least hospitalise me for a week or two. Nothing happened.
                                                                                              For the rest of the morning M did not speak to me – and when he did, he addressed me like I was a Liberal politician who had mistakenly stumbled on to the property. I felt bad.
                                                                                              Then he came and explained that he felt like I had taken his Humber out and crashed it. I felt worse.
                                                                                              I offered to lick each scratch, individually. (They seem to disappear a little with a combination of dust and spit.) M shook his head. He and Small Brother disappeared to check the crab pots. I don’t know what happened there, but when they came back, M said he was sorry for how he had treated me, that he knew it wasn’t my fault, but I was still an idiot for not noticing sooner. I looked big sad dolphin eyes at him. He reiterated the Humber analogy. I slumped further earthwards. Then he made me a cup of tea, we kissed and made up. Mostly.

                                                                                              Just after that, Small Brother came into the kitchen.
                                                                                              “I’ve booked your skydive for 10am tomorrow morning,” he said.
                                                                                              M looked musingly at me.
                                                                                              “You’re going to jump out of a plane at ten thousand feet?” he asked.
                                                                                              I nodded.
                                                                                              “Good.”

                                                                                              Not Today, Thank You.

                                                                                                I got up this morning and immediately thought that it seemed too windy to jump from an aeroplane at 10,000ft. Small Brother and M labelled my worries as ridiculous – just like they did yesterday when I was dubious about launching Oomoo into the seriously frothing brine. I was vindicated by a call from the sky-diving company, who said (what a surprise) it was too windy! So it was another day of cleaning more louvres in the back room and painting the frames a rustproof aluminium:

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                …and it’s quite hard to type with a furry fuzzy moth sitting uncomfortably close to the [backspace] key:

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                The Guilt

                                                                                                  I have The Guilt. Almost constantly. The guilt that I haven’t called M’s mother since I’ve been back. The guilt that I am a bad email correspondent. I hate these stupid nagging feelings that can make a whole day turn sour. I know I should have called M’s mother, but I haven’t. I call people for a reason, not just to say hello. But ‘hello’ should be reason enough. Gah. I have not made contact with my friends Claire and Marg – which is also inexcusable. I have written three very long letters to my Nan in Massachusetts over the past two months, so I’m feeling a bit better on that score. But generally, I have some persistent little pulse of remorse – the flipside of which is self-loathing. There. That’s my confession for the day. Tomorrow I jump out of the plane. I hope my bad karma doesn’t come and mess with the ripcord.

                                                                                                  Something Fishy

                                                                                                    The other night – during the big thunderstorm, we judged the extension cord that we had hanging out the window connected to the outside freezer (the only freezer – in case you were mistakenly thinking we had lots) was probably a bad idea.
                                                                                                    “Is there anything in it?” I asked M anxiously, visualising another brother that I had yet to discover shivering in its depths.
                                                                                                    “Nah, it’s empty,” said M, blithely.
                                                                                                    Just then, some rain must have hit the cord, because the safety switch clicked on and all the powerpoints went out. That was the decider. The freezer stayed off.
                                                                                                    Two days later I notice Mow vigiling outside the fridge. Poor little thing – it’s getting humid up here and I thought he was just trying to get cool. Then I noticed the smell. Oh god. As the weather got hotter, it got worse. Even Mow stopped his vigil.
                                                                                                    It doesn’t help that the freezer is right outside the Spare Bedroom – currently occupied by Small Brother (also known as ‘Pathboy’ for the path he just made out the front) who has come for an idyllic retreat, but has ended up painting the shed, helping build the laundry, making a path, eating a tonne of pesto and putting up with M’s jokes. His physique has also come under serious risk due to our excessive pasta consumption. So. The rotting bait smell he does not need.
                                                                                                    Last night we plugged in the freezer in desperation. It shorted out the house again. I started thinking that maybe the person who said it was ‘empty’ should possibly deal with it, but stayed quiet and donated Small Brother my White Musk Body Shop candle.

                                                                                                    This morning I decided to tackle it. Surely if I just didn’t breathe through my nose, I wouldn’t know if it was stinky or not, and would then just be able to secure whatever it was in several plastic bags and put it in the bin. Scrubbed and gloved I approached the freezer, which looked malevolent in the way that only badly treated whitegoods can. I opened the door and reeled back, gloves in the air. A cloud of flies buzzed jubilantly,thrilled. It was not bait. It was a whole bag of fish heads – which are, I suppose, actually bait, because they go in the crab traps, but still – there’s a vast difference between an ‘empty’ freezer, and one filled with FISH HEADS. I ran screaming inwardly around the circumference of the house until I found evil M. The male mind, as I may have noted once before, works in oblique and mysterious ways. Apparently by pointing out his error (mistakenly saying ‘empty’ instead of ‘malodorously revolting fish heads’) I offended him – making it impossible for him to retreat gracefully .

                                                                                                    B: [reeling from the horror] M! M! You have to help me. The freezer is SO not empty. There is a Whole. Bag. Of. Fish. HEADS. in it. It’s horrible.
                                                                                                    M: [assuming unassailable expression] So?
                                                                                                    B: So? So? So we have to get rid of them. It’s disgusting – and it’s stinking out the Spare Bedroom. Ugh.
                                                                                                    M: [shrugs, and looks more and more like Gary Cooper - nothing is going to bother him, ever again.] We can’t open it, it will stink the house out.
                                                                                                    B: [opens mouth to point out that house already smells like a three day old corpse, and shuts it again. waits.]
                                                                                                    M: [speaking slowly to explain to B, the small ignorant child] We’ll have to move it elsewhere, then empty it out…
                                                                                                    B: [nods acquiescently and stumps back up the stairs, marvelling that at no time did M ever say sorry for being wrong and mistaking 'malodorously revolting fish heads' for a shiny empty freezer]

                                                                                                    Going for the Jump

                                                                                                      OK – here I go. I jump at 1pm. Good luck me!
                                                                                                      :-)

                                                                                                      Survival of the Queasiest

                                                                                                        OK – the parachute opened! I was very grateful that it did. I jumped from 10,000ft – though the skydive guys kept trying to talk me into jumping from 14,000 – I think it was because the other people who were supposed to jump didn’t show up and they needed the money. Small Brother, M and I went up to the Skydive office at 1pm and waited around for quite a while – we watched skydiving videos and read the visitors book where they get everyone who’s jumped to sign and make a comment. All of the comments – every single one – were like this:

                                                                                                        BETTER THAN SEX! – Steve from Ireland
                                                                                                        Ohhh Myyyyyy Godddddd! – Mary from Canada
                                                                                                        YOU guyz ROCK!! AWESOME! – Jen from the UK
                                                                                                        The MOST amazing experience of my life!!! – Sven from Sweden

                                                                                                        I was quiet but with big wide eyes. After a while M and Small Brother left and I got put into my suit, harness and took off all my jewellery. I got to practice bending into a backwards banana shape on the carpet, head and feet to the ceiling, back arched. Then I did what I have always sworn I will never do – got into a small Cessna. Yike. But as Small Brother pointed out – if you have to do it, it’s probably best to do it when you have a parachute to bail out with.

                                                                                                        The flight up was extraordinary. The plane was so small – there was only me, my jump partner (now to be referred to as JumpMan) and the pilot – and it was full! There was only one seat – the pilot’s – we just sat on the floor. All of Hervey Bay was spread out like a picnic blanket – I could see the streets that I knew and other areas that I’d never seen before. It was like a birds eye view of town planning. We flew out over the coast and toward Fraser Island. The water was very beautiful; I could see the different depths and shelves beneath the sea, tiny little boats, milky white sandbars and deep water channels. I felt better about sailing to faraway places – there was so much room to move down there!

                                                                                                        About six minutes into the flight I had a blonde moment and got it into my head that I was jumping from 1000 metres. I decided that everything looked lovely from where we were – surely we weren’t going much higher? I asked JumpMan how high we were. He pointed at his altimeter – it said 3000 feet. It was then that I remembered we had to get to 10,000 and almost bit off my own face. Oh. My. God. We didn’t climb straight up – it was more roundabout and scenic. I would have been quite happy to sit up there all day and look down out of the window, secure that I had a parachute to rely on before we nosedived into the sea. JumpMan had other ideas.

                                                                                                        JumpMan: OK B, are you ready?
                                                                                                        B: [nods mutely - eyes big and wide]
                                                                                                        J: Right. Get on your knees with your back to me. Closer. Closer.
                                                                                                        [In the end he just grabs me, and I become his instant, cojoined twin.]
                                                                                                        B: Yike!
                                                                                                        [He straps me to him so tightly that I feel like some kind of extra piece of clothing. I can hardly breathe, but I'm glad. I want security at all costs - even if it makes me feel like a sex aid.]
                                                                                                        J: OK. Do you remember what we practiced? Foot out the door, knees over the edge. Remember, don’t jump, just let me take you down. OK?
                                                                                                        B: [more mute nodding]

                                                                                                        We wait. The ground looks as far away as I’ve ever seen it. JumpMan and the pilot confer. I can’t hear what they’re saying – I’m hoping it’s not “we’re losing fuel – I’ve lost all control – you must jump!” All of a sudden, it’s time….

                                                                                                        JumpMan opens the door. It looked like a flimsy piece of crap, but it had obviously been doing it’s job, because the noise and the wind were suddenly overpowering. I edged my foot out on to the wheel strut, and put my other knee out over the doorway. I instantly forgot about beginning my ‘banana’ position, but JumpMan pulled my head back firmly. I felt like a horse. He pushed forward.

                                                                                                        The next ten seconds were like every rollercoaster you can imagine coming off the rails with you in it, but feeling strangely like Mel Gibson in Die Hard at the same time. It took me that long to get my ‘banana’ posture happening. JumpMan was tugging at my arms to get them into the right position. Suddenly I realised how I was supposed to be, and realised I had a little more control if I closed my fingers and used my hands like wings. This got the thumbs-up from JumpMan. Neither of us could hear anything, the noise of our bodies falling through the sky and the wind blew everything away. We fell for a few more seconds until I felt the jerk of the parachute opening. We were wrenched upright from face down. Everything went silent. Absolutely. That was the most amazing bit of the whole jump. Floating thousands of feet above the sea in perfect quiet. I think JumpMan expected me to get a bit more excited about the last 40 seconds of freefall, but I was more enraptured by the feeling of being a magic, silent, floating bubble. Extraordinary.
                                                                                                        J: Woo HOO! Great, huh?
                                                                                                        B: [feeling like a feather] Uh huh. It’s beautiful. I can see everything.

                                                                                                        We floated for a while, it seemed to take forever. I was looking for M and Small Brother on the ground, but was too high up to make them out. I could have floated silently all the way to the ground, but I had to open my big mouth. I’d begun to wonder how we were going to land in the right spot.
                                                                                                        B: How do you steer?
                                                                                                        J: Riiiight. Hold this strap with your left hand. Grab the other one with your right.
                                                                                                        [My arms are now in the air like I'm mid-way through a Mexican wave.]
                                                                                                        J: Now if you want to go right, pull on the right strap.
                                                                                                        [I pull like a girl. Nothing happens. I'm wondering if this is a good idea.]
                                                                                                        J: No, pull. Like this.

                                                                                                        He yanked down on the right hand strap and we went into a series of loops that crossed my eyes and almost made me bite my tongue off. It was not pleasant. Then he did it again, but this time on the left side. We were travelling now at triple the speed. As soon as we stopped floating like a bubble with the wind and actually harnessed it, the power of the parachute became obvious. It wasn’t silent anymore. He did another series of loops and I relived every moment of the banana smoothie I’d had a few hours previously. By this time I was truly nauseous, but also completely amazed at what I was doing. I could see M and Small Brother down on the beach, looking skyward, and another skydiver near them holding a flag to show us where we were going to land.

                                                                                                        I got to do a bit more floating and then JumpMan got down to business.
                                                                                                        J: I’m going to steer us in. Show me your landing position.
                                                                                                        [I stuck my legs straight out in front of me, and grabbed under my knees to hold my feet in the air.]
                                                                                                        J: Great, that’s fine. Now you’re probably going to have to slide in on your bum. I’ll be doing the landing, you just concentrate on keeping your legs up. Only put your feet on the ground if you hear me tell you to. OK?
                                                                                                        B: OK.

                                                                                                        The ground got closer and closer. M and Small Brother were waving – I did semaphores with my arms. We landed with precision. JumpMan told me to put my feet down, and my butt never touched the ground at all. I felt very pro. The other skydive guy came running up to stabilise us. I was grinning like a freak, but feeling like I was about to be sick. I shook hands with JumpMan and thanked him for the ride. Small Brother and M sauntered up, beaming. Wanted to know what it had been like. I could only answer in words of one syllable, due to my nausea.
                                                                                                        “How was it?”
                                                                                                        “Amazing.”
                                                                                                        “How scary was it jumping out of the plane?”
                                                                                                        “Very.”
                                                                                                        “How do you feel?”
                                                                                                        “Queasy.”
                                                                                                        “We saw you doing loops!”
                                                                                                        “Yep.”

                                                                                                        The skydiving guys had given up coaxing an American-style BETTER THAN SEX woo-hoo reaction from me. I felt quiet. I’d just floated like a cloud. What was there to say? I had a feeling that Small Brother and M were slightly disappointed with my demeanor, but I couldn’t help it – I was half wonder, half quease.

                                                                                                        I rode back in the minibus with the skydivers and they chatted all the way back. I held on to my stomach and tried to join in. What I really wanted was to sit somewhere cool with a long cold drink, but I had a 12km drive back to town in a hot Humber in front of me. We got back to the airport and I handed in my suit, harness and shoes. They gave me my 10,000ft certificate! They didn’t ask me to sign the book. I am a bit sad about that now, but at the time I just had to escape and sit down somewhere. What would I have said?
                                                                                                        Queasy, but brilliant.

                                                                                                         

                                                                                                        If you click on the picture you can download a little movie that Small Brother took of me. It’s just less than 1MB.

                                                                                                        John Peel RIP

                                                                                                          Slain by Smell

                                                                                                            I used to have about a million oil burners – and now when I actually need one, there aren’t any to be found. M attacked the freezer. The stench was putrid. Oh god. The cats were beside themselves, throwing their furry bodies at the walls of their home. M bore it all with very good grace, though he did say that I ‘owed him one’. One what? He looked mysterious. I am left to ponder, surrounded by incense and a citronella lantern.

                                                                                                            Money Money Money

                                                                                                              I’m loaded.
                                                                                                              It’s official.
                                                                                                              I’m the 636,584,735 richest person on earth!


                                                                                                              How rich are you? >>

                                                                                                              The Definition

                                                                                                                Todays definition of bliss is listening to someone who only charges $15 an hour mowing your three quarters of an acre. Lovely. Oh, and in other news, [miaow] is two years old today! Cool, huh? I have celebrated by removing comments, as I am deluged by spam and am losing large chunks of my life here on earth trying to keep it under control. If you would like/can be bothered/feel inspired to contact me, I’ve put my email address up there on the left. Right near the [gulp] nanowrimo badge.

                                                                                                                My Decline

                                                                                                                  M got sick of me swooning over jars of homemade Passionfruit Butter at the market and bought me one. I am limp from fighting my urge to consume half the jar in one sitting. Help! We also bought some shortbread, which M is currently working his way through, so far he’s eaten four slabs, and I’m probably going to have to hide the rest so I get to eat mine at leisure. Tomorrow morning I am going shopping with M’s mother, who says that she has to buy me something and wants to get me something I’ll like. I’m erring in the direction of new shorts, as all of mine have been sacrificed to the goddess of paint.

                                                                                                                  A Wrinkly Melbourne Cup

                                                                                                                    I have two standard days of the year where I go with the flow and bogan with the best of them. Grand Final Day and the Melbourne Cup. Last year I remember gathering up my courage to turn up at someones house who I had only met once, to mingle rather desperately with the few people I did know and put away a few champagnes. M was sequestered in the Land of the Sandfly (here) and I was an honorary singleton. The year before that, I can take a stab and suggest that we watched the race in the Loch Pub – an establishment that gets my high recommendation. OK, so I’ve established the past. (I’m doing Nanowrimo and am getting rather carried away by structure. Sigh.) Today we decided to spend Cup Day with M’s mother (now to be referred to as MM). She was so thrilled when I told her that we’d head over to the Kondari Resort with her that there was no turning back. I put on three different frocks, M tapped a well shod foot and we turned up right on the dot of 11.30am. Just before we reached her house, we noticed a selection of wrinklies all crossing the road from her ‘over 50′s’ village to Kondari. It should have given me an inkling of what was to follow…

                                                                                                                    We proceded at a sedate pace to the resort, where MM, who I thought was pretty much a regular there, proved that she’d probably only been there twice ever, because she led us in through the public bar. So there we are, I’m nicely frocked in my slinky blue number, I’m even wearing eyeshadow and mascara, and I’m sticking out like a sore thumb in amongst the thongs and singlets and Fourex Gold. Only momentarily however, because as we ventured further in, there were plently of girls who had frocked up, and were even be-hatted. M, ever reliable in pub situations, found where we were supposed to go. The lounge bar. Even then I hadn’t really twigged that it wasn’t going to be just us and possibly a friend or two of MM‘s. We rounded the corner. There were tables and tables – long tables of wrinklies, all getting psyched for the Cup. I grabbed M’s arm and hissed my immediate need for a drink. M was as stone. Meanwhile, MM was harassing the help. She does this often, and without prejudice. Although generally humiliating for those tagging along with her, she gets results. She plays the ‘old lady’ card with verve and plausibility. The work ‘imperious’ could also legitimately be used.

                                                                                                                    As we weren’t part of the wrinkly brigade (yet) there were no seats for us, as MM hadn’t bothered to tell them we were coming along (she probably didn’t believe it herself). But a few aged histronics had the guy behind the bar tacking another table on the end of another long line, and MM was sated. For the moment. I was stunned at what we’d got into. It was barely noon. Then I found out the race didn’t even take place until ten past two. M’s eyes were glazed with a kind of stoic horror.

                                                                                                                    MM introduced us to all and sundry, slipping up, as she always does, over my title. Why she can’t say “this is M and B” is beyond me.
                                                                                                                    But no, she has to say, with elderly aplomb:
                                                                                                                    “This is my son, M, and his…”
                                                                                                                    There’s always a pause, during which I wait with interest, to see what I’m going to be this time.
                                                                                                                    “…his finace, B.”
                                                                                                                    I’m M’s fiance. Neither of us knew this, but we coped quite well. Then MM introduced us to another table where a few of them could have already been dead, but were probably just sleeping off the orange juice.
                                                                                                                    “This is my son, M, and….”
                                                                                                                    I waited.
                                                                                                                    “…my daughter-in-law, B.”
                                                                                                                    In the short distance between two long tables, M and I had become engaged and then married. It was looking like the smorgasbord buffet was going to be our only chance at a honeymoon.
                                                                                                                    I breathed to M,
                                                                                                                    “I didn’t know it was going to be like this!”
                                                                                                                    M barely moved his lips, but managed to sound emphatic.
                                                                                                                    “I knew exactly what it was going to be like. I knew this would be just like it is.”
                                                                                                                    We were the only two people under seventy in the whole room and we weren’t legitimate invitees. Our presence was obviously both odd and enigmatic. All of which made it very awkward. MM didn’t even register any of this, as she has no shame gland, but M and I decided to get a drink. Hopefully the first of several.

                                                                                                                    M’s shiraz proved undrinkable, even by him – the King of the Seven Dollar One Litre Red. They had no champagne glasses for me. So we gave up on the Lounge Bar bar, and went to battle the Public Bar, which was much more forthcoming. We finally made it back to the table in time to be introduced to Lloyd and Maureen. Lloyd was outstandingly interesting. Suddenly there was a wave of movement. Eighty percent of the wrinklies had moved as one toward the buffet. I expected them to fall on it, gumming up the roast beef and potato. No. An orderly line was formed. An orderly line that snaked back for about a kilometre. M and I decided to stay at the table and wait for the line to shorten. We were in for the long haul. MM hared up to the end of the line. I swear she paid somebody to queue jump for her, because she was only gone for five minutes and returned with a plate of food bigger than her head. She is obviously far more in tune with the buffet scene than we are.

                                                                                                                    The line dispersed and M and I edged up to the bain-marie. The smell of msg hit me like a wave. I backed slowly away, and went around the other side to attack the tuna mornay. Really, the proper food was just me marking time, waiting for my Moment with the Pavlova. I put chocolate mousse on top of it, just because I could. M’s indulgence was chunks of blue cheese, which, by the time things were winding down, he was eating by the fingerful. We all had gone in the $2 sweep, and M won $25 on Makybe Diva (which we later spent on petrol, coffee, juice and the latest Crusing Helmsman). As the race was run, people actually started to get animated, and there was almost genuine uproar when the winner came home.

                                                                                                                    We walked MM back to her house under the hard glare of the sun, and M installed a pump in her new fishpond. An interesting day. I wonder where we’ll be next year?

                                                                                                                    Two men. One difficult choice.

                                                                                                                      Bulk Action In WordPress

                                                                                                                        This is an extremely useful invention. With the amount of comment spam I’ve been getting, I have had a backlog of comments waiting for deletion, however the problem is that I’ve had to click the ‘delete’ radio button on each-and-every-one. Very very time consuming. So I was very lucky to stumble over Dan Hersam’s Cool Invention. It’s just a little bit of javascript that you stick in your wp-admin/moderation.php and you can then perform the true meaning of ‘bulk action’ – i.e. you can delete comments en masse. Goodbye you poker playing bastards and all the freaks trying to sell me cialis, whatever it may be…thanks Dan!

                                                                                                                        Natter

                                                                                                                          It’s getting hotter. I’ve been at my desk with a mosquito coil burning near my feet in an effort to stop being chomped alive by sandflies and the like. I have to duck every 15 minutes or so when mud – dauber wasps fly in the window looking for somewhere to set up house. If this is still Spring, I am dreading what Summer is going to bring. I already have to wake up and have a cold shower each morning to be able to function. The other thing is, our water tank is getting low – what with trying to keep the garden looking peachy and convincing the grass seed to do its thing, I have again started showering with trepidation.

                                                                                                                          My Nanowrimo is not going too badly – I am a little behind on my average of 1800 words a day, and am currently sitting on 4786 words. Tonights goal is to hit 7200. Yike. I shall persevere.

                                                                                                                          Expatriation

                                                                                                                            Via (Southern Cross) Words. I too am willing to put up some of my US relatives if they can’t take three more years under the ‘leadership’ of the worlds most famous humanist and decide to leave. I’m looking at you guys over there in Massachusetts. I’m not suggesting that anything will be that much better over here, but why not take advantage of my spare room (while we’ve still got one), the toasty tropical climes and the slightly better national health system that hasn’t quite yet been broken down to resemble your own?

                                                                                                                            Victory

                                                                                                                              It was going to take something pretty good to improve my demeanor this morning. After going to bed too late, being woken by catfights and then getting out of bed with a sore throat, thick head and smuffy nose – I was feeling pretty rotten. But my inbox shone a soft golden light. I installed the newer version of WPBlacklist the other night, and it’s working! It automatically deleted the 75 comment spams I got over night (maybe that was the other reason I didn’t sleep well?). Check it out. Huzzah!

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              Saturday Night Fever

                                                                                                                                M is watching Ghostbusters. Sorry. He was watching Ghostbusters, but has now moved on to Ghostbusters II. Saturday night television is very thin on the ground. I remember when Ghostbusters was the most must see movie in my 13 year old life. Naturally I wasn’t allowed to see it, but naturally I figured out a way that didn’t involve waiting for it to come out on video. Beta-video. I am sitting here with my tres cool Tip Shop headphones on that have a separate volume knob on each ear plus the option to switch from stereo to mono (though why you would want to bother is so far eluding me). I am endeavouring to get up to speed on my Nanowrimo novel – I was up to date on Friday, but spent yesterday and today in a smuffy, flu-clogged haze. Now I’m about 4000 words behind, goddamnit. Had I not been stonkered by sickness I would now;

                                                                                                                                • Have my novel on track
                                                                                                                                • Have painted the ceiling in the back room
                                                                                                                                • Possibly have painted the ceiling in the kitchen
                                                                                                                                • Have vacuumned out my poor little dust caked boat

                                                                                                                                Instead I’m sitting on my arse, breathing stertorously through my one working nostril, looking up how to spell the word ‘stertorously’, chipping away at my novel and downloading lyricless writing music with Shareaza. God. I did find the Moon and the Melodies though, one of my all time favourite albums to take long baths to. I have it on vinyl. Somewhere.

                                                                                                                                A Pattern of Islands

                                                                                                                                  Am reading a great book recommended to me by M – another one of his ‘adventurous’ novels. It’s called A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble (published in the US under the title We Chose The Islands). Although it was first written in 1952, it’s actually mostly set around his experiences as a cadet in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1913 through to 1932. It’s a fantastic story, very humorously written. I’ve been eking it out all day because I don’t want to finish it too soon. I would list it on my allconsuming list, but of course, Amazon doesn’t list it. But if you want to get a copy – there are quite a few available here. He and his wife Olivia were married on March 5th, 1915 and set off the next day to the Central Pacific. I’ve felt rotten today, but it has made me laugh hugely at least three times – though the story he tells about three and a half inch cockroaches on the ship on the way to the islands gnawing off the thick skin of his feet while he slept. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                  Drip Drip Drip Drip Drip

                                                                                                                                    Oh how I pine for the days of yore when I used be able to utilise both nostrils at once. I have just dosed myself on chicken soup which has pushed up my body temperature to melty-hot. I spent most of the day yesterday flaked out on the couch. Then got too bitten by mozzies and headed for bed and the sanctuary of that wonderful invention – the mosquito net. I was so sick of feeling like a rotten old fluey lump that today I painted the ceiling in the kitchen, back room and bathroom. And collapsed. Thank god an ice cream van came past. I almost felt like I was in civilisation. Obviously after my efforts and my subsequent collapse I didn’t look like it, because they guy almost threw the ice-cream at me – I think I must have looked like I had long passed the end of my tether.

                                                                                                                                    Smack the Pony

                                                                                                                                      I have entered the Pony phase of my illness. This is the fourth day of Hell, identifiable by my inability to lower my head (jabbing, screaming sinus pain), my continued inability to breathe through both nostrils at once and my new vocal persona – Madge from Neighbours. Last night I briefly lost the ability to breathe through any nostril and, of course, it had to happen as I was gargling Listerine. I tend to wander as I gargle, so when I established I couldn’t breathe through my formerly dependable nose, I began staggering and frothing my way, eyes to to the newly painted ceiling, toward the sink. Hideous.

                                                                                                                                      Thus I awoke this morning determined to feel improved. Since I completely exhausted myself yesterday in my efforts to get us back to Melbourne, I had confidently assumed some good karma would be in order. No. I awoke to that phenomenon that is getting increasingly familiar – the hot tent awakening. This is when, in South East Queensland, you sleep in past 7:30am and then wake perspiring moistly. All that was missing was the smell of toasting canvas – but I can get that by just turning on my little fan that has the melted cord. Coupled with my head full of snot that seems to be closely related to a meteorite (in that there’s not much of it, but it’s so heavy that I feel like my head has a gravitational pull toward the floor), my hot tent awakening did not bode well for a day of wonder and delight.

                                                                                                                                      There. Two whole paragraphs that whine. Getting back to the Pony phase. It sounds like this:

                                                                                                                                      M: Would you like some Weetbix?
                                                                                                                                      B: No.
                                                                                                                                      M: Would you like a grapefruit?
                                                                                                                                      B: No. No. No. And I shan’t eat. I shan’t ever eat again. And I asked you to saddle up my Pony. You ought to have done it at once. You know I only have one operating nostril. I want to ride my Pony. I shall ride it and ride it in circles until it is sick. SICK I tell you. And then when it’s not paying attention I will boil one of it’s hooves into glue. And you shall find a use for the glue. You shall. You shall.
                                                                                                                                      M: You’re delirious. We don’t have a Pony.
                                                                                                                                      B: I was speaking metaphorically.

                                                                                                                                      Postcards from the Edge

                                                                                                                                        This arrived today from my sister and her squeeze who seem to be hiking, rafting, canoeing and walking over most of the South Island.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        The Waning of Affection

                                                                                                                                          Sunday Morning:
                                                                                                                                          M brings me half a grapefruit, all nicely sliced for my delectation. I eat it, smitten.
                                                                                                                                          Monday Morning:
                                                                                                                                          M brings me half a grapefruit, all nicely sliced for my delectation. I eat it, smitten.
                                                                                                                                          Tuesday Morning:
                                                                                                                                          M asks me if I want weetbix. No. M asks me if I want grapefruit. No.
                                                                                                                                          M brings me half a grapefruit. I eat one segment. I sick it back up as grapefruit juice five hours later.
                                                                                                                                          Wednesday Morning:
                                                                                                                                          [No mention of feeding me at all. Must survive on own will to live.]
                                                                                                                                          M: What time is your doctors appointment?
                                                                                                                                          B: In half an hour.
                                                                                                                                          M: We’re not going to make it! Are you ready to go?
                                                                                                                                          B: Yep.
                                                                                                                                          —driving—
                                                                                                                                          Doctor: Hi B! How was Spain?
                                                                                                                                          B: Guh.
                                                                                                                                          Doctor: Great! [notices B rocking gently] And how can I help?
                                                                                                                                          B: [dully] You can fix me, or at least figure out if I’m going to die soon.
                                                                                                                                          Doctor: Ah. Well, you’ve got classic flu symptoms. All I can recommend is going home, doing nothing and making some chicken soup…
                                                                                                                                          B: You mean ‘getting someone to make me chicken soup’…
                                                                                                                                          Doctor: Yes, that sounds better. [Wistful] My mum used to cut all the crusts off my sandwiches when I was ill – that might help…
                                                                                                                                          B: So I guess this consultation is still going to cost me forty bucks?
                                                                                                                                          —driving—
                                                                                                                                          Wednesday Morning:
                                                                                                                                          I don’t know it, but it’s 6:40am. I am woken by M shrieking:
                                                                                                                                          ‘B! B! DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE SPADE IS?’
                                                                                                                                          I lie there.
                                                                                                                                          I knew he couldn’t cope with me being soggy for a whole week. So he’s starved me and now he’s trying to find an implement to bury me with. Crap.

                                                                                                                                          …actually, M has been quite good. The above is just concerned with mornings, at nights he has made me delicious sick persons food i.e. small bowls of brown rice on request.

                                                                                                                                          Sorry Everybody

                                                                                                                                            Via CatBoy (who is also fluey) is a link to sorryeverybody.com a gallery of pictures of Americans apologising for the recent election results. Really, it’s the least they could do. As CatBoy said – it would be worth starting one apologising for the re-election of Little Johnny, but nobody would have any idea to whom the page referred – outside of Australia anyway.

                                                                                                                                            Two Nostrils. I have Two Nostrils

                                                                                                                                              Big cheers to M! After a very hard day which exausted me to the point of raggydoll flop – he gave me a glass of white wine (with iceblocks in it) and let me sit on the couch while he cooked me a very very nice dinner. I am feeling much better, both from my exausting day and from my last week of horror-flu. My stamina is lacking – but that may also be to do with the hot weather. Today two of my ‘please plant me in the full sun’ plants were burnt. Burnt! By the sun! What to do? Ah – that’s right, sell up, leave for Melbourne and worry about Melbourney things. Like – do I have my little collapsible umberella? And – am I wearing too many layers? And – hmmm, which pub will I go to tonight?

                                                                                                                                              M received karmic goodness before his good deed of cooking today, when we found him an excellent backpack for five dollars. It’s a very good one (so I’m told). He has modelled it for me and I have applauded his instant hiker-cred.

                                                                                                                                              Free Associate

                                                                                                                                                1. Childhood::Friends

                                                                                                                                                2. Ransom::Money
                                                                                                                                                3. Melissa::Horror boss
                                                                                                                                                4. Trust me::I’m a lawyer
                                                                                                                                                5. Report::Card
                                                                                                                                                6. Give up::Let down
                                                                                                                                                7. Nightgown::Nightie
                                                                                                                                                8. Smokes::Christine
                                                                                                                                                9. Cookies & cream::Ice cream cone
                                                                                                                                                10. Gameshow::Host

                                                                                                                                                …from lunanina

                                                                                                                                                A Tilt Too Far

                                                                                                                                                  Holy crap. The train I use to get to and from Brisbane when I have to abandon M for Melbourne derailed at 1am this morning and overturned. This is very bad. Although, mathematically speaking, maybe my odds of having it happen to me have now improved? It certainly helps to confirm my already concrete decision not to go to Melbourne at the start of December (a decision also influenced by the sudden influx of phone bill, council rates, car registration – that my mother took her own sweet time to forward to me, and various other lurking debts).

                                                                                                                                                  Restaurant of Choice

                                                                                                                                                    The thing that interested me in the most recent Weekend Australian magazine was not the ‘new face of Australian fashion modelling’ or ‘the woman who smiled…and then she exploded‘, or the ‘Twelve Well Dressed Men’. [Yawn.] No, it was the ‘Taste’ section that was devoted to risotto, and the exciting news that a restauarant entirely devoted to the same – a risotteria – will be opening at Southbank in Melbourne. Drool. Drool. Drool.

                                                                                                                                                    Tutto Bene (“it’s all good”) will be tucked into Melbourne’s riverside Southgate precinct, will serve every risotto imaginable, from black truffle and parmigiano to peach, raspberry and mascarpone.

                                                                                                                                                    Lustre Creme

                                                                                                                                                      I have been called by a U.K fan of [miaow], who told me that the site has lately been lacking it’s usual lustre. I was loathe to admit it, but…it’s probably a little bit true. I have been occupied by the flu, as well as the composition of another website for work (which will probably not get much use, but I learnt a few more WordPress tricks along the way…). And now I have to start quick smart on creating a website to sell the house. Yes! It is almost probable that we might advertise it within the next two weeks. Astrologically it is not the best time, but who the hell cares about that? Not the rich tycoons that I dream of enticing.

                                                                                                                                                      An Ode To The Lacklustre
                                                                                                                                                      Soggy like an old teatowel
                                                                                                                                                      Around the house I roamed and howled
                                                                                                                                                      Flu-ridden, feeling disembowled
                                                                                                                                                      By the influenza dog.
                                                                                                                                                      Dazed and sickly, uninspired
                                                                                                                                                      Mostly most things made me tired
                                                                                                                                                      One coffee sent me wildly wired
                                                                                                                                                      Then felled me, like a log.
                                                                                                                                                      Painting ceilings gently sweating
                                                                                                                                                      The next morning – much regretting
                                                                                                                                                      From M there was no heavy petting
                                                                                                                                                      In the nausea ridden fog
                                                                                                                                                      Lots of ice I did keep licking
                                                                                                                                                      As the sandfly bites were prickling
                                                                                                                                                      Mouse finger pale from lack of clicking
                                                                                                                                                      I forgot my blog!
                                                                                                                                                      Whining entries sadly ranting
                                                                                                                                                      Woeful prose not worth decanting
                                                                                                                                                      Lost for lustre, un-enchanting
                                                                                                                                                      Flaccid little mog
                                                                                                                                                      Now my butt is kicked and ready
                                                                                                                                                      Rhyming running fast, yet steady
                                                                                                                                                      The healthy me is feeling heady
                                                                                                                                                      But will never wear a clog.

                                                                                                                                                      My New Best Friend

                                                                                                                                                        I spent our last $20 on a big bottle of Bushman Plus – Personal Insect Repellent. It is the only thing I’ve tried that works. Aeroguard and Rid both suck. Bushman (sorry to sound like a schlocky advert) makes it possible for me to spend some time outside and not get covered in welts from sandflies and mozzies. All bow to the Bushman!

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        Photo Friday – Pattern

                                                                                                                                                          Queenslander Window
                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                          Wonder and Folly

                                                                                                                                                            A weekend of many highs and a momentary low on Saturday night when M chucked a tanty, stamped away from his computer (the object of his ire) and tripped on the cable of my dvd burner that I had lent him to use. It fell three feet from the table and smacked to the floor. The hard, wooden floor. He was still too annoyed to be adequately apologetic and I stalked off to bed with my M replacement (laptop) and stayed furious until I got some serious grovelling just before noon the next day. Grrr. Am too scared to try the dvd burner, because I know if it doesn’t work I’ll get angry all over again. Anger management, anger management. Last night I got a contrition fuelled dinner of whiting and steamed vegies with magic sauce – and although he’d consumed a whole bottle of red, M then washed up everything. This is a happy house indeed!

                                                                                                                                                            Saturday saw us driving to Maryborough, where our priorities again went askew. At the time of typing we have ten whole dollars until Wednesday – rates are owing on the house, the Humber is unregistered and we owe serious money to the boat storage people in Melbourne. However. We went past a garage sale in Maryborough, and there were about five wardrobes and dressing tables sitting out in the garden. Not in the best condition, but that old deco kind that would sell for big bucks in the city when they were cleaned up a bit [swoon]. I found a little wardrobe (similar to the one owned by Mr J Honeybone, age 3, that I have previously lusted for) and somehow it became mine. So did the $5 pawpaw tree that they had in a pot. I wish I could have bought all the furniture, because it was all old solid stuff – and none of it was more than $50 [sigh]. The people wanted to get rid of it because they were getting ‘built-ins’. I didn’t point out that they had no soul. I could tell that already from the wax on the front of my wardrobe, and the face cream smeared on the side.

                                                                                                                                                            Then we went to another garage sale and it was as if the fates were taunting us. The first thing we saw when walking up the driveway were windows (with accompanying rubber seals) for a HiAce van. Our Van. Our exact 1984 model. They were only $10. We had to have them. Didn’t want to mess with fate. The whole point of our excursion was to find window glass for the study – which is missing about nine panes of glass. No luck there. We have one more place to try and then we have to start looking at other options (like getting glass that doesn’t match). Meanwhile I have mowed more grass this week than most people do in a year, and have spent much time cursing the freakazoid woman who used to live here. She kindly buried carpet in the garden, along with various other things like clothes, tiles, plastic, zippers (?!) and general crud. I got to dig them all out on Friday. It took all day.

                                                                                                                                                            Shine the Light

                                                                                                                                                              We have been losing sleep over our lightshades. ‘How domestic‘ you might think. But the thing is, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get replacements for what seems like aeons. When we first arrived and fixed up the inside of the house, we got some paper lightshades from Ikea. Big rice paper globes. Perfect for our dining and lounge rooms (which are, incidentally, both 4.2m x 4.2m – I had to measure them last night). They are cheap, they look good. But we couldn’t cope with the idea of a seven hour round trip in the car to get more. So I asked my mother.
                                                                                                                                                              I know she drives within spitting distance of the Moorabbin Ikea every day.

                                                                                                                                                              B: …we really need to get hold of some lightshades before we try to sell the house.
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: Lightshades?
                                                                                                                                                              B: Yeah, remember the big paper ones we have? They’re so full of manky dead bugs that they barely cast a glow. And they look hideous.
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: Just put the house on the market, no one’s going to care about the lightshades. Sell! Sell!!
                                                                                                                                                              B: [sighs through teeth] I am not going to sell the house with manked up lightshades – and anyway, M would have a fit if I even suggested it. So I was wondering…
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: [silence]
                                                                                                                                                              B: …I was wondering whether you could grab us a few from Ikea one day and just send them up in the post?
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: [for some reason, the accent gets more pronounced]. Oh. I don’t know. They’re so big. How will I wrap them?
                                                                                                                                                              B: [trys to bang head silently on door frame] Muuuuum. You send packages overseas every Christmas. You pack things I wouldn’t even dwell on. These are paper. They lie flat.
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: I don’t know how I’d send them. They’re so big.
                                                                                                                                                              B: You already said that.
                                                                                                                                                              Mum: Welllllllll.
                                                                                                                                                              [She says it in a dismissive way. She says it in a way that makes it clear that she is not going to be posting any lightshades in this direction any time soon. She says no without saying no in the same way that she did when I dragged her to the police station to sign a statutory declaration on which the fate of my house rested.]
                                                                                                                                                              I gave up. There’s got to be an easier way. If you can’t get through to the recalcitrant American, go around it.

                                                                                                                                                              So today I sent out a plea to the mailing list that I have with some of my friends. Within four minutes one of them was on the phone (having already called Ikea to make sure they had them in stock) saying that it would be no problem at all. She would even pay for them and we could pay her back in beer (the best kind of currency) when we got back to Melbourne. She just called again from the post office to confirm our address. Thank-you Rachael. You are going to get such a serious amount of beer from us that you better start making some flood evacuation plans. We love you.

                                                                                                                                                              A Good Day

                                                                                                                                                                Before today leaves me completely jaded, I have to remember to write about the most excellent day I had yesterday. It isn’t often that you have a day that, before you go to bed, you can think of and say ‘…today was a bloody good day!’ But yesterday was one of those days. Nothing too particular. I got a lot of desk-work done. M was a champion and cleaned out all the miscellaneous crap out from under the house and loaded most of it on the trailer. He also laid the pavers that he has been laboring over – we have twenty! They took a while to make, as M created two molds and had to mix up each lot of concrete in a bucket, but it saved us money and they look spesh. Rachael’s lightshade contribution also boosted our spirits, as did I when I finally located where I’d hidden all the window handles for the bedrooms. M put up some beautiful curly cornerpieces in the window frame that looks on to the back room – they look like a million dollars (but cost $5 from the Tip Shop), and I washed the Humber and made it sparkle.

                                                                                                                                                                My pay didn’t come through, so we used the dregs of the credit card to go and get ingredients for dinner and some beer. A six-pack of BeezNeez – my friend Ellise’s beer of choice. I created M a Tofu & Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Rice (as we were invited to a curry night in Melbourne last weekend, and failed to attend – can’t imagine why) and he genuflected at me several times. Then we watched the New Inventors Grand Final. Oh my god there were some impressive inventions. And the inventor that won was actually a bit of a hottie (the photo of him on the ABC site is a bad one). M then slept on me through the documentary on Tupperware, which I thought was kind of interesting, and then sloped off to bed before it finished. But I was on a roll. I opened my last beer, kicked back on the couch with a Milo bar (although I’m not too keen on it’s reincarnation – I think they’ve wrecked it) and watched ‘Shacks‘. Oh how I love this show – and I just found out that it’s also a book! I told M today that we will have to head to Tassie and buy a block of land purely for the purpose of a shack. He is very familiar with the west coast, and is sounding increasingly convinced. Oops. Have to sell this house first. D’oh. The music by Mick Thomas was perfect, and it was great to see the author Richard Flanagan on his home turf.

                                                                                                                                                                After it finished I went and HUNG SOME CLOTHES [deep breath - haven't hung clothes for 18 months] in my New Wardrobe, and then went to bed. A splendid day. I’m glad it is now recorded.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                [N.B. - note the photocopied article on the Pixies in the December edition of UnCut magazine. Big thanks to D.H for posting it up...]

                                                                                                                                                                Coffee with mushroom

                                                                                                                                                                  My pay came through. So, after doing a sad little budget, we went and spent it on exciting things like plugs, earth terminals, extension cords and numbers for the letterbox. We scooted around town, list in hand, feeling very worthy (as you do when you are successfully sticking to a list).

                                                                                                                                                                  Later in the afternoon, it was time to go home – we decided to get some basil from the supermarket to make pesto – our favourite food of choice. M was kind to me and said he would brave the supermarket alone. I gave him a letter to post and settled down with my book.

                                                                                                                                                                  M came back to the van with a rustle of plastic bag and a big grin.
                                                                                                                                                                  “They didn’t have any basil, but I got us other stuff. I’m going to make you the most divine dinner.”
                                                                                                                                                                  I began to bounce. “Hurrah, hurrah!”
                                                                                                                                                                  He passed through the bag, and then got in behind the wheel.
                                                                                                                                                                  I looked in the bag. There was a packet of coffee. There was a mushroom the size of a guinea-pig. That was it. I looked at M.
                                                                                                                                                                  “You’re going to make us dinner out of coffee and a mushroom?”
                                                                                                                                                                  He looked petulant.
                                                                                                                                                                  I began to laugh helplessly.
                                                                                                                                                                  “Shut up, shut up. You don’t know. It will be a beautiful dinner.”

                                                                                                                                                                  We got home. M fixed the water pump, I dug dirt. M tried to fix the whippersnipper, I planted out my seedlings. M set up a light in the laundry, I painted the bedroom window handles. When we finally got inside I looked at M.
                                                                                                                                                                  “So when are you going to make our fabulous coffee mushroom dinner?”
                                                                                                                                                                  “Don’t start. I caught a rat last night. Give me respect.”

                                                                                                                                                                  Suddenly I remembered M coming into the room at what must have been about 3am last night to tell me gleefully that a little bush rat was in the trap he had set. I thought it had just been some kind of odd dream. He let it go this morning and it bounded away like a speeding Skippy.

                                                                                                                                                                  And we sail, upon the sea…

                                                                                                                                                                    Yesterday we took the day off. It was time to see if Oomoo – the little restored boat from the Tip – could actually sail. Read all about it here.

                                                                                                                                                                    It was a lovely day. I packed some grapes, a garlic twist, two apricot bars and two cans of beer – gently cooled on some frozen peas. We nibbled as we sailed, and I steered like an authentic seadog. Woof!

                                                                                                                                                                    Dab Dab Dab

                                                                                                                                                                      Holy Crap! Tomorrow is the first day of Summer and we are still here. I don’t know what it is, but since our ‘selling the house’ website went live yesterday, I’m feeling like we should be moving out any second. Which is so far from reality that I just had to type it out to make it clear to my own self.

                                                                                                                                                                      Am jiggy on paint fumes, having spent the entire day painting dibs and dabs all over the house that either were neglected the first time around or have gotten manky and need redoing. Late this afternoon M’s sister called and asked if we wanted to come for Christmas at her place. I counted to three, and then said that we’d love to – if we were still in town. If. Though my horoscope does not bode well, as Mercury is in retrograde until Dec. 20th [sigh]. I would have less belief if the same thing hadn’t happened when I was trying to buy the place we’re now trying to sell. Now I know not to fight it…although, come to think of it, the stress was good for weight loss! Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                      In an effort to annoy…

                                                                                                                                                                        Lisa has been sending me increasingly annoying emails all week, peaking with her dissection of everything that is wrong with my ‘for sale’ website. She successfully achieved Nanowrimo legendary status – and I think the annoying emails were testament to the stress of the days before deadline. Anyway, one of the things she sent has just made me shriek with frustration.

                                                                                                                                                                        Do this: …while sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off of the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number “6″ in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction and there is nothing you can do about it.

                                                                                                                                                                        I just went and made M try it. Just watching him try to rotate his foot clockwise brought me to near hysteria. Every time he went to draw a six, his foot would stop swivelling, but he refused to admit it. He said, “I did it. I did it!”
                                                                                                                                                                        He so didn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                        Make your old phone flower…

                                                                                                                                                                          Cheese

                                                                                                                                                                            Just how much cheese does it take to kill a person? I may be being prophetical, but it is definitely probable that tomorrows breaking news will bring the headline “Two Dead in Hervey Bay – Unknown Causes” which will be quickly followed by “Death Due to Cholesterol Surge” which will be followed by the tabloid fodder of “Help! I Can’t Brie-ve” and “I Camembert It Any Longer”.
                                                                                                                                                                            M and I are celebrating our apparently quite good housing inspection result. There really weren’t any screamers that we’d overlooked. We are one step closer (if we survive the night’s celebration – and if we don’t fall asleep first, having arisen at 4:30am).

                                                                                                                                                                            Melbourne Monday

                                                                                                                                                                              Back in the land of the many and varied seasons. I sent a text message to Christine while I was on the Skybus coming into town on Saturday night and it turned out that Meebar were playing at the Evelyn! So I went straight to the gig, festooned with my luggage and kept Mung and J company. They showed lots of video clips. After Meebar were Blessington, who I hadn’t seen before – they seemed very Go-Betweensy, though not quite as hooky. By then I was completely knackered and walked back to Collingwood trailing my wheely back, while Mung rode his pushy.

                                                                                                                                                                              Yesterday (after a truly inspiring breakfast – asparagus, poached eggs, homemade bread) I spent an hour getting sunburnt shoulders at Camberwell Market, wandered through the city, caught a train to Coburg and helped the G.R’s with their afternoon beer ration. Then trammed back to Carlton and, on impulse, ducked in and saw Zach Braff’s movie – Garden State. I give it three and a half stars – and the soundtrack was great. Then I trudged from Carlton to Collingwood and went to bed.

                                                                                                                                                                              Have been feeling very bad leaving M all alone up there to cope with the various house stresses we have underway. I feel very powerless and unhelpful down here – particularly because I don’t really need to be here for this stupid workshop that is taking place this week. Yes – I helped organise it, but I will be contributing nothing to it except my presence. Which is what my boss wants. Gah. Very frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                              Funding Cut

                                                                                                                                                                                WARNING: the temporary disappearance of [miaow] may be nigh, due to the fact that my web host is demanding their annual fee. If you feel like contributing to the continued existence of [miaow] a donation button seems to have miraculously appeared on the upper left hand side of the page. Extraordinary timing. If I wasn’t scraping the bottom of skint, I wouldn’t resort to cheap and nasty suggestive solicitation, but…in case you’re feeling giving, they charge $80 per year ($62 US). Sad, isn’t it?

