Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Well, nearly at the end of it, but I have time to read now, so I thought I'd let you know that I'm alive, well fed, and looking forward to a wider family bash tomorrow.

I nearly got through my list of things to do yesterday, which was pretty marvellous and down to the fact that my Beloved helped.

Service this morning seemed to go well and now I think I need to go to sleep. Chance that I'm all ready for tomorrow?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Loud and inappropriate laughter.

I was at a christmas gathering when one of my ecumenical colleagues turned to her boss and asked, "Have you checked out the new coffee shop in town yet?"

He (known for his liking for certain stimulants most often found at such a venue) replied that he had not.

She then responded, "Oh, I thought you would have been in like a shot", whereupon I dissolved into giggles and she looked at me, perplexed.

It lost a lot in the explanation, but still gives me the giggles. Sadly, I like a good pun, "Thank you, Bernard."*

The chances that I'm likely to be invited to anything at the local Anglican church for a while?

... approximately nun.

*Reference to the BBC TV series "Yes, Minister". Bernard was known for his pedantic attention to unmixing metaphors, explaining obscure Classical allusions, and finding the most literal meaning of any given phrase. Whereupon either Sir Humphrey or the Minister would repressively intone, "Thank you, Bernard", and change the subject. He is arguably best known for his 'helpful' suggestion of an advertising slogan for the British Civil Service - "Red Tape is Fun!". I've always wanted a shirt with that slogan and his caricature on it. Sadly, I've never seen one, and given that the show was produced in the '80s I doubt I will ever find one.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cooling Tip for events during a long summer

Although we've had a reprieve from the hellish heat of a couple of weeks ago, it's still warm. Particularly at inside events where there's no air-conditioning or fans and that have limited windows to let the breeze through.

But I've discovered a useful tip to aid in such situations and I'm about to share it with you to apologise for not being a good, regular blogger.

Aren't I kind?

Are you ready?


Look around the audience or congregation and sit next to a post-menopausal woman. As the room heats, she will begin fanning herself. And although she may not actually be fanning you, there's enough air moving in the general vicinity to make life a little more bearable.

And, of course, if you have lots of post-menopausal friends, you may be in the enviable situation of finding a seat between two post-menopausal women who will both start fanning themselves.

And the chance that life gets any better than that?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I was invited to participate in a school speech day on Friday. Really enjoyed some parts like the dance troop and seeing the little preppies get their encouragement awards, and the fact that there seemed to be so many lovely young men and women ready to go out and make their mark on the world.

I also puzzled over the fact that in a pipe band you can have some trouble picking a pre-pubescent boy from a pre-pubescent girl, unless the girls ALL have long hair. Kilts will do that.

But the main block from total enjoyment was the heat. There is nothing worse than being dressed up in your good clothes and then feeling the sweat trickle down between your shoulder blades (yes, "sweat" - it was definitely not as refined as "perspiration" and even further from the "glowing" that apparently ladies are supposed to do when warm).

Unless it's the feeling of sweat running down your thighs under a lined skirt.

Or the slimy feeling you get at the point you neatly cross your ankles so that your knees can stay together because you're in the front row, wearing a suit skirt and very visible to the assembled parents, friends, special guests and students.

Anyway it was hot, but I was priviledged to sit in the special section with the college council, which meant that we had comfy seats and a bottle of water provided just beside the leg of each chair.

It also meant that I was sitting next to a couple of men who were built on generous lines. I don't mean fat, I mean they had the bulk to match their height. Which meant that they needed the additional room for their arms that was above our mutual armrests.

Which would have been fine, except that I'm not as little as I used to be. And the need to keep my arms by my sides began to make me wonder how much colour difference my royal blue blouse would show if for some reason it were to become moist. Which was definitely going to be the case.

I made a mental note to keep my arms by my sides after the event was over.

Then remembered that I was giving the Benediction at the end of the proceedings.

It is usual in my church for the appointed God-person to raise their arms to pronounce the Benediction.

But the appointed God-person would usually be a proper minister wearing an alb, which would be white and not show the change in colour (mind you any minister wearing an alb on this particular occasion would have passed out with heat exhaustion by this point, so it ends up being moot).

So how much did anyone care if I had dark circles under my arms?

... Approximately None, because everyone was in exactly the same boat!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Missed Opportunity...

It's been a trifle warm here this week.

Once upon a time I worked from home, so would fire up the air-conditioner in my office and ignore the heat.

Of course, before that I lived in Central Queensland and had to put up with it (albiet that my workplace was airconditioned).

And way before that I lived in Cloncurry. With a recorded temperature in the 50s during the late 1800s. That's quite warm. When we lived there we used to want to throw stuff at the ABC weatherman, because Mt Isa would be expecting a warm day at 43 or 45 degrees and Brisbane was expecting a scorcher at 38. He had no clue. And we were heat affected.

When I was in high school and we first moved here from Cloncurry I remember going to a church dinner and everyone was complaining about how hot it had been that day. Then someone laughed and said, "but you probably don't find this hot!" Our family thought about it, then said that we had found it hot - we'd been building a shed in the backyard and it was hot. Everyone just looked at us as if we were aliens - what were we thinking doing physical work in that heat!

I've just got soft of late.

These days I'm often out at meetings or visiting people and so I don't always get the choice to cool down. it seems a waste to cool a space for an hour, then go out leaving the room to heat up again. Also, I used to be from Central Queensland and North-western Queensland. I should be tough.

So after I survived through Tuesday telling myself that I used to be able to do this heat thing and that Mum had never put the air-conditioner on until the mercury hit 39 when we lived in Cloncurry, so I was just being a wuss, and our house is actually quite cool mostly, and anyway I had a meeting shortly, or it was late afternoon and it would cool down shortly, is that a storm on the horizon? ...

... I found out on Wednesday that the temperature had hit 42 on Tuesday. That's quite hot enough to air-condition by anyone's standards, thank you.

And the chance that I have actually bought a thermometer so that I can tell if I'm being a wuss or that I am justified in turning the magic box on?

... Approximately None, but I might put the air-con on anyway. It's hot.

Although I have a meeting this afternoon...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Short Circuting Keyboard

I've just had the biggest heart attack.

I was sitting here in a glow of finally-finished-the-church-service-for-tomorrow-morning-to-my-(and-hopefully-God's)-satisfaction and checking out some of my favourite blogs when the keyboard started making the strangest electronic short circuiting noises.

No smoke.

No flames.

Just tiny, tinny, crackling noises that sounded precisely like the time I killed the mini sanding machine when I'd almost finished Giggles' rockinghorse.

But it had sparks, and this didn't.

I somewhat hesitantly lifted the keyboard to see what was going on underneath (where the noise was coming from) and discovered a bug on its back slowly spiralling around.

The chances that I wasn't hugely relieved?

... Approximately None!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Remember Me?

G'day, everybody. I'm back for a quick chat.

October for me is very busy and it will continue while the boss is on long-service leave until the end of the year, when she conveniently retires (and we're working like crazy to get her a replacement). This of course would not have been for my own business that's almost non-existent at the moment, but for the church that currently employs me full-time rather than part-time because our minister is on long-service leave.

Now that I'm thinking about it, my job description is probably not what I want to mention in the post I was planning to write. So can you just forget that I told you WHY I'm busy and just accept that I am.


When I was at University I had a mental assasination list. It was never on paper, and these days could get one in heaps of trouble what with the threat of terrorism and all, but I had a list of people who irritated me and my life would have been so much better if they were no longer on this planet. Some of them would definitely be headed for heaven, so to actually ACT on my list might have resulted in me not having to be irritated by them in the afterlife either!

Yeah, my theology could use a little work here.

Anyway, if I was wiping out irritating individuals and therefore likely to spend this life behind bars and the next 'consigned to a place of great heat' (bonus points if you guess the author, and more if you can remind me which book it comes from) I might as well get rid of those who irritate my friends as well. Yep, that's the kind of friend I am. So the list ended up quite lengthy, and my plan was to start with the most irritating and work down until I was caught or I got through it, whichever came first.

For the last few months the two tiny yappy dogs next door have been driving me nutty. Neither me, nor my Little Black Dog is allowed to roam in the 4 metres adjacent to their fence without being yapped at. I have considered getting an outdoor lie-low, an umbrella, good book, a supply of snacks, earplugs and setting myself up near the fence at about 5am on New Years Day. Then the little yappy dogs can drive the neighbours nutty for a change.

