Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you a happy and holy Khi mas

One of the local churches has dragged out the old chestnut about the abbreviation Xmas "taking the Christ out of Christmas" for their 'wonderful' sign on the highway where they display their irritating anti-evangelistic platitudes each week. Grrr.

As someone with a smattering of ancient Greek, it drives me a little nuts. The capital of the Greek letter Khi looks like our X. It represents the first letter (Kh) of the word Christ (which should be spelt Khrist and if you wonder why we spell it wrong blame the Romans, I believe that it's their fault). It has been used as an abbreviation for the word Christ for centuries. Xian in lieu of Christian, for example. I use it all the time when taking notes for sermons or assignments because it is a frequent occurrence and I am lazy.

The fact that a classical education is no longer the standard to be considered 'edicated' is probably not the end of the world, whatever Sir Humphrey Appelby may think. The fact that good Xian people get upset about it when there is no reason to is mildly irritating, but simply underscores the lack of good Biblical (particularly language) education we get generally in our churches unless we particularly search for it.

In fact, I get a giggle anytime I suspect that someone has deliberately swapped Xmas for Christmas to be more politically correct/inclusive, because Christ is still in it - maybe undercover, but still definitely there. (he, he, he)

So wishing you and your families a happy and holy Khi-mas, and God's richest blessings for 2009.

What is the chance that I will write a letter to the aforementioned local church?

... Approximately None (I told you I was lazy)

And if you go to church as part of your Xmas tradition, I dare you to wish people a 'Happy Xmas'. What is the chance that I will?

... You guessed it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Possession of a Precious Yuletide Commodity

I was up and into the shops reasonably early yesterday. The main shopping centre here gets ridiculously busy this time of the year, and I wanted to get the majority of the Christmas groceries so that I only have to stop off at a neighbourhood centre for the extra bits between now and Christmas.

By the time I'd purchase everything I needed and headed down to my car I realised that I was the proud possessor of a very precious yuletide commodity without even trying.

I wondered about whether I should hold an auction to see what someone would pay for it.

Ebay might be the way to go.

Yes, I had a car park.

In the end I gave it up and came home, leaving behind one very happy car full of people, and heaps of frustrated ones.

What are the chances that you were expecting a serious post?

... Approximately None.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Battle of the Bedroom

Well, it's on again...

Last year we had a mosquito plague in our house. Mainly the bedroom and ensuite, but a few of them found us in the lounge as well.

I hate them.

And I'm not winning the war.

This is the reason that we have fly screens on our windows. I hate flying insects of most persuasions, but mosquitoes are the worst because they bite and spread disease. And they like me more than my Beloved. They keep me awake at night with their high pitched buzz and the swish of air past me in the dark.

I have no idea how they are getting in. I have no idea where they could be breeding inside (I usually empty the dog's water bowl at least once a week on the principle that mosquito larvae take seven days to mature. I know this, because the crazy EHO supervisor at my old Council used to email us to let us know when the next wave of mosquitoes were going to be flying about. He'd give it to us to the minute).

They are impervious to fly spray.

So my nightly battle has recommenced and their little mashed bodies litter the walls and ceilings until I get a step-ladder or chair to get up to clean them off. I'm a bit worried that if ever one of us goes missing and the crime scene guys come through they will find all the blood spots across the ceiling and walls with their magic lights and think that a brutal murder has taken place. After all, it is our blood!

Then there's the 'I missed him' dance as I take multiple swipes at one I've disturbed as it is flying off.

It's possibly a little disturbing for my Beloved. He can sleep through mosquito attack (actually, he can sleep through most things), but not Jen dancing on the bed trying to get a good aim at one that's landed on the ceiling above us.

I'm comforting myself with my childhood theory that mosquitoes can't bite through a sheet and don't ever bite on the face. This means that if every part of me apart from my face is under the sheet, they can't get me. Illogical and erroneous, but it helps me get to sleep. Except on the really hot nights, when you don't want anything over you at all.

The good thing is that it only lasts for the summer. They die over the winter.

The downside is that winter is still months away.

I might need the exercise, but how much do I enjoy The Battle of the Bedroom?

...Approximately None.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Biting off more than he can chew...

I walked down to the church this afternoon for a puppet practice for an ecumenical church thing later this week. It's about 25 minutes each way, and the Little Black Dog and I had to cross the Highway.
The LBD has a hatred of all trucks and any rattling trailers or utes. It was a bit of a concern as we waited for the pedestrian lights to let us cross. We were waiting within about a metre of the road, and trucks were flying past through the green light. Each one raised the LBD from a sit to a stand as he prepared to chase them off. It's lovely that he feels he must protect me. I'm not certain what he thinks he'd do with a semi-trailer if he caught one - and I'd prefer he didn't try.

It reminded me of a previous incident.

While we were living with my parents during the construction of our own home, the paddock over the fence was in the process of being transformed into a Retirement Village. There were great big scrapers and excavators and graders working just across the low wire fence.

The LBD wasn't going to have these intruders getting anywhere near his family. The same little sequence of events happened repeatedly every time heavy machinery made a pass along the back fence.
First, he'd hear it coming and scream around to the back yard, where he'd chase the monster the length of the fence, herding it away from his people. Look at the purpose and determination.
Then he would take great satisfaction in coming back, tail jauntily airborne, as if to say, "don't worry Mum, I fixed them!"
Of course, this was hard work for a Little Black Dog. He lay down to rest while the construction crew were having lunch, and afterwards I snuck this photo through the fly-screen. What you can't see or hear is the scraper coming down along the back fence. What you can't feel is the vibration it was causing to the ground. But that's OK, neither could he.

His morning's work had entirely tuckered him out. Awww.

The chance that he will ever give up this type of behaviour?

... Approximately None!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Both a reward and an incentive...

I've decided not to have a massage as a reward for losing my first 4 kilos.

You might have wondered where I was yesterday. The short answer is having fun and spending money (which comes first - the chicken or the egg?).

I needed to go to Toowoomba for a meeting, so I invited my Mum along for some Christmas shopping and a girls' day out, and I slipped away for a bit in the middle of it for a couple of hours.

Somewhere in the saga of Murphy's Law that was our day out (that was more frustrating than funny, so I'm not going into it here) we made a trip to the Ewan Gardam Fabrics shop in the main street. It was actually our post-meeting rendevous, as we'd been looking but didn't have time to work out what to buy before I had to go.

For those who don't sew, or have ever had to buy really, really good quality fabric - Gardams in the middle of Brisbane was historically the place to buy fabric for formal or wedding dresses. It was a tragedy when they closed some years ago.

The good news was that one of the sons (or possibly grandsons, I'm not certain) decided to start a shop for essentially the same thing. Quality fabrics - you can buy wedding veil lace, silk linings, satins and linens, suiting and wool for winter coats. They also have some more 'good casual' fabrics, too. All very yummy.

What is even better is that they started a store in the main street of Toowoomba in addition to the one in the centre of Brisbane. It might not have the same range, but has really helpful and friendly staff and there is certainly plenty enough temptation.

Mum and I were window shopping. One of my little cousins once referred to shopping as "Mum's gone feeling material". It's not far off the mark. Unfortunately we happened to walk in on their two week 20% off sale.


We found some fabric that was a really good price in colours that we liked, and were looking for fabric that matched in with it, and doing a little circumnavigation of all the contents of the shop at the same time.

Now for one of the famous Jen digressions (that apparently my four regular readers love) - Back in 2003 when my brother was getting married I was looking for a ready-made dress to wear and discovered a soft, clear shade of mist/spring green that is incredibly flattering on me. I probably wouldn't have even tried it on (because I didn't think the colour would do anything for me) except that I was getting desperate with the selection available in the nearest large centre to where I was living at the time.

Needless to say I bought the dress - sleeveless shift dress (no waist), chiffon over satin, cut on the bias with a cowl neck. Fairly classic lines, although the chiffon cut up diagonally at the hem to show the satin might date it a bit. Anyway, as I said the colour does wonders for me.

In more recent years my clothes shopping expeditions have mainly been along the lines of, "I don't really want to buy clothing because I'm going to lose some weight and then it won't fit - so I'll find something cheap that will cover my body until I'm slender and then I'll buy some nice clothes."

As a result I have many clothes that I don't really love - the nice colours weren't cheap. Having lost 5.7 kilos in the last 6 weeks or so, I'm starting to think about nice clothes. Or at least clothes that don't slip over my hips accidentally.

Also, one of my cousins is getting married in April (and although I'm not taking it for granted that I'll be invited to the reception, there is no way I'm missing the service!), and I wanted to start scouting around for something to wear - not to buy yet (because I should have lost a bit more by April - that's a couple more months away), but to look out and see what's around.

You can tell what's coming, can't you?

One bolt of fabric jumped out from the shelf and screamed, "Please buy me - you can't walk past me, I'm perfect for you!" Something in me responded"I have to buy that one, it would be perfect for me!". Who says they don't believe in love at first sight?

I kept coming back to it, despite the horrendous price tag. It was just me. It's a boucle that from a distance appears to be a soft spring green that really works wonders for me, but up close is woven out of many of the soft, clear colours that also flatter me. The texture gives it wonderful character, but it is a small, dainty, feminine texture that I like.