                                                                                                                                                                                Pink Monkeys

                                                                                                                                                                                  I got a donation!! Huzzah! Thank you, thank you. It helps – it really does. I am frazzling my way through at work – tonight is the big dinner that I have been organising. I shouldn’t be stressing over it, but couldn’t sleep and ended up reading for an hour at 3.30am this morning. Gah. My boss decided that people need training to use the blog I set up [yawn] and that I am to conduct the training this afternoon! I was ropable – until I realised that the chances of anyone coming to ‘learn to blog’ that late in the afternoon are minimal. Yay! I will stand in the computer lab, pacing back and forth, looking intensely disappointed, and then just hand out a ‘how to blog’ information sheet at the meeting tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                  God Help Me, Because She Won’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                    “Hi Mum.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Hi B.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Did we plan to have lunch tomorrow?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Well. It’ll have to be after yoga.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “What? Lunch?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Well is it lunch? I thought we were going shopping so I could get you something for Christmas?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [I grit my teeth. Doesn't this woman know that the only thing I need right now is cash?]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “OK, that would be good. Where did you want to go?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [This was my fatal error. She pauses for a nanosecond, and I know what she's decided.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Let’s just go down Hampton Street.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [Count to ten. Count to ten again. It doesn't help. I start to whine.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “But muuuuum.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “But what?” she cuts in, and sniffs – “I’ve got a cold.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Um, I’m staying in Collingwood and getting around on public transport, and you, on the other hand, have just suggested that we hook up two minutes from your own house. Last time I checked, you had a car?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [She does The Sigh. The one I will devote my life endeavouring never to replicate.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “What do you have to get? A couple of trains?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [I can practically hear her foot tapping. I am in Hell. I buckle.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “OK, I’ll meet you in Hampton Street. What time and where?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [We decide on a time.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “What about your sister, have you seen her lately?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    I groan. Loudly.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Mother. She is sitting a metre to my right. She works here now, just like you always said she should. Hello?”
                                                                                                                                                                                    “Put her on please.”
                                                                                                                                                                                    [I give the phone to my sister with such force that I almost insert it into the side of her head by mistake. She wiggles out of my mothers lunch invitation like an eel - something that's easier to do when you live in the same city. She hands the phone back to me as I mouth evil curses.]
                                                                                                                                                                                    “OK then B,” says my mother, the noise of Southland Shopping Centre seeping down the phoneline but unfortunately not rendering her inaudible, “I’ll see you at 1pm in Hampton Street. Bye!”
                                                                                                                                                                                    I do growling noises down the phone
                                                                                                                                                                                    Later, on our way out to drinks, my boss says I look stressed, and that I needn’t be, because everything this week went off without a hitch. I tell him I just spoke to my mother, and paraphrase the conversation. To my surprise he recounts a very similar encounter that he had with his dad a few months back, and I feel a bit better. Then I have Christmas drinks and they improve me too.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The Bleeding Obvious

                                                                                                                                                                                      So I’m supposed to be meeting my mother at 1pm in Hampton, but I wake up, hang about a bit, and it’s absolutely pouring. I decide on a plan of attack. I will tell her that I’m happy to hook up with her in St Kilda, but I’m not coming to Hampton. It’s almost as much of a hassle for me to get to St Kilda as it is to get to Hampton – two trains or two trams – but it’s still closer, and besides, I’m trying to prove a point. But before I can make my masterful phone call, she calls me first. Bugger.

                                                                                                                                                                                      “So, are we still on for lunch?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Yeah, I’m happy to meet up mum, but Hampton’s too far for me to come. It’s totally wet, I’ve got no coat or umberella. Can’t you meet me?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      [Can't you meet me for a change? Is what I want to say, but I am so composed and mature, that I refrain.]
                                                                                                                                                                                      The Sigh.
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Where? Where would I meet you?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “How about St Kilda? It’s kind of half way.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “St Kilda? St Kilda? I’ll never get a park.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Gee mum, I lived there for at least three years, and somehow I managed to find a park every day.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Ohhhh, I don’t know.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      ['Tell her to park in the Coles carpark!' pipes Rachael, whose kitchen I am pacing.]
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Park in the Coles car park.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “I don’t know know where that is. Just get on the train and come to Hampton.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      [I take a deep breath. A breath of battle, boiling oil and snorty horses.]
                                                                                                                                                                                      “No. Nope. I’m not coming to Hampton. And seeing as you’re not going to come half way to meet me, then lets just call it off. I’ll see you when you get back from the States.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “So I’m not going to see you before I go?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Doesn’t look like it, no.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      [She argues with me for a few more minutes to no avail. We talk of other things. Then, before we hang up she says again;]
                                                                                                                                                                                      “So I’m not going to see you before I go?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      MUM! Will you cut it out? You won’t get in your car to go further than three minutes away, and thus I’m not taking two trains to see you. Have a nice time in the US…”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “…but what about your Christmas present. Have you run out of make up yet?”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “I can’t wear make up in Hervey Bay, it all melts off. If you want to give me something, give me cash.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      “Well that’s not very Christmassy….”

                                                                                                                                                                                      I give up.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Wait & Bake

                                                                                                                                                                                        So after a late night out at the Empress, which was balm to my parched out Hervey Bay soul, I got the Skybus from Spencer Street at 1pm for my 2pm flight to Brissie. Get that? I began at ONE in the AFTERNOON. When did I get home? Well, everything began to unravel once I got to the Tilt Train platform – up until then, my journey was running like clockwork. I was wandering around Roma Street station when I saw that it said ‘Tilt Train Departs Platform 10 at 4:30pm’. I yelped. Obviously. Because it wasn’t supposed to leave until 5pm – or so it said on my ticket.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I hared my way through the heat to Platform 10 with about 12 minutes to spare. No train. Four thirty ticked around, as did five’o'clock…Nothing. As time passed, the sun eased its way over the platform, so a couple of hundred impatient people were slowly baking, craning their heads to see if the bloody train was ever going to materialise. When it did finally arrive, it was a big tease. As soon as everyone had disembarked, they whisked it off away from the platform, further down the track, for ‘cleaning’. I am quite sure that this is trainspeak for ‘kicking back with a nice cup of tea, while gossiping about the fallout from the last big crash in Bundaberg’. So we’re all cooking on the platform, kids are whining, people are trying to find patches of shade and I can feel sweat running down my back and getting soaked up by my dress.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The train arrived properly at about six thirty. Oh the bliss of air-conditioning – although it was almost forgotten as they announced that everyone’s arrival times were now going to be wrong as we were running an hour and a half late. [groan] The trip was just interminable, made more so by the teenage freaks sitting behind me, whom I wanted to gag with gaffer tape before we even hit Caboolture. We hit Maryborough at 10pm and then the bus took me to Hervey Bay, where I finally saw M (who had been asleep in the van) at 11pm. I could barely speak from tiredness and frustration. Poor M, greeted by a travel weary harridan. Think of all the places I could have gone in those lost hours. Gah. Tilt Train? Never again.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Wiggle It.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Took M for a swim and a coffee this morning. Hee hee. The waiter came over to bring us some water and asked M, quite seriously, “Are you from The Wiggles?”
                                                                                                                                                                                          It was brilliant. M shook his head, as I choked and asked;
                                                                                                                                                                                          “Is there something you haven’t told me?”
                                                                                                                                                                                          The waiter thought it was hugely amusing. He said that one of the other wait staff had pointed out M and said that he was definitely a wiggle.
                                                                                                                                                                                          So I had great fun doing the Wiggles hand gestures for the next hour at every opportunity.
                                                                                                                                                                                          M thinks it’s because he has Greg Brady hair, and he’s made me promise to cut it.
                                                                                                                                                                                          But we still can’t figure out which Wiggle he was supposed to be…

                                                                                                                                                                                          Scraping the Floor

                                                                                                                                                                                            OK. Today I have posted more posts than anybody who isn’t a complete social loser should ever admit to posting…but I have to say a BIG FAT THANK YOU to someone for donating me a decent chunk of their livelihood to supporting [miaow]. It is more, more, more than nice. It is positively dizzifying. Watch me bow. And again…

                                                                                                                                                                                            Kill, Kill, Kill

                                                                                                                                                                                              It is 5:05am. I have just come back from a walk around the block. Can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because of the bastard neighbours that insist on keeping roosters. I tossed and turned and shut the windows, put the fan on, generally pushed poor M near to suffocating me – all to the tune of strangulated rooster noise. Every. Other. Minute. It’s horrifying. Thank god I’m not planning to live here forever, for I would have to mount a campaign, either by stealth or intimidation, and rid the area of these noise polluting creatures. Luckily I didn’t see one on my morning hate-fuelled stroll, or I would have been forced to kill it. Was seriously thinking of going and knocking on at least one rooster-owners door, and then screaming my rooster-impression repeatedly at them in an effort to get the message across. Gah. I am so mad.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The Thirst

                                                                                                                                                                                                It’s hot. We sweat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                B: Gee M, I think my day would be improved by beer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                M: [wide-eyed]
                                                                                                                                                                                                B: Sorry M, I just had to say it, so you could say ‘No – we are conserving our measly funds for petrol and the Tip’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                M: Sorry. I can’t be the person to say no to such an eminently admirable suggestion. We are definitely getting beer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                …what really happened.
                                                                                                                                                                                                [B sweats over her laptop. M taps at his keyboard]
                                                                                                                                                                                                B: Beer?
                                                                                                                                                                                                M: Beer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                For Ever Thwarted

                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of my friends is putting together a cd of all his friends hopeless attempts at writing their own Christmas songs. I love stuff like this. I have songs kicking around in the back of my head that have been there for years. The problem is M. Every day he plays a song or two on the acoustic guitar, and says sweetly, “There B, that was just for you. A fleeting musical moment, never to be heard again.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where other girls might swoon smitten to the floor, I growl grumpily. There are always a few songs that keep coming back, and I would like to record them myself. You would think that someone who was so kind as to let his tunes flow into the ether for my pleasure, would jump at the chance to let me play around with them. Oh no. I’m not allowed to touch. I’m not even allowed to use one for the Christmas CD that only about ten people will ever hear. Why couldn’t M have been just a shipwright, or a plumber, or even a painter? I am doomed to a life with someone who will never listen to one of my songs with shining eyes and parted lips. It will always be ‘yeah – the snare sounds good’ and ‘there’s a bit much reverb on the vocals’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stampy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  No Sweat

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh god. I can drink tea again! The humidity has (I assume temporarily) left the building. Suddenly the day is divine. I am, however, at the end of my tether with the comment spam that is slowly dragging me under. If anyone has any suggestions – try to comment – but before you do; I have already been using WPBlacklist, and although it’s great, it is too buggy. It either doesn’t let anyone comment, or spits out errors at legitimate commenters. God. I don’t know what to do. I have been home for twenty minutes and 39 spams have arrived. Spent last night recording my Christmas song, M mixed it down today and it’s in the post. Finito!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Seductive Sounds

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What’s almost as good as watching Clive Owen on the screen? Listening to him narrate Walk On By.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mmmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      B=1 Spam=0 (so far…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Look, I don’t want to solicit for comments, but if someone (who isn’t me) could have a go at leaving a comment I would be very grateful (if I wasn’t in bed asleep at the time – which I will be in about five minutes). Have spent untold hours getting Gudfly’s Authimage plugin/hack/whatever installed and operational. I’ll be interested to see how long it will withstand the spam. Goodnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’ve been podded!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I stuck up a couple of songs up there on the left, one of them being the one I did for my friends Christmas cd – and lo and behold, Tony tells me he’s podded it! Suddenly I feel validated. I’m on an IPod. It’s probably the nearest I’ll ever get to having one. So, if Tony likes it, other people might too – click the bear for Miaow’s Melancholic Christmas Tune.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          With the house pressure easing a little bit I have been getting a bit more musicky and have been downloading like a fiend. My mate over in I-Oh-Wah has recently sent me a couple of excellent links. I’ve got hold of some video footage (the accompanying audio is surprisingly kickass) of the Pixies playing in Montreal last month. You can get it here. Velouria gives chills! Also, over at noaloha.com there are a stack of Breeders clips including live footage, interviews and music videos. I’ve got GetRight working over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Recap

                                                                                                                                                                                                            On Friday I got matching bruises at the top of each shinbone, courtesy of the trailer bouncing up on to my legs. Great. That, and the heat, kind of finished off any plans we had of sailing Oomoo into the blue. Instead we contented ourselves with a swim. Lately I’ve been snorkling and remembering how nice it is to see under water without salt stinging the eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yesterday we had been going to conquer the Mary River from River Heads to Maryborough, but the tide wasn’t on our side. Instead we created our own smaller scale epic, by sailing around the Urangan Pier. You can read about it here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is something about sailing that makes you very tired once you’ve finished. However, we weren’t allowed to indulge our tiredness. We had an engagement. Yes, for the first time since this time last year (when we didn’t attend and M bravely went over and said we were too tired, which was true, and we’d only had half an hours warning that we were invited) we were asked to ‘Christmas Drinks’ over the road. M toyed with the idea of pulling out, but I turned into Queen of Etiquette and said that, after last years effort, we couldn’t possibly not go. So we went along. And actually had a bit of fun. There was a pool table and many nibblies. We even met a nice couple who knew who Spiderbait were. I had to give M a muttered lecture about saying the word ‘mofo’ around small children under six and restrain him from drinking my beer, but all in all, it was a nice night out – and it was lovely to just be able to walk back over the road and be inside our own house!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            From Bad to Badder

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This morning I had a terrible urge. M had been flipping like a trout because (amazingly) the mosquitos that had somehow got inside our net had ignored me and taken a liking to him. He had finally settled into sleep. Since I cut his hair the other day, the animal he most resembles is an otter. So he looked like a little otter swathed in the sheet as mozzie protection. His mouth was slightly open, and I don’t know why I did it, but I had to do it. I stuck my finger in it. He woke up like I’d electrocuted him and gave me the kind of look that I haven’t seen since I scratched up the floor with the vacuumn cleaner. He even swatted in my direction. I should have felt bad, but I was just caught in a kind of gurgling morbid fascination. M shrieked;
                                                                                                                                                                                                              “What the F**K did you do that for?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                              And I could only shrug.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I sneaked out of the house and decided to drive the van into town. I unhooked the trailer. Filched the keys silently from the otter’s discarded shorts. Gathered my bag, bottle of water. Jumped in the van. It wouldn’t start. I pushed the van and tried to jumpstart it. No joy. The van rolled half in, half out of the gate. I got unreasonably annoyed and suddenly felt strangled by my inability to leave the house. Not only is the Humber unregistered, it was now impossible to get out anyway, because the van was blocking the gate. Grrr. Had to wait until the otter woke, had to apologise profusely to it for invading it’s mouth with my finger, then had to push start the van.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The other highlight of the day was around at Ol’ Manky’s house. She was inspecting her poodle for fleas and exclaiming that there seemed to be a lot of them. I couldn’t believe what happened next. She sprayed bits of the poodle with fly spray. FLY SPRAY. What to do? I couldn’t even look up as she did it. I was too horrified – though admittedly, the poodle didn’t seem to mind. Later, I heard her telling M that she’d accidentally used fly spray instead of the olive oil spray to cook her egg last week. Holy crap! Even as I’m typing this I’m trying to remember whether she has a gas or electric stovetop. As she’s still alive, I’m assuming it’s electric.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              When we got home, sadder but wiser, M checked the level in our water tank. It’s low. About a foot. Which meant I could only use about a litre of water to sponge out Oomoo. Please think some rain in our direction, we really need it. They keep predicting rain, but it seems that we are rain-repellant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frogs Need Rain Too…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Last night, just after I’d finished my ‘it never rains here ever’ rant, M called me into the kitchen. This will prove how little rain we’ve had. A poor little green tree frog had found it necessary to negotiate its way through the open kitchen window, into a bowl that had held cereal earlier in the day and was now half filled with water. He subsided into this with what appeared to be extreme relief. Poor little thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We fussed over the frog, lamented the lack of precipitation, filled a container with water and a banana leaf (to hide frog from bats, tawny frogmouths etc) and put him in it. Heaven. The container is outside the kitchen window on a ledge near the banana tree – so it is also cane toad proof (v.important).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This morning we dug up the compost bin and found out where these super-beetles live! Right at the bottom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Warning: Almost at End of Tether

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I spent most of today wanting to kill someone, something, anything. Our Christmas card plans went awry, and now they shan’t be sent out until tomorrow. And it’s hot. And they’re predicting storms (which I know won’t come, but have left the van doors open in the hope of tempting fate). The principle redeeming feature of my day was getting…well, I should record everything I got in the post, so the true redeeming feature can shine….I got:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • An envelope from my mother containing no note (her Christmas card came last week): just a form letter from VicRoads enquiring as to if/when I’m going to get around to registering the Humber and how I will descend into the firey bowels of hell come the 6th of February if the situation remains unchanged. Also in the envelope were various bank statements for my brother. My brother in London.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • A Christmas card from the lovely Veronica (she appeared in [m i a o w] under the psuedonym ‘Victoria’ about 18 months ago. She is the uberlender (i.e. the only person who offered me a home loan and didn’t run away screaming when she realised what she’d done).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • A very nice Christmas card from my sister and her squeeze, still hopeful that we might make it down south for Christmas [sob].
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • And finally, the penultimate Christmas card from my Dad – who encloses a $50 (praise be) with instructions for it to be spent on ‘a six pack of Coopers and a cheap meal out, or whatever seems most urgent’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We spent it on a slab of Coopers and decided to have a pretend meal out at home. Only beer can get us through thiscoming week. After we’d buggered around on our Christmas card idea, and I had slowly come to the realisation that we won’t be sending them out until tomorrow (too late in my opinion, but I am in a relationship, and in relationships the word ‘compromise’ is a common mental catchcry), I remembered that we had to drop past M’s mothers. I had promised to drop over the sheets, pillowcases etc. that I’d forgotten yesterday when we took around the spare room double bed (the one she ‘gave us’ but then decided she wanted ‘back’ when she realised that we truly did not plan to spend the rest of our lives in the cultural melting pot of Hervey Bay. That was sarcasm, btw).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While we were there I asked her, point blank, of all her children, did M have the smallest teeth? She didn’t even pause.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘And he’s the only one that doesn’t have a gap between the two front ones. And did you know that after Christmas, I’m going to look at how my money situation is going, and I’m going to buy myself some new teeth?’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She smiled, and it didn’t look to me that there was much wrong with her old ones.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I said, ‘That’s great! But with Christmas coming up and all the food action that’s going to be going down, why don’t you get new teeth now?’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘Yeah,’ said M, ‘why don’t you get them to give you dolphin teeth?’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He looked at me, and I knew what I was supposed to say next. I said it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘Why don’t you get rows and rows of shark teeth implanted?’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She topped me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘I think I’ll get two big walrus teeth. Like this…’ She stuck her two fingers down over her mouth and, somehow, managed to look immediately walrus-y.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was a Dark and Stormy Night?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Update: lots of lightning, thunder and some rain. Better than a kick in the head.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe. Fingers crossed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Turning computer off. Don’t need to lose another laptop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What a Mug!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thoughts of Treason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have found myself lately over here. I’m not sure what is prompting my roving eye. I have never been a Mac person – but I’m thinking of becoming one. No virii, aesthetically swoonworthy, and none of those endless Windows errors and gradual clagging that goad me towards FDISK-ing the whole drive. I have played with Linux, but the lure of the Apple is stronger….
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jonathon Delacour makes a very persuasive case.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What to do? Am I a turncoat?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Definition: [n] someone who rebels and becomes and outlaw )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Christmas? Already?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We’re very sad not to be in Melbourne for Christmas – the cards and things that have arrived via snail mail are our little glee creators. Yesterday the cd that some of my very creative friends put together turned up. It’s tres cool – all artworked and properly printed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also scored an excellent mix-cd from my friend over in I-Oh-Wah which I am listening to right now – mmmm The Cat’s Miaow! Of course I am predictably slack where Christmas cards are concerned – only sent out the local ones on Monday, and didn’t post the overseas ones until yesterday [angst angst]. I tried to explain myself to the lady at the post office – that Christmas just somehoe crept up on me and I’d had no idea it was actually this weekend; she just raised an eyebrow and said;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “You mustn’t have kids…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Correct. But I’ve got a boyfriend who I’ve left baking in the car, now gimme my stamps.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (I made up that last bit.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M and I can’t even concentrate on Christmas – we wanted to hang with my dad and sister in the country, drink some Grand Ridge beer and eat lots of cheese and oysters [sob] but stupid stupid money and potential house buyers thwarted our plans.We are now consumed by the fact that someone is going to inspect our house, possibly the day after Boxing Day. So I have been mowing like a fool in the midday sun, and M is feverishly making curtains. I recall in 2001 that I was in Marblehead, Massachusetts – and it was white with snow. I hated the snow, and I promised that I would never every whine about the heat again… but I’d never been stuck in Queensland for Christmas. There are few things, at this point, that I wouldn’t do for some rain and a house deposit cheque…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Happy Christmas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Been for a swim – it’s humid, but not sunny. We’re a bit down in the mouth, but are setting off stoutly to M’s sister’s place for lunch. [miaow] would like to throw virtual kisses to everyone, but particularly kartar.net, catboy, and the lovely and surprising Lorraine – all of whom donated to help keep [miaow] afloat in these times of debt-laden mank. I’ll have a drink for each of you today.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Best Wishes!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            love
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Skirting Boards and Salad Days

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Have been cleaning this house for two days. Oh. My. God. Scrubbing down skirting boards, de-cobwebbing the ceiling, chiselling off mud-wasp cylinders…it is never ending. Of course, I scrubbed too hard at some spider mank on the wall in the front room, and instantly transformed the entrance into some kind of freakish squat with faded spots on the green ‘feature’ wall. So I painted over the bits I had scrubbed too hard. And it looked exactly like I’d panicked and painted over them hoping for the best. It looked like a two year old’s finger painting effort. So then I did the whole wall. This is just one indication of what my life has become. Thank goodness we have been out to dinner the last two nights – tonight with M’s visiting sister and her squeeze, and last night our best neighbours with the most stunning house (and Christmas leftovers!) – and this has meant we’ve only had to clean the kitchen once since M has resurfaced the kitchen benches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The house, as you may have been wondering, is getting checked out for the first time tomorrow by the ‘prospective buyers’. We are giving them lunch. They’re turning up at around 11am – so I’m guessing we’ll be up and freaking out by at least 7am. I mean, it’s currently twenty minutes to midnight and I’m boiling potatos for tomorrows salad. Hello? I have bitten off all my carefully tended fingernails…all I have to trust in now is my horoscope. Oh – but if you’d like to send some good vibes in my direction, don’t hesitate!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Neutral

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Completely exhausted. Have no recollection of ever posting Skirting Boards and Salad Days yesterday. Absolutely none. This morning whisked by in a film of sweat; mopping floors, washing dishes, hiding things in the van, making potato salad… They finally showed up at about 11:30am. M and I were alternately entertaining, enouraging, witty, and when the situation demanded it, thoughtful and wise. We listened, we chatted – we talked about everything in the world except why these people were actually in our house. We are no wiser, but not very hopeful. And so begins our advertising campaign (after we escape for a short New Year’s break – we need one!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Destination? Rosebank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M and I have been more social in the last five days than we have in the past year! We are taking off tomorrow morning on a journey to Rosebank, where we will meet up with Mung, Rach, Luka and their friends for a New Years Eve get together. We are v.excited, and had lots of fun late this afternoon turning our van into a campingmobile and packing a little suitcase of useful things: a porcelain 12 volt jug for making cups of tea, tins of things that together may create a dinner, metal picnic cups, tea bags, picnic blanket, can opener and matches… I have also snuck in my little 12 volt ‘motorist’s help light’ to spotlight possible van-stealers while we’re asleep in the back. Our surfboards are packed and at the ready – we really need a break!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I spent last night outletting my frustrations by registering our house on a variety of sites (safe in the knowledge that once it’s sold I will detonate the email address – I may as well have just handed out ‘please spam me’ invitations) – so now we grace the pages of three sites that take private sale advertisements for free. It would be easy to slip into a slump at this point, as we had been led to believe that the inspection yesterday would result in the handing over of a deposit cheque – but we’re keen to get away on our mini-holiday, and will battle the world into submission when we return. Happy New Year! How will I live without my laptop for the next four days? Argh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Insomnia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no sleep in me. I have the noise of lightly buzzing mosquitos, and one loud renegade fly. I have a head full of real estate frustration and programs for my Palm Pilot. I have flitting thoughts of what I haven’t done and tired eyes. Everything is stupid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Broken Head?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After my insomniac rambling, we spent the morning hiding the laptop/mixing desk/microphone etc in our secret hiding place, and managed to get on the road by midday. The main pain about getting anywhere from here is the time it takes to really feel like you are finally Going Somewhere New. I mean, it takes half an hour to get to Maryborough, and it’s not until we hit Gympie an hour later that it really feels like we are on our way. Naturally the first bit of car conversation went:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      B: So did you pack your pillow?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M: I thought you packed my pillow?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      B: Well I can’t do everything. I packed the food, hid the valuables, organised the sheets and blanket. I didn’t even think of your pillow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M: [pouting] Great. Just great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I could see he was pondering on driving ten kilometres back home to get his pillow, so I decided silence was the best option. Thankfully by the time we hit Gympie and infused him with coffee, he had recovered his bounce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We made it to Brisbane on one tank of petrol and had to fill up. Problem. We didn’t have any cash until the next day. With visions of sleeping in the carpark of some trashed out Seven-11, I gingerly rang my bank to get an account balance. Revelation! They had not put through any of my transactions since Christmas! M and I did a salutory victory dance around a supermarket somewhere in Logan, filled the car, bought some treats, and continued on our way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M was infatiguable. We hit Byron Bay after 8pm (after gaining an hour at the stateline – quite confusing) and went for a wander. It was completely overflowing with people. Every pub was packed to the rafters and had lines of people waiting to get in. Byron Bay has changed a lot – I haven’t been there for about eight years, and it is now a sort of hippy Noosa. Lots of same-y shops selling crappy jewellery, ‘arty’ souvenirs of the area and then the general real estate agents and jeans/surf shops that you see everywhere; the town seems to have become homogenised. Due to the fact it was New Years Eve Eve, there were a surfeit of testosterone fuelled 19 year old males with satellite groups of tricked up befrocked chicky babes, all eyeing each other off while wandering the streets. The people watching potential was huge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As soon as we got to town it was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to stay anywhere legitmate like a caravan park. We noodled around to one or two, who just laughed at us, pointed at their ‘No Vacancy’ signs and wished us luck. M wanted to head back to Belongil Fields and try to camp there. I attempted to convey that I’d rather be operated on sans anaesthetic in the most tactful way I could. I urged him on out to the other side of town. We saw a sign for a caravan park at broken Head and drove a few kiometres down a dark narrow road through lots of trees. The caravan park was, of course, full – but the carpark wasn’t! We saw a few people in Kombies who were obviously dossing down for the night, and decided to do the same. I figured that the authorities wouldn’t bother singling us out if everyone was doing it – and anyway, all the action was about ten kilometres down the road in Byron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M opened his single stubby of Stella Artois, and I popped a little ‘piccolo’ bottle of some strangely distasteful strawberry champagne. We toasted our journey and collapsed into fitful sleeps. Zzzzz. Zzzzz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      New Years Eve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We got woken up by guys discussing the surf conditions outside the van. It was only when we emerged that we realised what an amazing place we’d picked to stay!! Right near a toilet block, an outside shower, the caravan park shop and…the beautiful beach at Broken Head less than a two minute walk away. Oh splendid day!! We ate our museli on the beach and then headed out for a swim. How I missed waves. That’s right. Waves. The things that bay beaches rarely have. The water was completely clear, and cold enough to make it invigorating. It was lovely. We rinsed off under the outside shower – our surfboards stayed in the car – it was way too crowded with surfers all lying on their boards waiting for a break.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We headed back into Byron for a coffee with the money we’d saved on not paying for our accomodation. Or we tried to. Halfway there we were waved off the road, where a very large, and slightly apologetic man explained that as it was New Years Eve, all cars going into Byron would have to pay $60. Ha ha! As if. He was very nice, and even said if we needed to get something in town, we could leave our drivers license with him and reclaim it on our way back. Nooo. We explained that Byron was not an imperative part of our plans and that we’d be very happy if he could point us in the direction of Bangalow. So that was fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The van trundled us to Lennox Head, where, after casing every shop, I finally found a pair of sunglasses and we headed up to the top of the point where we parked and watched the surfers in action. I made us a cup of tea each with my little 12volt travel jug and felt very civilised. We decided to start our journey towards Rosebank, and wound our way through little places like Newerybar, Bexhill, Eltham (here’s a picture of the pub at Eltham….)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        …we continued on our roundabout way through Lismore, and sang The Simpleton’s song of the same name as we drove around it. Spent serious time in the bottle shop debating on our New Years Eve drink of choice, bypassing the vodka/tonic/lime option in favour of two frugal six packs of Coopers. M picked up some cashews and a watermelon and we were off! Glad to get out of town. The drive to Rosebank was insanely picturesque. You would think that therefore I would have taken some pictures, but no, I was too busy drooling out the window as we went through Bexhill, Corndale, and finally…we reached Rosebank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It consists of a shop/cafe and hippy gallery place. Thankfully it also had a phone box, and I called our hosts-to-be and asked for directions, which I scrawled on the back of an ATM receipt:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A few more minutes along Repentance Creek Road (it’s true – that’s what it’s actually called – very Coen brothers…) and we had arrived. Huzzah! We all kicked back for a while and said hello – I & J’s house was lovely, and the view from the deck was positively pastoral. M and I were scruffy from hours of driving, so we got some (more) directions and went swimming in a waterhole. I saw an elver. M went in, and came out smelling like a fresh water otter – I abstained. It was only when we got back to the house that they told us about the enormous catfish that lives at the bottom, and the python they saw swimming there. Thanks so much ;oP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We hung out on the deck for NYE and various guests turned up. The nibbles were beyond divine – nori rolls, vietnamese spring rolls, brie…it was lovely to be with people who like the same music as we do and who are into a lot of the same kind of things. I is a bit of a music afficionado and it was tres cool to hear some different kind of stuff – and some that I’d read about but had not year heard. Vodka and cranberry juices were liberally passed around, and by the time it clicked over to midnight, everyone was quite tired, but giggly. We sipped some champagne as people said their goodbyes. I retired to the van, while M stayed up and chinwagged a little bit longer. Finally I got a good sleep – until the angle that the van was parked on meant that I ended up being M’s mattress…apparently I was quite comfortable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bring It On – 2005!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          New Years morning 2005 – largely hangoverless! We had poached free range eggs on amazing bread. There was no better way to start the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We hung around the house until deciding to take a trip out to another place to swim (one without the python) which (I think) turned out to be in the Whian Whian Forest. The water was cold! M and the hostly I. jumped into the water from a very high rock while the rest of us (including Baby Luka) plashed around in the shallows. It was hard to believe how hot we’d been – until it was time to walk back to the cars. On the way back M and I stopped at the Rosebank Shop and got everyone a pie each. These pies are highly recommended – particularly the gado-gado pie. Yum. Luka did not get a pie, he got mango (which I find loathsome, but he seemed to enjoy it).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was on this day that we heard the ‘coffin story’ and also about the ‘anal candling’ prank. Beginning with the coffin…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At the back of I&J’s block is a lot of land owned by a couple. He is skinny, she is not. At all. So last year he decided to make her a coffin, so it would be all ready for when her time was up, crafted by him, for her to be buried in. He made (apparently) a beautiful coffin – extremely large to accomodate her buxom frame. (It makes me think of the fat female spider that eats the little male one, but I digress…). Just after the wonder-coffin had been completed, Skinny-man’s equally scrawny mother came to stay. She didn’t stay long. In fact, she died on site. I am not sure whether this was in response to the kind of hospitality that was on offer or just old age, but anyway, it was all over. Skinny-man got a quote from the people movers. It was going to be about $3000 to get his departed mother back to near where she’d come from. This did not please Skinny-man, and he wondered what to do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Of course! He had a coffin all ready for action in… The Shed! Saying that it was slightly too big for the job at hand is something of an understatement – his mother could have fitted in it three times over with room to spare. But this was a man with a mission. He put his mother in the coffin, placed the coffin in the back of the ute, and drove down to the petrol station (not a short drive). There, he packed party ice all around his mum’s body until she was no longer floating around in the huge cavernous coffin and embarked on the 500 kilometre drive back to her place…The End. No further facts are known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All around Byron and the hinterland are little hippy enclaves with a shop or a gallery or both. The windows of these places are often noticeboards for ‘Crystal Healing’ or ‘Women’s Worship Night – Bring a Plate, a Bead and Some Karma’ or ‘Support Group for Lactose Intolerant Gay Whales’. Things like that. This began to irk I., our host. So he decided, without informing his partner (he forgot) to put up a fake ad. It was for a course of Anal Candling (as an accompanying product to ear candling). I didn’t get the whole story, but it included recommendations from a famous Indian author; it said it would be fully cleansing, and only cost a few thousand dollars. People actually called him up about it. Of course, after a while, other people were in on the joke, but I. had still forgotten to tell J! She was hijacked by some toffee-nosed ladies of a ‘certain age’ at a classy little cocktail party – they were hysterical with laughter at what I. had done. J vehemently denied it. Anal candling? Don’t think so. Finally she escaped at about 3am and made it home. She shook I. awake and asked him if he knew anything about this weirdo candling thing that everyone was attributing to him. He barely bothered to wake….’Yeah, I did it…I forgot to tell you. Sorry.’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Orange Cake & a Spotless Mind

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We had decided to head back on the 2nd of January – M said he’d like to meander home rather than rush. But after a leisurely breakfast, followed by the other making plans to go to Poinciana Cafe* in Mullumbimby, a swim at Brunswick Heads, the suggestion of an orange cake and a viewing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which I had been dying to see for just about ever), we decided to ask if we could stick around just one more night. Then, just to make sure we weren’t overstaying our welcome, we offered to also cook dinner. What a day. I can say without doubt that although the year was only two days old, it was the best day of the year – midway through watching Winslet and Carrey chase each other through memories, J doled out pieces of the most outrageously amazing orange cake. It was still warm. M and I thought ‘what the hell – we’re leaving in the morning’ and brazenly ate third helpings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *The Poinciana Cafe gets points for ambience, but their ‘Taste Plate’ is hugely overpriced – go for a tofu burger – fewer dollars and more clout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bunnybones & the Long Drive Home

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What could possibly be the logical follow-up to days of waterhole dipping, poached eggs, orange cake and stories of candles and coffins? We’d barely made it through the first cup of tea when the phone call came through. I&J’s daughter’s rabbit, ‘Bunnybones’ (who had been holidaying at a friends place) had been eaten by a python. Truly. We had stumbled on a home where reality was immediately translated in urban myth…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We said our goodbyes to our new friends and old ones, tried to leave, stopped for M to locate his thongs, scalped a mango off the tree with the side mirror and turned left toward home. It was sad to go. We topped up the petrol tank at Mullum (that’s what the locals call it) and ended up winding our way through Pottsville and up along the coast to Tweed Heads. I had read a bit about the developments that the Tweed Shire Council had let happen, but nothing had prepared M and I for the monstrosities that clag up the coast on the way through from Pottsville to Tweed Heads. Compared to where we had just come from, it was ludicrous and depressing. Heading toward Kingscliff, huge amounts of the coast have been cleared and it looks like a cross between Pleasantville and a latter day insane asylum. Unbelievable. Googling “Tweed Shire Council” development brings up the fact that there is currently a Public Inquiry into the council – but from what we saw, the ‘public inquiry’ should actually just be replaced by a mass sacking of the bastards that let all the development go ahead. Oh, and incidentally, there is also a corruption probe into the council as well. I wish it was an anal one. They have just plonked a crappy faux beach suburban style estate right along the water. Don’t go there. If you have any taste or soul it will ruin your day. Alan Border & Co. will love it – considering they’re probably about to do a similar thing in Toogoom. [excuse me while I go and spit the rest of my bile in the sink]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We had a great swim at Tweed Heads, but we should have soaked our towels in the water. The trip back north was hellishly hot and seemed to take an aeon. M drove all the way through again, like a trooper. We made it home just before dark – the garden is a total wasteland, it hasn’t rained a drop. It was lovely to see our house again – thanks for letting us come and stay I&J – we had a blast!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              R.I.P & Home Alone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yesterday was our first day back home after our New Years jaunt. At about 1pm M and I borrowed some money from his mother and booked him a return flight in a flurry of websites. M’s brother passed away (passed away or died? both I suppose…) on Christmas night and the funeral is today. It was not unexpected, but that doesn’t make it any better. M drove back to Brisbane last night and is flying to Newcastle as I type. It is an odd situation, as M’s brother was about a million years older than him and he barely knew him at all. But it is good that he is going. Naturally I have to relate this to myself (it’s all about me, me, me, me) and say that last night was the first night I have ever spent here on my own – it was tres hard to get to sleep. Cat fights, bumps in the night…my fight with a poodle sized cockroach. If I suddenly became single, I learnt one thing last night – I would become instantly fatter. I still cooked for two – decided I couldn’t be bothered putting the leftovers in the fridge, and ate them instead. Roly poly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                190 Years Old & Kicking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Today M’s mother took me out to lunch along with her friend Nita who lives next door to her. Together our combined ages must have been about 190 years old. As I am housebound due to absent M and an unregistered Humber, M’s mother came and got me, and took us down to her fave cafe on the esplanade. We had a great time. It turns out that although she was born in Maryborough Queensland, Nita used to live in Yarraville right near where we lived for five long years. (Tangent: Have I mentioned that the lady who lives next door to us went to M’s primary school in the salubrious suburb of St Marys in Sydney? That’s weird.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So they dropped me home and Nita came in for the tour. M’s mother is so nice – she is so proud of what we’ve done to the house – she’s one of the few people who saw it when we bought it and it looked like a squat. Nita loved it and said she’d try to think of people who might be interested. Fingers crossed. It’s too hot here for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hot Under the Collar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Stress levels mounting. Applying to refinance the home loan (very adult sounding) – too bad they’ll probably tell me to bugger off because I no longer work full time. Then we’ll be living on rice and hiding from the debt collectors. On top of this, at work they are advertising my job. And they are not advertising the way that I was told they would. It is being advertised externally – not just internally inside the university. It is also fulltime (this is bad) for a two year fixed term (yeah, right). I’m supposed to be experienced in policy development and analysis (hee hee) – and no, I’m not going to link to it. The less competition I have the better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Am listening to a recording of The Breeders playing in Stockholm in May ’94 – they are better than good. I need to get back to Melbourne and crank up the band!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A Wonderful, Magical Creature

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nightstar Kinetic Flashlight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well I call it a ‘torch’ but whatever you call it – it’s pretty cool! Thank you to M for passing this link to me. Geek.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Because I Forgot His Pillow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: When you got your swimmers off the clothesline, you got mine too, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M: Ummmmm….
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: (pleadingly) Right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M: Well, nooooo. I just got mine off the line.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: But mine were there too. We’re going swimming. Why didn’t you just grab mine as well?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M: [deep breath - male logic approaching] I didn’t see your swimmers. I don’t know about your swimmers. There seems to be so many different bits and pieces that you wear swimming, I wouldn’t have even known what to look for. I mean [he gets more animated] sometimes there’s bits with strings, and sometimes there’s those little shorts, and sometimes the ones that look kind of like undies [he gets scorched by a glare] – well sort of like undies, and so I…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: There are two words for you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M: And they would be?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        B: The first one is INEPT and the second one is BUMBLING. Forget it. I’ll swim in my shorts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo Friday – Silhouette

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Noun: silhouette ‘siloo’et
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1) An outline of a solid object (as cast by its shadow)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2) A drawing of the outline of an object; filled in with some uniform color

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Red-tail Black Cockatoos!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wandered outside this morning to put some food in the cat bowls before I released them from Camp X-Ray (which is where they sleep when we can’t stand the night fights and morning mewing). For about 15 minutes before I’d heard this weird noise. Anyway, when I got near to The Ritz (where the cats normally live) there was the sound of birds disturbed and a great flapping of wings. From the same tree that I’d seen the Tawny Frog Mouth in, six Red-tail Black Cockatoos took off and flew to one of the big gum trees further down the back. They’re huge. Think of the biggest black crow you’ve seen, then double it, make it fatter and add on the cockatoo beak and head comb thing. When they’re not moving they look completely black, but as they flew I could see red feathers under each wing. Amazing. I thought they were Crow Pheasants to start with, because of their size, but once M got a look at them, he told me what they were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lupus Strikes Again

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After taking me out for lunch on Wednesday and zipping me around in her little car, M’s mum went to hospital last night, again. I say again because she goes on average of four or five times a year. You just have to call up the hospital and ask for her by name and they put you through! Her lupus is acting up again – we went into the hospital to take her a bag of stuff and arrived just as her lunch arrived. M and I ate her sandwich, I drank her tea and had half her apple pie and custard – we asked what time dinner would be delivered…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Am trying to not dwell on house-selling stress for fear of becoming an incurable insomniac. We took a punt and spent our advertising money on an independent valuation and building inspection so we could give them both to the person who was so interested that he said he was going to give us a deposit cheque and asked us to ‘hold off on advertising’ until he came and saw it. That person was my boss. I don’t want to get done for slander or defamation – so I will just let you imagine the adjectives that I could apply to him, if I didn’t need to keep my job until this protracted renovation experiment is over. Adjectives are describing words.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have submitted our website to 25 different real estate/classified sites so far, I do a few more each night. For obvious reasons I am sticking to the free ones – where we go from here depends on whether the bank approves my application to refinance the homeloan – if they don’t, we’ll probably buckle and go with an agent, if they do – we’ll launch our advertising blitz. A real estate agent called yesterday having seen our site online…I asked her how much it would cost for her to sell our house – she did something like add $18,000 to the asking price, divided the result by 40 and then added GST. It came to over $8000. Bwah-ha HA HAAA! Not on your life. M and I worked out we could employ a couple of people to fly around the country on a personal house selling publicity bandwagon for that much money. The agent sounded completely serious. I’ve only just stopped choking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              More From the Green Tree Frog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                First of all our friend the Green Tree Frog hopped through the dining room.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then M, saviour and carer of all creatures frog, swooped down with carefully dampened hands and sat frog in a bowl of lovely water; where he stayed for the next few hours. He’s still there, despite M’s carefully constructed a frog faux-habitat that he just put within hopping range.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Update 11/01/05: M couldn’t help himself and moved Frog into his carefully constructed habitat and Frog has been asleep in there all day! We are going to try and catch some flies for him later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Relatively Intact

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Imagine the following to the sound of grinding teeth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  From the backseat:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Keep to the left, won’t you?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes. Yes – it’s all clear now, I think you can go.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ———————
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At the holiday house:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Did you lock the car Rie?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Shouldn’t we bring the empty bottles inside?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ———————
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After five hours drive and one minute from home:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Do you need anything at home?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Maybe we should stop and get some milk?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My valiant friends, Dave and Rie, have just survived (I’m assuming, no one has rung with bad news) over a month with Dave’s parents visiting from England. They have taken them on holiday to the beach, have tried to entertain them and give them the best possible time. Now, on the day of their departure, Rie’s nerves are completely shot, her self control is in tatters, her holidays are all used up and she still feels like she is yet to have a holiday. She goes back to work tomorrow. Dave is insisting that if he never sees his parents again, it will be too soon. Oh, the horror.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Halfway to the ‘holiday at the beach’ destination, they pulled over for the British restorative – a nice cup of tea. Dave’s parents were clucking over him.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Oh, haven’t you driven well David?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes, David, well done. Good driving.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rie couldn’t bite her tongue fast enough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes, you’ve done brilliantly for a forty-one year old, David.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And got parent-in-law daggers for her efforts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  From the sound of it, Jack (charming offspring of poor Dave and Rie) got revenge in his own way. He is accustomed to being allowed to run starkers around the house just before bathtime, waggling his bits with much enthusiasm, as three year olds apparently are wont to do. Dave’s parents found this fairly perplexing, but bearable. Then Jack decided to up it a notch, and instead of just getting jiggy with his willy, decided to rut joyously against Dave’s dads leg. The expression of horror on his face almost made the whole visit worthwhile. Dave and Rie stood by, stifling a combination of awe and hysteria….and eventually coaxed him to the bath…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Eighth Wonder of the World occurred when Dave attended an 11am session at the cinema. It was a stinking hot day – could there be anything better to do that didn’t involve cold gin and tonics? No. Obviously the perfect idea to take the visiting parents to the cinema – it practically guarranteed their silence for a whole ninety minutes. But, no fear, when Rie asked if they’d like to go and see a film, Dave’s mother responded, not with a yes or a no, but with the verbal ejaculation;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “The cinema? The cin-e-ma? I haven’t been to a cinema in thirty years…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They spent the rest of the day (and night, which happened to be New Years Eve) fixated on the amazing phenomenon of Dave going to the cinema in the [gasp] Middle of the Day. Astounding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Finally, as I type this, I imagine that Dave and Rie and Jack are all strewn horizonatally over the lounge suite as they visualise the Parents-of-Dave flying off into the stratosphere… They deserve a medal for merely surviving, and another one for surviving relatively [sorry] intact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dub Dub Dud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    From The Aardvark Blog:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    George W. Bush visits a high school in America and after being given the guided tour is asked to say a few words to the students in the auditorium [assembly hall]. He makes a little speech and then says that he’s open to questions. One student puts his hand up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Hi,” says the ‘President, “what’s your name?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “My name’s Bobby,” says the student, “and I’ve got three questions for you. Firstly, why are you President when Al Gore got more votes than you?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “That’s a very good question, Bobby. What’s your next one?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “What are we doing in Iraq when there’s no WMD’s there?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “That’s a good question too, Bobby. What’s your third question?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Why, after spending all this money and time on the job, have we not caught bin Laden yet?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “That’s another good question, Bobby.” At this point, the fire alarm goes off and everyone is ordered out of the building. When they’re allowed back in, Bush says that he’ll take some more questions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “My name’s Steve,” says another student, “and I’ve got four questions for you. Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes than you? What are we doing in Iraq when there aren’t any WMD’s there? Why have we not caught bin Laden yet? And what’s happened to Bobby?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Victories and Muck Ups

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The bank approved me! [Cue: wild dancing]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is such a nice feeling to talk to the evil people at (for example) GE Finance and say “Oh. I’m overdue? By more than a month? That’s terrible. Well, I can’t talk now, but I will be paying the entire amount off in full within the next two weeks, so it’s quite alright if you’d like to hang up and hassle some other poor debt-swamped person trying to grapple with the Harvey Norman fuelled revelation of ’12-months-interest-free-is-up-already? Your charging me how much interest?’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In other news, this site is claggy. I tried to change my links to become more google friendly, as deep down, I’m just a tawdry fame slut out for every link I can get, but in the process broke many things, including archives (thank you Ian, for pointing that out, you Byron Bay hippy). So I think tonight I’m going to try a [gulp] revamp. In the meantime you can get to archives here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Am incoherent. Beginning to click at the wrong time and lose my ability to spell. Have been geeking out for more hours than I care to admit, fixing up this site. There are still things that are broken, but I will have to attend to them at another time. Job application is in. Thank god. Sleep now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s all awry…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a test.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not Dead, Just Tweaking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK. So maybe brown isn’t the most attractive colour. (Lisa will back me on that one.) But hey, this site is now legible in Internet Explorer (damn it’s dark soul to hell) and Firefox. I have no Mac – so Kartar or Catboy or Tony might be able to check that angle? Oh, and I already know that it sucks in Opera. This whole debacle was prompted by a meek inquiry from Ian (our kindly Rosebank host), who wanted to know how to get to the archives… Then I tried to fix things, the whole site went under and the weather got hotter and hotter and hotter…white singlets glared at me from the clothesline and the garden went limp. Now it’s back. I’m going to try and treat it better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chauffers & Snakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today I was chauffer for M’s mother. I drove her to the bank. Then to the ‘shopping complex’ where we ate a doughnut, she had an ice cream and I had a raspberry slushy thing. Then bought her some trousers and me a pair of shorts (which for some reason I now loathe). Then to the supermarket, which took an ab-so-lute a-g-e.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meanwhile, M was being a Snake. Seriousssssly. His brother-in-law is fixing up the aquarium and there were lots of bolts to be done up. The problem was that the bolts were in gaps. Gaps that M’s brother-in-law was too porky to enter. Gaps that all the other blokes onsite were too porky to contemplate entering. Thus, M was called. Who better than a latte sipping, Labor voting, stir fry eating, gangly hippy from the city, to insinuate himself, thin and slippy, into tiny little gaps that were closed to the porky blokes that abound in Hervey Bay?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dire Dire Straits

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Who ever thought I would make a reference to Mark Knopfler? Not me. [sigh] As with everything that is to do with banks, lenders and the like, there is a time lapse in between saying what they can do for you and actually doing it for you. Thus I have my approval from the bank for a pile of money to pay off my debts, but ‘it may take up to six weeks’ to actually materialise. Meanwhile, Iprimus have just cut off my long distance calls and my internet. How am I managing to post this? Well, I am assuming it’s because I was connected to the net before they cut me off, so I estimate I have about 35 minutes left online [GASP] – so have been frantically googling for access to an ISP that will tide me over until Thursday when I can pay the bill. As I used to work for BigPondScum techsupport, I do recall their ‘first month free offer’ and have actually found it here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I forgot that it asks for a credit card number for security. M has my card. So I rang him on his mobile. That’s when I discovered that they’ve also cut off the calls to mobiles!! Bother. It is quite lucky that my sister is now working where I work, as she is my undercover ally. I have asked her to take over my ‘checking the bosses phone messages’ duty until Thursday and to not divulge my situation to anyone under threat of torture. One day, in the smeared mists of my future, I will stop living on the vague whiff of an oily rag….one day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Black Hole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Twenty four hours without the internet. I was wondering if I could do it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I couldn’t. Lisa called me up and, knowing she has a cable connection at her fingertips, I surfed the net through her – checking to see whether we would be getting any rain and whether my horoscope indicated a lottery win. Then Small Brother (the one from whom I had zero contact over the span of Xmas, his birthday and New Year to the point where I thought he’d been lost in the tsunami – and I bet he wished he had been when I finally tracked him down) called from the UK, and he was at work. So I got him to check the (non-existent) rain too. I realised that surfing through someone at the end of a phone is better than having no net at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But there was an upside. I made it through the weekend papers, I penned a letter to my Nan in Marblehead, ignored a moody M, clapped on my headphones and played around with css on my laptop. It’s like I’ve been fasting!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I Want to be a Headline Writer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Minding their pees and queues

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The scourge of female festivalgoers – the female toilets and their painfully long queues – could be a thing of the past, with radical new toilets to be tested at Melbourne’s Big Day Out festival on January 30.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The female-only urinals, known as “She Pees” on the European festival circuit, will allow women to urinate without being late to the next band. With the aid of complimentary, disposable, leak-proof paper funnels known as “P-Mates”, women can urinate while standing up…[more]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And Another…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is still a test. As I am tweaking away in the background, after a less than subtle hint from Kartar that I should maybe just chuck this whole look in and try something else. So now I need to test some different styles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frog is in the kitchen, having bathed in a bowl of water, and is now climbing the wine rack. The biggest huntsman spider that has ever been seen has six legs and is on the opposite wall to where I’m sitting. M is over on the couch spouting excerpts from Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan. I’m typing, tweaking and sipping a lime fizz (Bickfords Lime Juice Cordial mixed with lemonade).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yup. Now an image.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What does this look like?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And so on…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Minimally Blue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So this is the new look. I have to say, WordPress is a pain in the arse at times, but I won’t go into that. Have spent all day tweaking with my headphones on listening to some great live stuff from Wilco and P.J Harvey. Good music helps me stay patient while uploading countless times and pressing F5 to refresh the page and see changes. Have already got some feedback about maybe having a stronger coloured border to this box that you’re reading within…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, enough of all that. It’s bedtime! Tonight I tried to make polenta, but nowhere on the packet did it say that it takes over an hour to cool and set. Bugger. So M and I ate salad and some dry biscuits – in separate rooms, as we can’t bear each other at present. Something to do with my brother taking our visitor’s book back to the UK and it being my fault. You know, the kind of thing on which the future of the planet depends….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How much can a Panda bear?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves arrived in the post today from the lovely Dylan and Rachael in Melbourne. M got some music cds. It was basically a care package to ensure our continued survival up here, away from all our friends, melting in the humidity. How nice is that? Very nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have been hanging out to read this book a-g-e-s and the opening pages soothed my savage little faux literary soul. There is a ‘Shark Museum’ near to where we live, and the sign out the front reads:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ‘See Vic’s Latest Film: Why Do Whales beach Themselves

