Saturday, January 31, 2009

Staring at a Blank Page...

I have writer's block. I think it might be contagious (a textually transmitted disease?).

You see, until yesterday my world was as normal.

Then I realised that I had a new follower and decided (in a moment of work avoidance) to see who this new follower was.

He is an author.

A published author.

And now I can't think of anything to say...

...Or the right words to put it in.

I'm worried about spelling, grammar and other niceities.

So what chance is there that I will come up with something that 'will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb'?

... Approximately None

Oh, bother!

Bonus points to anyone who recognises the quote.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Isn't Charcoal Supposed to be a Cleaning Agent?

So why can't I get the black, charcoal-like substance off the pot in which I slightly burnt the LBD's food?

And why, when charcoal is used in filters to take nasty things out of water, does my pot still smell of burnt liver?

Both of these despite the baking soda, soaking overnight, detergent, scouring pad, Jif and more soaking overnight.

And why do my hands now smell of burnt liver, despite the fact that I used rubber gloves?

The answers I have to these (and many other) questions?

... Approximately None.

Is the LBD well trained?

Crazy Sister asked the question as to whether the LBD is well trained?

Well, yes... and no.

And did we use food rewards?

The official line is 'no - dogs shouldn't be motivated by food rewards, they should do it because they were told to by someone higher up their pack structure', - but the truth is closer to 'not very often' (the LBD enjoys treats, but attention is much more motivating for him).

Of course, the answer to the question could so easily end here, except that I can't help myself...

I did from time to time struggle with the LBD to help him realise that I was the boss (or at least boss of him). I am of course a very dutiful and submissive wife, and my husband's word is law - my Beloved's word is most often 'whatever' so it's not that hard to take it as law!

This power struggle ended up with some interesting behaviours on my part meant to illustrate my superiority - staring down at him from my impressive height with him belly-up and submissive; eating before him; taking his food or bone away mid-meal, etc. Yep, I did all the work with training, and he wouldn't always do what he was supposed to - but anything my Beloved might suggest...

Apparently that's not unusual for a male dog and female trainer. He is a boy (well, nearly a boy - poor puppy) and in the dog world that means he's the boss - although he seems to have settled into a happily hen-pecked middle age (much like his Dad).

The LBD will 'sit' (although I don't make him do it so much anymore because of the arthritis in his back legs).

He will 'drop' (i.e. lie down)

He will 'give' (i.e. let go of the ball, rope, or toy so that I can have it)
"the way my heart explodes with joy,
upon receipt of slimy toy!" - I must work on creating a poem from that impressive couplet.

He will 'leave' (i.e. not eat that disgusting squished toad on the road - ewyuck)

He will 'On your mat' if he's inside.

He will 'outside' (even if his eyes are pleading to stay in)

He will 'out of the road' or 'behind', and used to 'heel' but it's not something we use very often these days and he's out of practise.

He will mostly 'stay', for up to about 10 minutes, even if we're out of the room. I did say MOSTLY.

He also waits for his food to be put down and then to be given the magic words and bowl-tap before he starts. This is good because you can continue putting food into the bowl and not have to keep shoo-ing the dog away to get at the bowl. Or landing the next scoop on their head and having to clean up. On the other hand, I would suggest if you train Dash to do this that you also tell whoever is looking after her (when you're away for the weekend) what the magic words are! Fortunately for the LBD, the friends watching him became perturbed by the fact that he wasn't eating his food and tapped on the bowl to encourage him, with some key words along the right lines.

These are all good things, and we very rarely used food rewards in his training, as one of the girls at my work was into dog obedience, tracking and agility training and was also really against food rewards - it was easier just to use lots of positive attention with the LBD rather than lie to her over the smoko table. Plus the LBD is really into positive attention... or any attention, in fact.

There are a few things that we've never really established.

His interpretation of 'come' is more along the lines of "If you've got nothing better to do, and you run into no interesting scents en route, would you care to move in this general direction? ...Whenever you're ready."

The two exceptions that prove the rule were:
1. When we were doing 'Brigadoon' for Choral Society and my Beloved was practising his lines as Mr Ritchie and came out with "Come, Harry, and help your father!" Which of course meant that the LBD arrived post haste into the lounge room where he wasn't supposed to be. We couldn't very well get mad at him about that. (Oops, I think I've just given away a real name, oh well!)

