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)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Silence of the Dogs

Our Little Black Dog has been getting louder and louder, and higher and higher pitched with his 'I'm going for a ride in the car and I'm very excited' song.

It started out funny and cute, but has been getting harder and harder to take, although you'd reckon that with the residual hearing difficulty that I'm experiencing after this 'flu that I'd be fine. I haven't been, and the LBD doesn't stop for anything - there is no command that will make him cease and desist, and turning the stereo up to drown him out only works if I'm in the mood for whatever CD I forgot to take out of the car last time I felt like music on a trip.

During the weekend I'd had enough.

Some years ago I'd borrowed a friend's anti-barking collar (a collar that she had for her dog - I'm confused about the possessive - it was a collar belonging to her, but for the dog so should that properly be 'a friend's dog's anti-barking collar'? Nevermind. You know what I mean). It was a static one as opposed to the citronella ones that I would have preferred, but what do I want for nothing? Particularly as not all dogs respond to collars, and I didn't want to fork out heaps of money for something that may not work.

Not wanting to electrocute the LBD, I tried it on me first, and was reassured to feel that even the higher settings were no worse than a combination of the sensation of being zapped by static electricity getting out of the car on a windy day, and the unpleasant buzzing feeling when a physiotherapist uses that strange electrode machine on me. That was physiotherapist, not psychotherapist. Just so that's clear.

It is, however, a surprise when I'm digging around in the LBD's cupboard for a brush or something and accidently get myself with it unexpectedly. It's the surprise and discomfort, not the pain. I was fine with that on the LBD's behalf. After all, the point is that it is unpleasant so that he stops. I also like that it sets itself down a setting if he stops barking/singing for a certain period of time. And he has additional protection provided by the Border Collie mane around his face, and down his little white chest.

So, dog in the car, collar on the dog, people in the car and off we went. It didn't trigger for the little squeaky noises, and that was entirely fine. I don't have a problem with the little squeaky noises.

Then there was a soaring crescendo of canine chorale, culminating in a note I'm not certain any soprano of my acquaintance could reproduce. In fact, I'm not certain I could hit it on my flute, even if I could remember the fingering for the top octave. I'm surprised the windows of the car didn't shatter, and I'm glad that I don't carry crystal goblets around with us. And that was that. Silence. Beautiful silence.

How sorry am I for ending the vocal career of our LBD?
...Approximately Not At All

(No animals were injured during the making of this post. Slightly uncomfortable, very surprised, but not injured.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A pox on all their houses

I have one major problem with the group I would usually refer to as my college 'friends'.

The thing is, they mention Stuff That Can Happen - and then it happens to me.

I lived in blissful ignorance that underwires can work their way out of bras for years before one of these college friends complained about it within my hearing. Voila, within a couple of weeks it happened to me.

Again, I had no idea that desktop computers had a battery that assisted them to store settings and things like the date. A friend complained and BANG my computer woke up next morning thinking we'd taken a little trip back to 1950-something and my screensaver was gone.

I've left college now. I should be safe from the jinx. But no, I still keep up with things going on in the lives of some of those I lived with at college. This is obviously a mistake.

My friend Givinya over at Killing a Fly complained about washing. She has two kids more than me, so her laundry pile is going to be huge. She's entitled to complain. But not when you consider the effect of the college friend jinx.

My washing used to be one load a week at college; expanded to between 1-2 when I lived by myself and had to add household linen. When we married it would probably have become more than that, but we lived out of town (i.e. rainwater tank supply, not reticulated) and I had to use the super-economical twin tub where you can wash everything you ever owned successively in one tub full of water. It's hard to get a comparison.

We recently got our greasy mits on a second hand automatic washing machine. So I've been celebrating the fact that I don't have to spend hours on a Saturday standing over the twin tub pulling stuff out of the washing tub and putting it into the spinner, rinsing it by hand, and spinning again before the next load of washing is ready for the spinner. Then rushing out to hang the last load while the next one is spinning. I did have it down to a fine art, but it is wonderful to leave the machine and come back 30 mins later to hang it out.

When I got back from Grandad's I knew I would have some washing to do for my Beloved, despite the fact I'd washed most of my stuff and some of his. I did not sign up for this amount of washing, and for some reason it feels like more when you can assign a specific number of loads to it.

How much do I hate my college friends right now?

...Approximately None (despite everything)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where's Wally?

Two words to answer where I've been.

The Flu.

I'm now getting closer to caring about the rest of the world - particularly as the trip to the doctor ruled out measles and other nasties and possibly has found a cure (or at least a starting point) for the dreaded 'itchy spots' I've been putting up with on and off since '99. We'll see.

The number of types of food I'd like to be allergic to if it isn't an environmental allergy?

...Approximately None

(But hey, it's got to be better than a fungal/tinea/roundworm answer - surely)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Freaky Friday

In my spare time I've been reading Philip Yancy's book "The Jesus I Never Knew". I have the great privilege of reading over my breakfast because we have no kids, and my Beloved goes to work early and lets me sleep in that extra hour after the alarm (I don't think he wants to talk to me until I've woken up properly on the off chance that I turn cranky and violent).