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No question mark. It drives me mad. M and I practice saying it as a statement to each other (something that is hard, when the ‘statement’ begins with ‘why’). We try to say ‘themselves’ in a modulated, BBC kind of tone, but it’s hard. Before we leave Hervey Bay we are going to put that sign to rights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Why Do Whales Beach Themselves

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a) they’re trying to find the question mark
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b) to get to the other side
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • c) because they found themselves in an elephant cemetery*
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • * ‘Elephant cemetery‘ is the colloquial term for Hervey Bay – because it’s where a lot of very old fat people come to die. I didn’t say it was pleasant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bunnies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I Love My Leather Jacket(s)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (The title is a reference to The Chills track of the same name….)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My first leather jacket was one I bought from my friend Kirsty’s brother. It was a biking jacket, and way too big. Then, about five years later, I bought a leather jacket that was about $150 [gasp] at the urging of my friend Kathy. It was a thinner, more tailored design. Sometime during all of this I flogged my original leather jacket to some guy who wanted it, and stumbled on another ‘motorbike’ styled one that was quite small (i.e. it fitted) and laboriously made a lining for it out of an old flannel shirt. About three years ago, I was in Savers in Footscray and found another leather jacket. It was a little bit big, less snug, but more of a classic style, with a belt. It was cool. As there was a 50% sale the next day, I hid it, and hared back in the morning, getting it for a paltry $12.50 – could it get any better? Yes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today M and I truced long enough for a trip to the Tip Shop. I have never found any good clothes there before. But today I found two old leather jackets. Both proper leather. Stiff with age and lack of use. One is a very cool ‘girl style’ riding jacket – which is the one I like the most – so does M. The other is more of a short ‘trench coat’ style. I will post a picture of them once I’ve cleaned them up a bit. Dubbin? Or are there better things for restoring leather?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Happy ‘Straya Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here are some pictures from today…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And from a few days ago, we have Frog – my photographic muse:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Destined to be thwarted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When we got home yesterday, I put the kettle on to make tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: You didn’t eat that whole packet of chocolate biscuits last night. Did you?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M: No, no. Of course not. I just put the ones that were left in a bag in the fridge.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: Thank god.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [I promptly forget my chocolate biscuit craving - now I know they're safe - and decide to eat a cinnamon doughnut that is in a tin in the cupboard.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: Argh! Argh!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M: [barely lifting an eyebrow; assuming I've seen a cane toad, walked into a spiderweb, left my phone in the rain etc. etc.] What?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: There’s fucking ANTS in the TIN all over the DOUGHNUTS. [Pokes further into the tin.] And they’ve savaged my Ryvitas. That’s it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [The words 'that's it' are said in unison with me tossing the ant-invaded tin as far as I can from the back steps into the garden. M starts laughing hysterically.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M: You’re Homer! You’re Homer!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: [Muttering darkly] Yeah. That’s right. I’m living Homer’s nightmare.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [I make the tea, savagely stir in the milk, and start poking around in the fridge.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: M! Where in the fridge did you put the chocolate biscuits? I can’t find them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [M's giggling stops abruptly. I can hear him backing away from the house with sneaky, treacherous little steps.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M: Um…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  B: [Shrieking] M! Tell me. Tell me you weren’t just putting off the inevitable by saying you hadn’t eaten all the biscuits. Tell me that they’re in the fridge.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [M shakes his head mutely, and speaks very very softly.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M: I. Ate. Them. All.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [I kick something and flounce into the study with my tea. M drives into town for some Tim Tams. Later that night he eats six of them, guzzles a bottle and a third of red wine, eats pasta, jelly, chocolate and awakes in riotously good humour. It just doesn't seem right.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tired of Tea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is truly sad. I am tired of tea. Samey old tea. I was very happy with my sexy tin of vanilla tea that I received from Ellise for Christmas, but that is now long gone.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chai syrup is all that will revive my interest. (And a care package from West Preston.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In other news, I have installed Microsoft ClearType (for LCD screens) that has suddenly given my eyeballs a new lease of life. I don’t advocate making Microsoft happy, but ClearType has actually given my sad little day a boost!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Pay Off

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Surprisingly, the bank did not lie. My ‘refinancing funds’ appeared today. I have to admit to reloading the webpage numerous times, merely to take in my account balance. That done, I paid off our lounge suite, phone, electricity, boat rent, storage and Humber registration. It still didn’t feel real, so I went and bought the first new pillow I’ve ever purchased, two bottles of wine and a cheap Italian meal. I AM GETTING MUCH HAPPIER, GET OUT OF MY WAY. (Oh. I also bought dark orange Lindt Chocolate…and some Chai Syrup…can you tell?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why I Hate The ABC’s ‘New Look’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The recent ‘makeover‘ of the ABC news is pure tackiness. Besides the fact that the music didn’t need changing and that the new music (sorry ex-The Sports guy) doesn’t cut it as a replacement, I didn’t realise that ‘now brought to you in w-i-d-e screen’ was code for ‘now we can fit in a laptop on the desk’ so now the presenters don’t only looked super-groomed, but also appear apparently computer savvy. But the thing that really enrages me is the new text ‘prompts’. As an ABC news viewer, I am now apparently too stupid to grasp the gist of each news item, and must be prompted in three word ‘bites’ that materialise in the bottom left hand corner of the screen according to the current story; i.e. ABC Turns Dire or Queensland Summer Heatwave.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I. Can. Not. Stand. It.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’m not even going to discuss my loathing of the same broadcaster’s ‘Coming Soon’ promo – M and I flick channels immediately whenever it comes on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the Bag!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My new bag. Hand sewn and crocheted by the lovely Rie. It arrived in the post this morning…[swoon] I don’t know how she finds the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also in the bag were some books from my book donor :) Entombed by Linda Fairstein (which I know is schlock, but I very much enjoy) and something called Retribution by someone called Jilliane Hoffman. As well as these, this morning is beautifully overcast and I have actually managed a cup of tea without dissolving into a pool of my own perspiration. Thank you for the care package D & R! Can’t think how much beer I must owe you now…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          WordPress Comment & Trackback Spam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just in case you’re using WordPress, the most successful combination I’ve found so far to Kill Spam Dead (in regard to Comment and Trackback spam) is this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            AuthImage for Comment Spam; I have had no problems with this. No comment spam has made it through since I implemented this. Yay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Go here for trackback spam. It works. I started getting my first vomit-like chunks of trackback-spam today and I tried a few fixes. This is the only one that worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Credit Limit: Nil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just closed my credit card accounts. Debt reconsolidation does have quite a few high points! The lady in the bank was just going to take my card away and stick it in the shredder. I demanded that she give me scissors so I could get some closure. Voila!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rob’s Amazing Poem Generator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Via Kartar. This is my amazingly generated poem, sloshed together from random bits of this website…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                m and speaks very much HAPPIER,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                GET some pictures
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                lounge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                suite, phone,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                electricity, boat the cat @
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                import url http://www.miaowthecat.com/wordpress/.the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Age Bidston Moss [bilby] Mung&#
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                039;s nightmare. [I a care
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                package D &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                R! Can&#from a new lease
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of the care package from my
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                little
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                side project categories: All over the care package
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                my own perspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seethe The Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Today is the first day in over year I haven’t repeatedly logged into my bank account to see if my pay has appeared. Oh happy day! It’s quite dispiriting however, the way a happy day can be swiftly transformed into ‘day of seething frustration’ courtesy of one’s oblivious partner. And I get to outlet it all here, you lucky lucky readers, as I have no one else to tell (unless I pick up the phone, and I really think it’s far more considerate to type).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here it is. The thing I have been gritting my teeth for the entire time I have been living with M. And Lisa will back me on how irritating this is. He cannot recycle. He cannot. Actually, Small Brother will vouch for this as well. I mean, M can’t shut doors after himself either, but I have slowly come around to realising that it is easier for me to be his door closer than to grind yet another one of my teeth down to the gumline while sending bile lacerated thought-waves at him to shut it himself. But the recycling; I have questioned him, over the years, as to why anyone would want to turn their beloved girlfriend into a bin scab – as this is what I have to be in order to recycle all the recyclables that he throws in the bin. To little response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So I was just clearing out the kitchen bin. (M, having been struck by some kind of karma, is laid out with a throat infection, honking so hoarsely that I can barely understand what he’s saying. I keep reminding myself that this is a bad thing.) In the bin was an empty bottle of ‘Green Earth’ dishwashing detergent. I have to point out that he likes this detergent, and we also buy similar stuff for clothes washing; we have a grey water system that goes out into the garden, and this stuff is more friendly than the big brand names. Why bother to by a ‘green’ detergent when you’re going to personally entrust it to landfill? Even though I could have just smiled like a desperate indulgent housewife and gone and put it into the correct bin, I was filled with a wrenching kind of rage; I went and hit M over the head with it as hard as I could and ran from the house, frothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, I lie. I would have like to have done this. But I contented myself with throwing it into the middle of the lawn. Where it will stay, regardless of who might be inspecting our house (putting it on ebay seems to have been a good idea – the house, I mean). Of course, M will just pick it up, look at it confusedly (think Homer) and put it in the big bin. The one that isn’t the recycling one. This is the same person that has been raving to me excitedly about the wonders of biodiesel. I have to think carefully here. I know you’re supposed to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ but this leaves me freely perspiring. I can’t mention it again to him, because he will just get annoyed. This is the evil brilliance of the whole situation. If I go on about it, I’ll be ‘nagging’ and if I ignore it, he’ll just keep doing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Note: There has been a minor victory, and it’s sort of funny, because it was the opposite problem. It was what he put in the recycle bin that was driving me mad. Plastic bags. I ranted. For months. He refused to believe that they shouldn’t be disposed via household recycling. Finally, we were both butting heads, breathing hard, and M rang the council. To ask them. If. he. could. put. plastic. bags. in. his. our. council. recyclable. bin. Obviously I was just an idiot with her own secret plastic bag agenda and the council would know far more about everything than I could even dream of.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They told him what I’d been telling him for months. And he stopped. Just like that. Now that was a happy day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spot the Faker…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just did the ‘Spot the Fake Smile‘ test over at the BBC Science & Nature site. I got 12 right out of 20. You have a go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Moo…I am a cow*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Poor M is still wretchedly under the weather. He was taken to the doctor today – I gave him lots of hope by chirping “antibiotics will fix it, antibiotics will fix it”…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Apparently the doctor said antibiotics would fix it, if it wasn’t a virus that can be fixed by nothing but time. D’oh. It’s bloody hot. M has carked it in front of the fan. I am being a good cat owner, and took both cats into the vet this morning for a checkup (their first since we moved here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The vet, strangely enough, used ‘doctor-speak’. He actually discussed the cats using the royal ‘we’. Is that third person removed? Who knows… So he looked down at Mow, who was trying to render himself and his accompanying fur, invisible on the examination bench, and said;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “We don’t want to be here, do we?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I looked around for this friend of his he was referring to, but found no one.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “OK then,” he said, grabbing Mow by the scruff of the neck, “now we won’t mind this too much.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And in a rapid blur of vetinary karate, he squeezed, peered, innoculated, worm tableted, and shoved Mow back at me, smiling engagingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saffy, on the other hand, came out of the carry box and ponced, purring provocatively, around the examination bench. He rubbed his head against the vet, then came over to me and allowed me some affection as well. It was almost embarrassing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “We don’t mind it here at all!” crooned the vet, performing more cat karate, “We have a very nice personality, don’t we…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thankfully, the royal ‘we’ was good for something. It reminded me of wee. Which reminded me of my worry about how much water Saf has taken to drinking, and how I suspect kidney problems. So I relayed this to the vet, who had a go at putting a needle through Saffy in some magical manner that would draw some urine from his bladder, but despite the fact I’d watched Saf chugging back the fluids just before stuffing him in the cat carrier, there was not enough there for the vet to nab. So I had to leave Saf there for the day, in order for him to build up enough wee to be stolen from him for testing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was a bit apprehensive about going to pick him up, but apparently the tests are neither positive or negative, they’re borderline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “So just keep a good eye on him,” instructed the vet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “And if we noticably lose some weight [I looked down at my thighs, and quickly glanced away] or seem to be going off our food, then bring him back in for some blood tests.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even though he’d told me this morning that blood tests aren’t much good for kidney problems, as they only indicate something is wrong if it’s really wrong, I nodded dutifully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *The cow reference is because of my recycling rant, about which I am feeling a little bit guilty…now that M is still ill. Bugger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Port Wine Jelly is my Favourite Flavour

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That’s all. And with M and his viral throat beasties, I’m making it every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        George P. Pelecanos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love George P. Pelecanos. I just spent the morning ekeing the last few chapters of Nick’s Trip. If you get into crime fiction, you should read it – I especially like all the music references that are all the way through it – Kirsty McColl, The La’s, The Replacements, The Clash – he even makes mention of the bassline from The Guns of Brixton, which is one of my all time favourites. I’m on an end-of-book high.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And now…the weather

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just learnt a new term. Heat Index. Here is what it means:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Heat Index: The apparent temperature increase caused by the combination of high temperatures and high relative humidity. The high humidity reduces the rate of evaporation of perspiration from the skin and thus cool. This leads to the sensation of the temperature being higher than it actually is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This means that although, right now, it is 29.4°C with a relative humidity of 77%, the heat index temperature is 35°C. Which, in my opinion, is way too f*%#ing much. I was up at about 4am this morning, having been woken by sick puppy M, and decided that, as I was awake, I would go and feed the cats so I didn’t have to get up again and do it in a few hours time. Outside, it was unbelievable. Everybody tells me to ‘get up early when it’s cool’. Well, it was early. But it was like walking into some primeval landscape; there was light in the sky, but the sun wasn’t up, and breathing was like sucking water through a blanket. I felt bad for the cats, who basically spend their lives under a rug. The humidity was thick and the air was still. I went back to bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It’s a bit better now, there is a breeze, but the temperature is climbing. I’m very tempted to go to a bottle shop, slink out the back into the coolroom, and stay there until it’s dark. I’m cooking on slow bake under foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Raw Prawn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The black labrador of despair has wrapped it’s paws around my throat. The heat is unbearable. M is a twat. And the house hasn’t sold. Yes, I know there are a lot of bereft tsunami affected people who would love to have my problems, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was doing some recording this morning for my friend’s Valentine cd, but M tempted me away with tales of trips to the library, the post office, some car parts shop and prawn fishing. Forgetting the last item for a moment, let us consider the other three. They are all air-conditioned. Revelation! I was enticed. The prawn fishing? M has got himself a cast net and has been practicing throwing it, in between bouts of coughing. He told me about a little creek near a place called Gatakers Bay. I love Gataker’s Bay, and could only imagine that the little creek flowed sedately toward the beach, where I would frolic, as M caught plentiful prawns further upstream. My imagination knows no bounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We set off to prawning (M’s priority) via the Post Office, after I gently reminded M that Express Post envelopes have to be posted prior to 3pm. M, who has the forethought of a goldfish, had brought along the only copy of our house valuation as a pile of paper (no paper clip, plastic envelope, nothing) to be photocopied and sent off. I sat in the car while M battled the Post Office for twenty minutes. Then we took off on his prawn expedition, bits of the valuation document flapping gaily around the front seat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We drove to the outskirts of town down an unsealed road, and M pulled the van up to a ‘creek’ that looked more like the Ganges on a very low day. It was wide, flat, shallow, muddy brown, and nowhere near the beach. M bounced, labrador style, towards the water with his net, sending vague noises of encouragement in my direction, apparently suggesting that I get out of the car.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am an adaptable person. I canoe, I camp, I fish, I help catch mudcrabs, but nothing in M’s description of how the rest of my day was to pass had caused me to envision this. I opened the doors of the van, strung a towel over the windscreen to block out the sun and settled with my book, naively expecting M to surface in ten minutes time with some prawns that I could coo over and tell him how clever he was. Meanwhile, freakish march flies attempted to attack me from all directions, their buzzing almost drowned out by the racket of my starving stomach. M had been so fixated on his prawning that he had neglected to inform me about the need for Bushman and food supplies. Naturally, thinking we were going to the beach, near to which is a cafe, I had brought neither. It got hotter and hotter. I kept swiping more and more viciously at the flies, until the van was rocking in a very faux romantic manner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M appeared to say he’d snagged the net, and bounded back to free it. I attempted to read for another thirty minutes, baking gently. M returned again, to handover his catch and move the car further downstream.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Are you having fun?” he gambolled at me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Um. No. Do I look like I’m having fun?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was if he was a puppy and I had purposely kicked him. He could simply not fathom in the slightest what my problem was. His voice became immediately haughty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Well I suppose this is something I’ll just have to do alone from now on,” he opined, savagely stuffing prawns into the car fridge as they kept jumping out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “But you didn’t explain anything to me. If I had known we were going to be coming here, and staying for a few hours, I would have brought some food, some Bushman…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I kicked myself for bothering to explain. What was there to not understand?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Well I just came back because I was going to move further upstream, but OBVIOUSLY I should just call it a day.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He started doing everything with an angry, unnecessary vigour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Why don’t we go further upstream, you go prawning, I’ll take the van, find something to eat, go to the library and come back in an hour or so?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “No.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “But now you’re just going to have it in you head that I ruined your dayyyyyyy…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              [I wish valiantly that I had not begun to whine, but my tether was nearing its end.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M assumed a holier-than-thou tone, tinged with sarcasm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Oh I think I can be adult about this. I’m sure that won’t happen.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I shut my mouth mutinously. We drove home in silence. Because I really wanted to be at home in the heat, where I have to spend the next three days shackled to my desk. M cooked his prawns, gave me half of them atop a bit of warm buttered bread, which I threw under the house when he wasn’t looking. The prawns were fantastic. M has now left the building to go into town where there won’t be people like me trying to emasculate him by questioning his questionable planning. I am here, at home, listening to the ShutUpAndStopIts mow and swear in unison. My ankles are fat from mosquito bites, and the cats are hungry. I could just about spit. But more on that another time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thai a yellow ribbon…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have, for the most part, disengaged from the clutch of Blackie. Last night, I took M on a Date. The Date that I tried to take him on this time last week, but he was too ill. These are the things we can do now that we have reconsolidated. So I drove us to the restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Oh,” squeaked M, “This Thai restaurant. I thought we were going to the other one.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “No,” I said, grabbing him as his pace slowed, “we’ve never been here and your mother said it was supposed to be good.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Both of us, in unsion, stopped walking. I had just said that like it was a good thing. We looked at each other. My look said ‘Don’t even start to wreck my Date plans’ and his look said ‘At times I can be wise, and I will do nothing but give a minimalist shake of my head’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And we continued on.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Holy crap. It was horrifying. The ceiling was yellow, there was a blue wall, a pink wall, and an aquamarine wall. There were old-time op-shop hits on the stereo. The place was full and there was one waitress. We stayed there for a full hour, in which we got our entrees – a tiny bowl of tom yum soup, and several suspect vegetarian spring rolls. We had drunk two beers apiece and our mains hadn’t arrived. So we left. They didn’t make us pay, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I drove us, trying to ignore the cruel destruction of my Date plans, to the proper Thai restaurant, where we ordered our mains and got them within about ten minutes. Naturally, in keeping with sods law, M got something divine and I tried to live vicariously through his choice by spooning his sauce on to my rice. By the time we were full and round there was still time to get to Date Part B. The movies! Oh. My. God. I hadn’t been to the cinema up here for one year and five weeks. It still smelt like dampy mustiness. We waited for 15 minutes in the cinema for our movie to start, and then, in my guise of Date-Fixer, I went and asked the useless people that work there whether they would consider showing the movie that everybody was waiting to see. Then we saw Ocean’s 12 and drove home. Completely knackered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vita-what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I send M shopping. Usually, eating wodges of bread at lunchtime makes me feel even hotter than before, so I asked him to get me some Vita-Wheats. He does an admirable shop, doesn’t forget the beer, and I start putting things in the cupboard. For some unfathomable reason, he’s decided to buy himself VitaBrits for breakfast. I put them away, and then, desperate for cheese and biscuits, call through the window…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “M, did you get any Vita-Wheats?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yeah, they’re just on the table. Can’t you see them?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I look at the table. I look at the VitaBrits I’ve just put in the cupboard. And I ponder the importance of those first two syllables: Vi-ta. I say nothing. He tried, and that’s sweet. (BTW – this is not me being patronising, in case you were wondering.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The soothing sound of rain…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We have a steady soaking rain…a day of cooler weather. Rain is pattering outside, and I sit here gleaming dully with a fine coverage of Dubbin. One jacket down, one jacket to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I won my battle against the post office. Australia Post is my latest nemesis. Express Post envelopes never get to me when they’re supposed to, and no one can ever tell me why. The fact that evil Australia Post has an all-encompassing phone number, where they head off your requests to speak to a specific post office or delivery centre is the stuff of nightmares. It took me five phone calls to get put through to the Hervey Bay mail centre, where I spoke to Graeme. He, like everyone else, couldn’t believe that I never get the Express Post envelopes on time, but there was one vital difference – he actually seemed to care. He gave me his direct number to call next time it happens. Oh ye Holiest of Grails. Earlier in the day I had been so infuriated, that I planned to change the course of my life and just spend my time filching the direct numbers of post offices and mail centres and publishing them at ihateaustraliapost.com.au – I’ll just put that on hold for the present.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Storage

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The day was grey and the humidity low, so I took that as my cue to finally go and sort out all our manky stuff in storage that we haven’t looked at for 18 months. Actually it’s not all mank – the majority of stuff is books and cds [sigh]. I needed room in the storage space to put all our more recently accumulated crap – all the stuff we hide in the van when someone comes to look at the house. So I left M sleeping, and set off stoutly to tackle it on my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The mank factor escalated when I discovered the decayed corpse of cane toad in amongst all the boxes. Ugh. I got it onto some cardboard and carried it precariously across the carpark to the bin. I went through every box that was open and did something that doesn’t come naturally to me; I culled. And then culled some more. And then took it all to the tip – a very cleansing process. Then I stuffed even more boxes etc. into the storage compartment – though it now looks much neater. This is possibly the most boring post I have ever written.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Debacle No.1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We spent some of Friday night and all of today cleaning the house in readiness for a local woman who was coming over ‘in the afternoon’. This taught M the valuable lesson that we always have to get a name and number. Because after busting our arses all day, she still hadn’t shown up by 4.30pm and we had no way of screaming at her, except by driving through town and yelling at people who appeared to be likely suspects.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unable to bear cooking in our now pristine kitchen, or eating at our pristine table, we went out for dinner to our favourite place – Angelos. Thank god there are people coming tomorrow so it’s not all for nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Debacle No.2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It’s amazing how much more there seems to do when you wake up in the morning to a house that you had considered ‘pristine’ the night before. We continued prinking and preening the property, even going down on our knees to pick up the tiny polystyrene beanbag balls that the satanist who used to live here dumped under the house, and which decorate the bottom of the back steps whenever we get a south-easterly. [Tangent: Then M decided it would be better to just vacuum them all out of the ground. It is because of ideas like this that I taped a sign to the vacuum cleaner when I bought it, which says; anyone who takes this vacuum cleaner out of the house for any reason whatsoever will die a miserable death, in which suction will play a part - or something like that. The vaccum cleaner now weighs twice as much as previously, due to all the dirt lodged in it, and I hereby predict (you heard it first here) that this is going to be one of those things that escalate into a relationship threatening situation, as I nag M to fix it and he studiously ignores me, then humours me, then completely blows a gasket and tells me to do it myself. /Tangent]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So it got to 1.30pm and the couple that had said they would arrive at 1pm-ish were nowhere in sight. Then they called and said they were stuck in Bundaberg, and it would be more like 4pm. (Why they went to Bundaberg when they live below Brisbane is something we didn’t dare to ask – probably they were looking at other, better, more wonderful houses than ours….gah.) M and I were so sick of hanging around the house and finding more and more stuff to clean, that we took off and went out to lunch, where I dosed myself with a Bloody Mary and he tried to kill off his remaining viral bugs with a shot of Chivas. We got home at 3.30pm and waited. Nothing. At about 4.15pm they called to say they were still ‘stuck in Bundaberg’ and were terribly sorry, but that they weren’t going to make it. Somehow I remained polite and refrained from shrieking – though I do wonder whether they made it home in one piece after the evil evil thoughts I was directing at them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This house-selling gig is totally dire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Valentines Day 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M and I, after our weekend plans were blown to hell, decided to have a grand day out and explore Childers. We’d only ever driven through it, but after reading an article about the town in the Australian a few weeks ago, we were keen to check it out. Of course, valentiney things had to happen first. I picked up M’s present from the frame shop – on my great organisation of our stuff in storage, I had found a little painting that I’d bought M about three years ago of the Boathouse Cafe in Daylesford. It was just on a bit of matte board, and I couldn’t believe it had survived the move up north. I got it framed properly (amazing – as I am the person who just likes to shove things in any old frame) and M was genuinely delighted! Points for me! My excitement of the day was picking up my brand new, most special toy, that M had ordered last week. A little 3.5 Tohatsu outboard motor for Oomoo! Brand new and, most startling of all, with a two year warranty. It is so rare that M and I buy anything new ever, that having a BRAND NEW motor is just a bit bizarre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We drove through to Childers, which is very picturesque. The town seems to be making a real effort to attract touristy people and backpackers. M and I raided about three op-shops; he scored a purple shirt, and I got a dress – huzzah! We sampled a few cafes and drove around the back streets, oohing and aahing at the houses. The houses themselves are mostly Queenslanders (my favourite) but for the most part, they haven’t been tarted up. They were all just very neat and looked like they were cared for. After a few hours, we drove to Woodgate – another gorgeous place, right on the water. It’s very odd though – it’s about a 20km drive to get to it, and there is just a shop, a pub, a restaurant and a bowls club (we did find a small supermarket too). Woodgate is long and narrow; and still has quite a lot of old fibro weekenders that I spent my time drooling over, when I wasn’t cooing at all the kangaroos that jump around the streets. There were, of course, the inevitable ‘new homes’ beginning to creep in between the old ones, but there weren’t too many complete monstrosities. It would be a great place to have a holiday house – the beach is beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Answer by song title

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              …via Zucchinis in Bikinis & Spreegirl:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Choose a band and answer only in song titles by that band: Bidston Moss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Are you male or female? Muttonbird
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe yourself: Mud Muppet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How do some people feel about you? Bother
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How do you feel about yourself? Up & Down
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe your ex-boyfriend: I Used To Like You
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe your current boyfriend: Honey Bee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe what you want to be: Armadillo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe your current mood: Cerulean
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describe your friends: Chunky Bits ;)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Share a few words of wisdom: Goodbye Couch & Galore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              More Speed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today I doubled the RAM in my laptop. Glory be. I was getting completely clagged. What I really need is a bigger hard drive, but with some selective culling and my new half gig of RAM, everything is a little more zippy. Thank you ebay: I still can’t get over how cheap memory is, compared to how much it used to be. I got 256 meg of laptop RAM for $55, which isn’t bad at all. Also, my new USB hub arrived yesterday (thanks ebay – free postage to Australia) and only cost $14AU. It is totally worth it – I spent so much of my time swapping my printer plug, burner plug, palm pilot plug and mouse plug – not to mention my camera plug…the hub holds four USB 2.0 inputs – and I’m happy. Woo!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hit On

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M is getting out of control. Or maybe the female population of Hervey Bay just go for the skinny multiple cappuccino type. Either way, yesterday at the supermarket, M got hit on three times. Three. In about fifteen minutes. Some slapper type came up and asked what his name was. Then, while rounding the corner of an aisle in his usual racing car style, he went on a collision course with ‘a good looking girl’ (his words) who didn’t say “Oops, sorry.” or anything remotely predictable like that. No. She perkily said “Hi!”. Thankfully, M just looked at her with big scared uncomprending eyes and scuttled in the opposite direction. I am yet to get the third incident out of him, but I will. He is now on a short leash, and I am refusing to cut his hair – so in about three more weeks he’ll look like Greg Brady, and this kind of thing will come to a STOP! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Publication

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the post today was my friend Marg’s new book The Catch. I almost died of excitement! The last time I saw it, it was a big bundle of typewritten pages with scribbles all over it. Now it has been transformed into, well, it’s a proper book. Look!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I even got a signed copy, thanking me for my help on the ‘bridal scene’. Hooray!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Motoring On Beelbi Creek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Today we tried out the new outboard motor. We need to run it in at low speeds, and take it in for a service after ten hours of use. It got a bit too hot in the boat – Oomoo needs a bimini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wait Staff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Plans had been made to go out in Oomoo this morning, however…we got a call last night from someone a few streets away, who said they would like to come over and look at the house this morning. So the rest of our Saturday night was spent in furious tidying (and then collapsing in front of Four Weddings & a Funeral – John Hannah *sob*). They were due at 9/9.30am. We rose at seven and tidied madly. Of course they didn’t turn up. Bastards. M made two faux pas. He didn’t get their number, and he said we would be home until 2pm. God. So the house was pristine by 10am and we whiled away the hours. Thank goodness we had three other calls about the house, one couple actually drove by and took a tour (although we don’t want them to buy it, because the bloke is a complete dick and talked about air rifles and how ‘the land was obviously of more value than the house’ – grrr) but they were also interested on behalf of their daughter (poor girl) who is looking for an investment property.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We advertised in The Age a while back and had no response – but advertising in the Sydney Morning Herald was far better. I spent an interesting half hour on the phone with Kerry Rowley from Jenman on Thursday; he suggested we reduce the price a little and couldn’t stress enough the value of letter-boxing the immediate area. So M and I spent two evenings letterboxing: M drove the van and I rode on the towbar, clutching the roof-rack – jumping off whenever we slowed, to put flyers advertising our house in people’s letterboxes. We got the same response as we did from advertising in the Sydney Morning Herald! So tomorrow we are going to widen our net, on the assumption that people may know someone, or have relatives, that would like to move into the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Toby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is unbelievable. Toby is a very cute rabbit who is going to die on June 30, 2005 – unless his owner gets $50,000US – donated through the website savetoby.com. The thing is, this guy has already received $14,000 – and I can’t help it, I am tempted to donate $5 to try and save Toby from becoming rabbit stew. I am in awe of such entrepreneurial skill, but I hope it doesn’t spark a trend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          …oh, btw, comments seem to be dead. I upgraded to WordPress 1.5 yesterday and am reaping the consequences of my incurable geekdom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Geek Hell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Every time I upgrade WordPress (the system that makes this whole thing run) something goes awry. And then I spend late nights getting few responses to my pleas on the help forums and nutting away at it myself. So. Comments are now working – if someone (besides myself) could leave a comment for me to make sure it works for people who aren’t me, that would be appreciated. If this is incoherent it’s because my eyes are so baggy I can’t see what I’m typing. Ack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            GMail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am quite sure that anyone who wants a gmail account already has one, but in case I am wrong, I have 50 49 gmail invites sitting here waiting to be adopted. Email me or leave a comment if you want one. (I am assuming that they are handing out accounts because the whole gmail thing is going to stop being beta and actually go live. Just a hunch.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Things I am going to do when I move back to Melbourne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Get out of the shower in the morning and not douse myself in insect repellant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cease sweating off all sunblock by lunchtime
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Stop wasting precious time counting all the bites I have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Enjoy walking everywhere; walking to the shops, walking to the station, walking to a tram
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Look at the four day weather forecast and not see ’30°C & Fine’ stretching out into forever
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Meet up with friends at the pub and see a non-covers band
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Stop wearing singlet and shorts everyday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hook up with friends for lunch in the city
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Play and record some ROCK with the band
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Plot my getaway to Martha’s Vineyard, and how I’m going to achieve it without losing my job…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Go to the GYM! …[pause for thought]…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • See AT LEAST one movie a week in a cinema that doesn’t smell like dampy rotting mildewy crud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Drive to Get someone to drive me to the Grand Ridge Brewery so I can drink their beer on tap at their in-house bar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • …and while we’re on the topic of beer, I will also revel in the fact that Hervey Bay will suddenly have a glut of Coopers Sparkling Ale, as I will no longer be around to drink it, because I will…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Go to pubs that have beer on tap that isn’t just Tooheys, XXXX or VB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To be continued…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Meeting with the Enemy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Two separate people both recommended this particular real estate agent to us, so he is going to come and visit this afternoon. M and I have agreed on a list of questions we are going to ask him, including such gems as; ‘do you get kickbacks from advertising, and if so, can we have them?‘ and; ‘if we sell the house via one of the ads or leaflets that we have organised and paid for, do we still have to pay you?‘ and; ‘if we sign up with you, can we do so for only 30 days?‘. I believe that these questions will be answered with ‘no’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. But we shall see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We had a couple look through the house yesterday – they called and asked if they could come over in the next half hour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “That’s fine!,” I chirped, “I’ll just clean up a bit before you turn up.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cue me: red faced running around the house with seven arms; one cleaning the shower, one hiding the mosquito net, one sweeping the back room, one beating me across the head for choosing that morning to defrost the fridge (i.e. flood the kitchen), one wiping dust from the floor with a chammy, one stuffing everything and its brother under the far side of the bed and one hiding books entitled Don’t Sign Anything and Trust Me, I’m a Real Estate Agent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M strolled in admist all of this action holding a six pack of beer, and a beatific expression which meant (I have since learnt) that he’d bought a ride-on mower. I didn’t glance twice at the beer and instead began shrieking Clean, CLEAN. The couple turned up a few minutes later – they were young, which was new. They seemed to get scareder and scareder as M and I did the tour and the spiel, culminating in them doing a quick exit to their car about ten minutes later. So quick, in fact, that he left his pair of Nike Airs on the front porch, where they are still.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I could now go on to bemoan the time of day that they arrived, and how bad the mozzies were, and how I saw three on her arm and one on her back all at the same time, but I will bide my time and put together a special page, detailing the whole hellish selling experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you. Goodnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Attack of the Alien Pumpkins

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of our friends from Rosebank (I have to say that, as they let us crash their NYE celebrations and then hang around their house for two more days) mentioned that he had cruised out the mall at Alstonville and stumbled on The Plaza Giant Pumpkin Competition. It seems that pumpkins grow more vicious as they get bigger – thus they had to be fenced in, to protect spectators from a seedy demise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All the way to Bundaberg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M’s mother doesn’t ask me favours very often, so when she does, I feel I should say OK. Thus I am driving her an hour north to Bundaberg in an hours time. M is looking at me with big, shocked eyes – finding it impossible to envision how I could have offered to be confined in a tiny car with his mother for the best part of the day. Actually, I don’t think I’m going to mind too much. The only time I start having spasms is when she begins being old and imperious to salespeople in shops. Oh the shame. She is very fond of pointing at something and saying loudly;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Look how much that is. I wouldn’t pay that. I could make that in five minutes. Disgusting. Disgusting.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She is also not adverse to using the ‘old lady’ approach, which is when she becomes a bit more tottery than she actually is, and assumes a look that is both docile and harmless (as harmless as a large and angry pumpkin). And it gets results – she gets butchers to do special cuts of meat for her, delicatessen staff slice things up fresh instead of getting them pre-sliced out of the case and, for the most part, people let her push in front of them at the cash register, as I fade, appalled, into the background.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So here I go. I will drive the Humber to her place and then take her car (a small, crumple-zoned, air-bagged go-cart) and we will drive to Bundaberg so she can try to convince the shop (where she bought an $100 gift voucher for someone) that it didn’t work out, and that she would like it back in cash. I can’t wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Goodies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Get rid of her

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Apparently I am unhappy up here and would be far better off moving back to Melbourne leaving M to hold the fort, sail my boat, tool around the garden on the ride-on mower, and show people through the house. I hate what I have written here being used against me in arguments; last night my list of ‘what I’m going to do when I get to Melbourne‘ was used to try and prove a point. I could just kick something. I have an urge to delete this domain and begin again elsewhere, anonymously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Given up on the DIY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today was a complete write off. Another no-show on the house inspection front. At least this woman sent me an email…that I got after I’d cleaned the entire house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We had our meeting with the ‘finance guy’ & it seems we cannot borrow that much. So that puts us out of the picture. Sorry to waste your time but I am very disappointed. I will just have to work harder & build more of a deposit but that is my problem. I wish you all the luck in the world in selling your lovely house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nowhere in there does it say “we won’t be arriving at 1pm as planned”. But maybe I’m just battle-weary, at least she bothered to write, and wished us luck. So there you have it. Tomorrow we are signing up with the agent we spoke with the other day [waves a sad goodbye to approx. $8000.00 -gasp]. We tried everything we could think of, and although we did get a good response, no one actually took the bait, they just nibbled all around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M and I are very over it. We called a truce yesterday and decided to go for a late afternoon sail. It took so long to organise all the bits and pieces, that it was 5pm before we left; we got halfway to town and realised we’d left our launching trolley behind. So we took a long walk down the beach and somehow ended up at a bar, had one beer each and walked all the way back. That’s about it, really. Oh, except for M knocking back a bottle of red, coming into the bedroom, tucking in the mozzie net under the mattress, and then standing there for a full five minutes, puzzling how he was going to actually get into bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oomoo Does Burrum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              …we spent today exploring the Burrum River, for 11 nautical miles! M’s hat flew into the weir (to the left) and I was going to dive in and get it, but it sank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Pact

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Soooo, today we shook hands with the devil, and asked him to sell our house. Quickly. The ‘For Sale’ sign is up; M and I are stony faced and stalwart. Of course, as soon as we got home from signing the documents there was a message on the answering machine from someone who is interested in the house – via our own advertising. My only consolation is that if she calls and asks to see it, she either won’t turn up, or will show up late and be eaten by late-afternoon mosquitos – as has been par for the course thus far.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                …oh, if you’re bored, head over to dooce.com where at least 250 people have left comments detailing their most embarrassing moments – I’ve been cackling for an hour!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                realestate.com.au

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is one place that we couldn’t get our house listed when we were trying to sell it ourselves – the real estate agent loving realestate.com.au (they don’t do private listings) – well, we’re on there now! I’m not sure why I find that a bit exciting, but we did originally buy the house via realestate.com.au so I suppose I’m hoping that we might find some people out there that might not have seen it otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Putting To Sea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This morning I got up at five thirty. M’s brother-in-law’s friend (this is convoluted) has been building a big steel stinkboat in M’s brother-in-law’s shed for the past nine years. M’s brother-in-law has been building one too – however, his friend (lets call him ‘D’) finished first, and it was to be launched this morning. M put an end to my plans to take my little boat and be a flotilla of one, and instead we took his mother and the van. After hanging around for about an hour and a half (no one knew that the blokes who run the huge bit of machinery that puts large boats into the sea didn’t start work until seven thirty), things began moving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The huge bit of machinery put two big slings under the boat and lifted it, so that the semi trailer it was on could scuttle out from under and breathe a sigh of relief. Everyone was oohing and aahing, as the machine took the boat down some rails, and gently suspended it above the water. It probably weighed as much as a tram.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It plopped into the water soon after this, and immediately looked smaller and was sort of bobbing around haphazardly. There was a lot of wind, which wasn’t helping. After a few false starts (it got caught on the sling for a few minutes) it all seemed to be going to plan. Everyone began leaving, as we were to meet up with the boat at a little jetty not far away, for some celebratory champagne.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At that moment it began to be very clear to the few people still watching, that it was not quite time to pass Go! and collect $200. The boat was listing to one side, and D seemed to be having trouble manouvring it around a pylon – the boat seemed to have more grunt than he was accustomed to. I was standing right next to his wife, as the rear of the boat hit said pylon. There was a loud cracking sound as the length of wood the furler was attached to, snapped. The furler casing bent like a twig. The step on the back of the boat did likewise. D’s wife shook her head in resignation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “There goes another couple of grand.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Everybody wants to work, no no, not me…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s uncanny. My time on a long long leash is coming to an end. With the interview for my job looming on the (very near) horizon, my boss warned me today that I would be asked when I would be coming back from Queensland. Which is fair enough – I have had a very flexible, ‘working from home’ arrangement happening for the past 18 months – and I doubt they are going to offer me a permanent, Melbourne based, position without that vital piece of information. [sigh] So I am going to have to come up with a plausible explanation…and also a date by which I am going to be back in town. This is very hard – as it relies on someone buying our house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My boss said a while back;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “We will fly you down to Melbourne for an interview…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But apparently he forgot this minor fact – so I had to swallow my distaste and inquire how I should go about booking my flight. He seemed to think I should pay for my own flight to go and get interviewed for my own job. I conveyed that this was not going to be the case, and reminded him of what he’d said. He sounded rather incredulous, and commented that he must have been in a generous mood at the time. Gah. I feel no guilt. I have to go to Canberra at the end of the month as well – both times the Tilt Train from Maryborough to Brisbane will cost me $100 return. He’s lucky I don’t sting him for that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So it’s all coming to a head. I may have to relocate to Melbourne after all in a month or so, leaving M here to hold the fort. Not something I’m keen on – but, as much as my job leaves me cold, I need it until we sell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the up & up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All you sad people who voted Howard back in because you were dumb enough to believe his fiction about ‘keeping interest rates low’? They may still be in single figures, but they’ve just gone up. Read about it here and read more about it here and then go here
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This bodes not so well for selling our house…or maybe it does? People struggling to service a $300k mortgage might want to downgrade to a $200k one. [looks hopeful]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Duped & Disgusted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Today I needed to do some printing. I have lots of stuff I need to read for work, and am sick of reading documents on the screen. I took my usb drive into this place Dreamworks On The Bay and was shocked to find they would print from it (the other one I tried looked at me blankly). To cut a long story short, the guy there (the only one who knew what a usb drive was) printed out my stuff on a laser printer, and twice avoided answering when I asked how much it was going to cost per page, saying he would talk to ‘Sally’ and they would work ‘something’ out. All I really needed was draft quality, double sided print-outs. I got laser quality, one sided print-outs. Even more unbelievably – the guy told me that he’d bought the laser printer we were using for SIXTY DOLLARS off an auction site, already full of ink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Which made it all the more ridiculous when I went to pick up my documents and he said:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “That was 128 pages, and so it comes to forty-eight dollars.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was horrified. I think the only reason he kept it under fifty dollars was because I’d brought M back to the shop with me. Forty-eight dollars equals 37.5 cents per page. Complete robbery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was stuck for what to do, and, not really believing it was happening, handed over fifty dollars. Felt completely disempowered. We went outside to the van, and I was so upset with life, the universe, the bastard that had just duped me into trusting him and loathing myself for the fact that I hadn’t just refused to pay and walked out of the shop; that I couldn’t speak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M went back in and told them they were completely unethical. They told him I should have asked how much it was going to cost beforehand. The thing was…I had. But each time, the guy had kind of sidestepped around it. They also said they were the only place in Hervey Bay that offered the service (by which they meant that no other place in Hervey Bay prints files from usb drives – [groan]). M told them that cornering the market was no excuse for greedy and unethical behaviour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am sick with frustration. I have made a webpageDreamworks on the Bay that I hope google will pick up on if anybody searches for them online.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have been to the ACCC site and established that the conduct of Dreamworks On The Bay was unconsionable and that they are anti-competetive:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Part IV of the Trade Practices Act…prohibits commercial conduct that substantially lessens competition in a market, as a lack of competition might allow some traders to push prices up and lower the quality of the goods and services they offer to consumers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you feel like being an activist on my behalf, send them an email at sales@dreamworksonthebay.com to let them know that you read about it. I know that it’s ‘only fifty dollars’ but the point is, if I had known how much it was going to cost, I never would have got my stuff printed. And they knew that, which is why they avoided telling me. I have to learn to be more pushy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          $500 for World’s Best Tea Cosy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Via my sister – queen of the cosy:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Queensland town of Miles in Australia is set to become the tea cosy capital of the world with a call for entries in the inaugural World Tea Cosy Making Competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            With four categories and A$500 first prize, the competition is sure to “draw� a fascinating array of tea cosies from around the globe, said organizer Ann Gibbons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Legend has it that the tea cosy was ‘invented’ in the early 1800s by an Irish farmer whose woollen hat accidentally fell on a teapot so we are expecting entries from as far away as Ireland,� Ann said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The four categories are:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            · knitting and/or crochet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            · embroidery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            · any other medium eg appliqué, patchwork
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            · novelty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The winner of each category will receive A$200 with an additional A$300 to the overall winner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [read more here...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Camping Trip

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My relative quiet on the weekend was due to my absence. M and I drove to Elliot Heads, about 20km out of Bundaberg, and camped a couple of nights. It was very last minute, as you will see from our van packing:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But once we’d unpacked and sorted it all out, our campsite was admirable. The caravan park is fantastic, and there weren’t many people there, so we had our pick of spots. When we turned up, hot and tired from two hours in the van, the manager said take your pick of sites, and don’t worry about paying now, go and have a swim and we’ll sort it out tomorrow – lovely. The first thing I did on Sunday morning was sneak out of bed, wander the one minute walk to the beach, and jump in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is me, cruising in Oomoo near the mouth of the Elliot River.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We navigated for about 5km downstream, and saw multitudes of soldier crabs, long legged water birds and the occastional stinray the size of a doormat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And for today’s tasteless quiz…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I found this at Delirious Cool. This is not a worksafe link…can you tell the real boobies from the fake ones? I got 18/20 – which makes me an expert ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                …and in the ‘So You Think You Know Jane Austen‘ quiz, I did less impressively…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You scored 10 out of a possible 18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not bad at all. You have a firm grasp on the niceties of the Austenian worlds, and certainly know your Elizabeths from your Emmas. But there is room for improvement. Spend less time gassing with the officers at Meryton and more time gainfully employed in your father’s library and you should start to see the results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weather or not

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How does one pack a small bag for an eleven day trip, when the weather at ones destination reads as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tuesday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chance of a shower this afternoon. A mostly cloudy day with a light to moderate westerly wind tending south to southwesterly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Current Temperature: 18 C
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Forecast Max: 20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wednesday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Morning shower possible then fine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Min: 13CMax: 20C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thursday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Min: 12C Max: 22C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Friday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Min: 13C Max: 29C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Saturday, Sunday and Monday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fine. Generally warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It looks like I’ll be bringing two bags [sigh] – if only I knew where my shoes that aren’t sandals were. I last saw them before we moved here 18 months ago. I have a feeling that they’ve ended up in South Gippsland. Bugger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wednesday was weird

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have not, thus far, had time to even squeak, let alone blog. After a relatively (relative to last time) relaxed trip down to Melbourne, I was standing at the interminable baggage carousel and M rang to say that we had received and offer on the house! Revelation. It wasn’t what we are after, but it was quite near – so we decided to do a counter offer. Of course, I was unable to sign the documents – thus I had to arrange for them to be faxed to L’s husband’s workplace – L then had to hoon me into the city (where the traffic was so bad that I had to jump out of the car and run for it) so I could sign stuff and then fax it back. The same thing happened again and the very accommodating restaurant that we went to for dinner. Everything is still up in the air (and possibly shaping up for a sharp nosedive) as I type, so I will have to leave the story there…but the fact that someone was keen enough to make an offer is very comforting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Later that night (after being driven by other nice people) to E’s house, I settled down on my mattress on the floor and prepared to cark it for six hours – hoping that I would wake up not looking too deathlike for my interview the next morning. Sleep I did. Only to wake three hours later in absolute fright…the kind of fright where you jolt out of sleep and breathe in so deeply that your toenails crinkle. I had been reading Joe R. Lansdale’s Savage Season on the plane, and a lot of it was so full on that I had to keep putting it down and taking little breaks. Anyway, it must have made quite an impression, because I awoke convinced that there was a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin on my feet.That’s right. I had the whole name in my head. After being rigid with fear for about 20 seconds, I realised that it was far more likely to actually be Sonic, E’s black cat rather than the only North American poisonous water snake. Logic comes slowly in the dead of the night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Interview

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I had my job interview, and lied my way through it with general aplomb. There was a panel of four interviewers including my boss (who I was instructed not to recognise as they were treating this like a ‘regular’ interview – as in, I was supposed to ignore the fact that I’ve already worked in the position for the last two years). What a joke. I had warned my boss beforehand that if anyone used the word ‘paradigm’ while interviewing me, I would not be restrained from launching myself across the table and physically assaulting the culprit. I can only remember a few bits:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interviewer2: What do you see as the blah blah blah paradigm blah blah blah?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me: [Stiffens. Shows remarkable restraint.] Yes. That’s an interesting question. I would have to say that…blah blah blah blah [I still don't understand the use of that stupid word.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interviewer3: And in five years or so, where do you see yourself?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me: Further away from here than you can possibly imagine…oops…I mean, I anticipate by that time we will have produced a number of publications and completed our major research project, so I feel that as a group we will have great credibility in our field. I hope very much to continue and expand my role over the next five years. [Yeah. Right.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interviewer3:…and possibly begin a PHD?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me: Absolutely. The area that I’m currently researching is very intriguing and I would love the opportunity to examine it closely. So that’s a definite possibility, yes. [lie lie lie]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interviewer4: Presenting work…blah blah…public speaking…blah blah?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me: Sorry, I don’t understand the question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interviewer1: Presenting work…blah blah…public speaking…blah blah?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Me: I have extensive public speaking experience and training. I have studied broadcast journalism and worked in public radio for a number of years. I have co-authored papers that have been presented at international conferences, and I am completely confident about presenting research that I have a good grasp of. [Meaning: I have never presented any research or powerpoint presentations to anyone, anywhere, ever - and intend to continue thusly.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So after the whole shambolic, overly-formal excercise, A and I are wrecks. The boss says “Let’s go to lunch!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Great!” we think – “his shout – we’ll choose somewhere good.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So we go out, order seafood, a couple of glasses of white. And when we get to the cash register, our boss says – “Just give me a twenty each, and we’ll call it sqare.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bastard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      [...this post may be removed after a week due to dooce potential]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      House Gloom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So the bastards that made an offer got cold feet. They flew to Hervey Bay and said they were ‘too tired’ to inspect the house at the appointed time, they would instead come at 9am Sunday morning. Nobs. Poor M had his weekend totally wiped, and all his hopes dashed – after working his butt off getting everything looking like Ripponlea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What they really meant by ‘too tired’ was – ‘we’re going to run around town and see what all the other real estate agents have to say about the house and the area’. Now there are only a few agents that have houses in our area – and they obviously didn’t go to them – because everyone they went to said “Oh-my-god-you-can’t-even-think-of-buying-there!” And went on long dolorous rants about sandflies and that ten minutes from a shop is ten minutes too far. Yada yada yada.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They completely wasted our time – trashed M’s weekend, and our real estate agent’s- didn’t return calls and are basically scum. Not to mention the harried hours I spent being couriered at high speed into the city, signing, faxing and stressing. At this point, I want to rent forever…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        [sorry M - it's just a phase]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Spam Karma

