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Archive Category: Rants

    Stupid Camberwell

      Oh, I think I must have done something bad….bought too many clothes in my lifetime or something. My market day sucked :o( I thought it was going to be lots of fun :o( Wah. I got up at 4:30am and made myself a flask of tea to take (that would be a thermos for you Scott) as well as taking a little esky (um…a cooler…or….a car fridge?) with the essential 33 degree day supplies of tangelos and water. Packed the car, drove to market. Spent 15 minutes trying to manoeuvre the tank into an impossibly small gap in between my neighbouring stall holders….Then I made the horrid realisation…I had too much stuff!!!! I hired a clothes rack, set up my card table and distributed clothes in boxes, on the ground (on a sheet) and on the car. Then sat back and sipped tea in what I hoped was a cosmopolitan manner….absolutely surrounded by my sins of excess.

      Frustration Nation

        oh….I am v.frustrated….I have too much to supplement dogs
        do! It's driving me nuts that I am at work with this kick-ass connection to the net and yet can't tweak up this page and have too many other things I need to be doing to feel good about doing it at home. [clutches head] Tomorrow I have to go to a workshop at the Bureau of Meteorology on Snow Probability Forecasts [downcast]....argh. I have two free nights this week and one of them is going to be repairing Mung's computer....which, at this stage, I would prefer to throw from my office window because: 1) then it would be gone forever 2) fresh air would get in I have to write two website reviews by Friday of Media Watch Youth and Girls Inc. - this is while I'm learning Sneeze songs, and...omigod...that right!! I'm in the
        middle of doing my masters! have I had time to even look at anything now I'm apparently two weeks into 'summer' semester? That would be a B I G F A T N O!!!!
        http://www.girlsinc.org/gc/

        Old Before Time

          Argh! I’ve been getting a natural dog vitamins
          bit blog-happy and have been trawling around various related sites - I put [m i a o w] on Globe of Blogs where you can look up people's blogs by name or birthday or geographical location....of the people born on my birthday I am the oldest one!! This is scary! I used to think I was young because I was born a year after most of my friends....now people who were born in 1980 are 21/22 years old!! Freaky. I've added a blogroll to my page - this is v.cool as I can add links just by right clicking on them when I stumble on to a blog I like. There are too many - I am attempting some self control.

          A 30% Chance of Rain?

            Great. I get to hang around with a meteorologist. If my blogger posts had imported correctly, you would know that my recent exposure to meteorologists has left me considerably underwelmed. Shall I just throw a few words around? Lets try: scientific, uncharismatic, obsessed with attaining accuracy but not concerned about how to translate the information to the end user (read: Joe Bloggs) um….quite nice but not the kind of people you would want to be trapped by at a party.

            Furiousness & Some Relief

              My account of yesterday’s astonishingly traumatic visit to the dentist got eaten by an accidental click in Movable Type and drowned my words forever. The moral of this sad story being… to always type up your musings in notepad or something similar and save as you go. I scoured my temp files for ages, but all for nowt. *sigh*

              Poor Mow (Rhymes with Cow)

                I am having terrible trouble concentrating today — it’s a beautiful day outside and I’m stuck in this icky room. My visit to the Bureau of Meteorology went OK (I hope) — because I’m looking at the public’s perception of weather forecasts I don’t actually have to be a tech-head (a minor fact that keeps evading me). So now I will talk about cats. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but we have two cats. One is more ‘mine’ — he is pretty — orange and white with not short fur, but fuzzy fur. He is getting fatter — and it’s because he sucks in his breath and looks at our neighbours like he is starving…it’s fairly tragic. His name is Saffron — he used to be nice almost all of the time, but since he has had his feline space invaded….. The other cat is Mow (rhymes with cow) and he is a total fuzzball — he had so much fur that he could hardly deal with it all. He has a very sweet temperament and is almost always very quiet except before having food. This is kind of why what happened to him makes me feel so bad…

                Humber Hell

                  Well today is more lovely weather — about 29 degrees, but with a in supplement for dogs
                  breeze that stops it from being too hot. I am waxing lyrical about weather because I am trying to keep my mind off how much my mechanic has charged me to fix the car. Oh. My. God.
                  It is lucky that I love my car because otherwise I’d tell them to keep it. (Mae -- if you’re reading this, don’t tell dad.) My brain has started to boggle and my mouth needs a Glenfiddich infusion. It was not supposed to cost so much!! The other really great thing that happened is that people in the US can’t see this site :o(
                  Don’t know why. Am heading off now to collect my car and never will it return to the evil clutches of the mechanic -- for what I, well, actually, my Mastercard, is about to shell out, my car is going to drive like a dream for the next ten years -- and it better, because it’s the only way I’m going to be travelling!! I am never going to be able to afford to leave the country, let alone try and fly away before next May.

                  [Clutches head]. I need a drink. Two drinks. And a nice lie down…

                  Death By Housework

                    Christmas for a pagan is all about three things
                    Not four calling birds or five golden rings
                    But the things that really matter — they make everything more pleasant
                    The first is food…the second is Present!
                    And the third thing happens when glasses go ‘clink’
                    Number three? A celebration drink!

                    Christmas for a Cat can be thrilling or quite boring
                    Depending on whether your owners are adoring
                    You could be given tinned food — the same as any other day
                    Or you might be slurping oysters from solid silver tray
                    Sitting underneath the table is strongly recommended
                    (Stay there until the end when the pickings should be splendid)
                    Christmas for a Cat should always be quite special
                    Nothing rhymes with special.

                    The End.

                    Lazy Sunday Evilness

                      Spent too much money!! Went shopping and skin and coat supplements for dogs
                      got groceries and somehow ended up with face creams and a lipstick. I haven't bought that kind of stuff for way more than a year (M's mother supplies me with Cetaphil). Oh my. I am bad. Now I have buyers guilt.

                      The wind is so strong today it's blowing the peaches off the trees! I think I'm going to have to stew them or something as I am a fruit snob and only eat perfect ones. Gotta go - am going to see The Two Towers. Hooray!

                      Here Fishy Fishy

                        Oh shit! I just looked in dog vitamins supplements
                        the fish tank and the black goggly eyed fishy is floating on his side making vague gulpings. I have no idea what to do!!! R said that she brought these fish down from Sydney with her and she's had them for years and now I've pretty much killed one and I didn't even try!!! The other fish are all just normal goldfishys and are fine! The only thing I think I could have done that was bad was burned essential oils nearby. Would that of done it? Oh god - I don't know what I'm going to do if it dies! They are never going to get me to house sit again. I will be known as the Fish Exterminator. It's so unfair - I'm trying hard to be a super-tenant, writing down all my phone calls, watering the garden, eating all their peaches...this really sucks.

                        Like Bob Geldof Said…

                          I don’t like Mondays. Ugh – woke up today trashed out and ick courtesy of weekends excesses. I didn’t eat badly, I just ate *way* too much! Not to mention yesterdays combination of beer, lemon cordial, white wine and red wine. Goddamnit – you would assume that our bodies are more important than anything. If you had a Porsche (or something more cool but similarly expensive) would you ravage it with crud? No. You’d put in bloody premium quality petrol and treat it beautifully so it purred like a kitten. Ugh. I am so feeling like a clapped out 1977 Datsun180B.

                          The excess of food has also squashed my inspiration and so instead of writing more, I have been forced to do my 500 word responses – so far I have done two and thus have only one to go for this semester, which must be kind of good?

                          Mozzies Deprive Sleep

                            Last night was spent, as usual, staying up late to dog dietary supplements
                            tire myself out enough so that I would not lie away listening for burglar noises. I was aided in this by the attentions of a mosquito that seemed to be larger than my head. It buzzed around the room and I threw a few things at it, but it was deft and weaving. Finally, after pursuing it around stealthily I remained unvanquished, and to prove this, I sat for twenty minutes with my bare leg extended as bait that was not taken. Bastard. It was my only experience of fishing for mullet – they just all around the boat as I tried to beseech them on to my hook. No joy. Resorted to head under pillow. My eyebags trip me up every second step. Can type no more as I have to throw together a dazzling overview of ‘What netball means to me’ for Iowan viewing.

                            The Temperature’s Rising

                              Am heading in to minor meltdown territory. Too much to do, and of course, my job eats my life in huge mouthfuls. Bloody January is plagued by social events, which would be good, if I didn’t have to get this bloody writing done! I have a review for Crime Factory which is chronically overdue (and all the vitamin supplement for dog
                              more horrid as I’m having lunch with David today and have already sent him an email of apologies and explanations of slothfulness), and an essay I need to write but don’t seem to be able to (must consult with the person who is supposedly known as my ‘tutor’ even though I never hear from her/them/it). Yum. Just ate sicko chocolate mud cupcake together with some Earl Grey Tea. A definite spirit improver. But still, for those who think I whine (you know who you are), here is my weekend...

                              Lunchtime Rhyme

                                When I was out walking
                                It was 23 degrees
                                With cooler air than yesterday
                                (No sweat behind my knees)

                                Tuna, chives with parmesan
                                Was my roll of choice
                                Supplemented by a raspberry tart
                                That almost stole my voice

                                Sitting on a wooden seat
                                Outside the Library of the State
                                I read my Ian Rankin
                                While past my toes did skate…

                                Boys; still on holidays
                                Without any thought of end
                                I envied all the moves they pulled
                                Hanging with their friends

                                I ate my roll and vitamin b12 dog
                                it was good
                                My tart was even better
                                Then a stinky man sat on my seat
                                His stench -- quite unfettered.

                                Somewhat perturbed I moved away
                                To be captured by
                                Melbourne Central shopping sales
                                My credit card shut it’s eyes.

                                Now back at work and poorer
                                Fake air and no blue sky
                                Tea is good, as is a late lunch
                                At forcing time to fly.

                                Anyone for Tennis?

                                  No tennis for me! The Australian Open website scared me off with their ticket prices which annoyed me to the point of refusing to watch it on TV. I thought this year I would get to go…however I hadn’t planned on being a casual worker and thus not getting paid for a month courtesy of Christmas Holidays. Goddamnit – if I lived in the US or preferably (for this rant) the UK I could have swanned into every match, drunk like a fish and worn out my neck from swiveling. But no. I notice at What’s New Pussycat there is a bit of Haiku action. Now it is always useful (I have occasionally found) to indulge in a little bit of Venting Via Haiku. Having to fit your bitterness into such a restricted space is always a challenge.

                                  My tennis tickets
                                  Did not materialise
                                  Stamping did not help

                                  This angst is followed by…dress fittings and more Humber pain.

                                  Zero Probability

                                    For weeks now I have been sitting here learning more and more about probabilistic weather forecasts, not really knowing to what purpose this might be, (whilst daydreaming about whether to hit the Big Day Out, or to cough up and see PJ Harvey on her own). Important stuff like that. Finally my boss calls through from home (which he is convinced is going to be razed by bush fire at any moment) and has decided (after the debacle in Canberra) to concentrate on fire. So I have just been informed to tie up my research into a report to clear the way for new work…I am soooo dumb. I asked him how long he wanted it. Silly, silly moi.
                                    ‘Short and punchy – about ten pages should do it.’
                                    I fall off my chair.
                                    I still haven’t figured out how to use this Endnote program we’re supposed to use for referencing and although I have a pile of information taller than my head I don’t think that even I can wank on for that long. I’m debating whether to begin pulling out clumps of my hair now, or just simmer quietly over the long weekend and commence full-blown self-mutilating stress disorder on Tuesday. Probably the latter.

                                    Sad Cars

                                      This is so sad! I was looking at Rootes Group cars for sale in Australia and found this awful picture of two little Hillman’s in a paddock. Here. WHO is the loser that would do their shooting ‘practice’ on a car?? Particularly this one (a new plastic bumper barred no-soulmobile I could begin to understand) – it’s kind of like a teeny panel van – sort of like those old Ford Escorts. *sigh* I think if I had a property I would collect sad little cars like this and keep them in a nice warm shed…actually, a shed like my dad is building…at his house in the country!
                                      [Looks thoughtful]

                                      Runaway Train

                                        Driver chased runaway train: witness – theage.com.au

                                        A dog food vitamins
                                        man named Ben told radio 3AW he was standing at Broadmeadows station when the train he planned to board started rolling silently down the tracks.
                                        "All of a sudden the doors were opened, the lights were on, it just silently crept up the tracks," he said.
                                        "The driver came out of the room and asked: `Where's the train?' and someone said: `It's over there'.
                                        Tee hee.

                                        Mo Mo Mo Motown

                                          I just saw Standing in the Shadows of Motown. See it. It’s kickass. I went into this cinema just around the corner of my hotel and it turned out that Wednesday night is $7 night, I’d wanted to see the Motown film and it just happened to be playing at 7pm. So I had early dinner (btw, never go to a joint in Canberra called Caffe Della Piazza – it was uniformly crap: overpriced caeser salad that was basically lettuce, bits of bacon, a couple of anchovies, stale white bread masquerading as croutons and icky mayonaisd. Icky also summed up the white wine. You have been warned. (I cannot believe this place got a ‘best restaurant’ in Mietta’s last year. What are they judging it against? McDonalds? Pah.)

                                          The movie, on the other hand, blew my little brain. Read a bit about it here. It sounds like the vitamin for dogs
                                          DVD would be even better due to the amount of footage that they had to cut out. The Funk Brothers cranked out more hits than anyone ever has - it's quite bizarre. I feel so uninformed. But now strangely enlightened - I want to read the book that it's based on.

                                          Oh god. I feel like I'm wading through treacle. I'm in this darkened room on the second floor of this seedsville hotel, have paid $5 to get exactly 47 minutes of internet time, and of course they didn't enlighten me that I would be struggling through the quicksand that is an antique Pentium 166 MMX. I feel like I'm falling back in time. It's horrible. Have had no luck with Canberra food thus far. Can't remember what Bill Bryson wrote about it - but just looked it up (though I'm sure Scott could tell me)...oh. Well. The nicest thing he had to say was that the beer here is cold. He's pretty funny about our charisma-ridden leader though:

                                          ROTFL

                                            Tee hee. Last night was 10Speed’s second ever gig. Events conspired against us – we had to pet supplement market
                                            get there at 7pm but didn't get to play our three songs until about 11pm! Of course song competitions are not our strongest suit (actually no competitions are) - and that fact, coupled with drinking beer for four hours did our nerves no good at all. We played truly horribly. Oh dear. I played everything in double time. We could hear ourselves too loud on stage and were thrown for a loop (or eight). I went straight home after we played cause I had to get up early for work, but Christine stayed like a trouper and called me when she got home. We came second. SECOND!? How bizarre. I think our songs were strong, but our delivery of them sucked big time. So now we have to play at the Epsy sometime in April...weird.

                                            Hallelujah!

                                              Oh. Such relief! Today I gathered up my courage into a dog vitamin
                                              little sack and took myself to an appointment with someone in a profession that I have previously had no contact with.
                                              "Who?"
                                              This leads me to try and think of others. Hmmm. Weightlifters, swimming coaches, acupuncturists, welders, botanists..jeez...I could go on but I won't.
                                              I went to see An Accountant!
                                              He was the one Heidi suggested both because she said he was good and because if I went (referred by her) she gets a $100 Myer vouchure. Not bad! Now I'm going to refer Oliver...I'm already putting together a Myer wishlist in my noggin ;o)

                                              So further on my accountancy romp...I went with a sense of doom due to the facts that;

                                              1) I hadn't done a tax return for at least three years
                                              2) I worked as a contractor for one year and put aside my own tax, which stayed unmolested for another year and then I spent it on eye laser surgery
                                              3) Which meant that I probably owed the tax office an equivalent amount
                                              4) I'd never been to an accountant before (or, to my best knowledge, even met one).

                                              But it seems (fingers/toes crossed) that my punt on the side of slackness (the kind that very rarely seem to pay off) did! The tax from my other years covers the amount I owe and (hopefully) then some. So I shelled out my $300 via my exhausted piece of plastic as happily as could be expected, and now am wait wait waiting for ten days time when all will be revealed.

                                              And So I Cried…

                                                Have been too depressed to blog – I didn’t get to see The Breeders on the weekend. Drank large amount of red wine to try and drown my feelings of guilt…it did put me to sleep so I suppose it did work. Goddamnit. Christine and I worship The Breeders, but by the time we had money to buy tickets they’d sold out. We are the only band in Melbourne that had a track on the Breeders tribute compilation…however, we weren’t considered for a support slot because…well, because either people hate us or we don’t have the ability to schmooze. *sob*
                                                That’s all I have to say on that subject.

                                                Took Friday off to concentrate on thesis (and because if I had not had a day off I would have been arrested for turning in to a rabid Alsatian and terrorising inner-city Melbourne with my foam drenched fangs). So – I did my little research bits that I’d been putting off, I am within 500 words of the total (20,000) and I am waiting to look at the edits that my friend, the lovely Pegs DeLeur (that is what we agreed her pen name should be – click here to see her with the Marching Girls) has done. Meanwhile I have begun my 3000 word essay on writing family history *gags* and my aim is to have all finished by the end of this week. On Friday night my friend Jock turns 30 and is having a rather large bash – which I am hoping will double as my end-of-thesis celebration.

                                                Broadband Ate My Day

                                                  I am an addict. How can I work on the dog health supplement
                                                  most boring project in the world when I have unrestricted broadband access every minute of the day? I swear I have seriously thought of turning off the browser proxy settings to stop myself surfing. In fact, I did do this, but nothing happened, I was free to surf away. I would be profoundly depressed if anyone added up the accumulated hours of my life that have been snaffled by my online addiction. If our boat (name as yet undecided, current top three names = Velouria/Surfarosa/Seabiscuit) every ventures on a sail longer than three days I will then see how I will cope. I suppose I can always SMS people or send email through my PocketMail/PalmPilot combination. Yep. I'm hooked up. It's getting scary.

                                                  She Hates to Wait

                                                    I am very bad at waiting
                                                    I am very bad at waiting
                                                    I have not been sleeping
                                                    Just anti-ci-pating

                                                    I hate to hip and joint supplement for dogs
                                                    wait for buses
                                                    I hate to wait for trains
                                                    I hate to wait while waiting
                                                    At tram stops in the rain

                                                    I hate to wait for others
                                                    To get things sorted out
                                                    I hate wait impotently
                                                    With a nasty lack of clout

                                                    I hate to wait on tables
                                                    I hate to wait for things
                                                    I hate waiting for decisions
                                                    I beg my phone. PLEASE RING!!!

                                                    Too Fast For Taurus

                                                      Taureans (and in missing link pet supplement
                                                      speaking of Taureans, I speak of myself) do not like to be rushed. They like to wade methodically through every possible option checking out the scenery along the way. It is not good for Taureans when they feel compelled to make snap decisions that, if given time, they would have spent three hours over lunch discussing and then possibly researched for the rest of the week. I made snap decision last night and now am running around doing damage control for my psyche (...long lunch, cure-rash cream, blog...). It does not suit my temperament. Humph. Glad to know Claire (of the departed Fascinating.... is no longer sick - I must laud her for her dentist recommendation. Oh my god. That dentist was the most down to earth woman I have ever met. She even laughed quite a lot when I explained that the reason that I flinched when she touched my wisdome tooth was because she said the word 'nerve' at the precise moment of impact. I didn't feel anything at all...I suppose 'flinched' is an understated way of saying that she had to pry me from ceiling.