My mind immediately went to a Jacki Kennedy / Chanel style suit, 3/4 sleeves on the jacket and a straight skirt to just under the knee. A little retro, certainly classic. And it would go with the other fabric I was looking at. Actually, I thought it should go with many things in my wardrobe.

So here is my new wardrobe for next year as a reward for losing some weight and incentive to get to the next milestone when it can be made up:-

Starting top left (and working clockwise) we have:
* a satin sleeveless top with chanel binding,
* a Chanel style suit - straight skirt and 3/4 sleeve jacket
* a full 3/4 length floral skirt and matching short-sleeved blouse
* a tailored long-sleeved jacket and trousers

Everything is interchangeable, and I can dress my suit up or down for many different occasions.

When I got home, I tried my favourite fabric out with some of my favourite existing clothing choices (starting top left):
* a sleeveless mocha/chocolate lace blouse
* my favourite new fabric that isn't anything yet, but will become a Chanel suit
* the dress I bought for my brother's wedding
* a pink floral short-sleeved dress
* my mushroomy-grey suede-finish casual skirt and jacket
* my chocolate chiffon dress trousers (that I should be able to wear again soon because I've lost some centimetres, yippee).

So now I have heaps of incentive to lose those extra kilos, because I want to make up these pretty fabrics and start wearing them.
Oh, which brings me to another digression. An important one.
I hereby fully apologise for any reference that I may or may not have made about my mother being in any way scary or critical... on this or any other blog to which I contribute. She is in fact a lovely, warm, gentle woman who is incredibly generous with her time and talents. Particularly with a sewing machine. And ability to draft patterns. And sew really well. And not be scared to cut into horrendously expensive fabric.
How much chance is there that someone reading my blog can wave a magic wand, make me lose those extra kilos and dress me in my new suit?
...Approximately None
- but if I work at losing those kilos, my magic mother can work on the other little matter? Please?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The neighbourhood young 'uns

There is a neighbouring family who is driving me nuts. It is actually made up of Mum, Dad and two adolescents (non-identical twins). Both parents are arty-types (they do sing beautifully when I've had the chance to hear them around town) and they don't seem to believe in boundaries for their offspring. We couldn't have the little dears growing up with any repressed desires, now could we?

Mostly I'm pretty tolerant of other people's choices in raising their children, but my tolerance has been stretched with this lot. I'm sitting here working and they are making huge amounts of noise in a quiet neighbourhood. Really obnoxious, repetitive noise. I don't mind hearing kids playing, it's so happy in the background. This is just irritating.

They don't have any respect for the property of others. They will play in any yard, regardless of fences. The Little Black Dog actually growled at them and chased one of them out of the backyard yesterday. Watched by one of the parents. Yes, you read correctly - one of the parents was watching one of their sweet offspring enter our property. Now I'm sitting here hoping that no-one reports it as a dog attack. This could be highly likely, given that these parents have proved to be pretty aggressive anytime someone threatens their darling, precious babies.

In my opinion, the young 'uns are old enough that Mum and Dad shouldn't have to run around after them, supplying their every need in the shortest timeframe possible. The parents are looking seriously worn-out, and yet they haven't the sense to stop toadying to the little blighters.

I say kick them out of home and be done with it!

A bit harsh you say? Well, I'm fairly certain they won't ever read this.

Yes, we have adolescent magpies. (Whaaah, Whaaah, whaaah, whaaaa-aaah)

For how much time were you fooled?

... Approximately None?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nuthin' (Exuberantly Verbose Version)

Normally when I have nothing to say it would be best not to say anything (of course, that is an impossibility for me - despite training at uni and in the workplace!).

As it turns out in the world of blog, no posts mean that it gets very boring, very quickly and everyone thinks the author has dropped off the planet (or has been raptured - you didn't get the memo?)

Well, the truth is more likely that I get more visits to my site if I've actually written something new - Yes, my whole blog is motivated by my traffic counter (despite the fact that additional traffic means approximately nothing when I don't use it for advertising or any form of sales - just the ego boost that someone cares enough to read something I've written).

So as a result, sometimes I will write a very long, rambling post about nothing, hoping to stumble across something mildy amusing - then give it a a bit of a pruning and send it off into lonely cyberspace.

Yesterday I spent some time reviewing my posts (both here and at Skinny Cow), and checking on the length of my comments on other people's posts. This was probably because I had absolutely nothing to say. There are probably other things I could have been doing to get blog fodder, but I didn't do them.

I noticed that other people manage to get their story told with much less verbiage. Maybe verbiage is my style. Yes, my life is made up of many digressions around my intended point... although some commenters were very kind (and as a result ended up with this - hope you've enjoyed).

So I'm still feeling constrained to keep it simple, but decided to let fly anyway to see if I like the effect any better - so I've used the absolutely greatest number of words to get my point across.

Of course, how much of a point do I have today?

... Approximately None.

Nuthin' (Short Version)

I'm alive, but I have nothing to say.

So how much have I written?

...Approximately Nothing.


Normally when I have nothing to say it would be best not to say anything. But in a blog, no posts mean that it gets very boring, very quickly and everyone thinks the author has dropped off the planet.

As a result, sometimes I will write a very long, rambling post about nothing, hoping to stumble across something amusing - then give it a severe pruning and send it off into cyberspace.

Yesterday I spent some time reviewing my posts (both here and at Skinny Cow), and checking on the length of my comments on other people's posts. This was probably because I had absolutely nothing to say.

I noticed that other people manage to get their story told with much less verbiage. Maybe verbiage is my style. Yes, my life is made up of many digressions around my intended point... although some commenters were very kind.

So I'm still feeling constrained to keep it simple - to use the fewest words to get my point across.

Of course, how much of a point do I have today?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tribute to Brevity

I have a little problem. I write too much (I talk too much, too, but that's not a problem here at Approximately None).

So I'm going to aim at being concise. Fewer brackets, fewer discursive rambles, fewer words. I'm aiming at the same thing for my comments on other blogs. A little goal - it could tie in with Skinny Cow - less of me in every way.

It took me 66 words to say what?

... Approximately Nothing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My little experiment nearly worked...

Last Wednesday morning the Itchy Spots had faded to faint purple shadows and were no longer itchy. I was itchy to start testing things, but thought I should wait for another week to make certain I was free of the wretched things.

However, there was family visiting and that always means a trip down to our favourite cafe for cheesecake. I had spent the couple of days avoiding yummy foods, but cheesecake is one of my favourite foods of all time (especially at that particular cafe), and, well... I wanted some.

My first thought was "Might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb," but then I thought I'd be semi good. I had half a slice (brought the other half home for my Beloved), selected caramel because it had the least potential for itchy spots (which is silly given that cheesecake has both cheese and lemon in it anyway), and had a glass of cold water to go with it.

I got away with it. Unfortunately it isn't a true reading because I had a nose and eyes attack that night and took an anti-histamine - but no spots came for the next couple of days. Things were looking up.

Friday night came and I just couldn't be bothered cooking. Knowing that I can have chicken, and I can have plain chips, I thought it'd be nice to have BBQ chicken and chips takeaway.

I probably shouldn't have eaten the skin. I didn't eat all of it, but it tasted great. I'm sitting here salivating about the taste as I type. I probably should have peeled it off with all the unknown herbs and spices. They probably use seasoned salt on the chips, too.

Overnight the itchy spots came back. What I would consider a moderate dose, but still itchy as anything. Here I am 3.5 days later still itchy and spotty. I've had anti-histamines for other nose and eye attacks, but no improvement. Obviously my body really doesn't like something they use to season their food.

But it does like cheesecake. :)

So what percentage of the chicken was worth it?

... Approximately None.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So, so tired

I've been getting really tired and going to bed early because I just can't stay vertical with my eyes open any longer.

I've had some big days with things that had to be done, and there's stuff on the horizon that I'm half really excited about and half concerned that my organisational ability isn't up to scratch.

Then there's the on-going paying work with all the little bits and pieces that I have to get done just when I think I've finished a job.

The problem is I'm waking for an hour or so (on one occasion nearly 3 hours) just after midnight. My brain just switches on and races around all the things I have to do, decide or organise. Then I can't get back to sleep. There's nothing like tossing and turning for an hour or so in the middle of the night when you're so tired you can't force yourself up to actually do anything else.

So I'm not waking feeling rested in the mornings. This means I struggle through another day, get to the end of it feeling so tired that I need to go to bed early... and the cycle continues.

I'm trying the excercise in the morning option and it hasn't made any difference. I might try the exercise before bed option, but I'm a bit worried it might actually wake me up.

How much use am I for anything just now?

... Approximately None.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aunty Gee Gee

My niece Giggles was up with her parents visiting during the week. It was great to have a chance to catch up with them all. She's getting so much like a little girl - all smiles and intense interest in anything that's going on. You should see her get into a Bubbacino - it's gone before you can imagine - and much more is ending up in her mouth these days.

The last couple of times we've seen them I've been trying to teach her to say 'Aunty Jen'. It most often comes out as 'Gee'. Close enough. My family mostly call me Jenny, though, and she's picked up on it. I now get 'Gee Gee'. That's quite horsey enough for me - I'll take it.

How likely is it that we'd be able to keep her?

... Approximately Not At All (according to her parents)

Friday, November 28, 2008

So I'm trying not to be too busy next year...