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have to report that I think I’ve finally (touch wood) got a handle on the comment spam. It is all due to the very awesome Spam Karma plugin for WordPress. Since I installed it a week ago (and removed those word-picture things that were so annoying) Spam Karma informs me it has eaten 641 809 bits of spam – and it’s still hungry. Fifty-eight IP addresses have been permanently banned from posting and are now members of the ‘Bad Guys Hall of Shame’. Nah nah nah nah-nah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Waify Bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am at work. It’s almost 7pm. They have stuffed up my pay, so I am trying to be more stringent with money than usual. The thing I hate about coming to Melbourne for work is that I always end up as a waif and stray for some of the time. The nights where I hang by myself. My friends that live here have their own regular committments to get on with…. rotfl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [In the middle of my sad little self indulgent whine, my mobile rings! It's E - who has been let off early and she promises to cook me dinner and says 'come on home'. I think I must be a bear of little brain to be consoled so simply. Au revoir.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On Modern Cars

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For the 24 hours between Sunday and Monday nights I held a sincere belief that the car I drove all weekend was so forward-thinking that it turned on its own headlights when it sensed that day had turned to night. I loved it. It felt like I was driving a machine that had been injected with some kind of artificial intelligence. I was transported (truly). When I picked up D & E at the airport and congratulated them on their wondrous vehicle, E looked wide-eyed, as if to say “I didn’t know it could do that. How clever!” While D just lent over and began to laugh hysterically…and my belief began to wane…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              U.S Passport Photos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today I convinced my workplace to pay for the renewal of my US passport – thank god. My boss has a fixation that they won’t let me into the US without it – even though I visited back in 2000 on my Australian passport without a problem. I decided that if I had to renew it because of a work-related visit, then work should shoulder the cost – $126!! Luckily they agreed. So after lunching with L, we took off to one of the two photo places in the city that the US consulate deems worthy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Oh no,” says the woman at the Swanston street Kodak Express Smiths.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I know they have us on their site, but their information is wrong. I’m sorry.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Grrr.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I come back to the office and look at the list again. I call the other mob who go by the fancy name of Van Der Toorren in the Block Arcade on Collins street. With an address like that, I should have known there would be a problem. The voice on the end of the phone is cultured.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Hi, do you take US passport photos?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Yes we do.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “And how much are they?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “They’re $35 for a sheet of five, and the processing is overnight – you have to pick them up the next day.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thirty-five dollars? Right. I only need two photos.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “We can give you two photos…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Good.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “…but it will still cost you $35.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Thank you, goodbye.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At present I’m dossing in Collingwood – so I call the consulate approved Kodak shop in Smith Street.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Hi, do you take US passport photos?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Yes we do.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “And how much are they?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Twelve dollars for a sheet of six.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “And how long do they take to process?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “They’re instant.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “What time do you close?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Seven.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I just have to wonder what those Block Arcade people are actually doing when they are processing their passport photos. Dousing them in liquid gold? Employing Icelandic virgins to seal them with a kiss? I don’t get it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hurdling fences & going to the country

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Earlier today I called my sister to ask her if she could pick me up from Mung & Rach’s place in Collingwood. It sounded like her soul had been overtaken by a rabid Eeyore-borne virus. Picking me up from Collingwood was obviously almost more than she could bear. I got off the phone and commented to Rachel how like my mother my sister was becoming – anything that may throw her slightly off schedule is a huge deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I realised an hour or so later, after everyohe had gone to the market, that I hadn’t asked her what time she would be coming by to get me, and called back. The first thing she said was – you were just like mum on that last phone call…it was terrible.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I gagged in horror, and hid it behind a cough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She asked me what street number the house was, and I couldn’t remember, and headed out the front with the cordless phone. Told her it was 184. Then the front door blew closed. I was stuck. Completely stuck. In bare feet on a Collingwood street.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hung up, stashed the phone in the letterbox, and dashed around the block to the laneway. The corrugated iron fence was about seven foot high. There was even corrugated iron over the top of the dead-bolted (from the inside)gate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There was no one around to help. There was nothing to stand on.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I gazed up and down the laneway. Someone right down the end had left their rubbish bin out. Rubbish bin.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I ran back to the front of the house and grabbed the bin, took it back to the laneway and positioned it in front of the gate. Jumped on top. Found a toehold in the gate frame. The gutter of the ajoining roof seemed very solid, but quite sharp. (This is the bit where played the role of ‘resourceful action hero’! Kind of.) I ripped off my velcro hood, wrapped it around my hand, clutched the gutter and hoisted myself up. Got a leg over the top of the fence, and the battle was won! There were a lot more footholds on the other side, so I managed to get to the ground without too many theatrics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Then I had to grab the front door key, dash around to the laneway again, and get the bin back, before some enterprising junkie< grabbed it and tried to sell it on Smith Street. Relief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now I am at my dad’s place on his antiquated (sorry Dad) computer, having had a three course dinner, some Coopers, some Mountain Goat, stewed blackberries, ginger cake, port, and some Glenfiddich – while beating my dad and my sister at Scrabble. Woo! Tomorrow I’m going to eat a lot of peaches. I’m in the country, after all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you need something done…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do it yourself. Or things will inevitably degenerate into a big fat mess. Last weekend I cleaned Boat from top to bottom and took lots of before and after photos for poor M, who is alone and pining a thousand kilometres away. Since then I have not seen my camera – and as I’ve looked everywhere else, I assume it’s somewhere at the boatyard. My sister lives near where Boat is kept, and to save me a big, public-transport-on-a-Sunday crosstown trip, said she would go and see if she could find it on her way home last night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wrote down instructions on how to get access with the new swipe-card system. I gave her the swipe-card. I said there would be a brick there to hold the gate open while she went in and had a poke around, and to close the gate when she left. There was no brick. Thus she either let the gate shut behind her while she went inside to find a brick, or pushed the gate to open it instead of pulled – either way, all eleven motion sensor alarms went off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The poor man who is in charge of security was at an engagement party and had to check that a boat wasn’t being stolen. He called me last night and actually left a very civil message, asking me to please call him back so we could discuss the swipe-card process. So I called him this morning, explained that I’d lent my sister the card, that I was very sorry…and he took me through how to get in and get out. It turned into quite a long conversation. During which, my sister (who now sits opposite me) was making remarks like;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Tell him to just get the padlock system put back on.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “He should just get rid of the swipe cards…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yada yada yada.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was having trouble concentrating with her rabbiting on in the background, and was compelled to throw a pen lid at her head. When I’d finally got off the phone I said that I didn’t appreciate her narrating over the top of my phone call.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She retorted that she didn’t appreciated being ‘hit in the face’ with the lid of a pen, and that anyway, she’d done me a favour by going to look at the boat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now we sit here, sullen and annoyed. Me thinking she’s a pain in the arse who can’t keep her mouth shut, and her thinking that I have violent, intolerant anti-social tendencies, coupled with an extreme lack of gratitude.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I want to go home now please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Home again, again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I made it home, again. Very happy to see M, and the amazing job he’s done on our acre. People should be champing at the bit to buy it. Grrr. I departed Melbourne in a cloud of IT angst, having put in a request for ftp access to my files on March 15 and getting no action until half an hour before leaving the office for god knows how long on the 21st. This is the first time I have really loathed supposed ‘help desk’ people. Because I worked as one for a while, I thought I had increased tolerance – not anymore. They sent me in circles, which culminated in all of them calling or coming into the office to tell me that no, you can’t have ftp access to your groups files – use netstorage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      but netstorage sucks, and it’s beyond sluggish, and I hate it…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway – they shared my required folders to netstorage, and thus, after having a bit of a poke around an hour or so ago, I realised that they have unintentionally given me FTP access, which is what I wanted all along. Suckers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My last night in town was a blast. It was the launch of the Four Minute Wonder videos, all the bands and film makers got to go along and drink free beer and eat nibblies. It was the first time that Bidston Moss have all hooked up together for about a year. The shame. I made a valiant attempt to take it easy on the free Coopers as I had to get up at 5.45am to get to the airport. We met and thanked the excellent Adam (and his friend…Adam) for their killer clip, and gave them some cds. They actually were very much our kind of people, so hopefully we can hook up again somehow over artwork or whatever. I am very keen to start playing again – also in the little ‘side project’ that Chris and I do – 10Speed. Am debating on finding another guitarist/bassist to make us a three piece. Hmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Killer or Coder?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lisa sent me a link to this quiz. I’m assuming the geekier you are, the better you’ll do. Which is why I was v.surprised to get this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9/10 – You’d spot Hannibal Lector in seconds at an Open Source conference. Your liver’s safe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Try it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Definitely gone…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Miaow is going to be a bit short on pictures until we get this house sold. As I mentioned a few days ago – my camera has disappeared, and I think by now it is definitely gone. I have checked D & E’s car, D & R have checked their study, my sister has checked the boat, and I have rummaged through my bags. Sigh. If someone finds it, they will have fun looking at before and after shots of Boat, as well as some others I can’t remember. They will also enjoy my little 64MB SD card which I also used in my palm pilot, and has quite a few good tunes on it. It is only now that it’s gone that I realise how often I used my camera :( it is very sad. I do have a back up – but it’s a camera that uses proper film; so it’s much less immediate and I have to scan the pictures in. How quaint!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ice blocks are falling on my head…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our friends from Rosebank arrived late last night, and after a late morning swim, we came home for a lunch of high-piled salad sandwiches – tuna, beetroot, lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise, red onion, tomato… Ian declared that it was his favourite kind of lunch, and it was strange how all the plates of cheese, lettuce etc. gravitated toward him, so by the end of the meal he looked like the sun in a lunch-styled solar system – with all the ingredients orbiting within his reach. The rest of us left him to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then there were some rumbles of thunder, and I ran to check the radar on the BoM site. It has a new style since I last checked it, and although I’m not completely convinced, I am warming to it. The radar showed that we were about to cop a chunky storm heading from Maryborough in a north-easterly direction. Sure enough – by the time M had covered the Humber in tarpaulin and Ian had moved the car under the shelter of some trees, serious sized hailstones were falling hard and fast. They were this big:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quite large. I took some pictures, but of course, I have to wait until I finish the film and get it developed – by which time they will be of no interest at all. Thunder is still rumbling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She’s Ba-ack…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Holy hairy big fat THANK YOU. I have been like a ravening junkie the past four days, unable to blog. As you may have noticed, miaowthecat was D-E-A-D. And I couldn’t revive it – principally due to the fact that I didn’t have enough time to devote to poking around to find what was wrong. Finally, tonight – the first time I’ve been able to pause for breath – help desk Steve rescued me from my dire situation. I am still not sure whether the issue was dodgy old files or the movement of my server from New Jersey to Dallas, Texas… but I don’t care. It’s all better. I have so much to type about – gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A Recap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have waaaay too much to write about – so I am going to cover the past two weeks in point form in an effort to clear my mental state and move on…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Our four year old guest from Rosebank caught her first fish and ate it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Her mother caught one too…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ian didn’t catch a fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jen and M share the same birthday – March 29!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • We had a divine dual birthday breakfast at Muddy Waters Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ian and I got the feeling that our proferred birthday gifts left something to be desired
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • M got four Eric C. Hiscock books and Jen received a pink milky glass art deco ceiling light shade
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I’m sure they could both sell them on ebay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The next day I left for a meeting in Canberra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I like motel rooms
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I flew back to Queensland on Friday. Naturally there were no trains back to Hervey Bay that night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I paid $25 and dossed down in a 12 bed dorm at the Tinbilly Backpackers. I could write reams about it, but have no time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The next morning (Saturday) I got on the Sunlander – a vastly superior travelling experience when compared to the clinical sardiney Tilt Train
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Got home and merged with the couch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                AMENDMENT: Ian says he caught a fish. But he didn’t write the theme tune, or sing the theme tune, so I don’t believe him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Geek Question

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Can anyone recommend a decent webhost? I am on a killer deal at present, it’s $80 per year for my miaow hosting and 256MB of storage – however I need more space! Are there any places that just provide space, and not all the bells, whistles and backends to go with it? I want to stick with my current host, but move all my mp3 files elsewhere…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  …they have offered me 100MB more for $40 per year, which is starting to sound pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yagoohoogle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you want to search Google and Yahoo simultaneously, or just check and see if their search results differ, go and play with Yahoohoogle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “OK,” said M, standing in front of me as I shuttle toward the bathroom, rubber gloved in the middle of cleaning. “You need to relax. Relax. I am going to make you relax. I’m going to Take You Prawning. I will prawn and you can read.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thirty minutes later, armed with boat, thermos of tea, my book, hat and other paraphernalia we are bobbing along, out at sea, motoring through rolling waves toward the entrance to Eli Creek. M assures me There Will Be Prawns.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “When I was there last time a guy was throwing his cast net into a deep part of the creek. He called it the Prawn Hole. He reckons they all hang out there. So that’s where we’ll go first.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I nod, enjoying the ride, but remind myself to look at the horizon at all times. There is a moment of queasiness as I look down to rummage in the waterproof barrel to find M’s GPS, which prompts me to keep looking shoreward while feeling blindly for the rectangular shape of the Garmin 12. The queasiness passes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We make it to the creek, and there are a few moments of panic as we try to find the deepest path through the very shallow mouth; a few people fishing on the bank look as if they are placing bets on whether we’ll run aground. We don’t. M starts to grin as we motor toward the lushly prawn filled waters. He dips his fingers over the side and looks knowing. I raise my eyebrows. M explains, with the air of one who has a natural affinity for all things prawn, that when the saltiness of the sea water begins to be slightly diluted by the fresh water of the creek, that is where one finds things of prawnly goodness.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We round a bend.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Is that the Prawn Hole?” I ask, pointing toward a man throwing a net from his boat into the middle of the creek.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M’s face drops.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Bugger,” he mutters steering the boat into the bank, “That’s the same guy. The guy that was here last time!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Maybe he never left?” I offer placatingly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Whatever. I’ll throw the net here and see what we get.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I reach for my book, readying myself for the relaxing part of the outing. The creek laps against the side of the boat, and the sound of the other net is like rice falling on water. Startlingly, it doesn’t last.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We have vision!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dylan and Rachael are our current houseguests and they have just improved my existence by about 150% and blown my tiny mind. They have donated me their MC3 camera (which shoots stills, plays mp3s, and makes movies), a USB 2.0 All In One Card Reader, and a 1gig card!@#$%^&! It’s not great in lowlight, but here I am, gleeful under the loungeroom light five minutes ago. Wacka wacka wahoo!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Me on MC3Me on MC3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have always wanted one of these – so once I sort out some extra webspace, look out! Have camera, will shoot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sketch by Dylan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Au Revoir *sob*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The time is nigh. I have to abandon poor M and head for the lights of the big city. My ‘working remotely’ gig has run out, they have given me a permanent contract (which I have already put off for a month) and I have to be a constant presence at work, as opposed to someone who turns up every few months and visits the staffroom an unnecessary amount of times to convince everyone that, er, no, I really am around all the time, it’s just that I rarely venture out of the office. Yeah. I think that I can’t pull that scam any longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We are going to skimp by until the house sells. No more red wine for M. I am going to find some kind of short term bedsitter or share house place in Melbourne; I’ve been looking for places on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au – and you can tell I’m looking for the cheapest thing I can find – because I have to go through pages and pages of $50 per week inner city car parks before I hit the one bedroom flats [sigh]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Last lot to leave?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rachael and Dylan left this morning, covered in mosquito and sandfly bites – further reinforcing why this stupid house is so hard to sell. They may be our last ever guests…just like we thought the ones before them, and the ones before them might be too! M and I discussed their visit and concluded that for the entire time they were here, we felt like it was Christmas! We were taken out to dine on innumerable occasions, given presents and fed cheese. It was a remarkable week. I also made the valuable realisation that, although I get bitten by bugs, the bites I get are no big deal compared to some peoples – both of them were more bite than skin :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We reviewed each restaurant we had dinner at in our guestbook, and the local Indian place that looks like a set from ‘The Office’ screamed home in first place with 17.5 points – the food was amazing. If you ever stop in Hervey Bay and want great indian food, go to:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tandoori Taj 355 Esplanade, Scarness 4128 2872

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The restaurant at Gatakers Bay came a respectable second with 15.5 points – the tapas was to die for…but the very expensive seafood banquet plate was less than mind blowing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am now the proud owner of an MC3 camera and Dylan also loaned me his PS-04 Palmtop Studio plus a little amp – which is perfect for recording demos with. It has heaps of drum tracks, guitar and vocal effects. It is sitting here next to me on the desk now, and I know that to touch it would mean the end of my working day…so I am being disciplined. For now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In other news, we had organised a ‘why haven’t you sold our house yet’ meeting with our agent this morning, but he rang last night and said that a guy from Brisbane was flying up to look at the house today. Doubtless he will either a) not turn up, or b) turn up and instantly be eaten by the mosquitos that have abounded since it began raining at least once a day. So I have vacked (yes, that is a word of my own devising) the house, cleaned bugs and mank from ceiling, done the bathroom… and am just about to commence mopping. When this house sells I am going to live in my own filth for a month and then PAY SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX IT.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Crumbled vertebrae

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Poor M’s mother is 83 and, although she is a very bright spark, her body seems to be trying to cause her as many problems as it can – and the lupus doesn’t help. Having been to Melbourne, Canberra and having two lots of visitors has meant that I sort of dropped out of sight for the last month – and, as she is as evil as I am, if I haven’t rung her, then she won’t call me. Naturally, during this time she has been in and out of hospital once, and is having horrible trouble with her back; a few of the upper and lower vertebrae are apparently shot to hell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I just called her on the phone, and she sounds like a mess. Hasn’t been able to sleep in her bed, just her easy chair. I told her to score some hard drugs, and she said that she has the hardest ones she can get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “The other night,” she huffs and puffs as she scrambles an egg on the end of the phone, “I was in that much agony I just sat there and cried. So I got the hard drugs and I gave myself a double dose. And do you know what?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “No,” I say, imagining that her small black poodle probably began conversing with her in french, “What?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I could hardly keep my eyes open. So I thought I’d try the bed again – I went in, laid down… oooooh. It was agony. So I went back to the chair, closed my eyes, and I slept for six whole hours. It was bliss.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Thank god,” I say. “But maybe don’t do it too often.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Well, I’m going back to the doctors tomorrow, so I’ll do it again tonight and then see what he says.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Right. Sounds like a plan.” I pause. “Do you know what set your back off?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She sounds slightly defensive like she knows she did something dumb.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I lifted one of my big hanging basket ferns…” she confesses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I sigh. “You’re an idiot.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Yes I know that. But when you’re on your own, sometimes you just want to get things done.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think of the times I have crawled along on the floor of some recently rented house with my desk on my back when there was no one around to help, and agree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I’ll call you tomorrow…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ebb & Flow – or, why selling a house can crush your morale

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My black labrador decided to visit M for a short stay, although I think by the end of a stubby of Coopers tonight, Blackie will have gone back to his kennel. Naturally the person who was ‘supposed’ to look at the house yesterday didn’t show up. I asked the agent for a meeting and he said he would call today. He didn’t. I am trying to be both gracious and new age (there’s always a first time) and attribute it to the mercury retrograde, or maybe real estate agents just suck – either way, it is lucky we’ve just had two lots of excellent guests, or the black dog of depression would be lying on top of us both!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On a better note, I have now found myself housesitting accommodation in Elwood for the last half of May – thanks to my honeymooning friends! We have also tentatively lined up a similar gig at R & D’s from July to September, which would be very VERY handy. So for the bits and pieces I don’t have sorted out, I am toying with the idea of…staying in pubs! I have poked around online and have found a few that charge the same per week as a share house would. So that’s my latest plot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Humber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I may have mentioned before, M’s policy of ‘sticking to one job until it’s done’. He seems to go quite well with this unless the job in question involves something of mine. Thus, my little green lamp. And thus, the Humber has a beautiful new walnut dash (created and labored over by M – full points), but the wiring to the particular bits and pieces on the dash has never been finished, the glovebox door has never gone back on and nor has the interior windscreen trim. He is going to curse me for writing this online, but truth is my defence – and besides, he has promised to have a look at it all for me, before I embark on The Great Drive South. Obviously I could have had a go at fixing these things myself…but really, one should stick to the job that one began, so it would just be like interfering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Humber, incidentally, was today my passport to goodwill. I bypassed the Urangan petrol station, which was stuffed full of backpackers topping up their 4WDs (or juicing them up so they can crash them on Fraser Island while fanging at great speeds) and went to a little one a few streets away. The man there did my petrol, chatted about the goodness of premium unleaded (I am a convert), topped up all my tyres, and even recommended a good place to go to get the slow leak fixed. The lady who took my money gushed her approval, and I drove home smiley. If only I was a millionaire and could get all the rust cut out…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Burn, HSBC, Burn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I still hate banks. His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate (otherwise known as HSBC) have raised my blood pressure again. It seems to be a bi-annual occurrence. I logged into my bank account and it refused to let me pay the electricity bill. I tried twice. Then I tried via phone banking. Still no joy. So I tried a human. The human told me that as one of my account statements had been returned through the post, and thus, HSBC had taken it upon themselves to put a block on my account. Hello? This reaction seems a little over-sensitive from a bank whose internal mechanisms move so slowly that it is easier to transfer money to my credit union account by driving to the post office, making an over the counter withdrawral, and then handing the money back to be deposited into my other account. Bastards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then I got a bad feeling and called Australia Post, another nemesis. Sure enough, my redirection expired four days ago. They didn’t send me a renewal notice, so I had no idea. So now I am dashing down to the post office to fill out another redirection notice and try to make them put a hold on my mail that is currently going to our old house in Seddon. Later this afternoon I am going to reject society and move to a deserted island where the only communication will be made via smoke signals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Royle By Association

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mother, while watching Charles and Camilla get hitched on Saturday night, text messaged my brother in London.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        AM WATCHING THE WEDDING. WERE YOU INVITED?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        After the knot was tied, she went off to bed, and awoke in the morning (luckily) to his response:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DIDN’T GO TO WEDDING, BUT WENT WITH A FRIEND OF MINE TO THE RECEPTION.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mother, who dreams nightly of my brother marrying Ralph Fiennes’ step daughter, thought that all her ships had come in. She called my sister and exclaimed the news down the phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Oh my god!” gasped my sister.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She was at my dad’s, so my mother told him as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “He’s out of the will,” said my dad, “Disinherited.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mother wafted on a breeze of fame by association, but felt she had to know the juicy details. She called my brother and asked him to spill the beans…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “It was a joke!” he shouted down the phone. “What do you expect when you ask me if I’m at Charles’s second wedding? Hello?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “But…but,” said my mother, brokenly, “All those famous people that you meet. Ralph Fiennes, Francesca Annis, Franz Ferdinand’s production manager, the chick you met that pashed Jamie Cullen the other day… It seemed like it might be legitmate…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She didn’t add the words – are you sure you weren’t there? – but she didn’t need to. They hung in the air between Melbourne and Maida Vale, loud and unspoken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There was no need for me to be privy to the conversation, because I know exactly what happened next. My brothers eyebrows would have been peaking with disbelief at my mothers gullibility, and my mother would have done one of her sighs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crumbling

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yesterday I took M’s mother to get an x-ray. Things went from bad (she hasn’t been able to lie down in her bed for ten days and has been catnapping in her chair, because her back is so bad) to much, much worse. The radiographer at the x-ray place made her lie down, and then barely helped her to manoeuvre herself, and then did the x-ray while she was standing, so there was no need to put her through the whole ordeal at all. Poor, poor thing. She was an absolute mess, crying, shaking and declaring she would rather have three children at once than ever go through the pain again – and she would know – she’s had six.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I took her to her GP, in the hope that he could either give her something stronger to take for the pain, or admit her to hospital, where at least they could knock her out and monitor her progress. An hour at the GP another two and a half hours in casualty and she was finally admitted. The day had begun at her 1pm appointment, and didn’t finish until they had got her into bed at about 8pm. Remind me to start taking calcium supplements and doing weights at the gym so my spine doesn’t crumble when I am 83 years old. Yike.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Score

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Four hours on the river
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Three mofo bream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • One colander of prawns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Three dinners in one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Two FAT people

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ungrateful and I don’t care

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (This rant is in place of the lovely pictures I was going to post until my new ‘Universal Card Reader’ refused to read my card that has all my pictures on it….grrrrr).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Quite a few people have congratulated me on getting a permanent postion at my illustrious place of work. In case any irony deficient Americans might be reading, it really is illustrious. Not. Although I have never had a permanent position before and feel very legitimised and adult about the whole arrangement, to be completely truthful – it totally SUCKS. I would much, much (did I say much?) rather have remained a casual employee. I don’t really care about sick pay, and I holiday happily in poverty – what pleases me most is a decent pay packet. But as of May 2nd (and it just has to happen on my birthday…) I will earn a hundred dollars less a fortnight for working fulltime than I currently get for working four days a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Though they have put me on a dollar less an hour than my casual position, after tax, super, and don’t forget HECs – I actually take home nine dollars an hour less than what I’ve been used to for the past two years. Naturally I didn’t take any of this into account when I made my plans for moving to Melbourne. I have had to change my employment contract to fulltime instead of four days a week, and give up looking for a place to rent [tightens belt]. If I could think of any way to avoid my ‘permanent position’ short of going on the dole and letting the bank sell the house, I would. As it is, I am going to keep my beady eyes open for alternative employment…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But the news is not all bad. One bit of good news is that my lovely friend and fellow sufferer, A from work (the only other poor sod who is also being made ‘permanent’), told me today that her parents would love a boarder! So I think I am going to be staying in someone’s house, in the heart of Carlton, for the barely affordable, but definitely amazing sum of $75 a week! Barely believable. I can walk to hell from there in five minutes! Sorry, I mean work. This time next week I will be sleeping somewhere in the Humber – maybe Goonawindi or Coonabarabran if I put in some good miles [sigh] M and I are in mourning for each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kitty Cannon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you want to kill some time (and a kitty) play this. I shot the kitty 551 feet…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some attention…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M is giving the Humber some much needed attention to ready it for my fang down south. He is a bit twitchy about it, saying don’t just shove anything up behind the dash…I put my heart and soul into that you know.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes M, that’s fine, I’ll just keep out of the way and say nothing facetious until you think you’ve finished. God.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  …oh yes. I have vision again – I somehow got my card reader drive working. Not sure how.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Flight Centre: Search. Compare. Book. Yeah, right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have been living in denial. Not the river. The state of mind. Spoke to my dad today, and he brought up the issue I have been avoiding. He asked me how much it cost to drive the Humber up here, in those bygone days of cheaper fuel. I dug backwards in my brain. It cost $300. Three hundred dollars. With the current price of petrol, that would now be more like $450 – plus camping ground fees, and food. Then came the realisation that if I am going to be dossing in Carlton, there will be nowhere to keep my car. Actually, I won’t really need my car to get around if I am practically in the city already. My bass rig is already stashed at someone elses house – the only issue I may have, is getting M to and from Avalon airport when he comes down for the wedding we’re invited to mid-May. So I am thinking I might fly. Mule style. Clutching my laptop, winter clothes and guitar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    While watching Jamie’s School Dinners (loving it) I saw an ad for Flight Centre. Their motto is now Search. Compare. Book. It should actually be;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Search. Compare. Book. Ha Ha! You have been Scammed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I went there. I searched. I compared. And then I did not book. I went to the VirginBlue site, and checked out what they had on the same day. What a surprise. Flight Centre only shows you some flights that are available. For example, on Tuesday April 27th, Flight Centre informs me that VirginBlue flight DJ308 leaves from Brisbane (to Melbourne) at 7am for $160. The VirginBlue site confirms that, yes, this schedule is correct, however, their price for flight DJ308 is, instead, $119. Interesting. I looked on the Flight Centre site for some small print that might excuse them, but it must be pretty small, because I couldn’t find it. Obviously they whack something on top of VirginBlue’s base price, but why don’t they say so?!! I think I am turning into a curmudgeon. Help! Help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just Call Me Bettie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sorted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am going via Cattlestar. I am quite impressed that with less than a week to go, I could still get a $103 Brisbane to Melbourne ticket. Even though I swore I would never go Cattlestar again. Even with my Tilt Train ticket and airport trains and buses, I still make it to Melbourne for less than half of what it would have been to drive. This is some consolation for leaving my car behind. Now hopefully my new career as someone’s lodger works out… I wonder if they will expect me to eat dinner with them, and freak out if I don’t come straight home from work…. eeek!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It Rains

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our tank is full. Our little creek started flowing this morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is both good and bad. If it hadn’t rained, the tank wouldn’t be full and I would not have been able to do three washing machine loads and six hand washes and rinses. However. If it hadn’t rained, my three bags of clothes that I left in the shed by mistake wouldn’t have got wet and been a whisker away from irretrievable mould – they wouldn’t have NEEDED washing. [sigh] More tomorrow on the Great Dress Disaster of 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Dress Disaster of 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The other day when M began (began…) working on the Humber, I was trying to help, and retrieved trimming and radio housing from the boot. To do this, I removed the three bags of clothes that I store in there. I sewed the bags from an old op-shop doona cover, having learnt from sad experience that clothes stored in plastic, rot. Ten years worth of dresses and work clothes were safe in these bags. It can be legitimately stated that I have too many dresses. Most of them have not been worn more than twice. However, as I was sorting through them, I counted only three that had been bought new; the rest were secondhand. But still good! So why, why, why did I leave them on the ground in the shed near the boot? It rained like Noah for two days before M found the bags, gently steaming. I did seven lots of hand washing and three machine loads. Naturally, since I hung everything on the clothesline, it has barely stopped long enough between rainstorms for anything to dry. Frocking up in Melbourne is beginning not to be an option!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sunday on the Mary River

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today we took Oomoo on the Mary River, and tied up near Muddy Waters Cafe for a coffee and a nibble. The houses from the river are sublime, with lawns that run down almost to the water. The current was very strong…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Worse things happen at sea…*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am feeling very sad. This morning is my second last in our house. I hope HOPE hope that I get to come back here for a few days before we move out. I wish that this could have happened during Summer, when I would have been much happier; abandoning the humidity and heat. The weather now is getting to its best point of the year. Mornings feel like mornings (and not like you’ve woken up in the midday heat), it’s about 25°C or 26°C every day, and it’s raining a lot – the tank is full and I can water the garden around the house as much as I want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have a million things to do – I was going to go op-shopping this morning and find myself a Big Fat Suitcase, but it’s unnaturally quiet. It’s Anzac Day! No shops are open. I think I am going to have to take a combination of little bags, and hope that M can bring down with him anything I can fit in. I have no idea where my laptop bag is, and all my dresses and work clothes are still damp on the line from last nights showers…and from the one that is coming down right now as I type.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                *apparently my grandma used this saying – I just googled it, and found out that it features in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jeans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How many pairs of jeans does a person need? Is it a defence to say that the person in question always had trouble finding jeans that hit her feet, and so has begun hoarding every pair? So many jeans cannot possibly all go to Melbourne, so a jeans fashion parade was held. M was judge. Three out of the six pairs that I shimmied in and out of got 8/10 or more. So now there are three sad pairs of jeans, neatly folded, in my little wardrobe. They will not roam to Melbourne. Ack! I have to get up at 4.30am!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Crap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This sucks. I have left our lovely house behind. Goodbye cats. Goodbye M – who got up like a gladiator to drive me to the train at 5am. It was totally sad and surreal. Surely I will go back there? We dropped the price of the house yesterday – but the website is acting up and I can’t update it. Anyway, we are…I won’t say desperate, but I will say EAGER to sell and get on with our lives – and if we have to do it with a little less money than we orginally thought, bugger it. We don’t care. I am at Brisbane Airport having totally forgotten what time my flight was – I thought it was 11am, and so busted my butt to get here and ran panting up to the counter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This isn’t JetStar, this is Qantas. JetStar is further down.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So I raced back the way I’d come and sweated at the behind the desk, who looked down her nose, told me that JetStar don’t fly to Melbourne, they fly to Avalon, and that there was no 11am flight, I must be mistaken. I was about to mistake my arm for a tennis raquet and her head for ball, but I breathed deep, thrust my drivers license at her and told her to tell me when my flight was. It’s at 12.55pm. And so I wait. Berefty bear. Rash popping up all over my arms, hands…gah.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Arrival

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rach & Dylan, heroes of the hour (still recovering from their sandfly bites), picked me up from Avalon feeling sad and sorry for myself and drove me all the way to my mother’s place in Black Rock, where they left me. Only raising their eyebrows a fraction when she said;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ‘Oh, I wondered how you would get here from the airport…’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I had known as much Auslan as they do, I could have been very descriptive. Instead I waved goodbye and then showed my mum the first DVD I’ve ever made (I actually made it for I, J & Small C – but I am yet to post it). Dinner was made for me, white wine was drunk. I had an odd, long distance, disjointed conversation with M – both out of sorts with our weird new arrangement. Not helped by my mother reverting to 14 years ago and telling me to ‘get off the phone – if you want to call him back and talk longer, use my phone card!’ Yes, mother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then I spoke to Mr H – who said that he is of the opinion that I need a good slapping – which I am assuming refers to my last few dirge-like blog entries. Bastard. ;P May I point out that, yes, I am EAGER to leave Queensland – however, leaving Queensland with no money, no M, no car and no cats was not exactly the triumphal return that I had planned, throbbing soundtrack and all. Instead of leaving Queensland to the tune of the William Tell Overture, I skulked out to something more like Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. For god’s sake, I want to be able to write the theme tune, sing the theme tune…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      …it really doesn’t feel like I am properly back in Melbourne. It feels like I am down here for work and will be leaving in a week or two. I wonder when or if that will change?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Back into the grind

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Back into the grind

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’m feeling sort of displaced. Lots of concrete, noise and rush.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some Positives

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here we go – Kartar started me on this one, so here are some positives, after all my whining:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Today is Friday!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • I just put in an application for a new job…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Fifteen minutes after that, I handed in my signed permanent contract (half an hour before it was due to become null and void…oh the temptation), and now I am a ‘Research Fellow’! How we laugh!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Melbourne does, indeed, have bountiful bottle shops.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • The Lincoln Hotel is still excellent (although I don’t recommend the dahl).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • If I felt like it, I could have gone out tonight to see Architecture in Helsinki play the Northcote Social Club (sorry Ian).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Monday is my birthday – my mother is paying for me to get my white trash hair tarted up, I have three birthday cards waiting to be opened, and another that I know of on the way.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • I am warm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • I am upstairs, internetting over an illicit phone extension cord.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • I have just deleted my work email account from my laptop. No more will my job invade my ‘outside the office’ life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • My mum is out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • M just called me on the phone. He misses me, although he is totally prawn-fat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • His evilness made me laugh – he told his morphine medicated mother that he would drop some prawns over, and when he didn’t, he realised that she won’t remember his promise anyway…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What does your birth date mean?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your Birthdate: May 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your birth on the 2nd day of the month adds a degree of emotion, sensitivity, and intuition to your life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The 2 is a very social number allowing you to make friends easily and quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yet you are apt to have a rather nervous air in the company of a large group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You have a warmhearted nature and emotional understanding that constantly seeks affection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You are more prone than most to become depressed and moody, as emotions can turn inward and cause anxiety and mental turmoil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It can be hard for you to bounce back to reality when depression sets in - but all you really need is a good slapping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            View From My Room: 01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A glimmer of Port Phillip Bay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Living With My Mother: Part One

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are many good things about shacking up with my mum for a bit. She cooks me things, lends me her car now and again and drops me at the station in the morning. However, this will never become a long-term arrangement: factors that have contributed to this statement are as follows;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • It’s Saturday. She comes up the stairs and stands at the end of my bed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “It’s a quarter past nine,” she says.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “And?” I mutter from my pillow, “Is that what you came up to tell me? I have a clock.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What she means when she stands there spouting the time at me is that she wants me to walk to the shop with her to get the paper. Luckily, I can interperet motherspeak.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Down at the Black Rock shops. We go into the French bakery. My mother, as part of her new, post-retirement life, is learning to parlez vous Francais.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Bonjour!” she carols at the girl behind the counter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My fifteen year old self awakes with a spasm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Mum, only the bakery is French, not the people that work here. Hello?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I know that, but I have to practice.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “No, I don’t think you do.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Un pain au chocolat sil vous plait,” she carols again, at the girl, who is about as French as I am.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I’m learning french,” my mother tells her, conspiratorily.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The girl hands her the croissant, slightly glassy eyed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Merci bien!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We leave the shop to the tune of my head slowly shaking…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Later on we headed over to what most normal people could, without threat of an understatement, describe as Hell. A place (I dare not speak its name) that is a collection of factory outlets of well known clothes shops. Out in Moorabbin. On a Saturday morning. Pure mayhem. My mother, desperate to buy me a birthday present, trailed behind me. As time wore on, her sighs came closer together. Particularly when she discovered that I would not choose a purse that has a zipper for access to coins. Then I pierced my thumb with a zipper in Garfunkle, and bled freely throughout the change room (extra points for the downlights though – it was less gritty realism, and more soft focus art house style). Another shop, called ‘Charcoal’ actually had some very nice stuff – my mother bought a scarf.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “This will be perfect for my belly dancing scarf,” she said, tying it around her waist. She then proceeded to belly dance at me in the middle of the shop, while asking “Is it long enough? What do you think?” I stuffed tortured fifteen year old self back in the box, and said I liked it, thinking that it didn’t really matter. To look at us you would never know we were related.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • We left Hell, her with one purchase, me with none. This is what happens when she takes me shopping.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • After the first half of Sunday passed by, obliterated by my hangover (never mix champagne and beer, I have done it for you) I slowly came out of my nauseous little shell. I texted my mother, who had gone to the supermarket, to grab me some razors and a tin of Baxters Vegetable Soup. When she returned, in my first bit of humanoid behaviour of the day, I said, with some false optimism,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Did you get my text message?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “No.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My hangover returned with a vengance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Can I ask you something? Do you carry your mobile phone for a reason, or is it just some kind of non-ergonomic time piece?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The sigh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • However, it turned out that she had some killer home made pumpkin soup, so we both scoffed that down. After a walk around the shops (still questing for that birthday present) we came home and I had a recovery nap, dreaming of the tuna casserole that I knew was going to be for dinner.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I prised myself out of bed, and went like a puppy to the dining table. I ate some tuna casserole. I added pepper, parmesan, a bit of salt.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “How is it?” asked my mother.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I chose my words with care. “It’s, um, good! I like it!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Good.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “But…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “But what?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Well, it could be a bit more, sort of, tuna-ish?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My mother’s mouth dropped open, and she looked at our dinner plates, aghast.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Oh my god. I forgot to put the tuna in!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Oh my god! What the hell are we eating then?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Mushroom soup casserole.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My turn to sigh.So close. And yet, sooooo far.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Birthday Recommendations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A long morning shower, followed by energetic naked dancing to Miriam Makeba singing Pata Pata from the excellent cd The Very Best of World Divas that I gave my mum for her birthday a couple of years ago. Woo! Now going out to breakfast… no work for me today, though I am going into the office to pick up some birthday cards that were sent there, as I am of no fixed address.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A day in pictures

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Say it with flowers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yesterday I came into the city for a few reasons – the bank, my dad, and to collect a card from M that was posted to my office. I asked my sister to check the pigeonhole in the staffroom. There was nothing. Being a disbeliever, I came in and checked myself. Empty. I called M and told him there had been another university mail stuff up. Poor me, poor M. He said it wasn’t a card, but that it was something that was going to be delivered. By courier. Think laterally, he said. My heart pounded and my eyelashes fluttered, heroine-like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Hang on,” I said down the payphone, “I’ll check with admin and check on my desk to see if anything’s turned up.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There was nothing. I was greeted in the office by my German co-worker, whose cheeks were streaked with mascara. She had been sent an email from a friend back home and had been sniffling with homesickness. I was about to join her. I called M.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “It hasn’t turned up,” I wailed pathetically, “What was it? I can’t believe this…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There was the sound of extensive swearing, and M finally confessed that he had arranged for some beautiful tulips to be delivered to me, thus fulfilling a long-standing girlish dream of mine. (The dream being that he would send me flowers.) I was comatose with horror. My dream had been cut off at the stem.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M told me where the florist in question was, and I stormed down there. I don’t know what I hoped had happened. I think I was planning to get off the tram and confront a smoking ruin. So that’s why my flowers didn’t arrive – the shop had mysteriously burnt to the ground! But no. So I strode into the shop. But how does one make a scene about flowers that were supposed to materialise as a suprise? It was hard, but I managed. It was the shop assistant’s first day and she hadn’t sent the order out – this is what the manager discovered as she sifted through the stack of receipts. I was distraught.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Do you understand that I have NEVER got flowers sent to me by M before? EVER? And that he is stuck in Queensland and I am stuck in Melbourne INDEFINITELY? And that it, right now, is my BIRTHDAY and I have come on ON THE TRAIN all the way from Hampton to get what he sent me? I can’t believe this…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By the end of my monologue I was pathetically wet around the eyes. The florist manager was looking green.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I am SO sorry. I feel sick about this. Sick. I am absolutely going to make this up to you. We are going to put together the most fabulous bunch of flowers…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Tulips. He ordered me tulips…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Yes. Tulips. Lots of tulips!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “You – ” she continued, pointing at her new employee as if she couldn’t bear to speak her name, “Put together something amazing. Use all the tulips.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The girl scurried. My mood begain improving.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I am so sorry,” she said again, “I will call Mark and explain what happened. This has NEVER happened before, I’m so sorry it had to happen to you. Have this as well…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She handed me a bottle of Tia Maria. I was placated and apologised for being a drama queen. I called M and told him how it had all turned out, and that now, for the next hour, I was going to be one of those girls who walk around the city carrying a bouquet, while looking both mysterious and slightly smug. I have always wanted to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Get me to the inner-city & take off that hair shirt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Goodbye Hampton, Black Rock and Sandringham – I am going to be a Carlton dweller as of Thursday. I went to see the room last night and met A’s mother, who is similar to a cross between Helen Garner and Germaine Greer. My room is upstairs at the back of the house and I get my own bathroom – I am very excited that I am going to have somewhere to stay until July. The thought of moving from one place to another every few weeks was not exactly thrilling me. It will be interesting to figure out how I’m going to live with (and around) these people that I’ve only met once, but I am very keen. I have always wanted to live in a two storey house – and I love the fact that I can pretty much ride my bike to anywhere I need to go… work, the Lumiere, the Nova, Brunswick Street, Collingwood…and depending on my stamina, maybe even Northcote!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have had fun at my mum’s, but her groans in the morning when she has to drive me to the station, and her extensive and vocal disappointment at the haircut she had yesterday, make me think that the atmosphere at Carlton might be calmer and more conducive to a rash-free life. I won’t have internet access there [GASP!] so I may actually use my laptop to do some [ahem] proper writing. We can only hope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wanted to be a banker*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is not often I get to feel justifiably righteous, but I do right now. I’ve just read that the Commonwealth Bank is introducing…no, wait, ‘introducing’ sounds too polite; the Commonwealth Bank is slamming its customers with fees for online banking. I f*&%ing LOATHE the Commonwealth Bank and its constant leechlike sucking at the wallets of its account holders. Thank god I am no longer one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Australian Consumer Association has slammed the Commonwealth Bank over its new fees for internet banking, which start on July 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The charge hits the bank’s 1.9 million Netbank customers who do their banking online.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They will be able to transfer just three free payments to other accounts each month before they are slugged 50¢ for each additional payment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They will be hit for transfers to third parties such as utility companies, and even transfers to their own accounts, if they are not linked to their Netbank accounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Scheduled payments – where a customer nominates a future date for payment – will also be hit…[more...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * Title refers to this Seinfeld episode…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On This Day…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On this day last year I had a tummy full of mudcrab, and was the happy recipient of a fabbo mix-cd from my mate Scott-in-I-Oh-Wah (you know, the place that Bill Bryson came from and tried to leave as soon as he could). Today, in 2005, I received another birthday mix-cd with some fantastic stuff on it – quite a few live and rare things that I am going swoon over….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And on this day two years ago, I paraphrased my saga of real estate horror – I just reread it and it still burns like the fires of hell. If you’re thinking of buying a house, particularly one that is both far away and a dump that needs doing up, read it. You’ll probably decide that you’re happier renting…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Frustrations & Friday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For the past two and a half months my junk mail filter has be staging a revolt and has been quietly siphoning off many non-junk emails into its cavernous bowels. So, please accept my sad apologies if you think I’ve been ignoring you… this issue may also have caused my server to go over quota, so my mail was suspended and I was admonished for my slackness [pouts]. I am going to come into work one boring day and fix everything in the whole world of [m i a o w]…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today has been fraught. Everybody haveagoodweekend… and pray for the positive reaction of the people who are inspecting our house tomorrow morning. M has been cleaning the house like it has never been cleaned before. We miss you M!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As I went walking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I saw a big black dog, leaning out the top storey window of a Carlton terrace house, just watching the world wander past – including me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Breaking, Entering & Boating

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After a nice sleep in this morning, and twenty minutes of impromtu babysitting, I wandered out into the day, thanking god I didn’t drink more than two beers last night. (We began at the Hen’s Night, but crashed the Buck’s later on…). The sky was blue, the sky was sunny; and I headed to Williamstown via the train…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Got to my sister’s place. She hadn’t left the gate open as promised, so I had to acrobat myself (after almost getting my wrist stuck in between the palings, which really would have written off the rest of the day) and scale it. Why is this always happening to me? Once I’d gained entry, I prowled around, looking for my neglected bike, which I haven’t seen for almost two years. I found it in the back shed, it’s front wheel unattached and tyres down :o After fossicking (stop groaning MAP, it’s important, I need a cheap means of transportation), I found some WD40 (all kneel) and a pump. After channelling the part of my genetic make-up that has a bit of my dad’s bike mechanicness, my bicycle was back! Woo! I got so excited that I rode all the way to the Boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  GMail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wrote previously about subverting the system (read: ‘firewall’) at my workplace to gain access to gmail. They got wise. It no longer works. I have been wasting precious time trying to figure out how to one up them, and so far have come up with one viable option – GMail-Lite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    More on Banks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Was just reading more about banks and their internet fee rorting and saw a link that seems quite useful:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Flick Your Bank

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It allows you to compare many different accounts and see which one tries the hardest to suck the life out of your hard earned dollars. In the past I’ve used BankChoice, but this seems better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Poor Hilary…Not!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Over on Corante there is a great post that picks apart a whine by Hilary Rosen (the former head of the RIAA – the hopefuls that tried to kill Napster and file-swapping via lawsuits). Hilary’s whine may just be a publicity bid…but still…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Update: this is funny too…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And on the topic of Steve Jobs, Apple and IPod – there was an interesting article in yesterdays Age about him, chronicling his often out-of-whack decision making and predicting Apple’s commercial demise… (One day I’ll have a Mac. One day….)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exhaustable

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Miaow has been down (not put down, just down), due to the delightful habit of my chosen domain registry deciding to ignore changes that I made a few weeks back. Hate them. Also have had a blast of a weekend, with M arriving on Thursday night – we did dinner, the big party for Ellise and I on Friday night, an even bigger wedding on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday, and a visit to Boat and dinner with friends (also on Sunday). Then I had to go with M to Spencer Street Station and put him on a bus to Avalon while sobbing miserably. Throughout all of this, my landlords have been sequestered away in North East Victoria and are only due back today – so I had a few hours after work last night to tidy up the wreckage of my bedroom and cook my first dinner. Then… I went to my first band practice in over a year! There were some stumbles, but I was surprised at how good some of the songs were – they were smoking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Avoiding Dinner Time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And still, I successfully avoid the time of dinner at my lodgings, through stubborn stupidity and the knowledge that my female landlord (a culinary domestic goddess) would probably crumple to the ground if she saw me making a curry from a jar labelled ‘Green’, or, depending on my whim, ‘Red’. This is a woman who roasts pork for five hours, makes rice pudding, spanakopita, ice cream (it’s true, she makes it), chesnut pasta with three kinds of mushroom, chutney and her own pasta sauce from scratch. She has copper saucepans. I didn’t even know they actually existed. So for me to flop out my packet of curry flavoured (there are no other flavours, and if that’s not true, it should be) two minute noodles and bung ‘em on to boil in one of her tureens, is more humiliation than I’m willing to voluntarily submit to. Thus, I subsist on toasted sandwiches, extremely cheap takeaway and the occasional [gasp] Dinner Out – while slowly coming to the conclusion that slinging my landlords a bit more cash and asking them for dinner occasionally might not be such a bad idea. When they originally asked me if I wanted food as well as a bed, I was very ‘I don’t think I can commit to a regular mealtime, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint you by not showing up and/or feeling I had to call home every night, and besides, I’m sooooo popular that I’m sure I’m going to be Very Busy’. Countless nights clogging the office with the smell of the cheap takeaway make me begin to question my approach…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Review Review

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you are into your music (hello Ian) here are some interesting reviews from Pitchfork, who don’t hold back at all – it’s so refreshing. Here’s a few lines from the review of Weezer’s latest:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ‘Right from the start of Make Believe, when Weezer lurches into a flaccid take on Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N’ Roll” with an unfathomably horrible speak/sing vocal from Rivers Cuomo (think “I like girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch”), you can hear hundreds of critics mouthing “no no no” and going into crumpled shock. What’s more disconcerting is that the song gets worse over the course of its three minutes (let’s just say “Framptonesque voicebox solo” and get back to repressing the memory)– and it’s the album’s first single.’ [...more]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Go-Betweens get a much better reception for their latest Oceans Apart – while Garbage get damned for Bleed Like Me, Architecture in Helsinki get the goods and The Arcade Fire are lauded. (I am v.annoyed I left that cd in Hervey Bay. Grr.) So you see, I am getting a lot of work done here today, what with reading music reviews and experiementing with the new sandwich press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Eye Bags, The Eye Bags