And 2. my Mum always bids her guests to 'please enter' if the LBD is around, because he interprets 'Come in' as being for his benefit and will squeeze in past any human who happens to be in the way.

He is also supposed to 'stand/stay' - and doesn't. 'Drop/stay' - but won't stay dropped, and I've worked with him ever since we had him to 'sit' when we come to cross a road (he has no road sense at all) and it has never really taken. Now I make him stand when we come to cross a road, and that's not really working either.

He's not really into 'fetch'. Mainly because a ball or stick is not interesting unless someone else wants it and is even more uninteresting as soon as it stops moving.

We've never managed a clean 'come/drop/stay' combination, which is a good emergency skill if there's ever a reason that I urgently need him to drop and stay exactly where he is. His version of 'drop' is always more of a 'come over to me and drop'.

When we used to go to obedience classes (for a couple of months when he was about 8 months old) he'd do this remarkable 'heel' thing where I'd turn around 180 degrees and he'd go around me the opposite way to end up 'heeling' on the left side again. He'd also 'heel' at multiple paces, from a slow march to jogging (even off lead).

The good thing about obedience classes was for me learning to train the dog. The actual training of the dog occurred at home each day. I guess we've established the commands that we needed for our lifestyle, and the others have been let slide. He's hardly any work at all now, and is well behaved mostly, unless he's overexcited. I'd never let him off leash at a beach, for example. The only thing is that I do really wish we'd established 'come' earlier, but the chances of teaching an old dog a new trick?

... Approximately None

(or at least not without lots and lots of work)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We have a Winner!

You should know by now that this is not the sort of blog where you can win things. So you shouldn't be so excited about coming to read today's post. Really.

When you were little did you go and harvest weeds from the garden, chop them up and mix in dirt or water and pretend to be cooking? Make a big mess of yuckiness and make your Mum pretend to eat it? Or try to trick your little brother into actually eating it?

No, I never did that last one, either.

Our Little Black Dog has been off his food for a bit. He's never been hugely fascinated by food - if there is anything else going on that is interesting his food will be left until later. And every now and again he just doesn't seem to want his food. He will leave it all day and only when he's starving will he come back and finish off what the magpies have left.

He's been going through this phase for a while now, and I've been a little concerned. I've tried different varieties of tinned food, but he's not interested. Yesterday I bought some ingredients to make up a doggy-themed goulash (obviously without the onion that is poison to pooches).

I got out my biggest pot and heated some oil, put on some rice to cook, 2 kilos of mince to brown and chopped up a couple of cups worth of vegetables to go in it with a little water. Then, the secret ingredient. I cut up some lamb's fry (liver) and added it to the mix. I added the cooked rice, mixed it all in and left it to stew for a bit. I looked at it and was reminded of those mud pies we used to make as kids.

There was no way I was going to sample this little concoction.

Unfortunately I came back to my desk to do some work and forgot I'd left it on the stove. Ran to rescue it when I suddenly remembered and there was a little burnt on the bottom, and the smell of burnt liver was pretty putrid.

There was no way I was going to sample this little concoction.

By the way, there is in fact no way to get rid of the smell of burnt liver from your kitchen.

You simply have to wait until your nose gets used to it.

Anyway, when it had cooled I spooned a single serve into separate bags and added a couple of raw chicken necks and bung them into the freezer. I had just enough room for them around the tubs and tubs of frozen mango.

The test was this morning at breakfast time. I dumped the cup of dry food into the bottom of the LBD's bowl. Then added one of my magic packets.

I carried the food down and gave it to the LBD. He sniffed for a moment, then dug into it. Usually he will lift out and eat the chicken necks first, but no, he was into the real food. I walked away and he didn't follow - too busy chewing loudly at his breakfast (I really must teach him to chew with his mouth closed, it's disgusting).

I went down half and hour later to hang out some washing and not only was the food all gone, but he went back and hopefully licked at the empty bowl.

We have a winner!

What's the chance that he will tire of home cooked meals before I tire of making them?

... Approximately None!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Variation on an Australian Classic...