We are having a week of prayer at my church at the moment. I was down to church sit a couple of times (so that it could be open for anyone to come in). This poem came out of my reflections about how we can get so busy that we don't see the person who might need a drink or a listening ear. We're not available to God because we don't have any time to listen.

All the activities listed are things that our church does - not all of them done by me!

It is very rythmic, so I've bolded the important syllables. Technically it should be read to go faster and faster...

God asked me to be available, so...

I went to all the services and never got there late
I served the courthouse coffee while they all stood there to wait
I attended every meeting on each and every date
I cooked for every function and my food was always ate.

I helped the kids with homework - and my advice they took
Gave a hand in the community when storms the houses shook
I went up to the hospital when anyone was crook
And tried to fit in sometime simply studying The Book

I helped the Floral Church out (it was the best one yet)
I sang or played the music whenever I was let
I've mowed, or cleaned or washed-up - whatever task I'm set
Gave cash to floors and Mendi and to lighten UC debt.

I volunteered for everything - gave time to Sunday School
Looked out for opportunities to live the Golden Rule
Got on the Youth Group roster and the kids all thought me cool
And ignored the call of Jesus - I'm a much-exhausted mule.

What's the chance I'll not be busy next year?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One for Femina

Femina's comment in response to my last post has inspired me to relate an incident from my college days.

You can 'thank' her later.

During my time on-campus at uni our college celebrated an anniversary milestone. Each year, we had someone design a college T-shirt, and they made a big thing of it that year (being a special year). A competition was run to find the best design.

I can't say much about it without giving up the anonymity of the college, but one group who were entering the design competition had the idea of going with a classic Ionic pillar with the year and anniversary on the front, then the back had the college mascot (which comes from mythology) and they wanted to have an inscription "Towards a Better Age" in Classical Greek.

That's fine, but there was only one individual in the whole place who had done any Classical Greek. That was me. I did one semester and just passed (due to my gramatical struggle after the powers that be in the Queensland Education system decided that English Grammar was a waste of time for high school students).

I offered to take it in to the lecturers and get them to do it, but of course this was at uni and the competition ended in about 30 mins. So I got out my textbooks and did the best I could do in the time available. I figured that no-one but me would know anyway. I couldn't work out how to render the comparative 'better'. I had trouble finding a word for 'age'.

What the shirts actually said? "Towards a Good Time" Probably more much more representative, but shhh, don't tell anyone.

How glad are you that I decided not to take this secret to my grave?

... Approximately None.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My QWEPTY Keyboard

I don't know if you've ever run into this way of describing keyboards for computers. Generally in Australia we would have what is called a 'QWERTY' keyboard, which relates to the letters that run along the top left hand row. I'm presuming that somewhere in the world there is an alternate standard that has different letters in that position. I could look that up on the net, but frankly, if you're reading this blog you seriously have the time to find out for yourself (and I'm perfectly happy living in the mystery).

My keyboard is different. Firstly it is a split keyboard. I find it more comfortable, and (because I touch-type) it has the added bonus that I can't over-stretch my fingers to hit the wrong key, like 't' instead of 'y' or 'n' instead of 'b'. They are separated by unresponsive plastic.

There's also the fact that I've set up my keyboard to recognise polytonic Greek symbols. I dabble in ancient Greek with all the combinations of accents, graves, breathing marks and the odd circumflex. So with a simple left Alt + Shift I can write in tongues. At an incredibly slow pace.

I noticed this afternoon that I'm going to have some issues if others want to use my computer. It appears that the angle at which some of my fingernails hit the keys has started to chip away at the printed letters. The 'n' is unrecognisable as an English character. The 's' and the 'v' are missing bits. Probably the worst one, though is the 'r'. It has entirely lost one of its legs, resulting in my keyboard having two 'p's. A QWEPTY keyboard, in fact.

There are two facts that mean it won't cramp my style.
1. I touch-type, so rarely look at the letters (I wonder how long it's been like that?)
2. The Greek letter rho (tranliterated 'R') looks like a 'P' anyway.

How much do you want to buy my keyboard right now?
... Approximately None.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recurrent Idiopathic Urticaria

Who'da thought that Itchy Spots would have an official name?

Don't you love the fact that the medical fraternity use latin to describe the symptoms and it sounds all official. 'Urticaria' apparently means itchy welts/hives, (i.e. high-falutin' itchy spots); and I particularly like the fact that 'idiopathic' means that no-one has a clue what's causing it. Gee I wish I spoke latin. I could sound so knowledgable and laugh at my doctors when they speak in this kind of code.

I did some research after my little 'the spots aren't going!' depression last week. The official website seems to indicate that I need to try the diet for between 4-6 weeks. Things may get worse before they get better, and after 6 weeks if there's no difference it probably isn't the nasty natural food chemicals. Sigh.

Of course, this prospect isn't as depressing as I thought it would be, because this week they do seem to be going. There's still the odd spot that isn't entirely happy, but it isn't so itchy I could tear the skin off, and all the rest are fading. I'm beginning to toy with the thought of reintroducing some things, but probably shouldn't until next week because itchy spots traditionally come and go, but are never entirely absent. So I probably ought to wait until they've gone completely. Also, I had a nose/eyes attack on Sunday night and took an antihistamine, which also helps to clear up spots - so I should give them some time to come back.

So chance that I'm going to get cheesecake this week?

... Approximately None.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Make Beef Jerky

I swore I would never have a recipe site, but here goes...

1. Go on an elimination diet where you can't eat processed meat or tinned tuna with your salad at lunchtime.

2. Go shopping in the morning and decide to buy some chicken and some BBQ steak to cook, cut into small portions and freeze, so that you have some lunch meat.

3. Cook the chicken early, so that you can have it with your lunch today.

4. Decide that the steak can cook while you eat your lunch, before going back into the office.

5. Watch an episode of The West Wing while you're eating.

6. Once finished with the TV and having eaten your lunch, go back into the office and start doing all the things you've got to do.

7. Remember that one phone call will need the piece of paper with the bloke's name and number on it - it is in your handbag on the kitchen table.

8. Discover the beef jerky still cooking in the frypan.

9. Fill the pan with water and hope that it will actually come clean.

How much good value and economy was there in my cunning plan?

... Approximately None!


I do a little lay preaching in our church. We are having a week of prayer to herald in the start of the Advent (Christmas) Season next week, and I was part of the team doing the special services for both ends of the week.

Part of what we were talking about is watching out for where God might be breaking into our lives - sometimes it's actions by other people towards us; sometimes it's being called to do things for others; sometimes it's a miraculous confluence of events; or just a plain miracle that can't be explained.

I've been praying about the younger people (or lack thereof) in my church. Not because I need young people necessarily (although it would be nice), but that any community that is almost missing a generation is not healthy (it would be lovely if we were doing more baptisms than funerals, for example - I often joke about turning off the light when I'm done).

Today I met a young Mum who's new to town who wants to be involved in things. And the addition of just one family to our church might be the catalyst necessary for big things to happen. I'm excited.

I'm also excited that our breakfast meeting for our Local Hospital Pastoral Care Team was really positive. We're only a small team, and it takes a while to get known throughout the government machine that is called a hospital. Again, the catalyst caused by the right person with the right knowledge, skills and contacts at the right time can do marvellous things.

So my Advent theme is "Watch this space..."

And the chance that I want to leave all this interesting church stuff to do my boring work stuff?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Itchy-spot Update

I know there are a few people who said that they would be interested to hear how the elimination diet is going. Silly people!

It is a full week in and I do have fewer itchy-spots than I did a week ago. Some of the remaining spots are no longer itchy and aren't as red. There don't seem to be any new ones. This is a good start, but a few bits are still as itchy as all get out and are driving me nuts (and as I've not been sleeping well they have been keeping me from going back to sleep once I've woken).

So it is still within what I would consider 'normal' parameters.

How long should it take for there to be a significant difference? The book suggests 'a few weeks'.

There could be some good news in this. It might not be a food allergy. I could eat what I wanted. That would be so much better than the alternative.

The only problem then is WHAT IS CAUSING THEM!!!!!?????

How many weeks should I continue with the elimination diet before giving up?

... Approximately 2 or 3?


... Approximately None and bring on the cheesecake!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You've heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?

OK, so I've got a confession to make...

Last night I noticed that I didn't have too many more downloads to go until my blog reached 1000 site downloads (since I've been recording my traffic and stats). This was very exciting and I really, really wanted to see the 1000 click over.

So in between writing a letter to the local Council (which I may very well blog about once I've cooled down) I kept coming back and refreshing to make certain that I didn't miss the milestone.

I noticed that each time I refreshed another person (or on one occasion two) had viewed the site. This makes sense. Many people check out blogs at night when everything is finished for the evening.

Then I realised that no matter how soon I refreshed again, another person had viewed my blog. Maybe it was me! (Although I'm certain I've fed my own URL into the stat counter so that it doesn't count me)

So I hit refresh again and got to the 1000.

The chance that my site traffic counter is accurate?

... Approximately None.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Playing Good Dog, Bad Dog

Many people comment that our Little Black Dog is really well behaved.

Mostly he is. Some areas could use a little work - and probably ideally before he was seven and a half years old.

The LBD positively hates it when I go out in the car. My role in the family (pack) is to stay at home and keep him company. He's been a bit clingy since I went away for that 10 days earlier in the month.

When he is being a dog (as opposed to being a person inside with me) he has the run of the garage and the backyard. So when I need to take the car out there is some negotiation required.