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I’ve finally got the main issues that have been killing [miaow] sorted out (she says confidently while clutching a Large and Solid Tree). And if I don’t, it can bloody wait until tomorrow, because my eye bags are knocking against my knuckles and hampering me from typing. This is patently the wrong way to go about cheating the sore-throat-cold thing I am being stalked by. In other good news – I got out of going to the US with my boss. Oh my wily wiles. More on that later. I’m going to catch a tram…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And don’t write to me telling me that SpamKarma is dead – that’s one of those ‘tomorrow’ things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Juxtaposition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Today is cold and windy. I’ve been getting text messages from an ebullient M.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sailing along in the wonderful Oomoo. Water goes lap lap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Am doing 4 knots. Just crossed sandbank near pier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oomoo is on his first island! I am eating an or ange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Have to tack out v.far. Just used chart and compass. Bit scary. All good tho!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am eaten by the desire to get back to my cats, boat, house and boy. Can hardly believe I can sit here in the office talking to M while he stands on a small island in Queensland. It’s too weird. At least he has to suffer sometimes – we’re very short on money and M has been out of both coffee and milk for three days, and he is also making 32 tables for his sisters new restaurant. He just has to concentrate on not making them too beautiful and taking too long on them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What I Want

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A handbag with a solar panel to charge my palm pilot and my phone (unless, post-house, I splash out on a Treo 650 and have a phone and palm in one device – oh then I would need another, smaller bag – and why not a solar panelled one?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A Solar Panelled Handbag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My First Sick Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, the title should read ‘My First Legitimate Sick Day’ – it’s probably not even that legitimate, as my boss said ‘if you’re still under the weather, take a day off’. I have no idea of the process of actually getting a sick day – i.e. the administrative processes – and I don’t think he does either, so we just avoid the issue. I’ve been feeling fairly crap all week, so a day off was overdue… I did cross a hurdle – I stayed home Friday night and actually put together a dinner of pesto pasta and some salad at my lodgings! My female landlord was very nice and threw all sorts of things at me to help the salad along, and gave me some stewed quince with some home made ice cream for dessert. They also pressed half a bottle of wine on me and instructed me to do my worst. Then they went out for dinner, and I kicked back with my friend the Dog in front of the TV. A million channels, and the only thing worth watching was Footloose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Un-Masted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Woke up to the phone this morning to Very Bad News. (The weird thing was, my illness had hit its peak, and I was unable to vocalise my horror – my voice had gone!) M had taken Oomoo on a Grand Adventure – sailing to Fraser Island. He’d awoken at five in the morning and launched just as the sun was coming up; everything was prepared – he had sandwiches, a thermos of tea, the whole bit. The day was perfect for sailing. Just out near Woody Island a little freak gust came along and there was a sound like a pistol shot. The mast had snapped. Poor M got a very big shock – when you’re sailing, it’s particularly peaceful, so to have a bit of the boat break with such a loud noise is a scary thing! It was very lucky that M had our faithful Toey (Tohatsu) outboard motor along for the trip. We had spoken on the phone the night before, and M had said he was thinking about taking the motor on the voyage;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Oh, I don’t think so,” I said grandly, “People have been sailing for years without needing a motor on their little sailboat. Tristan Jones wouldn’t have taken a motor with him!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Maybe,” said M, cautiously, “I’ll see what the weather’s doing.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        …and so we left it. Although this is a stark illustration of how he never listens to a thing I say ;) it served him well on this occasion. He limped to Round Island – which is a little island off Urangan, where he had a soothing cup of tea and bound the mast with some rope. Poor little Oomoo. On closer examination, the mast may be able to be fixed, but it is still not ideal, as one needs to have confidence in ones mast – so we will be keeping an eye out for another wooden one (as I have forbidden the purchase of a metal one – it will lower the tone).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As I wasn’t on the spot for the drama and because I am feeling rather divorced from proceedings up north, I spent time over the weekend doing some updates to the My Small Boat site, with more to follow this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Big Sell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So it’s been all quiet on the real estate front on [miaow] – naturally if we hadn’t had some definite interest I would have been going completely insane by now, and you would know, because I would be writing in CApitALs LyKE THisANd beINg moRE!! THan USUAlly INCOherENT. However. Things are, if not progressing, looking positive. You could read about it, but I have been requested to take the link away, due to superstition and possibility of jinxing…the tale will reappear when the deal has been clinched.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nomadic Bear – Lodger of the South

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am an itinerant. Here I am, it’s ten past nine at night and I’m hanging in the office. This waiting for settlement day gig is really starting to get tired. It will be 22 days tomorrow until I get to fly back to Hervey Bay, so meanwhile, M sits in our big empty-feeling house alone on the couch, and I stay at work until 9pm because otherwise it would mean going home and sitting holed up in my bedroom until I was sleepy. And work has high-speed internet. So there’s not much choice, really. It’s the perfect time to churn out a novel, and I have been having a go – but it’s more of a late night activity than an after-work one. I did skulk home last night just before 8:30pm in the vague hope that my landlords would be out, and I could kick back with something alcoholic and watch Desperate Housewives and Enough Rope, but it was not to be. I can’t, of course, fault my landlords, both of them are wildly nice people. They greeted me with an offer of a glass of wine and a cup of tea. Their dog let me pat it to within an inch of it’s life. But. They were watching the tennis. The French Open. These are the evils that come along with the goodness of cable television. I sat on the floor with the dog and my duelling beverages, and tried, via strong thoughtwaves, to get them to turn over to some trashy American high rating show – but I’ve obviously got to practice more often. I had to be content with text messages from M, telling me not to bother him, because he was watching Desperate Housewives (grrr) and to go down and turn on Denton, because Jack Thompson was super interesting. My blood pressure increased exponentially per text.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I suppose that if you haven’t been a lodger, it’s difficult to understand. But imagine that you’ve just moved into a share house where every other inhabitant has been living there together for the last forty years. And everything belongs to them. And they are lovely, they really are, but you’re just going to be living there for a while, and then you’re going to move out. You’re temporary. And that’s what I’m doing – I am living a temporary existence, where cycling home via cheap food each night, not too late, but late enough that I can disappear upstairs and stay there without appearing suspicious, is my day to day existence. I wish that I could fast forward through the next three weeks…somebody find me a REMOTE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [blushes]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How embarrassment to read back what I wrote in my ‘Nomadic Bear’ post. Such a sooky-la-la. I think it was a result of the cold I had, as well as too much time in the office. Rae is right, I have to get OUT more. Anyway, I have already been adopted for two outings this weekend – so I have NOTHING to whine about. I even get to move house for a few days – back to Mung’s place in Collingwood while he is away. I can lounge around at will, knocking back glasses of my Tia Maria stuff and (…wait for it) cooking my own dinner! Too cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In other freaky news, M has been asked to contribute a song from his exaustive back catalogue to an upcoming compilation being organised by Bart Cummings. This is only weird if you consider that when you google the word ‘miaow’ his band comes up first, and this page comes up second. M went to get some dubbing done at a Hervey Bay studio [gasp] which is run by a guy who came fifth in the Eurovision Song Contest about twenty years ago – whose song subsequently went to number one in Germany, thus providing him with juicy royalty cheques for about ten years. That’s the kind of money I want to make. It’s called ‘passive earning’. I yearn for the passive earn…(maybe I could get paid royalities for rhyming?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A Night Well Spent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Last night I moved into Mung’s place for the weekend. Oh the bliss. Oh the slobbing around. The first thing I did was drink his last stubby of beer and eat a delectable pizza from Mama Dora’s. I kicked back on the couch, flicked the channels as was my whim, and watched Las Vegas and Lost. Oh the trashy American television. Oh the illicit pleasure of being in control of the remote. This morning I got up in a leisurely fashion, secure in the knowledge that my boss was away in Sydney, and ate cornflakes with hot milk and made a pot of tea. For the first time in a month I didn’t slam down the museli with soy milk and head out the door – I. Took. My. Time. Sauntered into work just before eleven, in fact. In this case, a change is as good as a holiday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dyeing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Trying to dye the roots of ones hair when there is no one around to help one is a recipe for dodgy results. However, my dodgy results are mostly on top, mostly. So I just have to stay away from people taller than myself, or have a hat handy if I am taken by surprise. Usually M does it – I just tell him to pretend I am a boat that needs a paintjob and to stay inside the lines and everything goes swimmingly. I had forgotten how hard it is to do it on my own – I kept stabbing bits of dye in the wrong places due to my inability to figure out backwards directions in the mirror [sigh]. Soon I won’t be a singleton. Soon. Actually, M bought a trailer for the journey south today – that makes things feel a little more concrete!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pedal to the Metal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last night I attended a GNI (Girls Night In). We ate disgusting amounts of pizza and watched Bride and Predjudice, while trying to figure out who was Lizzie, who was Jane, whether they had killed off that sister who is Lydia’s sidekick who never gets to do much, or had just judged the character as so boring that they edited her out of the script. None of us could remember the name of the hideous obsequious cousin who proposes to Lizzie, and when rejected, gets off with her best friend – if I was on a faster computer, I’d google for the answer, but as it is, if this computer was an animal, it would be a snail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At about twenty to midnight I began to get the feeling that I should leave, or I was going to miss the last train back to Collingwood. I had ridden to West Preston from Thornbury station, so I took my leave and pedalled back, fast. But not fast enough. I had missed the last train by ten minutes, and had to ride my bike back to Collingwood – so if you were driving down High Street just after midnight, you might have seen me labouring along…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sweaty Palm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I leave to go to Beechworth via Macedon tomorrow morning. Which would ordinarily be a nice trip, but as it is for work, I will glimpse scenery on the way to the conference thingy each day, and that’s about it. Thank God I am staying with A and not dossing with everyone else, where I would run into people I only know by sight and have to pretend to look knowledgable (always hard – particularly early in the day). Today I discovered that my Palm Pilot has spacked out and erased itself. Everything. Everything on it is gone. All my information about flying cats to Melbourne. Phone numbers. The lot. I can sync it with my laptop, but it still means I’ll lose everything I’ve entered in the last month, as I just sync it on my work computer to update AvantGo. Goddamnit, this is annoying!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Seventeen days, including two weekends, until I leave to head north and find M, cats and house. I’m not counting hours, but I’m definitely crossing off the days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dead-Eyed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At conference. Need help. Beyond boring. B.O.R.I.N.G
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why do all computer nuffies have such bad refresh settings on their monitors?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Buzzword Bingo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last night dinner was at a winery, so today everyone is walking around looking a little fragile. Myself and my associates have developed a game that aids conference survival – it’s called Wanky Buzzword Bingo. We make a list of all the crappy, overused, pompously annoying words that all these highranking people spew forth and then cross them out as the day progresses. None of us have jumped to our feet and yelled BINGO! yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Here are a selection of the buzzwords’:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          convergence
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          unpack the idea
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          toolbox
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          code down
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          drill down
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          empowerment
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          toolkit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          fine fuel moisture

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          UPDATED:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          paradigm (ohhh, how could I have forgotten this one?)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          method/methodology (used interchangably)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Phone Ranger

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have done an almost world beating long-jump in the realm of mobile phones. I began with a phone donated to me by Dylan (who out-gadgets me on a regular basis) – it was a Nokia so old that it probably didn’t even have a model number. It had red glowing LED and was insanely chunky. I thought it was totally the biz. So I had that for a year or two (back when I still wore glasses) and one day it rang just as I got out of the bath, and in groping blindly for it, I knocked it from the table and it fell in and drowned :-( After that I got an Alcatel, which was my favourite thing, but the ’9′ key was dodgy. I met someone else who had the same phone with the same fault. My admiration for it waned.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Though it did have one stand out feature, which was that you could run it on three AAA batteries if you needed to…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So then Dylan passed another phone my way…my trusty Nokia 5110, which I have had for about five years:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Until last night at the British Star hotel in Smith Street (you should check it out) where I met my small brother’s former flatmate who is over from London for a fleeting visit. My small brother had remembered his promise, and had bequeathed me his phone when he upgraded. His former housemate was nice enough to drag it all the way to Melbourne, despite having about one hours sleep due to excessive partying, and delivered it to me (with a couple of gin & tonics – thanks Liv!) in the front bar. Today I bought a travel plug converter, and I am feeling slightly bewildered by all the options it has – but I’m glad I can now have more than 30 numbers in my address book. I also have bluetooth, a camera and probably other stuff that I haven’t yet stumbled on. Now, if I could just figure out how to get my pictures from the phone to my computer…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh…and predictive text is insanely annoying, but I’m hoping it will improve with time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tipsy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am coming second in footy tipping. However, being a footy nuffy, I often pinch my tips from the Swinburne Computer. My sister – the resident footy guru – doesn’t seem fazed by this. What she is giving me grief over is my confession that I didn’t get my tips in in time twice this season and put them in secretly on a Monday morning. I should add to this statement that I spent the two weekends concerned oblivious to any results – any results on anything. I was under media blackout with no paper, television or radio. Actually, more to the point, I wouldn’t have confessed to her what I’d done if I had cheated. Now it has all come to bite me on the arse. I did last week-but-one’s tips straight out of my own brain and did wildly well. The week prior to that I picked every team in the left hand column and screamed home again. Now I’m coming second, my sister cannot hide her disgust and keeps on bringing up the fact that I cheated. And not only did I cheat, I cheated twice. It’s like we have reverted back to being 11 and nine again; of course she didn’t give a toss when she was ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sunday Stroll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On Sunday I went down to Hampton where I’m going to be living from the 6th of July – over the road from the beach. Such hardship ;-) We took E’s sister’s 10 month old chocolate labrador Harvey with us, and did a huge walk. It was perfect weather for winter walking. These are the first photos I have taken with my new phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vent Vent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The vent in the office blows like a constant minor hurricane. Occasionally, for no obvious reason, the airflow ceases. We all look at each other, barely daring to breathe for fear that it might be taken as encouragement. The silence is more than blissful, it’s precious, because we know it will be fleeting. Except for our initial squeaks of delight, no one speaks while the air is off – the reprieve from the white noise is too sublime to interupt. It only ever lasts for a minute or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spam Spam Spam Spam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    FROM : Miss P. B. Michael
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MISSIONARY QUARTERS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    12.RUE DE L’EGLISE LOME, TOGO

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dear ,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    With regard to your reputation and co-worshipper of God who will not disappoint me nor deny me in faith, I am directing this letter of assistance to you. I am Miss Paulina.B. Michael the only daughter of Mr.Michael from Republic of Liberia in desire toget somebody who will safe guard my interest, that of my junior brother (Victor) and this money. I went to a co-worshipper who works with lome Chamber of Commerce and Industries, he personally directed me to contact you in your position.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Briefly, our father Mr Michael was a Gold and Cocoa merchant who based in Lome Togo and had a branch office in Accra Ghana. My father was a wealthy Gold/Cocoa merchant who has business in many countries in Europe, America and Asian countries. According to my father, my own mother died when I was about six years of age which means that I did not even know my mother very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cinema Verite & Keeping Up With the Jones’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have only eaten a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich all day due to excessive consumption of five course dinner last night. Feel like I inhaled a restaurant, buffet style. Lazed around room all day reading Bridget Jones’ Diary again, and it has affected my thought patterns and writing style. Must reject said style. V.bad. Decided to pack up stuff, though seem to have accumulated too much to fit back in suitcase, even with supermarket bag of pending op-shop donations. Bother. By three pm I was thoughtfully engaged in shaving the lint from my cardigan with a disposable razor, and successfully disposed of at least 35 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally headed out to Lygon Street and got toasted sandwich outside cinema box office – it was a very very good one. No fancy bread, just lots of margarine on top. Intended to go and see A Good Woman, but did not buy ticket when two hours early as felt it would demonstrate to the world my loser life. Thus procrastinated in supermarket (bought Lindt 85% cocoa, and learnt that chocolate actually can be too dark – something previously thought impossible) and Borders, finally appearing to buy ticket 20 minutes prior to screening, only to discover that it had sold out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Could have spiralled into depression and dwelt on remains being chewed over by Alsatian, instead put self on tram, went to work and made cup of tea. Grimacing way through Lindt and surfing net. Only two more days until I escape this stupid situation and fly back to M in Hervey Bay. Can’t wait. Though beginning to have pending doom feeling about saying goodbye to house. This time next week it will be my last ever night in it. Feel sick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Two Annoying Things

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Why, when you’re buying undies (this has bothered me for A-G-E-S) do they only have sizes 8-10, 10-12 and 14-16? What happened to the 12-14 range? What?! And what are the females who fit into that category supposed to do? I will tell you. They stand vacant eyed in front of racks of knickers: boy-leg, g-string, cheeky, bikini, full-fit, support, seamless, shorts-style, high-cut, hipsters… whatever and burn with righteous fury, or slump into a glazed depression while pondering the fact that in a land so replete with so-many-different-styles of underwear, there are none that are sizes 12-14.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I am going to dinner at my mothers – it is the last I will see of her for a few months as she’s doing one of her regular visits across to the US. She called me just before:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “You know how you asked me to pick you up from Brighton Beach?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Yep.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Well, can you just stay on the train and I’ll pick you up at Sandringham?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “But that’s Zone 2. It’ll be $5.10 instead of $3.10…” I trail off hopelessly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “I know, but just pay the extra few dollars. It’s rush hour, and getting to Brighton Beach is hard.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “It’s hard? To get from Black Rock to Brighton Beach?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What I want to say is ‘No Mum, it’s hard getting from Melbourne to Brisbane to Hervey Bay, which is what I’m doing on Wednesday, driving three kilometres at 6pm in the opposite direction to most of the traffic is not hard it’s just that you find it inconvenient.’ Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Smooth then crunchy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Everything has been going waaayyyyy too smoothly with this house settlement. M and I, probably aided by the a thousand or so kilometres between us, have not had a single argument about anything. Naturally there have been times when we have both bitten our tongues, i.e. when I told M to tell the buyers that we would accept a-particular-sum-of-money for our…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – lounge suite
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – ride on mower
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – 2 two seater couches
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – coffee table
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          – beds
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          …he did the equivalent of saying ‘Yes dear’ (which should have been suspicious in itself) down the phone line and then proceeded to email them citing a figure that was five hundred dollars less than the particular-sum-of-money I had just nominated. I bit my tongue, breathed deeply and said, if not nothing, then not a lot.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But now…of course there has to be a but. M never emails me unless pressured. I wouldn’t ever know if he’d ever even received an email from me unless I ask him when we speak on the phone. I kind of visualise him checking his email, reading what I’ve sent, and grunting Homer-like at the screen, as his brain shifts into another gear and becomes clouded by thoughts of beer and sailing. Multihull sailing, naturally. So I was never emailed the ‘list’ of the things that the buyers would be getting for this five-hundred-dollars-short-amount that they said ‘seemed very reasonable’. Duh. You don’t say? THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS SHORT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And just now, in a hideous conversation with M (and so timely, too, as we are supposed to meet after over a month of separation on the train platform tomorrow, and now will probably just bow to each other from the waist and walk uncomfortably to the car) I find out that my little list up there, the one with only five things on it, is somewhat lacking. Because he has also given them the fridge, the groovy 1950′s chrome and laminex table, the whipper-shipper, the normal lawn-mower and god knows what else. And, in case you were wondering, it’s actually my fault that I didn’t know this, because
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a) I was told but didn’t listen; or,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          b) I didn’t make the proper efforts to find out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It’s true that I thought we would just take the fridge to the recycle shop at the Tip the day before we left. It’s also true that I don’t much care about the lawn-mower. But the table is cool and the whipper-snipper is very useful. But I hate not having been told this stuff – I only know what is going on up there if M tells me, and he didn’t (even though he vehemently denies this). Gah. And, after pining to go home and see M and the cats, all I now want to do, is fly up there tonight under the cover of darkness, wait for M to go out and burn the whole house to the GROUND. (With everything in it, obviously.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And the horoscope says…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you are in a lawsuit, you may get a chance to settle your case at this full moon June 22. Full moons bring closure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Perhaps you will sign a contract, see a book published, or end a chapter of your life and be ready to start a new one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This month’s full moon is at zero degrees of a cardinal sign, which means it will be capable of bringing extraordinary energy and news. Always give a full moon a plus or minus four days – most full moons assert their news on the day they appear or in the days after they appear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The July full moon (July 21) will also be at what is called a critical degree at nearly 29 degrees, considered the degree of completion or ending. One part of your life will end and another will begin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            By June’s end, you will have four planets filling your communication sector, so it certainly looks as if you are about to sign a contract or travel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (…these predictions appear to be more accurate than my communications with M, so maybe I should just move in with Susan Miller of AstrolgyZone. Humph.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hazy Shades of Winter: Part 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Where to start?! Arrived home [sob] last Wednesday and realised just how much had to be done before d-day (yesterday). I can’t even remember half the things that happened in between then and my dad arriving. I do know that we went out to a last dinner at Angelo’s (after I had replaced a headlight on the Humber, so we could drive at night) where I had my favourite spaghetti marinara that I cannot recommend highly enough. It was lovely to see M again after about a five week absence, even though we were instantly submerged in logistics and goodbyes to his side of the family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thursday morning saw M turn into an anxiety ridden alien. He had to get the van to the auto-electrician at 8am and at 7.30am he was shrieking around the house in a complete state…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Where the f@#k is my wallet? Someone must have got in during the night and they’ve stolen it. Either that or it fell out of my jacket at Angelo’s….maybe it’s in the van…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He ran from the house, while I croaked from under the doona;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “We didn’t take the van out last night.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He returned inside, still ranting, now looking to deflect the blame elswhere.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “It’s you. You. You came home and distracted me. This kind of thing didn’t happen while you were away. Goddamn it. Meet me in the cafe near the auto-electricians. The van could take all day.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I had, by this point, shoved my head under the pillow, wondering what it was that I’d actually missed about him as I whiled away my time in Carlton.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “OK, I’m going now. F@#k it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Remember to take the spare wheel of the trailer so we can get it checked for a leak,” I replied romantically, through gritted teeth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And the back door slammed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I eased my way out of bed, walked to the coffee table, picked up M’s wallet, had my first rainwater shower in quite some time, fed the cats and drove out of the driveway and up the hill. As soon as I got halfway to the top, mobile coverage kicked in and there was a text from M.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bring wheel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As I turned the car around, I pondered on ways to intensely annoy him for the rest of the day, and dabbled along these lines of thought until another text popped through as I (and the spare wheel) reached town.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am sorry I was in a flap. I have separation anxiety.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I found M, threw his wallet at him, and wallowed in his apologies for at least ten minutes. After that, we went and found a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich, and made our ‘to do’ lists. They were scary. As we left, to begin to tackle the lists, the electrics on my Humber started going crazy. Dodgy indicators, mainly. We fiddled with the fuses and they came back. Then the left indicator died. The switch had broken. I managed to massage the indicator into performing, but it was getting worse. Perfect timing really, considering that it was being driven to Melbourne in four days time…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hazy Shades of Winter: Part 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                M and I were packing up the house like chickens with our heads cut off for the first half of the day. The hideousity of packing cannot be understated. I am particularly bad at it, because I always think that if I throw anything out I will need whatever it is desperately in approximately three days time. Argh. I infuriate M by packing stuff that we don’t really need – an unused packet of jelly crystals, a candle… while he drives me mad by not packing with any system or precision (this is the same guy who once chucked all our crockery into a box, taped it shut, and called it ‘packed’). Anyway, we muddled through with no arguments, but a growing sense of desperation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Later in the afternoon I drove M to the auto-electrician (we had to take the van back, as the dash-lights didn’t work), and I left him there while I went to pick up my Dad and his friend Rick from the bus. By then, the Humber indicators were no longer ‘indicators’ they were ‘indicator’. The right one. So we drove home, via three six packs of Coopers, and I showed them around the house. Which was in a state of disarray. We had a night of beer and looking at photos of the house – before and after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Day of Leisure

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had my doubts about M imposing ‘Day of Leisure’ on a Saturday. There was so much to do, and it seemed to me that it would be better to make Sunday a leisure day. Wrong. We got up and had a big banana porridge breakfast, endless tea, and then all got in the Humber-with-one-indicator with Oomoo behind on the trailer. We headed down to Toogoom (the best place in Hervey Bay, which will be trashed by developers very soon, and rendered irretrievably crap) and on to the bridge over Beelbi Creek, where we launched.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was a beautiful day. We motored down to the fishing spot, where Rick, the guest, instantly caught a couple of mo-fo bream. Three minutes later, the tide turned, and there were no more bites! We persevered for a bit, but then continued exploring. Our path blocked by a fallen tree across the creek, we tied up and had another sustained fishing attempt, while my Dad disappeared, catlike, into the surrounding jungle (via the logs).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meanwhile, we continued to try and catch fish. Finally, with great stealth and daring, I hooked another big bream, while Rick pulled in another one a few minutes later. One big fish each seemed to be quite perfect, so we put the next one that I caught back into the creek, and began motoring back toward the car bridge. We took Oomoo ashore and headed into Toogoom proper – settling down with chips and beer at the pub (where the food has gone downhill in the past six months, but the chips are still safe, though oily). I had two stubbies of VB in shandy form, as I was designated driver. After a short walk around to the beach to say goodbye to our favourite swimming spot, I engaged in some trepidacious trailer-backing, and we took off in the direction of home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rick, enthused by his Grand Day Out, insisted on stopping to buy a couple of bottles of white wine, and a bottle of whiskey (a recipe for next-morning hell, in my humble opinion). We continued on towards home, but I was getting anxious. The Humber now had only one headlight and no indicators at all. At the pinnacle of bad timing, as I drove toward our turnoff, a police car came out of a side street and settled in behind me. As I’d passed him as he was waiting to turn, he’d had a good view of my headlight-uno. He let me sweat for about four minutes as he trailed me, before putting on his lights. Dad, M and Rick all gave me varying instructions, while I gripped the wheel – the only thought in my head being
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘How do I pull over without indicating?! Goddamnit and bugger.’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M, who can’t help himself, was instructing me how to behave. I was trying to ignore him, while internally freaking out about the two stubbies of VB I’d drunk just an hour or so ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The policeman came to the door…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “D’you know you’ve only got one headlight?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes,” I squeaked, softly. Too softly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Sorry?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes. I realised back at the supermarket. I tried my high beams, but they’re gone too. I think it’s a fuse. I can fix them when I get home…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Right. Can I see your license please.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It wasn’t a question. I fumbled with my purse and handed it to him. He noted my Victorian plates and address.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “You living up here?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I’m leaving for Melbourne on Monday,” I said truthfully.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He unwrapped a breathalyzer thingy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Have you had anything to drink today?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My stomach dropped.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Ah, I had a few drinks at lunchtime.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was when M, beside me in the passenger seat, decided to ‘lighten the moment’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I bet she’s at about .016!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I heard small thudding sounds as my Dad and Rick simultaneously hit him surreptitiously in the back of the head.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Just blow into this until I tell you stop.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I blew. It beeped. He examined the results. I sweated, trying to remember to breathe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “When did you say you had those drinks?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh god.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Over lunch.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Must have been a late lunch…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Well, yeah. Probably around two thirty, three o’clock? Why? Am I over?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A pause. The Humber was still.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Nah. You’re .018 – make sure you get that headlight fixed.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Thank you,” I squeaked, trying to sound even more freaked out than I actually was, in an effort to excuse what I was about to do…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I pulled out and had to instantly turn left down the road towards home. Of course, I couldn’t indicate, and had to just hope that he thought I was a blonde, scared Victorian who was too flustered to remember such minor details.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the car, once we’d got around the corner without incident, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief, and M got some bollocking about his attempts to bond with the policeman. The drive home was further fraught with lack of indicators (and the fact I was pulling a trailer didn’t help either). Finally we made it home – where I had a large glass of white wine, to stop my quaking. M cooked up the fish like the gourmet he is, and we feasted our way through fish, rice and salad. I stuck with the rest of the Coopers, while the others (particularly M and Rick) quaffed white wine and whiskey in equal quantities. Ugh. Both of them paid the next morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Humber Whisperers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Our last full day in the house. M and Rick were somewhat green around the gills. I provided tea, coffee, boiled eggs and buttered bread for sustenance. It rained steadily. M rigged up a tarp over the Humber, and Rick began to prove his worth. The electrics needed to be working for the trip down south, so while I packed away the remaining contents of the house, and M finished packing the trailers, Dad and Rick began working their magic on the Humber. If they hadn’t been there, we would have been fairly stuffed. Dad called a few Queensland members of the Humber club, in an effort to source a new indicator kit, while Rick tried to discover what was throwing all the electrics out. All day they tested some things, ruled out others, and finally traced the problems to a dodgy fuse and an suspect connection on one of the headlights. By 6pm they had cracked it. Thank GOD!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M and I were duty bound to go and do ‘final dinner’ with his family. We took along some pizza and headed over to his mother’s place, where we were certain that we would be met with an atmosphere of hushed mourning. Instead, we ate dinner while the tv blared on about ‘Guiness World Records’ and I wished silently to be at Angelo’s eating another spaghetti marinara (which is what Dad and Rick were doing). I had thought that our dinner at M’s mother’s house the previous Thursday was our ‘last hurrah’ – but, unusally, I was mistaken. After an hour or so of pizza and television, we met up with Dad and Rick, said goodbye to our favourite restaurant, and went home for our last ever night in the house. :-(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Au Revoir Lovely House

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We had to be on the road by 11am. I managed to squeeze more into the back seat and boot of the Humber than anybody believed. We dashed into town to say goodbye to M’s mother and nephew and to fill up the van. In the meantime, my Dad drugged the cats :-0 and vacked the house (many, many thanks!). When we got home, we had One Hour. I arranged the electricity to get cut off, and did final packing (‘packing’ meaning; stuffing odds and ends anywhere I could find a gap, and throwing things into the bin that should probably have been taken to the op-shop) while M gave our beautiful floors a final mop. Rick did some final Humber-whispering and assisted in assembling the new cat carrier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I went to examine the cats. Saf was spread, whalelike, on the ground, looking like he’d had too many whiskies and white wines; while poor Mow had retreated to his bed box, and couldn’t be tempted to leave it. Dad had to help me get him. I stuffed both of them in a carrier each. They were drugged, floppy and unhappy. I began to worry about how they were going to survive such a long day of travel – four hours to Brisbane, then probably another four hours of waiting around and flying to Melbourne. Horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M and I said goodbye to our house :-( and I took some final footage of our acre – the trees, the little creek… It was very sad. But I almost didn’t have time for it to register. When I left back in April, not knowing if I would see the house again, I cried all the way out of town. This time, I was swamped by logistics and drugged cats. It was all over very quickly, which, I suppose, is a good thing. Dad took pictures as we drove the van, pulling the boat trailer, out of the gate for the last time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Big Sell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Part One: Paw Paw Poor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My boss says he’s very keen to see the house. He requests that we don’t do any advertising until he’s seen it. He says all of the following:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Does it have paw-paw trees? If it has paw-paw trees, I’ll buy it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • I suppose I should actually hand you a deposit cheque, so I can make my intentions clear
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • I’ve brought $5000 in cash with me as a deposit…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • We’re keen to buy in the area

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He and his wife finally make it up, two days after Christmas, to come and inspect the house. As soon as she walks in, I can see what’s going on. She is either unconcerned by his verbal committments to buy the property, or completely oblivious. It takes about ten minutes, and I realise that she thinks she’s just come to have lunch with us. She never mentions the house. He drags me aside on two occasions and conducts semi-whispered conversations about the $5000 ‘deposit’ (what $5000 was going to do for him I don’t know, as the usual deposit is 10% of the asking price – and we were definitely not selling our house for $50,000) and the fact that they had another house to look at in the area. He does not mention the paw-paw trees (I planted three, just in case). They stay for three long hours and then leave, never having discussed the house at all. M and I go and drink gin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crossing the second state line…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Am typing from a ubiquitous McDonalds the other side of Albury somewhere. We have been inside the boundaries of Victoria for about 50 minutes, and the sun has come out, although there are grey clouds looming over the hills. I am desperate to write up our journey, if only for my own purposes of remembering everywhere we have stayed, the exciting things we’ve eaten, how we nearly got lost in a flood and the spelling mistakes on signs that have rendered us helpless. Helpless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But that will all have to wait. We stayed last night in serious style in Adelong – a place that we have been once before (when we camped directly in front of the ‘No Camping’ sign and spent the morning swimming naked in the river) – this time it was waaaay too cold for camping, and we thought we would do the last night of our trip in a proper bed and breakfast – it was seriously classy. We should be drawing up to our new home in Melbourne in about four or five hours time. Our little Hi-Ace van (since it was repaired in Brisbane) has performed peerlessly. Yes, we are the slowest car on every freeway, highway and motorway that we have traversed, but it is a steady, reliable slowness. Vanee (as it shall henceforth be known) is packed to the gills and is also pulling a well packed Oomoo – M and I are also far more portly that we were at the beginning of the journey (or, that’s what it feels like) after indulging ourselves each night at dinner to the point that we rarely eat another thing until lunchtime the following day. Just for my own memory, we have stayed…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Brisbane – 2 nights (car troubles)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rosebank – 2 nights (flooded in)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Yamba – 1 night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nambucca Heads
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Anna Bay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Mt Kurun Gai (this is not how you spell it, but whatever)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Adelong

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now we are jumping back on to the tarmac for the close of our journey, plumper, damper and with a deeper knowledge of trailer auto-electrics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Brother Intact

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In case anyone is interested, my Small Brother, who I was just speaking to last night in response to his text message which read:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “God damnit! Turn your god damn phone on! There is phone coverage in Victoria!” (referring to my dodgy phone reception for the past week and a half) is fine, and was not on the Tube or in a bus at the time of the bombs. Luckily for him, because if that had been the last text message I’d received from him, it would have had to be his epitaph. But I did feel very sick for a while, as text messages tumbled through to my phone, asking if I’d heard from him, and if he was OK. I’ve been living in a vortex, hadn’t turned on the television tonight, so I didn’t know what the hell was going on. For all I knew, he’d be beaten up by rabidly jealous Franz Ferdinand groupies…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’m glad he wasn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Screen Cleaner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you need your screen cleaned from the inside, this is a very cute way to have it done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Call me Shirley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And the question is…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A few people have asked me today and yesterday (my only days in Melbourne thus far) ‘So, did the house sell?’ Obviously I didn’t post an entry here that shrieked ‘Hallelejah! The house, as of the last two hours, has SOLD!!’ In my haze of travel, car trouble, cat separation anxiety and high flood risk, I kind of forgot. I did say that it had sold at the end of this post, but as it was the length of War and Peace, it is not surprising that it escaped attention. So. The house is sold. It really is. M and I have made it back to Melbourne, with some cash, and have five or six months to plan our next move. Our next move will almost definitely NOT include buying another house. Perhaps people get over particular traumas – childbirth, loss of a limb… I, however, have not forgotten the HELL that was the house-buying process, and am not interested in doing it again anytime soon. Particularly considering the RIDICULOUS state of Victorian stamp duty. Forget about it. Pass the cheese. My eyes are on New South Wales for the next venture. If I could become a fulltime resident of the Pacific Hotel in Yamba, I would.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Settling In

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M and I, when we have had a spare second, quietly marvel at the good fortune that has let us appear in Melbourne and be absorbed into an already existing household.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Just imagine,” marvelled M, “if we had moved into our own place. We would have had to buy a heater, a fridge, a bed…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “And it would have been tiny and expensive.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Mmmm,” he agreed. “And yet we’re here, with all those things provided, and in walking distance of our new favourite cafe, the beach, a yacht club and a chandlery.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “And we get our own bathroom – almost an impossibility in a share house…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We shook our heads in wonderment, like two bemused sheep.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We’d walked across the road and down to the chandlery, where I mooned over bits of red rope that would make Oomoo look even cuter, and we bought a rather expensive stainless steel handle for the new storage compartment. PBS was playing in the background – a station I used to be very involved in – and I realised I was back in the land of interesting radio, no longer confined to Radio National and JJJ. Then we wandered to the nearby cafe – think windsurfer hire and Diver Dan – we ordered a juice and a coffee. I couldn’t leave. I made M get another cappuccino so I could continue sitting in the sun, reading the paper and mocking the upmarket Hampton mother who was buying her three year old a sausage roll, but wanted to know all the flavours of all the muffins; ‘are they low fat?’ and ‘I want a cappuccino in a mug’ and ‘is it low fat?’ I was tempted to give her a lovely low fat thump to the head, but the weather was too nice. As M was ordering his enforced second coffee, the sausage roll child began to scream, so M asked;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Can I have two biscuits, a cappuccino and a sack with some bricks so I can drop that kid off the pier?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The guy serving didn’t even pause.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “You won’t need the bricks,” he said, “She’ll sink like a stone.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We both decided that our luck is almost too good to be safely discussed. Our weekend was hermit-like; due to the fact that I accidentally gave out the wrong phone number to everyone we know; because we have so much unpacking to do; and because our heads are slightly fried by the events of the past three weeks. Of course, moving into a fully furnished house does have a few minor downsides – we have two blenders, a surfeit of chairs, cutlery and glasses; there is nowhere to put our lovely dining table, and the cats are freaking out at each other. All these things have been worked around – except the cats, who met for the first time last night. We staged an ‘introduction’ (though it was more like an ‘intervention’) in the lounge room last night. It was not completely unsuccessful, but it was close. We will try again tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I Feel The Earth Google Under My Feet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am playing with Google Earth and it is freaking me out. Here I am – in the only office in the department who doesn’t deal with GIS and I’m being seduced. I have looked at Fraser Island – then I flew to where my rellies live, in Marblehead, Massachusetts (that is the first time I’ve ever typed that word correctly without having to look it up) and I can see the names of streets, lakes, football grounds. Phwoar! J, who works here, is completely besotted with it – luckily it is not yet available on Mac, or his day would have been eaten by Google Earth. It’s about a 10MB download, and you need a newish computer – it’s v.cool. Particularly for geographically challenged nuffies like myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh- and for font freaks – this is a pretty cool blog: FontLeech.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I Hate My Motorola

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Via EnGadget: – someone who really detests their mobile phone, and let it all hang out on ebay.co.uk – it is promoted as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In summary:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • I hate it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • I detest every atom of it’s existence.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • It’s creator should be tied down and eaten by ants.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The factory that makes them should be melted by a big laser from space.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • It doesn’t have a camera
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • It barely functions as a phone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you want it? Bid Now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hoo-Ray! Hoo-Ray!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now I can divulge our secret plan. M and I have been planning to surprise my dad with a present for the past year to say thank-you for the various loans he’s thrown our way; before, during and at the end of our Hervey Bay adventure. My dad is a river junkie – he likes exploring the Murray and also Westernport Bay. He’s been dabbling with the idea of getting a trailer-sailer for the last 18 months or so. Every now and again he would email M a link to a boat he was interested in, and M, at my urging, would gently steer him away from it. We, selfishly, wanted to be the ones to get him a trailer-sailer. So, three days after we’d got back to Melbourne, we found the perfect boat in the Trading-Post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Of course, looking good in the Trading-Post is one thing, being good in real life is another. We went to visit it last Saturday. It was better in real life. It was perfect. A Dennis TS500 – it had only ever had two owners. It came with new ropes and a 5HP Tohatsu. We knocked the price down a little bit and grabbed it. M has spent the last few days tweaking it to his exacto standards, and fixing up a few things here and there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My dad’s name is Ray. I have had the name of the boat decided for months and months. It was to be called Hoo-Ray! It is an excellent vessel, and I am typing this post from the loungeroom in South Gippsland, having handed over Hoo-Ray! to her rightful owner (who is already plannning an enormous river trip). M was going to do the lettering of the name himself, but it turned out to be a very difficult task – we were saved by a woman called Susan, who printed it our on to sticky vinyl lettering in the font that I had wanted. It’s PERFECT. Pawfic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hoo-Ray! Pictures!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The hills are alive with Hoo-Ray!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M & Dad in Hoo-Ray!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boat from the back
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Disem-Powered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yesterday I became one of those people about which I love to rant. And Kartar agrees with me on the topic. We are having lunch in an hour and will tell each other, yet again, how much we despise Powerpoint ‘presentations’. So yesterday the spotless white of my soul was besmirched. I had to give one. I was the only person who was not a professor. Oh the joy, the rapture. Oh the sweat and adrenaline. It may have been less nervewracking had I actually had a handle on what I was supposed to witter on about, but as I was giving it on behalf of my boss (still overseas, still overseas) – it was all about as clear as mud. It also became obvious that his presentation (out of which I had manually erased the worst of the lies) was lacking in comparison to the ones that came before it (and probably the ones after it, though I wouldn’t know, because I didn’t stick around) – primarily in the areas of hard figures: i.e. there were none. Luckily my hair is now both blonde and pink, so I just hoped fervently that, in a room of combovers and mathematical boffins, I would be an object of curiousity and one that would not be expected to utter statements of brilliance. Which I didn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hourly Rate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A question. Does anybody know what freelance researchers charge per hour? I am going to see a man about a dog tomorrow morning…sorry, that would be, a lady about a job; and I’m supposed to be able to let them know what I charge [gulp]. I’ve done a few freelance gigs here and there, but they’ve been charged at an overall price for the whole project. This thing is going to be ongoing. I’m not sure what is too much, or what is too little. Help!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Who’s been eating my porridge?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Went to gym this morning. Got there at 6am. They looked puzzled. I thought it was because they’d never seen a person so unfit before. Turns out, they’d written me in for 6pm. She said, in the sparkling tones of someone who is accustomed to being awake at such ungodly hours;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “You’ve done the hardest thing – you’ve got out of bed and come here! You may as well make it worth it and do half an hour on the treadmill.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “You’ve got to be joking. I’m going home to bed.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Really?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Really.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I came home and made porridge for me and M, who wasn’t up yet. I had rhubarb on mine. In my coltish, girlish way, I was quite pleased with myself that I’d made him a hot breakfast. He got up, stepped into his clothes and looked non-plussed at the idea of porridge. But he didn’t say “No, I don’t want breakfast this morning as I ate too much pizza last night.” He just took the smaller bowl of porridge that I had put out for E. Turned his nose up at the rhubarb and asked if it was the stewed blackberries that we’d had at my dad’s on the weekend. Then muttered after a few mouthfuls that he wasn’t going to have breakfast this morning, and could he just eat half the bowl…?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At which point I left the room to escape his presence, restrain my urge to repeatedly bang my head against the wall, and to work on my resume. He came in to say goodbye.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Don’t have the s@#%s with me, B.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I don’t,” I said, lying, looking at the computer screen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Don’t lie. I wish I’d never seen you this morning.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I found this mildly shocking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Bye.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yeah. Bye.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At least now we’re in Melbourne we have places to go, and appointments to keep; so we don’t have to retire to separate ends of our acre in Queensland and hiss like cats when we see each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My horoscope says:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Promise Now: ‘I will not freak out this evening and quit my degree/thesis/project/book/movie. I will ride the existential crisis wave into tomorrow when I will laugh at my paranoia.’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Replace the words ‘this evening’ with ‘this morning’…unless this just relates to my 6PM gym appointment. His says:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Try to find a place where you will not be able to make a phone call tonight. Full Moon in your 10th house triggers feelings of crisis – that the ‘career’ is shite & there is no point. It’s illusory; the Sun also Rises.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great. Hurry up sun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Try again…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Relationship now repaired. Mutal apologies swapped. Lucky mobile phones were invented, otherwise it would have been a long walk home. My scary secret interview kind of went ok – but don’t want to jinx anything by blogging it. Am going back to the gym 12 hours after leaving it, and trying again. Guess who’s going to be in bed early tonight?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And briefly…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My boss just called. From the USA. He tells me what’s been going on, who he’s seen and what he’s done. We talk about my reviled powerpoint presentation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I think it went well,” I lie.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Good. I’m very glad you went and represented us. What was everyone else like?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Umm, kind of boring. All about budgets and stuff.” I fail to point out that I left in the halftime break and never returned.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Great. Well, we’ll go over it when I get back.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I sigh. “That would be great.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “OK, well, I don’t really have time to speak to anyone else, but say hello for me, and I’ll see them on Monday.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I look around the room. I’m the only one in it. I’ve been the only one in it all day, and assume that I will continue on in isolation until 5pm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “No worries, I’ve waved at them for you,” I say, waving at empty chairs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Thanks. OK. See you Monday.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Have a safe flight.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My Velouria

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OMG! The Pixies are putting out a new album! Maybe this will mean they will finally tour Australia. Well, we can dream…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not a bunny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hello. My name is Train Wreck. You might have seen me in such places as the back of the class at gym today. That’s right. Me. The one with the fire engine face and a quite astounding lack of co-ordination. The one that had to stop and drink water every time they did the double-turn-kick-rhumba-leg-curl-leg-curl-grapevine -easy-steps-and-march-and-march routine. As in, every ten minutes. And more frequently as the hour wore on. ‘How do they do it?’ I wondered to myself, watching Miss Tight-Butt down the front follow each routine effortlessly. My main priority was trying to mirror the person in front of me – not for accuracy, but more so that my haplessly out-of-whack attempts at fluidity would not make it to the mirror opposite where everyone could see them. Luckily no one talked to me. Whatsoever. And it’s a women-only gym, so there weren’t any blokes around to ask if I wanted them to call an ambulance, as they could see I was about to pass out. No. Everyone just dutifully averted their eyes from my glowing face, as sweat dripped down my forehead and my heartbeat pounded – pleading with me to stop the torture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Asking the Oracle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You asked
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vocational Make-Over: Is It Time For A Career Change?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Oracle says
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Time? It’s way overdue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            …it is time to act…?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here is my (dad’s) lemon tree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Quiet please. I'm lemoning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I knew I took this photo for a reason…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m a quitter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have been offered a new job. A job of wonder and strange delight. A job that is about two minutes drive from my house, is three days a week and better paid than where I am now. I get my own booklined room (with adjoining sunroom), and they have told me I can go and buy my own chair, for which they will reimburse me. (At that suggestion, I went into shock.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So yesterday, I fronted up to work (on the tenth floor with fluroescent lighting, minimum humidity, blaring vent, dodgy chair and crappy computer) and decided to hand in my notice. Yike! I was such a hopeless case that I put it off until very late in the day – which was lucky, as it turned out. My boss sent me to ‘sit in’ for him at very high level, executive meeting, with the brief to ‘listen, and take notes’. Yes. Because I was employed as a secretary, not a researcher. So that added to my drive. At the meeting I saw a mate of mine, D, and he scribbled me a note that said ‘I quit last week!’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For a moment I thought he had some kind of direct line to my brain – how timely! But then again, I now know three other people who have quit their jobs for better ones in the past five days. Weird. So D and I went for a coffee in the park (my first coffee of the year), and he gave me the lowdown on his ‘quitting’ experience, and suggested that I talk in a quiet voice, and be firm. He said the worse bit was the minute before it happened – sweat, adrenaline, fear… but that after that, it was just sweet release.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, prepped and ready and caffeinated, I strode back to work, whacked on some lipstick for good luck, and went into my boss’s office. I looked suitably serious, and said;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I have to tell you something.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                His body kind of went into a sigh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “What?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I’m giving you notice. I’ve found a new job.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I waited for some fireworks, but there were none forthcoming. He looked nonplussed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “That’s very unfortunate.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It was slightly anti-climactic, but also a great relief. We chatted for about 15 minutes, about how he values my writing (I pointed out that I’m so swamped by admin, I never get to do any), and who is going to fix the computers now (not me) and had I thought of freelancing? Maybe I could write up some reports a bit further down the track? I looked enigmatic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I leave on the 5th of August. I will ride a white steed and play the trumpet all the way to the pub. Hallelujah!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Left over life to kill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Exactly how many hours have amazon.com and ebay.com.au eaten from my life? I would be horrified to find out. It is particularly hard when one’s mother is in the U.S, with a shipping address that one could have any number of things sent to, whereupon (in my fantasy) she would have to schlep them back here straight into my bargain-loving hot little hands. The truth, however, is quite sad. I’ve spent so long browsing that I am completely overcome by choice and have selected nothing. Instead, I am ordering two books for my sister, who frowns upon the combination of Credit Cards and The Internet (though, obviously, not hard enough not to use me as her Amazon pimp) – and that’s all! I disappoint myself. I really do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I picked a Canon A85

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My days sans camera are at an end. After agonising as to whether I should order one from the US and get my mother to schlep it back, I decided that;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) I couldn’t wait that long,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) I don’t know how long ‘that long’ is,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) I don’t know IF she would have brought it back…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So yesterday I went out and got the Canon Powershot A85. I was after the A95 – but it was $200 more than I paid with the only differences being one megapixel and no fold-out-and-pivot LCD screen – both of which I can [gulp] live without. On the plus side, it takes AA batteries, which I prefer, and compact flash cards – one of which I already own (thank you D & R).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So last night, when M and I went on a date to the Astor to see Coffee & Cigarettes and Maria Full of Grace, I took my first little movie. We were sitting underneath a speaker…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The resin. The resin!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The phone conversation went like this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Hello M, I just wanted to…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Hello, B. What do you want? I’m sorry, I’m just in in a big rush…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I begin to dither under pressure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I wanted to know if you still want to see the Go-Betweens at the Palais, because, um, it’s on tomorrow night and…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Tomorrow night. Tomorrow night? What…oh, god, look, I really have to…I want to go. Can you book it?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I can’t book it, that’s why I had to call you, because when I was on the phone to you earlier and I was using the bank machine, and I was in a dither…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Yes yes yes….”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I lost my card, someone found it and cut it up and now there’s a stop on my account and…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Yep. Yep, yep.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “But it’s $62 for dinner and show!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “God. Look. I have to go. I’ll do it. Just email me. Yep? Bye.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ten minutes later he calls back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Streets of Your Town…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M and I went to Daylesford on Saturday to see the Go-Betweens play at The Palais. God! It was fan-tastic! I will be posting a review up here in a day or two. I wish there was a rule that Grant McLennan stayed behind his guitar at all times, because his guitarless posturing throughout Cattle & Cane (which I’d been waiting for all my life) made it impossible to watch. Other than that, it was brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Palais