I wasn't going to do a specific Australia Day post. For one thing, it almost seems unAustralian to make a big thing out of ourselves. Almost like skiting. Really, we should pack up a picnic, go somewhere remote, and enjoy being eaten alive by insects for the day because I forgot the Aeroguard.

However, it seemed more important to clean out everything in the pantry, see what Russel has eaten, and give him fewer hidey-holes. Maybe we could then catch and release him (which would almost be like going fishing, which is a way many people spend the Aussie Day long weekend). Or at least there would be fewer food alternatives and this may make the bait more attractive.

So we found an old corflute public notification sign to put across the door of the pantry to block Russel's escape, and my Beloved passed stuff out to me, and I in turn placed it on any flat space that I could find. It's amazing how much stuff fits into a 1200 millimetre (4 foot) square pantry. And how much mess it creates in the kitchen and dining room.

After most of the stuff was out, we could see Russel running around the floor, looking for a better hiding place. There wasn't one. He was quite cute - a little brown critter with big dark eyes and a tiny twitching nose.
Russel - Faster than a speeding... digital camera. (You can see his tail to the right of the photo)

My Beloved got an ice cream container and was trying to scoop Russel up and put the lid on. He wasn't quick enough with the lid.

Then the little mouse found an excellent hiding place.

It was nice, and dark, and enclosed.

My Beloved wasn't too certain about having a mouse running up the inside of his work trousers, and was madly trying to shake Russel out; but because Russel was running up the trousers, not his leg (and my Beloved has slender, elegant racehorse legs that don't fill up the aforementioned trousers) my Beloved wasn't exactly certain where Russel was at any given time.

My man is brave. He was heard to say at one point, "I hope he doesn't bite," as he tried to shake the pesky rodent down, but in the end Russel's climb was terminated by the fact that my Beloved always wears a belt. There was no where else to go. My Beloved then realised that he'd accidently managed to capture the little mouse (albeit in a slightly unorthodox fashion), clapped a hand over his right buttock, moved the blockade with his free hand and headed outside to work on the 'release' part of proceedings.

I probably would have released Russel a little further away from our house, but for some reason my Beloved wasn't keen on being out in public view during this stage of operations (perhaps some of Russel's furtive behaviour had rubbed off on him). From our back verandah I saw Russel streak away to find somewhere to hide.

Now I just have to go and clean out all the shelves in the pantry, check all the grocery items for signs of mouse, and put them back. At least I know that the pantry needed some rearranging anyway and so will take this opportunity to do so.

And I know someone is going to comment, "How is that story in anyway related to the title?"

Well, I couldn't help but think that many people chose to go to the beach for Australia Day. Some men wear Budgie Smugglers (i.e. Speedos). My Beloved just chose to wear Mouse Smugglers instead.

What's the chance that this new fashion will take on for Australia Day?

... Approximately None!

Although maybe next year Russel might like to go to the beach.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I didn't mean to do it...

Throughout history brutal dictators have realised and used the de-personification of their enemies to make it easier for the general population to do nasty things to them. Think of Hitler, who considered the Jews vermin.

Now for a wild jump in subject that is going to leave you reeling. You'll get it in a moment, I promise.

It's my Mum's Birthday today - Happy Birthday, Mum. (You can't say that I didn't warn you that you would get whiplash from the change of subject!) She is not in anyway related to Hitler, nor brutal dictators. My parents were strict, but not that bad.

I was up early because I wanted to make a cake before church, so that it could cool while we were at church, so that I could ice it after church but before Mum and Dad, Grandma, Nan and Grandad all arrived for lunch. Good plan. Nice thing to do for the woman who has done so much for me.

We had a big day yesterday - madly cleaning in the morning, followed by a trip to catch up with some of my Beloved's family who were visiting family friends in Toowoomba. We did get back reasonably early, but it was still a bit of an uncomfortably early start this morning.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not really a morning person. I mean it. My family could sign Statutory Declarations regarding my not being a morning person. I only have minimal function until after about 7.30am - to the point that the couple of times Queensland has trialled daylight saving I've been a burnt out wreck by about three weeks into the summer. I just can't do the extra hour early. Every morning. For months. Particularly not in the early and late summer when the sun isn't up yet. Please Mrs Bligh, don't make me do it!