I usually flick the switch for the door as I come in from upstairs, which excites the dog because he thinks he's coming too. He runs around the car, flattens himself and squeezes under the opening door and waits at the rear door of the car for me to open it and lift him in.

If I walk to the sliding door to the backyard and move his water bowl outside, he knows that he's being excluded from this trip. He also knows that it is inevitable and so slinks out, tail and ears down to my command "outside". I feel that I have betrayed his trust, but despite the fact he doesn't want to go he is such a good dog to do what he is told.

So he is a good dog.

Of course, I then get into the car and go. And my poor LBD barks his head off (and I'm certain the language is not at all polite). This is bad dog behaviour.

So what is the chance that I will ever work out whether he is a good dog or a bad dog?

... Approximately None

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Obviously DO Need to Lose Some Weight...

If I wasn't motivated before, I am after last night.

I went to a graduation ceremony last night to support one of the ladies from our church who has completed the Hospital Ministry and Pastoral Care Course. As I did the course some years ago, some of my year group are now supervisors or came to support the graduates just like I did.

It was great to catch up with old friends, although the supper was in a very crowded hall.

Now I should digress to say that I was wearing a skirt that I bought some time ago and it doesn't really fit properly anymore. If I pull it up a bit the hip section fits around my tum and it's all good - as long as I wear a top that goes down beyond the point of belly and is loose below. I checked it all out in the mirror before I went, and I couldn't tell that I'd had to hitch it, and the top disguised the difference between the cantilevered belly and my thighs. I'm someone who is very critical when looking in mirrors, so it was obviously fine if I thought it was fine.

One of the lovely ladies that did the course my year came up to me amongst the crowd of people in the hall and softly (and very excitedly) questioned if I was expecting a bub?

There is nowhere to go from there. There is no response that diffuses the embarrasment for both parties. I briefly toyed with the response "No, I'm just fat!" (Thanks, Givinya for the idea from so many years ago which of course was the first thing that jumped into my head in this situation).

So I just said "No, I'm not," with what I hoped was a kind and gentle smile.

How many appropriate responses are there?

... Approximately None

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank Goodness...

So I have some obsessional tendencies.

The list of photos of people who are following my blog has been driving me nuts.

I try not to compete. I have blogland friends who are sooo much more popular than I am, and I can live with that without expressing my jealousy. After all, the number of followers doesn't necessarily relate to how good my blog is or isn't, or how many friends I have or haven't.

But for the last weeks I've been stuck on 11. That was one short of two nice, even rows of photos. I really wanted to get to the nice, even rows again. I nearly blogged about my need to get back to nice, even rows.

My thanks to Lilly, who has joined up as a follower without any prompting what-so-ever.

So how much would I complain if it gets uneven again?

...Approximately None

(but I am enjoying those nice, even rows)

It's not easy eating green...

I'm very glad this week that I have carnivorous tendencies. It's exciting to be able to have something on your plate that is not white or green. I'm having steak tonight.

I've gone on an elimination diet to try to get rid of the itchy spots I've battled for the best part of ten years. Previous doctors have prescribed various anti-fungal, anti-tinea and anti-roundworm treatments that don't work.

I went lately to a new doctor at my usual surgery, who took one look at them and said that they were more likely allergy related because they are raised (I'm not certain I'd ever managed to make it to a doctor when the spots were in full flight). When I asked for a script for my asthma drugs she was even more convinced. I'd need to go back to get them checked out further - I don't like to hold up doctors with long-winded discussions during 'flu season.

The thing is I've never been able to pin down the biggest outbreaks to specific events. They can happen when it's hot or cold; when I'm stressed or not stressed; whether I've changed my washing powder, deodorant, soap or not; when I am eating well or badly. The only vague difference I've noticed is that major outbreaks seem more likely to occur when I'm trying to eat well.

I decided that I'd do an elimination diet when I got back from my time away (impossible to control food when you're away). I was incredibly blessed that I mentioned this to a friend I was staying with who has had some simliar problems. She has lent a book to me all about "Friendly Food" by doctors at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit.

Within the first couple of pages it all made sense to me. There are allergies to particular foods, but these are not as common. There are also intolerences to naturally occurring food chemicals (the ones that make food taste great!!) that build up in the body and that it is quite likely if you have an intolerance to those particular natural chemicals that a different food can send you into an outbreak in each case. I've never been able to pin it down to one type of food, itchy-spot outbreaks have always seemed fairly arbitrary - which is why I didn't seriously consider Allergies/Intolerances earlier.

This also makes sense due to the fact that when I'm trying to eat well I eat more fruit/vegetables like Avocado, Kiwi Fruit, Citrus, Passionfruit, Tomatoes, Grapes/Sultanas, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Mushrooms which are all in the Very High range for the chemicals that sensitive people have trouble with. There's also the High List which includes Olive oil, Onion, Corn, Cucumber, Zucchini, Granny Smith Apples, Rockmelon and Strawberries. These are all things I have heaps of when I try to eat properly. I also have tomato paste based savoury mince often even when I'm not eating particularly well, so that could explain why the spots never entirely disappear.

So my lunch salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese (Very High) and some ham (High) - maybe topped with an olive oil and vinegar (high) dressing - is now reduced to lettuce. Thankfully the book includes recipes. I've been making a salad of cabbage, celery, shallots, green beans and chicken. With a Canola Oil and Pear Juice Dressing. It is very green and white.

I'd like to share my list of available foods with you all for commiseration purposes.

Vegetables that are Low, that I can get access to (and also like enough to eat)
Green beans
Potato (thank goodness there is one non-green vegetable on the list - I could have red cabbage if I can find it at my supermarket)

Spices and condiments:
Sea Salt

Nuts & Snacks:
Plain potato crisps

My favourite list is Fruit

(wait for it, wait for it....)

Pears. Peeled, ripe pears. Tinned pears. Pear juice. Not dried.

I can have fresh meat (other than pork). I can make chicken stock to flavour things with. I can have refined sugar (just what I need for Skinny Cow purposes!). And if the spots go away I can try out the egg, dairy, and glutenous grain options just to make certain that I'm fine with them from an allergy perspective - they are mainly in the Low range for intolerances.

At that point I can make Caramel Fudge. I am looking forward to the Caramel Fudge. Skinny Cow be blowed.

But first steps first, I need to get rid of the current spots (possibly aggravated by Chinese food - onion, broccoli, capsicum, soy). We'll see if this is effective.

The compounding factor is that yesterday I had a tummy bug. In my efforts to rehydrate myself I drank lots of water and also supplimented it with some mixed soda water and pear juice (as the only non-water alternative until the spots have gone). I had some tinned pears as my fruit at lunch-time.

The thing I couldn't work out is that by lunchtime the tummy pains had gone, but after eating it seemed that the squirts would hit anyway.

It wasn't until the very early hours of this morning that I remembered that when my Beloved's Dad was dying with cancer and the morphine had him a bit stuck up, I'm fairly sure the doctor recommended pear juice. Maybe I overdid it a bit. Believe me - lesson learned!

How excited am I that Chocolate and Cocoa are in the Very High category?

... Approximately Not At All!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What did they do to get the violinists to smile?

I'm now going to risk offending half my reading audience. After all, I can have no idea what musical experience any of my readers have.

I watched 'Dancing with the Stars' last night. I love dance, and I love watching people who are as unco as me getting better and better and enjoying themselves so much. I'm glad Luke won.

The really amazing thing was that they had Andre Rieu on the show with his orchestra. And the string players were smiling. I simply cannot compute this anomaly.

It has always amazed me that string players are always so poker-faced. Even if the occasional one manages to get their body swinging to the music, their faces are blank at best and most often stuck in a positive scowl.

The irony is that their facial features have access to showing a full range of human emotion. Granted, it would be difficult for a violinist to throw back their heads with gusts of laughter without losing their grip, but the woodwind and brass usually manage to have expression with eyes, eyebrows and as many of the other facial muscles as they can use without disturbing their embouchure (fancy word for the way you have to hold your mouth to play).

And yet last night the string players appeared to be enjoying themselves.

I did not think this was possible.

How much money would I wager on the fact that they were real string players?

... Approximately None.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Back...

but not up to blogging just yet. Sat through 2.5 days of church meetings with a really ferocious cold in the head, now it's gone to my chest.

I've struggled through some work that needed to get done on my return, and I'm just not up to being in anyway humourous. Maybe tomorrow. Unless you're into mucous humour...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Perils of Recreational Walking

The LBD is favouring his bad leg again. He was using it pretty consistently until yesterday, and now he'll hardly use it at all. I think it will be back to the vet again.

I had a letter to post and the postbox is up the top of the hill (between 800m - 1km). It is not worth getting the car out, and after all, I'm trying to get fit. The postbox would normally be the first stop on a longer walk, but the LBD would like to come. So we went on a short walk - he doesn't actually care how long it is, as long as there's something to sniff and lift his leg on. And I'm rowing my way to slenderness, so the walk is an additional extra.

I thought I was fairly immune to judgemental looks from passers-by. Today I spoke to one old chap powering up the hill, and we fell into conversation. He was doing a fair speed for a more mature person, and managed to carry on a conversation at the same time.