Then again, I could put them on my list.

I was catching up with some reading on Graze and came across this little gem. If I were to re-establish my assassination list I would need to make certain to add whoever it was who invented the idea of sending a toy home to have pictures taken doing something with appropriate captions.

The chance that I'm not singing that song from Mikado in my head and wishing for the poetic ability to do a parody?

... approximately none!

they'd none of 'em be missed!

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs --
All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs —
All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat —
All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that —
And all third persons who on spoiling tête-á-têtes insist —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!

He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed.

There's the banjo serenader, and the others of his race,
And the piano-organist — I've got him on the list!
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
They never would be missed — they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
And who "doesn't think she dances, but would rather like to try";
And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist —
I don't think she'd be missed — I'm sure she'd not he missed!

He's got her on the list — he's got her on the list;
And I don't think she'll be missed — I'm sure she'll not be missed!

And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
The Judicial humorist — I've got him on the list!
All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,Such as —
What d'ye call him — Thing'em-bob, and likewise — Never-mind,
And 'St— 'st— 'st— and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who —
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!

You may put 'em on the list — you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My computer is fussy, and I'm certain is out to stymie me at every opportunity.

Every now and again it decides to put on a go-slow and it can be frustrating when I'm trying to get stuff done in a hurry.

There are a few blogs that are full of pictures that it can take a while to manage, but there is one site that my computer consistently despises. I love checking out Crazy Sister's life over at Graze if you want to, but don't eat dirt. It is one of the few sites that I like to check regularly, even when I'm in a flying rush, but the computer will crash if I rush it at that point. Crazy Sister uses tantilizing post names so that I really must find out what has been happening at her crazy house.

But you see the only way I can actually get there is to click on my side bar, then leave the computer alone and not click on anything with the mouse or keyboard for the next 15-30 minutes. On occasion it will let me go to another program and work, but mostly if I click it will either crash Explorer or freeze the whole computer and I have to start all over again from a soft reset.

If I read the comments (or dare to actually make a comment) and it needs to think, again I must not touch the mouse or keyboard until the screen exhibits total happiness.

This evening I was smart. I often click on Graze before I go out or off to eat, so that it is ready and waiting when I get back. I just got back from church this evening and checked out the few posts I'd missed, then closed it and refreshed my own blog to see if anyone had anything new for me to read.

There was a whole new post on Graze.

A post that hadn't been there when I last hit the link to check it out, therefore wasn't visible on my computer.

What's the chance that I have time to check it out again tonight?

... Approximately None!

So can anyone tell me if the post was any good? Worth the wait?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No. Such. Luck.

I fixed the vacuum cleaner.

The true state of emotion that goes with the previous statement can't be expressed without telling you a story. A story that perhaps my male readers will not be able to grasp, but a story that may well stir the hearts of the girls.

Once upon a time I was just starting out living by myself and bought the cheapest vacuum cleaner that there was, because I'd also had to buy a fridge/freezer; washing machine; TV; a dining table and some chairs. I couldn't afford anything fancy.

Not long afterwards I heard friends talking about saving up for Dyson vacuum cleaners. They sounded really good, and I loved the concept of the cleaners being bagless because I hated emptying my vacuum cleaner bag. Also, according to their reports, Dysons really suck (which is actually what you want in a vacuum cleaner).

My Beloved and I then married. We now had two (2) vacuum cleaners, neither of them new and one I had to purchase disposable bags for.

"My" vacuum cleaner burst its bag. Although I managed to stitch it up, the little red vacuum was demoted to my Beloved's shed. We now had one (1) vacuum cleaner.

My mother bought a Dyson. It was good.

I began to look hopefully for any signs that our remaining vacuum was about to die.

It died.

I celebrated secretly and began to dream...

One Saturday my wonderful Beloved came home with something for the new house that we needed and it was a surprise.

I couldn't guess at all.

He presented me with a wonderful, bagless...

...Volta vacuum cleaner.

Isn't he a wonderful, considerate, surprising, lovely bloke?

Well, the Volta does a reasonable job so long as the very centre of the head is placed directly over any matter with a diameter greater than 0.01mm - but it is bagless which makes it easy to empty once the dust gets in there. I've always been an empty-the-thing-after-you-use-it-each-time sort of girl, and my Beloved is not. But that's okay, I am now an empty-the-thing-before-I-use-it-saying-prayers-of-thankfulness-that-my-Beloved-actually-cleans-when-so-many-women-complain-that-they-don't-get-any-help-around-the-house sort of girl.

We've been using it for about three years now and I was surprised during post dust-storm cleaning when a little red light came on. I didn't know what the little red light meant. The owner's manual wasn't in my file of appliance manuals and neither of us can find it, so we couldn't work out why the little red light had come on. I was sort of hoping for something expensive to fix which meant it wasn't worth fixing, but then again, we recently threw our savings into a medical waste facility along with my wisdom teeth, so timing was dreadful if that was the case.

I got on the net to try to find information and found a manual for a different model of the same make. It has a little red light that indicates when the bag is full. I wondered whether this might be the case, even though our model is bagless, so I went and emptied the non-bag. Turned it on. No red light.

The chance that this vacuum cleaner will not last for 30 years?

... Approximately None *sigh*

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fox in the Spring Fair Henhouse

It's that time of year again, when I'm madly preparing for the annual church Spring Fair. This year I'm helping on the Cake Stall as usual (remember the apron?), but also involved in making lollies for the Sweet Stall.

This is a bit of a conflict of interest, because traditionally these two stalls vie with each other for the stall that makes the most cold, hard cash. Fortunately the Plant Stall has been doing really well of recent years and has trumped both of us, so that I can't be called a traitor to the Cakes.

I got roped into the lollies because my Grandmother has always been the French Jellies maker. She turns 90 next year, so I offered to give her a hand (we've done a team effort before). As it turns out she had a bit of a turn on the weekend, and so it ended up being Mum and I, and everything has worked out well (both for Grandma and the jellies).

The other Lolly Ladies are also beginning to mature to a point where they groan about the week before the Fair, so a group of younger ladies had a tutorial earlier in the year to teach us how to do them to official quality control standards. I should mention that when I say younger, I mean that (apart from me) they were all reasonably recent retirees.

So I was asked what I wanted to make for the stall I offered to make a couple of trays of Caramel Fudge (because that's the one I really want to perfect - it's my favourite). It's only now in the making that I've realised that this is going to take much willpower on my part for there to be anything to give to the Lolly Ladies. I am, as it were, the proverbial fox set to guard the henhouse. And I consistently find myself eyeing off all the little caramel-coloured chickens.

The chances that I'm a dutiful Skinny Cow this week?

... Precisely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Praying that your holidays are excrement...

At my church we have a weekly prayer breakfast. We cover world, national and state events; personal losses and joys; church doings and issues; and anything that relates to our town.

And so in amongst prayers for our Pacific neighbours and those from our congregations who are grieving I chose to pray for our minister and her husband, who are soon to head off for some well deserved long service leave. I prayed that they be refreshed and given the opportunity to flourish, like well-tended plants. It wasn't until I'd finished that I suddenly realised that I might have got a little too much into my analogy.

Don't you hate it when an analogy gets away from you?

You see, technically I believe I prayed that this holiday be for them like plants that are given a good dose of manure which gives them the nutrients to thrive.

Yes, I prayed that their holiday be ... er... excrement.

And what's the chance I meant it the way it came out?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Procrastination Pays

Nice and alliterative, hey?

And for my current situation - exactly right.

Well, okay, so procrastination doesn't get blog posts written. Believe me, I've got a good one brewing for the weekend before last when we went to the coast to catch up with my little brother and Giggles. But I have been busy with that slightly over-rated thing called "real life" and haven't taken the time to do more than scurry through a few of my favourite blogs to see what they've been doing. Not sufficient time to say what I've been doing. But I've been enjoying it.

However, for the last couple of evenings I've had a little mental list of things I should have been doing. Dusting and vacuuming the house, for example. I was also going to hang out a load of washing last night so that it would be dry to take in at lunchtime today. And the interior of my car certainly needs some cleaning.

I couldn't be bothered.

Surely 'can't be bothered' is not a good state to be in?