                                                      I am being mysterious, sorry Scott and Marie, but I think that divulging my plot online will jinx it into a large deep hole. So for a few more days I have to tiptoe around what my plans are...though I will definitely confirm that they do NOT involve babies!!! (Unlike other people I could mention...in my band....) Feel free to guess though.
                                                      [waggles eyebrows & logs off]

                                                      Skink-Free & Chromed

                                                        All bow to the wonders of this combination. As a follow up to the story of ‘The Chemist Who Wouldn’t Fill My Prescription’ comes the tale ‘The Chemist Was Right!’ Medihoney is kickass. I have never used anything that has been so effective as well as being cortisone free. I have been using it in conjunction with one anti-histamine tablet a day and the Lucas PawPaw ointment at night. I’ve only used my half-strength cortisone once since Monday. This is v.cool. My face is almost skink-free. Had to wake up M this morning to do skink-free-face dance.

                                                        Men, Cars, & Me

                                                          I think I must destroy all mechanics. Or a vitamin for dog
                                                          large percentage thereof. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe I am just invisble and I haven't noticed? We went to drop off the Humber to have it's windscreens fitted (M drove it there minus front and back windows a la convertible while I followed in borrowed car). This is all because the windscreen guy came to our house yesterday to refit them and took one look at the car and said he needed to call back to base. So then he got on the phone and started talking about the 'Hummer' (yeah - it's really like a tank) with the outcome being that they needed to do it at the shop, even though we had explained to them the whole situation. Obviously coming face to face with it was a different proposition.

                                                          Noise Restrictions

                                                            And while I’ve been whinging about the demise of my plans, the Empress (totally cool pub that supports local music where Bidston Moss are playing this Friday night) have been slugged with noise restrictions. We have to remain under 85dba. For those that don’t know how loud that is, read this – it’s not very loud at all. As in, we’ll have to play totally snore-core without drums and without miking up our amps. If we even sing too loud they have to kick us off. This sucks. Big time.

                                                            DUE TO pets vitamins
                                                            LOCAL NOISE COMPLAINT AND OUTDATED VICTORIAN LIQUOR LAWS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN CHANGED FOR YEARS AND HAVE CERTAINLY NEVER BEEN ADDRESSED BY STATE GOVERNMENT WITH ANY CONSIDERATION TO THE LIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN THIS CITY. LIVE MUSIC CONTINUES TO BE TREATED AS A NOISE POLLUTION RATHER THAN THE ART FORM AND INSTITUTION THAT IT IS, TO THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

                                                            REGRETFULLY AT THE PRESENT TIME THE EMPRESS HOTEL HAS NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO COMPLY WITH THESE RIDICULOUS LAWS AND AS SUCH IS RELUCTANTLY CANCELLING SOME OF THE OF THE ADVERTISED BANDS WHO CANNOT MEET THE STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS DEMANDED BY THE CURRENT LIQUOR LAWS.
                                                            IF IS WITH GREAT SADNESS AFTER MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS OF AWESOME MUSIC THAT THE MANAGEMENT HAS BEEN REDUCED TO TAKING SUCH DRASTIC MEASURES BUT UNLESS THIS IS DONE AND WE CAN SORT THIS OUT, THERE IS A VERY REAL THREAT TO THE MELBOURNE LIVE MUSIC SCENEWE RELY AS ALWAYS ON THE SUPPORT AND GOODWILL OF ALL MELBOURNE MUSICIAN S, THE LIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN GENERAL AND OF COURSE ALL THOSE MUSIC LOVERS PAST AND PRESENT. THE STAFF & I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR PAST LOYALTY AND TRUST YOU WILL GIVE US YOUR FULL SUPPORT AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME

                                                            (ALBEIT QUIETER MUSIC 85 DBA)

                                                            Sincerely

                                                            Sandra Eunson
                                                            Licensee
                                                            The Empress Hotel

                                                            Any support would be greatly appreciated.
                                                            Any questions please contact Natalie (03)9482 4604

                                                            The Shape of Pear

                                                              Though my blog has been online, I had a major drama with Movable Type – yesterday I was suddenly unable to log in. So that really sucked – and after trawling the support forums and harrassing my poor server person, last night I gave up. Then, this morning, in response to my second plea for help in the MT Support Forum, someone suggested I remove the mt-rebuild plugin that I had installed. I did. It was like someone had waved a wand. All fixed!! (Regardless of the fact that I had reinstalled MT three times to no avail….). So that’s that drama over.

                                                              Here’s the pic I was planning on posting yesterday.

                                                              I could use these to go shopping with!

                                                              Eyebags are great, aren’t they?! Ugh. Due to a phone call I got yesterday from the bank, all my housing plans are thrown into disarray again. This time it was mega-stress. Everything has to be sorted by Friday (which actually means Thursday, so they have Friday to sort it out) and they call me and say that because the house needs some work done on it, they will be witholding up to 10k of my loan while I get the work done (and I’m not allowed to do it myself, I have to get a tradesperson in to do it) who will then invoice me for all the work, and I will give the invoice to the bank who will pay out the tradesperson. Oh, and btw, they also need a building inspection done.

                                                              Saucy Gibbon?!

                                                                Now behave! First of all (you may attempt to correct me if I’m wrong, but…) the Gibbon was never saucy! It was Funky! Wasn’t it? (Evil seeds of doubt have started to grow in the mushroom compost of my mind….) Anyway, the point is that now I look ridiculous because I started honking hysterically at the thought of calling Boat Saucy Gibbon and then laughing even louder at someone actually seconding the motion. It is wrong. No one in my office knows I blog, and I’m trying to keep it that way….giggling into my monitor is not helping.

                                                                For those people who have been asking me why I’m not decked out like a cheerleader (it’s what my mother always wanted for me) celebrating the entrapment of my house….the settlement date was extended to this Wednesday after much nail-biting negotiation directly with the owner. Speaking of my mother, she asked me last night whether I was going to break out the champagne on Wednesday…I think that I will buy a bottle (if it all goes well), but only to use for for great effect when I clout myself over the head with it and slip into blessed unconsiousness. About three days would be enough.

                                                                NO SAUCY GIBBON. Personally, if we’re sticking with that theme, Boat has three hulls and I would like them each to have a name. Thus I would name them;
                                                                1. (outside hull) – MARGE
                                                                2. (main hull) – and
                                                                3. (outside hull) – TINA

                                                                (…please excuse me, I have no idea why I find myself so endlessly amusing. Tee hee hee.)

                                                                Soup Nazi

                                                                  Last night I went out for pizza with the two people that I share an office with and three other girls that used to work here. Since the majority of people live in Brunswick we decided to go to the pizza-to-die-for place called I Carusi. I’ve been there a couple of times before and the pizza is quite amazing. O booked for 6:30pm but then we realised that 7pm would be better, so he called up and asked whether we could move our booking forward to 7pm and the evil soup-nazi guy that answered the phone screamed ‘NO!’ and put down the phone!! O was horrified. It really is quite a soup-naziesque place; you can only pay in cash, it’s byo and they don’t answer the phone during the day, only at night. But, like I said, they do make the best ever pizza, and most people are willing to put up with all the other stuff. We did. And they were perfectly nice to us when we got there…

                                                                  Remember to Breathe

                                                                    Well, [m i a o w] did ‘coffee’ with the null device and swapped our respective bits and pieces, then wandered back to our mutual place of work and took turns peering at each other’s offices. I realised later that the null device almost blew my blogging cover when pointing at my desk he said ‘I recognise that from the picture you posted!’
                                                                    N pricked up her ears and said, ‘Posted?’
                                                                    I feigned nonchalance and tried to steer everything in another direction. Hee hee. I will be gone before my blogging is ever discovered, mwah ha ha ha.

                                                                    Am in the pleasant state of being continually surrounded by clumps of my own hair – torn out in a riot of general frustration and overload! Have to get my weather thingy finished before Friday (and so why am I blogging I hear you ask? Don’t ask.) and now it seems that the content for my next webpage project will not reach me until Monday…cutting out a whole bloody four five (stupid Queens Birthday holiday) days where I could be working on it. Argh.

                                                                    Freak-Out-Time

                                                                      A warning to all and sundry of my friends and aquaintances. I am going INSANE. Just so you know. The house looks like it’s been harbouring a Labor Party meeting, still haven’t bought a trailer, haven’t finished the website I’m working on (which is slowly morphing into it’s own hazardous area) and I am fighting with M. (Who will probably demand I remove those five words from this page if he ever discovers them here.) It all comes down to what different people think is OK and not OK to throw out. If I went into details the explosion would ricochet around the globe for days…so…lips pursed and fingers stiff…I shall stick instead with an uneasy peace.
                                                                      this is me

                                                                      Death, Divorce & Moving

                                                                        Can’t blog. Too inundated by huge amounts to do. This seems to have been going on for faaaaar too long. Haven’t even checked email since Thursday or so!! Terrible state of affairs. Am firmly convinced that I will never leave this house, I’ve just entered some sort of purgatory where I will clean it endlessly with no visible improvement for the rest of life as we know it. Apparently my father is coming tomorrow – this instils me with great fear – he’s going to take one look at this house and kick me all the way to Queensland (which admittedly would be a quicker way to travel). I just do not have time to write about all the people we’ve seen who have helped us, said goodbye, helped us some more, Friday’s gig, the continuing debacle of the trailer, the non-existent brake lights, the new whitewall tyres, the scary carpet, our inability to leave town on time…I could go on and on, but it’s after 1am and tomorrow is going to be the most full on day so far (considering we were supposed to have left yesterday). Have included some pics from the past ten days – and have just been mail some from Dyl taken at Friday night’s excellent show with Mrs. Pinkwhistle.
                                                                        Sorry that I barely saw you at the gig Claire! I feel B-A-D! :o(

                                                                        Roosters of Doom

                                                                          Life is…well, I won’t say trundling along, but kind of staggering in jagged steps. Am definitely not used to living a ten to fifteen minute drive (depending on where I need to go) from things. The only supermarket that is open in Hervey Bay on a Sunday is way at the top end of town *sigh*. I have to try and break away from my ‘two-minutes-from-everything’ inner city thinking.

                                                                          The other day M decided that it would be good to ‘tack up a flyscreen’ on one of our bedroom windows and then proceeded to spend all of one afternoon making an elaborate frame, fitting it to the window, planing off the edges, fitting it again. I didn’t point out that he wouldn’t be getting a trophy for his efforts, but just continued to fill the three million nail holes in the walls that have to be filled before we can paint. Anyway, the screen was finally completed and we left the window open during the night as moths threw themselves against it from the outside… And then I learnt a valuable lesson. Not only are the many windows in Queensland homes highly decorative, they are also made of Very Thick Glass. As the night progressed, neighbour no.1′s dog would bark, which would set off neighbor no.2′s dog, which in turn would set off the rest of the dogs in the street. This would have been bearable, but then all the dogs in the street then woke up neighbor no.1′s rooster (yes, that’s right) which then found itself in competition with neighbor no.2′s rooster, followed promptly by neighbor no.3′s rooster. All the rooster noise then put the dogs to shame, everything quietened down, only to repeat the whole performance every hour or so…
                                                                          Needless to say, my eyebags were impressive.

                                                                          Pine-ing. Where are my friends?

                                                                            ‘We are young, we are free, with our teeth, nice and clean,
                                                                            See our friends, see the sights, feel alright!’
                                                                            – Supergrass

                                                                            Let me just break down the above into my current state of mind.

                                                                            ‘We are young…’
                                                                            OK – we are young. Compared to most of the people in Hervey Bay – we’re barely born.

                                                                            ‘We are free.’
                                                                            OK. More so than we were.

                                                                            ‘With our teeth, nice and clean.’
                                                                            Our teeth, I have to say, are not as clean as they could be. This is something that happens when you’re only access to running water is outside the house in the carport.

                                                                            ‘See our friends….’
                                                                            This is where the problem lies, I will expand on this in a moment.

                                                                            ‘See the sights…’
                                                                            Well, no. We’re renovating.

                                                                            ‘Feel alright.’
                                                                            Feeling actually OK, except for missing friends…..

                                                                            I suppose this has all come on because we’ve just gone out AT NIGHT for the first time since we’ve got here. M’s sister and brother-in-law threw a BBQ for their neighbours and we were invited…well, not invited exactly…it was just assumed we would be in attendance. So of course, we were. One set of their neighbours have only been in residence for as long as we have… The female half of the couple was quite nice to talk to, though I did have a hidden fear that she was about to turn around and display some bizarre racist personality disorder. It didn’t happen, but my suspicion was there. Her other half, on the other hand, was just a scary guy…full of talk about guns…killing animals, tasteful things like that… I endeavoured to avoid him. Successfully.

                                                                            There was no one there that M or I had anything in common with. I miss my friends. I can’t say this is a surprise, but until now I’ve been too busy to mope
                                                                            :o(
                                                                            I moped. I want someone I can have a giggle with…
                                                                            Sleep now.

                                                                            Grrrowl.

                                                                              Bloody laptop. No wonder it’s stolen. It just crashed and ate a huge post that I’d written up discussing the peculiarity of Hervey Bay and it’s strange habits of garage sale attendence. Bloody laptop. To paraphrase my post as I’m too frustrated to type it all again from the black hole that doubles as my brain; on Friday I went to a garage sale and bought a book by H.G Wells The War in the Air published in 1908 ‘only for distribution in India and the Colonies’. I found it on a rare book site when I got home selling for about $200. Huzzah!

                                                                              Today M and I bestowed our presence on Koala Markets and purchased books (another Carl Hiassen), tomatos, snow peas, potatoes, a shirt, boat books, a digital answering maching (to replace ours which is a cassette one and still buried in a box somewhere) and….tra la….two couches!
                                                                              The Splendid Floral

                                                                              The Splendid Pinky Thing

                                                                              Must wave a big hello to Merimbula where Ellise’s dad has been reading (and apparently enjoying) [m i a o w]. I toasted you with a glass of cheap white, Terry! On the same topic of personal greetings, Bean, if you’re out there, please say hello from whatever country you happen to be in at present so I know that your existence continues unabated ;o)

                                                                              Sick

                                                                                Feel as if I have had a large stinky bird fall from the sky and land on the top of my head and sit there, unmoving. All joints achey and lots of shakes. I don’t understand. I haven’t been sick for a year. Out! Get out of me! The only thing that could be worse than dragging a suitcase, guitar and laptop from Brisbane to Melbourne via about five train stations is doing it when ill. Grrrrr. Have just hung out all washing that needs to be dry in time for tonight to pack. Luckily I am in Queensland and it will happen….back in Melbourne I would have just hung everything on the heater. (Just to keep the whining note of this post intact) whilst hanging everything on the line I almost perished of heat exhaustion. When will someone invent the hat that is invisibly attached to one’s person, able to be whacked on your head whenever necessary? Feeling vile makes me more irrational than normal.

                                                                                If anyone in Melbourne is keen on crime fiction there is a cool night on at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image next Tuesday that I’m going to try and get along to. It looks like it will be v.interesting. Click here for the flyer. The other thing I’ve been doing is revamping the Bidston Moss website; seeing as the facists have their hold on the domain until the 7th of August, I though the time was ripe. If you are curious, you can take a peek here – though it’s nowhere near finished yet! Excuse me now while I go and subside into a little heap of sore joints and floppy limbs. I have to leave at five in the morning, yes, five in the morning, to get the stupid $50 train to Brisbane. Ugh.

                                                                                Shoot Me Soon

                                                                                  If I hear the words ‘methodology’ and ‘paradigm’ and ‘community’ and ‘preparedness’ one more time today…this page will become vewy vewy quiet. Yes. I am CONFERENCED OUT! And I have to go to another one tomorrow where they will probably all waffle on about the same words, though it will be a different topic. Goddamnit, I can’t stand being locked in a room all day with freaky people who use those words as casually as they breathe. Argh. Argh. Argh.

                                                                                  I Just Had To

                                                                                    I keep forgetting to do frivolous posts (what post isn’t frivolous?) with my freaky style plugins. Obviously you can see from this one that I’m cockney, but if I wanted I could be a Swedish chef, a valley girl or just talk to you in jive. Hee hee. Hello to the lovely Claire with whom I was supposed to see a movie tonight – we will get our culture shot next week (well, I will, Claire is dripping with cinematic culture already…half her luck).

                                                                                    Burn the Banks

                                                                                      On Thursday I transferred some money online from HSBC to my credit union account. No joy – Friday came and I was still broke. I called up HSBC (which, if you’re interested, henceforth stands for His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate) and they primly asked me for my ‘transaction reference number’. Now collecting these numbers is actually one of the few organised things I actually do, so I went to seek it out. Naturally for the first time ever, I had recorded everything about the transaction except for the reference number. Teeth gritted, face beet-ed, I said I would live on rice for the weekend and in the meantime would try…again.

                                                                                      On Thursday I transferred some money online from HSBC to my credit union account. Now it’s Monday. Still no money. But this time I had the transaction reference number and rang His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate rigid with righteous fury. I became one of those people who used to haunt me when I worked at call centres. I would not be placated, I would not be put off, and most importantly… I would not hang up. Ever. So I waited. I refused to give them my number so a supervisor could call me back when one became available. During one of the interminable hold periods, the ever-polite David finally ceased insisting that my transaction didn’t exist (but that if I wanted him to do it for me now, that was fine, though there would be a FEE involved… gah) and spoke to the onsite internet guru (his words). Guru found my non-existent transaction waiting in line to be fixed. Which was just great – if they could have just let me know that it needed to be ‘fixed’ in the first place, I may have been slightly more amenable.

                                                                                      Finally, after about 30 minutes, what it came down to was that they had a problem with the BSB number I had provided for my credit union account. This is despite the fact that I had provided it on the phone last Friday when I called to make sure that the transaction was not going to get ‘lost’ or ‘misplaced’. And they had said it was ‘fine’. So they have ‘a problem’ with the BSB number that hundreds of other banks use successfully everyday, they also have ‘a problem’ with numerous and unrelated petrol stations; when you try to buy your petrol using your card, the machine rejects it and you are left feeling humiliated and scrambling for that other tool of satan…the mastercard. (Naturally the question now arises… why do I bank with them? It’s for one reason only. They have totally free EFTPOS. And for the million and three trips to Bunnings while renovating to tiny budget, this is a good thing. This was a good thing.)

                                                                                      They tell me to call the credit union and then… make the transaction again. What they mean is, ‘we’re going to palm it off to the other party that’s involved and you may try, if you have the patience, to transfer your money FOR THE THIRD TIME. So I call the credit union. I speak to a nice person. She says that the BSB I’m using is fine, everyone uses it. Then her voice drops lower and she confides that there is in existence another, secret BSB number for those crap banks that can’t get their acts together. She tells me what it is.

                                                                                      Once I get off the phone for the first time since arriving at work, I decide that I am not going to give His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate another chance. I have bills to pay that I need to sort out today, and more to the point, I have no money. (Well, I do have some money, but it’s my sisters and I don’t want to use it.) I strap on my Uzi and gather my hand grenades and set off, sturdy of gait, stout of heart, and with jaw resolutely set. I head for the city branch. I storm-trooper my way in through the convieniently responsive automatic doors. I stride down to the back of the bank, become disoriented, and decide, sulkily, to line up for a teller. The tide turns. I get Teller of the Year. I tell her all the angst her bank has been causing me, show her my famous transaction reference number, give her my drivers license and say, with trembling lips, ‘My card is in Queensland and I have to withdraw this money. Please….please be the one brave enough to end this vicious charade of customer service. Blight it bluntly to the ground!’