The thing I like about this book is that Philip Yancy tries to find examples to illustrate to us how the words of Jesus must have sounded to his first listeners, rather than interpreted through 2000 years of the Christian Church.

I ran into this quote about how the Jewish Sanhedrin would have viewed Jesus' claim that he could destroy the temple and rebuild it within three days, "Imagine the reaction today if an Arab ran through the streets of New York City shouting, 'The World Trade Centre will blow up, and I can rebuild it in three days'."

I thought that it was a pretty good illustration, but it doesn't have the unexpectedness that Jesus' words would have had. Just like the destruction of the Jewish Temple, we all know what happened to the World Trade Centre. Of course, before the 11th September 2001, it wouldn't have meant as much outside an American (or Financial guru-type-person) audience, as many of us in the rest of the world didn't know anything about the building before it was gone.

As a matter of interest I turned to the publishing details at the front of the book... 1995.

The chance that I'm not a little freaked out?

...Approximately None

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Washing Day Bra - R.I.P.

I mentioned this poor garment a few weeks ago. While I was away I actually got around to washing it - and who puts their Oldest Foundational Garment Available into a laundry bag? It's not like the poor old thing is going to be stretched or damaged by being washed!

Ask not how the bra can be damaged, but how the bra can cause damage.

Like one of Givinya's commenters, one of the smiley wires came out. Similarly, it made a break to get caught in the innards of the machine, trying to work its way through a hole in the washing drum. Unlike that same commenter the end only started to work it's way through, and became wedged. No damage to machine (thankfully, because it was Nan's almost brand new frontloading one). Wire almost unscathed.

Likelihood of me remembering to keep the evidence for photographic blogging purposes?

... Approximately None.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jet Lag?

Hi Honey, I'm home!

So I'm back from my little bloggy holiday and I'm suffering from a close ally of jet lag. I mean, it can't be jet lag, because I haven't been anywhere near a plane, but I'm seriously suffering from the change in time zone.

OK, so my regular readers would recall that my time was spent at Grandad's house and I can walk it in 25 mins, but that doesn't mean there's no time zone change.

We had a great time. I had time to sit and listen to his war stories, and the early part of his work as a Methodist Minister; we giggled at huge numbers of episodes of "Dad's Army" (set during the same war); and I found a stash of Nan's kid's books, delightful, sweet stories set in the '30s and '40s and many published in accordance with 'War Production Economy Standards'.

I'm having some difficulty re-adjusting to this time zone.

Chances that I can just stay in '40s rural England?

...Approximately None.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And I was at the Nutters' table...

I went to a Public meeting last night. It was related to my work.

The newly amalgamated Regional Council are preparing a Planning Scheme. This will rule my life for the next half-dozen years. It is in my best interests to be there to have some input in these early stages.

Being a reasonably friendly person, when Dad (who gave me a lift down) took the last seat at one table, I went off and sat with some people I didn't know, introduced myself and spent some minutes in idle chatter before the thing started.


Before the meeting started I realised I was amongst agitators (and what's worse agitators with the opposite agenda to me - which of course makes them wrong).

Within the first group working session I realised I was with the Nutters.

By the second group working session I was amusing myself by listening to their input. The highlight being when an elderly gentleman sat down and explained in words of one syllable (with the aid of diagrams) how a system of zoning works - have I ever mentioned I'm a qualified, certified Town Planner?

By the third I'd had enough of the whinging, un-focussed discussion that wasn't really getting anywhere or going to achieve anything. I wanted out.

Then I looked around and saw a sprinkling of the town's other Nutters at other tables. I wasn't the only person at a table with Nutters. Then I realised, I'm the sort of Nutter that goes to public meetings.

How much does this do for my self-image?

...Approximately Nothing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Clayton's Holiday

So, I'm on holidays, have been since lunchtime on Thursday...

Well, I'm actually staying with my Grandad while Nan's away. They live a very long way away, like about 1.2 kilometres. I can walk it in 25 minutes.

My theory was I was going to sit around and read books for two weeks. OK, so I have to water Nan's plants every now and then, and make sure that Grandad's getting fed regularly, and I'm thinking it might be nice to do a bit of a clean-up before Nan gets back, so that she doesn't have to do it straight away. But on the whole, I'm going to read books, take the LBD for some walks, sleep, you know.

Oh, and I have a few other things that I'm trying to do in all that spare time:
  • Prepare to lead an ecumenical church service (yesterday - now done!)
  • Prepare and circulate agenda and reports for the Congregational Meeting (yesterday - thanks to the wonderful lady who took minutes in my absence)
  • Prepare to preach at our church service next week
  • Do my Bible Study homework for tonight
  • Go to Church meetings on both Tuesdays of the fortnight
  • Be on-call at the hospital for Pastoral Care this week
  • Finish 2 work reports
  • Make 1/2 dozen work phone calls

The chance that this is not going to be 'the holiday you have when you're not having a holiday'?

...Approximately None