Well, it turns out that a significant part of the eastern part of Australia is undergoing a doozy of a dust storm today.

The chance that I would have felt that warm glow of acheivement if I had got all my work done?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Letter From Grandma (The Archaeological Edition)

A little slow this week, so here's another letter from my Grandma.

Because she died when I was only in grade 6 it is interesting to use these letters to get to know her - who was she?

Well, one thing I know is that a very busy lady used to write individual picture-letters to 6 of her grandchildren who didn't happen to live very close to them. Although when this first started there were probably only 2 or 3 of us. It worked up from there as new grandkids came on the scene and were old enough to say "why don't I get a letter from Grandma?" So grandchildren were special, and she didn't want us to forget her.

We can also see from today's letter that sometimes she used to cheat -

No, she did not draw this image. It's a printed one. Clever lady.

The written part says

For Jenny,
I hope you can see our Church at Graceville soon.
Love from Grandad and Grandma. XXX

I don't know precisely when these letters started, but I presume they were a weekly inclusion into the family goings on letter that Grandma used to write to all her kids. I know we lived in Barcaldine from 1976 to 1980.

But this letter may have some specific dating evidence and I feel like I should be on Time Team, because I'm getting all excited.

You see, the Methodist Church joined with other churches to become the Uniting Church in July 1977. So this must have been printed before then. Unless, of course, they were trying to get rid of all the old printed material that was now out of date. Hmmm.

However, the fact that we hadn't seen the church must also put this early in our stay in Barky, because we would have visited them from time to time. In fact, my aunt was married there, but I can't remember when that was.

The chance that we'll ever know a date for certain?

... Approximately None!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Okay, so this makes me an accessory after the fact?

Desperately needed to go grocery shopping last week. A couple of weeks of just getting what was essential will eventually empty the pantry, so I toddled off to the shops to restock.

Just had enough cloth bags to carry the piles of stuff from Bi-Lo, and spent a small fortune at the butcher to restock the freezer as well.

Was not terribly happy upon returning to the car to find myself stymied by my Beloved. The boot* was pretty full of husband-junk, namely a huge blue tarp and a shovel. So I had to load the groceries into the back seat.

And at this point I began to wonder what it was my Beloved had been doing that required a blue tarp and a shovel.

Now, maybe I've been watching too much TV while I've been recuperating, but the only activity I could think of was burying a body.

I don't think my Beloved is one of the types of blokes who goes around disposing of dead bodies, but they do say the wife is the last to know. There was always that time not long after we were married when the police rang up asking if my Beloved (who has a fairly common series of names) had ever lived in Mackay.

But the chances that I'm off to chat to the police about this?

... Approximately None - because I might be the next one wrapped up in the blue tarp in the boot!

UPDATE: My Beloved informs me that he used the tarp to cover a trailer load of green waste that he took to the dump** last weekend, and the shovel was to scrape out the last of the grass clippings. Likely story!

*boot = trunk
** dump = waste transfer station at the local land fill

Friday, September 4, 2009

O Lord, set a watch over my mouth...

Well, there is probably more than one problem. My brain is mostly here, but sometimes I am still doing dumb stuff. On Tuesday I signed my name on a very important, official business document and signed the wrong name.

Oh no, not my maiden name - I made up an entirely different surname by exchanging the final letter with a totally different letter. A letter that has never existed in my name in the lower case.

What's more I didn't find it until the next day, which was saved by the fact that my dodgy brain forgot to take it around to Dad's office to fax it off. I discovered the error before anyone else saw it. (Then blogged about it. For everyone to see. Hmmm. Maybe I have more problems than I thought)

The main problem I'm confronting is that my jaw hasn't yet let go. I can actually get my index finger between my teeth, but I can't open my mouth any more than that.

So while there are many things that I'd be game to eat, unless they are thinner than my index finger it's just not going to work for me.

I can have a sandwich - as long as I take it apart and eat all the components separately. I ate a sausage at the sausage sizzle last night - but had to cut it in half lengthways. I could eat a pie or hamburger - as long as I cut them up with a knife and fork. My meals are taking ages to eat because I've got to bash down each forkful to be thin enough to go through the 'letterbox'.

And what's worst is that I've had this much opening for about a week now and it's not changing much.

So yesterday I went shopping and decided that I deserved a little treat:-

But I forgot one very important thing:-

Close. Very, very close.

But possible. Just.
The chance that I didn't get just a fraction more room by sheer effort of will and a little discomfort?
... Approximately None!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Getting there

My Dear friend Givinya asked me how I've been going since my original post-op picture (complete with ice-packs). You remember this?

Well, a couple of days later I could stop applying ice-packs and I looked like this - I've never had a square jaw before!

Nevermind, it seems that my cheekbones have returned, the extensive double chin is gone (or at least back to normal) and my chin is now just part of my jawline, rather that stuck on a puffer fish. And I hope I no longer look like I'm spaced out on drugs.

Back to driving and doing some work and the surgeon seemed pleased with my progress last week when I went for my day 7 check-up.
Feeling is starting to return to the half of my lower lip and chin that has been numb, which is a bit of a relief, given that there was no change up until yesterday.
At least one of the stitches has dissolved itself, although some of the others seem to be going strong.
The one thing that remains a frustration for me I will talk about tomorrow, and that will be appreciated by my loyal audience...
... Approximately Not at All - but hey, it's called delayed gratification and there should be more of it in the world.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear Don and Cathy...

I've actually had a pretty good week and am feeling quite rested. I seem to have moved beyond needing the heavy drugs and last night didn't wake up needing something in the middle of the night.

In preparation for this last week I had gone to the library and borrowed a stack of books, few of which I have read because last week (and probably up to Tuesday) reading just didn't work for me concentration-wise.

Three of the books, though, were from that Australian Classic girls series by Mary Grant Bruce about the inhabitants of Billabong Station* in Victoria, and I hadn't read them since my early high school years. It was great getting reacquainted with their early history, because I have books 4 through to 15, but never found the first three to purchase.

Having read the first three I decided to detour from my library books to enjoy the rest of the series while I'm in the mood for their little world, and it is very strange to think that these particular young people were contemporaries of my great-grandparents** - and just now the boys are heading off to The Great War.

It is really odd to go back through a series of books that you knew really well many years ago. Even stranger when you consider a particular habit of mine.

I grab any stray piece of paper to use as a book mark. Certainly some of my books have purpose-built bookmarks given to me by friends, but often when I read my own books I find old receipts, post cards, scraps torn from old church notices or envelopes. It's almost like the thrill of an archaelogical dig to find what book mark is in an old book.

And in Book 4 of the Billabong series I found a scrap of paper, obviously torn from the bottom corner of a diary with handwriting I don't recognise spelling out "Don and Cathy" and a phone number. It's an eight digit phone number, so must post-date my high school years, but the chance of me remembering who Don and Cathy are and why I have their phone number is...

... Approximately None.

*"Ranch" for my occasional guest from the US of A.
** or at least would have been contemporaries, if they had not been fictional characters

Monday, August 24, 2009

Romance and Reality

I seem to be approaching human. No stamina and I certainly can tell when the drugs are wearing off, but I'm approaching human.

Unlike last week when I'm not certain what I did (good drugs!).

Friday I decided that entertainment should be all five hours of the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. It's a story I know well so it doesn't matter if I doze through parts of it, it was long enough to fill the day and required no effort on my part.

I was at Mum and Dad's, so Mum sat down and made lace as we watched - and organised food at regular intervals.

I was glad when she decided it was lunchtime. It was coming up to Elizabeth's refusal of Darcy's proposal scene and I had been a bit dozy. This was one part I didn't want to miss, so food should keep me awake for a bit.

I've been describing my ingestion of food as 'eating', but that's a fairly loose interpretation of the term. It's closer to a careful slurp from the end of a teaspoon, followed by swallowing with very little attempt at any form of chewing. At the time I could hardly open my teeth and couldn't control my tongue terribly effectively. It was also necessary to have a tissue handy for the inevitable spills across my numbed lip.

So my favourite scene in P&P ended up going something like this:-

Darcy (striding across the sitting room): In vain I have struggled...
Me: Schhleeck
Darcy: ... it will not do...
Me: Schhleeeck
Darcy:... you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire...
Me: Schhleeeckk
Darcy: ... and love you.