                                                                                      It only took about seven minutes. It was extraordinary. This transaction was something I’d been sweating on for days, and Teller of the Year didn’t even perspire. And she gave me $20 extra… I’m not sure whether this was her way of commiserating with my suffering or it was just a mistake, either way, I felt vindicated. I took my money over to the post office, deposited it into my credit card account via the wondrous GiroPost and there it sits. Ready to be eaten by my debtors. I have organised for my pay to NEVER go into the His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate account again, and hopefully I will be able to close the account at some rosy point in my future. Banks suck. Use a credit union.

                                                                                      Too Mad To Care

                                                                                        Some bastard registrar company or something simialar has pinched bidstonmoss.com and I have sat here kicking the desk and throwing things around the room trying to undo what has been done, but I can’t. I hate the place I had my domain registered with. They totally suck. Who the HELL would want the Bidston Moss domain name anyway? It’s not like it’s u2.com or something. Am too mad to type – have to go and meet Big Dave for tonights crime fiction extravaganza at the Night Cat – the Ned Kelly Awards. It is not often I get so mad that I give my own self a headache, but this is one of those times. Thank god tonight has beer sponsorship, cos I can’t afford the amount it’s going to take me to recover from this evil theivery. Gah.

                                                                                        Blah.

                                                                                          Am in Brisbane after a very unsatisfactory parting with M who dropped me at the station. Mistake number one. Last time he only took me to the bus and in retrospect, it was the better option. It left less time to argue in the car on the way there. Now I am tired, cranky, hungry, unable to figure out how to get to the 3 Monkeys cafe and poised to probably plummet to earth via Qantas so M can spend years berating himself for still being in a bad mood when I left. I think I’m going to start writing the musical soundtrack – lots of minors – it will be discovered with my charred remains and be played as a testament to my miserable end. Huh.

                                                                                          Melbourne Morning

                                                                                            Grey. All the leaves are grey. Dragged self to the station. Couldn’t find bank card in purse and let someone go ahead of me while I turned everything inside out. Then the rest of the people waiting decided to go ahead of me also. So I miss the train. I take myself and my two suitcases and sit on a bench. The next train is cancelled. The train after that is then so full that to get in I have to compress people to either side of me and squash my face against the door – which must have looked extremely attractive to anyone looking in. Then at every stop I have to get out of the train to let people off and then squish myself back on again all the way to Melbourne Central. There I just give up and wait for everyone to rush the escalators. I console myself with a raspberry/almond muffin (and no longer think that $2.50 is expensive for a muffin after seeing muffins for $4.00 at Brisbane airport yesterday).

                                                                                            After yesterdays arrival I met little Luka, and then the [bilby] band gathered for the first time in a couple of years and cranked through the setlist. I started out a little shaky, and my hand is not really designed for bass playing anymore, it’s got too used to holding paintbrushes. Now I have a v.large blister.

                                                                                            Wet Mouse

                                                                                              Though I now have a working bathroom sink, the main sink that we set up ages ago is outside in the hideous carport. It drains into a bucket that has to be emptied, as you would imagine, quite frequently. Eighty percent of my belongings are in the carport – cds, books, stereo, crockery etc. and they are all under seige by mouse poo, wasps making weird mud cylinders - not to mention the multitude of moths and spiders that seem to hang out there as well. Anyway, yesterday I went to empty out the bucket – and as I went to tip it on the grass a large dead mouse appeared from the depths looking very drownded.
                                                                                              Naturally I screamed like a girl, only to have the kids next door run over to the fence and ask M what if everything was OK. *sigh* Sometimes I miss the city.

                                                                                              Laptop Loser

                                                                                                This is bad. The shop I got to look at my laptop and pronounce it dead were able to back up some stuff from my hard drive, which is still operational. However they were too nuffy to do a good job and thus backed up almost nothing of any use – completely neglecting my work files and my writing. Bastards. Now I’m basically stuffed, because instead of getting on to it and taking it elsewhere to get it backed up, I waited. I waited because the police told me that the coppers up here would give me fair warning before they came and took it off me. WRONG! They called about an hour ago and said they needed it today. As in now.

                                                                                                This is bad for two reasons. One because all my stuff is still on there and two because it’s bloody choc-full of software that is *ahem* not exactly paid for. Kind of. So here I am. I have spent the last 30 minutes feverishly trying to take my laptop apart to access the hard drive to save my stuff and wipe the rest – but it was just beyond me. The policeman said that they could take off my data for me, but I don’t know what to say because:
                                                                                                1) I need my data, but…
                                                                                                2) I don’t want to go to gaol for knowingly harbouring stolen software on my stolen computer. Bugger bugger bugger.

                                                                                                I think I will stand firm. The policeman who is coming over “…around lunchtime after I write up the warrant…” (I feel like I should cue the theme tune to The Bill as he enters – walking past our unregistered-in-Queensland-cars) didn’t sound very tech-savvy. So I’m hoping to fob him off by asking if I can drop it in on Monday after I take it into a shop and get it all backed up and then wiped. Goddamnit - this is just edging me towards alcoholism (or it would be if I had any money; I didn’t know my account could be overdrawn until I checked my balance online and saw that it was minus $18.50).

                                                                                                Computers. Kill Kill KILL

                                                                                                  It seems that my life is currently doomed to be plagued by data-loss, crappy components and insurance companies that never call me back. Last week my new motherboard and chip arrived in the post via ebay. Good.

                                                                                                  • Tried to find a quick-printing shop in Hervey bay to print out the 60 page motherboard manual.

                                                                                                  • This place is a TOTAL BACKWATER and the only places that would do it wanted more than fifty cents a page. Hello?
                                                                                                  • Borrowed M’s mother’s computer to read manual onscreen.
                                                                                                  • Dismantled M’s old computer that I’ve been using for the past three weeks A.L (after lightening)
                                                                                                  • Successfully (to my own shock) replaced motherboard, installed new graphics card, swapped the RAM.
                                                                                                  • It went too smoothly.
                                                                                                  • My hard drive crapped out.
                                                                                                  • Big time.
                                                                                                  • Resized it with Partition Magic and finally got it going (about 30 hours later).
                                                                                                  • All was well.
                                                                                                  • Told self that 500MB wasn’t much free space and that I should, now everything was working, resize the partition somewhat bigger.
                                                                                                  • FUCKING BIG MISTAKE.
                                                                                                  • Somehow, the hard drive totally crapped itself and I lost the lot.
                                                                                                  • Over a weeks worth of work.
                                                                                                  • Over a weeks worth of work that I had SWEATED BLOOD OVER.
                                                                                                  • All emails, favourites, installed programs, resources etc.
                                                                                                  • Gone.
                                                                                                  • My Endnote file for my work project.
                                                                                                  • Gone.
                                                                                                  • Went into a 36-hour depression.
                                                                                                  • Realised that my last two and a half thousand words of crime novel were backed up on my Palm Pilot.
                                                                                                  • All hail the Palm Pilot.
                                                                                                  • Am now treating M’s computer very very carefully.
                                                                                                  • Will backup work every night.
                                                                                                  • Let this be a lesson to all of you out there who dare to feel a tiny bit smug after doing major surgery on your computer.
                                                                                                  • Am now saving up for new hard drive.

                                                                                                  Pass the Bucket

                                                                                                    Brendan Nelson makes me want to spew.

                                                                                                    ‘Private schools will secure more taxpayer dollars from the Howard Government than Australia’s publicly funded universities in 2004. The historic shift is the first time the record $4.7billion commonwealth expenditure on independent and Catholic schools has outstripped spending on universities…

                                                                                                    Since 1996, spending on non-Government schools has doubled, jumping from $2.3billion to $4.7billion in the next financial year. During the same period, federal grants to Government schools increased from $1.6billion to $2.2billion…’

                                                                                                    news.com.au

                                                                                                    Like the twats that send their kids to private schools don’t have enough cash already…Brendan Nelson is just fostering elitism; why on earth would any government give more to private schools than government schools? Help me! Help me! Somebody please drop something large on the Liberal Party, or at least beat them all around the head with a large dose of humanity. Wankers.

                                                                                                    Truly Indebted

                                                                                                      The Virgin CreditCard, despite it’s sexy cut off corner and range of colours (mine is pink), is evil. Call me a nuff nuff (go on) but everywhere I looked in their small print failed to indicate to me why I was paying a larger monthly fee than I had been with the exact same debt on my Equally Evil Commonwealth Bank Mastercard. Finally I called up, waited for forty minutes on hold, and, as I cursed their repetitive on-hold playlist, was told that the monthly fees are calculated by figuring out 3% of the total amount owed.
                                                                                                      “So,” I suggested, “Your lower than low advertised rate of interest, besides only lasting for six months or so, has no real relevence to monthly repayments?”
                                                                                                      “Noooo,” said the call centre chick, in a way that made me realise that she’d said it to a thousand losers before me.

                                                                                                      The reason I got it was to pay a smaller monthly repayment fee, as I have no chance of paying it off until the house is finished and then I can consolidate all my sordid debts in an orgy of refinancing (I think that’s what you call it). So then I rang up Evil Commonwealth and told them that I wanted to raise my credit limit *gulp*.
                                                                                                      “OK,” they said.
                                                                                                      And they did.
                                                                                                      To say I was startled is an understatement. I’m reading Paul Barry’s biography of Alan Bond, and I think I’m starting to realise it’s true. The more you owe, the more they want to give you!

                                                                                                      All this finance drivel was born from the fact that VirginBlue (the same evil bastards- but this time airborne) are having a sale on flights – so I booked one for a few months time when I know I have to be in Melbourne for a conference.
                                                                                                      How else am I supposed to make it down to Melbourne to keep my boss happy, thus keeping my job, thus enabling the house to eat the rest of my money that we don’t drink in an effort to combat the heat? I bloody hope I can claim some of it back as work-related travel expenses. I’ve given up on Powerball (not hard, when you spend the ticket money on milk and bread) and have taken to looking for washed up treasure on the beach. I also harbour a definite hope of stumbling over a nugget…somewhere…

                                                                                                      Grit Teeth

                                                                                                        Must not be frustrated. Must not grind teeth. Must not kick things. Must not worry that there have been no posters put up for our gig tonight. Must not mind no promotion. Must remember that two of them have small babies. Must admit that it’s easier not to seethe about it when there is nothing that can be done. Must suggest that am glad that I will be heading home to Queensland and none of this crap will be relevant as of tomorrow. Must remember not to hold own breath. Breathe out. Ah. Better.

                                                                                                        Oops

                                                                                                          When ones mother is coming to stay, one becomes somewhat preoccupied with the state of the house. Thus we have been painting, cleaning and (wait for it) TURNING THE HOT WATER ON…for the past three days. Yes! First hot showers since June! Astounding. I have vast amounts to write about – my zen experiences mowing the lawn that were rudely dismantled by M, the stampedes of M through swathes of his family’s disapproval, trips to Spain…. But as it is, I have no time. My mother (and her mother) have been installed in our house since yesterday and as well as that, today is M’s birthday – and his plans for a Fraser Island foray have been thwarted by continuing downpours. So I’m kind of juggling trying to keep everything rotating nicely through the air… despite the fact that everything M and I own is on the washing line and has been soaked consecutive times (this wouldn’t matter for normal people who tend to own more than two towels).

                                                                                                          Half Man, Half…

                                                                                                            I used to very much like a band called Half Man, Half Biscuit – who I think hailed from Leeds. Or was that The Wedding Present? Anyway – today I was hit by the depth of desciption that can be provided by those four words:

                                                                                                            Half Man, Half ——

                                                                                                            Whatever word you slot in there, finishes the phrase and in doing so creates a perfect encapsulated description of someone. Obviously male (don’t blame me, blame the band). So, to flesh out my little four word description theory – even though it will be patently un-necessary once you’ve actually read it – here is some background information from whence it evolved:

                                                                                                            • The man who uses tea towels and toilet paper to aid him in every possible nuance of renovation, yet feigns disbelief when confronted on the subject
                                                                                                            • The man who makes cups of tea for others in need with care, precision and regularity
                                                                                                            • The man who throws out the kitchen sponge after washing up, regardless of the fact that the house is now, and will be until we drive ten kilometres to the shop, spongeless
                                                                                                            • The man who is aware of the valuable relationship points to be gained from making the bed in the morning and random acts of affection
                                                                                                            • The man who, when presented with the question “How necessary is it to build a wine rack into the kitchen when we still have to put in the powerpoints, glass the windows, demolish the asbestos laden carport, wash the entire house, paint it and then get stuck into the garden of which there is an acre…?” responds with the old male chesnut…”Don’t play games with me.” You’d think he’d know by now that if he can’t see the Monopoly board poking out from my back pocket…the games have not yet begun
                                                                                                            • The man who picks out the dark chocolate, because he knows you like it the most, fails to tell you of it’s caffiene content which leads to you both lying awake for most of the night clawing at imaginary bugs crawling… crawling…
                                                                                                            • The man who will watch a chick flick video with you (the night before he spouts the ‘game-playing’ comment) and tells you he really enjoyed it
                                                                                                            • The man who does magpie impersonsations so he can feed birds cheese
                                                                                                            • The man who will play ‘Norwegian Wood’ on guitar for your mother to carol along to and hum through the lyrics she can’t remember (most of them)

                                                                                                            Who Is This Man?(see below)

                                                                                                            One of Those Days

                                                                                                              Toys arrived today. Geeky, geeky toys. At 6:40am this morning. Have I played with them yet? No. Has M played with them yet? No. We are both at the end of our tethers with this house. Poor M hasn’t left Hervey Bay for ten months. I am sick of feeling guilty about all the things I seem to start that need to be done but that I never finish. Besides my own hopelessness, it also seems that we’ve either had visitors or I’ve been ‘just about to leave’ for Melbourne, or ‘just come back’. And now I’m trying to squash in all I need to do before leaving on Sunday for another two weeks. Am supposed to be flying into Melbourne the day before my birthday, but am going to try and change my flight to come back to Brisbane instead as 1) I don’t have the funds to get back here from Melbourne, and 2) I’d like to take this one opportunity to have a birthday in this house, because I won’t get another one!

                                                                                                              In the meantime, as I try to get this incredibly boring work done, M is grinding the outside of the house with his (surprise!) grinder. Which is great, because it saves us about $100 on hiring the proper tool, but sucks, because it’s an incredibly tedious, tiring exhaustive job. So he’s buggered, I’m stressed and the house is covered in dust. Thus we’ve been at each others throats on and off for a day or two. Gah. Being an intolerant, impatient cow is really taking it out of me.

                                                                                                              Insurance Companies

                                                                                                                So AAMI quoted me $365 for house and contents last year, but this year – with nothing having changed – they now want to collect $706. Fat chance (how I have longed to use that expression – very Enid B.) and nor would they let me pay it in monthly installments as my ‘rating’ isn’t high enough. So I did a ring around. Straight away Suncorp and my personal pick, the Victoria Teachers Credit Union, both came in at about $200 less, and let me pay monthly installments – Suncorp at a slightly increased rate and the VTCU at no extra cost. Thus, AAMI, as nice as they were about my laptop, can kiss my arse. Just to see if they would give me a cheap quote again, I rang back under an assumed name (did I mention I always aspired to a career in espionage?) to see what they’d offer me as a first home owner insurance virgin. They quoted me $817 even though I gave all the same specs that they’re now trying to charge me $706 for. Goodbye AAMI.

                                                                                                                Who’s Afraid of Hervey Bay?

                                                                                                                  Last night I was a lushly Elizabeth Taylor and M was a convincing Richard Burton. After a couple of stubbies of Coopers with the Crab, we moved on to the second phase of dinner and then finished off with some gin and tonics (all hail Dubai duty free). And then another gin and tonic. Why, why, why do I always have to have the one at the end? After meandering through our twisted pasts (M’s is infinitely more exciting than mine – due to his excessive age and rock ‘n’ roll cred) and sitting through Celebrity Uncensored (kill me now) we headed off to hit the sack. And a night of alcoholic conviviality turned into a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? extravaganza which ended with M, doing his best Elizabeth Taylor-esque flounce from the room, slamming the door and sleeping (or passing out) in the spare room, while I slid off into a sleep deadened state of increasing dehydration. Neither of us can now remember what our exciting fight was hinged on and it has been attributed to the demon of drink. Damn you Bombay Sapphire.

                                                                                                                  Cut to – This morning. I know I’m hungover when I wake up at 6:30am and don’t feel like going back to sleep. I know then that it will creep up on me, incrementally, as the day progresses – and by the time it’s mid-afternoon I’ll be looking fruitlessly for the sleeping pills that my brother nicked from me when I was visiting him in Fulham. In an effort to combat fate I headed to the bakery and bought something that I haven’t ever bought before (not since primary school tuck shop days, anyway). A Sausage Roll. With Sauce. Ate it and had a croissant chaser. I didn’t defeat fate, but I cheated it a little. Nah nah nee nah nah.

                                                                                                                  Crab Gossip: Tonight will be the first night that we will have a crab each. A. Whole. Crab. To. My. Self. I probably won’t need a second dinner after that.

                                                                                                                  When You Really Need To Go

                                                                                                                    What is worse than people you have very little in common with dropping over for a ‘chat’? Having them drop over twice. Once in the morning, and once just after dark when you’re about to jump in the shower. I blame M’s occasional similarity to a labrador. He met up with the guy – they live nearby – and was obviously so friendly that this guy and his wife then decided to drop over at least once every couple of days. Usually M’s ability to meet people is something that I admire about him, but occasionally….

                                                                                                                    After getting all hot and dirty raking up grass, all I wanted to do was kick back, have dinner (that I provided – I caught two bream before breakfast!) and hit the Hervey Bay nightlife. The couch. But it was not to be. I came in the back door and heard the ‘drop ins’ talking out the front. I took immediate evasive action. I hit the shower. I stayed in the shower – regardless of our dropping tank level, until I was pruney. They hadn’t left. M had let them inside and they were sitting in the kitchen. When I finally emerged, I felt instantly bastardly as they gave me a huge bag of lollies. But then, as M prepared dinner and we’d all finished our cups of tea – they remained. Unmoving. So I excused myself, saying I’d promised to call my mum. And spent the next ten minutes talking into a dead phone. Came back out. They still hadn’t moved. M was still cooking around them, looking a little desperate. He’d asked them if they wanted dinner – they didn’t. I began to get to the end of my tether; I wanted SPACE and I wanted a quiet dinner with M. I wasn’t getting either.

                                                                                                                    I sneaked out into the front room and used my mobile to make the landline ring. I answered it and conducted another long one sided conversation with the dialtone. Came back. They’d moved to the table. M and I proceeded to sit opposite them and eat our bowls of tom yum soup while they watched. And continued talking. I kicked M under the table. He kicked me back. We finished our soup. It was impossible to insinuate to these people that we’d like them to leave. Finally, finally – after I mentioned that I wanted to get an early night for the third time, and that I really had to get some work done, they began to edge toward the door. It took another 15 minutes for them to go through it. As the noise of their car disappeared into the distance I lay prone on the floor. Sometimes I wish M was more like me – an anti-social cow – and then we wouldn’t get tortured by people who don’t know when to leave.

                                                                                                                    Without a Clue

                                                                                                                      This is just hideous. I have absolutely minimal inklings as to how WordPress works. I am not really CSS savvy by any stretch of vitamin b complex for dogs
                                                                                                                      the imagination, and as for PHP... it may as well be ancient Egyptian engravings. But anyway, here I am. Not a cat in site/sight (sorry). The whole thing is completely someone elses design and I can't even figure how to tweak it. I want my WinAmp, Word of the Day, my IMood, On This Day and my RSSFeed plugin thingy back!! This is going to be an uphill bloody slog.