In the space of about 400 metres he'd managed to tell me:

1. I shouldn't be walking my lame dog;
2. If he's having trouble with the burrs I should get him some boots like they use out west (I'd already told him it wasn't the burrs);
3. Everyone should be getting fit (So what was I doing, eating donuts?);
4. Everyone should have a $1200 treadmill so that they can exercise at anytime of the day;
5. A rowing machine will not do - I need to get cardio-vascular fitness;
6. Then everyone also needs a home gym to tone up their muscles.

I was very glad that he was walking much, much further than I was, and that I had to turn off to get to the postbox.

What are the chances I want the opportunity to walk and talk with him again?

... Approximately None.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best Block in Town?

We moved to town back in the middle of 2004. It was really back to town for me, having done high school here, and having a sprinkling of parents and grandparents living here.

We lived with Mum & Dad for a while, as we looked at the housing market and worked out what was best to do. I was going to work from home, so we needed a room for an office either near the front door or with a separate entrance that would give us privacy. My Beloved is very handy and has a '64 (I think) Humber Super Snipe car that he wants to do up, so he wanted MEGA garage space. Nothing in the available housing stock met these requirements without going up a price bracket, and getting us lots of other stuff that we didn't need.

My Dad is a Building Designer, so the other option was pretty obvious. Find a block and get the perfect house for us built on it.

We looked at the land around town (whether it was for sale or not) and found the one we now live on. It was reasonably close to town (30 minute walk). Reasonably close to my parents and grandparents' houses (5 mins and 25 mins respectively) and had this view:

Not too shabby.

My Beloved was brought up mainly on farms, so we ideally wanted more than just a town block, but close enough to town for my clients to find me.

We ended up with a town block, but with views across a flood plain that still has horses and cows and crops. It is perfect, we love it. We nearly couldn't afford it because it's on a slope and that makes for expensive construction, but most people in our age bracket don't have views of anything other than Hideous Coloured Tin Fences (that is their official title, and I won't shorten it).

It's in a quiet cul-de-sac, there are mature gum trees around with sulphur crested cockatoos, galahs, and heaps of other birds that give happy background music to the quiet day-times. We always get the breezes because our house is above the roof of any other neighbouring house.

There are two weekends a year which get a bit trying, though.

It's the Rodeo this weekend. Both the Rodeo and the District Show are held at the Showgrounds which are not far from us. Maybe 400 metres. They have loud speakers, and trucks delivering and taking away stock for the camp-drafting, and the nights can get a bit rowdy as the drinks go down.

We knew it was there when we bought, and I am fine with it normally, but just now I'm sitting here, trying to do my Business Activity Statement for last quarter (or now blogging as it turns out), enjoying the light, cooling breeze; the call of the birds; and breathing in the fresh scent of ... Eau D'Cow Manure and listening to someone on the loud speaker get very excited about what's going on (with an occasional groan or cheer from the crowd drifting across). At least they've wrested the microphone from the woman with the nasal tones reminiscent of Kath from Kath & Kim.

It's only two weekends a year. Chances of me wanting to sell the Best Block of Land in Town?

... Approximately None.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Town Planning CSI

I'm a Town Planner and we are held to be a boring lot. There was a survey done years ago that indicated that the populace thought us quite dangerous - but we’re not worth writing about.

So there will never be a Town Planning version of CSI. But can’t you picture it…

Some salubrious coastal resort town where all the Council staff are svelte and tanned with big hair (except for maybe one token beer-swilling, meat pie eating, balding employee to make wise cracks and maintain ‘authenticity’ within the local government context).

The cast of the Planning Department could start with the Manager. A wise family man of mature years - but with full head of hair and a god-like ability of knowing how to work the politics to get a great outcome every time. He has the ability to work a 60+ hour week, but still have his priorities right to maintain that perfectly balanced family life, an intriguing hobby, and, should occasion require him to remove his shirt, a six-pack.

The rest of the team could comprise young professionals, wonderfully attractive young women (at least one of whom is blonde). They would have to be the sort of plastic women who could do a round of site inspections at a piggery, test for acid sulfate soil out on the windy salt plains amongst the mangroves, then make it back to the office without a hair out of place, smelling like roses and without one speck of mud (or worse) on their expensive heels.

Of course at least one of the team would have to be a mischievous, (almost) male-chauvinist. But how could you blame him when he’s just so cute, and everything he says is so funny. He’d have to be a surfer so that there’d be plenty of shots of him coming into the office after his morning ride, ready for a shower and a 10 hour day.

Can’t you see those dedicated young professionals working all hours to crack that case… Does that relative’s apartment really actually house… a relative? Carefully compiling their evidence against the clock, and maintaining the admissibility of it.

Or the Strategic Planning team working all hours to get the new Planning Scheme signed off before the next template hits the deck, or the Minister goes into caretaker mode for an up-coming State Government election.

Then, at the end of each episode, the good planning outcome is achieved and the enemies of order and amenity slink off back to the Gold Coast. Ahhhh! What a way to capture some much-needed new recruits within the planning profession.

Alas, what chance is there that my vision will eventuate?

... Appoximately None.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I can't take it anymore!!!!!

I have reasonable eyesight. I often wear glasses when I'm at the computer, but I can still get away without them most of the time. But not necessarily when I'm commenting on a blog and they have that letter recognition code thingy.

I don't like it, but most of the time you can see before you comment that it's required. Mostly it's legible. Sometimes I have to have another go, because the 'l' was actually a 't' with a very tiny cross that I thought was just part of it going around the corner in some weird, twisted fashion.

But I ran across one today that not only had a combination of letters and numbers (What's the difference between a the letter 'O' and a zero in that style of writing?), it was on a very textured background, the letters were sort of chipped AND had strange lines across the whole thing. Worst of all, it was dark grey writing with black lines on varying shades of grey texture. Arrrrggghhh! And it was a secret code, because it only came up after I'd gone to the bother of entering my details and writing a comment.

The blogger obviously wants people to comment. They were featured on a blog recognition and support site. But did they have to make it so hard to do so?

Now I can understand not wanting to get spammed. It hasn't happened to me, but I recognise that some blogs get a little more traffic than mine, and therefore are prime targets for spammers. But I reserve the right not to comment on your blog if you expect me to go cross-eyed and if I haven't got my glasses handy.

How much do I want to offend my bloggy buddies who do choose to protect themselves this way?

... Approximately Not at All - but I needed to have a whinge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hippomania and Other Dreadful Afflictions

From the Greek:
ἵππος = hippos = horse
μανίας = manias = madness

My hippomania manifested early. From about 2 I was mad-keen on horses. My parents blame my Grandmother who used to give me 'horsey rides' bouncing on her leg. I wanted to pat any horse that I came into contact with, including an illicit visit to the paddock up the street when I was quite tiny. Mum was very cranky that I didn't take her with me. She must have wanted to pat the horsey too.

The tragedy is that I wasn't able to learn to ride until I was 10 - we moved to Cloncurry from Brisbane. All the kids around me had been riding since they could walk, or before that. I was an old lady of 10. It was not fair.

I am not a good horsewoman. I lack the sense of balance, gross motor skills and lack of fear that are necessary for that. My brain spends too much time calculating how badly I will hurt myself if I come off. And I do come off. It's almost my speciality.

Apparently I have a pretty good seat, and a nice steady lower leg. But don't ask me to jump anything. I once did a one day event at Pony Club. Out west dressage is the boring bit you have to do before the fun jumping opportunities. I did the dressage (which I love), then skipped the worst of the jumps in the cross-country, thereby eliminating myself from the showjumping. Mum and Dad were furious that I'd wasted the entrance fee, but it was worth it from my perspective.

We moved when I was 13. We had to sell the horses. I got over it and settled down into unfulfilled hippomania. I would get a ride from time to time, and I would drink in stories of horses from others.

I did have a slight recurrence at about 25. I was working and had my own money. I sat down with my budget and worked out that I could afford to go to a riding school for an hour every week for six months, or once a fortnight for the whole year. I selected the 6 month option and had the strength to stop at the end of it.

Then I met a lady who had horses and her daughter had gone off to study. Another young woman and I kindly used to exercise the horses for her. I subscribed to an Equestrian magazine. That was fun until I moved again. Back into remission.

Most of the time I can cope. The outbreak of Equine Influenza last year meant that for the last 12 months or so I haven't been able to pat horses in paddocks for fear of spreading it.

Then, this weekend is the rodeo in town. Yes, anyone who shares my hippomania (if it manifests in the rodeo/campdrafting arena) could work out my top secret geographical location. We also have a World Cup Qualifying Eventing weekend each year, and the occasional Polocrosse World Cup.

I live not far from the showgrounds which means that at this time of the year there are horses everywhere. They are beautiful. I want one. We live on a town block. We can't have horses. I don't have time for horses - they would eat more time than blogging, and much more food than the LBD.

What is the chance I will own a horse again in the next few years?

... Approximately None

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Operation Skinny Cow

Well, thanks to everyone who shared their stories in my Honesty post from last Saturday. It has spawned a whole new blog - conceived by Givinya, seconded by me, and actually put into action by Femina (of whose technical ability I stand in awe, although she seems to think it wasn't that hard).

If you want to be a contributor, email Femina and she can do her magic.

The name 'Operation Skinny Cow' was coined by Givinya. When we were at college together we used to call anyone more slender than ourselves a skinny cow. To look Bovine on any given day meant that you were snappily dressed and looking at your best. So here's to increased Bovinity for the masses (masses = people; not my thighs - although that works too)!