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M and the blackboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Protein?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wherefore art thou, protein? I languish. Actually, I more than languish. I feel like I have been run over by a large Mack truck, which has then reversed back over me and repeated the process. That’s right. I went to gym this morning. It’s fine when I get home. It’s fine as I walk to the station. It’s not too bad on the train. But by the time I get to Flinders Street and get on a tram – it’s truck-time. I become over-cooked spaghetti. This is due, say the people here at work, to a lack of protein. ‘Have some protein,’ they instruct me, as I flail about the office, leaden of leg and shaky of arm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My dietary knowlegde is limited, (I can think of one proteiny thing – fish – not so good at 7am) so obviously, I googled. And now on my list are almonds, pistachios, peanut butter (…there’s a theme emerging here). Wheatgerm is up there, oatbran, and so, perplexingly, were rolled oats. Perplexingly, because I ate a huge bowl of porridge this morning, which seemed to have no influence on my limp-dishrag self. Odd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          UPDATE: Apparently the list that I was looking at is not a good one. I need a sports recovery one. Like this. So it seems I am doing the right thing, but should carry emergency reserves of nuts. Kind of like a squirl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On Easey Street

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rosemary on Easey Street

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Attention: Dentists!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here’s my suggestion. Above the dentist chair there should be a sign fixed to the ceiling. On it are various commands, each with a little light next to it. For example: ‘Open Wide’, ‘Rinse Please’, ‘Relax a Little’ and ‘Brace Yourself for Pain, Starting…NOW!’. So whatever the dentist wants you to do, or wants to prepare you for, they communicate via a little pressure pad that makes one (or more) of the appropriate lights blink. Meanwhile, you’re laying back on the chair, with huge, big-muffy seventies-style headphones on, cranked to 11, listening to your tunes of choice. Of course, I am way ahead of my time, and thus have to sit here typing this feeling sad and sorry for myself, trying to blunt the afternoon’s quotient of trauma with Chivas Regal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mindreading

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                B: “I know exactly what I’m going to do as soon as my last pay comes through.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                M: “I know exactly what you’re going to do when your pay comes through.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                B: (suspiciously) “I bet you don’t.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                M: “I do so. You’re going to go to the bottle-o in Sandringham and buy a slab of Coopers green for forty bucks.” [grins]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                B: (gobsmacked) “Am I so tranparent? That’s exactly what I’d planned.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great. I’m Snape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  About Last Night

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last night was one of the reasons that I am happy to be back in Melbourne. I went to the New Buffalo show at Manchester Lane. The supports (Holly Throsby, and Mountains in the Sky) were just as good as the headliners, the mix was truly brilliant and the venue was perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New Buffalo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had been a bit cautious about New Buffalo, having seen Sally Seltmann do her thing at the Corner Hotel somewhere around 2001/2002 – where she stopped playing and demanded that everyone should stop talking and listen, which didn’t go down hugely well. Last night, however, was a different story. One of the guys from Mountains in the Sky (the other one was M’s old drummer) took on keyboard/sampling duties (and a brief foray with a melodica), and Rae Howell on vibraphone and trumpet was a total highlight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Holly Throsby is a bit of a guitar legend, and weaved her own kind of spells over the audience. She has this kind of delicate aching husky voice thing going on, and almost all of her songs were equally as good as the couple that JJJ thrashed to death – others were even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Holly Throsby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That’s it then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s all over. No more office, bad ventilation, mindless frustration at lack of direction, crapola computers and particularly, no more vista of the wall out the window. I will, however, miss the people that I worked with a great deal. My boss never advertised jobs, he preferred to employ friends of friends, which somehow guarranteed a run of people who I would have considered myself lucky to meet in any situation; co-habiting in our hellhole of an office was almost (almost) a pleasure. Tonight, my send off was a little bit lacking, due to short notice. J had already planned to leave on a hiking trip, my boss has sinusitis and my sister decided she couldn’t be bothered to come. So we have planned a proper night out on the 18th of August, and have given everybody due warning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I feel like poking myself to see how I feel about leaving, but I don’t really feel much at all. I hated the job. I will keep in touch with the people that I’ve met – those who have helped me via funny emails, phone calls to Hervey Bay, hung out with me at those jaw-stiffeningly boring conferences and timely chai lattes *sniffle*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah well, it’s a new start on Monday, a new moon tonight. I think it’s all for the best. Who knows? With part time hours, I might even get an album recorded. I can only hope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A New Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argh! The horrors of starting new jobs! I am staggering under information overload. Staggering. However, my little office is gorgeous – booklined with yachting and crime and history…and if I want fresh air I just have to open the glass door to outside. Pretty different from last week – where I had to go down ten floors just to see what the weather was doing. I am even feeling useful as I cranked out my first report – how I love having deadlines! How I am going to love producing stuff that Actually. Gets. Used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On Wednesday I go shopping to [gasp] pick out my chair. I’ve been asked what tea I like best and what stationery I require. There are cats lounging about, and I’m free to play whatever music I like. There has to be something wrong… Surely?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So now I am home near the heater, M is cooking up his brand new wonder-soup (Sweet Potato & Sweet Corn with Blue Cheese Swirl) and there’s a bottle of white in the fridge. Great plans are afoot for thiscoming weekend when we’re thinking of going to the Australian Specialist Cheese Show! What a perfect event for M to attend! Now, if I could just stop checking to see whether Albert/Kennedy has arrived…keep going with that spicy food Rae!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Type what I say, not HOW I SAY IT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bi haf a sduffy nodse abd feel likde I’be beed rund over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m not joking, this is a fairly accurate representation of what I sound like right now. And d’you want to know the worst thing? I am training voice recognition software. If it wasn’t so damnably tortuous, it would make a good basis for a comedy sketch. I keep saying ‘is’ and it keeps typing ‘ease’. I say ‘a dog’ and it glibly replies ‘adob’. Bloody thing. ‘Buddy thick’. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dbye Code Dis Impoovig

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My cold is on the mend. I no longer feel like I was repeatedly run over by a semi-trailer. This is a good thing, as my new job is proving pretty hard going. How I hates the curve of the learning. Now that I feel more human, I am going to have to return to gym [groan]. Last night was spent at Essendon Keilor College’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, choreographed by my very own housemate. It was an awesome show – the first that I’ve seen there where they have used a live band, which made all the difference. Tonight, the 10Speed practice was called off due to bad weather and Christine’s lack of drums [eyeroll] when, oh when will she get her hi-hat and snare? Instead, I spoiled M and made him a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for ages. It wasn’t that great, but I followed it up with rhubarb and yoghurt – which was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like their old stuff…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Have lots to blog, and no time to blog it [sigh]. Congratulations to Rae & TonyAlbert has arrived!! I’m guessing there is lots of exhaustion and relief going on over their side of town!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Last night I went and saw Eddi Reader play at the Cornish Arms. I saw her last time she was out – about three years ago, same venue. If you’re not familiar with her, she had a hit in the late 80′s with a terrible song called Perfect – as in: it’s got to be ee ee ee ee ee ee, perfect. I know. A bad song. At that time she was in a band called Fairground Attraction, and when I began sharing a house with Christine in Geelong, she put me on to their albums, and I loved them. Perfect in no way represents any of her other stuff – she’s really more of a Scottish torch singer. So it was Chris’s birthday last Friday and I got her a ticket to the show last night (which was lucky, as it was sold out by the time I got there). Four of her other friends decided to come along as well, and this is where the weird bit happened. I’m not really sure why they all came? They certainly didn’t come to see Eddi Reader, as they spent the whole show in the most visually inaccessible spot in the whole place. And while everyone in the rest of the pub was being spellbound by what was happening on stage, they were chattering up the back, one of them wandered to somewhere nearby to play the pokies. I kind of felt like I’d dragged them all there – which I hadn’t. I also felt bad because I just couldn’t stay around them – about a third of the way through the gig I just had to move to where I could actually see the stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So I suppose that they’d come along to hang with Chris for a night out, which was a shame, because with what the tickets cost, they could have had a much fancier night out elsewhere. Chris did enjoy it, sort of. She did say, which made me momentarily grit my teeth, ‘I wish she’d played more of her old stuff’. Ack. If bands only ever played their old stuff…well…DER. Unfamiliar songs aren’t BAD songs, they’re NEW songs. Of course they’re not as comfortable to listen to, and you don’t get the buzz of recognition, but new songs are exciting. They’re intriguing. Gah. I’m ranting. I’m just touchy on the subject. Playing new songs to an audience who just wants to hear their old favourites is always a leap of faith…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Op-Shop Speak 1.1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Hello Joyce, how’s the back?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “It’s my knees, actually.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Oh, your knees. How are they?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “They appear to dislike the cold weather very much.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Oh, terrible, isn’t it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Terrible.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Give Give Give Me More More More

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  GMail is giving everyone another gig of space. Now we’re up to 3gig! Up until last week I wouldn’t have cared much, but since I’ve sacked IPrimus as my ISP, I’m routing all my email through my gmail account, so I am a happy little person who thinks it’s too cold to go camping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rumble

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Don’t know if anyone else just felt the earth tilt slightly, but the email just went around confirming I am in third place on the footy tipping ladder, and gnawing on my sister’s heels. I’m on 98 points. She’s on 99. I can can feel her daggers reaching from the city to Sandringham. Because I’m such an uber sporting pundit. Not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ishews

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I won’t be blogging for a bit, as I am having ISSUES.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Issues of little time, cranky people, other things that I might get in trouble for whining about (if I can’t whine on my own website, where can I whine? *sob*). Gah. I am playing a solo show at Wesley Anne on Thursday night, for two reasons. One is that C and I have not had time to get enough practices in to do our duo, and the other is that M won’t help me out by playing with me and thinks… Oh well, I shouldn’t write what I think he thinks. I’m supporting Gluefoot, and will be on around 8pm. 250 High Street Northcote. The End.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (…no doubt all of the above will just embarrass me and will be deleted by this time tomorrow. Maybe I’m just having a fit of pique.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Headache gone from naming that song

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ohhh. This would save my brain in such a big way. I would probably gain a year of life from having this little gadget. Tres cool…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There will soon be no need to wait for the DJ to back-announce the title and artist of a great new song he’s playing on the radio. Just dial a number on your mobile phone, hold the handset next to the radio, and the answer is sent as an SMS…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Feeding the bookshelf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Feeding the bookshelf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Feeding the bookshelf,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          originally uploaded by miaow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M is a delightful creature fairly often – he’s been working on building some bookshelves this week. This is the first one completed. He took great delight in arranging all his boat books. Mine might be ready tomorrow, and all my books that have been in boxes for two years will be set free (or some of them, anyway).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kiss My Butt Dylan Perry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, so I’ve been labelled a whinger. Naturally, my lovely friend who utilised the term is safely in the US, though unfortunately not in Mississippi with Katrina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The truth is, I have malaise. I have ennui. The hysterical truth is that I am actually working at work and thus my regular time for blogging has been kicked in the guts. I can’t seem to organise myself out of my routine of the last three years. I’m sure it will happen. But at the same time I am having trouble sharing. That’s right. I don’t like sharing. Some things. M and I are sharing my laptop at present, and although he is quite happy, and I couldn’t think of a better person to share my beloved with (except maybe a total luddite who wasn’t interested in using it, ever) I still feel like I am being a hog when I use it at night, or during the day on weekends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Which is why I am poking around at alternatives. Some involve money and some do not. Right this second there is a manky little laptop whirring away to my right as I install DSL on to its puny 2GB hard drive. If M looks at it and spits, I won’t chastise him (sorry Dennis).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My more frivolous, self indulgent option (which is where the money comes in) is to yield to my yearning for a Mac, and give M my laptop. I’m thinking of a souped up G3 Powerbook – a ‘Pismo’. From what I read online, a fair amount of people consider the Pismo to be their favourite Apple laptop. Although it came out in 2000, it was – sorry, is – very upgradable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Another option is to just get M some old Thinkpad or Tecra from Ebay that will just run Firefox and Photoshop, which seem to be his two main requirements. We ponder here at [miaow] – we waste valuable time pondering while we should be concentrating on getting our recording rig set up. On that front, M has been my researcher, and we are a hair’s-breadth away from going with the EMU 1820 – and we are then going to build the machine around it. A lovely stable and silent machine that once functioning, will not be tweaked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cheers Mate, My Mum’s an Aussie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So I was born the daughter of a seppo. A septic tank. A yank. Who, for some reason, decided after about 34 years of life in Australia, that she’d like to be able to look fondly upon a pie made of meat. To see a kangaroo and feel a sense of kinship. To go to the polls on election day and vote against Howard. In short, she was going to get herself naturalised, and become a dual citizen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I told Small Brother, drunk, in London.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “WHAT?!” he screamed down the phone, “If she’s made my US passport redundant I’ll…I’ll…” he paused, spluttering, unable fix upon the awful fate of the woman who had to endure Christmas 1980 looking like a turkey that ate the honey ham before popping him forth two days later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “The startling thing is,” I said soothingly, “That whatever it’s about, I don’t think it’s actually about you. Oddly enough.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There was brooding silence. And I began to wonder if I shouldn’t have got the bazillion year US passport instead of the cheapy ten year deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So last Wednesday, M and I threw my mother, in the last remaining hour of her solo citizenship, into the HiAce van, and hooned her down to the Brighton Town Hall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Brighton Town Hall

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was a dramatic looking day. I was guessing that a naturalisation ceremony at Brighton Town Hall was going to be slightly different to the one I went to a few years back on Australia Day in Bundoora. Just slightly. Actually, once we went in and sat down, it became more and more like M and I had planted ourselves in the middle of an ever-expanding creche. There were little kids everywhere; snotting, sicking, drooling, giggling, screaming. It was bizarre. And as for the people that were getting naturalised, I’ve never seen such homogenous lot of Channel Ten soapie extras!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So I was waiting for the big ceremony. The big moment where they would begin calling out people’s names and the Australian-to-be would get to prance up on to the stage, graciously accept their native pot plant, certificate of authenticity and faux handshake from whoever happened to be standing in for the mayor (who was ‘overseas on business’). I continued to wait. Babies continued to screech.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Blah blah blah blah, a very important occasion, blah blah,” said a man, who looked like he thought he was quite important. “All repeat the oath after me,” he suggested, then paused, and with a look that was meant to convey the absolute life shaking importance of what he was about to utter, he added, “Remember to clearly state your full name in the space that has been left for it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Like someone was going to notice (or care) that someone, somewhere, among the other three hundred people, mispronounced their own name while they were all swearing their oath At The Same Time. Yes. So the bloke up the front chanted his way through the oath, with everyone following along dutifully in good voice. When they hit the bit where everyone had to state their own name it sounded like a paddock full of talkative martians had just done a brief foreign exchange trip. A woman down the end of our row smiled dotingly at her toddler as it pulled a stray chair along the wooden floor while screeching, which added a lovely ambience to proceedings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Right,” said the man, “You are all now Australian citizens.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He could have just asked someone on the other side of the table to pass the serviettes please.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M and I looked at each other. A lot of the brand new Australians looked at each other. Disbelievingly. Like they wanted poke each other and whisper that was it? All eyebrows were briefly raised. Most brows were minutely wrinkled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I settled back in my seat. From my veteran experience at these events, this was the bit were everyone got their little moment in the spotlight up on stage with their stringy-bark gum in its tube. But apparently not. At that point, some of the dignitaries who had been lounging on the stage made their way down the steps. I am sure I was not alone in thinking that the show was over, it was time to break out the Coolabah casks. But apparently not. The chosen dignitaries then arranged themselves in a line and the new Australians had to shuffle past, like they were in a queue for some crappy Jetstar flight at 8am on a Monday morning. All that was missing was the ‘your flight has been delayed’ announcements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Of course this made it very difficult for anyone to get a decent photo of their new Australian mother or whoever, as everyone was down on ground level. So M got a couple of snappy shots of what could have been the back of my mother’s head. Or not. She finally emerged from the scrum bearing some kind of bottle brush and her certificate that gave her the authority to shorten everyone’s name to one syllable and then add ‘o’ to the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am sure I was not alone in thinking that the show was over, it was time to break out the Coolabah casks. But apparently not. We had to retire to our seats, toddlers scattering like emboldened guinea pigs evading their mothers, and listen to a couple of earnest looking Brighton Grammar boys grind out their version of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’. They sang it with great solemnity and depth. I almost went hysterical. Then we got talked at a bit more. The woman sitting in front of me positioned her baby on her shoulder, and it looked at me while neatly vomiting something that was probably formerly milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All of a sudden we all had to stand and pretend we knew the national anthem. M and I poked each other with great amusement as we harmonised on ‘girt’; and I wondered why whenever you have to sing Advance Australia Fair it always feels like it’s in the wrong key. Finally it was over, and we took my newly Australianed mother to the pub for some champers. Cheers. It only took her thirty four years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My Mum, The Aussie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Champagne and Congratulations


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Someone in our house yesterday mowed a proposal into the front lawn, and then threw oranges at an upstairs bedroom window to make someone else lean out and read the proposal. I was in my downstairs bedroom, and M was in the country, so it was nothing to do with us. Congratulations D & E, our most tolerant and long suffering housemates. You’re getting hitched! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Booky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Later I will post a picture of our room. It’s kind of like a library. Not only did M build three gorgeous bookshelves, but he found two more in a secondhand shop that matched them. Now we have five. All my books are finally unpacked (except all my plays – what am I going to do with them?) and very anally arranged in alphabetical order. I have a crime fiction section that occupies about eleven shelves! And I just began looking at LibraryThing with appraising eyes. I think I’m going to have to do it – after I wipe the hard drive on my laptop and start anew. If I can’t have a Mac, at least I can have a semi-zippy ThinkPad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Note To Self: try to remember not to brandish around new announcements online before checking whether the family of the anouncees have been informed of said announcement [bangs head gently and repeatedly against wall]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I Wanna Nano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Nano appeals to me greatly. I don’t need more than 1000 songs on something I’m going to carry around. And it looks like it’s tiny. Pencil thin. Ohhh, I must put in my tax return so I can semi justify my lusting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Back Me Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What is it with blokes and their backs? Not only do I hear of horror stories from work, and from my dad’s mate who is some magistrate in Adelaide who specialises (if not revels) in bizarro workplace accidents, I have actual contact with back-impaired people. And a back-impaired person is very closely related to a toothache impaired person. A few weeks back (sorry) my friend D was knocked for six when he got out of his car and his back decided that it was time to give up. It took a holiday. I am not a fount of anatomical knowledge, but I would make a guess and dangerously assume that the taller you are, the worse you are going to feel when your back packs up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      D is one of the loftier of my acquaintances. He ducks under doorways. So they had a bit of trouble fitting him into the ambulance, and eventually had to lift his feet while they quickly closed the doors. He then got left on a trolley all night in some forsaken emergency ward, but that’s another story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M has also done his back while lifting my dad’s 5hp Tohatsu in or out of the van. I think it was at the tail end (sorry) of their Boy’s Own Adventure which consisted of taking Hoo-Ray! out on the wild seas over night. He returned home, liver more or less intact, with a gingerness that one does not usually associate with him. So ginger was he, that it began to feel better, whereupon he picked me up, literally, on Friday night and we both heard the sound of a drumstick being wrenched from a roast chicken as he gracefully collapsed to the floor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yesterday he was magicianed by an osteopath, and is much better. However, the osteopath warned him to lay of the heavy physical work, so he has proclaimed the coming week to be The Week of Soft Furnishings. That is, the cutting out of foam and sewing of Boat’s cushions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunday Afternoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Winter...again
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Look Both Ways William McInnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I feel somewhat inundated by the persona of William McInnes. I went from resenting him utterly a few years back for taking over the untakeable role of Diver Dan on Seachange, to realising, belatedly, that he actually did quite a good job of it. Then I saw him plugging his book, A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby, at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. He made me cry laughing, multiple times – I bought his book on the basis of his reading of the section about Golan, the aggressive Christmas tree. He signed it for me, and asked whether I’d had an advent calendar when I was little. I had, I told him. Well, he said, if you liked Golan, you’ll proably like the bit about the advent calendar too. I was tempted to tell him that I lived around the corner from him for five years, but restrained myself and swooned away down the stairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I whizzed home in the Humber on an internal pillow of giggles, ignored an morose M, and sat on the bed for the next two hours, cackling my way through the book. I have no idea why I found it so funny (sorry William McInnes). The last time I laughed so much was at Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. M finally growled at me, as I dried my eyes for the fifth time, “B, you’re getting a bit tedious.” I didn’t care. Much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last night we hit the Nova and saw Look Both Ways; the film written and directed by Sarah Watt (his wife) and starring him, naturally. It was fantastic. The animation worked beautifully, and reminded me of the workings of my own mind. The characters were all loosely connected in a web that pulled tighter as the movie progressed. I wish very much that I had seen the episode of Australian Story that focussed on him and his wife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I highly recommend Look Both Ways, and I intend to see it again. Don’t wait for the DVD – it’s definitely a bigscreen exprerience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The 15th Meredith Music Festival

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yahoo for me! I just booked tickets to the Meredith Music Festival! I went to the second ever one, and a few others in between times, however this line-up is one of the more excellent ones I’ve seen. We’re going to deck out our van as a camper, run our beer fridge off a car battery and eat krishna food from paper plates. Pray for good weather… last time I went it was a total dustbowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My Housemate – The Pimp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What 1970′s cop show did he escape from?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (I hope that as I’m typing this he has gone upstairs to shave off his creation. This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t have to work on a Friday.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Soft Furnishing Workroom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                M - the industrious soft furnisher
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Soft Furnishings = Done!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The King of Maritime Soft Furnishing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The trimaran now has all it’s cushions done, custom sewn by M over four days last week. A sterling effort. They love him down at the sewing machine shop, they even gave him a copy of their newsletter. He’s their new pet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fingerpuppets of Uber-cuteness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My Fingerpuppets
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We have Elephant, Koala, Roar and Dog.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They are my new fingerpuppets. Actually, I got Koala and Dog for myself because I couldn’t resist them. The other two I bought for Luka who is having his second birthday soon (though I am not quite sure when) but I am becoming more and more attached to them all. I got them out at a cafe yesterday to show M and the people at the next table asked me where I got them from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fixing the Humber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So yesterday I decided, with the looming necessity of getting myself to Preston on Friday, to fix the Humber. The headlights have been playing up since we arrived in Melbourne; one of them works when on normally, and three of them work on high beam. Excruciatingly well. Although, of course, the one that doesn’t work normally is not the same as the one that fails to shine on high beam. I am now on my second week where I only work three days, no one was home and the house was mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I stole the big mirror from the loungeroom and propped it up against the roller door so I could see which lights were and weren’t working. I fiddled for quite some time with different wires. Then I thought a little bit more laterally, turned the lights on and went and poked the connection at the back of the headlamps with my finger. The lamp flickered on and off. I repeated the process on the other suspect. Same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All of this also involved me getting out of the car, fiddling, getting back in the car, swearing when I realised I’d left the bonnet up and couldn’t see the mirror, crawling back out, shutting the bonnet, getting back in. Obviously if the car hadn’t been wedged into the carport in such a way that I could only get to the drivers seat via the passenger door, it all might have been a lot easier. Why didn’t I move the car? More on that later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Armed with some screwdrivers and gaffer tape, I fixed the headlamp plugs as best I could. One of the headlamp connections had already had it’s plug thing taken off and was attached to the lamp via some solder and little socket things, which I reckon should be a future step for the others. Anyway, I got it all working.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A Letter to my Small Brother

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dear Small Brother,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How are things in London? Are you fondly anticipating the visit of our mutual female parent, so recently Australian? I hope you are prepared to suffer the onslaught of family gossip and commentary that I have been shouldering on your behalf since you left some years ago with the intent to drink your father’s homeland dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For all I know I may be writing to you as you lie supine in some private hospital bed as your blood is pumped out, detoxified and readmitted to your temple-like carapace, a la Keef. Or maybe you’re just somewhere in a darkened room trying to recover from the primary school teacher type voice messages that our mother will most definitely have been leaving on your phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just remember, if you organised her accommodation, every dripping tap, scratchy sheet and dodgy minibar is going to be On Your Head. Maybe start working on your neck muscles instead of spending so much time on squash?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now email me, or I shall continue to embarrass you in front of the Internet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Your elder, but mechanically defunct, Sister.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        P.S Can I borrow your car?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Brendan Nelson is Pucked

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Does Holly Throsby have fries with that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve just been watching SBS and an add for ‘McDonalds new-look restaurants’ [gag] just came on. The person singing the backing song sounded incredibly like Holly Throsby, but I can’t figure out if it was or not. Does anyone know? Having seen her play, I tend to doubt it, because she seems like such a nice person. But even nice people need pocket money…I suppose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pictures from Grand Final Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              BucketHead
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The New Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M's Grand Final Dancing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It’s Official. Meredith here we come…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Meredith Music Festival Tix!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Generating Postage Profiteering

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, what a weekend was had! With the Grand Final (finally, an interesting one!) and soireeing and driving to Heathmont, I did not touch a computer for Four Days. 1, 2, 3, 4. Horrifying. In the meantime I have also been pursuing the Humber generator issue. My dad found one on ebay. See what fun you can have if you get your parents addicted? They find things you would never presume to be on offer. So this guy has a generator on ebay that suits my car. At the moment it’s hugely expensive… not. It’s sitting on $5. Thing is, he’s charging $40 for postage. FORTY DOLLARS. I already know how much it is to post a generator, as my dad sent one to me in Hervey Bay last year. It cost $22 – that’s almost half what this guy is asking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I emailed him and asked if, on the slim chance that I won the auction (it being so popular and all) whether I could just come and pick it up, as he’s in Melbourne too. He replied:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  thanks B, there are quite a few very nice humber restorers out there from all over aust, i think ive now met most. on postable items, i start the bid off low and offer fixed postage so all the interstate club members and others can have a fair aussie crack. all items are available for pickup if you wish, but any postage would stand. if an iten is unsold, make an offer, im full of suprises, if not.. i have pickup only items now and coming, where us vics have the advantage.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  happy hunting. S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This made no sense to me. I emailed back and asked point blank – did I still have to pay postage even if I came and picked it up?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hi B, too easy. you would have to pay full post normaly, too be fair too all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  love your keeness, for this one, we’ll make it end price less $10.00 for you. i also have another coming up next week, if you miss.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  take care. S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So, for the pleasure of picking up the generator, I get to pay thirty dollars, plus whatever it goes for. I can’t believe it. And the thing is – I NEED IT! But I don’t like this man and his profiteering bastardry. Gah. Will continue my inner turmoil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It’s all Garbage

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am off in a few minutes to go and see Garbage play at the Forum. Am meeting L for dinner at our favourite haunt – the very unatmospheric Ito – which has startlingly good tempura vegetables. I am setting off blithely, having heard nothing of their latest album, but propelled by the rumour that this tour will be their last. Eeek! I didn’t go with my old housemate who saw them play the Palace years ago when somebody pulled off Shirley’s wedding ring and the band refused to play until it was handed back. I missed all the drama!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M is running around like a chicken, organising our next four days of sailing. We leave from Newhaven in Hoo-Ray! early on Friday morning and will be sailing to French Island and doing some general exploring of Westernport Bay. M is a wonder-bear. He has planned our meals each day, bought supplies – organised the lot! I think he’s hoping that I will have a fabbo time and beg him to take me sailing every weekend. We shall see. We are not so optimistic that we are not taking seasick remedies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My Left Ear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What a night was had! An excellent, if haphazard dinner at Ito. They didn’t have the entree I ordered. They didn’t have the wine we ordered. Then they brought us a glass each of the other wine we ordered instead of the actual bottle. Anyway, we battled on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Shirley Manson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Garbage were absolutely a.w.e.s.o.m.e!! It didn’t matter much that I haven’t got their latest album yet, because they played stuff from all their older releases. Shirley Manson is a rock princess, and got each band member up to the microphone to say hello (note:- bass players should be exempted from this practice, as however witty and urbane they might be offstage, when trying to address an enthusiastic audience, they have an instant personality bypass).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Um, let me see. I’m Only Happy When It RainsPush ItCherry Lips (Go Baby Go)I Think I’m ParanoidStupid GirlBleed Like MeQueerAndrognyShut Your MouthWhy Do You Love Me?SupervixenWhen I Grow Up. That’s just off the top of my head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Shirley Manson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When they started playing, I thought that they weren’t actually that loud. But when they stopped. Oh. Oh dear. I must have been angled with my left ear toward the speaker, and it’s now fairly cactus. In fact, it feels like I have seawater stuck in it, a long way down. I am usually careful about earplugs, but the band started playing just as we got there, and we ran down to see them, completely forgetting about the noise factor. Goddamnit. This hasn’t happened to me since seeing Dinosaur Jnr at the Palace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, Lisa and I bounced our butts off. Although she was quite a bit more sedate than me. I emerged after the show, red faced and so sweaty that I gave up on going to the loo as my jeans were stuck to my legs. I’m all charm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Sea Adventure: The 1st Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Journey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We stayed the night at the home of Hoo-Ray! in South Gippsland and woke bright and shiny to check out the weather forecast. M looked at it dubiously. He was silent during porridge. He was in ‘decision-mode’. The forecast was for about 15 to 20 knot winds, increasing to 25 knots later on. And thus a little bit iffy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M had provisioned for the trip like Jamie Oliver. He’d taken care of it all, and didn’t want to venture out in weather that would make his newly minted First Mate swim for home. I think he’d had nightmares about me stepping aboard and instantaneously vomiting straight over the side. Gunwale. Whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So it was crunch time. If we were going to launch, we needed to get to the ramp at Newhaven by about 8.30am to get underway. If we left it any later we would be battling the tide, which would be concentrating on sucking us out into the unfriendly waters of Bass Strait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Right B,” said M, “I don’t think we’ll go. It will be too rough. We’ll just have to bash our way through. It’d be wet, and in no way a relaxing sail.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I looked moodily at my porridge. My father wisely stayed silent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “I don’t care if we have to bash our way. I want to go today. I’m not a princess. I can handle waves.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M shook his head and cautioned me again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “B, it won’t be much fun. We can just hang around today and go tomorrow instead.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I shook my head. No.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And so it was that we turned up, after a forty minute drive, at the Newhaven boat ramp, which is right next to the Newhaven Yacht Squadron, and it’s very sexy yacht basin. I then assumed that we could back Hoo-Ray! down the ramp, into the water, and set off. But no. It was all going on with the rigging and the getting the mast up and the shackling of forestays and finding the jib. It seemed to me to take an interminable time. And the shackles. Who would have invented such a thing? What could be worse than with ice cold hands on rolling waves, trying to put a shackle on a stay or take one off?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A shackle is a bit of metal shaped like a ‘U’ with a pin that screws across, kind of like a screw on earring. Here’s what one looks like. Beyond fiddly. I can barely admit it, but even while M and I were rigging Hoo-Ray!, the boat was bouncing around on the trailer suspension and made me feel a little bit ill. However, I did not tell a soul.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The calm before the storm...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, finally we got Hoo-Ray! sorted out. She slipped off the trailer (after some vein-popping pushing) and into the water. We tethered her to the jetty and dad and M went to speak to the people at the shop where we were going to leave the van and trailer locked up for the next three days. I was Master of the Boat. I tried sticking my head down below where we were to sleep. Instant quease. I tried a few more times, with the same result. I settled this by staying in the cockpit with my eyes fixed firmly on land.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once they returned, M then had to spend what seemed an age setting up the mainsail and more rigging stuff. My dad stood on the jetty, holding the boat steady with the patience of a cow. Finally we were ready to actually leave. Go. Sail away. Vamoose! We sailed away from the jetty, waving to my dad, and M took the reef out of the sail, as we didn’t seem to be moving very fast. That only lasted for about ten minutes. Then the wind decided to visit. Big time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Waving goodbye from Newhaven
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Very soon there seemed to be an increasing number of Large Waves, and the wind was getting towards about 30 knots*. M felt that he may have removed the reef in the sail somewhat prematurely. So, as I took the tiller, he wrestled with the mainsail. As I hadn’t yet learnt the art of navigating the boat gently over waves, Hoo-Ray! and M both took a bit of a bashing. We furled the jib (all hail the invention of the furler) and were generally basted in brine. The direction in which we needed to head was directly into the wind… er… malestrom. The waves were very close together and about six feet high. Think of very big, liquid green corrugated tin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Our aim was to go Rhyll for lunch and then to continue on our adventure by sailing across to French Island, and tucking under Tortoise Head for the night in the deep water that ran along the beach. However, the weather thought otherwise. After about forty minutes of seafaring battle, we fired up the outboard and began motor sailing. About four or five times M had to go to the front of the boat to tie something down or fix something that had snapped. I steered mutinously onward. Drenched and desperate to wee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Where's the jetty?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rhyll materialised like some kind of wondrous figment. We aimed for the jetty at which M and my dad had tied up a month before. Bits of it were there, but the rest of it had sunk. It was quite perplexing. Then we aimed Hoo-Ray! at a far more rewarding structure. The public toilets. We pulled up on to the beach (after raising the rudder, the motor and the centreboard) and M and I jumped ashore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Beaching the boat at Rhyll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “We did it!” M danced at me. “We made it to Rhyll!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “I’m so glad!” I shouted into the widening gap between us. “I can’t talk anymore, I’m concentrating on bladder control.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I loped in bladder controlling leaps to the public toilets and weed like the world’s most thirsty camel. It was heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By the time I made it back to M, I was capable of conversation. M, in an indication of what life was going to be like for the next few days, made a sandwichy sensation of buttered bread, pesto, cheese and cherry tomatos. And a cup of Earl Grey tea. We licked our wounds and felt vastly improved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I decided to stay with Hoo-Ray! while M went to have a look around. We were anchored so near the beach, that the boat was relatively steady. I curled up underneath in my sleeping bag and read a bit, snoozed a bit, and read a bit more until M came back and began ‘doing things’ on deck. Whatever he was doing seemed to involve a lot of walking about, and each time he moved, the boat bobbed in response. As did my stomach. The quease returned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As it was a Friday, M reported that most of Rhyll’s five or six shops were open, and that he had found a lovely place for a drink… and maybe dinner. The thought of dinner did not excite me, but I had vague feeling that a stubby of Stella Artois might banish my sickness. We secured the valiant Hoo-Ray! and took a walk up the hill. The more I saw of Rhyll the prettier it seemed to get! We decided to be extravagant and eat at the fancy place. My thoughts about the Stella were correct. They had a lovely woodfire. The owner came and chatted to us and we told him we’d just sailed in, feeling slightly smug.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The menu was absolutely amazing, the prices were ridiculous and the food didn’t measure up to either. But it was nice to be out after our battle with the sea. We left at about 8pm to go back to Hoo-Ray! where we put on our slippers and settled in. After we’d lain there for about three hours, M groaned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “I can’t take it anymore. I haven’t been able to get to sleep. That bit of the broken jetty keeps hitting the pole and keeping me awake.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And so, if you had been there, you would have seen us at about midnight, motoring with great trepidation, to the other side of the little harbour. I stood on the bow with our Dolphin torch lighting our path and praying, while M steered valiantly through the night air. We found a spot. Checked that the anchor wasn’t dragging. And snuggled down again, this time for the rest of the night.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        *What is a knot?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A knot is the seagoing equivalent of a kilometre. It’s how you measure wind and distance on the water. However – one knot is equal to 1.8 kilometres. The odd thing is that as the wind blows stronger the power of the wind gets ridicuously stronger. Quite simply, you square the wind speed to get the power of the wind. Which is why 30 knots blows off your socks and twenty’s nearly plenty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Sea Adventure: The 2nd Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After our midnight adventures it was exciting to wake up in a part of the harbour that we hadn’t seen before (because we arrived in the dark). It was gorgeous. The houses of Rhyll surrounded the little sheltered bay, and there were big green hills a little further around, away from the township. M made cups of tea and his breakfast wonder dish ‘Egg in a Hole’. If you have not experienced Egg in a Hole, you should. It’s particularly good when camping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How to make ‘Egg in a Hole’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Get a bit of bread. Bite a hole in the middle of it. Eat the bit you bit. Put bread in frypan with some butter, garlic (if you’re that way inclined), and some salt and pepper. Put ‘egg in hole’. Fry both sides. Stick it on a plate. Eat it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ——————–

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          With breakfast done and dusted, I washed up in the bucket. (Not the one reserved for wee.) M chatted to a few passers by on the shore, and then we set off for French Island. I hadn’t realised quite how protected we had been in Rhyll. As soon as we got a fair way from land we where again hit by the Mega Wind. I’d texted my dad to ask him to text me through the latest forecast for Westernport Bay. Naturally 15 to 20 knot forecast we had read online just the day before had disappeared into the ether, only to be replaced by 25 to 30 knot winds – strong wind warning. Perfect. Not.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Again we reefed the mainsail (i.e. didn’t have the entire sail up, just most of it) and after a while decided to again rely on the motor as our destination was exactly where the wind was coming from. We had to tack to get there, which was going to take us a ridiculously long time in such strong winds. Of course M had to do battle with bits and pieces again. Throughout our trip there were only two things he did that drove me crazy. One was telling me to steer for ‘that tree over there’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Which tree?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He would point, as the boat flailed from wave to wave, at what looked to me like a whole plantation of trees in the distance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “That one!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Um. Ok.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Whereupon I would just try and continue in the direction that we were already going, but would inevitably, in my efforts to ease us through the waves, fall off course until the boat, going sideways into the tumult, would encounter several large waves. The waves would fall on M, who would continue with whatever thing he was trying to fix while managing to point me back in the direction of his ‘tree’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The other thing that disturbed me (although it shouldn’t, as he replicates his actions on dry land with doors) was his inability to remember to close the hatch. The hatch! The only thing keeping all our food and sleeping bags dry. As I do on solid ground, I would just close it myself every ten minutes or so, but because I kept losing track of the tree, it became imperative to keep the hatch shut. At one point I looked up, saw it open again, closed it, and one second later it was submerged under a big dumping of green water. M and I looked at each other with Tweety-Bird eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was a tewwible stworm. The bowt wocked and wocked…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The wind was going nuts, although the waves weren’t quite as big as the previous day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Don’t worry,” M kept shouting reassuringly, “Once we get close to French Island, it will be all sheltered. It will be much calmer!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I, salt chafed, squinted toward the shore. It really didn’t look any calmer there. We motor sailed onwards, M and I both singing that Rolf Harris song in tune with the engine…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sun-a-rise, he come in the morning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sun-a-rise, he come with the dawning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Spreading all the light all around…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (…at that point we would do didgeridoo noises, which complemented the tone of the motor quite well.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It took us what seemed like a couple of hours to reach French Island. The wind completely disregarded our wishes and blew even harder. Thankfully the waves got smaller as we got close to land. We nosed our way along the beach. Anchored. Too windy. Pulled up anchor. Moved along a bit. Anchored. Too near the remnants of an old jetty. Pulled up anchor. Moved right into the beach. And anchored again. We had found a ‘good spot’. Windy but ‘offshore’ so no waves at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          High and dry on French Island
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Once the tide goes out, we’ll be up on the sand you know,” said M, ever knowledgable about the whens and wheres of the tide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Will the boat flop on to it’s side?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Probably not.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Then it doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, as long as the tide is high when we want to get going.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And with those words I tempted fate. But more on that later. M went for an exploratory wander and I stretched out on the boat in the sun, while trying to stay out of the wind. It got quite hot. We drank a cheerful glass of red wine each (yes – from a glass – we are so styley) and decided to go on a Walk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hlafway through a long walk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wanted to go and coo at the lambs that were sharing a paddock with older sheep and some cows. Of course once I got too near the fence, they all scattered. I was, again, happy that I gave up eating them. Less guilt. Our walk continued. I was looking for treasure. I found two tennis balls – only needed one more for M to be able to juggle. It was only five minutes until I found the necessary third ball, and M obliged me be juggling jubilantly. We found two more tennis balls after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The shores of French Island (or the part that we were on) were odd. It seemed as if there might have been a forest right down to the water, because the sand was full of little dead tree trunks. And areas of the sand that looked like rock, were actually some kind of rock-looking squishy bouncy stuff. It was strange. Maybe chicory comes from trees…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          [Minor tangent: I just googled and it appears that 'The island's mangroves were burned in the 1840s for reduction to barilla, a plant ash rich in soda and potassium which was used in the production of glass and soap. However, heavy rains washed away most of the ash and the endeavour was abandoned.' ]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          OK. Glad I sorted that out. Here are some pictures from our walk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          French Island Rockpool
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          French Island eucalypts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sticks in the sand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          French Island: Old chicory kiln
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was quite hot, although still fairly windy, but by the time we made it back to the boat everything had slackened off. I went back to my book, while M went on a solitary jaunt toward Tortoise Head. But not before some tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Making tea.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It began to get dark. And this is where I come back to my marvellous idea of mooring the boat high and dry. Because as the dusk set in, so did the MOSQUITOS. Not normal small urban mosquitos, but large, swamplike creatures that had been waiting ten years for flesh. Not hordes, just a small, SAS-like battalion. They were ruthless and determined. I dressed myself so that the only things touching the air were my hands and face. I ran up and down the boat in a kind of perpetual motion. We had no insect repellant. I cursed the lack of Bushman. I stood looking down at a nearby little rock, willing the tide to give me some indication it was coming in. Never had a tide taken so long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All I had with me that I thought mosquitos woundn’t like was some lavender oil. So I lit our little candle lantern, dabbed oil on the top and huddled over the fumes. I became miraculously mosquito free! We then basted M and the boat in lavender oil, so much so that if anyone had stumbled upon us, we would have been mistaken for feral aromatherapists. And still we waited. It was like watching a kettle boil. M tried to haul us out using the anchor, but the boat would not budge. So we both went for a dusky walk toward Tortoise Head. Keeping a nervous glance up our sleeve for the nearly floating boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          OK, by now it’s dark. M had taken a compass bearing on the far side of the deepwater channel that began about five metres out. We aimed, when we finally floated free, to anchor in the channel so that we wouldn’t wake up high and dry all over again. FINALLY the tide came in enough for Hoo-Ray! to float. We each grabbed a plastic oar and paddled. Paddled hard. M kept and eye on the GPS and after 100 meters dropped the anchor over the side. The anchor rope played out a long way, which seemed to indicate that we’d been successful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Further away from the beach it was a trifle more breezy and the mosquitos dissapated quickly. Such relief. M cooked up some pasta and added in the pesto he had made before we set out. With the addition of cherry tomatos, it was the most divine dinner of our sailing adventure, and blew the restaurant meal of the night before out of the water. We drank some red, ate some tim-tams and went to bed, hoping we would still be afloat in the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We were…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Waking Up
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Sea Adventure: The 3rd Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We awoke in the morning to find ourselves thankfully in the middle of the 30m wide channel. The sky was blue and the wind cold. The wind had been offshore all night, and as the channel ran quite close to shore, it had been a quiet sleep. M ripped out another wonder-breakfast; this time porridge with brown sugar and cups of tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had almost begun to get used to weeing in a bucket, although I would shoo M to the other end of the boat and instruct him to look valiantly out to sea until the bucket and I were done. We motored for about ten minutes to get Hoo-Ray! into the right position to go close around Tortoise Head. We were aiming for Tankerton Jetty on French Island where the ferry from Phillip Island docks. The plan was to then hire bicycles and see a bit of the island, however, I was a bit dubious about this, as riding bicyles into strong wind up hills didn’t sound like the most fun we had ever had.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The scenery along the way was amazing. Lots of wind generators (as French Island has no mains power) and old farmhouse looking buildings. Cliffs. Once we left the shelter of Tortoise Head the ocean swell kicked in, as did a five foot wind swell from another direction. Things got rough and pokey. It was almost a repeat of our previous experiences, and was a little wearing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We could see all the unregistered cars left in the car park and bashed our way toward land in about 25 knots, only to find the jetty swamped by waves.It became obvious that there was no way were were going to be able to tie up and land. We gave up and turned around to an easier point of sail. We headed for Cowes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Slapped our way back through the rough water off Tortoise Head and then a fast sail (for little 16′ HooRay!) on a beam reach all the way to Cowes (can you tell that my prose has been edited for sailing cred by M?). The more wind there was, the more I was unable to fathom how anyone could liveaboard for any length of time. I found it impossible to go below for any reason, let alone read maps or contemplate making a cup of tea. The only way I’ll be a cruiser is on a large multihull, thanks for asking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We neared Cowes, which appeared from the sea to be all pub and pine trees. There was a jetty, but again the wind and the waves were mostly onshore and made landing way too dicey. I was urging M to sail toward the public toilets, but it was impossible. I crossed my legs and hoped pathetically for the best. M took us around to the next cove, and made a kamikaze swing into the beach, where we dropped anchor five metres from the rocks. M gazed valiantly into the distance, while I convened with the bucket, my one true friend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then came one of the best bits of our adventure. We followed th’e long shore along toward Rhyll, down wind, right near the beach the whole way. It was gorgeous. I fell asleep in the sun and lost my sunglasses from Lennox Head over the side [sob] – but it was a lovely sail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My Co-Captain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We neared Rhyll and pulled up on to the beach where we had the time before (it seemed so long ago…yeah, all of 24 hours!) We wandered a little, because as it was Sunday, all of Rhylls five or six shops were now open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We avoided the cheesy restaurant, chock full of weekenders in faux yachting apparel (unlike our bedraggled salt stained selves) and headed for fish and chips. Well, chips and potato cakes and… pumpkin cakes – which I’d never had before, but welcomed gladly into my life. We went and sat down by the walkway in front of the beach, with the live jazz from the restaurant wafting over from behind us. It was sunny and beautiful. I became ever fonder of Rhyll.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            During our noshing, my phone rang. My mother, with the sound of a shopping centre behind her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: Hi B, where are you? Am I going to see you before I go?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: In Rhyll on Phillip Island. And no. We had our goodbye lunch last week, remember?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: But I want to see you and M before I go…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: Well you can’t see us, because We. Are. On. Phillip. Island.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: [changing tack] Well… The other reason I was ringing is because I’m over at Southland [for some reason she's never just 'at Southland' but always 'over at Southland'] and I’m in the National Geographic shop…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: [eating chips, eyes closed] Mmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: I wanted your opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: [instantly awake. shock and awe] Really?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: Your brother won’t tell me what he wants me to bring him when we see him in London, so…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: [helpfully] Drugs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: What?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: Nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: So, do you think he’d like a five foot blow up kangaroo?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: To do what with?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: [oblivious] As a joke! To sit in his room! Don’t you think he’d think it would be funny?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: No. No I don’t. I think you should buy him duty free gin, like I did. He whined that it was only Tanqueray, but he still drank it, and liked it. He didn’t have to Blow. It. Up. How long does it take to blow up a five foot kangaroo, anyway?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: [deflated] Oh. OK. So you don’t think so?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: [emphatically] I. Don’t. Think. So

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: [does The Sigh] Alright then… So. I’m not going to see you before I go?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: Yeah. If you want to drive out to Phillip Island… I’ll call you when we get home, as long as it’s not too late.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother: [mollified] OK then… Have a good time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: Bye!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M had devoured the rest of the chips as I talked my mother out of a decision that may have ended in her own matricide and was getting itchy feet. We wandered back toward Hoo-Ray! and realised, belatedly, that the wind had swung around. The boat was no longer in such a good position. M decided to take it around the other side near where we had just been sitting. I could have helped, but I took photos from shore instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Moving the Boat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Once Hoo-Ray! was sorted, we went on a walk to the General Store and bought some ice. By the time we got back to the boat with it we were hot. We paddled out and jumped aboard. I arranged some of my favourite white wine (Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc) in a bucket with the ice, while M talked to a couple of people who were standing on the shoreline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’d just settled back with the paper, when M suggest (in a way that indicated he was pining) to go for another sail while the weather was still good. I couldn’t believe it. We had live jazz for free, wine on ice, some snacky things, newspapers and gorgeous weather. M looked like a labrador. I acquiesced, hardly believing that it was possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, so we went for a good sail. M was desperate to beat my speed of five knots that we have measured on the GPS while I’d been steering. I think he got to 6.2 knots. I tried to beat him again, and nearly tipped us overboard in the process… or that’s what it felt like. We weaved all around the boats that were moored, oohing at the pretty ones and making faces at the fuglies. Finally M said we could head back. There was still some sun left, although, by that stage it was cooling down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We opened the wine, snacked on cheese, read the paper and wondered what the poor people were doing ;-) Saw a beautiful couta boat go by with two people and two dogs aboard…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Looking at the couta boat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After a good hour, we motored the boat back around to the spot where we had slept before, and despite our cheese filled stomachs, M cooked some excellent tuna pasta, which we ate as the day turned to dusk. I then tried to read my book by candlelight…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reading in lantern light
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            …while M played with my camera’s manual settings, trying to take the perfect ‘night’ shot. Which he did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rhyll Pier at night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rhyll in the pink
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Return & Recovery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Returned yesterday afternoon. I was instantly struck by sore throat bug. Today that morphed into… well, I am reluctant to say flu, but let’s just say a ‘fluey thing’. Gah. Shivery, headachey, nauseousy. Horror. Am trying to update [miaow] with the exciting story of our Grand Seafaring Adventure, but it’s going to take me a little while. It will appear further down the page from this entry – you have been warned. Now I will go and expire a bit more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here’s where I was a few nights ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rhyll on Dusk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dear Dr Grass

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                [Brief Explanation: M spent some time tonight writing a spam letter to his great friend who got a Phd in Stuff about Native Grasses quite recently. This is what it said....]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dear Dr Paul,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My name is Mr G. Knoll. Let me describe my work. My aim is to discover something. As you are aware grass seed and sock are naturally occurring attractors. Can this be the key to unlocking the mystery of something? Yes, I believe so too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My students are sent into the field wearing only socks. Each student has a unique pair. We have male students on the team as well. Students spend a day in their special places doing stuff in their socks. This brings me to why I contacted you. My Nigerian backers and I are convinced we will discover ‘a very big thing’ when we analyse the seed from each sock. Dr Paul will help us? Will you get the seeds out the socks because we don’t want to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mr Grassy Knoll.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Believe me, my young friend (said the water rat, solemnly), there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half as much worth doing as simply messing about in grass.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Sea Air