By this time I'd twigged to the interesting sound effects and went off into the giggles, thereby ruining the scene for me forever. (Have I mentioned that laughing, smiling, giggling are none of them terribly comfortable?) Hopefully the chances of splitting the stitches are...

... Approximately None!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some people have surgery to improve their appearance...

... others, not so much.

Surgery went well. I had none of the nausea or other side effects common to general anaesthetic, apart from headaches, which could also be caused by someone drilling and cutting into my jaw, for example.
Declined the morphine last night due to side effects (not to mention the fact it's given via injection into the thigh) and the fact the pain was irritating, but not excrutiating.
Very aware of the fact that the killer pain killers will only last about 3 days if I take the maximum dose. At the surgeons recommendation I'm trying to space them out with Advil which is an anti-inflammatory as well. Unfortunately not recommended for asthmatics, but I just have to keep an eye on any breathing issues. It should be okay, I've had similar before with no problems.
Jaw is sore, can't open my mouth much (for example to take my inhalers - my front teeth copped half the last dose) and the lower right hand side of my lip is numb. The surgeon believes that I should have that back within about a week, and I'll believe him because it's itchy and tingly. Problem is, it's numb as well, so I can't feel when I try to scratch the itch.
All in all it was a reasonably good experience of surgery as these things go. Mostly under medication it is no worse that it used to be when the teeth were giving me gyp - it's just that they didn't all used to give me gyp at the same time.
But the best thing - the chance that they will ever give me gyp again?

Mffbffl Gblymy

If this post appears today it's because I just can't be bothered.

So that means that it's a bit of a waste of time for you to have come all the way over here to see it.

The chance that I care?

... Approximately None.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Official Teeth Day

So I'm off having my wisdom teeth removed - I thought I'd schedule a post for you all - more of Grandma's letters.

I'm going to ask Mum to comment below when she knows anything. Unless she's decided to stay in Toowoomba overnight, in which case I guess she won't.

This is Aunty Judy going off to College.

She steps over the front fence of the Church.

She has her music in the bag.

The chance that you can't guess what my Aunt has been doing for a career for the last hmmmpf mumble years?

... Approximately None (particularly all the family).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One small step for Jen...

On Saturday my Beloved installed sliding wardrobe doors on the built-in cupboard in our bedroom. His company makes them, so they were at a good price, too.

They are brushed chrome surrounds and the mirror doors make the room look bigger and brighter.

It also gave us incentive to reduce the furniture in our bedroom, so my bookcase and dressing table are gone to another room, and we've combined our belongings into the shelves in the cupboard and Chris' lovely old timber dressing table (with bevelled mirror) that I'm standing next to in order to take this photo.

You can also see the curtains and patchwork quilt that my wonderful Mum made for us. The bedroom is now completed, save for pelmets over the curtains, the door needs to be painted, and carpet laid.

I haven't had access to a full-length mirror since we moved into our house just before Christmas 2007. It was very exciting to look forward to have some installed.

I may need to lose a little weight.

The chances that I'd admit to having been startled by movement in the bedroom when I got up Sunday morning, only to realise it was my own reflection?

... Approximately None.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Competition: A question that needs to be answered...

I just have to ask a question.

And that question is one that I'm certain many of us would like an answer to. I'll get to it in a minute.

I've heard some of my friends who have been pregnant express concern about the fact that any friends, relations, acquaintances and perfect strangers in the street feel obliged to tell their own pregnancy stories.

This means that either they:

1. Freak you out with the absolutely terrible things that happened during conception, gestation or labour. Therefore you feel you are not as worried as you ought to be, and had better get worried, terrified and panicked quick smart.

2. Make you want to hit them because the whole thing is apparently no bother, you'll have no trouble at all. It's just like sneezing, then you have a new baby (who will probably sleep the night through from the very first one) Therefore you are making too big a deal out of the whole thing, probably just playing for sympathy (whether you have life-threatening pre-eclampsia, a history of miscarriage, or some other nasty).

The underlying irritant for the one being preached to is the fact that, whether these women have had one pregnancy or a hundred and fifty, they have personally experienced all that there is to experience of conception, gestation and labour.

Do you know the difference between this phenomenon with respect to gestation and having your wisdom teeth removed?

Men can't have children.

Therefore the proportion of the population able to provide stories has increased exponentially. So I've been really getting hammered with teeth stories for the last few weeks. This Wednesday afternoon I'm scheduled to have all four wisdom teeth removed under general anaesthetic in a hospital in Toowoomba. I will be in overnight, then Mum will come and pick me up and bring me home.

So my question for you all is which is worse?:

a) Someone who tells you dreadful stories
b) Someone who thinks you're too worried, after all, HE/SHE was perfectly fine - and they had to walk 300 miles to the surgery through 3 feet of snow, had them out in the chair without anaesthetic, and then had been entered in a steak-eating competition for later that same day (probably in a town 250 miles in the other direction).
c) Someone who contributes SOMEONE ELSE'S stories "My husband's cousin-once-removed's father-in-law's sister had THIS happen..."
d) All of the above and they all should die. Horribly.

I'd love to hear your responses. But if you feel obliged to give me your teeth stories, not only have you entirely missed the point of this post, but the chances of me not deleting it are...

... Approximately None.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary to ME!!!

Well, I totally missed it.

I've officially been blogging for a whole year. As of last Friday.

Sometimes frequently, sometimes rather less frequently, but I've been a citizen of the blogging community for twelve months and one week.

And if I hadn't entirely missed it, I could have arranged a competition or a blog refurbishment or something exciting to celebrate.

But I decided to have my wisdom teeth out next week instead.

And although that's not very fun for you, how much fun is it going to be for me?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mice of a Different Sort...

Another picture-letter from my Grandma - after having been slack about blogging for a few weeks, aren't I glad I thought of doing this?

By the way we now seem to have approximately no mouse problem in our house anymore. No terrible smells either. I fully recant my lack of support for my Beloved's Mouse Elimination Strategy. It worked.

Can you guess what this is?

Uncle John's fish pond leaked, so he bought two (male) white mice.

They love the tread-mill, sometimes both get on it together, and spin it so fast you can't see their legs, the wheel goes - "Squeak, squeak". We hear it at night going fast.

The round marg. container has two holes cut in it and they play in it. In the daytime they sleep in the little house John made of cardboard, but they like the floor so much they have eaten it.

Their names and 'Tom' and 'Gerry'. John helped me draw them.

How big a round of applause does 'Uncle' John deserve for helping his Mum draw mice for his nephews and neices?

... A great big one!

And what was the chance I'd end my post there?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What a Lovely Cool House

Yesterday we had a perfectly beautiful day. I was down to my shirt-sleeves in the afternoon and the sky was cloudless and breeze caressing. Spring is coming - whether this is a little reminder that it's on its way or whether its the real thing matters not, so long as I took the time to enjoy it. And I did take some time to enjoy it (while I attacked a pile of washing up - did you not see my post from yesterday?!)

This is the time of year we begin to enjoy our house, because throughout the spring and summer it is a lovely cool house. Breezy and fresh, whatever direction the breeze is coming from - and although there are a few days when I turn on the air-conditioning it's not the house's fault that the temperature is just plain ridiculous that day.

The reason that we remember to enjoy our lovely cool house is that during the winter "lovely" and "cool" are not the terms we use to describe it. "Frigid" and "arctic" would be closer to the mark. I can't count the number of days when I leave the house and can take a jumper off upon going outside, if the sun is brightly shining. The house holds the cold well, and I'm too scungy to put on the heating in the mornings.

But then, what stimulus would there be to enjoy it in summer if the winters weren't so cold?

... Approximately None.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Need a Mum... or Maybe Not

Of course, I already have a perfectly good Mum.

The problem is I need someone to come here and pick up after me, and my Mum wouldn't do that.

Or, well, she probably would if I was sick or dying, but when I'm in full health and just can't be bothered she probably wouldn't.

Actually, she certainly wouldn't.

...And even if she did it would come with a lecture and I could do without that.

But I really don't think she would do it, lecture or not.

So, maybe I need a maid.

But a maid would need to be paid, and I'm not certain the buget can stretch to that.

And I'd need to clean up first in order for him/her to clean, so it would be fairly pointless so far as labour-saving.

So I'm back to needing a Mum.