However, this morning I was up by 6.30. I was vertical. I won't say I was awake, but I was able to focus on the task to hand reasonably well, because I was baking from a recipe I use all the time and only ever goes wrong when I'm baking for a church cake stall.

I went into the pantry to get the bits that I needed and I heard scurrying noises from the highest shelf. The rustling sound of mouse on plastic bag. The following thought popped into my poor half-asleep brain, "Russel would be a good name for a mouse", and although I tried immediately and desperately to rescind the thought it has stuck. Russel it is. Mouse personified in a way that is going to make getting rid of him very difficult.

What is the chance that I'm going to be able to have anything to do with setting and baiting the trap?

... Approximately None.

And thanks Dee for the heads up on cage traps. I think I'll be down at Bunnings first thing!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Patter of Little Feet

There seem to be many blogs that comment on life as a parent, and it was wonderful to hear Givinya's news about the expected arrival of Thingamababy later this year.

It's interesting that I had a dream last week that I'd posted about being pregnant before telling my Mum. The thing that perturbed me most was not that I was pregnant, nor that I hadn't told my Mum before blogging about it, but that I used the term "expecting". I can't actually see any situation where I would use that word in conversation or writing.

Now I've probably got everyone very excited by the title of this post. My Mum is probably disgusted that I'd post on such a topic without talking to her first. So I'd just like to clarify that I am not in anyway expectant, pregnant, up the duff, with a bun in the oven, neither have I sprained my ankle, nor am I increasing.

We have a mouse. Living in the pantry. My Beloved did have him by the tail one day, but couldn't get a good grip and the little blighter disappeared into the back of the shelf.

I don't want to kill him necessarily, but I do want him gone.

I haven't heard any scurrying in the last couple of days, but the trap hasn't been used. I hope he hasn't died somewhere up the back. What's the chance that I'm looking forward to cleaning out the pantry and putting all the food into mouse-proof containers?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sulphur-Crested Alarm Clock

Our house is in a great location where there are a number of big eucalypts on other blocks which house a remarkable variation of bird life, from galahs and other parrots through magpies and noisy minors to the odd crow. There's also a migratory drongo who often nests in what I describe as my "kitchen tree" - the beautiful smooth, snowy-barked gum tree that I can see from the kitchen sink.

In the pre-dawn and at dusk things can get a little noisy as the birds come to life with all their different calls, skimming across the space outside our back windows and playing in the trees. It's lunch-time currently, but being an overcast day the birds are enjoying the cool - I can recognise about 5 different bird calls sitting here at my desk - Magpie, crow, peewee, a flock of parrots, and the one that's around alot, but I don't know what bird actually makes that noise.

This morning I was woken from a deep, untroubled sleep by the raucous call of what I presumed to be a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. I didn't get up to check (the only reason I would have got up would have been to wring its scrawny neck), but am reasonably certain that's what it was because we do have a pair of them who seem to visit from time to time. Actually, I can hear him now, but he's not as close as he was this morning. I'm absolutely certain that given the decibel level of the calling this morning that he was in my kitchen tree if not on the back verandah (i.e. just outside the bedroom window).

For those who aren't familiar with the call of the Cockatoo, let me first explain that they are a parrot. A large one. They screech with a cracked and raspy voice. How many worse noises are there to wake up to?

... Approximately None!

Monday, January 19, 2009

One Lousy Bucket of Mangoes

Okay, so it was the bucket on a tractor, so there wasn't anything lousy about it.

Drove for about 4.5 hours on Friday afternoon.

Started reasonably early and got to Yeppoon Saturday just before midday. Said G'day to a few friends in the few spare hours we had, then went out to pick in the late afternoon. Picked mainly green-ish ones so that they wouldn't be over-ripe too soon.

Headed back to get as far as we could Saturday night, then finished the trip Sunday.

It was a very long way, but we have 130 mangoes ripening in the garage. They would average a kilo each (they are not small). The smell in the car was heavenly all the way home (apologies to those who can't stand the smell, you notice that I haven't tried to describe the rich fruity tang of the tropics - just so that I don't put you off your food. Aren't I kind?).