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Things have been quiet on [miaow] for the last few days as I have been having a getaway! I am actually still on it, typing from the visitor’s centre in Queenscliff for the obscene amount of three dollars per half hour. Profiteers. My boss offered me the use of his holiday house as well as a week off, both of which I jumped at. M originally said he wasn’t going to come as he was focussing on the boat, but changed his mind at the last minute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Luckily – as my Small Brother’s red car, that I was going to soiree down the coast in, decided to go weird at the last minute and become unstartable – even with a screwdriver across the two bits on the solenoid. (I sound knowledgable, don’t I? Actually I was too much of a woosy girl to do it, I made M try and there were sparks. From the solenoid, not M.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So we came down in the van, with Oomoo behind us. We brought along our bikes and yesterday we did a 10km round bike ride from Queenscliff to Point Lonsdale and back. A lovely ride! The house we are staying in is ab-so-lut-ely gorgeous. It’s an original – and has recently had a bomb spent on renovating it, in a very tasteful way. We look out to Swan Bay (which apparently has an island in it on which they train spies) – and speaking of training, we also see these very beautiful trains going by now and again. M and I have just being doing some serious lounging. Tonight is our last night, and tomorrow morning we’re going to get the ferry from here to Sorrento and drive home that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am mooning around about the prettiness of Queenscliff, just like I did about Rhyll. As we have to get out of the house we’re living in Hampton sometime in December, I’m starting to get itchy feet about where we are going to live. M is practicing being unconcerned and unperturbed. I am practicing trying to not appear agitated. I’m also musing on the idea that as I only work three days a week, we could actually live somewhere picturesque, near the beach, with cheap rent and a big backyard to build a Very Large Catamaran in. Obviously being far from the city is not ideal, but I’m starting to think that living 90 minutes out of town would be better than being out in the suburbs somewhere. We would still be FAR closer to all our friends than we were in Hervey Bay….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ugly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OMG. I’ve just seen what this site looks like in Internet Explorer 6 – it’s completely revolting. Dis-gust-a-rama. This is what I get f0r being narrow minded and only using Firefox. Jeeez. I have some work to do when I get home. Horror! (Or, just maybe, this computer I’m on has some weirdo settings enabled and doesn’t allow CSS or has it’s own webpage styles turned on in the browser. Fingers crossed.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Rig

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s been too sunny to blog. Which isn’t exactly true. I spent most of Friday in the garden with myself in the sun, the laptop in the shade, researching my recording rig – which is proving to be quite frustrating. It seems that new motherboards appear all the time – I am trying to track down one that is recommended by Bob Lentini (who is the inventor of SawPro, SawStudio etc).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So, for the geeks out there, this is what I have so far come up with in regard to what I’m after.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Seagate 8M IDE 120g x 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Asus P4C800-E Deluxe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Zalman CPU fan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1GB PC4200 DDR2 Corsair (2x512MB)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Matrox G450 DualHead video card (I know it’s old, I don’t care)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EMU 1820M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Coolermaster Real Power 450W Silent Power Supply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Intel P4-630 3.0G CPU 2MB Cache 775pin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      GMC X-21 Trinity Case
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some CDRW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All I have so far is the EMU 1820M, which is the main thing. I am also thinking of an external hard drive usb case, but I’m a bit vague on what kind to get as I’m not sure what size normal Seagate IDE hard drives are… Am also wondering whether the CPU I have chosen is compatible with the motherboard, but it’s now midnight and I’m too tired to find out. Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. Anyway, this is what has been occupying my brain for the past few days (as has Hell To Pay – a George P. Pelecanos novel which has held me spellbound for three days. It’s tres excellent…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the garden by the broccoli

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Spring sunshine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The cross he has to bear
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now I am off to move the boat trailer on my own so I can get Small Brother’s car out. I would have asked M to help me this morning, but he had hit his head on the van and couldn’t find the stove lighter – so it was best just to pet him gently and let him go. Wish me luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dozing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My wheels for today
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alternate Meanings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Via Small Brother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your night-gown.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavoured mouthwash.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          11. Testicle (n.), a small but humorous question in an exam.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cat me out of here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Savage yawn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            P & P circa 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Robert asked how I liked the latest film version of Pride and Prejudice. And, as I am lately feeling I have either nothing or too much to blog about (and thus blog nothing), I thought I would answer here. I am a big fan of the Ehle/Firth BBC version, but, when I went to the cinema last weekend, I very much wished I could erase it from my mind, because I couldn’t help making comparisons all the way through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As soon as it had run for ten minutes I began to get anxious about how on earth they were going to fit everything into 90 minutes. It was simple. They didn’t. I think I would have appreciated the latest P&P effort much more if I wasn’t so familiar with the BBC version. All the characters were perfectly cast (although I did prefer Julia Sawalha as Lydia – but then I prefer her over most people). There was a bit more dirt and domesticity, and I liked the Charlotte Lucas character better in this version.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Matthew McFayden was an acceptable Darcy i.e. generally unattractive at the beginning when he’s supposed to be an arrogant pain, and then morphing into a bit of smouldering action as time passes and he cannot resist Elizabeth Bennet. Obviously there was no ‘wet white shirt’ scene and there was a little less chemistry in between the leads – but that might have been down to the time restrictions of cinema (as opposed to the seven part series, or whatever it was, which allowed a lot more time to build the URST).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The story in general didn’t have any gaping holes as far as tying everything together went (although it’s been a long time since I read the book). There were a few too many gratuitous panorama shots – e.g. where she’s standing on a precipice looking gorgeous and windswept while doing nothing in particular – but hey, they had to put some scenery porn in there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It appeared to rain every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I reckon (on the Margaret & David scale) I give it three and a half stars, and I would have given it more, but…well, you know the but.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tuesdays are my Mondays

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Back at work. I’m still trying to get used to working three days a week. It leaves a very big four day gap! I almost forget all about work by Mondays, and then wake up horrified on Tuesdays with the realisation that I have to get going. I was just reading back on my entry about guilt from last year. It seems that nothing much has changed. (This is one of the occasions on which the funness of finding out where I was at a year ago dissapates rapidly.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I still have a list of sins wumping around in my head. The people I haven’t emailed back, the fact that I haven’t called M’s mother in months, the letters I haven’t sent my Nan in the US, the tax return I haven’t yet tackled, the NanoWriMo I haven’t yet signed up for… blah blah blah blah. I want to wipe them all clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think that there would be serious money in being a Dissolver of Guilt (DoG). They would wear a nice blue uniform and only work on Sundays for about $60 an hour. At 9am the DoG would turn up at your door and politely, but firmly, force you to tackle every single thing on your guilt list. The DoG would stand over me as I made the phone calls I’d been avoiding, and then present me with a huge gin and tonic. Then we’d go through all my bank statements and highlight all the work expenses and the DoG would add them all up for me. Bliss. Then the DoG would cook me lunch and tell me that I was doing very well, that I was more than halfway there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wouldn’t that be nice? I think in earlier times it was called ‘hired help’. I’m quite convinced that if I won powerball I would not only employ a DoG, but a cook and a house-cleaner too. Back to work now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lifehacker – Geek to Live

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And furthermore on the topic of sorting oneself out is The Usable Home on Lifehacker which talks about little ways of decluttering your life and living spaces. I did a bit of that on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [tangent]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  …and by the way, is it just me that thinks that it always seems to be the girl in the m/f relationship that organises the presents and cards for friends/friend’s kids birthdays? I asked two female friends this the other day and they agreed that boys just don’t seem to take on the present and card buying thing. So what happens when guys are single? Do they just turn up giftless to BBQ’s and parties? Is it all a worldwide boys-club conspiracy? Or is it just another vital area missing from the brain of the hetero-male? (The missing areas deal with towels, asking your mother whether she made that cake from a packet, and an adequate standard of dishwashing. There may be others, but I won’t go on as my tangent is now longer than the rest of this post.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [/tangent]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To Flollop. Maldon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No one really knows what mattresses are meant to gain from their lives… They are large, friendly, pocket-sprung creatures which live quiet private lives in the marshes of Squornshellous Zeta. Many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried out, shipped out and slept on. None of them seem to mind and all of them are called Zem…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    …The mattress flolloped around. This is a thing that only live mattresses in swamps are able to do, which is why the word is not in more common usage. It flolloped in a sympathetic sort of way, moving a fairish body of water as it did so. It blew a few bubbles up through the water engagingly. Its blue and white stripes glistened briefly in a sudden feeble ray of sun that had unexpectedly made it through the mist, causing the creature to bask momentarily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (D.N.A always wrote so much better than I can ever hope to. Naturally those last two paragraphs were purloined from the HHGTTG via the Plain Vanilla page…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now I have introduced the topic, let me say without further flolloping that we NEED a MATTRESS. When M had the brain surge and sold all our possessions to the people that bought our house, naturally that included our bed… and our mattress. The mattress side of things I was not worried about relinquishing, as ours had kind of begun to sag. Upon our arrival in Hampton, the previous inhabitants of our room left us their bed. Their hard, hard, unyielding bed. The bed that, had it been a person, would have been a combination of Thatcher and Howard. Hardened by hairspray, it never said sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So last week they came and took it. And it knew. It knew they were coming for it. In those last few nights it became even worse to sleep on. Last Thursday I staggered into work and collapsed into my amazingly ergonomic office chair with complete relief while it worked it’s lumbar positioning magic. If it hadn’t been for the chair I still would have been stumbling, Worzel Gummidge style, stiff limbed and scaring more than birds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since Saturday we’ve been sleeping on alternating combinations of the foam mattress from the van and D & E’s old futon mattress. While M was away at my dad’s assisting him in challenging the longevity of his liver I tried a combination approach, but ended up feeling like I’d spent the night in an ever-deflating sponge cake. God.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Today, in my lunchbreak, I cruised Forty Winks and then Captain Snooze, prising my desperate body from $4000 beds after I noticed some of the staff looking askance at me after I began snoring. Just gently. I would love to be action-woman and solve this issue with a purchase at 9am tomorrow morning, however, we are off to the Maldon Folk Festival for a few days and are thus doomed to three more nights on old foamy (this time in the van).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We’ll be camping at Tarrengower Reserve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maldon Folk Festival

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Highly Recommended. Suggest that you attend next year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Main Stage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My Highlights:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cow Patsys
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Colonel Viper’s Whipstick Band
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Doing an appalachian singing workshop with Cow Patsys
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Counterfeit Gypsies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stan Gottschalk & Danny Spooner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Our new camping kettle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Clean Port-A-Loo’s (something that has never been encountered before)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M rebuilding our new camping stove from scratch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mulled wine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunday when the sun came out

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Monday after Maldon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        D & E both had to go back to work on Monday and left on Sunday afternoon. M and I wandered about. Ate plates of tiny pancakes, mine soaked in lemon, his dusted with icing sugar. We were so dazed and dreamy that we almost missed Colonel Viper’s Whipstick Band, to whom we’d danced energetically the previous night. Luckily we only missed one song, and bounced vigorously up and down in front of the main stage, while trying to avoid crossing paths with the creepy guy from the tent next door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We stayed up to see the fabulouso Counterfeit Gypsies, who were almost a little too good. Is it possible to be too accomplished? Then we popped into the Guiness Tent to see a snippet of what seemed to be a french band who were a little to suave and good looking for their own good. Went back and slept in the van.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We wandered the town in the morning and had a rather decadent $3 shower each at the petrol station. (An admirable operation run by two octogenarians.) A gourmet breakfast over the newspapers in the sun. What to do? The last thing we wanted to do was go home. We’d made no plans for Melbourne Cup Day, so…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We drove to Queenscliff from Maldon. Pretty much a wholly scenic drive. Secured ourselves a rather good spot for the van at the Queenscliff camp ground (situated around the footy oval) and took ourselves back to Point Lonsdale with the intention of going back to Kelp – our restaurant of choice. Being Cup Eve, we weren’t able to get a table until 8.30ish and killed time saying hello to Henry the Elephant Seal, whom we’d last seen at Queenscliff, a few weeks back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Henry - The Elephant Seal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He’d grown bored of Queenscliff and had understandably moved to the beach at the base of Point Lonsdale’s main drag. He had apparently got up on to the road itself a few times, and it had finally been established that the only thing he was wary of was a large yellow earthmover with flashing lights. So the earthmover sat near the beach, ready to go, in case Henry started to feel social. He also had his own wonderful volunteers doing shifts to make sure no dickheads hassled him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The earthmover only had to do its thing once in the few hours that we were hanging about. We also headed out on to the pier (can you belive it? a pier! – oops, am trying to curb sarcasm on miaow) and it was all rather picturesque.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The meal at Kelp was beyond sublime. We have now been there and have covered all three parts of the meal sequence. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dinner was to die for – I had seafood and potato soup (two out of three of my most favourite food groups) and a side plate of roast vegies while M made quick work of the seafood linguini. Thank god I don’t live nearby – I would become fatter as my bank account shrunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We sloshed our way back to our $18 lodgings (our dinner having cost substantially more) and I felt pathetically girly and grateful that there was a toilet block nearby and that I no longer had to make the kilometre (OK, I exaggerate, but it was a Long Way) trip to the loo that was not a highlight of the folk festival weekend. (M has since bought me a Girl Wee-er, but I digress.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cup Day Touring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The morning was grey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Queenscliff boat harbour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We were organised, shipshape and onboard the ferry to Sorrento by 10am. We had intended to go on the ferry last time, but we’d had the boat on the trailer and they tried to charge us double, so we’d slunk back the boring way home, through Geelong. This time, no drama. The trip across was actually quite short. I could tell that the sun was going to have a go at burning off all the cloud and fog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By the time we disembarked and made it to Coppin’s Cafe overlooking the back beach at Sorrento, the sun had won.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Back Beach at Sorrento
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (…and may I point out that I have not sexed up this picture in photoshop, this is just what it looked like. Lovely.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M and I had never really driven around the Mornington Peninsula. So now, I can say with full knowledge, that if anyone would like me to mind their house in Shoreham for the next bazillion years, feel free to drop me a line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First of all we drove through to Flinders, which I thought was gorgeous. The sun was drenching the place. There were instructions outside the TAB about how to put a bet on the Cup, so we did. In the paper I saw it said that the Cup would begin at 3pm. I kept it in my head to remember. We wandered into a tapas style bar and had salt and pepper calamari (not bad) and chilli prawns (beyond good, but not enough!) I drank a Stella.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We bought two bags of ice and stuck all the beer remaining from the folk festival into our big bucket in the back of the van. Ready for us to toast the winning steed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Melbourne Cup Day
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We then went to Shoreham and dipped our toes in the water. We reacted like refugee Queenslanders – FREEZING. Of course, all the people in the water were too young to know better, i.e. younger than five. M showed me the house overlooking the beach where he had once recorded an album for The Lucksmiths. I was green with envy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After the wonder of Shoreham we meandered on toward Merricks, with the aim of dropping in to the General Store. We were about 15 minutes away when M asked what time the race was on. I’d thought it was supposed to kick off at 3pm. He was doubtful. I fiddled around with my littel transistor radio and we both caught the static-y words…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ‘…and it’s Makybe Diva…Makybe Diva has won the Melbourne Cup!’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the van there was an atmosphere of minor dismay. I apologised to M for getting the time of the race wrong. He creditably said he didn’t mind and not to worry. We drove on toward the general store, slightly subdued. We parked out the front. I couldn’t remember going to the Merricks General Store before, but as I stepped inside, I had a flickering recall of M and I, newly acquainted, stumbling in about seven years previously, desperately in need of icy-poles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was odd, because it now looked totally different. Very sparse, but very very sexy. Amazing gourmet cooking ingredients, wine tasting, cakes… the works. I was in heaven. They had also added on a huge and gorgeously proportioned room that was lightfilled and sunshiney. I decided it was a time of decadence and ordered a cream bun with raspberries. M bought me a large glass of white. We sat and swooned. I asked the waitress if she’d heard the race. She looked puzzled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “It doesn’t start for another ten minutes.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A huge relief washed over me. But she continued to look perplexed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “We don’t know what to do – we’ve only got a cd player. No one in the whole shop has anything to hear the race on.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I now felt a wave of satisfaction wash over me. I grabbed my board and rode it. I showed her my little radio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ten minutes later everyone in Merricks General Store was gathered around M and I, listening intently to my tiny radio. It was amazing. There was an air of disappointment when it seemed that Makybe Diva wasn’t going to do anything amazing… and then when she did! No one moved a muscle. Everyone was barely breathing in the hope it would help her to be first past the post. And then she was, and everyone relaxed, and smiled and kind of sheepishly edged back to where they’d come from. No one knew who had come second or third, and no one really cared. Except me. Because I’d put $2 on Xcellent to place – and he/she did. Xcellent came third! (Still haven’t cashed my ticket.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After that episode it was hard to know what to do next. We decided to check out places where it might be possible to rent and build a boat. We took in the sunny climes of Hasting (bleugh), Crib Point (less bleugh), Stony Point (interesting in an dischevelled kind of way), Balnarring (surprisingly underwhelming)… and then continued on to Warneet. We have had a special feeling for Warneet – it’s seriously kooky. Dirt roads, a plentitude of multihulls a foreshore full of beer swilling blokes who looked like they’d been imported, en masse, from Hervey Bay (if not Bundaberg). M thought it was cool. I was less forthcoming. We sat near the swillers (but not too near) and did some swilling of our own. M went for an explore. I read my book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We hung around for a few hours and then went and poked around Cannon’s Creek, which I think I preferred. It had a boat ramp as well, and a boardwalk. We timed our drive back to Hampton from Canon’s Creek (and the van isn’t the speediest of vehicle – particularly when full of beer, ice and camping gear). It took 52 minutes. Doable. Definitely doable…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We arrived home to find that the cats had shat around their litter box, and had then cheerfully vomited on our borrowed futon mattress. Charmed, I’m sure. Next time they’re going to the… CATTERY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          [tbc as we have no headboard on our bed and my back has turned to fettucine...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          End of the Stamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So I have been stamp collecting. Got some flack from someone I mentioned here and just decided it was all too hard for a bit. What with the folk festivals, horse races, long drives, lack of laptop, no sleep and the Eternal Aching of Mattress Lack – I was out of the writing loop anyway. However, my stampy feelings would not allow me to look at poor static unchanging [miaow] and so we disappeared offline. Such a drought! Anyway, am sick of people emailing to ask if I’m dead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thus I am now filling in the gaps in the two weeks that are yawning in my wake, if only so I know what the hell I was doing when I reach that time next year. So keep scrolling back if you’re interested. If you’re not, you’re not. And just to prompt my sluggish mind…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Topics I Have Yet To Cover…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Matresses
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Visco-elastic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Girl Wee-er
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Commas & Semi-colons
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Help! Where will I be living in two months time?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Arse of the Rat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Last night before we went to sleep, M and I were lying on our new mattress chatting about nothing in particular. During the course of the conversation M said…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “I don’t give a rat’s arse.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I lay there for a while and pondered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “That is such a weird thing to say. A rat’s arse?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “A rat’s arse.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Sooooo. When would you ever give a rat’s arse to anyone?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Never. That’s the point. You’d never give a rat’s arse to anybody.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “But someone must’ve…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Yeah. OK. Well, it’s the absolute last thing you’d ever give to someone.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I pondered again. “I dunno about that…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Think about it. It would mean that you really meant it, because it woudn’t be easy. You’d have to find a rat and chase it and catch it. Then you’d have to cut its arse off.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “…or out…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Yeah. You could cut its arse out. Then you’d give it to the person.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “And say – I GIVE A RAT’S ARSE!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Right.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “So you only actually hand over the arse of a rat when you really, really care?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Erm. Yep.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Right.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There was silence. Then…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Can you imagine if you cut the arse off…or out, and then wrapped it up in a little California roll for someone to eat?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Stop now. No more rat. You’re grossing me out.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Rat’s arse, rat’s arse…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ————————————————-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Note: I have real trouble with apostrophes…you might have noticed. But I assume that the arse in question belongs to the rat and thus “rat’s arse” has to have one… but I’m only guessing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Goal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So I learnt two names last night. Mark Schwarzer and John Aloisi. The only sport I ever watch on television are occasional important netball matches, the AFL Grand Final and soccer. Now and again. Last night I became a soccer tragic. It was sooooo exciting! I missed seeing the goal, but saw all of the penalty shoot out. God. It was truly excellent. The whole place just erupted. If you missed it, you might like to check it out here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, it was just the beginning of good things. I woke up this morning, having had a horrifying dream that my hair was white peroxide blonde with five inch trailer trash roots (dream interpretation, anyone?) and felt that my black dog had just started running away. No more angst for me at the moment. I even broke a three month (probably longer) drought and called up M’s mother to say hello. It had been eating at me Every. Single. Day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But as the gap grew bigger, the less able I was to call. Of course, she could have called me, but when someone’s 84-years-old and says ‘…but I haven’t heard from you for so long…’ in piteous tones, it’s hard to say ‘Well you could have called me?’ But I did anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Soccer made me happy. Who knew?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sunday Driving

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Secret path to the beach
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  View of sea through sunglasses
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Go Go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just went and saw this film. Loved it. I think I give it four and a half stars. Anyone who has ever had a thing for noir-ish crime fiction should check it out. It brought Sin City to mind, but only in a similarity of genre. KK,BB is far more funny, with equal parts snappy repartee and black slapstick. Robert Downey Jnr is an excellent narrator and Val Kilmer is a great gay private eye. The guy who wrote and directed also wrote the Lethal Weapon films, but this is far more cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We Love This Cartoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Geek Out! Part 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So today I picked up almost the last bits of my much researched ensemble. The computer case and the power supply. I could finally begin building my DAW. Get used to the geeky term DAW. It stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Ha! I have replaced a motherboard before, swapped hard drives, mucked about with cards and RAM, but I have never built a computer from the ground up before. Well, not without someone geekier than me holding my hand (thanks, Dyl).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once I spread all the bits and pieces out, I was fairly convinced that I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bits and pieces
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However. I did deep breathing and took it one step at a time. (E cooking me dinner helped too.) It couldn’t be worse than a bad bikini wax (note to self – never go back to that place in Sandringham again. ever). I tried very hard to follow all the instructions, which was a little bit hard for some of the time, as my case DIDN’T COME WITH ANY. I also had no idea what ‘thermal interface material’ was and whether I had any. After some googling, and poking about in the CPU/heatsink packet, I decided that it was already included (fingers crossed) on the basis that it would be stupid to sell it without it. [looks hopeful]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So as of 25 minutes to midnight I’ve got the motherboard in the case, the hard drives, power supply and cd drive installed and was just about to embark on connecting up all the wires, when startlingly, common sense prevailed. I will resume tomorrow with a clean brain. But in the meantime, here’s the proof that I got my hands dirty…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Proof!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Geek Out! Part 1.2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Erm. So I’m still building my DAW. Am having a few issues (fear, knowing very little, horror). I am wondering if anyone out there can help me… [looks hopeful...again]. Non geeks can tune out for this request. There’s this thing on my motherboard – the Gigabyte K8NS Ultra-939 – where you attach all the front jumper wires for the front panel i.e. the power switch, reset button, etc. So, I’ve been getting a lot of help from the AMD Socket-939 DIY Guide. I’ve attached the right jumpers to the right bits, but as my case is different from the one they use in the guide, I have two wires left that I don’t know where to plug! I have one called RESET LED (which is two wires) and another called GRD (which I’m gathering stands for ‘ground’ – and is only one wire). Neither of these are mentioned in the guide, and I have gaps in my front panel section, as I have only one POWER LED wire instead of two, and no HARD DRIVE LED wires. I’m wondering whether I put the RESET LED and the GND. Any idea?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have to get myself a monitor still, but I’m too scared to connect the power before I know exactly where these wires go. Here is my whole rig (a little bit different from my original plan):

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gigabyte K8NS Ultra 939
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          AMD Athlon 64bit 3000+
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          EMU 1820M sound card & breakout box
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seagate 7200 8MB 160g hard drive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seagate 7200 8MB 120g hard drive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Corsair Value Select 2x512MB RAM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lite-On 52x52x32 CR-RW
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Matrox G450
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seasonic S12 430w power supply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          GMC X-21 Trinity case

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          P.S. Am wondering if the voltage of the Matrox 450 is compatible with the motherboard, but as I can’t find out what voltage it is, I’ll just have to wait and see

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ice Cream Hair & House of Wax

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So M copped a chunky APRA check and was telling me about this song he’d recorded age ago. Ice Cream Hair. So I got to thinking about my hair. Then I re-did my underneath trailer trash blonde roots. That was on Friday night. Also the Waxing Night of Horror. What is the Waxing Night of Horror? Oh. You don’t know? That’s when you’re driving to Geelong the next day with your mates to buy some bathers from the multitudes of surf shops. You’re all excited. The first new bathers in about five years! Then you look down. All you see are Wollemi Pines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [Dad, you really don't need to read the rest of this...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Triangle Bikinis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don’t know how many of you have undergone the bather-shopping torment yet. But, as people offered to take me along on their bather shopping expedition, I wasn’t going to say no. Change room mirrors don’t lie, but friends do. Which is why you should shop with them. We headed for Geelong. RipCurl, Billabong – all that stuff. Millions upon millions of scary, tie-up-at-the-edges triangle bikinis. There were two pairs of bikinis in the whole of Torquay that weren’t of triangular design. I bought one of them. Cate bought the other. PY bought shorts. Then we all went and ate fish and chips on the beach and drank beer to maximise our curves… Yah!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Red. Oomoo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This morning, I decided it was time to add another shade to my hair. Now I have achieved neapolitan ice-cream status. Three shades. Although here you can only see the latest one. Then I had lunch with my mother, who gave me a bottle of Light Blue, some chai tea and some earrings. Woo! My fave perfume of the moment! Thank you to Small Brother for passing on my texted perfume request!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then M and I took Oomoo for a sail. OMG… it was far more windy than we’d thought. We only stayed out for about 45 minutes, tacking backwards and forwards as kite-surfers whizzed by. It was a little hairy, as the mast was bending like a banana. But it survived. I got completely soaked. Oomoo needed a complete hose-out when we made it back…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My Small Boat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My Small Boat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scrambling, Sailing, Soundcarding

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not dead. Just doing stuff. have got my new computer going! Woot! (as Kartar puts it). Turning it on for the first time was a little bit hairy. As I know next to nothing about electricity – except that you should touch something metal that is on the ground to discharge any static before sticking your hands into a computer) I kicked off my shoes, grabbed the metal pole of the standard lamp, pulled out my soundcard (the most expensive thing) and then pressed the ‘on’ switch. It just purred straight to life! I was gobsmacked. I would not have been the least surprised if the whole thing had caught alight and exploded. But it didn’t. Initally it only found one hard drive, but I switched around the hard drive ribbon and it then discovered them both (although the one that is supposed to be 160gig is only coming up as about 125gig – weirdly).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So it’s running Windows XP and last night I installed the soundcard drivers and breakout box. Yike! I really have to get the little stereo fixed so I can run my speakers…sorry…’monitors’… That’s what they’re called in studioland – ’cause you ‘monitor’ the sound through them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Last night when I got home, M had come home early. It was a beautiful day and we were like a well oiled machine. We took Oomoo out for an after-work sail! I did most of the sailing. Yah! One of the perks of living right near the beach (though that will only be true for another few months, there are architects and builders circling close by – renovations are nigh – which is when we’ll be kicked out). Didn’t start making dinner until 9pm. And then I did the soundcard driver install…which is probably why I didn’t wake up this morning until 8.45am and scrambled into work at a quarter past nine. Having a tea break just before 10am when you’ve only been at work for less than forty minutes kind of lacks the ordinary thrill…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Innoscent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I dance thrillingly whilst dousing myself with angled bursts of Light Blue, the [miaow] scent of the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Yummmm,” I swoon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I spray it into the air and walk through the cloud like a proper lady.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M watches, perplexed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “I can douse myself in gallons of this because it just disappears after a few hours,” I explain. “It’s very frustrating.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M shakes his head.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Just because you think it wears off… other people might still be able to be knocked out by it. You don’t want it to be too overpowering…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Don’t I?” I inquire, artfully squirting my ankles. “Are you afraid that if I wander about, reeking of expensive perfume, that I might be construed as the ‘wrong’ type of woman?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “No, I’m just saying…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Well don’t.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It’s now half past four and I can smell only the most tiny bit of it left on my wrists. So sad. Just went and got L.I. to sniff my wrists. She agreed that it was barely there at all! Am heading into the city for dinner with L and so will top up at David Jones. Just grayshsh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Girls From The Clouds

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The girls from the Clouds are back playing as ‘The Girls From The Clouds‘! I am so happy! I just read this article in the AGE and went straight to the Northcote Social Club and booked two tickets. Don’t know who I’m going with, but I don’t care. Am v.excited. Am obviously completely out of the musical loop as their album was released last month. Am hoping there will be a copy of it at the show tomorrow night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I saw Clouds play quite a lot when they were still around. Penny Century is a total classic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lalalala

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So, The Girls From the Clouds were fabutabulariffic. They played a lot of old Clouds numbers – including Foxes Wedding, 4pm, Aquamarine, Hieronymous… the works. The mix was great – everything sounded clear and beautiful. Trish’s bass playing was astoundingly, depressingly good. I loved a few of the new songs. I mean, I liked them all but two stood out for me ‘House of the Sun’ and ‘Beyond the Clouds’. I wish I’d been snappy enough to pinch their setlist after their encore, but someone got to it before me. I love them as a three piece. Jodi is a guitar goddess. Go and see them if you can – their cd (which I have been listening to today) is available through Candle. Check out Scott’s Clouds site – Silver Linings (proudly hosted on [miaow]!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kartar – if you’re in Sydney on December 16, get yourself to the Annandale!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Prior to the gig we had dinner at Wesley Anne. The food sucked. The spaghetti marinara was dry and full of capers. Capers? The calamari salad was overpriced and boring. Go there for the drinks, the warm olives, the atmosphere and the music. Eat somewhere else. There was a wedding reception going on in the room where the stage is. M and I oohed and aahed at the bride in her ivory silk slinky number. Then Glenn, an old friend from uni, came and said hello – and I realised I knew the bride in a vague and convoluted way. Glenn blogs over at The Nightwatchman. We’ll probably see him again at Meredith, next weekend. He gave us the heads up on Okkervil River, who had blown his mind at the Ding Dong Lounge the other night. I’m keen!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s Up! – A Christmas Tree Meme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Christmas Tree
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          D and E brought home a tree last night. Much rejoicing! We don’t have much in the way of pretty lights or decorations yet, but we’re working on it. Oh god. I just had a flashback to making paper chains and popcorn strings. What else lurks forgotten in my brain? The lyrics of Madonna’s 1980s back catalogue? Eeeek!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stick a picture of your tree online and post the link in the comments. This might be the start of a Christmas Tree Meme! (…or not, as the case may be.) Of course, we’re probably pretty early. But as none of us have had a proper sized tree since moving out of home, we don’t care. Deck the malls with plastic holly!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Do the Dog. Not the Donkey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This afternoon, we had a dog. It looked like a thoroughbred. It wandered into the back garden and looked lostly at M. He called for me to come and see our new friend, Twiggy. We tied a rope to Twiggy’s collar and called the two numbers on her id tag. Messagebank and engaged. I played with Twiggy. We established that she loved the broom. She wrestled and gnawed it into submission. Evil broom. Twiggy’s owners continued to be uncontactable. She was so svelte and classy looking. A real supermodel canine. I was convinced she was quite smart (in direct contrast to almost every other dog I’ve met).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A-ha! I thought! Spunky, 80′s Norweigan band! Sorry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Aha! I thought. If we let her lead us down the street, she might head for home and we can deliver her to her grateful owners who will shower us in riches and cheese. We used the mainsheet of Oomoo as a lead and set off behind Twiggy. She seemed to know where she was going. We spoke to people along the way…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Do you know who this dog belongs to?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Have you seen this dog before?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No one knew and no one had. Twiggy jogged with us trailing in her wake. We hit the end of the street. She did a loop. Then she tried to run along the lane that follows the railway track. No. It was becoming silly. M guided her back down the street, dialling her owner’s number again. Astonishingly, someone answered. And at exactly the same time that M was explaining where our house is, we were accosted by about five ten-year-old boys all saying “Twiggy!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It turns out she lives in the house opposite ours. She just wanted a walk. Either beautiful and stupid, or bored and wily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Freak Mouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              More on Meredith later when I go through my photos… but in the meantime, I turned up to work today (feeling a bit bedraggled) and my new mouse had arrived! I’ve been having some trouble with my shoulder, and took it to the osteopath last week. While he was torturing me working on it, Craig The Osteopath quizzed me about my computer usage and suggested that a change in mouse was due. He recommended one where your hand remains in a kind of handshake position. I relayed this information to lovely L.I at work and voila! a new mouse arriveth! The company that we got it from are pretty amazing, as they send you the mouse to try out for a week or so, and if you don’t like it you can send it back free of charge. It sort of looks like a piece of rounded cake…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meredith 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Highlights:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Grates - from Brisbane. Completely infectious. I love them
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks - Anything Stephen Malkmus does is fine by me. A guitar god.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Okkervil RiverGlenn had given me the word on this band. He wasn’t wrong. Sublime. Who knew you could get that kind of sound out of an electric acoustic?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                British India – a bit hit and miss. They played really well, a lot of cool songs. If they had never opened their mouths in between songs they would have been awesome. It was like seeing a beautiful girl, only to be disillusioned when she opened her mouth and started talking like Kimmy. British India were Kimmy. With talent and cool songs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Leaving our esky to fend for its small self for three hard rocking hours, and then trying to find it and only recalling that it was ‘near a couch’. But which couch? I finally remembered that it was near a little tree (not the one that was later used in a pole dancing performance). I found a little tree. I found the couch. I told the girls standing next to it that I’d lost my little esky.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Get off her esky, Fiona,” said one of them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fiona suddenly went from five foot ten to five foot eight and a half, and I had the esky back. Yah!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vodka and Cranberry juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A banana smoothie made by a bicycle powerd blender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vodka and pink grapefruit fizzies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Pink Flamingo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Meredith Eye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Meredith 2005 – Pictures

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Friday Night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Tent. The Eye.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Okkervil River
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made him sit there with my umbrella
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Asleep on top of the van
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just a little bit…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the things I like about this blog is that bit on the sidebar which is called Blast From the Past. It usually has in it something I posted one, two or sometimes even three years ago. So I clicked on it a few days ago and starting laughing at the pure synchronicity that sometimes occurs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When we were at Meredith last weekend, we were down to our last five bucks and were feeling snacky. M decided to get a sausage in bread from the Meredith Tucker Tent, which is run by Meredith locals as a bit of a fundraising opportunity. He emerged about five or so minutes later looking pink and bemused, if not slightly frustrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “What happened?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “I went in there and asked for a sausage in bread, and…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “And?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “And it happened to me…again…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ——————————————————–
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: I’ll have a sausage in bread please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sausage Guy: I know you mate. I know your face. Are you on TV or something?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: No. I just want a sausage in bread thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SG: Are you a Geelong boy mate?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: [baffled] Um. No.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    [The Sausage Guy has a sudden revelation]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SG: Hey. Hey! HEY! I know who you are!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: [in a tiny, tiny voice] You do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SG: [speaking to everyone in the tent] It’s a WIGGLE everybody! There’s a WIGGLE in the TENT!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    [Pandemonium ensues. M continues to bleat plaintively for his sausage in bread.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: Mate. Mate! I am NOT A WIGGLE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SG: Yeah. Righto mate. You’re ‘not’ a Wiggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    [He reverently hands over a sausage in bread.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M: I’m really not. I-am-really-not-a-Wiggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SG: Yep. Riiiiiiight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    [M backs fearfully out of the tent.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ——————————————————–

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Two days later I click on that days Blast From the Past and find this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    UPDATE: Thanks to Dennis we have discovered the Wiggle in question. It’s the YELLOW Wiggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Farrier 720 Porn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M has been a veritable recluse since we’ve been back in Melbourne. Some of our friends he’s only seen ONCE since July and others… he hasn’t seen at all. This is due to Boat. And the dawning and launching of Boat is very nearly nigh. If it hadn’t been for some last minute issues with mathematics vs. mast, I might be floating right now, typing this into my old Palm IIIx and posting via Pocketmail and my mobile phone. I am, however, still in the front room of our house, looking at the trees swish back and forth. Nevertheless, in lieu of launch pictures, here is some up to date boat porn avi files in case you’re interested…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Click HERE to see one of the hulls unfold (3.8MB)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Click HERE to see it fold back up… (4.1MB)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I really do not expect anyone to click here except multihull tragics who find their way here via Google, lured by the combination of the works ‘Farrier trimaran‘ and ‘Porn‘.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Holy shit, it floats!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Am not able to do this announcement justice as I’ve just staggered into work an hour late, but I’ll post pictures and more excitement after I’ve made it through my work Christmas party. M and I got up at 4am this morning and drove out to Boat. Met up with my dad. The trailer that Boat is on is a bazillion (a legitimate measurement) years old with two flat tyres. We managed to pump one of them up. We trailed Boat in first gear on a somewhat hairy short trip (or it would have been short if we weren’t in first gear) to the Altona boat ramp. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was very exciting!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M bought Boat (which was then four bits of wood) on 31 December 1998. He has worked on Boat since then (with a two year enforced break in Hervey Bay). I am somewhat biased, but Boat is truly a work of art. It’s gorgeous! (And I’m not just saying that because he put in a bookshelf for me.) I am very proud of M, who has never really built a boat before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Boat eased off the shonky trailer and into the water, with me and dad guiding it with ropes. I did wheel chocking and brake pedal pushing when necessary. It was such a shock to see Boat actually in the water! Finally, finally, finally! M was such a happy bear. And I do not use the description lightly. A Very Happy Bear indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We motored around to Williamstown where M has somehow wangled a mooring, and dad and I had to leave him there and depart, very belatedly, for work. But not before polishing off a bottle of champagne on the way over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CONGRATULATIONS M! YOU ARE A DEDICATED, EXACTING AND PERSEVERANT BOATBUILDER EXTRAORDINAIRE. Now, have a rest!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        :o*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An Absence of Pictures

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is a rather large gaping hole where pictures of M’s pride and joy should be. Unfortunately the camera got left on the boat, and, as the only way to get to and from the boat at the moment is on a very tippy surfski and someone (M) keeps forgetting the waterproof bag – the camera remains on the boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last night we attempted to have our first boat picnic with E and DJ, who were very keen to get aboard. Welcome to weather dependency. E made a gorgeous picnic. M paddled out. E and DJ drove to pick me up from Newport train station. Suddenly, we were in Kansas. The weather went psycho. DJ actually works at the BoM and had told us on good authority that this was not supposed to happen until about 11pm at night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was impossible to get out to Boat, and thus we picnicked in the park instead, which was almost as good. We toasted Boat and Christmas with champagne and lay on the grass. The boat visit was postponed for another, more amenable day. We spent an anxious night listening to wind howl and thunder boom, wondering whether Boat was tethered properly or was chafing through the mooring rope and poised for flight…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Festy, Festy…and finally… Festive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This morning I didn’t exactly ‘awaken’ because I was never properly asleep. I just lapsed into a marginally more alert state of consciousness when the alarm went off at 5.30am. That’s right. Bloody, bloody, early. I woke M gently and felt that he was astonishingly smiley and relaxed, considering the hour. I then discovered he momentarily thought it was Christmas day. As soon as he realised it wasn’t, and we were merely trudging into Vic Market with the rest of Melbourne for festive food supplies, the morning took on the shape of the pear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M turned into Evil M quicker than an eyeblink, swearing at Christmas, oysters, mooring lines, weather, alarm clocks and the petrol bowser. It’s times like these that I envy my friends in a three-way relationship – at least they always have someone else to roll their eyes with. I just bit my tongue, narrowed my eyes and hoped, like the storm, it would dissipate without a loss of life. His. Obviously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M strode through Vic Market, visibly seething at his situation and bought the first oysters he saw. Which we then found for four dollars cheaper elsewhere. (They better be good.) He then ranted as we hadn’t been to an ATM machine and were running out of money. I am so disciplined that I have waited until right now to point out that the early morning seafood mission had been entirely of his design. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Only when I foiled a two kilometre long line of people at the ATM machine (by ducking to one that was hidden from view around the corner) did he begin to shake off his evilness. We collected prawns, mussels in their shells, some cheeses from Curds & Whey and he placated himself with some dolmades and bits of octopus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We then drove out to Boat, and M paddled out precariously on the surfski as the wind whipped up around him. I dutifully watched to make sure he made it in one piece, as I felt guilty about spending at least forty minutes of the morning intricately plotting his demise. Just after he passed the halfway mark I saw something huge leap from the water- it looked like a huge bluefin tuna trying to take a bite out of a passing seagull. I stopped watching after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We had a lovely breakfast at the Pickle Barrel in Williamstown. If you like your chai lattes – this is somewhere you should go. We meandered home via the supermarket for cat supplies. By the time we’d got home, there was no trace of Evil M, but burgeoning traces of Cranky B were beginning to emerge. I was SO TIRED that I could have leaned against a wall and fallen asleep. Instead, we cut our losses, left our purchases in the esky and went back to bed for four hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We are now kicking back in south east gippsland, at the cosy house of Father of [miaow]. Presents are piled on top of the heater. The Sister of [miaow] is running in aimless circles, just having realised she left dad’s present in Hampton, and M is passed out in front of the wood fire with a glass of whiskey. It all turned out OK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Christmas Everyone!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Christmas, Small Brother – Sorry about the presents

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dear Small Brother,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How are things in London? Much to my disgust, my attempts to get you something for Christmas have been thwarted from the outset. Or nearly. I ordered you the Calvin and Hobbes Complete Collection from amazon.co.uk – bastards. They let me think that I was an organised and useful relation to you for at least 24 hours, when they then shot me a quick email to say that they were ‘out of stock’ and they were ‘dreadfully sorry’ and ‘maybe I could console myself by going out and shooting a fox’ or something – stiff upper lip, and all that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Instead of grabbing my rifle, I instead went to the place I should have gone to first…(or so I thought). Usually bookfinder.com doesn’t ever let me down. Sure enough, there was Calvin and Hobbes, in stock at various establishments. Right, I thought, I haven’t sent him a Christmas present for a year or two as I’ve been battling poverty and racist Queenslanders. I’ll send him something that costs a bit. Something with a bit of clout. So I order it. Again, I revel in a clear 24 hours, thinking I am both organised and generous (a difficult combination to attain at any time, but particularly near Christmas). Again, I receive a message. This time from a guy called Todd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Hi B,” says Todd, “The postage for your order actually costs more than was in the original order form. It’s going to cost $143.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I ponder this for a while. Does he mean $143 for the whole order, books and postage? Or does he mean [stagger] that postage alone will be $143? Surely not. I write and ask him. Another 24 hours go by. Calvin and Hobbes may, at this point, arrive in time for Easter, depending on when that actually takes place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Hi B,” writes Todd, 24 hours later and with only two more shopping days until Christams no pressure, breathe deeply, “The $143 is just for postage.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Hi Todd,” I pound into the keyboard, “Thanks, but please cancel my order.I had no idea Calvin and Hobbes were so heavy.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As we know, your birthday is two days after Christmas. We can blame our mutual parents for that faux pas. And while we’re at it, let’s blame them for creating a family in which four out of the five immediate members have birthdays within a span of 35 days, stretching financial management to the limits. Anyway, since you were even Smaller (than you are currently) I have tried to always get you TWO presents and not join those lame-o people who give you one decent present and then default on the whole deal by writing ‘Happy Christmas…AND Birthday!’ on the card.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So even though your Calvin and Hobbes collection was going to be the wonder present of your Christmas, I also sent you another little, less weighty book, so you’d have a s-e-p-a-r-a-t-e present for your b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y. Now, as I have been thwarted, you’re only going to get that ONE. MANKY. LITTLE. BOOK. and THAT’S ALL! How embarrassing. It would probably have been better to get nothing at all! But anyway, it’s too late now, and I just wanted to let yourself, and the rest of the Internet know that I tried. Goddamnit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Don’t get drunk and fall in the snow. And watch out for carpet burns if you’re going to attempt any handstands for joy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Love
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Elder Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Boxing Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After a large lunch at my mum’s place, M and I scooted down to Williamstown in the van, and met up with Chris. We went for a jaunt down the Yarra River – which is not something we’ll be able to do (for a while, anyway) once we’ve got the mast on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Melbourne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Shot Tower
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Southbank foot bridge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One of many bridges
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our mooring is a long way away
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scoresville – I got some loot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dry by Augusten Burrows
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim by David Sedaris
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Theives Picnic by Leslie Charteris (!woo!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jamie’s Italy – a cookbook (shared with M from our lovely housemates)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  512MB Sandisk SD card (my T3 is brought back into action!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A very beautiful frog vase
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Two equally classy drinking chocolate bowls
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chocolate x 4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A cat bag
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An open ticket to the MTC (yay, culture!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An excellent pair of shorts and a top
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A Penguin bookbag
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Foot scrubby Body Shop stuff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sequiny thongs (that didn’t fit – I think that’s a good thing)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  UPDATE! – have been told off by my mother, who naturally decided to look at [miaow] for about the third time ever on the exact occasion when I was stupid enough to list all my presents online, knowing, even as I did so, that I would forget something important…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The PICNIC TABLE – perfect for holidays in the van, and has in fact already been used for our house dinner the other night overlooking the beach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frog vase and drinking chocolate cups
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fours meme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Copied from Zucchinis in Bikinis who got it from The Brew That is True.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four Jobs you’ve had in your life:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Tech support for Telstra BigPondScum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - IT person at an animation studio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Researcher (read: personal assistant)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Project manager at the excellent EI

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four movies you could watch over and over:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Lord of the Rings – all three
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Look Both Ways
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Hear My Song

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four places you’ve lived:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - St Kilda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Seddon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Hervey Bay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (I could list at least five more)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four TV shows you love to watch:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Blackpool
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Australian Story
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Everyone Loves Raymond (I know, it’s crap, shut up)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Surfing the Menu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four places you’ve been on holiday:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Central coast of NSW
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Marblehead, Massachusetts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - London (albeit extremely briefly)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Byron Bay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four websites you visit daily:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Google
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - The Age
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Dooce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Mystic Medusa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four of your favorite foods:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Oysters (natural)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Real raspberry anything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Apple sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Really good fried calamari (not the rubbery stuff)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Four places you’d rather be:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - In Spain drinking sangria with M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - In Rosebank, kicking back on I & J’s back deck
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Moored off the beach at Rhyll drinking cold white wine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - In Martha’s Vineyard with M, visiting my uncle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Everything is different

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This time last year, M and I had just spent the night in the carpark of the Broken Head caravan park, a few kilometres south of Byron Bay. I remember that, like today, the weather was sublime. We had hardly any money at all. The first thing we did was go for a swim. Every time I go and swim at one of those northern New South Wales beaches I decide I want to stay there forever. We rinsed off in an outdoor shower near where we’d parked the van. We meandered our way to Rosebank, as we weren’t allowed back into Byron without paying a $50 fee. It is odd to think that we have known the people whose house we showed up at for only 365 days!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This time, things are different. Different state. Different house. Different job. We have a beautiful boat – the mast went up yesterday (thanks to the muscle of Dylan and Rach) and it is finally proper! There is a bit of money in the bank. We have a new mattress. We continue to be in limbo as far as the future goes, but I’m hoping that will resolve itself over the next month or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So tonight, instead of kicking back with two people we know and lots that we don’t*, we’re going to be out on Port Phillip Bay in Boat with D, R and Small Jack. We have lifejackets, an esky, beer and a designated sailor. Yah! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *This is not to say we had a bad time last year, in fact, we had one of the best NYE that we’ve ever had and then demanded to stay on longer because we didn’t want to leave. Just so you know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A (Very) Short Film & Welcome to 2006!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This arrived – a link to a little movie made by my uncle – it’s about 3MB. It’s called The Butterfly Effect. Happy New Year! We had a good one – it should have been filmed as a feelgood comedy, where you think everything has gone awry, only to be saved in the nick of time. It contained vomit, pathos, cheese, mud, seaweed stench, cake, much beer, champagne, a boat and the night sky. D and M have the bruises to prove it. I’m off to read Harry Potter from beginning to end, because I’m on holiday and I can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Au Revoir