                                                                                                                      Bald Bits

                                                                                                                        I have sat up the last three nights tearing my hair out over my page design. One consolation is that the actual mechanics of the thing seem to work, it’s just the layout that I’m grappling with. Thank you bastardly people for telling me to get a move on – your words have been noted, and will be chiselled into your back next time we renew our acquaintance in person ;oP
                                                                                                                        (And anyway Tom – aren’t you supposed to be in Croatia somewhere, buying me duty free gin? There’s no way you should even have time to check my page, let alone attempt any humour about it.)

                                                                                                                        Stress, Cats and Travel

                                                                                                                          The thought of travelling down to Melbourne with M has been at the forefront of my brain since the whole valuation drama finished. However, as keen as M is to go to Dr Grass’s Phd Party, he’s not so keen on wandering the streets of Melbourne while I’m at work everyday – so I’ve been trying to keep a lid on myself. For my part, having to think about someone elses likes and dislikes, worry about who is going to feed the cats, be the one that has to plan the travel/accommodation and a certain other thing I can’t mention for fear of jinxing – I am close to going out of my head. On top of this my new favourite email program, Thunderbird, has carked it and is refusing to get my mail, so I have had to trudge my way through converting all my saved email into this format and that format until I settled on using Eudora (of course I could just used Outlook Express, but that would be too easy).

                                                                                                                          M doesn’t want me to plan his life while we’re in Melbourne, so I am trying to keep everything open ended. Usually I am the queen of ‘going to dinner’ for the majority of nights – when you’re working every day, it seems like the best way to catch up with people. Anyway – with all of this stewing in my brain I have not been sleeping very well – however this has been exacerbated by M developing an intense morning hatred of Saffron the Orange Cat (StOC) . I must digress and say that I’m glad my brother is somewhere in Croatia, because he would give M 110% support in this matter.

                                                                                                                          Unfortunately we built the cathome at the side of the house quite near our bedroom window. Some mornings – not every morning – StOC sits as near as he can get to our bedroom window and miaows loudly. He sounds like a pigeon in pain. He’s started to do it more and more, and whether it’s due to our recent spate of celebration or the coldness of the mornings, I have been roused about four days of the last five with M shrieking “FuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuCK! I HATE YOUR CAT” (he becomes my cat whenever he’s bad) and then running into the bathroom and flinging glasses of water at Saff through the window. The final straw was yesterday morning when M tore himself out of bed for the third time, spent some time at the sink and then I heard pounding feet running out the back door. I sneaked out of bed and peeked through the window. M, naked from the waist down, was standing at the cage throwing water in StOC‘s direction and making hissing noises. I snuck back to bed. M came back, breathing in a slightly psychopathic manner. I said nothing. For a few minutes there was silence, until StOC – damp, but unbowed – let a few more pigeon noises loose.

                                                                                                                          M’s whole body went into spasm as he made (what I assume he thinks are) cat repelling hissing noises. I couldn’t take much more.
                                                                                                                          “You know that if you’d just fed the cats a bit of dry food when you went out there they would be quiet by now?”
                                                                                                                          The logic seemed to act on M like his hissing noises acted on StOC, i.e. they didn’t.
                                                                                                                          “Shut up.”
                                                                                                                          “Buy some earplugs.”
                                                                                                                          M huffed his head under the pillow and I ruminated at the ceiling, again cursing my brother for pinching my sleeping pills.

                                                                                                                          I Am In Kansas

                                                                                                                            It’s true. The wind is whistling through the trees, dust is blowing in through the windows that don’t have any glass and coating my laptop and irritating my skin. Ugh. It is So. Bloody. Dry. Am I actually in the sub-tropics? Isn’t a plodge of cleansing, warm rain supposed to arrive every day or two? No. No it isn’t. Why? Because it’s the driest it’s been in fifty years or something ridiculous. That is why our lovely little vegie garden is dead and M keeps climbing on the tank to check how much water we haven’t got. OK, so now I’m getting a little bit dramatic and pretending that my entire livelihood is tied up with the Land – we were actually surprised that the tank was two thirds full. I am going to sneak out tonight and water my garden with the [gasp] hose. Where’s Toto? (And shouldn’t that be spelled ‘Toe-Toe’? Because really, if we hadn’t ever heard of Dorothy et al. and just pronounced the word ‘ToTo’ on sight – surely you’d say something that sounded like ‘Two-Two’?) Yes, it’s true, the wind blew my brain straight out my right ear. Messy.

                                                                                                                            Cook Neater

                                                                                                                              There are many things I do not do.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do plumbing.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do new cars.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do pointy shoes.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do boob tubes.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do white.
                                                                                                                              I rarely do floral.
                                                                                                                              I don’t do liquorice, aniseed or mango.
                                                                                                                              And unfortunately, I don’t do Clive Owen.
                                                                                                                              But what I do do – (besides using the word ‘do’ twice in a row and making it look weird) is COOK NEATLY. I do not begin to make us a pesto dinner by squashing all the basil into the blender, whizzing it once and then remembering that we actually have a food processor. I do not then use every pot in the house and then a few more from planets yet to be discovered. I do not then leave the kitchen, in honour of its historical significance, exactly as it looked precisely at the time I finished cooking, in the hope of making a bit of extra pocket money by conducting tours on the weekends. I do not ‘forget’ to stack all previously mentioned pots, blenders, implements and food processor parts near the sink and clear the bench. And I do not, when my girlfriend grabs my head so I can’t get away and hisses the words ‘cook neater’ into my shell-like ear, repeat the words as if they are a language that I can only vaguely understand and then say;
                                                                                                                              “Cook neater? Cook neater? You are unbelievable. Just fucking wash up.”
                                                                                                                              Because I don’t have a girlfriend. But if I did, I’d learn about the times when it is very important to utilise the word ‘acquiesce’. Like now. And I would realise that by not utilising that very important word, I would be blogged.

                                                                                                                              P.S. M says to say that I liked the dinner so much that I drooled – literally – on to the coffee table [shrugs] It’s true, but does not dilute the rant ;-)

                                                                                                                              Pathetic & Sad

                                                                                                                                Hazy Shade of Fraser

                                                                                                                                  There has been a pall of smoke hanging over Hervey Bay for the past four days. It is floating over from the World Heritage Listed Fraser Island. From the top of my street, it looks as if a previously undiscovered volcano is on the point of erupting – there is a huge plume of smoke rising up. Because Fraser Island is world heritage listed, I was very suprised not to see anything in the newspapers about it burning to a crisp. For the first few days, the smoke was just something to see, hanging over the island, but the last two mornings, I’ve got up to see it hovering over the garden and the street.

                                                                                                                                  So I went over to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services site, and besides not being able to spell the word ‘island’ it says that tracks are closed ‘due to QPWS burning operations’. Now I find this quite interesting, as I am working on prescribed fire at the moment. For a lot of reasons it is a good thing – for many years (particularly in the US) fires were suppressed as soon as they happened, which meant that a lot of fuel built up and up and up, to a point where, when a fire occurred – it couldn’t be put out and would morph into a huge ‘catastrophic’ fire. However, doing prescribed burns isn’t easy – lots of environmentalists don’t like it, there are health concerns from smoke and airborne ash and (the BIG ‘and’) the fires can get out of control – destroying not only government property, but private property as well – creating very sticky legal situations.

                                                                                                                                  I am now wondering, as I breathe in lungfuls of World Heritage Listed smoke soaked air, whether things have got out of control over on Fraser Island. It’s been at least four days. Surely there must have been public complaints? Not to mention lots of money lost from the tourists that don’t want to go and try to see the pristine freshwater creeks and lakes through the haze – or to negotiate the 4WD tracks, which are difficult even without impaired visibility. It seems an odd time to burn off – many recent forecasts have warned of high fire danger, and there are/have been a lot of bushfires in South East Queensland over the past few weeks. On the other hand, maybe they’re trying to get on to it now in case the weather conditions get worse. My washing smells like I’ve spent the last month cooking over an open fire.

                                                                                                                                  Boogie Nights

                                                                                                                                    We dropped my Dad off at the station yesterday, and, feeling slightly bereft, drove back into Maryborough to hunt down (among other things) the Cat-Uzi. As we pulled up outside a shop I had my head on M’s shoulder and my hand resting on his knee. The mood was ‘sad romantic’ (as opposed to ‘new romantic’ and the terrible hairstyles that inevitably follow). I felt something small and solid hit my hand. I brought it up to have a look. For the first few seconds, it didn’t compute. A half centimetre wodge of uncertain texture. Then, in the instant that my eyes widened in horrified recognition, M swept the offending item from my hand and a huge blush started advancing up his neck. I had been hit by a a booger from his nose. The shock was great. His total humiliation was greater. If it had been our first date…the mind boggles. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                    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’.

                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                          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. )

                                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                              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]

                                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                                  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?

                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                                                  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.

                                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                                                          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.

                                                                                                                                                                              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! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                                                                  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.

                                                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                                                                          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!

                                                                                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                                                                              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…

                                                                                                                                                                                                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.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        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.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brendan Nelson is Pucked

                                                                                                                                                                                                            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]

                                                                                                                                                                                                              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...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Redesigning my B-R-A-I-N

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’ve been working on the redesign of this site every night for a week. I have only made progress over the past two nights, and there are still some evil bastard bits that won’t work yet. People have left comments, but it continues to say ‘No Comments’ – grrr. The FAlbum plugin which puts that cute little picture over there in the top left looks great – but don’t bother clicking on the picture, because it DOESN’T WORK – and over here are all the other poor people that can’t make it work either. So I’m not alone in my nuffiness, but it feels like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am sort of geeky, but definitely nowhere near as geeky as I need to be to make all this stuff work. Every. Single. Time. that I redesign my WordPress site I get stuck in all the convoluted madness of php (I’m sure there are php guru’s sitting there reading this, shaking their heads and sipping at their JOLT! cola – please, give me more of your pity!). I’ve given up for the night. I have a very exciting thing arriving in the morning. Fingers crossed…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chronological Archives

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Feel like headkicking? VERY MUCH SO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is anybody else out there starting to get twitchy about the looming over-utilisation of the phrase ‘very much so‘? I have to say that almost every television ‘chat’ style show (that means you, Mr Denton) seems to have it in there somewhere. As do those weird-arse shows about cheese in the Docklands shown on Channel 31.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I was listening to a few podcasts of Life Matters yesterday, and it was sprinkled throughout that as well – not by Richard Aedy, but by his interviewees. GOD. IT IS SENDING ME BARKING. INSANE. Oh. Maybe I need to clarify that, but why count on those capital letters to communicate the extent of my fury? Too obvious? Why don’t I just carol Very much so!.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I heard it again on RRR-FM late on Sunday morning. It seems to interchange with that other all-encompassing though less objectionable response ‘Absolutely’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            B: Would you mind very much if I now dance a pogo on your head?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Media person: Very much so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry to all those people who hadn’t noticed this creeping infiltration of phraseology, and who now will become twitchy after they hear it three times on the radio before breakfast. But you need to recognise your enemy. Absolutely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Stick ‘em up ‘em

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have so much to post and no time to post it. Of course it will all be backdated, so at least I can see what the hell I was doing in a year’s time, even if nobody scrolls down to read it. Am just posting now in a rush of jubilation, having just read the news that ‘Tasmanian timber company Gunns Limited has been ordered to pay preliminary legal costs to defendants in the ‘Gunns 20′ case.’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The court has ordered Gunns to pay Bob Brown and Peg Putt $70k. Huzzah! Gunns are evil bastards and if the whole company went under tomorrow I would dance naked on the front lawn in glee. Yah! You can sue me Gunns – but I already live in a trailer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As if by magic…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My workmate, who is still having trouble trying to get her IPrimus ADSL connected, was ranting this afternoon that they had sent her a wireless modem/router to replace the normal ADSL modem that she had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “This thing,” she snarled, in her French accent, “This thing they call it wireless? It had three cords coming out of it. Three! Pathetic!!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I bit my tongue and stopped myself from asking her what the hell she thought was going to power her wireless modem/router to make it function. A divine pulsation from above? Merde!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lang Lang Op Shop. Watch out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  UnAustralian!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a sign from the Lang Lang Op-Shop (photo is dodgy because my phone is dodgy – hurry up and send me new phone Small Brother!). It reads:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tampering and removing goods left at front door for Op Shop use is Un Australian and Not in the Spirit of the community. Grrrr! Forget about flag burning, op-shop pilfering is the new ‘children overboard’. Have I just given Johnny another election angle?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Christmas ate my brian brain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am plummeting headlong toward Christmas and can feel it all whistling past my ears. It’s my last week of work. My radiator has called it quits. The price of copper is up. My remaining finances are down. I owe M big time for driving an hour into town this morning to drop me off at work. And then driving another hour back to boat land. Saw fabulous fireworks last night at Caulfield Park (odd, really, considering the total fire ban) and hopefully will have some interesting fireworky pictures to post when my sievelike brain can locate lead for camera. Can hardly type due to overflowing neural pathways. When car is back, things might become more cohesive. Or not. Depends on whether I remember to make potato salad for Christmas Day and to do copious fruit and vegetable shopping on Christmas Eve and whether I can find my proper Victoria-is-freezing-except-when-it-is-42-degrees -why-do-I-live-here-can’t-remember-oh-that’s-right-boat-building -opportunities-with-shed-and-slipway wetsuit. It’s all relative. But that’s the thing about Christmas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Safeway donates to CWA for drought

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For some reason I prefer to shop at Coles, but on Tuesday 23 January 2006 Safeway (Woolworths in some other states of Australia) will donate the bulk of their takings to the Country Women’s Association for emergency drought relief, with the remainder allocated to sustainable agricultural research projects. So I think I’ll change allegiances for that day, at least.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My only gripe is the godawful crapness of the CWA website. There is nothing on their front page about this fundraising effort. The first link in the main page is to a pdf file, and the rest are links to a word document and other pdf files. ARGH!! Hello? It’s 2007? All the CWA state pages have immediate information to drought relief, except Victoria – where the site design orbits around an animated gif and relies on the hope that you’ll stumble on something current in the left hand menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      South Australia’s CWA has the information but a URL from 1995 and the Northern Territory? No site, just an email address. So there’s my plug for the shop at Safeway to aid drought assistance on Tuesday 23 January 2006. Sorry that it turned into a cyber-critique, but just because the CWA makes you think about knitting doesn’t mean that simple, informative webdesign is an impossibility. And besides – knitting is still having a renaissance!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why I STILL hate HSBC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Quite some time ago I pointed out that HSBC probably stands for His Satanic Bastard Conglomerate. And here as well. This appears to still be the case. I accidentally transferred some money into my long unused HSBC account. When I’d finally traced where it had got to, via the rude people at Elders Rural Online Banking and the extremely nice people at Victoria Teachers Credit Union, I had a sinking feeling. It was again going to be Me Vs. HSBC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And of course, that’s what it was. When they had finally confirmed my identity they refused to take my PO Box address as my only address. I instructed them that I have no residential address as I live on someone else’s property. They didn’t care. I then told them to just use my old address in Hampton, if they were going to be so bloody inflexible. They said that would be fine. Dickheads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once all my odds and sods were updated, I asked if I could now log onto my account online and transfer my money from their clutches. (Don’t ask me why I don’t just close the account. Just don’t.) Yes, they said. It’s still a ten digit pin and a six digit password? Yes, they said. Did you just steal a bit of my soul I’ll never get back? Yes, they said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hung up. Went to log in. Found that my password, unused for several years, popped obligingly on to my fingertips. Which made it all the more annoying when it refused to log me in, instead instructing me to call the number I had just rung. I called them back, instructing them to send the previous customer service agent directly to jail without passing go. Yes, they said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again, I went through a bamillion ID checks. Sooooo patient. I asked why I couldn’t log in. There was the sound of a wrinkled brow. Ahhh. Because I hadn’t logged in for so long they had implemented a system by which I needed a special security key device thing which needs to be SENT TO ME IN THE MAIL. I explained very carefully that all I wanted to do was transfer the money back out of my account. Yes, they said, that will cost you five dollars. I bit off a bit of the phone and told them that it was precisely for reasons such as this that I don’t use their stupid services anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The saga ended with HSBC:1 and Me:0 – the only way I can transfer my OWN money out without being charged is by waiting for some nobariffic security key to be snail mailed to the PO Box. One day karma is going bite what is no doubt their MASSIVE conglomerated arse, and I can hardly wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How do I hate it? Let me count the ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is in reference to the CRAPTASTIC CMS that I have to use for my one-day-a-week job of uploading content to a research website. I have whined about it to friends, now watch me flail with frustration at the internet. (The word ‘flail’? So evocative, especially when I type it most weeks in the context of ‘she sustained a flail chest injury’. But I digress.) Where was I? Oh yes. Counting the ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I hate the CMS because:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1.) The organisation that I work for has more than enough money to invest in a CMS that actually works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2.) It is made by people who make research organisations think they’re providing a useful service, but if the research organisations had any experience or interest in a decent CMS, they would be dumping this thing like a handful of biting ants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3.) …despite that, the CMS was created with research organisations in mind? End users (i.e. me – the person they have to get in, because almost everyone else can barely use it, and have better things to do with their time than learn all it’s nasty little glitches and long drawn out methods) can only upload ONE. SINGLE. FILE. AT. A. TIME. Even though there are regular conferences that spew forth myriad publications, papers, audio recordings and posters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4.) There is no way of getting a quick overview of all files, or even groups of the same type of file.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5.) …and there is no FTP access, without making an in-depth arrangement via emails that are rarely replied to and rely upon offerings of 30cm oysters and Swedish virgins. i.e. it doesn’t happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6.) There is tagging capability, [cue: shock and awe] but you can only tag ONE. FILE. AT. A. TIME. This is despite the fact that there are regularly groups of documents that all have the same tags. Thus, barely anything is tagged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.) It took three months for the search function to be fixed, although this was the only way of discovering what file were already on the server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8.) The external design, and the internal interface are bogglingly ugly. Editing them? Not allowed. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9.) The only way to overcome its pseudo MSWord data entry panel is to switch into the html view, where you can’t save what you’re doing unless you switch back, and if you hit Ctrl-A (as I seem to have done so many, many times) Firefox keels over and dies with impunity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          10.) And finally, because it’s so patently obvious that it is not suitable for information management for any organisation outputting more than a few documents a week, and yet the people that employ me aren’t really very web savvy, and thus have no idea that this is the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ARGH!! And I wrote all this in four or five minute bursts, in between uploading audio files via the crappy web interface. You’d think that because this makes my job longer and I’m paid by the hour, that I would be happy. But it has gone waaaaaay beyond the cash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Three months. No drinking. Ow. My head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is 5pm. Day clouded by noxious hangover. Unable to function. Must learn not to try and ingest same amount of red wine as M. This morning, unable to declare anything, I whispered pathetically “I am never drinking again”. Even in my state of heavily advanced woe, I knew that was possibly not wholly realistic. So after I’d recovered from stringing that amount of words together, I revised it to “I am not drinking alcohol [shudder, shudder] for three months.” Why three months? At the time, it seemed serious amount of time, without being absolutely ridiculous?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Having since drunk four cups of hot water with ginger in it and eaten my hangover staple, a bowl of brown rice (it took me five hours to gain that sort of courage) I am still feeling crap enough to want to run with the idea. I thought that if I published it online before I make it back to everyday reality, where the crutch that is alcohol helps us to look at our faux wood surrounds and think “Brushbox!” and “Silky Oak!” I would not be so likely to falter. Ohhh. My head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We merely went to my dad’s for lunch and dinner, and to visit his ailing houseguest. Began with Windy Peak Pinot. Ended with Coopers. In between, M climbed a very large tree and sawed two bits off the top of it. We finished up reading about our holiday on [miaow] this time last year, and giggling – only realising in the (oh so) harsh light of day that we probably kept T from sleeping, the night before his first go at chemotherapy. Once I realised that, my whole body continued to ache, but more in a I-deserve-this-pain kind of way. Of course, he could have always bashed on the wall to tell us to shut up, but still…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Red wine is the enemy. Repeat after me. RED. WINE. IS. THE. ENEMY. ENEMY. ENEMY. E.N.E.M.Y