I guess the trip really comes under the category of "crazy things you can do when you are young and not tied down by kids". But we have MANGO!!

The chances that I'll be sick of the sight of them by the time they're all ripe, cut up and in the freezer?


Friday, January 16, 2009

In Search of Mangoes

I love mangoes.

They don't grow here.

I used to live where people would offer them to me free, just to get rid of them.

So I won't pay $4.00 each for a mango.

My Beloved has been offered all the mangoes he can pick.

For free.

In Yeppoon.

That's a whole day's worth of driving from here.

That's why I'm not blogging for the next few days.

How many mangoes am I going to share with you, unless you come and help me peel and freeze them early next week?

... He, he, he.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

His Achy, Breaky Heart

I broke my LBD's heart one morning this week.

I had to go out on a site visit for work. The site is in the back of beyond in very rough country. Not knowing what situation I'd find myself in I made certain that I was wearing my walking boots, just on the off-chance that I had to scramble up granite outcrops or walk any paths.

As I arrived through the door to the garage, the LBD was so excited to see me in walking boots, hat in hand.

Then I shut him outside, got into the car and left.

Remarkably, how much resentment did he hold this afternoon when I returned?

...Approximately None

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Advice to an About-to-be-Married Friend

I was cleaning up some old files on my computer and came across a document that I'd written to be included in a scrapbook for a friend's hens party. Among other things like recipes, and what our friendship had meant to me, we were requested to give our best tips for a happy marriage. I take it that I didn't want to do the usual sugarly stuff that everyone else would do - I found this gem, just as true today as when I first penned it:-

"Look, just ignore the state of the hand basin. It’s never going to get any better. Those days of it staying clean-looking between cleaning days are gone. Get over it. There is something about shaving that requires water to be spread over as great a part of the hand basin, mirror, walls and floors as possible. They get taught this by their fathers, I’m certain.

Don’t get me started on the toilet floor."

My Beloved, I do love you and appreciate how much work you do around the house mowing and whipper-snippering, washing up, vacuuming, washing windows, painting and all those odd jobs. It's just a reflection of the number of reasons why I love cleaning the bathroom -

... Approximately None.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I might need to go to the Optometrist

On the weekend I was cooking.

It's not that unusual.

I keep sugar and flour and things in what many people would consider cereal containers. You know tall, rectangular clear plastic containers where you can either take the whole lid off, or open a small section to pour or spoon out of it. They are big enough to take the whole 2kg bag of whatever it is, and being rectangular are more efficient in their need for shelf space.

So I flipped up the lid on the sugar container to spoon some into my bowl with one hand, then moved the container closer to the bowl and started to spoon. My spoon hit plastic and so I tried again. Then I realised that the hole was the other side of the upright lid. And I didn't see it.

Does it worry you that I drive?

Chance that I don't need new glasses?

... Approximately None.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Birthday!

My friend Givinya turns positively ancient today.

Okay, so she's not quite as ancient as me, but, for the next couple of months at least, she is closer to my age! He, he, he.

Happy Birthday Givinya.

And if Swift Jan hadn't alerted me to the fact that today was the 12th the chance that I would have remembered to do this?

... Approximately None.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Now I'm confusing all my friends who keep up with Operation Skinny Cow, because I posted under the same title over there this morning. So they're all thinking that I must have thought the post was interesting enough to be posted on this site as well - and it wasn't. They are possibly very confused.

Same title, different reason. Over there it was just that I'm back doing my exercise again and it is having a result in getting rid of the Christmas/New Year weight blow-out. Here it is that I've been doing better with my exercise and am feeling stronger and more fit so I decided to get my bike out.

In grade 9 I was given a new bike for a combined Christmas and Birthday present. No, my birthday isn't actually anywhere near Christmas, it's just that bikes aren't cheap and my parents are. (I really don't mean that, because it's not true - it just sounded funny to put it that way, and I never let the truth get in the way of a good story or turn of phrase)

Anyway it was a very big deal because it was a new and shiny 10 speed ladies' (i.e. grown up) road bike, and it was blue (my favourite colour at the time).