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We are about to embark on our first sailing journey. Thermos full of hot tea (reviving), boat full of tinned food (much to M’s despair, as it makes the boat ‘heavy’ – der), bags packed and cats in cattery. Would be able to update [miaow] if Pocketmail wasn’t so bastardly…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bye!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sailing Holiday – Day 01 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I slept on the boat. B stomps and yells along beach and pier untill I get up and take boat around to the dock. Load some tasty things then sailoff. No motor. Very 1890’s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            15 knots gusting to 20. Rough and lumpy. This is the first big sail for the little guy. Try sailing with jib an then mainsail only. Put up the full kit and power on to queenscliff. Boat gets a 5 hour bash. I sit and wait for something to break. I study mast then rudder then back to mast etc. B sleeps like a possum in the cabin. Nice. Nothing breaks! Arrive Port Phillip Heads. Sails down and motor through the cut into Queenscliff. Very Jason and the Argonauts. Awesome. Try to grab mooring but we swing around and glance a yacht. Full tilt revese saves us. Apologise. Surf ski over to spy bridge and sus a wonderful possie. Motor in. tie up. Wahoo. Chips and beer over a game of pool at the pub. The circus is in town. A crazy canivale conoodling sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Summer Holiday – Day 01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For two days we have run around like chickens. I have had the interesting experience of driving from Hampton to Williamstown with three cats in their individual travel carriers with me in the front seat of the van.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have blogged before about how Sonic was one of my favourite cats, other than Saf and Mow. She holds this title no longer. In fact, she’s lucky that I didn’t use up one of the few lives she has left and piff her off the Westgate Bridge. She yowled the entire 50 minute journey. I sang steadfastly over the top of her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’ve been up past midnight the last two nights helping M organise our boating holiday. We managed to have our first sail during this time and Boat sailed like a dream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was elected provisioner, and had great fun coming up with about eight different meals I could cook. As I’ve read heaps of sailing books, I knew all about provisioning. Buy the tins, write contents of tin on tin in permanent ink, rip off labels. The labels were destined to fall off during the voyage anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The supermarket had stuff in tins that I never knew existed. Diced capsicum, nut-o-lene, mushrooms…. Then I stumbled on ‘Surprise Peas’ and ‘Surprise Beans’. They were indeed. I bought two packets of each. I bought condiments, dried herbs, pasta, rice, tinned corn, tuna, tomatos, beans…. I met my mother by accident as I was shoving my trolley amongst the vegtables.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “How long are you going away for?” she asked, eyeing my haul.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Um, about 12 days.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Just the two of you?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Mum, I really wouldn’t want my trolley to end up on your foot.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She made a big show of using a different check out than me because I had SO much stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I went down to see how M was going at the boat. He was just walking through the carpark as I pulled up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Look!” I bounced, opening the back of the van. “I provisioned! I provisioned!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Holy shit.” M looked at the nine bags of shopping. “Multihulls are supposed to be light that’s how they go fast.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Right. But tins are what you use for food on boat journeys. That’s what all your books say.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “All the people in the books have lead keeled monohulls. Tins don’t make much difference to them.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “So when I’ve been telling you about how I’m going to write on tins, rip off the labels and stick them through the hatch covers on the outside hulls, have you just heard ‘let’s get more red wine’?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Hulls! Hulls? No. I never knew what you were talking about. And don’t call them ‘hulls’ call them ‘outriggers’ – and you’re not putting any tins in them.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Fine.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Fine.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We wade out to Boat with the shopping. My shoulder is still dodgy, so unfortunately M has to be mule-boy. He lectures me all the way out on how the boat should sit in the water. How we should treat the expedition as a backpacking trip and that we should only take what we can carry on our backs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Whatever. I pack everything away in hidey holes and M can’t believe my skill at making things disappear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The next day we go to Bunnings for supplies. The VHF marine radio (that we have no license to use) FINALLY arrives in the mail. We get an EPIRB and a rocket flare. Safe, safe, safe. This is all in case we decide to venture out into Bass Strait with the aim of sailing from Port Phillip to Westernport Bay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Everything is packed. I have organised marine weather forecasts to be texted to M’s mobile phone three times a day. M has sewed sleeping sheets for D and E, who are hoping to hook up with us on our second day away. They call and ask where and when. We explain we are at the mercy of the weather, we have never sailed Boat anywhere before and that deadlines can’t safely exist on a sailing holiday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M goes down to sleep on Boat. I stay home for one last sleep in the wonder bed. We agree to get up at 5am. M will come home and we will do last minute stuff before departing at about 6.30am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wake at 5am. I shower. I make a thermos of tea. It’s 5.40am. No M. I send quick emails to my dad and my sister. No M. He doesn’t answer his mobile. I drive the van down to the beach. Boat is floating happily at anchor, about 50 metres out. I imagine M unconsious below deck, bleeding from a head wound, unble to move with a comminuted fracture of the left femur and a fluttering pulse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I walk to the edge of the water, whistling loudly. It’s about 6.10am. I hope that there isn’t anyone else sleeping their boats. I stand whistling for about ten minutes. Then I move to the pier which is my last option before wading out my undies. I stand on the pier, whistling as loud as I can between my fingers. I wonder if any of M’s blood has got into a drainhole in the boat and leaked out into the sea, where it will be smelt by a shark. Now I’m scared to wade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I whistle furiously. Finally, there is a reply. M’s head emerges from below the hatch. It’s as much as I can do not to take my shoe off and throw it at it. He dances. I shake my head. Then I realise he is not dancing, but weeing vigorously into a container. Again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We finally sail away at about 9.15am, heading across the bay to Queenscliff. I learn that it IS possible to be in the cabin whilst sailing and not vomit. You have to lie down! I sleep for two and a half hours, only woken a couple of times by the winch being used directly above my head. It’s bliss. M is delighting in Boat, she performs beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A few nautical miles out from Queenscliff we’re doing 8.4 knots- our top speed of the day, which we find wholly thrilling. M pulls down the sails and we motor into the harbour. Things go awry. The current is strong, there’s only one public buoy to secure the boat to. We try, fail, and end up hitting another boat. ARGH! We reassure the other boat that there is no damage [phew] and after a cup of milo at a dragging anchor, M goes investigating on his surf ski and finds an excellent, if somewhat kooky, spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tied up at Queenscliff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It’s lovely. We have to get a guy who is fishing to pull in his line for a moment so we can get past.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “So you’ve finally finished the boat?” he says to M, as he casts back out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Sorry?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “You’ve been working on the boat in Altona for a few years, haven’t you? I had a place just down the road. Used to go past the boat all the time mate.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He and M get involved in conversation, while I collapse in the cabin, totally relieved that guy whose boat we hit was so nice about the whole thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M then discovers that his new friend is a fishing mate of the guy whose boat we have just tickled the paintwork of. So we’ve come full circle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We walk wistfully past my boss’s sexy holiday house and go to the pub, where I beat M at pool in front of the public bar. We saunter back to Boat, all snugged near a wall. I make dinner and we have our first cooked meal aboard. Vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise. I apologise to M for only using one tin and half a jar of pasta sauce. We need to eat the contents of several tins per night to MAKE THE BOAT LIGHTER.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m sitting here now, typing all this on my old Palm IIIx with it’s portable keyboard. Thank you, Palm, you bloated capitalist opportunists. I actually have a Palm Tungsten T3 which has been thoughtfully made incompatible with all of the add-ons that I bought for my old Palm IIIx. I now have infared this to my T3 and wait until I get home to post it. Sleep now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My palm pilot, keyboard & book
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sailing Holiday – Day 02 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Leave our cosy nest and motor out through the cut again. SE wind very light. We anchor in front of town and burn some snags for my breaky. 30 feet of crystal water. Wind comes in and we have to get going. Cold snags for later. Tack up toward Popes Eye then stumble on the seal house. Hung out with the stinky sea dogs for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Seal Palace
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The seals in Port Phillip Bay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Across up to Point Nepean. Remote and old. Clean clear water. Fanged it back along the beaches toward portsea. Hit 11.8 kts next to the beach. Grins. Got snug in the corner at Police point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                M dropping the anchor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We draw 400mm. Had a few beers and some chips at portsea pub. Went for a walk and mingled with the beautiful people until they got nervous and we thought it best to leave. Moved the boat. Deeper sandy. Dave and Ellise turned up. Had few swims. B cooked tuna mornay. Yum. Nice sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                E checking the view
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Summer Holiday – Day 02

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We awoke in Queenscliff, me with a stiff neck due to my freakish and regrettable decision not to bring a pillow. Sleeping on my left side instead of my right (shoulder sore) is bad enough, but then sleeping on a rolled up jumper? Horror.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M got up first, and when I rolled over on to his pillow (which he never travels without) it was so blissful that I almost wailed in frustration at my pathetic effort to tough it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We had a cup of tea and then hit the supermarket – no, my provisions were not in question, but we needed a dustpan and brush. Then weventured to the gourmet delicatessen place in search of kangaroo sausages. I have decided, after much pondering, to extend my vegeaquarian diet to include jumpmeat. However, they had none. M bought some red wine and garlic ones that were so lean, they barely spat in the pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just as he’d finished cooking them, M took a look at the tide and became Action Man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “We have to leave. Leave now! Or we’ll get stuck here! Help me…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With a small degree of panic and one singed beach towel, we extracted Boat from her mooring and motored away down the channel, ducking our heads as we passed the boat we’d hit yesterday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The anchor went down right near Queenslcliff Pier. The water was clear aquamarine. I sat on net with my book, two bits of sour dough bread and some plums. Bliss. M gnawed on his sausages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just before the wind really kicked in, we put the sails up and headed across to Portsea/Sorrento via an albatross colony and a seal colony. M fanged Boat up to over 11 knots. We did eight knots to windward. The sailing was exciting, the weather was sunny, but the wind was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. I need to learn to wear more layers, even if it ‘looks’ warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We reached Portsea, and again took down the sails too near other boats. Muted panic as we extricated ourselves and ended up moored just before Police Point. M swam from the boat. I used the surfski. We then wandered toward the pier, looking somewhat dissolute with our plastic bag of dry undies and a towel. I realised, as I walked through all the dentally enhanced bathing box owners, that we had pulled up on the rich end of the beach. Down near the pier, the difference was obvious. Everyone was a bit fatter, a bit paler, their clothing was less painfully co-ordinated and everyone was a lot louder. We fitted in quite well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sailing Holiday – Day 03 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Big chilly swims in morning. E goes in nude and can’t get back onboard. Much hilarity. A clifftop Portsea person raises the Australian flag. E and B serenade them with the national anthem in cat voices. Fully reef sails as forecast is for 25 knots and am not sure how things will be with 4 onboard. Turns out that E and Dave are naturals and are a hoot to have onboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sailing away from Portsea
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Go out to smell the seals again. Then up along coast the Heads. Across to Queenscliff and back to our own little trimaran shaped nook. About 20nm in total. This time its low tide so we set about getting all the rocks out of the way so we can sit on the sand next to the park. Long walks in town and all meet at pub. As you do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Our nearest companion at Queenscliff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tied up at Queenscliff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sailing Holiday – Day 04 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A south easterly breeze at 20knots. Lazy lovely sail around spy island (the ASIS base) then along beaches and coast downwind to Port Arlington. Ran aground… as i like to noodle right next to the shore (and I wasn’t paying attention). Rudder a bit sad. Nevermind. Get to Port Arlington and the promise of fresh mussels. Drop anchor off the beach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Portarlington
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s a good spot. Wind offshore. Snorkle and jump off the pier for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Getting ready to check the damage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Big walk around town and up hill. Drinks at a cool bar. Buy 3 kilo of mussles off a boat and cook em up with some white wine. The ‘slurp for the cook, slurp for the pot’, recipe. Good sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sailing Holiday – Day 05 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        More south easterly winds at 20 knots. Tacked all the way back to Portsea. Back at Portsea pub and we blow a bomb on a yuck seafood thing. An extravaganza of batter, good scallops and dodgy prawns. The brown feast. The guys leave mid arvo. B and I decided to go to Westernport the next day. We stay the night at anchor in Portsea (near the exit to Bass Strait) even though we know there is an onshore blow going to hit that night. What a yuck night. Some sort of NASA sensory training hell. Got both anchors down and hung on. B went green, but managed to cook a curry without indulging in any hurling. A night of little sleep. It’s hard to wee when you can’t get your balance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sailing Holiday – Day 06 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our first north easterly. 10 to 15 knots. Left for the heads at 7am. Aiming for high tide on the rip bank. Still 2 hours of flood. Swirls and eddies were huge and scary. A big SW swell was running. Also a SE swell. However the combination of the high tide and flood stream make it tame.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bass Strait
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We did around 6 knots all the way to Westernport. Wind left us for an hour and we motored. B slept. Boom of swell crashing onto beaches and headlands. Went close to Cape Shanck. Past Bushranger’s Bay. Wild being out there. Felt like we could tackle anything. I keep looking across the blue swells, out to sea and an endless horizon. Dolphins hung around and swam with us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me waving at dolphins
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wind drops out at entrance to Westernport motor up to Cowes. Drop anchor on the beach. Do washing. Meet Ray! (Father of B, loitering on the beach with camera. Highly suspicious.) Hot. Sail off to Rhyll. Nice sail. Anchor in front of the overpriced pub. Ignore pub and hit the fish and chip shop next door. Flathead tails and chips for dinner. Great sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sailing Holiday – Day 07 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Breakfast aboard. Meet Ray at Newhaven at 1.30pm. Low tide. Sailed off to Tortoise Head. A fast hoot of a sail. Boat whizzes along. B stays below, sleeping and reading Chandler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dad steers to French Island
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anchor up close to shore. Close-ish. Ray and I stroll up the headland. Wild beach wild views. We were going to stay the night but decide to tack our way back to the conservation park between Ryhll and Cowes. Sail off toward Sandy Cape then into a beautiful quiet lagoon near Rhyll. Rains all night. Curry. Snug. Fun with Ray hanging around. Wine and beer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sailing Holiday – Day 08 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Back to Rhyll. But not before an exploration of the lagoon, which turns out to be horseshoe shaped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Exploring the lagoon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ray shouts us organic scrambled eggs for breakfast! [Awesome chai latte - Ed.]Sail up Settlement Point at the eastern side of French Isalnd. Surprised at how lovely and wild the area looks. Will have to come back. A fast sail to Newhaven. Ray steers a lot of the way. He is a good sailor and seems to enjoy getting amongst the rough stuff. A couple of days of really fast sailing. Drop him off at Newhaven at 330pm dead low tide. Hit pier… wah. More repairs for when we get home. Sail back to Rhyll. Go for long walk. Visit the general store. We have flathead tails and potato cakes again. Yum! Have to wait for tide around at front beach. Then scoot to the side beach in front of the pub. We tie up in such a way as to be able to pull ourselves up to the sand. Very nice. Good sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sailing Holiday – Day 09 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A long walk up the hill at Rhyll and across in front of the lagoon. Unusual nature trail. We vow to return. Back via general store and coffee in café. Goodbye Rhyll. Set out toward Cowes. Quiet easy sailing. Lovely day. Didn’t know where to stop at Cowes as we wanted to explore and try to get some navigation light bulbs. Ended up anchoring off the sailing club beach south of the town. An F 28 was in the club grounds. Outer Limits. Wah. We walked around town. Went to op shops and had a coffee. Went to hardware shops for the bulbs. No luck. Bought new sunglasses and op-shop shorts. B got a good deal on a bikini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Back to boat mid arvo. It’s stuck. We push and push. No one helps. I winch us along the anchor line, which loosens us a bit. After about 25 minutes, we float free. We decide to scoot over to Flinders to save ourselves travelling time to the heads in the morning. Hopefully it has shelter for a south wind. I punt that it does. We set off up the channel. It is open to Bass Strait and the wind kicks in. Tide is against the wind and soon waves get to around 2mtrs – stacked close and messy. I power up the boat and she slices and flys thru but it is a wild ride. Poor B gets a tad pale. I head off track and beat up toward the straight inside Cat Bay. I have surfed Flynns Reef inside the bay a few times. So I knew it. It is way calmer. One last rough ride across the entrance to Westernport and we arrive. Flinders is calm and totally beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flinders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We anchor off the beach and step ashore in 12inches of water. A big wander through town and coffee. B still green. Back at the boat at sunset we cooked up a tuna tomato thingo. I set up all the pilotage needed for a boisterous return to Port Phillip Bay. A night start. Sectores to turn by. Dawn by Cape Shanck. Etc. I put a a bunch of waypoints in the GPS as back up. I won’t rely on a GPS ever. But if it’s not broken and hasn’t been dropped overboard then it is good to double check my pilotage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flinders - a vacant block.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Flinders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sailing Holiday – Day 10 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Leave at 4am. Dark and windy. 20 knot southerly. We get out past West Head and turn into Bass Straight. A big swell and lumpy wind waves in the dark. Kinda fun as the little tri all reefed down tackled it easy and made me confident. Sun comes up like a big bald head not far before Cape Shanck. B goes below to sleep and I reef down to just the storm jib as the tri was going way too fast to be at the heads by high tide on the Rip Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We settle into a beam reach climbing over a friendly swell as big as houses and an unfriendly jagged wind chop. Not a smooth ride at all. I decide to arrive an hour early and see how it is. The flood stream continues to go into the bay for 3 hours after high tide at the heads. I put up the mainsail and fanged it the rest of the way and got there a tad early but near the top of the tide. Point Nepean surf was going off and we sailed in close to get a look. It is nearly high tide and calm so we whip in on the flood stream. Some guys are surfing the point, so we go closer in for a look. B sleeps nearly the whole way leaving me to ponder the wilds of nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After getting down the bay a few miles we cross the shipping channel and go back thru the cut. I love our little nook next to the spy bridge. I go in a little too eager and hit the old metal wall. Eeeeck. More repairs to to… Go to a svelte garden guesthouse café. [Athelstane House - Ed.] A piss poor ploughmans lunch and some divine wine and I’m ready to crash. B goes into op shop mode and I trudge along. [He says 'trudge', I say 'dragged' - Ed.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To celebrate our return we get 2 kilo of fresh mussels for dinner. I sleep and B makes the boat a palace. Dinner is divine. Sunset sees us beset by mozzies… it is a slaughter on both sides. The boat smeared with blood… theirs and ours. Delirious, we start throwing full jam jars at them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On the boat at dusk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sailing Holiday – Day 11 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Boat a shambles. Go off to breaky, coffee, op shops and an art show… as you do. Got back just as Chris and Jodie get into town. A wild clean of the boat and here they are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jody - She hates to sail.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A trip into town via car to get mossie coils and some beer/ice. Then out through the mythical cut and into a sunny 15knot south wind. Hello Popes Eye, hello albatross colony and hello seal colony. Phew. Jodie goes into shut down as she doesn’t get the boat thing at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tack us across to Portsea and we step off onto the beach and scurry up to pub to have medicine. Beer and chips. Jodie comes to life. A nice and cruisey sail up the heads along the national park where we see some lazy dolphins, and then downwind back to Queenscliff. Jodie chatting and having a hoot untill she trips into the cabin and bangs her poor head. Ouch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Back in our nook and she retreats to the car to chill. I hand her a wine an hour later and the party begins. B and I had run out of cruising funds and out of cooking gas so we tweak all our guest’s nibblies and conjur a surpring array of tasty bits. Add beer and awesome wine and we call it a dinner. We chat and laught for a few hours then bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sailing Holiday – Day 12 – by M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (The following is written by my secret guest writer, only to be known as ‘M’.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Had to say see ya to the girls as we had a 30th birthday to get to mid arvo in Melbourne. A 5 hour downwind sail. B reads books. I dream. The waves got bigger close to the city and the tri went into surfing mode. B hooted. Wind got up to 15/20knots and we decided to reach across for a while even tho it would make us late. The boat flew along a 12 knots steady. The pop top was up and spray was getting in but we couldn’t stop. It is addictive to go fast! End of trip mid arvo. Boat on mooring and us bundled into a car by B’s parents and the Grassy Noel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We survive. Boat performs as I had hoped. Top speeds are a hoot to sit near. Nothing breaks. We didn’t throw up… what more could you want?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not Dead, Just Procrastinating

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not missing, presumed drowned, later to be spotted on the streets of Rio with a new nose. I have been back for a week, but the shock of returning to work two days after we got back from The Oddessey was too much for my psyche to handle, and it melted. I rendered unable to type. I now continue to melt – as it’s a lovely 41 degrees (that’s 105.8 Fahrenheit, btw). Horrible. M is at the kitchen table concentrating on Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and I am trying to see if shallow breathing and ice water will help my melt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am trying to stay away from realestate.com.au and am being fairly successful. We have been given a date to get out of this house we’re in – we must remove ourselves by the first weekend in March. Gulp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Everybody Loves Spam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have been slabbed, deluged and battered by spam today. I am so glad I decided to filter all my mail through my gmail address. Gmail is kickass at spam filtering, which saved me from much irrational fury. Gah. Well. Most of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Big Self Doubt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Usually I don’t go out of my way to meet people I don’t know. It’s why I mostly hate going to parties. However. A good friend of Small Brother’s is in town with Franz Ferdinand, who are playing the Big Day Out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Give him a call!” urged Small Brother, “He’s a really cool guy. He’ll get you tickets!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Inside I began crawling into a foetal postion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Noooooo,” I whined.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “What?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “I mean, I would love to go to the BDO [despite reading this in the Age and knowing it's all true], but I hate meeting people I don’t know. I’m bad at it.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Huh.” He was dismissive.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “I was going to call him up and arrange to meet, but I wanted someone to come with me, but M’s away and E is already booked.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Where’s M?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Away sailing on a solo, manly boat trip. Last seen quaffing coffee in Portarlington. He’s pretending to rough it, but he doesn’t know how.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “But will he be back for the BDO on Sunday?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Don’t think so. I thought there was only one ticket, just for me.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “AAAAH!” screamed Small Brother. “Why? WHY would you think that? Of course there’s two tickets. AND back stage passes!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Um.” I was actually blushing, a rare, rare occurrence. “Well, I didn’t want to be pushy or anything. I didn’t know I’d be able to get a plus one.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He groaned, sounding slightly like our mother. “You’re an idiot. You don’t ask, you don’t get.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now he sounded like he was channelling our mother. (Our mother being the one who, when being told M looked remarkably like the Yellow Wiggle, sighed, and said how great it would be if M really was the Yellow Wiggle, because the Yellow Wiggle is probably worth a bomb.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “OK.” I felt relief that I’d now be able to go to the BDO with someone (and that that someone will look even older than me, in the crowds of squeaking 17-year-olds), but also trepidation, as I now knew I would have to go and meet Small Brother’s mate, in order to make it all happen. Eeeek.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So I’m off to the city, and will attempt to appear cool, calm and collected, while I will be internally wishing for some moral support and a large gin and tonic. TBC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Big Self Clout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I called Small Brother’s friend from Flinders Street Station and arranged to call back after six, which was a better time for him. I then went to see the Margaret Preston exhibition (my Dad had bought me a ticket – thank you, thank you). I began by thinking that a lot of her paintings were very drab and unmmemorable, but I now think that there are at least fifteen of them that I would have paid good money to have on my wall to look at every day. There’s a great one of people swimming in the pool at Manly, and another of pink gum blossoms, a beautiful one of goldfish in a bowl and another of a NSW billabong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After my taste of culture I had a soul strengthening stubby of Coopers Pale and then wandered to Pony for a restorative lemon, lime and bitters. I thought, hopefully, that it might be a good place to meet up. I called him [Small Brother's friend, 'D-UK' as he will be now known], and as he’d never been in Melbourne before, he immediately suggested that we meet in the bar of the Hyatt. Fine. He also asked if I’d like to see the White Stripes tonight. Ordinarily, I would probably carve off a slice of my own skin to see the White Stripes. But to go with someone I didn’t know, with no means of escape? Nope. I was vague. And then immediately called D & E to see if they could meet up with us and come along. Nope. They were stranded at a jazz festival in Eltham. Goddamnit. (I later was very thankful…and Pony as a good place to meet up? I was So. Wrong.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I meet D-UK in the bar of the Hyatt. He’s very nice. Looks uncomfortably like a short version of Robbie Williams (minus the charisma). We cover some polite conversation topics. Order more Coopers (he’s running a tab – thank you Sony, thank you BDO). It becomes very obvious to me that despite the fact that he’s a good friend of Small Brother and two years older than me, that we have absolutely very little of interest to say to each other. He asks me whether I’m Small Brother’s younger or older sister. I look at him pityingly and wonder if he just bounced to Earth from Saturn. Hello? I’m 32, and Small Brother is 25. I have never before been thought to be eight years younger. It’s momentarily refreshing. Then I realise that it’s just ridiculous. He checks out every girl in the place. I help him, because it looks like he needs it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He tries to convince me that Small Brother has grown his hair, and now sports a small ponytail and diamond earring. He asks if I’m into music. Am I a singer? I admit to the band, playing bass, singing, getting nowhere. He responds that at age 17 he was singing in a band supporting UB40 in front of 10,000 people. Riiiight. Red Red Wine, Rat In Mi Kitchen… and all that. I’m not hungry. He orders food. I take the opportunity to go to the bathroom. I push the door and it swings open energetically and almost takes out some olive skinned Mauritian looking nymphet in a backless dress…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Just knock me over next time!” she spits, as best she can, through plumped up lips.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Abso-lutely,” I cat back at her. This is what the Hyatt has made me become. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I get back to the bar and we have been joined by two people that appear very nice, and have no similarity to any pop star, historical or current. We chat. I remember that I hate to chat when chatting is an effort. So I listen. Another girl turns up. Irish. I smile with a kind of rictus and let it all play out for another ten minutes, which is when I consult my watch and state that I am late for dinner with my former boss, and have to go. Right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Bye, D-UK. Lovely to meet you,” I say.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Bye B.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We do fake kisses. I almost have my hand out for the ticket envelope.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “So just give me a call tomorrow about the BDO tickets and I’ll set you up.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Sorry?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Yeah, sometime around noon will be fine?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              [I am agog. One of the bands that I'm desperate to see are on at 11am. He obviously thinks I'm just keen to make sure I catch Franz Ferdinand in action, not knowing that there are at least thirteen bands before them that I am aching to see.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “No worries,” I say, through my teeth. “I’ll give you a call.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make sure I’m well out of hearing range before shrieking… “NOT!!!!!!” in true, cowardly, Homer Simpson style. I stalk down Collins Street, feeling stupid and deflated. I decide to move to the country straight away where shit like this won’t be able to happen to me, because I’ll be a hick and won’t care. I wonder at the karma that hasn’t kicked in for me. I had mistakenly felt that it was such an effort on my behalf to meet someone I didn’t know for the purposes of meeting a friend of Small Brother and some BDO tickets that, as karmic payback, everything would go brilliantly and we would be new best friends. Gah. Stupid karma. You can’t rely on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Cold Shoulder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “Goodbye,” my osteopath said to me this morning. “I hope I don’t have to see you again.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I didn’t take it personally, even though he’d just made my eyes water by loosening off muscles in my right upper back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I hope I don’t see you again either,” I said. “Nothing personal.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I made him draw me stick figures of the excercises I have to do to strengthen my newly healthy right shoulder – my supraspinatus tendon, to be exact. He’d given me excercises and a long bit of thick elasticky stuff two weeks ago, and I immediately forgot his instructions and ended up tying myself in highly complex knots all over the loungeroom. Now I have stick figure maps. I am going to be diligent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Of course, I just got to work and the first file I have to work on is someone with a ‘complete rupture of the supraspinatus tendon’. Holy crap, how that must hurt! I am going to nurture my own supraspinatus with regularity and care so this never, ever happens to me. [Touch wood.] At lunchtime I will medicate myself with a chai and a cheese and tomato toasty. The hard stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There’s no place like home

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We have about five weeks before we need to get out of our house. It’s almost time to start our next big project. M and I have 95% agreed that we’re (well, he’ll be doing most of it) going to build a 35 foot catamaran. Yike! A big boat. We plan to approach it like we did the house [wow - I forgot I still had that site online!] – as a one or two year project.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We spent last night being very adult and doing lots of sums. I tried desperately to plot how best to utilise the bank without having to give it much money – pretty much a doomed quest. M has been very proactive and has been emailing the designers, making exhaustive budgetary lists and investigating builders insurance. (Blondely, I only realised yesterday that this kind of insurance isf for the project you are building, rather than insuring the builder himself. D’oh. Just call me Bambi and be done with it – just don’t shoot my mother, it’s her birthday today.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The looming issue is where to build. We want to do it onsite. So we need a shed of 90sqm or larger which is on a block that also has a house. It’s pretty much impossible to find for what we can pay (around $200 p/w) in the Melbourne area. Obviously the nearer to the water we are the better, as the cost for transporting the boat to the water in order to launch it will be dependent on the length of the journey. Thus, we also need to be somewhere that can cope with an over-sized vehicle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’ve been looking and looking. I usually use domain.com.au or realestate.com.au, but in the last day or so I’ve found homehunt.com.au very good and commercialrealestate.com.au. We have thought about leasing an industrial space, and living in one bit while working in the other – this is quite practical, but not hugely attractive. I am starting to get to the end of my tether and am dwelling fondly on the idea to moving to somewhere in northern NSW with an acre or two and some sheds. Of course, then I’d have to find a new job…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And it gets complicated all over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First day of school – ever!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    First day of school - ever!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is our lovely friend Claudia all frocked up for her first day at primary school. Suddenly she looks so much older, even though she’s still only five. Am loving those pigtails.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It doesn’t seem so long ago that she was almost one whole year younger and had just caught a fish that was almost as big as her own head. She named it ‘HeadChoppedOffEaten’ and M fried it up for her delectation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Congratulations Small C! Keep dancing to the Ramones – although rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n'roll PRIMARY school doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, I’m sure you can make it happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Will Somebody Please Love Humphrey?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I haven’t been blogging very much, as I’m finding that this relatively new job of mine is just sucking away my life force will to write. I spend seven hours four days a week writing reports and I am a husk of my former writing self… but enough about me. Say hello to Humphrey!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adopt Humphrey
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I met Humphrey over at the house of the lovely lady who is fostering him until somebody adopts him properly. He is a playful cat. He’s not exactly trusting of everyone until you’ve met him and patted him for a while. If I didn’t have two cats already… I tried to get my sister to adopt him over the weekend, but she kept going on about another cat called ‘LeRoy’ who has stolen her heart (but obviously hasn’t kept it, as she hasn’t gone and got him). You can read about how Humphrey is going with his foster family here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last week he was !Feature Cat! on the Save-A-Dog Scheme site, despite the fact that he is, obviously, not a dog. Go and check out the site if you have a furry cat or dog shaped place that is empty in your home…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Optus is Crap. Scrapbook is Good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We use OptusCable for our internet connection in our current house. It was already all hooked up when we moved in. I bought a wireless router and a couple of wireless network cards, and M and I were very happy with our wirelessly connected lappys. However. I have begun noticing that whenever the weather gets fairly hot (like yesterday, and those 40 degree days a week or so ago) we lose our internet connection. I called Optus and flexed my old help desk muscle and got them to tell me that it was defnitely at their end and not at ours. And this was confirmed this morning when I read this on Whirlpool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s very annoying. And as I’m not the account holder, there’s not really much I can do about it. But – I did remember the other night that I used to use the Scrapbook extension for Firefox. I installed the latest version the other night and saved myself some articles that I wanted to read through at a later date. So last night when I got home and, what a surprise, our connection was down, I just used Scrapbook to go through and read what I’d saved. It’s a very cool extension.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Valentine-y Hole in the Pocket

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So M and I don’t really do the Valentine Thing. I got home from work this afternoon, frazzled beyond all bearing, only to have him cheep at me incessantly like a small bird until I snapped. Squashed him. And he told me to go and have a nice lie down, which I did. When I saw him again, half an hour later, he admitted to having got me a Valentines Day present. I could scarcely believe it – luckily.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “It’s pretty lame,” he said, as I followed him down the hall.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Nooooo,” I said politely.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Well, you might think so.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “So you got me a present that you already know I’ll think is lame?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Um… Well. Only you’ll be able to use it. I’ll never use it. It’s not like when Homer bought Marge the bowling ball because he wanted to become a bowling champion… Not really.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Right. So?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “So here it is,” he said gleefully, ripping off the plastic, as he’d obviously been dying to do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The present was made of a cream coloured mesh. It was a pocket.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “It’s a pocket,” I said, stating the bleeding obvious. “A pocket for putting on a boat to stash sunglasses and bikini tops.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Yes,” agreed M, nodding solemnly, “But it’s your pocket. You have mentioned a lot that you’d like an extra pocket on the trimaran. You know, to put stuff in.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Huh,” I said, wondering whether to kill him, or play it out slowly. I decided on the latter. “Seeing as it’s my pocket, and my present, to do whatever I want with, I’m going to put it on my own little boat.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          His face dropped to the ground.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “You got it for me. It’s my present. And it’s going on my boat.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          His face scrunched. “Nooooooo. It’s supposed to go on Boat. On the trimaran. It won’t fit on your little boat.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Nevertheless,” I said grandly, flourishing my Valentine’s pocket, “That is where it will go.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Latest news from Small Brother

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The email reads…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We’ve got travel insurance and we are expecting to be mugged. Everyone that goes to Brazil gets mugged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’m going to take my phone but I won’t have it with me most of the time but I’ll try to make contact with one of you sporadically while I’m there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ha ha! I’m going to Rio!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Consolidation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This might be a useful tool if you’re like me and have accounts at flickr, allconsuming, 43things, delicious etc. It’s called SuprGlu (don’t ask me why neither of those words have an ‘e’ – maybe it’s the new cool thing…) and it basically pulls in feeds from all of your accounts with those aforementioned services. Maybe good and nifty, maybe not. Have to play with it a bit more. Here’s mine at http://miaow.suprglu.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh. And say hello to Ian, my friend in northern NSW who has succumbed to the lure of blogging. He’s getting geekier by the week and is hanging out over at dotdotdot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mispronounciation of the Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ‘…a fracture of the fish finger…’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                –the more tired I get, the more creative DragonDictate becomes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not Dead, Just Plotting

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am actually still alive, as long as you don’t go by how little I’ve been posting here on [m i a o w]. There are changes brewing and I hope they will cure me of my non-blogging blues, which have been firmly in place ever since I was stupid enough to commit to working four days a week. It began as a nice three day job, and when it became a four day job ‘just for a little while’ I realised soon after that it’s actually a five day a week job in disguise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Which is fine, but it should be without masquerade! Our time in Melbourne was supposed to be a bit of a holiday. M was going to finish his boat. I was going to play music. M’s stuff has happened according to plan. My side of the whole thing just got demolished by my new job, and the fact that I’m in Hampton and Christine is in the true depths of Preston and is playing in another band. And she doesn’t want to continue with BM. So…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On Thursday I quit my job. M and I are buying a shed, putting it somewhere in the middle of my dad’s orchard, filling it with our stuff and are going to hang out in Brunswick Heads in northern NSW for a few weeks, surfing and looking for somewhere to rent that we can build the big boat. We’re hoping to rent somewhere with a bit more action than Hervey Bay and not too far from a beach. And also within a reasonable distance to our friends in Rosebank, so we can bother them with Coopers and pesto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So there’s the gossip. Meanwhile, Small Brother lurks in Rio, not yet having been mugged, as far as we know. We’ve got just over three more weeks in the wilds of Hampton before we put our plan into action. We’re going to be caravan park dwellers, and I can’t wait!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Voice Recognition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am bleary eyed, having stayed up late the past two nights on the most fruitless task possible – networking my mother’s craptastic Win98 laptop (the DoorStop) to my lovely and excellent WinXp ThinkPad. Oh, the woe is so great. I’m using a crossover cable. All this to avoid having to install my external burner and Nero (or something) on to the DoorStop to back up my mothers email before I wipe the bloody thing. Gah. I’m going the burner route tonight, I have no more time to waste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yesterday was a full on day at work – my boss works in the city every now and again, and if I don’t have a file ready for him the day before to give him a hard copy, I have to email it through. So I’ve pounded out this file. He wanted it at noon, and I sent it off at twenty past. I used Dragon Naturally Speaking (when I’m not plotting how to kill it when it wilfully misunderstands me). My boss called me later that afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “You know that file you sent me today?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Yeah.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “There’s just one issue with it – I’m not sure who this ‘Jackie’ is.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Jackie?” I begin to panic. “I don’t remember there being a Jackie.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Just do a ‘find’ in the word document.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’m already there, fumbling with the control key, searching for ‘Jackie’. I find this sentence…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    He was able to gain a reflex erection, but there was no evidence of spontaneous and Jackie, making him in fertile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Oh my god.” I can hear my boss laughing down the phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Ejaculation!!” I scream, no doubt to the joy of the people in the front office. “Ejaculation! Stupid Dragon Dictate.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Bye,” says my boss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I sigh in response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Later I find out that the person in question didn’t show for the appointment, leaving my boss with nothing to do. He is a man that really, really needs things to do, or he becomes bored and taunts his employees. Me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And the winner is…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Academy Awards. Guess what?! I’m not going to tell you who won. Because I didn’t want to know either. But because I have The Age sending updates to me via email, all I had to do was read the subject line and I knew who had won best supporting actor and actress. I can only assume that the reason they didn’t post the best actor/actress results was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a) because they haven’t happened yet, or…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      b) because they knew lots of people would unsubscribe in fury

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This happens every year, and every year I forget. I am a goldfish. And I suppose now I don’t have to watch the awards on TV…whine whine whine…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Vintage Fashion Astrology…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Taurus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        april 21 – may 20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Taurus shops for life… no trendy splurges for you, unh uh. You are attracted to the biggest names in fashion only if they can back it up with solid quality and timeless design. Michael Kors, old school Yves Saint Laurent and a bevy of Halston cashmere coats are proof positive that you have always known how to spend your money wisely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Designers who share your sign :
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pierre Balmain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Halston
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Issey Miyake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mariano Fortuny
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jean-Paul Gaultier
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Christian Lacroix…sweety…sweety…sweety

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can find your Vintage Fashion Astrology here. I know you want to ;-P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Travels With My Nana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m off in a few minutes to stay in Daylesford for two nights. M and I are kidnapping my Nana and taking her away (despite the fact that she only got driven down from NSW yesterday) to noodle around Daylesford. I’m sure there will be lots of coffee and book browsing going on. We were going to take my small boat with us, but it had to be removed from the backyard to Loch as The Owners Were Returning To Check Out The House. Spasm. But there are boats to rent on the lake, so that’s an option. I have managed, generally through sleeplessness, to complete a weeks worth of work, so I can disappear on a Wednesday – I only just found out that Monday is a public holiday, so I have about a bazillion days off! Or, at least six days. Near enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another Teasmade!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Am just posting quickly as I have to finish a file for a person who is turning up tomorrow at 9am [sigh], but I am so excited. I just bought a Teasmade on Ebay that I’ve been after for a few years. I’m too cheap to buy a proper one, of course, as they go for $130 or over, but I got a D25 model without the tray and missing a teapot for $76. Wah-hoodle! It will make a good companion for my Goblin D26. (At least I think it’s a D26, but it’s packed, so I can’t check. I am sitting amidst a sea of boxes and bags…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It has been a day of Ebay purchases, beginning with another Nokia 5110 for my dad, that I found this morning with four minutes to go. Four minutes later, it was mine (or his – he slapped the cash down a few minutes later) for $16.50 and $10 postage. Tra la. A vibrating battery and everything. And then I got a data cable for $3.99 for my phone. Small Brother tells me he is upgrading his phone soon, and will send his latest to me, but in the meantime, I’ll be able to back up all the stuff on the phone to my computer, and hopefully charge it as well through my USB car charger. We shall see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Coldslaw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Horrible coldslaw on lip. Look like had fight with bee and lost. Cheaper then collagen but comes with scab. Have more work that brain can take in to get done before 5pm – which would be in two hours. Appear to have mislaid drivers license and thus was not allowed by post office to redirect our mail. Still have redirections ongoing from last two houses. Bother. Praying for tax return to arrive. Praying. Praying. Ohhhh, my lip it is fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Smear of orange fur

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A smear of orange fur
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shed Progress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shed on van nudging persimmon tree
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  From the end of one to the end of the other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The second shed - half roofed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We picked up this shed (which is actually two sheds that can be joined together, which ends up looking something like a railway carriage) from a house in Drouin on the weekend. M and dad put it up until it had three quarters of its roof on. M went back yesterday and finished it off. Now, about 80% of our stuff is in it. I wonder when it will see daylight again?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kill Kill Kill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some complete c*** has stolen my our little Tohatsu outboard motor. We are waiting to see if it’s going to be covered by insurance. It really, really sucks because:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) we never buy anything new, always secondhand, and this was pretty much our only brand new (and thus expensive) thing, and…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) the trimaran is now stuck where it is, and even if we do find the trailer (secondhand – of course) we’ve been searching for, we won’t be able to get the trimaran on it without a motor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ARGH! When they said it was going to be a bad month, I didn’t realise quite how bad – although, of course, it is only a motor, and we can probably get another. Have to keep it all in perspective, which sort of easier than normal as one of our friends has been very ill in intensive care. She is now much better, and far more important than a motor. But it does, however, still suck. And the police haven’t been hugely helpful and are (kind of understandably) very short on boat knowledge – e.g. “So it weighs as much as, um, a dog?” ARGH!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Sad and the Good

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A day of high emotion, beginning with the funeral of our friends tiny baby whose heartbeat stopped 30 minutes before delivery :( The funeral service was beautiful, short and simple. Everyone was doing well until right at the end, when a Coldplay song came one. Chris Martin could wring tears from a stone. We all gathered for some restorative cups of tea and more tissues before dispersing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the gap between the service and the next gathering, M and I had a meeting in a cafe about our upcoming plans, before heading back for a wake/bbq and some beer. It was such a beautiful sunny day, it seemed odd that everyone was there for such a sad occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I headed back to work at about 3pm and got in two hours of report writing. Went home, changed from one black dress into another black dress, and was picked by by lovely L and S from work. We collected my boss, who then treated us all to a goodbye dinner in my honour (!) upstairs at the Stokehouse. The food was sublime. I was given a card from everyone, a very beautiful little watercolour that my boss had done and a handbearing compass!! Gobsmacked!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By the time I got home, I was wrung out. Felt ridiculous for having quit my job. Felt sad about the funeral. Sat and dripped a bit of mascara on M and then went to bed. A fraught, but wonderful day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To Sea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M has found a mooring for the trimaran in Cannons Creek, and he would much prefer a secure mooring in a creek to taking down the mast and putting the boat on a trailer. So we are setting off any minute to sail to Queenscliff, where we will stay the night, and then tomorrow morning we head out into Bass Strait and around to either Flinders or Tortoise Head. We probably won’t make it to Cannons Creek until Monday morning due to the tide. Then it will be off to my dad’s to build the cat home! Bon Voyage!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We Made It – Cannons Creek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We had a blissful sail over to Queenscliff, if you forget about us dragging the trimaran away from the pier at Sandringham in a 30 knot wind only fo rme to end up hanging off the side of it like some recalcitrant water rat until M jumped aboard and started the (new) motor. (Don’t know whether the insurance is going to cough up for stolen motor yet, still have fingers crossed, which made it fairly difficult to sail.) Other than that, it was lovely. We pulled up in our normal spot near the spy bridge and hit the pub so I could get a shandy to cure my slight case of sea sickness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sitting in the beer garden of the pub, reading the newspaper, M was coralled by two small children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Excuse me, excuse me!” piped the little girl. “Are you a Wiggle?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M slumped into his chair, apparently hoping to be turned to ash and blown asunder in a light passing breeze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “A Wiggle! You a Wiggle!” insisted the littler boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “No,” said M gruffly, “I am not a Wiggle. Really. I never was a Wiggle.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The little girl was unmoved. “Are you Jeff the Wiggle?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “You look like a Wiggle,” her brother said. “Jeff?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was laughing so hard that I was immobilised, with silent tears of mirth plopping down the front of my t-shirt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M shook his Wiggle-like head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “I am not a Wiggle,” he said, with an air of weary resignation, “but if you get me a yellow skivvy, I’ll see what I can do.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This was too much for the small children, who were being summoned by their parents. The parents had obviously spied my inelegant lack of control and thought it best to remove their offspring from the proximity of the tearful, shaking silent friend of the famous Wiggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once the children had returned to the other side of the beer garden, where they remained with their eyes fixed on M, I began to calm down. M, however, began to wail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “What is it? Is it my hair? I’ll cut my hair.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “The Yellow Wiggle already has quite short hair.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Oh. Is it my face? Should I grow a beard? I have to do something. Does everyone think I’m a Wiggle?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “M. You idiot. It’s everything. You are, for all intents and purposes, the Yellow Wiggle. Everyone under the age of eight in Australia will agree with me. Do you think you should be drinking beer? It might not be good for your image.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M accompanied me mournfully back to the boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We ate cheese, a bottle of red and a pesto, rocket and tuna roll each for dinner (M was catering like a god). In the morning we headed off just after it got light, after scrambled eggs and cups of tea. Our new little motor was performing beautifully, although it had its own kind of quirks that we were just getting the hang of. There was almost too little wind to get out through the heads, so we motor sailed, waving to the webcam that Christian had told us was there, so they could see us at home. The water was flat as a tack. Bass Strait was almost glassy with big rolling swells. We were accompanied the whole way by the squarks of penguins – we occasionally saw some, but nothing like as many as we could hear all around us!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By the time we got to Cowes, the wind, that had been fading in and out all day, decided that it was time to pack up and go home. We motored from Cowes to Rhyll, where we pulled up on the beach and went in search of pumpkin cakes (as opposed to potato cakes/potato scallops) from the fish and chip shop. They weren’t as good as last time, being more grease than pumpkin, but we had a beer each, and then headed back to the boat. We motored around to the other side of Rhyll to try and escape the worst of the southerley wind that was predicted to come through during the night, convieniently forgetting to replenish our water supplies beforehand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A lovely pesto, pasta and cherry tomato dinner. We listened to some ABC podcasts on my palm pilot, until the battery ran low (which took, oh, all of half an hour). I then tried something that has been on my mind since our last big sailing odyssey. I plugged my palm usb cable into its cigarette lighter extension (for car charging) and plugged that into a female cigarette plug which had two crocodile clips that I fastened to a wheelchair battery. It worked so beautifully that I was completely charmed. Will post a picture later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M woke up late, so we didn’t get underway until about 7am, when we should have left at 6am. It was doubtful whether we were going to make it to Cannons Creek in time for high tide – the only time to get to the moorning. I sailed the first leg of the trip, coaxing Boat to about seven and half knots, to the envy of M. The wind was a little flakey. After about two hours or so, I could no longer keep my eyes open and headed down below for a sleep. My sleep was punctuated by dreams of dancing elephants who kept falling over. After I got up I found that M had had to do lots of jibes, as well as trying to plot navigation points on a chart. Freak. He could have just woken me up – but I think he enjoyed being a solo sailor and doing it tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Motored through Warneet, where a slew of boats had convieniently moored right in the middle of the channel – thank goodness we hadn’t had to navigate in the dark, it would have been a disaster. It was exciting to see lots of other trimarans around! We took a right, up Cannons Creek. M had me scampering like a monkey, organising all the stuff we were taking off the boat (everything) as we wouldn’t be back for at least a month and didn’t want anything left aboard to be stolen (unlikely, but possible). The tide was high enough for us to pull along side the little concrete dock at Seahaven (M’s recently discovered multihuul heaven) and unload all our stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After we had got everything ashore, we attached a dinghy and motored out to the mooring. I hooked it with a boathook (first go – had never done it before!) and M secured us. We locked the boat up and said our goodbyes. M, me and new Tohatsu went ashore in the dinghy without mishap, and had cups of tea with the Multihull Men, before taking off in the Humber to Loch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Au Revoir

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is Thursday. We are finally about to leave. The lights on the trailer are fixed. The boat is packed. M’s birthday is over. We have just discovered that the trailer rego ran out last month and will ponder what to do about that as we try to make it on and off the Western Ring Road before rush hour. The cats are housed in L & D’s backyard – their German Shepard is showing little or no interest. We discovered two design flaws – we forgot that cats are taller when they sit up than when they walk (cat chiropractor anyone?) – but they can sit up on the bottom level of the cat home, so it’s not a total disaster. L also pointed out that once someone is inside the cage saying hello to the cats there is nothing to keep the door shut behind them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We’re aiming for Albury by tonight…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lake Tyers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We left Loch, intending to drive back into Melbourne and head on to the Hume Highway via the Western Ring Road. After about ten minutes in the car, M grew faint of heart, and suggested we take the coast road, which, although our trip would be longer, it would be infinitely more scenic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As he had been whining off and on about the drive from Melbourne to northern NSW, I thought that it would be best for him to be exposed to as much scenery as possible. (I did also, on two separate occasions with L and my dad as witnesses, tell him to fly while I drove, but he refused – just for the record.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We turned off at Lang Lang and headed through (in no particular order) Drouin, Moe, Warragul, Sale, Rosedale, Stratford, Bairnsdale and finally, Lakes Entrance. We had decided that we would stay at Lakes Entrance, but found it so unasthetically pleasing, that in desperation, we drove on five further kilometres to Lake Tyers and found an unpowered campsite within earshot of the surf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Poor little Oomoo had to be left on his own in the boat parking area, looking miniscule alongside the other boats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My small boat looking ubersmall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We ventured out to the Waterwheel- a pub that must be a fantastic place for a few beers on a sunny day. Our meals were better than we’d hoped – I had thai tuna cakes, and M had excellent calamari. We vowed, afterour ‘first night of holiday’ meal, to go shopping at a supermarket for supplies so we can cook on our camp stove- much cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lake Tyers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now we are sitting by the light of our four candle lanterns in the back of the van on our bed. M is reading the book I got for his birthday yesterday, Into The Blue by Tony Horwitz, and I am typing into my old Palm IIIx using my foldup keyboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lake Tyers in the van
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I didn’t bring my laptop with me,as I will have no was to charge it, and the IIIx runs off two AAA batteries. The revelation of our trip so far is a little cigarette lighter powered thing that our housemate D gave to M some months ago. It has a usb port on it, and I have filled two (one 128MB and one 256MB) usb sticks with mp3s. You then tune the car radio (that M installed today) to it and you get all your tunes through the speakers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Considering all the miles we’ve done in our van (Vanee) without any audio except our own singing, we feel like we’ve entered a whole other realm of car travel!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tomorrow I will drive until lunchtime. My aim is to make it to Tilba Tilba for lunch – the land of wonderful cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hoist the black rope, you limey biscuit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is one of the terms M has learnt from Into The Blue, with which he addressed me this morning as we left Lake Tyers just before 9am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We took a detour to Marlo, because the guy in the Hampton Street cleanskins shop had told L and I all about Marlo one night when we dropped in to buy an inoffensive bottle of white to have with our dinner at Zipang.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Marlo was lovely and unassuming, recently cut off from the open sea by a sand bank. There was one cafe of interest run by an enterprising young farm guy, who had funded his hospitality course at William Angliss Tafe by working on beef and dairy farms. He made me poached egges and M scrambled eggs, with all the finesse of some Acland Street cafe. It was perfect. We sat on the verandah in big 1970s vinyl seats and read our books and stared at the sea while munching breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cafe in Marlo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Marlo pub looked excellent, although at that time of the morning,it was a little hard to judge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We continued up the coast, I vowed that I wanted – needed – to have a late lunch in Tilba Tilba, the home of excellent cheese. We whizzed through Pambula, forgoing a swim in the river mouth, and bypassed Merimbula, although waving a hopeful hello in the direction of Terry, E’s dad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We got to Eden. So picturesque. M’s brother that he never sees lives there so we drove through wearing slightly hunted expressions. Especially when I had to stop and take a photograph of a modern tiny caravan that I thought I might like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reo caravan in Eden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But in actual fact, I think I still prefer the old 1950s style little round caravan *sigh* – I’ll keep an eye on Ebay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                All around Eden was gorgeous, and it just got prettier as we drove up through Bega. Cobargo was somewhat of a yawn – lots of Indian style ‘hippy’ shops, jumped up secondhand shops with overly expensive books and uberbuck ‘handcrafted’ furniture. We got back in the van. There was not much time to have a cheese frenzy in Tilba Tilba.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Central Tilba
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although we reached the cheese factory at about half past four, it was closed *sob* – we went to a nearby deli and bought some pumpkin, parmesan and blue cheese pasta sause for dinner – as well as a piece each of my latest addiction – pistachio and cranberry nougat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tilba Tilba
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After a consolation coffee at the tearooms, we drove on to find somewhere to camp for the night before we lost the light. Narooma was beautiful, but drove through and then made a little detour to Karinga (which was disappointing, with crapulous modern houses devoid of any character) and on into Dalmeny, which was much the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oddly, we found a fantastic camp ground in Dalmeny, where I am now typing with an uninterupted view of the ocean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dalmeny
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other odd thing is that my 92 year old great uncle lives literally down the road, and I am swinging in between guilt for not visiting and a general lack of concern as I’ve only ever met him about four times anyway. He’s my nan’s oldest and only remaining sibling (the other three having departed during the past ten years or so). She was in Dalmeny to visit him only about a month ago. Ahem. Anyway, I didn’t visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Went for a paddle. The surf is unexpectedly not too icy cold. M and I have bravely decided to go for a swim in the morning before we leave, but we shall wait and see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dalmeny Sunset
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The second night of our holiday! The pumpkin pasta sauce was truly sublime.