So, clear space in your diary for the first Weigh-in (or Weight Loss, or something) Wednesday. Which will happen sometime (probably on a Wednesday, I'd suggest?). It's all a bit up in the air at the moment.

The concept is to share our stories and encourage one another in our own goals, and our own preferred method of getting a bit more fit and losing the odd kilo or so. We can share as much or as little as we want.

I say kilos, but there is no reason for someone who wants to lose pounds can't join us. Personally, I'd like to lose in pounds (because they are smaller and I would lose more of them) and record my weight in kilos (because they are bigger and therefore the number is smaller). I don't think Standards Australia would support this. And it would do my head in, maths not being my strong suit.

So at the beginning of this journey how much motivation have I to tell you precisely what I weigh?

...Approximately None

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Listless Morning

I've had a big start to the week, with a million things to do before getting to my desk to blog ...err

At 7.30 I was heading off to Prayer Breakfast (having already done my 30mins rowing - aren't you proud of me?), then to the Hospital to drop of the Pastoral Care on-call phone to this week's victim... I mean Pastoral Carer, then to get some money, then to get some groceries, then to put the groceries away.

My brain often short-circuits when I have to remember multiple things. I was so intent on making sure that I took the charger with the phone, and remembering the camera so that I could take photos of the chapel and one of our volunteers. I forgot my shopping bags. And my shopping list. I'm not certain which is worse.

I like lists, and this morning I definitely needed a list of things I had to do, which would have reminded me that I needed my bags and my list.

So although I remembered a few things that weren't on the list, I forgot others. And I had the stigma of being the young woman loading large numbers of plastic bags into the back of her car.

How many environmentally sustainable people are here working in my home office?

...Approximately None

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Honesty. There's not enough of it in this world. Accountability. That's another good thing. There should be more of it, too. As long as it's not me...

Every now and then I get the 'I've got to do something about my physical fitness, and my size'. Yes, I did the get-married-and-put-on-15-kilos-over-6-years thing. What worries me most is that I need to work on my aerobic fitness, my strength and flexibility. These all contribute towards reducing the risk of various health issues. It would also be good to have more stamina. It would also be good to fit my clothes and look good in them. It would be even better to have the opportunity to go out and buy some smaller clothes (and look good in them too - or at least be able to do up the zip/buttons!).

There have been many stimuli for me to come back to this point. Swift Jan posted a picture of a very pretty dress. It is my inspiration. She also highlighted my own fear of having to buy clothes with a 1 and an 8 in them. Not going there. Getting closer, but not going there.

Long Dark Hair, Blue Eyes was talking about her plan and her first kilo of success (Congratulations, by the way). This in turn inspired Givinya.

Also, the finishing off of the Spring Fair sweets has been accomplished. I've put on a bit since my last weigh-in. I'm telling myself it's that muscle weighs more than fat and it's actually the result of getting back on my little rowing machine. It builds muscle. It does! OK, so the sweet things may have contributed. The good thing with that is that I've always found that kilos that come on over a short period of time disappear quickly. It's those pesky long-term ones I have to watch.

It would be silly for me to want to get back to my weight at 18. I've selected my pre-Wedding weight. I was fully grown and 'filled out' and it should be achievable.

So, I have 16 kilos to lose. That's a big admission to make in cyberspace. Real people who know me can read it. Anyone can read it. I am going to do it thoughtfully, sustainably, and concentrating on getting well and strong, in addition to slender and elegant.

I will exercise - walking the dog and rowing and maybe I'll be able to get the bike out as a transport option once I'm a bit more fit. I will be careful about my portion size and only allow myself a maximum of two desserts and two other naughties each week. This means I can choose what I most prefer and won't go into pig out mode because I'm not allowed to have things. I find it easier to say no if it's from the viewpoint of "I could have that, but I don't like it enough to waste one of my weekly naughties on it, so I will choose not to". I will have balance phases between goals to make certain I can maintain each stage.

I've worked out it will probably take more than 12 months. I've planned not to lose anything over December, because that's just setting myself up for failure. I've scheduled myself rewards at certain magic numbers. Massage here I come! New outfits from time to time.

That's the plan.

Saturdays (weigh-in day) may therefore become 'Whinge about Weight' day. When I'm here.

Chances that this plan doesn't involve sacrifice?

...Approximately None.

There is actually an alternate plan I've considered. You see, if I move to the United States I would drop 2 dress sizes. I like that concept! No effort involved. May not make any change to my fitness and health, though.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Confluence of Events

This happened earlier in the year, but was worth blogging now that the cringe factor has lessened.

We had recently swapped the super-water-economical twin tub for a second hand environmentally insensitive toploading automatic machine. I decided I'd reduce the additional water use by using the 'suds save' option where it pumps the soapy water into the laundry tub where it can syphon back into the machine for the next load. Great! Not too much extra water necessary.

After a few loads I began to be perturbed by the amount of cleanish rinse water going to sewer. Surely, if nothing else, I could take that water (via the hose that Nan gave me with the machine) and get it onto the grass in the backyard. I don't expect the poor machine to pump up-hill to the garden beds, but the backyard is down-hill. This should work.

There was one little catch. The long outdoor hose had to be connected to the washing machine's short hose. The connection was reasonably secure, but I wasn't taking any chances. I made certain that the actual connecting point was outside the laundry door where any leaks would run across the driveway and onto the grass. I'm clever like that. Always looking for the thing that will go wrong.

I went back upstairs to get other things done before the next load of washing was ready to be hung out. All was good.

I kept an ear out on the machine to see when it stopped going...

After a while I noticed that it should really be finished by now. And yet, it was still running water. Why? It should be done. I went to investigate.

During the pumping out the first load of rinse water phase the connection had come unstuck. I am clever. I had forseen this possibility.

I had not forseen that the jerky pumping action would not only break the connection, but flick the end of the washing machine hose just inside the threshold of the laundry. This meant that the water being pumped out was ending up on the laundry floor.

We are clever. We had forseen a water spillage event and had a floor waste put into the laundry when we had the house built.

What we had not forseen was that the next load of washing (which had been quietly sitting in a pile on the laundry floor) would get sucked over the floor waste by the exiting water. Blocking it. Entirely.

But, how bad could this be? It's only one washing machine full of rinse water! So not being as clever as I had initially thought was not the end of the world.

What I had not forseen was that the washing machine actually relies on the fact that the end of the waste hose is above the top of the machine in order to stop the next lot of rinse water simply running out of the bottom of the machine once the pump stops. It had been 'filling up' for some minutes.

Fortunately, in modern homes they actually create sort of a fibreglass bowl to a certain distance up the walls before they put the floor tiles down. They had forseen this type of disaster.

What they had not forseen was that they can't take the fibreglass up the wall where the door is. The garage was also awash. We have heaps of stuff stored in the garage that haven't yet found homes. Tools; bits of board or timber that might be useful some day; a timber chest full of photos.

It was a disaster. My Beloved came home to a frazzled wife, who could not move everything to get at all the water. Being a sweetie, he helped with the clean-up. Without a word, bless him.

He has quietly hidden the outdoor hose. I can't find it anywhere. The chances that this can ever happen again?

...Approximately None.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Little Bathroom Mystery

Our house has two bathrooms. One is attached to our bedroom as an ensuite. The other is the 'main' bathroom and when we built I made certain that not only is the toilet separate*, but that the handbasin is in an alcove outside the shower/bathroom. Thus three different and unrelated persons can do separate parts of their daily ablutions at the same time without impacting on our little ensuite hideaway.

Perhaps I should mention that we have two people in our house. We cannot physically use all available fixtures at the same time.

Anyway, that's a little diversion from the reason I'm blogging. You see, I'm not that keen on housework of any description, and cleaning two bathrooms when there are only two of us in the house seems like a huge waste of time and effort. Therefore, we use the ensuite. The other bathroom sits in pristine condition awaiting visitors. Every now and then I dust it and it stays clean. Despite the fact that my office is much closer to the main bathroom, I walk around the corner and all the way to the other end of the house to use the ensuite.

I did some cleaning yesterday, and I found in the pristine(?) main bathroom human hair. Short lengths of human hair. Thick human hair like facial hair. On the handbasin. With my office scissors that had disappeared.


For how long has it been like this?

How many visitors have come and I haven't known that it was a mess?

Who did it?

Fact 1: There are only two people living in the house.

Fact 2: The LBD does not have the opposable thumb necessary to operate scissors. He also has soft fur.

Exhibit 1: Short lengths of hair. Some graying.

Fact 3: I don't yet have any gray hair.

Fact 4: I don't yet have any facial hair. Maybe I should send it to the lab for forensic testing?

Fact 5: My Beloved's sideburns have recently sprung up closer to the top of his ears.

The chances that the mess was not by the hand of my Beloved?

...Approximately None.

* As it is in most Australian houses that I've ever visited. What is with that in US television shows? Do all American houses have all the fixtures in the one room like an ensuite, or is that just that the set designers are saving money?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Welcome to Where the Blog are You!

Today I get to meet lots of friends I haven't met yet through the Where the Blog are You site. I hope you enjoy my ramblings! Have fun.

For those who haven't run into Where the Blog are You, it's a site that gives support to Australian blogs. Click on the button in my side bar and check it out.