... Or to find some time today to make the house look a little less like I took a Girls' Brigade Parade Church Service on Sunday and made lots of props therefore have the remains of half a dozen crafty-type projects scattered about the house (plus the fact that the regular house cleaning didn't get done) and I have had lots of meetings since and don't want to start the huge effort of house cleaning.

Hopefully I will have some time today.

How much energy and enthusiasm do I have for this project?

... You guessed it!

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I've been a girl who has always gone to church. Initially I didn't have much choice in the matter, but eventually took on Christian faith for myself. One of the things that 35 years of church-going will do is that I know how all the stories end, and can get a bit blase about them. I also am used to some of the really odd things that Christians do at church. They are almost second nature.

I think the two of these tendencies combined resulted in the following mind wandering that happened just after Easter, but that I haven't got around to blogging about. Sorry for the in-jokes for those who don't attend a more main-stream church, or any church at all, for that matter.

A fairly normal (if somewhat stodgy) service in my lovely home church. The reader was reading from Luke, Chapter 24, verse 36, following Jesus' resurrection, appearance and the disciples' return from Emmaus.

Reader: "Whle they were talking about this [Jesus' appearance on the road to a town called Emmaus], Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you'..."

Jen's somewhat wandering brain going into standard liturgy mode: "And the disciples responded, 'And also with you'..."

Reader continuing, thankfully in blissful ignorance of my mental journey to realms not recorded in the Bible: "...They [the disciples] were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost..."

Jen's brain, brought back suddenly to the actual reading, rather than standard liturgical responses: "Wow, I have been to church way too much, I wasn't expecting that. Didn't those disciples know the correct response?!"

The chance that the disciples, scared and not following the whole point of what Jesus had been trying to tell them about the fact that he would rise from death, even thought about using the standard liturgical response?

... Approximately None!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Letter from Grandma...

I'm aiming to include a couple of these a week when I have nothing to say for myself. I just thought I'd do a couple to get us up and started.
The chance that my whole blog will be filled with these?


... Approximately None

Uncle John is riding his bike to school.

He is just going up Thallon St, hall fence behind him, and Grandma is waving from the front door.

Thankyou for the picture of the horse. There are 2 horses in the yard beside the Church now. I'll have to draw them. (Why don't you like pussy cats???)

Love G'ma.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Letters from my Grandma

My Mum's Mum was a pretty special lady. When I was very tiny (like 2 years old) we moved to Barcaldine. This meant that we were way away from the wider family, and the phone wasn't then what it is now - it was something only really used for emergencies, or for a three minute "are you extending?" quick message. In fact, Mum has since said that there was a while we didn't have the phone on at the house - I guess they must have just relied on their mobiles!

Anyway, Grandma didn't want to lose contact with any of her grandkids, and so in the weekly carbon-copied typed letter to all her children who lived away she started to include a picture letter for the grandkids. Looking at them now, I see evidence of tracing and carbon being used, or she would send a post card or colouring-in page (at one time there were six of us receiving them - how did a minister's wife find time without a little bit of cheating?).

They lasted from whenever she started doing them, up until we moved to Brisbane and were able to be in personal contact again. Sometimes she would include a story (often on the back) so my Mum would write it out on the page beside where she stuck it down.

I'm very glad that my Mum had the forethought to stick them into an exercise book, so that I have almost all of them. I don't think any of my cousins still have theirs, and this becomes a good way to share the riches around. My books became more special in December 1985 when my Grandma died suddenly with bleeding in her brain.

In some ways when I read them it's almost like reading a prehistoric blog.

The chance that they wouldn't be among the things I would grab in the event of house fire?

... Approximately None!

I should perhaps mention that their house had a railway line across the back fence and whenever we visited it was exciting to watch the trains go past (I believe she actually memorised the timetable so that she could get us in the right place at the right time to see them). I'm presuming this is why Grandma would have sent a photo of a sheep train to her horse-mad grandaughter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why didn't I write a list?

Went for my annual inspection at the doctor’s yesterday, armed with my mental list of four things to ask about or for and then get out as quickly as possible.

I was pretty impressed to have got a 2pm appointment, because that’s first after lunch, and they’re usually on time again.

One of the problems of living in regional Queensland is that doctors don’t like to stay here. At least we have doctors (after all some towns can't keep one at all), but the strong pull of Brisbane keeps them moving through, so if you go to the doc once a year you’re unlikely to get the same one twice. And sometimes you simply hope that they speak English better than I can get my mouth around their name. The principal of the practice is great and has been here for years, but you need to book about three weeks in advance to see him.

I like yesterday’s doctor - he seemed a gentle and polite soul – but I am hoping that one comment was the sort of dumb mistake that I’d make, not that he actually meant to say what he said.

On my list of things to ask the doctor I had to check that the antibiotic that the oral surgeon uses is okay, given that there’s two families of antibiotics to which I have a demonstrated reaction. The third thing on my list was to get repeat scripts for my asthma medication.

Then I made the mistake of mentioning a forth thing (should have made a real, rather than mental list). I was going to ask about vaccinations for our family trip to Malaysia next year. I had made a mental note not to ask about my allergies, because they aren’t too bad at the moment and some doctors tend to get fixed ideas about things like allergies and I wanted to eliminate food possibilities to my satisfaction first before they start poking and prodding about.

But in the heat of the moment I couldn't remember vaccinations and all I could think of was itchy spots, and so mentioned them. And the doctor asked me if I have any problem with allergies, any asthma or hayfever?...

…Hello?... I’ve just asked you about my allergies to antibiotics and you’ve just printed out a script for asthma medication. I think I might have a few problems with allergies, don’t you?

I dutifully mentioned my recent problems with itchy eyes and blocked nose, hoping that it was just a typical example sentence that he always uses and that he did remember the asthma and antibiotic issues.

So now I have to have blood tests. Of course, that’s enough to turn me against pretty much any doctor.

Doctors just don’t understand the facts that :-

1) I really hate needles. Ever since I was tiny. I can’t even watch them on TV. I would never contemplate a tattoo. I hate them to the point that if we had kids I’d be conning either my Beloved or my Mum to take them in for injections because I wouldn’t be able to be calm enough to do it; and

2) I HAVE NO VEINS. Particularly not in winter. I don’t. I tell you this is true. On one occasion it took four different nurses at the pathologist to be confident to have a go. Another time they saw what they thought could be a vein and hit the nerve whereupon I passed out.

The other thing is that the doctor wants to check all the usual subjects (including glucose) so it has to be fasting, which means early morning. Early mornings are the coldest part of the day, resulting in even fewer discernable veins. And not having had breaky, I’m not keen on a jog around the block to try to get the blood pumping.

The other thing is I need to find a day I don’t have to do anything in the morning, and when I can con someone into driving me down (and more importantly BACK again). I tend to go into shock with blood tests, even to passing out - so I can’t trust myself to drive home.

And so the doctor just wants a blood test. The chance that I appreciate the “just” part of that?

… Approximately None.

They just don’t get it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You can choose your friends, but...

you can't choose your family, so they say.

And more importantly, you can't choose the occupations that your family members take up.

I love my family, and this is really good because my Mum was one of 6 children and my Dad was one of 4. This means that I have a good helping of aunts and uncles and scores of cousins littered all over the place (Actually, they don't quite make a single score - but 19 is lots still, right?).

And while a couple of these cousins I might not recognise if I bumped into them up the street one day, most of them I have a reasonable amount of contact with from time to time. And even those I might not recognise I still keep up with the big events of their lives via the family telegraph.

But it was a bit of a shock to get a phone call from one of my cousins this morning. He's a producer for our regional ABC radio station. I had the privilege of being the only town planner that he knew (or at least had the phone number to get a hold of at 8am) when he was seeking a short interview about the Southeast Queensland Regional Plan (the new version of which was released last night) and how it might impact on the local area.

And I hadn't read any of it at all.

In fact, I hadn't even watched the news to get the dodgy media version of what changes had been made.

But that's okay, because he only wanted to do an interview at 8.30, so I had plenty of time to educate myself.

Fortunately it was a hospital morning, so I wasn't available to be on the air at that time.

Unfortunately he had the technology to pre-record it.

Fortunately he also had the technology to edit out my waffle as necessary (you might have noticed that I can tend to get a tad verbose at times? Particularly when I have lost my point, or am not exactly certain of my facts).

I know that I had an audience of at least my Beloved and my parents, so what is the chance that I've launched a new career in the media?

