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.