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A win? A response!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So I channelled some righteous fury and sent this to the Cosmetic Cop website, where Paula Begoun flogs her product:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              COMMENTS:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a longterm user of Paula’s products. I am writing to ask why, when I’m sure a lot of people were happy with both the formulation and the price, that the skin recovery moisturiser was ‘reformulated’ and then packaged smaller, and then had the price increased? I was happy with it as it was, and don’t plan on buying your new formulation, regardless of how ‘elegant’ it might be. I am VERY disappointed, and am just waiting for the same thing to happen to the cleansers and toners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Name: beth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Email: blah@blah.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              City: Melbourne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              State: Australia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh LORDY!! A response!! In less than 24 hours. Ostensibly from the lady herself!!! (Almost as good as the time I got an email from David Gedge, or that comment from Peter Temple!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dear Beth,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for taking the time to write and share your feedback. I understand your concern about the change in packaging and size for our Skin Recovery Moisturizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I want you to know that this decision was not an easy one to make. However, due to increased costs in so many areas of development and production, I simply had to make the choice between increasing retail prices, or decreasing product size and leaving prices static. I chose the latter while improving packaging. Additionally, this is a completely new product with a state-of-the-art formulation that includes cutting-edge antioxidants and cell communicating ingredients. Considering its content, my Skin Recovery Moisturizer remains one of the most competitively priced products available in this category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I thank you again for writing, and hope you will still continue to gain benefit from using my products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Best regards,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Paula Begoun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              www.paulaschoice.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Like watching WHO magazine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tonight on Enough Rope Andrew Denton was channelling pure schlock. I suppose everyone has to have their low points, but Phil Jamieson looking like an accountant while talking about beating his addiction to crystal meth? My jaw cracked with the yawn. It was like being stuck at a supermarket check-out with nothing better to do than read a trashy mag to pass the time. Surely there are VAST amounts of more interesting people to ‘interview’ out there? OK Andrew, that was your slump, now it will get better. Right? Right??!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                News of Trailer homicide shocks Australia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Last month I gave L a fridge magnet with a 1950s man and wife on it. The man was looking into an open refrigerator with obvious puzzlement, and the caption read something like; Another case of male refrigerator blindness. It’s my assertion that this blindness is not confined to the fridge. I feel comfortable that I am not alone in suggesting this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  M exists in such a vortex of domestic organisational despair that occasionally I can take no more. I buy him multitudinous amounts of clothes from op-shops to wear while working on the boat. He wears them once and then divests them as they are itchy and need washing. Overalls? Far too practical. Why wear them when one can have so much more fun whinging and itching? Last night he came home with a head full of fibreglass dust. I gently suggested headgear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He whimpers that he has no socks. I buy him bulk amounts of cheap socks, which are deemed floppy, and then get him several pairs of Explorer socks in apology. In my family Explorer socks have always been held in high esteem. I think I can honestly type that both my parents probably own Explorer socks that they have had for, oooh, ten years? Seriously. They are hard wearing socks. But, as with most things (such as lifetime guarantees) M takes this as a personal challenge. He didn’t want to stomp around on the boat in shoes, but did he buy booties or soft slippers? No, he just wore the socks. They are now indiscernible clumps hardened by epoxy resin and a myriad of indefinable shed mank. All. Of. Them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This morning M had to go to the dentist for the final bit of his root canal. I heard him begin the search through his cupboard for something non-boat to wear. Three weeks ago I did something that I had never done before and rearranged his cupboard into some semblance of order – purely so I didn’t have to cope with his ongoing angst of not being able to find anything in something that made a rubbish tip look like a well-designed flow chart. I heard the search begin and squashed myself further down in bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was no use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Have you seen my Show Me The Monkey t-shirt?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Yes. I washed it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “It’s gone. So is my red one. Maybe I left them in New South Wales.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe I should have left you in NSW, I thought, uncharitably.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “No,” I said, “I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An exasperated sigh, as the t-shirt had not appeared as if by magic. In tones of finality. “No. It’s gone. What am I going to wear? Where are my t-shirts?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did one of those deep cleansing breaths that I read about in birthing books. “If you want to go and have some breakfast, I will find the Show Me The Monkey t-shirt.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was deemed far too patronising and I got glared at. I tried a different tack. “Look in the bucket of clean clothes, there’s a blue t-shirt in there.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He wore the blue t-shirt. After more general unhappiness, he had breakfast and finally left, while I lay there hoping that the dentist would slip and accidentally prod the part of his brain that makes him so very unbearable. I lay there for a bit longer in case he came back. When the coast was clear, I got my camera and went to his cupboard. I touched nothing before taking this picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Male domestic blindness. Kill me now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After this I went a little bit insane. I went and hauled out M’s dirty clothes basket that he had, for god knows what reason, put in the carport. I tipped it out. There were about five pairs of trousers, four shirts, five t-shirts, four jumpers, about a billion of things that had once been socks, and a couple of pairs of undies. I tipped them on to the porch and spent several long minutes stamping furiously and screaming at the sky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I fed as many things as I could into the washing machine, which sighed as I closed its door. Then the phone rang. It was M. I told him to be very very careful what he said to me. I asked, with legitimate interest, if the denist had hurt him. I told him to be very very careful when driving home, as I wanted to be the orchestrator of his demise and didn’t want him taken out by some runaway truck. And now? I wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Every Tuesday morning…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Every Tuesday morning I drive to work between nine and ten. Every Tuesday morning, about ten minutes after I pull out of the driveway, I get a text message from my mother which says “R U here for dinner tonight?” Almost every Tuesday morning, I text back, with irrational fury, “Yes. About 7pm.” This prompts my phone to ring about five minutes later. And I don’t answer it. Because I am driving. I am driving because that is what I do Every Tuesday Morning between nine and ten. And I don’t drive to work Any Other Day, because I stay over in town and then drive home on Wednesday nights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And now that I have paraded my irrational rage at my mother in front of the internet, thus finally getting the message across about one of the two times each week that I will be telephonically unavailable, Sod’s Law comes into play and makes next week at work my last. So I should have actually typed none of this and just bitten my tongue through the drive next Tuesday morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But today was compounded by the weather and its stupid 36 degrees. Which, if, along with every other thing that has been done to our new car, we had got the aircon regassed, would not have been an issue. However [sighs deeply] I drove, baking gently, listening to my phone beep. Then ring. Then tell me that there was a missed call. Then tell me that there is a message for me. Then tell me that there is a message for me. Then tell me that sometimes phones will still beep even after you throw them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    P.S – For anyone that feels compelled to point out that I am an ungrateful cow whose mother just wants to feed up in an effort to have a healthy, Nobel Prize winning grandchild? Shut up now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sleeping on a sliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last night we dropped in at my mum and T’s house to say hi – I’d just had my hair cut off a few minutes down the road. On arrival, M got stuck into the bottle of red I’d bought him as a ‘thank-you’ for enduring the hellish drive to the hairdresser and wrangling of Small Z while I sat and was improved from my Trailer-Skank state. So, in the end, after my mum said they had a mattress we could stay on (as my nan is staying there too, and there is a bed shortage) we decided to sleep the night – Small Z had already crashed, and the idea of waking her, stuffing her in the car and driving for an hour, was too much to contemplate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In retrospect it would have been BLISSFUL. I failed to realise that when my mother said ‘spare mattress’ she actually meant to say “Something about the width of a piece of sliced bread and equally as comfortable.” ARGH! Z had her sheepskin, M had his red wine insulating him (and a helpful absence of hips to stick into the floor) and I had… Nothing. I just lay there and fed and changed Small Z when required throughout the night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      M had the front to wake up and tell me that he hadn’t slept a wink. I almost bit him on the face, but resisted manfully. I told him I didn’t know how that was possible as I’d lain there most of the night listening to him snore, with the soft tones of Taylors Shiraz drifting past me. We left secretly at around 8am, fleeing down the road, narrowly avoiding running out of diesel and leaving the petrol cap at the service station. You see? Lack of sleep does not do well with EXTRA LASHINGS of MORE lack of sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Moral of the story? A slice of bread is NOT A MATTRESS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Purple ears and an urge to kill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I got my hair cut and coloured (even though only exactly four people have bothered noting this fact) about two and a half weeks ago. M came along to wrangle Z, because I doubted I could do it with a head covered in foil. As it turned out, I traded in my trailer-blonde hue to go kind of reddish b!@#n as there is no way I’ll be able to maintain the trailer-blonde in my new role of parent. Amanda, my hair-heroine and owner of a toddler exactly one year older than Small Z, gave me some extra colour and peroxide stuff to use in a few weeks, as apparently colour fades very quickly when you put it straight over trailer-blonde.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This morning, with Small Z being very amenable, I mixed up the dye and asked M to paint it on the roots of my hair. I was a foolish, foolish person at this point, because I assumed that when I told him to imagine he was painting the waterline on a boat, and when I said “You didn’t get it on my skin, did you?” as I felt the brush poke my neck and then behind the ear, that he knew what the job entailed. My wrongness was large. He held up his hands once he had finished – they were purple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “This will come off, right?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I stared at him uncomprehendingly. He began washing his hands in the sink. They remained purple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “You didn’t tell me that I should have worn gloves,” he whined, scrubbing furiously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “I didn’t assume you would decide to coat your hands in it.” I felt I sounded reasonable – which I was, until I stood up and examined the job. I had an inch of dye from the back of my neck around to my ear. And some more around the other ear. I looked like I’d gone a round in the boxing ring, facing backwards. I began to scrub and shriek, while M tactfully withdrew and made himself a consolatory coffee. I began scrubbing using face cleanser and warm water. Some of it came off. A lot didn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “I’m sorry,” M began bleating from the safety of the change table. “I didn’t realise. I’m really sorry. It’ll come off. I’m sure it will.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I cranked the hot tap on harder, and then did a double take, as the water, instead of gushing forth, trickled to nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “AGH! AGH! Jim’s turned the water off! Help! Help!! I have to wash this all out in fifteen minutes, or the world will explode!! Go and find him.Quickly.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M went, taking Small Z with him. I began typing this lament, and watched him walk up the back paddock to where Jim was working on a horse drinking trough. There were two small boys with him. I beat myself over the head several times as I questioned why I had become a disaster magnet – the first time in about three years I decided to go back to doing my hair at home – and I enlist a crappy apprentice and the landlord turns the water off. Of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Small Z apparently had a great time watching Jim work furiously to try and get the horse thing fixed while my hair basted. A fly bit her on the hand and she yelped, but did not cry. She was entranced by the two small boys and the very large horse. Finally, she and M returned and the water began pouring from the tap I’d left on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I jumped in the shower and began rinsing. Was mildly appalled by the fact that rather large amounts of hair remained in my hands as I put shampoo and conditioner through. How was this fair? I had done a home job, as instructed by my hairdresser, to prevent Small Z from being dragged along to a two hour appointment, and now was shedding faster than a persian cat in spring. This was not the end of my torment. After repeated looks in the mirror, my hair has now dried. Is it a deep mahogany b!@#n colour? Is it?!? No. No it’s not. Because that would have been too much to expect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I swear that I ran to the kitchen and double checked what it said on the colour tubes, because my hair is now BLACK. Just like M has always wanted it to be. Oh. My. God. Of the many colours I have been, black is my least favourite, as it renders me corpselike without make-up on, thus making me look about three hundred and seven – which is about how many times I have shouted the work FUCK!!! in the last twenty minutes. I have goth hair. And I have less hair than I had before. And I have purple ears and a purple neck and a dressing gown with purple stains around the neck (thanks again, M…) I have no idea what I did wrong, but in my vast history of hair dyeing, it has never gone this pear-shaped. Gah. Kill kill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Trench-ant