... Approximately None!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Character Analysis by Bilby

I realise that some people stray onto this blog from overseas, so I'd better start by explaining what a bilby is.

It's an Australian native marsupial (i.e. a mammal that has a pouch for her young - in this case a backwards pouch because they burrow) that lives in desert regions of Australia and is endangered because feral cats and foxes eat them and habitat is destroyed and the nasty feral rabbits compete with them. There is actually a $30,000 fine in Queensland if you get caught keeping rabbits. This sometimes startles new immigrants from overseas or other states of Australia, so I thought I'd better throw it in to warn you. I have trouble watching Dr Harry Cooper when he visits some kid's pet bunny because the whole way through I'm thinking, "there's a bounty on that thing's pelt, mate, what on earth are you doing making it better?"

There are some areas that have been fenced, de-predatored, de-rabbited and bilbies are being reintroduced. They are cute, and therefore I agree that we should preserve them.

I had the opportunity last year to visit the breeding centre in Charleville and there was merchandise (to help to save the little critters). I couldn't help but get the cute soft magnetic one to go on our fridge. But various people who see him tend to rearrange him according to their own psychological profile.

For example, this is what my Beloved has done to him. Neat and tidy, all his feet together, sitting straight and tall. The Bilby looks comfortable and happy. Just like my husband.

On the other hand, last time my brother visited the poor bilby ended up like this:-

Yes, poor bilby was splatted onto the fridge in an uncomfortable spreadeagled postion. This is the same little brother that used to dip his tiny teddy bickies into his coffee head-first making gurgling noises, then pulling them out and making panting noises before plunging them back into his coffee.

He is now a paramedic. Do you think his job might have effected the way he sees the world?
But then again, the chances that he hasn't been like that since his earliest days?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Well, I Made it Back Alive!

I'm back from Sydney. Had a great time talking to people. Actually was involved in business decisions of the church. Worked from 9am to 9pm most days for a week (with extra reading to go through for the following day and a 7am communion service just to stretch me a bit). Am exhausted.

Wish that the university college I stayed at had windows to close in the bathroom, rather than permanently breeze-channelling aluminium louvre-y things. I wish that they had shower nozzles that allowed the shower-ee to actually get wet rather than dewy and that I didn't feel it was necessary to wash my back at which time my dewy front froze. I'm not even going to mention trying to wash my long hair under it.

I bought an umbrella to use because they were threatening rain for part of the week. I don't usually need an umbrella here, but thought I'd better get one. The one evening it rained was after a whole day indoors when the morning had been bright and clear. I'd left the umbrella sitting in my room. Murphy's Law. I think I got wetter getting back to my room than it was possible to get under the shower (even with a friend who kindly offered me half of hers)

Had good travel, except for the moment I realised (on getting out of the first plane) that I hadn't tied anything bright and identifiable to my brand-new suitcase and the best I could do for a description was "I'm fairly certain it's maroon". (The good thing was that it was big enough I could take my own pillow down - so maybe it was the right size to get). Fortunately Qantas give you a sticker with the corresponding number on it and so I didn't have to open it in the middle of Sydney Airport just to make certain I had the right one.

So that summarises my Sydney experience. Exhausting. Cold. Confused.

The chance that the last state of mind is anything out of the ordinary for me?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Percussion in my Laundry

I thought you might miss me while I'm gone, so I just thought I'd schedule a weekend post so that you don't go into withdrawal.

I'm probably sitting in a meeting hall discussing the church's constitution and hoping that the reading that I started doing a month ago has not entirely slipped out of my head while I was trying to finish the rest of it.

So I'm probably more in need of the escape than you are. But I don't have access to the net, therefore I will have to maintain my concentration on weighty subjects. So I'll post about something that I would normally be doing on a Saturday, right?

And I probably should proof-read this with care, because although I'm planning a Saturday post, I'm actually writing this on Tuesday. So my past, present and future tense could be fatally confused. So you're officially warned.

I'm currently, I mean last Tuesday I was sitting at my computer and listening for the end of the washing cycle.

The machine is one we inherited when my Nan got a new front-loading one, and I was only too glad to retire our twin-tub because you have to stand there the whole time and swap the washing from the washer to the spinner to the laundry tub, rinse it out, back to the spinner and hang it out before next load of washing is ready for its first spin. It's a high pressure job because every minute that the washing sits waiting for its turn in the spinner is another minute the operator is chained to the laundry.

Boy, I'd forgotten the pain of it all until I was just writing that all out. Gee, I'm glad that I now use an automatic.

But the sad thing is that our new second-hand automatic had a bit of an issue a few months ago, where it decided that it wouldn't drain. And although my Beloved got it going again, it's been making some interesting noises when it's spinning. And I'm going to miss it when it's gone.

But for the meantime, I'm just trying to enjoy the percussive rhythm (which is a word that should have more vowels - or actually some vowels) and wondering which dance would fit to the odd repetition of clunking, slapping and creaks that are coming from the general direction of the laundry. I'm guessing Samba.

It's probably a bit fast for a geriatric ward, but the type of noises would fit nicely.

The chance that this music would ever make it to "Dancing with the Stars"?

... Approximately None!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Escaping to the Anonymity of the City

So it is now unavoidable. The wisdom teeth are coming out. Recommended by the dentist and oral surgeon, they only have weeks left in my mouth. It turns out that it would have been better for them to come out when I was in my twenties, as they are now well fused into the jawbone and one in particular has a little kick that is going to make life ...interesting.

Not that I care, because I will be unaware of anything going on. Much better than having the couple of actual problem ones out in the chair.

I like the totally asleep part of the concept.

I was glad that the surgeon only has theatre time in two Toowoomba Hospitals, because I do a fair bit of hospital visiting here and know many of the staff by sight, if not to talk to. And if I find it hard to be a Christian before about 8.30 in the morning, how would I do recovering from a general anaesthetic and in pain?

Just as well to disappear into the anonymity of a Toowoomba Hospital where I won't know anyone.

Except that the day I selected (that fitted into my schedule with a week off to recover) is at a hospital where I know one of the administrators.

That's okay, she won't see me when I'm in pain or coming out of the anaesthetic.

But I then found out that the nurse practitioner for this particular surgeon at this particular hospital is the daughter of one of our church ladies, and I've met her on a number of occasions. I probably know her better than most of the hospital staff here.

Chance that I saw that one coming?

... Approximately None!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Linguini Jen

Well, I've been keeping something in my closet.

It's probably about time I 'fessed up.

It's just that it might change the way you think about me, and I'm not certain I can cope with that...

In April I was commissioned as a Pastor in my church, although I prefer "Linguini" as a title, because it is more fun to say. (Get it - Pasta/Pastor - oh, nevermind)

See, I told you that you'd think about me differently.

But I haven't actually changed at all, as evidenced by a moment at our Church Council meeting this afternoon.

I had visited with a family when their husband/father passed away last week. The funeral is tomorrow. When it came up during the meeting every connection to everyone else and every place any of the kids had ever worked was part of the discussion. This is part of belonging to a small country town, and making certain that everyone knew if it was the same "John Citizen" they knew, or Fred Citizen's Dad that was about to be buried.

I mean, it's terrible if you've mentally buried the wrong person's father. Particularly when some of the old names are around here in plague proportions. Next time you see a client and give them your condolences only to find out it was John Citizen, second cousin once removed, who died, not their Dad who also happens to be John Citizen, because he was named after the first one.

Of course, it's even worse if you see someone up the street who you mentally buried six months ago. You can't really greet them with, "Hey, great to see you, I thought you were dead!"

So in our meeting the ages of the kids came up. One of the other ladies said that one of the sons was the same age as one of her kids, thereby making him 41.

At which I said, "Well, he certainly doesn't look it, I would have said he wasn't much older than me."

Whereupon I remembered that I am actually 35. He's not that much older than me.

There was much hilarity at my expense, particularly given that my inclusion on the Church Council has probably dropped the average age of the group to about 55.

And my church is sending me to the national assembly in Sydney?

How much did they think that through?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Amazing Miracle Baggage

Just to let you know that I will be incommunicado for a week or so starting next Wednesday. Of course, with what I've got to do before then I may be incommunicado prior to that, but not because I have no access, just because I haven't time to sit at the computer.