How many ideas have I about how to get this post to end the 'right' way?
...Approximately None.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Brittle Weight Loss Plan

It was our church's Spring Fair on Saturday. For me, this usually involves eating too much. This is due to the fact that my baking usually doesn't work, so I spend money to make up for the fact I have no marketable making-things-for-a-stall skills.

This year:
I baked. And it worked.
I worked on the cake stall. We sold out.
I was in the fashion parade. But that makes no money at all, it's simply entertainment value.
I made an apron. And got heaps of spare change as votes.

So I decided to be a bit more selective in my food choices:
I had a steak burger with salad and a soft drink for lunch. No pavlova and cream. No nachos. No baked potato. No Devonshire Tea.
I bought no cakes (although my Beloved did buy some lamingtons while my back was turned).

I went to the homemade sweet stall and I bought one (1) each of Caramel Fudge and Peanut Brittle because these are my absolute favourites and I only ever get them once a year. There's nothing wrong with little seasonal treats once a year.

Nearing the end of the day, they annouced that various stalls had reduced the prices of what they had left. Remaining containers of sweets were reduced to $1.00.

There was no Caramel Fudge left (there never is). There was heaps of Peanut Brittle. I bought two (2) containers.

Just on the very end of the day I noticed that they still had some Peanut Brittle left. The ladies gave me about five containers for $1.00.

How much weight am I going to lose this week?
... Approximately None

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In which I walk down memory lane, and take it to a ridiculous length

From time to time I toy with creative writing. I wrote this a couple of years ago with the thought that I might send it in to the Queensland Planner. I've never got around to it, and it's probably not what they are looking for. I apologise for all the town planning in-jokes.

The following is entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to persons, places, or local governments living or dead is entirely accidental, and/or the product of their own guilty conscience. None of this would happen in real life!

There are days in local government planning when I forget one of my fundamental laws of planning. These are a series of 22 laws that I have built up over my years of experience, and I should know better than to break them by now.

I have come a long way since I first started, when I thought ‘Banana Shire’ was a fictitious entity, much like ‘John’ and ‘Jane Citizen’ and my lecturer’s favourite site on ‘Street Road’. I made some humorous comment to a colleague, before discovering my error.

But back to the point - Rule Number 1: Listen before speaking – or regret it.

I first made this a rule very early on in my career when I was called to the counter to answer a query and thought I was speaking to the proponent of, not the submitter to, an application. Enough said.

Today’s mess was more funny than worrying, but indicated the usefulness of Rule number 1.

I was called to the counter. Mrs Thompson, a little old lady who reminded me greatly of my great-grandmother, was somewhat hesitant and unwilling to come to the point. Her question involved the growing of vegetables in a residential area, and was it O.K? To make her feel more at home, I allowed my verbal diarrohea to take over, and assured her that growing vegetables in her yard was fine, ancillary to the residential use of the site, etc etc.

Mrs Thompson looked crest-fallen, and I stumbled to a halt before asking for more information. It seems that some people in her area have some difficulties with a neighbour who is growing vegetables. She stopped, unable to articulate her precise concern.

Still not having remembered Rule Number 1, I once again launched forth (with a picture of Tom & Barbara Good’s garden from the old series ‘The Good Life’ firmly entrenched in my mind). I was a little more circumspect as I said we could investigate if they were undertaking commercial market gardens at the site, and went on about amenity issues regarding visual pollution, fertiliser odour, pest spraying, machinery operating at odd hours.

As I threw these suggestions forward she was still looking at me blankly, and I began to panic and draw even more ridiculous possibilities for how a vege patch could be causing concern to the neighbours. I think the most ridiculous one was the idea of big lights all over the yard to make the plants grow more quickly, but an increasingly large part of my mind was trying to work out how much of an idiot I was going to make of myself before managing to palm the complaint onto one of the Environmental Health Officers.

Finally I ran out of words, and asked her to explain what the problem was. (A sentence that would have saved a whole heap of embarrassment if I had used it at the beginning of this episode.)

It seems that Mr Jordan from number 45 lost his wife a few years ago, and tends to spend his time in the garden to cope with his loss. The problem was not that he was operating a commercial operation, quite the reverse.

It seems that the garden has become bigger and bigger each year, and he gives the neighbours all the produce that he can’t use himself (which is heaps, because there is only one of him). At first, they all enjoyed the occasional veges and used to compliment him on the size, taste, and freshness as a way to start conversations to see how he was going. Unfortunately, some of the neighbours complemented veges that they didn’t actually like, and now don’t know what to do with such huge amounts of them. Mrs Thompson can’t eat the amount of produce that he is giving her, and like all the rest, doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Hmmm, and getting the Council to do something about it wouldn’t hurt his feelings? I tried to explain that that wasn’t really a Council problem. By the time I was finished, I could feel the not-quite-hidden smiles of the Customer Service girls from behind me. Can anyone explain to me why is it that Customer Service are never busy when the planner makes a fool of herself?

Maybe that should be Rule Number 23.

Ways to get out of this situation without embarrassment?
... Approximately None

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just Excuses from Beginning to End

You might be forgiven for wondering where I've been. It's been a very big week.

I had an application to lodge and had to finish the appropriate report and fill out all the forms to go with it.

I had to arrange public notification of two applications which involved taking the signs to a town about 40 minutes from here to give to my clients. The land also had many neighbours, so I had to collate letters and notices to go to the right people, and keep it straight when stuffing the printed envelopes.

Australia Post also stuffed me up by changing the postage a couple of weeks ago without telling me, then not having the 5 cent stamps available to add to my other stamps. So I bought the new 55 cent ones, forgetting that I'd already stuck the stamps on some of the envelopes, which then meant a second trip up the street to get those envelopes specially stamped with their thingamy.

I was also on Hospital Pastoral Care this week, so lost Wednesday morning.

I needed to go 'shed sitting' a few times at my Beloved's business because both of the boys needed to go out on installations and they need someone to answer the phone and talk to any customers who come in. Fortunately I can take my laptop and do some work while I'm over there.

The other compounding factor was that today was our Church's Spring Fair which is our big fundraising activity for the year and usually makes up the budget shortfall if there is one.

This meant that I had to find time to go into one of the local ladies' wear shops in town and find three outfits to wear for the fashion parade.

Then, this year I decided to bake. I am not a natural baker. I do, however, work on the cake stall. This year I was definitely going to try to take something with me. Every other time I have tried I have used my never-fail recipes and they fail. I have made these things many times, but if it is for public consumption, they DO NOT WORK!!!!

This is my kitchen at about 10pm last night:

The photo just doesn't seem to capture the whole overwhelming feeling of mess. I must admit to having a stack attack a little earlier to get some space to work.

These are the results at about 11.30pm last night:

Apart from half a batch of the Cherry Shortbread bickies that came out looking like some alien portraits, they all worked!!! I am so proud of me. They also all sold, which was very positive reinforcement (apart from the fact that we sold nearly everything, even the dodgy-looking stuff).

The other way to waste my time was to have an idea for the apron competition. They decided to start it this year challenging people to make aprons that fit in with the theme of the stall where they work, then people can donate change to vote for their favourites. Most cash wins.

I set aside some time on Thursday morning to make it, and I got all the bits and pieces together ready to go. I went around to Mum's so that I could ask her questions at the drop of a hat.

I ended up having lunch with Mum and Dad.

At 6.30pm I decided I'd better go home to feed my Beloved.

I finished about 10pm. That wasn't part of the plan. But the finished product did have impact, and I made $74.10 (thank-you to Grandma and my parents who both made sizeable contributions). I'll find out tomorrow at church if I won.

I call it my 'Calendar Girls' apron.

How much shame do I have?

...Approximately None

Monday, October 6, 2008

How Embarrassment!

I did some grocery shopping this morning. I like to go to a separate, not-part-of-a-shopping-complex butcher just up around the corner from home on the way home. They sell good quality meat, I know them, and they know me.

I really miss the anonymity of the city sometimes.

Today, while one bloke was toting up my order, another lady was ordering what she needed from one of the younger ones. What she actually said was "Do you have a nice bit of rear?"

I burst out laughing. Aloud. Very loudly. You can guess what I thought I heard her say.

How many ways are there of explaining my loud, inappropriate laughter away?

...Approximately None.

To Herd and to Hold from this day forth...

My little bro, his wife and our sweet little 18 month old niece came on a surprise visit last week. It was great to see them, and Giggles hadn’t stayed at our place before. They usually stay at my parent’s place a little further out of town.

After breakfast I called in the LBD to see how Giggles reacted. They did meet a long time ago and although Giggles has another puppy she plays with regularly, the LBD is a good bit bigger than a puppy. I would never leave any dog alone with a small child, but the LBD seems to be pretty gentle (unless he’s excited) so with three adults present I didn’t think there should be a problem.

I had decided to treat my visitors (and myself – my poor beloved has to start work early and missed out) to a cooked breakfast, so I gave the LBD the leftover bacon rind. Giggles watched carefully and thought this was wonderful. She cheerfully offered a section of toast to the ravenous beast from the safety of her high chair. The LBD oh-so-gently took it from her hand, then scoffed it down. He was perfectly ready and willing to help her with the rest of her leftover toast, but I think the size of his teeth was just a bit much for Giggles to be willing to try again.