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can’t help feeling – as I sit here and try and cram 14 hours of files (i.e. two days work) into one day, that I am coming close to turning into one of the freaks that I have to type about. I was just typing about someone’s carpal tunnel syndrome and my wrist is sore and twitchy, then I move on to someone with bilateral shoulder pain, and my right shoulder starts to ache. Then I start typing about someone with…oh, whatever. You get the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am still here. Still feeling like that witch in that Judy Garland film my brain won’t tell me the name of. The rainbow one. Oh! The Wizard of Oz! I’m that witch (north, south?) who screams “I’m melting, I’m melting!!” That’s what it feels like. I have just gone through the most hell week, some of which I can’t type about for fear of incriminating myself and making my life more difficult – but staying at my mum’s with Z on my own with no power was a highlight, M in a filthy mood with a filthy cold staying at my mum’s with me and Z and no power the night before my birthday – that wasn’t bad either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Having my birthday somewhat hijacked by the arrival of M’s sister, cousin and great-niece – which wasn’t their fault, as they didn’t know, but it did mean M had to cut short my birthday lunch (eaten in shifts as we baby wrangled the non-sleeping Z) and leave for the airport at 2pm, and not returning until 6pm. Waking up on my birthday and having to wait around for a (very nice) electrician to fix up stuff, and then give him $250 [sigh]. Blah blah blah, there are children dying with their legs blown off in far horribler situations than mine, but guess what – they’re not here whining about it on my blog. I am. And there’s more to come. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I live in a bread desert. Help me, quick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Back in Hervey Bay there was about one joint in the whole place that sold decent bread. Read RYE bread. REAL RYE BREAD – not the fake kind that Helga’s lie about on their plastic wrap in the supermarkets. Ok. I exaggerate. There were two. Two bread shops that sold good bread and not the fake brown coloured stuff that also resides on the shelves in those chain bakeries whose names escape me due to no sleep and too much baby urine. The ones that have signs reading ‘rye’ but whose whole bread-shaped persona scream ‘Ha ha! My name is bland. Secretly, I am wholemeal.’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, back to the current deplorable state of our bread bin. A few days ago M went down to the Tooradin Bakery. A place I have mentioned before – they appear to do a roaring and regular trade. This is despite the fact that there are at least two other cafes right nearby. Their coffee remains pretty iffy, but less so that the other places. M returned looking hopeful, and informed me that the loaf he was carrying was ‘sourdough’.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Generally, if I weight a loaf of bread in my hand and it feels heavy enough to do some damage with, I’m willing to be convinced that it might be pretty good. This bread? How does ‘instantly dashed all my hope’ sound? Not only was it so far away from being sourdough that it was almost closer to being CAKE, it tasted like it had lived on the train all the way from Perth before someone remembered to use it for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In my fury, I googled sourdough and came up with sourdough.com – a site that I was surprised to see was Australian? Indeed, in the top left hand corner, it had a link straight to Daniel Chirico – the maker of the most sublime casalinga, which my mother and T put me on to – they usually drive to St Kilda once a week just to buy it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What I also found was information about an request to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and the FSA (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) to review the standard of bread labelled ‘sourdough’ in Australia. If only they would!! The ACCC states that labels must accurately reflect their contents – I wonder if that holds for signs in bakeries? If a sign in front of some loaves says ‘sourdough’ surely you should be able to assume that it is actually sourdough? Anyway, if you are interested in trying to push this point at the ACCC – there is a link in the article that takes you to the appropriate place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And so, the pretend sourdough is now in the compost bin and I will get some legit stuff tomorrow on my regular fang into town…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Google maps. ARGH!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Twice this week Google Maps (GM) stole chunks of my life. The first was when I drove to get my new headset for MacSpeech. GM told me to go this utterly bizarre route – which I did, because I thought it probably new better than me about the messy tangle of highways and freeways near to where I needed to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Turns out I could have just left our driveway, turned left, turned right and arrived there about half and hour later. Instead I cruised areas hitherto unknown to me and somehow ended up near Noble Park. Which was not at all Noble by the time I reached it, and I saw no park. About a billion u-turns later, I extricated us to the proper road. Sigh. On the way back (the quick and non-GM way) Small Z and I jumped out and investigated Dandenong. Wow! It’s like a cooler, trashier, seedier, more multicultural version of Footscray. Small Z and I cruised amongst people of many races, investigated Dimmeys, found a European deli, a couple of fish shops and earned some points with M by getting him some empty ice-cream containers from Dairy Bell. Thanks, Dairy Bell!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We liked it so much we went back on Tuesday and conquered Savers. But I digress. Today we tried to go to a different pool for baby-swimming. It seems we live smack bang in between two pools – and I wanted to find out which was nearer. Thanks to GM I am still none the wiser. I searched for the address. GM ‘found it’. Unfortunately I failed to notice the tiny grey writing that said it was it was ‘just an approximate’ of the address. ARGH!! ARGH!!! ARGH!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then, of course, as I desperately didn’t want it to be my fault for relying again on el stupido GM, I decided to blame M as he had usefully taken the street directory out of the car, leaving myself and Small Z to drive guided by little more than frail hopes and a stray seagull that we would find the pool in time to actually get in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As it happened, we made it, and had a good splash around for about twenty minutes. I dunked Small Z, who remained unperturbed, surfacing without having stopped her race for the big yellow floating duck she had her eye on. We were the only ones there, so it all felt quite palatial. After some supermarket shopping we arrived home, to find that M had made the most fabulous apple pie out of the current Delicious magazine (thank you, J&I) – which vaporised the street directory angst. Custard powder in pastry – who knew!? (You did, didn’t you, Jen…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This too shall pass. I just wish it would hurry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Am at the end of my tether here in Trailerland. Z and I have been sick for a week – she is still amongst rivers of snot, while my version has a kick in the tail of the slightly nauseated constant headache. She has a tooth poking through and another one right behind it, which is making things extra special. M has had the dreaded cold thing as well, but for not quite as long or revoltingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On top of the malingering of myself and Z, today I realised why (if you’re not into mentions of nipples, don’t read anymore NIPPLE NIPPLE NIPPLE) my….NIPPLES have been sore. It’s not from the frequent feeding of a cold clogged baby – it’s because both baby and I have thrush. She in her mouth – me on the boobs. If this conjures horrible pictures for you, it shouldn’t. This is why I didn’t pick up on it a week ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Boob thrush is not really very apparent at all. It’s just nipple soreness/dryness that doesn’t improve. Which is why I’ve had it for over a week and just thought it was due to overuse. It’s a bit more obvious in Small Z – the inside of her cheeks look like they’re coated in milk. So I have to smear this gel stuff in her mouth four times a day, and on the girls as well. Everything she gums has to be washed…which is pretty much EVERYTHING in the WORLD. And for some reason, our washing machine just doesn’t like hot washes – on the temperature setting it starts at 40 degrees – and maybe our water just isn’t that hot. Who knows. Just another thing I now want to kick the living crap out of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At this point I am so tired. Many night feeds. M and I are getting on each others nerves, plotting homicide, then apologising. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. We are trying to live in such a small space. Trying to do it on a shoestring budget. Both of us are around each other an awful lot. We have no friends around under a forty minute drive away – which means when we’ve had it up to here with each other, we can’t just scoot over to someone else’s place for a quick coffee and chat. No, it’s a freeway driving epic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The trailer itself is driving me SPARE. It is so full of CRAP – all of which is mine and it is just accumulating. I need to get savage and make many op-shop trips with stuff I haven’t touched for at least a year. That’s just the study. The rest of the place has an uncanny ability to just turn from fairly liveable into disgusting cesspit in the space of a day. It’s so demoralising when I feel so crap. Most of the time I like our plans – our boatbuilding plots – the stepping stone of trailer living for a few years – but right now I would sell it all down the river for some polished floorboards, a cleaner who came once a week, thick walls, fun stuff within walking distance and NO FUCKING DAY JOB. Ahem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                P.S This is my blog. If you don’t like my venting, you know what you can do with your eyeballs. (Just to pre-empt the inevitable ‘relentless negativity’ spears.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh My Gosh – OBAMA!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I held very little hope for the US election – my confidence in Americans in general (did you see that? I wrote ‘in general’, thus, you should not take this personally – particularly considering that more than half of my relatives are in the US) had been eroded by that freakish Bush who was so obviously a hand puppet for other, more Machiavellian, interests. It turns out that I was wrong. In more than one way. I spoke to my mother today (a Yank from way back, although she has now become an Australian citizen) and it turns out I could have voted! As the holder of a US passport I could have helped Obama along – luckily he didn’t need my help. Congratulations to the United States! You did it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (M just pointed out a freaky thing – that most of the coastal states seemed to have voted Democrat, while the more landlocked states voted Republican. Weird.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, Telstra really do suck. Really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Today I lost an hour and a half of my life to Telstra. Have I mentioned before how much Telstra suck? I’m sure I have. Why did I return to Telstra after so many years away? Because they caught me at a weak moment, cold called me at home, took advantage of my sleep deprived state and said they could save us money. Ohhhhh, and how I have paid for my fickle nature…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After signing over our home phone to them, I immediately forgot about it, until three months later when someone in the same town as us telephoned and said they had been receiving our bills. Interesting. It had not occurred to me that we had not yet seen a bill. To rectify the issue I had to give up about an hour of my time on the planet, as I spoke to people in sunny Brisbane. They did knock some money off the bill and gave me extended time to pay it. Which was, admittedly, pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Still never got a bill, so I never really knew how much to pay. Another long suffering Queensland employee practically begged me to just do my billing online. Naturally I was unable to use my login name of choice as I worked for BigPond Tech Support about a billion years ago and was still on file. I had no memory of what my inventive password of the time was. Thus I chose a username and password combination that immediately dropped into the abyss…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By the time I got around to sorting it all out, we had found this new house and I had made the sad discovery that, having ditched AAPT (internet and phone) for Telstra (phone) and Exetel (internet) – in moving house I was going to be breaking my six month Exetel contract which meant haemorrhaging $100 and then a $88 (re)connection fee. Oh WOE. However, Exetel have been very good, and it was not their fault that I had decided to escape the trailer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I organised with Telstra to put our phone on at the new house on 22 December 2008. Seven days after that, they finally got around to it. I spent COUNTLESS aeons at the phonebox (as I had no mobile throughout that time) and also on the phone at my dads. All through Christmas – no phone. And the INTERMINABLE waiting on HOLD. Of course, my requests to Exetel to activate my internet were rejected. Twice. As the phone line remained unconnected. The whole thing had an air of farce. Finally, just prior to me taking out a mortgage on the phone box (where I would call, put the phone off the hook, go for a walk, buy milk, come back – and still be on hold) the telephone at the new house RANG!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Who was it? Astonishingly, it was Telstra. An apologetic Telstra.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “So sorry Beth,” said Telstra. “We missed the appointment that was scheduled for a technician to come out to your house.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Really?” I said. “You never let me know that such a thing was to happen. Oh – that’s right, I had no phone, so how could you? Oh – that’s right, I gave you my dad’s phone number so you could contact me if you needed to. And we heard nada. Nothing. Nil. Are you hearing me? Even though we are on a phone line ostensibly powered by pygmies doing pagan dancing somewhere down near the telephone exchange?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Yeah,” said Telstra, with a meditative pause. “Right. Well, anyway, we’re ringing to rearrange the appointment we missed.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Why?” I was genuinely intrigued.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Because a technician needs to come out to the premises and activate your line. It seems there’s a problem with it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My brain exploded, coating the walls. “WHAT LINE DO YOU THINK WE’RE TALKING ON? YOU. CALLED. ME. Hello?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Telstra, obviously baffled, said not to worry about it and hung up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cut to yesterday. I get a bill in the mail, correctly addressed, saying that the phone is going to be cut off next week if I don’t pull my finger out and pay the $80 owing from the trailer bill. Fair enough. I attempt to log on to telstra.com – but am again baffled by my login name and have to speak to a Canadian called Alex who says he can see I used to work for Telstra. I tell him that I try not to ever think of it, it’s in my past, and how is he coping? Oh, he tells me, I’m medicated. Seriously. I am seriously, seriously medicated. I’ve been working for Telstra for five years and last year, do you know how many days I had off? Two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I gasp. Two days? Two days, he says. Because I’m getting married in February, and I’m taking a WHOLE MONTH off work to go with my fiance to Hawaii. I then say that it sounds like he will be familiar with America, judging by his accent – and then I pause, and then ask if I have insulted a Canadian. He says I have insulted a Canadian, but he’ll get over it. He tells me my login name, which I engrave on to my arm, and then bids me adios.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I log in. There, sitting pertly, are my debts. Around a hundred bucks or so. I go to pay, and the amount, after I click, totals up to FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR DOLLARS. I retry, and the same things happens. There is no way that Telstra are getting any of my barely existent finances until this is sorted out. I begin a phone call to them which sees me transferred to SIX different people, in different departments, ending with one of them hanging up on me after I’ve spent 56 minutes on the line. A few of them tell me that as I had moved into a house which, although it had a telephone line in situ, it was not a Telstra telephone line and in order to MAKE it a Telstra telephone line, I had to pay three hundred dollars. Surely I knew this? I kept repeating that I did not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All of them goggled down the phone at me when I said that not only would I rot before paying them ANY money until the three hundred dollars was removed from my bill, I was going to hang in on that line, being passed around like a parcel, until someone sorted it out for me. Which is why, after 56 minutes, the sixth person hung up on me. I called straight back. Then I spoke to a few more people, all of whom sounded outraged and righteously indignant on my behalf, and then slyly palmed me off to someone, somewhere else, where I had to go through all my explanations and threats all over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the end I got put on to some guy who I imagined was sitting on a gold chair in some kind of ethereal call centre setting where things are actually achieved. I explained for the tenth time, my situation, and told him that my brain had begun to leak from my ears. He asked if I could hold so he could consult with his supervisor. I said I would not hold. Ever again. He soothed me and said he was going to ask his supervisor for permission to wipe out that three hundred dollars, as well as the connection fee that I had told him I would not pay, as it took them seven days to connect me, and even then, they didn’t realise they’d done it. I was temporarily mollified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    He returned in under five minutes and said ‘mission completed’. I asked him if he was serious. He said he was. I asked what other worldly department was he in that he was capable of actually dealing with a problem, expecting him to say something like ‘The Department of Calm for the Truly Exasperated Customer’. But he just said he was in Billing. The same department I’d already gone through on four separate occasions. I thanked him several times. He was a very nice man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tiptoed back into my telstra.com billing thing. He had not been kidding. He had sorted out my bill. I was gobsmacked, and quickly paid the hundred dollars owing. I remain blisteringly astonished that a company so large is so incredibly inept. As soon as I get VOIP going again, I’m kissing them goodbye. I hope they go under. Did I mention they SUCK?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Happy Birthday, M.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As part of M’s birthday every year I become malleable girlfriend. Gone are the snipey comments, I hide my eyerolls, and I agree with everything he says. Everything. He is in heaven. This year, his birthday fell on a weekend, which meant that I was wonder-girlfriend for BOTH days. Seriously. It nearly killed me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think M is always in two minds about his birthday, and I have learnt through experience that it is best to get him OUT and among PEOPLE. Anyone at all. But this year, my plans were almost foiled, as he had a bit of a stomach bug. I had done quite a bit of present planning, as I find him kind of difficult in the present arena. He tells me he doesn’t want books, I already knew he’d get red wine and coffee (his two staples) from other sources, so I decided on a three pronged present attack – on the assumption that at least one of the three would get some kudos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I got some photographs printed up about eight by ten inches, and framed them, I made him a photobook of the last year using Comic Life, and my final item was a coffee machine (secondhand from eBay, due to finances). Ha! He said he liked two of the framed photos, commented that the photos in the book I made were too dark, but deemed the coffee machine thrilling. That’s just the way he is on that one day a year. I ignore it and move on. (Note that I say I move on. I do not, however, forget….)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      He had awoken with a tummy bug, which didn’t help matters, however, we soldiered on. Here is Small Z in the car on the way – being malleable birthday baby…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the way to the cafe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I took him to the Pearcedale Primary School Fete. Oh my god. If there was ever any karmic payback for my saintliness, that was it. There was the most amazing white elephant stall…and in no particular order, we scored a Humphery B Bear nightlight, a cubby, a slide, a crockpot, a sleeping bag and a lamp with butterflies on it. All this came to a total of THIRTY DOLLARS. I so could have gone far more crazy, but part of my birthday goodness is to recognise when to stop, damnit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How spectacular is this crockpot?! It’s the same brand as my original one, but with an added (and much needed) special feature. You can REMOVE THE POT! Oh thank god for no more careful cleaning around the electrical cord bit…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My New Five Dollar Crock Pot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And the cubby is not just your normal everyday crapola cubby. It is big. It is plastic. It has doors, and working window shutters!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The new cubby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After the wonder of these additions to the day, M still felt pretty vile, and his birthday lunch hung in the balance. Luckily, he decided he would rather feel revolting amongst friends, than at home with just Small Z and I. Small Z and I heaved a little secret sigh of relief, and he drove us at great speed to one of his favourite cafes where I had booked a table (“too far away”) talking in clipped and rushed sentences (“tell me where to turn” “now where?”) as I breathed slowly through one nostril and then the other. Of course, once among friends, he got his mojo and his humour back. I self-medicated with a cocktail. Next year, as I have said once before, I’m inviting people over for BREAKFAST.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The lollipops and legs of lamb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When those trashy magazines have those ‘expose’ shots of stars that have become ‘too skinny’ and show them looking like lollipops alongside pictures of them a few years/months/minutes ago when they were somewhat more well-upholstered, they always miss out on one crucial angle (pun not intended, but not objected to). When they ‘speak’ to the lolliipop, (and it’s always a ‘she’) she’ll always spout variations on her ‘fast metabolism’, cutting out the carbs, working out every day, or dieting like a lunatic. I care about none of these things. I want them to ask the lollipops how they sleep at night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Literally. How they sleep at night. Because at present I am quite lollipop-esque – without the workout fresh muscletone, and I am bloody uncomfortable at night. And I have a stupidly expensive visco-elastic mattress (because of M, but that’s another story). I can only assume that mattresses don’t get much more expensive, and that Posh Spice (a lollipop totem if ever there was one) must have one too. So she must be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The worst bit is my knees. With no comforting little bits of flesh to pad them, they knock on top of each other (I sleep on my side) and I wake up with red blotches where they have been sitting, one on top of the other. Not only this, but the lack of padding means my upper legs must be at a weird angle, because it makes my back hurt. So I have to stuff something under my lower back, and put something between my knees.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If I had nothing else to do at night but sleep, this would be tolerable. However, as I am woken many times a night, rearranging myself into some attempt at a comfortable position is just stupidly fraught. I finally realised that I needed to attach something to my knee so as to stop losing my between-the-knees cushion in the dark. I found a lamb, and tied him on. It worked quite well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Leg of Lamb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can only assume that Posh Spice does something similar, but instead uses something like a specially trained lesser known extra warm blooded albino corgi to keep her knees comfortably apart. And yes, I realise how ripe all this ‘keeping ones knees apart’ is for ribaldry, but that would negate the seriousness of the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My leg of lamb is OK, but I have been toying (sorry) with the idea of putting (tying?) another wedge-shaped one (maybe this is where I should go for an eagle instead?) on to my lower back, thus enabling me to shuffle around in the bed at night, without losing the items that are key to an attempted comfortable nap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So if anyone out there is a lollipop, famous or otherwise, my I proffer my idea of a leg of lamb. Surely, somewhere, sometime, someone who is a famous lollipop will one day just lose all self restraint (no….) and start shouting about how being a size four is fab, but how they would give anything for a decent night’s sleep? And then we will see a comfortable white warm and well paid looking thing on the cover of New Weekly, and it will be the corgi…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (But it just hit me. They never start shouting. They just turn to various substances, and imagine that they’ve slept very well indeed. I, myself, am starting to appreciate how tempting this might be…except that I’m still breastfeeding, which would probably make it a little immoral. Or funny, depending on who you are. Of course, when the breastfeeding stops, I anticipate my lollipop status will quickly follow, rendering all this pondering null and void. Gah.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BASTARDS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Someone hacked my site. I have no time to type right now, but I found code in one of my backend files that points to a blogger homepage. I want to hunt this down and wreak some vengeance, but more importantly, I want to figure out how to stop it from happening again. ARGH!!! Here is someone else that has had the same thing happen – only one person on the whole rest of the INTERNET? I think I have to look a bit harder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Am very glad that this damage isn’t permanent, but am going to do a backup right now so I don’t have to relive the past hour fruitlessly searching for an unhacked copy of the file…. GRRRR.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Office