Anyway, I'm flying to Sydney for a church conference as one of the Queensland representatives. What is the Queensland Standing Committee thinking sending me?

Some years ago I went to the bother of buying a beautiful wheelie port ('suitcase' for foreigners and mexicans - no, not the real mexicans, just all those who live south of the border).

It was of a standard for all the overseas travel I was dreaming of, matched my back-pack, and had the zip around extra bit for when you have more stuff going home again. I cleverly got the middle size not the portable wardrobe size, nor the tiny could-almost-count-as-cabin-luggage size. I thought I'd done well.

Until I got it home.

At that point I realised that the car trip back to home from Rockhampton had caused the port to swell and stretch to an amazing size. Good thing that the journey wasn't longer, or I'd have split the seams of my car.

Anyway, I use it sometimes, but it really is too big, so I often borrow baggage from my parents, because they have smaller wheelie ports that meet the size requirements of airlines and don't require me to pack extra things just to fill it up.

But next year Mum and Dad are taking us on a big family trip to Malaysia. The typical Mum, Dad and two kids, just adding two spouses (spice?) and a grandchild (and - my mother has pointedly informed us all - any subsequent issue arriving betwixt now and then).

This means that the option of borrowing a port from Mum and Dad is not going to work. So I decided to go this morning and buy a suitable suitcase that I could take to Sydney, and would also be one of the two required for next year.

I vacillated between the 24" and the 26" versions in my preferred model. Yes, for some strange reason they still measure baggage in inches. And litres. (I don't get it, it's a bit like going into a hardware shop and asking for a 1.2 metre length of 2" x 4") Anyway there were 10 litres difference between the two.

I decided to go with the smaller one on the basis that baggage increases in size between the shop in which one buys it and the residence of the purchaser. But I decided to take some time to think about it, rang my parents to see what size theirs were, and went back and looked at them both open again and decided that there wasn't all that much extra room, but that it would be useful to have and the price difference was negligible.

So how surprised was I when I got it home to find that it is huge? (albeit not as huge as my existing one)

... Approximately None! *sigh*

Friday, July 10, 2009

So it Appears We Are Certainly Moving...

... but I'll get back to that in a minute.

I've moved heaps of times in my life. My Dad worked for the government, and we spent time as a family in Bundaberg, Barcaldine, Brisbane - notice a theme developing, we started near the beginning of the alphabet (before moving onto the next letter) - Cloncurry - and then skipped a whole heap of letters because Mum and Dad were sick of moving and decided to settle down.

Unfortunately, my current location does not host a University at all, and certainly not one that offered Town Planning, so I had to move to Brisbane to study, and then work.

After a few years of work I desperately needed OUT of the city (and my job was headed nowhere), so I started applying for Local Government work in regional centres that would have more variety.

So I moved, all alone and knowing no-one, to the lovely coastal village of Yeppoon (near Rockhampton) and enjoyed some years there. And caught myself a man. Yes, ironically enough having had a wide variety of men around at uni and reasonably large church, I fell in love with the 1 (one, let's count it out... one) single man between 18 and 45 in the smaller church. Don't tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humour.

Eventually though a small Council didn't have anywhere for me to go, so we went off to seek greener pastures a bit closer to my family (okay, back here where my parents have stayed put ever since we first moved here as a family).

So during my life I have been moved, I have chosen to move myself, and then dragged my spouse along with me as I moved.

The thing is that I don't actually like moving.

So to get back to the point of this whole yarn - on Saturday we were doing some very necessary house cleaning and I got frustrated about the fact that I still had Kevin the Kenwood Kitchen Machine's box sitting around because I hadn't decided if I should keep it or throw it out. Original boxes are very useful if you ever move again, because the styrofoam holds them in just the right position so that they are less likely to be damaged. But you have to find a place to store a half-empty box of styrofoam for all the years until then.

In a moment of ruthlessness I cut up the box and recycled it.

And we all know that, according to the laws of the universe, the chances that we will now stay in this house forever are...

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dear Miss Manners...

My Mum doesn't have her own blog, but she certainly contributes ideas for mine from time to time.

She is particularly good value for a giggle when it has anything to do with computers.

You see, I'm very impressed with the fact she (who has almost entirely missed the computer age) can read emails and blogs and can buy stuff on eBay. That may be about all she can do, but it's pretty impressive for a woman whom I can remember getting excited about the fact that a personal computer will automatically put the whole word on the next line, without her worrying about how many characters are left and where the hyphen should go according to correct syllabilification (see, I don't even need to know the correct term for how to split up words correctly when you run out of characters in a line of type!)...

This afternoon we were talking about everything under the sun and she was telling a little story about wanting to respond to her sister's email, but that her sister had recently changed email address and Mum could no longer just click on her contact details and generate an email because Dad hadn't updated the contact list.

Apparently my Dad suggested that she could just click on the little button with the word "Reply" and it would go back to the new address from whence her sister's email message had been generated in the first place.

I thought that was entirely logical, but it was at this point that I learned a very important lesson in email etiquette.

According to the wacky world of my Mum it is just plain bad manners to send someone's email back to them with a reply message. In her view it is polite to generate a new, clean message to send back, with none of these strings of previous emailed interaction in the way contaminating it.

And her unregenerate daughter, who has been using email professionally for years, (as well as using the media for catching up with friends) laughed rather immoderately at her prejudice, followed by the request to please allow me to blog that.

How many people in cyberspace share this particular prejudice?

... I'm guessing, maybe, approximately none?

And what are the chances that we got to the point of her story about replying to my aunt's email?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Rainbow in my Granny's Garden

This morning was a little foggy. This usually means it will clear to a beautiful clear blue sky day, but not today. Today was cloudy and there must have been odd spots of actual precipitation from time to time, if things that were dry, then were no longer dry are to be believed. I never caught it happening, though.

About mid-morning I looked out to our view to see a shadowy rainbow. And I tell you for certain that one end of it must have been firmly planted in my Grandmother's front yard.

Walked around to her this afternoon, but how many pots of gold were sitting about the place?

... Approximately None! *sigh*

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Great Day

Just a few years ago a group of impressionable young women from different parts of Queensland met at a University residential college. Our friendship rapidly developed during the process of escaping the various evening entertainments offered during the ritual of O-week without being caught by the vengeful O-week committee.

We each had different courses and different dreams, and despite the ones that we've already gained, we haven't finished with the world yet.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Today four of us got together. One all the way from the UK, two from rural Queesland centres and one is still located in Brisbane. We sat and ate fish and chips and caught up on each other's lives. There might have been a bit of laughter.

This was the stimulus for some of my laughter. Nothing like supporting smokers by removing their bin! Just drop your butts on the concrete here beside the entry gate.

I wanted to leave good company to come home again...

... Approximately None

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2 Green Pellets and a Recipe

Well, last night was a two green pellets on the kitchen benches night.

This contrasts favourably with the 15 green pellet night the night my Beloved put the baits down, and the regular 15-20 black pellet nights prior to that.

The problem is that yesterday I needed to cook and didn't have time to do the full surgical scrub-down of my kitchen that is required if foodstuffs (or any implement that may possibly come into contact with foodstuffs) are to come anywhere near it. I'm not keen on my food having the slightest chance to come into contact with faeces. Particularly poisoned faeces. And although I had cleaned the bench of visible remains, I know that I can't see the germs that might have survived my quick clean.

It resulted in much careful placement of stuff so that any surface that may touch food did not come into contact with the bench. Anything that did touch the bench was discarded and a clean one sourced. It makes cooking very difficult. And mountains of washing up.

However, I did make dessert for our family Sunday lunch. And as I can never leave a recipe alone I created a winner all of my own.

Jen's Tropical Crumble

440g tin crushed pineapple
825g tin Pears (whizzed in the food processor)

Topping: (this is a generous amount of crumble)
1 cup sugar (I used white, but brown or raw would also work)
1 cup rice flour (I used MacKenzies because it's not as fine as some)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup of macadamia nuts (when whizzed in the food processor)
about 75g butter, cubed
1 teasp ground cinnamon

1. Drain the tins of fruit and whizz the pears in the food processor
2. Spread the fruit evenly over a baking dish (I used a 25cm quiche dish)
3. Whizz the macadamia nuts in the food processor
4. Mix all dried ingredients in a bowl, then add butter and whizz in the food processor (I had to do 2 lots)
5. Spread topping over the fruit.
6. Bake in a moderate (180 degrees) oven for 30 mins.