Then Giggles wanted down and was happily playing while the grown-ups talked. She became fascinated with the knobs on the drawers of our display cabinet and the fact that the drawers move, and my little bro was quick to tell her ‘no’ and follow up with appropriate discipline when she went back again. She was still fascinated, but who needs to keep an eye on small child when you have LBD the Wonderdog? Once he’d worked out that for her to touch the knobs was bad, he kept on going between her and the drawers. Wow. He’s done it before with other dogs who jump up – but he’s been taught that jumping up is bad. How did he pick up within such a short period of time that playing with door knobs is bad?

Have I mentioned that we think the LBD is a Border Collie? He was a pound puppy, so we can’t know what his parentage was - but if it looks like a Border Collie, and acts like a Border Collie…

Giggles was running around the table to get back to her toys, and that inspired the LBD to run the other way around the table and meet her half-way. She was a bit surprised, he was a bit excited and wanted to play some more. She wasn’t entirely certain about this, and was rescued by her Mum.

A little later Giggles was sitting on her Mum’s lap, but wanted down to play again. The LBD lay across between two chairs so that Giggles couldn’t escape. Fortunately it wasn’t frustrating enough to get Giggles’ goat.

I think we can afford to have quintuplets. Child control - no problemo! None of the little blighters would get away from the LBD.

Fortunately I know that you know I’m joking, so how many bad parenting comments am I expecting?

…Approximately None.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Slaggin' Dragon

Why does laundry day come around so regularly?

And why is there always some garment that needs special attention?

My Beloved had blood on one of his shirts. And in a shirt with striped sections why did it have to be on the white, rather than the bottle green?

My Mum has passed on a number of laundry tips over the years, for example oily stains can be removed with a combination of Sunshine Soap and Spit. Sounds lovely and alliterative, but is just plain disgusting. Apparently there are greeblies in saliva that break down oily substances. And it works. But it's disgusting and I hate doing it. None of the pre-wash stain removers seem to get the residual oil out, even if they take out any colour associated with the stain - so I spit.

The other one (that's actually relevant to today's post) stems from when Mum did a couture dressmaking course years ago. Apparently all dressmakers live in dread of accidentally pricking themselves on a pin when making a wedding dress and leaving a tiny blood spot on the snowy fabric. And Mum was given the top secret, fail-safe remedy for this disaster.

At this point, I think I should warn Givinya that she proceeds at her own peril. She is the one person I know who can both identify my Mum and also had her wedding dress made by Mum. Mind you, I don't think she needed to use this special method on your dress, but I can't be certain.

So it turns out saliva works here, too. But according to Mum it has to be the saliva of the bleedee. Now I can see everyone reading this who has ever been married is wondering if the dressmaker pricked themselves. This would mean that on the one day of our lives that we looked most radiant, wearing the most expensive dress we have ever worn, we may have been walking around in the only dress we've ever owned that has been spat on. Congratulations!

Mum made my wedding dress, but as if I'd worry. She used to spit on a tissue and clean my face with it! How's spitting on a dress going to hurt?

Back to my Beloved's shirt. It was his blood. He was at work. I thought I'd try the ol' spit method anyway. I don't know whether it's that Mum's right that it has to be the bleedee that spits, or whether my saliva hasn't had the chance to be turned into an industrial strength cleaner with the aid of pregnancy hormones. How much effect did it have?

...Approximately None.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why is there no Kitchen Nazi at this Workplace?

Every workplace I've been employed at has had a Kitchen Nazi. There is always somebody whose job description makes them the boss, or the social club has elected them, or sometimes they just appoint themselves to make certain that the kitchen is left in reasonable condition.

It is the Kitchen Nazi who puts up the sign over the sink or the dishwasher boldly stating that "Your Mother Doesn't Work Here", or "I'm not your slave". They get their 5 minutes of fame during staff meetings to highlight sundry kitchen infringements. They are responsible for the sign on the door of the microwave that tells you in no uncertain terms to cover any food you might want to reheat.

I could have used that sign at lunchtime, but I work from home.

I mostly always cover stuff (and certainly always clean up after myself, after all "My Mother doesn't work here" - I'm it!), but today I was making some toast and remembered a particularly spectacular batch of savory mince I'd cooked last night (and I wish I used a recipe, because although it has many of the same ingredients it is never the same twice). I thought I'd take some from the pot, heat it up, and have it on my toast. I was in a hurry because the toast was already on.

While I was rescuing the toast from cremation there was a bit of a bang from the microwave.

How many Kitchen Nazis do I employ?

...Approximately None.

I Can't Ever Make a Decision

OK, so I'm officially a "Where the Blog are You" Girl. I'm trying to see if I've got enough material to submit three really good posts so that I might be able to be featured. I'm not certain I've got any really spectacular ones among two months worth of rambling, so I'm asking my (four) loyal readers to let me know what their pick would be. Please comment and let me know - and if you don't usually comment, please do this time (I'd love to know that you're out there and what tickled your fancy).

How much did I ever think I'd fall into the trap of begging for comments?

...Approximately None.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Case of the Kinky Hose

One of my pot plants has died. I should specify for any Americans mistakenly wandering through my blog that in the UK and Australia a pot plant is a plant grown in a pot. Not a type of plant that is likely to excite the attention of the local law enforcement agencies.

The problem is watering plants is sometimes just too hard. And then they die.

I tell myself off about this from time to time - how hard can it be to apply H2O to an atmospheric-carbon-reducing lifeform? I am just lazy.

In my defense I'd like to tell you about my morning.

It was a day for a few loads of washing. On these days I like to get started early and wear a sleeveless top because that gets me a couple of doses of 10 minutes of Vitamin D fresh from the sun, before it turns into the scorching Queensland inferno at about 9am. It's particularly important this week, because I'm wearing a sleeveless dress to a wedding this weekend and I'd like to get rid of my winter wonderland shoulders. Just a touch of not-quite-reflective will do.

Having hung out the first load and waiting on the second I decided to water my plants - so this is how it went:
  1. Find brand new garden hose we bought a week ago because the old hose is broken and split and can't reach from the tank pump to any of the vegetation that we water. I was sick of lugging various receptacles multiple times between the nearest tap and the plants.
  2. Dig through the garage to find some sharp implement that can cut the plastic tape packaging the brand new hose. There could be a whole other post on finding things in the garage belonging to my Beloved. Let's just say that the rusty old secateurs which were the only thing I have previously found have moved since last time I needed a sharp cutting implement of any description. I ended up hacking away at the plastic tape with an old kitchen knife I came across. Yes, it took time but there was no saying that the additional garage search time would have yielded anything else that was capable of cutting.
  3. Attach hose to the tank tap.
  4. Try to unravel 30 metres of garden hose from the factory machinery tightly wound roll.
  5. Get all 30 metres somehow criss-crossing and re-crossing all through itself in a way that defies logic, given that there are only two ends (I checked this fact once I finally had the hose in an operational state) one of which is attached to a fixed point. How?
  6. Try to unwind the kinks out of it. I should mention that I wanted a flexible hose. Stiff ones break when they get frosted and are impossible to store because they want to lie in a 30 metre straight line. Unfortunately the tight winding and the flexibility of the wretched thing lead to it kinking approximately every 30-45 centimetres. Do you know how many kinks that makes in a 30 metre hose? About 350,000. Before you chide me on my mental arithmetic, I hope you accounted for the fact that simply moving the hose makes the kinks come back in the same place again.
  7. In my unwinding for de-kinking purposes I ended up with superkinks backwards and forwards and wound around each other at the loose end, which weren't easy to get undone.
  8. Dump end of hose over fence. Because we have about a bazillion unfinished house and garden projects there is no gate between the backyard and the front yard. We have to go through the garage. So turn on tap (near the tank in the back yard) and run through the garage, under the house shortcut and rescue snaking nozzle from sending water through the neighbours' window.
  9. Water potted plants. Three (plus one dead one - you never know, it might get resurrected). Took approximately 3 minutes.
  10. Run back through garage and turn off tap.
  11. Pull 30 metres of hose back over the fence and carry it around the other side of the house and put it over the other fence.
  12. Go back through the garage.
  13. Open gate. Yes, we have one gate. It's a half-finished project and is only connected to half a fence, so there's another fence just inside it that doesn't have a gate.
  14. Reach through this fence to the tap and turn it on.
  15. Stretch the hose out to reach our one and only garden bed.
  16. Go back and undo some new kinks while the garden hose entertains the dog by flicking water back and forth.
  17. Water the plants. Approximately 4-5 minutes.
  18. Realise that the decomposed granite that my Beloved put down beside the driveway could do with some water to compact it.
  19. Hear the washing machine finish the load of washing.
  20. Water the deco.
  21. Dog runs through the wet deco and spreads it over the concrete driveway.
  22. Hose down concrete driveway - feeling the need to justify my poor water saving practices by announcing to the world at large that I'm using tank water.
  23. Reach through fence to turn off tap.
  24. Pull 30 metres of hose off the driveway.
  25. Run upstairs to get another load of washing.
  26. Yell at wet, muddy dog who thought that following me up the stairs would be a good option.
  27. Hang out load of washing.
  28. Apply after sun gel to my shoulders because the 10 minute job took too long and it's now after 9am and the scorching Queensland inferno has commenced.

How much am I motivated to water my plants?

...Approximately None

(But justified that it's not just laziness on my part)