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Since Small Z arrived on the scene I have been working at home. (Have I mentioned that, should you ‘fall’ pregnant – don’t blithely inform your manager that you couldn’t imagine staying at home all day with a baby, and of course you’ll be back at work, three days a week, after three months? No? Consider yourself warned.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, as much as I often whine that I am far more productive in the office environment, away from the interruptions that come with working from home, I have to say that I will continue to avoid returning, for one particular reason. Office politics. Kill me now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In the past year, sides have been taken and lines have been drawn. And guess how many people there are in the office in the absence of myself, and not including my boss (the doctor)? Three. THREE. The two ladies who were there when I started, were joined by another woman when I left in March 2006 because we mistakenly thought we were going to build the catamaran in Northern NSW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The woman who was to be the new ‘me’ is French. Let’s call her (as we have before) SoFrenchySoChic. And she is. Anyway, we all used to get on quite well. She and, let’s call her ‘Lola’ (the office manager) have never completely clicked. The other woman, ‘Sarah’, was always friendly with Lola, and there was an unspoken understanding that SoFrenchySoChic was a blow in, a bit of a drama queen, but a hard (although a little slower than they’d like) worker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And me? I think one of the useful, but annoying things about me, is that I tend to get on with everyone I’ve worked with. Mostly because I nod and smile regardless of their agenda. It has served me well. I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve really battled with anyone. This is also because I don’t care about work. It provides me with the money I need to do the things I like. It doesn’t hold a lot of value, and I don’t invest a lot in it. Anyway, you would think, among three women who are all over fifty, that they could pull their heads out of their arses and get along just to make the workplace tolerable. But no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Since I have not been around (and I don’t think it’s anything to do with my absence), SoFrenchySoChic and Sarah have become very chummy. SoFrenchySoChic has gone from being a ring-in to being very friendly with the doctor. Purely platonically. They share an interest in wine, food, and dancing. This has left Lola in the cold. Right where SoFrenchySoChic wants her. They have a personality clash, a culture clash (Lola is a Brit) and a lifestyle approach clash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SoFrenchySoChic has impeccable style, is fit, vivacious, into gourmet food and art, has two young kids (didn’t get pregnant until she was 40, as she was too busy travelling the world) and as opinionated as she is outspoken. Lola is understated, a bit more of a ‘nanna’, smokes, has two adult kids, is Depression-era frugal, has a dry sense of humour and in her own quiet way is very opinionated. They have now reached a point of mutual loathing that makes being around them revolting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I go into work, I have to deal directly with both of them. It is SO exhausting making sure that I don’t appear to be ‘siding’ with either of them. From my standpoint, I have to keep them both onside – but Lola probably more so than SoFrenchySoChic, basically because she’s the one who pays me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SoFrenchySoChic and I had to sit down together on Monday and sort out the work for the next few weeks. Lola had made a comment a few minutes before about our stand-in, Micha, getting through a lot more work than either SoFrenchySoChic or I do. This is really almost the eye of the storm. Lola is responsible for scheduling appointments and making sure that the files, including our reports, are there, ready for the Doctor, when the client comes in. We have to have written up these reports. In the last year or so, the reports have become more involved, more dense, and thus, take longer to do. When I began working there, at one point I was doing ALL the work myself in a four day period. Now? It takes SoFrenchySoChic working fulltime and myself doing two days, to just stay on top of it all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is constant deadline pressure, but most so on SoFrenchySoChic – who, I think, kept a lid on her feelings for a year or two as she is divorced, with two kids in private school and a mortgage. She needs this job. However, once she had Sarah and the Doctor onside, I think she felt able to be a bit more free with her thoughts in regard to Lola. And Lola…she is under pressure as well, because the buck stops with her – and she feels that SoFrenchySoChic takes too long over the files. *groan*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, Lola made a comment to me. And a few minutes later, as I sat with SoFrenchySoChic, she was saying [read the following fast, in a French accent]:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “I cannot believe this woman. Is she insane that she actually says that this Micha does more than we do. Honestly she has no idea. This is ree-deek-u-lous. It makes me laugh. It really does….”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And it did. She began laughing hysterically, as she banged the files down on the table. This was all for my benefit, and also so Lola, on the other side of the office, would hear her. I was stuck. I was obviously supposed to sympathise, but to do so would be bitchy to Lola, and to not do so would be, well…getting off the fence…and validating her complaints. What to do? What I WANTED to do was shriek at the both of them, bang their heads together and turn on my heel toward a strong gin and tonic, which I would drink while they staggered. What I did was just sort of make spinelessly indeterminate noises as I wished myself far, far away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had to physically stop myself, once I got home, from sending them both a terse email, saying that I wanted no involvement with their issues and could they please never discuss the other with me as I have to get along with both of them. ARGH. On the upside – I now have three weeks worth of work here at home – and I’m willing to pay $12 per Express-Post envelope to send ‘em all back, just to avoid the poison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            /Rant Over. And here’s hoping I won’t get dooced. I don’t love the job, but it’s keeping the catamaran going…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And repeat, and repeat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here I am again. At the other end (hopefully) of a non-posting period which inevitably indicates I am finding life too frenetic or demanding to get near my computer for anything other than work. My frustration builds accordingly. I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone, which I use to take photos that then jog my brain about what has been going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The past ten days have seen a camping trip, a sailing adventure, a diagnosis of a herniated disc (mine), some sort of leg injury (M’s), and Small Z surfing the waves of some major developmental curve (a polite way of saying that she has been having tantrums, using longer and longer words, having broken sleep and is usually attached to me like glue with no one else being good enough).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My sanity appears to be hinging on the amount of sleep I get. Let me put it this way. If Small Z does not have a daytime nap, we are ruined. I tend to have a powernap while she goes to sleep and this gets me sanely through the rest of the day. Without this and with the addition of a grumpy two-year-old, things can get dire. This pregnancy is NOT like the last. I am not fit and it is starting to bite. Last time I was either walking for at least 30 minutes a day, riding an exercise bike or doing yoga. This time? Nothing. And my walking is now limited by my freaky back thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The back thing would have made a post on its own if I had any time to do it. I don’t. I apparently have a herniated L5 disc that is causing numbness in my left calf, foot and big toe. Hardly any pain though, so it’s easy to be a little blase. I am supposed to avoid bending, lifting and twisting – the three things that I seem to spend the most time doing. Half the time if feels like I am wading through things on the floor that need to be picked up. Small Z has been mostly tolerant of my refusal to carry her around, but has become increasingly clingy – demanding that I ‘feed’ her and giving me lots of kisses. She has grown up in a big developmental spurt over the past month and has started coming out with crazy things:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will drink the Milky Way through a lightning straw and eat the cloud with a thunder spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That number should not be eleven it should be one-teen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She has also become a rhyming goddess, egged on by M and I, and our love of our latest favourite kids book Down The Back of The Chair by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar. She is obsessed with conger eels ‘It feels UNREAL to be a conger eel!’ and a fish she saw in a picture called a Moon Wrasse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anyway, with all this going on, I have no time to do a thing for myself. I do not get the opportunity to blog – and this is what I find most frustrating of all. My brain is so mushy that I really rely on my posts to remind me of what I’ve been up to. I feel like experiences and memories are slipping through my fingers because I’m just too tired to post them. It is 10.30pm right now, Small Z would not sleep until 9.10pm and I know I should have slept then as well but I just NEEDED A POCKET OF TIME!! The only use my computer has had in the past week has been for work. Any intermittent Facebook comments I might make are done via my iPhone….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So yeah. I’m fried. Things are hard. The hour is late. I am an itchy and irritated Minke Whale. M has said that I can have Tuesdays as mental health days – and I did this yesterday – but I had so much administrative crud to get through that I didn’t get a chance to write ANYTHING here. Gah. Double gah to the gah. How am I going to fit a second baby into this swirl and leave my sanity intact!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Julia!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How cool is this? We have a FEMALE PRIMEMINISTER. Oh. My. GOD! This is fantastic! I fervently hope she wins the upcoming election and I am now feeling very happy that I sorted out our electoral registration a few months ago instead of letting it linger. Julia Gillard has more charsima and fewer religious leanings (as far as I gather) than Kevin Rudd. I am rapt that this has happened. It’s a bit weird that this should even be such a ‘first’ – it’s TWO THOUSAND AND TEN, but better late than never. Congratulations Julia! Hooray!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Easey Street – Not so easy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah. You will notice a dearth of posts over the past seven days. Yes. That’s what single-parenthood will do to a spinally challenged minke whale such as myself. Small Z and I had an OK time last Thursday and Friday – although a little fraught. This is the first of a few catch-up posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On Friday I needed to get a few things from the supermarket, and assumed I’d be able to wheel my two heavy green shopping bags to the car in a trolley, as I’d parked over the road a little way down the block. Not so. The trolley wheels were either tuned by a security sat-nav system to stop working upon reaching the automatic doors, or… Or?! I don’t KNOW. Both trolleys just stopped working. Maybe it was the mat near the doorway. Whatever it was, the situation rapidly reached flashpoint with Small Z shrieking that there was no seat in the trolley that was refusing to work and me cursing with a heavy bag in each hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Naturally, I did not ask anyone for help. I just staggered down Smith Street with Small Z following me, crying her little eyes out. Almost everyone stopped to try and comfort her. If they had offered to help me instead, everything would have been better because I would have been able to look after her and not have to emulate a pack horse. As it was, I had to totter along, stop to comfort her, start again and attempt to get the crud to the car :( I am soooo frustrated by the restrictions of my back thing. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We comforted ourselves with a donut. And then a trip to the Very Large Op Shop in Abbotsford. How extraordinary. It has a ‘Collections’ range. Which you would assume was a terrible idea, but… I found myself lusting after almost every piece of clothing I found. A lot of it was from a New Zealand clothing label – the fabric and designs were sublime, and very pro-pregnancy. [covet] It all ranged in between $35 and $150, but was reduced from much, much more. Ohhhh, and the black suede jacket that I nearly threw my credit card at? New. $190. I have rarely been so tempted…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was a no-nap day. Usually not so bad, but with waking up early in the morning? We navigated another meltdown in the Very Large and Excellent Op Shop and Small Z was placated by one of the staff who gave her a biscuit. (A biscuit AND a donut on the same day is not something that has ever happened before in her short life…) Such was her fatigue that she actually went to bed early and I finally felt like I could kick back and take a breath. I made myself a proper dinner, and did what drives M insane – namely, sat on the couch with my dinner and a book and a magazine and the television stereo on. Lovely. I felt nearly human. And then I met the dishwasher, and very nearly kissed it…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ear’s where it might end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Slowly the malaise is lifting. M is pretty much almost there, Small Z is lagging a little behind him, and I am last – continuing to operate with one ear and a snuffly nose. Have I ever been this sick? No. Not ever. Revolting. Winter colds are supposed to be fleeting, reminding you that you’re alive, causing you to dig out a few handkerchiefs and boost your Vitamin C intake for a few days and then take off somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This? This came down like a prolonged monsoon. I would not be exaggerating to say that LITRES of snot have been expelled within our home over the past two weeks. It’s astounding. We are starting to peer out from behind our sore noses and realise it’s only about a month until we have a new little person here. Oh. My. GOD. M and I tend to occasionally look at each other with wild, staring eyes and wonder what the hell is about to happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Practicing birthing positions, nappies, frozen dinners, watching our Pink Kit videos again? No. Have done NONE of it. I mean, it is 8.30pm as I type this and I’m yawning like I just pulled an all-nighter. Hopeless. I’m putting it all off until my ear returns. And if this babe decides to arrive early, I’ll send someone out for a pack of eco-disposables and accept my fate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Current cravings? Buttermilk pancakes with some sugar and LOTS of lemon. Weird nesting urges? Going back to making soft stuffed animals…just like I did last time. I have been gently suggesting to Small Z the extent to which things might change around here after Pikelet’s arrival.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Me: Hey Small Z, you know that when Pikelet is here, sometimes I am going to have to be feeding Pikelet and Dadda will have to do your stories and help you with your teeth and PJs, and that will be lovely…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Z: No. I don’t think that will be a very good idea at ALL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course, just as we had started to make some headway in this direction, we all got the Plague and Small Z switched back to being utterly focused on me, which is more than a little bit wearing. The buck stops with me, and if I’m to tired to deal with it all, um – it’s irrelevant. It’s me or nothing. This is frustrating for both myself and M, but hopefully will sort itself out over the coming week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Otherwise, we trundle on. I’m finding it really hard to get all my work done on my allocated two days. I have a serious case of baby brain and cannot focus. I have made good friends with my long neglected fit ball, as it’s one of the most comfortable things I have to sit my ever-widening arse on, and have been scaring myself by reading back on posts like this one. Which leave me thanking the powers-that-be that I’m not living in an uninsulated trailer in a fly-plague and that if I survived last time? I can do it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kiss and Kill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So today I got a letter in the post from HSBC that made me want to cry. I have been making a little bit of extra money selling off Small Z’s old nappies and using the funds to buy newborn sized ones for Pikelet. The other day I bought something for $20 via PayPal, and didn’t notice that it was going to take the funds from my HSBC account…where there were none.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Obviously, as there was not $20 in there, PayPal took it from my other back-up account. But did that stop HSBC charging me THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS for the privilege of PayPal having merely attempt to access my non-existent funds? No. And how much was my profit on the last four nappies I sold? Thirty-five dollars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Surely the ACCC need to get on to this open and systematic rorting… there is no explanation that could justify trying to extract $35 for a process entirely untouched by human hands – except the quest for raw and desperate profit. I know this is old. I have ranted before

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the up side, I spoke to Mung tonight and he told me that the excellently victorious Adam Bandt had launched his election campaign at the Tote – and in an interview had said:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “I am a fan of jangle-pop bands like Bidston Moss, Underground Lovers, Ross McLennan and Snout,” he says.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      YAH!!! Someone remembers Bidston Moss!! I got a warm fuzzy glow that almost wiped all memory of HSBC, and what I would like to do to them, from my mind. I told Mung to send Adam Bandt our entire, far reaching, world changing, life altering back catalogue ;) gratis… Hooray! What can I say? It just confirms I voted correctly…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Back at it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I recall, with no great fondness, going back to working two days a week from home when Small Z was three months old. I had been so oblivious to the demands of a new baby that I had blithely informed my workplace:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        a) that my mum would mind the baby, because of COURSE there would be no issue with the baby having a bottle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        b) that, alternatively, I could work from home – getting everything done while the baby slept, naturally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Both of these aims were rudely shot down in flames by a baby that would not have a bottle or sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time. So, you can imagine how little I have been looking forward to getting back to work with a three-year-old existing on broken nights and no naps, and a four month old who generally sticks to the will-not-have-a-bottle and 40-minute-napping rules established by her sister.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don’t know how I am going to do this. Yesterday was a bit of a fluke, as it coincided with (avert your eyes, flooded northern coast of NSW readers) her latest immunisations. Besides the awfulness of having my baby stuck with two needles, simultaneously in both legs and her crying and me crying… later in the day she slept for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. In which time I completed a whole report.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        She then slept for five and a half hours straight in the night. Imagine what she could do if I gave her Phenergan (which is what my mother keeps suggesting I give Small Z, but that’s another story). Today she woke with a fever and I had one of those wonderful (not) days where I wanted to wrap her in cotton wool and feed her to sleep and generally love her to bits without interruption (mum was looking after Small Z) instead of which I had my work sitting on the back of my head – so I was keen for her to go to sleep, and a bit frustrated when she wouldn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the end I managed to dictate about five paragraphs. That’s it. My only hope is that I will manage to train my dication program to the point where I can use it while having her in the sling? Because obviously there is only so long a four month old will be happy to lie on her back and coo at toys… I don’t know how I am going to do it – which my office manager is obviously attuned to, as I’ve only got four files to get done before the end of the month. But the workload will increase next month to two solid days a week (or so she’s promised), and again – I don’t know how I’ll do it. Small Z’s daycare has not worked out, which complicates things further. Where’s the word I’m after? Oh, that’s it. GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Feeling toey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In my adult life I have had a preference for the osteopath. They have helped me. I like their approach. Here’s the deal:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The osteopathic medical philosophy is defined as the concept of health care that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). These are the four major principles of osteopathy:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - The body is a unit. An integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Structure and function are reciprocally inter-related.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Rational therapy is based on consideration of the first three principles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have had good responses from osteopathy. And if you’re in the Melbourne CBD, the cut price clinic at Victoria University where you are treated by supervised senior students is excellent. However, when my back was at its worse, I realised that my current local surrounds did not include an osteopath. Gaaaaah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And thus, I had to go to a chiropractor. She was awesome, and really helped me. However, while I was pregnant there wasn’t much they could do. No scans, no xrays…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After tiring of being told to return for weekly ‘maintenance’ visits, I went to a physio recommended by my GP. She was also awesome. She gave me exercises (the chiropractor would not) and a back support belt that gave me great relief. But… she was too far away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So then I found the guy that I’ve been seeing sporadically since Small DB was born. He’s a physio. And while he taught me quite a few Pilates exercises and impressed upon me the importance of strengthening my core muscles, I kept saying, “My leg is numb. NUMB. I have no left big toe? Will it be this way forever?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He would look introspective. Massage the insanely sore bit of my left butt cheek. Tell me to keep doing my exercises. And kind of evade the question. I told him I thought that my problem was with the piriformis muscle, not the discs in my spine. He poked my sore bit and said “If it was your piriformis muscle, you would have just jumped through the roof.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I still didn’t believe him. And had a CT scan. Three bulging discs! Party time!! This made my physiotherapist look more introspective than ever. I began swimming five days a week and doing back exercises every day. I began being careful and mindful, focusing on prevention. Little changed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Two weeks ago I just could not reconcile myself to the fact that I was going to have no relationship at all with my left big toe – the one I have not felt for a year. I did what I should have done months, and months and MONTHS ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I went to see an osteopath. He agrees with my piriformis self-diagnosis. He has treated me twice. I can feel my left big toe now. Not totally, but more than I have for over a year. This guy is the business. My first appointment was an hour long. My second one was over 35 minutes and cost less than the physio, who would usually give me twenty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He listened to me. He worked hard on the sore bit of my butt, where I can feel things kind of ‘stick’ when I wiggle my big toe. So hard that there is now a bruise there. But we have results. And I am VERY FUCKING HAPPY about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was not until he said to me that he feels that my disc bulges are largely asymptomatic* and that my symptoms were due to my nerve being squashed by the tightness in my bum, that I realised I have had such a blob of worry in the back of my mind (not helped by the files about chronic back pain I have to type each week). Gosh I feel better! I’ve missed my toe!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          *Many people have disc bulges but have no symptoms. More here. It was one of the first things I read about piriformis syndrome – the symptoms are so similar to a disc bulge that people often have a scan, bulging discs are there, they go on to have surgery, and… their symptoms remain. Because their disc bulges were not the problem. Scary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Five days of respite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep. Five days. Five days without snot or fever or horror teething. Amazing while it lasted. Of course (she types bitterly) two days ago, we jumped right back into what appears to be the Smalls favourite vat of Wintery yuckfest when Small Z awoke with iridescent green snot. Obviously feeling left out, Small DB developed a fever later that afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is it going to be like this for the next HOWEVER MANY YEARS? Is it because Small Z is of an age where she is actually regularly attending playgroup and kindergarten? Or is it just that their immune systems are both bottom of the range and fall over at the sight of a used up tissue?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For two nights in a row Small DB roamed the bed cheerfully at least every two hours, and on one occasion almost FOR two hours. Last night, thankfully, was slightly better. And I have taken up swimming again after two weeks off the job and my stamina is returning. Which is good, because she’s on sleep strike during the day. I was almost at the end of the line late this morning when my dad and Mgs arrived resplendent in my Humber.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They walked down to the cafe with me and the Smalls and the New Pram of Excitement. They bought us lunch. Small Z had her first ever chocolate milkshake. We played some soccer in the front garden. I made tea. Dad helped me make further adjustments to the dishwasher (which is just one of the things that I am fixated on persevering with at the moment).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Did you know that you can use a spanner on hose clamps, not just a straight edged screwdriver? I didn’t, until today, and got two more full turns out of them and stopped a bit of dripping. The Asko will triumph yet!! We were gifted eggs, home made biscuits and home grown limes and blackberries. And I felt remarkably improved by the time they left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The other thing I’m fixated on? Oh. Just my boots. MY BOOTS. Yes – I was obsessed with buying boots with my birthday money, and I did. I couldn’t afford the ones I particularly pined for – and they really weren’t that practical for where I’m at: they did up with buckles, and the toe wasn’t the uber-round style that I hanker after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I got a pair of Jim Barnier boots on eBay – only worn three times. They looked brand new. Sadly, they also felt brand new. Hand made brand new leather boots. In my size, but… Well. It’s my own fault. I was so excited when they arrived that I immediately wore them on a walk down the street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I returned home, idiotically crippled, with blisters on both heels. This fact alone has been in the way of me ‘wearing them in’. So I have been using double socks. I have shoved potatoes cut to a precise size into them. I have jammed my hairbrush down into the heels. I. WILL. PREVAIL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            …and if I cannot wear them for any reasonable distance after increasingly desperate stretching attempts, I will sell them. I’ll give it two weeks. And I’ll probably make a loss, but it’s my own damn fault. My fixation has been assauged, to be replaced by dead eyed determination and aching feet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1+1=5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose it’s not the kind of thing that is ‘nice’ to muse upon. You can’t change it. Wouldn’t want to. But over the last month or so I have been wondering what the hell I was thinking having a second baby. That’s awful, isn’t it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For me the difficulties are not double. They are measured more exponentially, like the power of wind. A day or so ago, while Small DB was asleep and M, Small Z and I were hanging out, I thought evilly, “This is what it would be like now. Small Z nearly four. It could all have been SO MUCH EASIER.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Naturally I don’t like myself for these evil thoughts. I love Small DB to the moon and back. And imagining all would be blissful without her here – well, it might be correct – but as we only moved to this house due to her impending arrival, who knows where we would be without her. Possibly back in Warneet…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All I am saying is this: I have been looking at other people who have stuck to having the one kid. The kids in question are about Small Z’s age. They inhabit a different planet. They hang out. There are no days planned around the naps. There are no nappies, no breastfeeding, no maternal guilt about the youngest inevitably getting more attention than the oldest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To which you are thinking; “Hey! Idiot!! You had another baby. You are still in babyland. Chill with it! Because it passes in the blink of one very tired eye!!”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To which I respond thusly; “I know all that. And I wouldn’t change anything. But anyone who tells you that ‘two are no more trouble than one’ is a big fat LIAR.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ——