Serve with the mango icecream that I also made specifically for the purpose.

Boy am I hungry now. Must go and get into the left-overs.

How much time does this have left on the planet?

... Approximately None!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Would the mouse baits happen to be green?

I stymied my Beloved by ringing him up at work with this question yesterday.

He wasn't certain how I could have worked it out, given the fact that I've not been in any way involved in operation "Bait the Little Blighters".

I had been in the kitchen and noted that the tiny pellets the mice had left were a very pretty shade of forest green.

I think they've been eating the baits.

Now we await the massive pong of several dozen dead mice.

Looking forward to that...

... Approximately None!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rude Old People

Generally I love old people.

I've sat by the bedside of old people I don't know as they struggle through that knife-edged balance between this world and the next.

I've sat and talked with them about many things, amazed at how much better the world is because they have lived in it (even if they only feel they've influenced a tiny part of it).

I've lead funerals where their lives are celebrated by those who love them.

And I've probably known more of them than most people my age because I grew up within the church family, which is one of the few places where cross-generational activities are still encouraged (at least in small churches where I've always been involved).

The thing is that I've also heard the tisking and negative comments made by some older people about children and young people. I do stress that these were not by all older people, but certainly a representative sample of them.

I couldn't help but reflect on this as I madly vacuumed the church hall floor yesterday morning before setting up for our children's music morning. You see, after 35 years in the church I know that it is the kids who create mess, not the adults who came to yesterday's funeral.

We are incredibly careful to clean up after ourselves, even to the point of making the kids sit and have their morning tea on a tarp that can be shaken out afterwards and catch any liquid spills. And here I was trying to scrape ground-in icing off the carpet with my thumbnail and pick up cake crumbs and the occasional cakey sultana with the vacuum cleaner. (And I must stress that as a member of my church I would have been happy to vacuum the floor after the funeral yesterday, I just didn't need 20 minutes of vacuuming added to the set-up time this morning when numbers were down in the set-up team due to illness!)

We all know that it is the kids who create disturbing noise in church, but it was two ladies well into their retirement who used to talk throughout the distribution phase of communion in one of my former churches.

It also reminded me of an incident from a shopping trip where I was standing in the line a the bakery waiting my turn to buy bread rolls, when a lady of mature years pushed in front of me to buy a loaf of sliced bread that she'd picked up. I was so stunned at her behaviour that I couldn't come up with anything to say. I could even have been standing there with my mouth hanging open at her behaviour, I was that shocked. You see, I know that it's the kids that are rude and don't consider the needs of others or take their turn.

The thing is, I guess rude people get old as well as the dear, happy and polite. As a society we don't cull people with bad manners (although, maybe that's not a bad idea?!) At least the rude kids are in the process of learning manners. The chance that rude old people ever will?

... Approximately None!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It turns out that mice are opportunistic whether or not the household includes an absent cat...

We had a great time away over the weekend. Kid-crazy, noisy, busy and exhausting, but wonderful.

We got home to find that a mouse that seems to have invaded recently had had a great time too.

But this is not just an ordinary mouse, this is a daring, exploring, frontier mouse. You see he doesn't seem to have a particular home. My Beloved (who has to get to work by 7am and so is up earlier than I am) has seen him in both the lounge room and abseiling from the kitchen bench down the cupboards to the floor. We have found no evidence of where he might be living, but there is mouse poo in multiple locations from my office desk at one end of the house to the kitchen benches and our ensuite handbasin countertop at the other.

Yes, I'm clinging to the vain hope that it is mouse, singular, with bowel trouble, rather than mice, plural. But the sheer quantity of tiny pellets indicates mice, plural. Yes, Russell brought friends. Maybe he decided to relocate his whole family.

And my Beloved and I are not pleased that we have illegal immigrants. But they enjoy the food we put out for their delectation each evening.

Without setting off the trap.


They have not taken up residence in the pantry where they can be caught by running up my Beloved's trousers.

Now my Beloved has put out other food for them. I'm not certain about baits because I forsee trying in vain to track down the source of dead and decaying rodent smell. But there are times in a woman's life when we just have to allow a husband to make a decision. And make certain to have the vet's number really handy for the occasion that the LBD is the one who tracks down the source of the dead and decaying rodent smell first (the bait is somewhere that he can't get at it).

What I am hoping happens is that I will be able to leave the clean washing up to drain once more. You see, small mice look on stacked clean dishes as a small child would a super-dooper playground. This lead to my best ever clean washing up stack because I had to rewash the cooking dishes that I'd washed up before leaving for the coast, plus the things we'd taken to the coast, plus Sunday night's dishes.

Hopefully, how many mice will we have by this time next week?

... Approximately None.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back from our Weekend Away

Had a wonderful weekend. Giggles is so cute and very verbal for her age. Also really determined in anything that she wants to do. Uncle Beloved (who actually gets "Aunty Beloved") was dragged around by the hand for a while at the park to help her do things. Until she was finished with him, when she waddled off to something else. Adorable.

After the party we went back to the house to put Troy together while Giggles had a sleep (he'd had to travel in two separate cars). Once he was operational all the adults were impatient for her to wake up. One of Giggles' other aunties got to have a ride to check that all was okay, due to the fact that she is very slim and tall enough to get on without unnecessary transverse pressure.

Giggles was still a bit sleepy when she finally got to see what was under the doona, and stood transfixed for a while. She was put up onto him and the boys rocked her for a bit, but when they stopped, she got him rocking herself.

She has an amazing seat and pretty good hands for someone who is only two and has only had a couple of pony rides before. I'm seriously impressed!

Still negotiating with her parents about posting a photo of a grinning Giggles having a ride. We'll have to see.

Later, she was playing with other presents and had a toy brush. She went and brushed Troy's tail. Cute. Then she gave her plastic toy llama a ride. That was so sweet I could have eaten her all up.

All the boys (the various uncles) kept on asking my Beloved about the project and complimenting him on the job. He was very good at explaining that I'd done the carving, staining and painting. I was starting to get a bit peeved (although he had done a fantastic job of the laminating, sawing and all the joints required).

Will we be going into rocking horse production any time soon?
... I don't think so.

Chance that we are not relieved that this project is finished?

... Approximately None!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wild Thing!

Got to go and take the dog to his great-grandparents', ice my slice and pack the car.

But I thought you might be interested.

Anyone have curling tongs so that I can bend his hair down?

The chance that there won't be better photos after the weekend?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Horse for Giggles: Part 8

Nearly there.

Troy has had his second of three top coats of paint today. Tomorrow he will get the last.

He now has the rods bent and in through the rails between his feet. Bit of a hicup with the way we were planning to attach the rods to the stand, though. Worked really well (he was rocking beautifully) until the point where weight was applied to Troy, when the attachy thingies entirely gave way, leaving a bit of a divot in the top of the stand.

My Beloved believes that he has solved this problem. I hope so. I'm not certain when we'll get the opportunity to test it out prior to Saturday due to needing to let the paint dry. It's probably okay, Giggles weighs a lot less than me.

I finished the saddle today. The webbing for stirrup leathers and girth had to be singed so that it wouldn't fray. My wonderful Dad bung a nail into his soldering iron for me so that I could do this to all the holes and cut edges. My wonderful Mum had some serious press-studs that help keep the saddle's 'ears' down over where the stirrups attach.

It has a few wobbly spots up close, but it does really look like a saddle. And any equestrians please note that I have run the stirrups up the leathers properly. Attention to detail is my motto. No slack habits in this household!

So that leaves me with the saddle cloth; glueing of mane, tail and forelock; and one final coat of paint. My Beloved has to paint up the new attachy thingies, and put the four screws that hold the saddle into poor Troy's belly.

Then we have a little engraved plaque to attach. I got it done at a local jeweller's and it has Giggles' name, her birthdate, the fact that it is from Grandma, Grandad, Uncle Beloved and Aunty Jenny and that Uncle Beloved and Aunty Jenny made it for her with much love (I thought that "with love" was better than "with blood, sweat, tears, unbelievably disgusting smells and an occasional word that we wouldn't be allowed to use in front of you". It wouldn't have fit on the plaque, and would have cost a packet on a per character engraving basis).

Tomorrow. The last day for work. It is possible.

How much am I going to miss this project?

... You got that right!