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              M has been on kid duty for the past two days. Today I was back in the saddle. We do things differently. He focuses on the Smalls to the exclusion of most other things – the house, the washing, the dishes – and takes them to the park, to innumerable cafes, and plays with them. They are chilled out happy little creatures – and so is he. It works for him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I, on the other hand, feel that, goddamnit, I need ORDER. I can’t stand all the crap all over the floor, the dishes filling up the sink, the piles of endless, endless washing, the full recycling box, the brimming rubbish bin. I cannot relax and engage until I’ve attacked most of it. (I am the first one to admit that this is possibly a bit weird…but anyway…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Which is why Small Z listened to two 15 minutes audiobooks this morning while I dashed about with Small DB strapped on my back, trying to conjure some order. Small Z is sick and snotladen. Small DB is like a wobbly grenade – she has a tooth the size of the Titanic trying to appear. This, coupled with her regular feistiness is just Very Hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Any time I tell her ‘no’ (as in, no, you can’t climb up there and no, I can’t hold your hand for the entire day) she spits on the ground. On purpose. I don’t know how she figured this out. She’s so little that it’s almost amusing. But such was our day, she spent a fair chunk of it spitting madly whenever things didn’t go her way. I’m surprised none of us slipped on the wet spots…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Suffice to say, we went out – to Centrelink and the library. On the way home were were not chilled out or happy. I was tired. Small DB was screaming because I wouldn’t let her dive out of a moving pram and could not carry her all the way home, and poor little Small Z was trying to hold it all together while coughing and hacking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              At some point during all of this I remembered something I had thought when I was about eight-years-old. I concluded that Dads were fun, and Mums were not fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dads would play with you at the beach, while the Mums just wanted to lie on their towels, possibly reading a book. This seemed to be the case with most families I saw. Now, of course, I realise that the mothers had so much on their plate that they wanted to be horizontal at any opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose I feel that my fatigue is just sucking away my ability to be fun. I’m waiting for this to change. Time for bed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh. Here are some clothes peg flower fairies I made with Small Z today. Better pictures coming tomorrow:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Clothes peg fairies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lost your love of life. Too much apple pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today I walked out the back door and all the way to the bottom of the garden. I was tempted to howl at the sky, but instead stuck my fingers in my ears and lay on the lawn, feet to the fence. I could still hear them screaming from the house. I breathed in and out slowly and counted until I felt that I was not going to combust into a thousand shards of frustration. And went back inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Things feel harder than they should be. I am frustrated, tired by the latest teething sleep deprivation, guilty about not writing, not swimming, not stretching. I am stifled by all I feel that I cannot say in these pages – and puzzled as to how those bloggers I love to follow, the ones that let it all hang out, don’t have the same issues or self-censorship…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Today was too hard. I got two hours of work done having already invoiced for six. Thus, I will be trying to squash in ten to twelve hours on Saturday when M is on kid-duty. Fatigue is fragmenting my brain and I am almost incapable of concentrating for more than a few minutes at a time. I did not feel that I would emerge from my pity-party tonight, but M came home while the Smalls were still awake. Did the stories, took the other for walks and got it to sleep. And told me that my favourite mid-1990′s band from Leeds – The Wedding Present – were touring here in April for the first time ever. “You have to go,” he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I cast the impenetrable logistics from my head and bought a ticket. I will go. I am going. And today is suddenly brilliantly better.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The blurb on the Otterbox site reads ‘The OtterBox Impact Series case for iPhone 3G and 3GS is a mighty silicone skin case that offers suprising (sic) protection!’ Yes. It should read: ‘The OtterBox Impact Series case for iPhone 3G and 3GS is a mighty surprising silicone skin case that offers protection!’ Besides not being able to spell in their metadata, the other issue is this…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This case sucks. I am devoting a post to it in the hope that google will find it. You’ve run out of floppy old socks to put on your 3GS iPhone? Just use one of these! It will fit beautifully for a few months and then subtly lose some necessary elasticity. You won’t notice for a while and will spend some time puzzling why all your photographs have the bottom left hand corner obscured by a white glow (if you have bought a white case…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You may assume you are being haunted. Being teased by fast fluttering angels? Until the situation worsens and you realise that your OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone has lost the plot. Yes. Otterbox. A brand I thought had their shit together. Not this time. Saggy baggy and photograph naggy. I have used about five different cases and this is the worst. My $5 on-sale-at-Amazon Speck rubber case leaves this OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone dead in the water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do not buy one. Unless you want all your awesome photographs to be flawed by saggy casework, necessitating cropping of your pictures into weird dimensions. Can you tell I might be a little frustrated? Why they have such a good rating on Amazon is beyond me. I just went there to check, and their price has halved – maybe that’s a sign of HOW CRAP THEY ARE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Welcome October. Come on d-o-w-n…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Down to my level, I mean. Down here, where I’ve spent the day negotiating the Somme…oh, sorry, I mean ‘trying to deal with face melting tantrums from both Smalls without completely losing my mind’. They don’t happen at the same of course – no, they stagger them just to fill my heart with a little more joy and laughter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry to begin the month on such a crappy note, but since getting conjunti-fucking-vitis on 11 September? The Smalls have been sick. C-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y. And M joined them about a week into their malaise. And each time I think they’re all getting better? It’s a trick. They get worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just to put the icing on that particular cake, two days ago Small DB got her tantrum suit on. The one with all the bells and whistles – the spitting, the biting, the smearing her face with saliva, the scratching, the kicking and sometimes? She tops it all off with the vomiting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have I mentioned the humbling aspect of parenthood? The first time around it’s humbling because you had no concept of how fucking hard it could be. So hard that you were happy to have remained mentally and physically intact by the time the first year came around. The second time? It’s humbling because all those things your first kid didn’t do and you thought other kids were weird for doing? (And here I mean the Nappy Change Resistance Movement which has seen me contorting myself, pretzel-like, to pin down the bits of her I need to keep still in order to get a nappy on her butt – and I mean the Running Into the Road Because I’m Mad At You game…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Small Z never did either of those things. I used to watch other people change their screaming writhing toddlers and just kind of stare blankly and unhelpfully. Uncomprehendingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not anymore baby! I know Small DB is not well yet. Our sleep is again shot to hell. She is half sick, tired, frustrated, but ohhhh – my patience snapped tonight. She scratched me, hit me, kicked me and finally bit me. So… I bit her back. No – I didn’t rip a meaty chunk from her baby arm, but I didn’t gum her either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I gave her a nip. I am sure that this is not the prescribed method for child-rearing, but my main aim is to teach her what I will not put up with. And also, this has been the hardest day that I can remember having for months and months…and months. Which didn’t exactly stack things in her favour. She got a shock and returned to the scratching and kicking approach while I drowned myself in motherguilt. How novel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Three hours prior I got to participate in Small Z losing her sauce in the kind of spectacular fashion that you only think of in the context of Other Peoples Children. But this time it was my nearly five-year-old lying kicking on the ground screaming, “If you don’t buy me that pack of stickers I will….I will….”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (It used to be that she would then say that she would flush me down the toilet with no life jacket and no canoe and would not hug me until I was dead. Maybe she has lost her edge a little?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “…I won’t let you have any tea. When you want a cup of tea, there will be…NONE FOR YOU!! And you won’t have your PHONE either.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She zeroed in very precisely to they two things that get me through my days! Nicely done. Less wonderful was her screaming, “BAD MAMA. You’re a BAD MAMA!” whilst clinging prone to my leg. I sat down with the Biter, sorry… the Bolter, sorry… Small DB, to sit it out. I had bought them a packet of stickers each…but Small Z found another one that she couldn’t live without… “YOU ARE GOING TO BREAK MY HEART! YOU’RE BREAKING IT!! YOU’RE BREAKING IT”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had several thoughts on what I wanted to break. It wasn’t her heart. Actually, I had more of a Queen lyric in mind… I want to break free….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Prior to us leaving the house on our ill-fated journey, M had come home looking grey. He had felt much better this morning and had obviously pushed it too hard. I have very very rarely seen him sick enough to just crawl into bed, but that’s what he did. That lucky, lucky man. So it wasn’t like I even had him to take the reins for ten minutes when we got home – which would have enabled me to either;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    a) run to the bottle shop for alcohol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    b) gone and given the back fence a good kicking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c) gone and…well – just GONE! – hello desert island…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    or….
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    d) all of the above

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So we just got through it, taking Small bites. (Ha ha ha…yeah…not really so funny.) In the four hours since dinner I have had to change Small DB’s nappy twice, and both times it has been like trying to give a tablet to an enraged cat. It’s disastrous, horrible…and if it was anything BUT the nappy I would just abandon trying. But seriously – the alternative is poo and wee throughout the house, or rampant nappy rash. Not an option. I’ve been consoling myself reading every comment on this post

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And just while I’m signing off, for those that have managed to read this far into the whining drivel of my existence…let me finish with a flourish. I have to mention the EXODUS that has happened, one that is not improving my mood. My two friends – my lovely J in the next street, and my lovely neighbour? They’ve both moved away in the past few days. It’s like a conspiracy of isolation :( No more Friday night G&T’s delivered to my door… no one to make me cups of tea on days like today when I feel my grip on the world start to slip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’ve known about J leaving for months, but decided not to think about it because it wasn’t going to be pleasant. But now that it’s happened…I realise just how much I will miss her. We’ve been propping each other up for a year or so now, counselling each other back to sanity every other week. Of course we will go and visit…but we can no longer just ‘drop in’ on our way back from the shops. J – you were my emergency contact for Small Z at kindergarten…I don’t have anyone else I can put down that doesn’t live an hour away!!! Why must you insist on getting on with your life?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gah. I’m going to return to being a tough loner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Begin the Bigwhine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A whine while I wait to drink some. The first night. THE FIRST NIGHT.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      THE.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      FIRST.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      NIGHT….
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In over a month that I have had some peace and quiet at 7pm. The Smalls have become increasingly nocturnal. Small Z has been pushing towards 10pm, while Small DB is still in that weird transition where she needs to nap, but won’t – and then every few days conks out on the way to/from somewhere at 4pm, sleeps an hour and then parties until 11pm – having started a Brand New Day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And there…there I have described my blogging absence in one overly long sentence. It has been driving me out of my mind. I am becoming so irritated (again) by the huge amount of writing I do for my work two days a week (at least 12 hours solid) and how little of my own I can get done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am not someone who can sit amongst the screamadelica of domesticity and write in any meaningful pithy fashion. On trains, in libraries, in cafes…fine – but with potential constant interruptions to get drinks, save lives, sticky-tape things back together…I just can’t do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And those half hour grabs where they watch the favourite show of the moment? Merely a chance to invent some dinner, find the floor or bring in the washing. You might think that this indicates that writing is not a priority. You’d be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I’m grasping this opportunity with both hands to whinge about not being able to whinge online. Because that makes sooooo much sense! Not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have literally lost almost a month here (except for my write-up of The Wedding Present gig, done with love in my heart and tea on my lips as I took the train into work the following morning). In that time there has been heartbreak for one of my very close friends, a homeschooling camping trip, lots of trips to the beach and my own worries about someone close to me about whom I am Not Allowed To Type.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That last issue has left me feeling very bottled up and is so much on my mind that I find it hard to write about other less important things. But I must. I feel this awful nagging when I have left writing here for so long – the longer I leave it, the harder it becomes :( There must be some way of prioritising so I can do it – but with sleepless children and the fact that M gets home rather late…it has felt impossible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tonight will be used to put up some posts, new and old – possibly sew a caravan curtain – and eat some popcorn. Small Z is at my mother’s and Small DB (dare I type it?) is sleeping…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Friday on my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sooo – M left on the river trip a day early. Gee, that was awesome! It meant that I had to be at the station at 6.15am to get to work early, in order to leave early, so that he could then get to the station at 5.15pm, and we could pay for rent and food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would have been more zen with the whole arrangement if I hadn’t had the following day, Saturday, written on the calendar for a month. It was, I admit, mentioned in an email – a few days prior, but THE CALENDAR trumps EMAIL. He never SAID anything until the night before, and then he began with: “I thought this might be a problem…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would have been more zen with the whole arrangement if M hadn’t decided to give the Smalls a Grand Day Out and… OK. I’m sounding savage-bitchy. Let me GIVE them the Grand Day Out, but add that the house needs to be clean and the Smalls need to have eaten something that isn’t passionfruit sorbet or two teaspoonfuls of rice and more than TWO items on the shopping list I left need to have been bought by the time I drag myself home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Are you getting the picture, Interweb? Are you getting the picture?? So at 5.16pm I am standing on the station (after a lovely goodbye to M, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a chance to get all worked up prior to him leaving because that could have got messy… I’m not seeing him for ten days, and he’s leaving a thirtysomething year old and coming back to a FORTY-YEAR-OLD, and yunno…I’ve got a little bit of strategic forward thinking in my genetic make-up…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So Small Z is bawling “I miss my DADDA!” and Small DB is looking like a zombie and mouthing the word, “Supermarket?” And I, running on about four hours sleep, feel like I am about to both combust and collapse. We do the supermarket. Mostly we survive. Small Z is obsessing that she’ll ‘catch’ the eczema I have on my face, and I have to explain seventeen times that she’s been born lucky in that regard. I get them fed and to bed. I clean the fucking house. I retrieve my secret bottle of white wine from where I hid it BEHIND SOMETHING in the fridge and I watch me some 30Rock. And I breathe out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No golden ticket here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Small Z, overtired, crying in bed. “Is Julia still prime minister mama?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me: “It’s not looking good Boo.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SZ: “But why mama? What’s happened?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me: “They’re having a vote. She might not win.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SZ: “Oh no! Who will be the prime minister? A boy or a girl?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me: [in my head] “A snakey man who doesn’t know when to lie down.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          [out loud] “I’m not sure babe. But Julia got a good three years in.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SZ: [whimpers softly]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me: “Shall we keep going with our Willy Wonka book?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SZ: [nods] Wonka.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me: Wonky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ….MOVE OVER, HERE COMES MY POLITICAL HAT….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not all of what Julia Gillard did was good. But she got a lot done and she was up against it The. Whole. Time. The gender thing. The Kevin thing. I will avert my eyes from her stance on refugees/Centrelink payments for single parents/Wikileaks and say that I loved having a female prime minister who had some feistiness and social media savvy. And used to live in Altona. And was unmarried. I’m glad my daughter, only just becoming aware of the bigger outside world, was able to begin do so with a woman steering the country and think it the most natural thing in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She only KNEW Australia as having a female prime minister. How cool is that? I shouldn’t even have to write that. It SHOULDN’T BE COOL. It should just BE. I am grateful that Small Z is as young as she is and did not have to see the endless endless gender-focused bullshit that enveloped Julia Gillard from the outset.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Being in political power and having a vagina does not give you a passport to disrespect, second-guessing and time-wasting speculation. It shouldn’t. But it did. Fuck you Kevin Rudd for not being big enough to support your party, support your prime minister and weaselling around on the edges until it was time to strike. You’ve given Tony Abbott the thing he has always craved, and we’ll all be turning back the clocks 50 years as a result. You’ll be in the top job for less than three months. How is that worth it? #fail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MC Ladyparts. Yo. YOW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There have been several instances in my life where the personal has merged with the hysterical. The Waxing Night of Horror. The time I dyed my hair and my landlord turned off the water before I could wash it out. The several months of unrest when I was unable to adequately restrain my boobs. In a time before the blog, I tried to remove a contact lense with chilli on my fingers and suffered two black eyes when my housemate tried to wax my leg. I could go on. I think I will.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            All the ladies in the house say MENSTRUAL CUP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            M-E-N-S-T-R-U-A-L C-U-P.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (The men can say it too, but they just won’t own it in quite the same way.) If you’ve shouted that out but are gently wondering about the mechanics of such a thing, I find Wikipedia quite helpful. Or just think ‘tampon’ and then substitute ‘small silicone cup with no risks of toxic shock syndrome, no bleached cotton and significantly smaller landfill issues’. It fairly trips off the tongue. Those who are offended by the discussion of every day womanly functions, exit now, pussies…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Lunette

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My cup and I go back to a time before Small DB prowled the Earth, leaving families sleepless in her wake. It does good work, although it involves slightly more coercion than its mouselike counterpart. Of course they’re given slightly more attractive names by astute marketing departments. There’s the Diva Cup, The Keeper, and my personal fave – the Lunette. Besides all the eco-accreditations, you only have to change an MC once every twelve hours or so – BONUS! – particularly when camping/sailing/travelling etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Lunette and I generally get along. However, it has taken me two days to realise my latest personal-care malfunction. And to decide to Warn The Interweb. Or the five or so females that peruse this page, only one of which I am aware uses an MC. The other night after the remove/clean/replace routine (see how clinical I can be when I try?) I had SORE BITS. SAVAGELY SORE. And as I do with most things – I put it down to sleep deprivation. As in, “Did I remember to put down the knife before dealing with my MC? Where is that knife now?”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I was so sore I considered calling my MC using friend for counselling. And to try and figure out what I had done wrong. Because my bits? MY BITS WERE ON FIRE. Quite honestly, I had no idea what to do. I actually got out a mirror and looked for the thing that might be causing my ladyparts such fury. No knife. Nothing. I restrained from writhing through the house with an ice pack between my legs. But only just. By the morning the issue had disappeared and was thus gone from my head like smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It wasn’t until an hour or so ago (two days later) that my brain, working quietly in the background on such problems, made the link. I had cooked dhal. And in cooking it had chopped the bejesus out of a hot green chilli. I had washed my hands very thoroughly, but obviously NOT THOROUGHLY ENOUGH. Let this be a lesson to you, my one MC using reader. This is not a tip for sexifying your staid existence, there was no joy in green chilli-ing my ladyparts. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Yet another reason to employ a housekeeper/chef/butler…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I’ll give you one more tip for free. When visiting houses where there are those snazzy new water saving toilets…viz…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Water Saving Loo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Do not have a brainsnap and wash your MC in the sink. BECAUSE THE WATER IN THAT SINK FLOWS THROUGH TO FLUSH THE LOO. Are you getting my drift, Lily-The-Pink? Eating an entire beetroot would be nothing in comparison. So be aware. (In case you’re wondering – I didn’t do it, but it did cross my mind. A few times. Before I realised exactly what would occur.) Over and out
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save the Great Barrier Reef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small Z has been involved in a protest once before, but she doesn’t remember it. This time she was very vitalised and keen to present an opinion. We happen to live in the electorate of Greg Hunt – the environment minister of our recently elected government. GetUp are running a campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the development of coal exports. They had a petition signed by over 240,000 people (including me) to deliver to him, so we gathered at our local park and then walked en masse to his office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Look at Small DB hanging tough on her wheels in her PJs. Small Z clutches emblematic seabird and has on a bath-toy fish necklace, hastily assembled ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was heartened at how many people gathered. Not all of them were from Hastings, but I’m sure quite a few were – an encouraging thing. I made Small Z a placard to hold. I explained that we were presenting a letter signed by more than two hundred thousand people who wanted Greg Hunt to say there would be NO dredging close to or through the Great Barrier Reef for big boats to carry coal out of some proposed coal mines. We hoped he would also say NO to the coal mines as well – this being an era where we hopefully promote clean energy and the health of our planet and people over dirty coal mines and a quick buck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How not to win my heart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Usually I would avoid such events like the plague. It was some kind of Mornington Peninsula Kids Family Expo and I was roped in (OK, I volunteered…slowly) to help with the stall for our local toy library. The weather was a-b-y-s-m-a-l. It was pouring. We were due there at 11am, and dutifully left home at 10.30am. We reached the corner of the side street (the aptly named Sunnyside Road) we were to turn into to get to the Morning Star Estate…and everyone else did too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We sat there, inching forward now and again, for half an hour. ORGANISATIONAL FAIL. I was so annoyed by the time we made it in there that when one of my fellow committee members offered Small Z a bowl of lollies I refused them tersely. Apparently Small Z had already said, “I have to ask my mum if I can have some.” To which I shrieked “NO.” Because WTF – I have to stand there for two hours with a sugared up kid to deal with as well as the public? No thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was then asked how on earth I got Small Z to be so brilliantly obedient, and replied, “By instilling fear.” Yes. I am a lolly nazi. No, I don't care. Small Z and DB took off and had a largely excellent time. The tent was massive and all the activities were free – trampoline, jumping castle, yoga sessions, some live music. The whole ticketing thing was weird because people had apparently prepaid $25 for the day, but no one was checking tickets when we walked in (and we were free regardless, as volunteers). There were even roaming princesses…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The gardens at the estate are just divine, and I promised Small DB we would return on a less crowded day to investigate them. (That's the sea, in the background.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We left somewhat acrimoniously when I refused to pay $5 for one tiny ice-cream. Or line up to do any activities. My tolerance for all that crap is low. We consoled ourselves by visiting our friends with the lambs! and the chickens! and the House Full of Awesomeness! on our way home. My savage soul was soothed with tea….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Goodbye and Good Riddance 2013

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This year, replete with all the usual milestones and camping trips and sailing adventures, was hard bloody work. Not the kind of hard work that comes with the bone dragging fatigue of a new baby, but emotional hard work. The kind that stems from devastatingly bad news and has to keep on going. And going in a way that continues to find joy in every day life and avoid spiralling down the plughole of despair. That is what I have done this year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cancer has appeared on my radar – five people I know – after spending my entire life pretty much in ignorance. Naturally I made some of it about me – an extended period of having a sore throat? Must be cancer. Bloated? I've probably got one year, tops. Check those moles. Have that colonoscopy. Because cancer is fucking everywhere – and as you get older, the more prevalent it appears to become. I hate it so much that I can't understand why it hasn't swallowed in on itself and disappeared into an endless vortex, leaving the entire population of the world relieved and thrilled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So 2013 was not a year that I would want to hurry back to. Yes, the Smalls are Small and it is a special time, watching them evolve and their relationship with each other strengthen. Feeling our way out of babyland and away from prams and nappies. Our first year of true 'homeschooling/unschooling'. This was associated with some trepidation and then growing confidence in the decision we had made. It suits us – all of us – and we will continue onward next year. (That sound you can hear is my mother sighing.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a list of hopes and resolutions that is growing ever longer. The longer it becomes the more intangible it feels. Nevertheless, it deals largely with decluttering, early bedtimes, early rising, less op-shopping, regular walking, more writing, more making and some…any…stretching. And continuing to wish on stars. My aims are not huge, but require steady application – not a mainstay of your average New Year's resolution. But I will try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will try and slow things down and realise that my own pace is the one that suits me. Those people that go here there and everywhere taking their kids to this and that activity/party/class – they are not me, and I do not thrive with those kind of commitments. I will continue slowly and steadily, and attempt to lie on the couch and read more often. I will nurture the most important things. Fini.



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