At the time I was riding my bike about 5km to school, then back again. It was great to have a 10 speed, not only because they were very fashionable, but because our house was over the ridgeline from town and I had to get up Kamikaze Hill every morning.

I call it Kamikaze Hill, but perhaps I should say that should have been named Heart Attack Hill on the way to school and Kamikaze Hill on the way home. And despite being young, slender and reasonably fit I would take a route that divided Kamikaze Hill in two sections with a flat bit in the middle. One way it was to have a well deserved break, and the other was to make certain I didn't do a spectacular stack at the intersection at the bottom if my breaks failed.

It's now 17 years since I finished high school and in one of those strange twists of fate I now live back in the same town and our street is located half-way up that same Kamikaze Hill. I still have the same bike, but it is now no longer shiny nor fashionable (I need to get me a mountain bike with 3,500 gears - not that I ever used all 10 of the ones I currently have).

Oh, and I've hardly ridden it for 17 years.

Last time I tried to ride my bike anywhere I ended up gasping for breath, every muscle in my legs and chest screaming, my tongue sore, feeling light-headed and on the verge of a little attack of tachycardia. I wasn't much use for the thing I'd ridden my bike to, because physically I was all done in, and my mind was preoccupied with the fact that I had to get home again.

But I've been rowing for between 30 and 45 minutes most days this week, so my physical fitness might be able to cope with the riding my bike into town thing.

My Beloved took my bike to pump up the tyres this morning, and I washed the cockroach droppings out of my bike helmet. So off I go re-tracing my juvenile route to town. I am not stupid. I rode to the end of my street, then walked up Kamikaze Hill. I don't need the coronary this week. It's all downhill to town from there, so the problem always was going to be the long, slow push back up to the top of Kamikaze Hill, then the hurtling down with a quick left turn into our street.

On the way down I noticed that my left brake didn't really seem to be able to move very much, so when I got there I did a quick check to see if it was working. It would possibly have been a good idea to do that before setting off.

The actual brake mechanism didn't seem to be working the 'grabbers', so I squeezed harder and the cable snapped. Useful. Particularly given that that is the back brake, that is the one you use most going down steep hills because braking hard on the front one is liable to send you over the handlebars. Seems like too many trips down Kamikaze Hill in my rash youth has worn it out.

So I did what I had to do and started for home, very aware of the fact that I had to get safely down Kamikaze Hill with no back brakes.

My muscles were coping with the first part, which is fairly flat, then I had to stop at the lights at the highway which was a problem from two perspectives.

Firstly, the hill starts to kick in on the other side of the highway. It is really good to have some momentum before getting to the place where the hill starts to kick in.

Secondly, when I was at school the lights were timed. So a cyclist (if I dare to call myself a cyclist) would get a turn. The Department of Main Roads in their wisdom have since changed them to stop the through traffic when activated by a car actually being at the side roads. I was by no means certain if a bike is heavy enough or metallic enough (or close enough to the middle of the lane) to trip the switch. It wasn't a hassle on the way down because there were cars waiting when I got there. Now there was not a car in sight.

Just as I was wondering if I should cross the left-turn only lane and mount the footpath to cross the road as a pedestrian, I realised that there was a car coming up my block, so I waited. The light went green before the car got to the intersection, so I presume that I was heavy enough or metallic enough and in the right part of the lane to trigger it. I need to ask my Dad if it is possible for a cyclist to trigger the lights, or if my cunning plan to lose weight might accidentally leave me stranded on the wrong side of the highway. Dads know things - particularly when they used to work for Main Roads!

Then I must thank the draughties at Main Roads for putting a camber on the highway that allowed me to get a bit of momentum before the hill. Thanks, Dad.

I made it to the ridge with only changing gears once! I was impressed, not that I could have changed down another gear if I'd wanted to because that would have meant that I would have had to pedal faster, and I'm not certain that I could have pedalled any faster. Also the changing gears was a very tentative operation because my chain used to come off during one particular change, and after 17 years I can't remember which one it was. The chain didn't come off, so I think 5th to 4th is fine, although very noisy.

Then I did a cautious, steadily-braking coast down Kamikaze Hill and a neat turn into our street. Then a very cautious trip down our even-steeper driveway.

I made it home alive on my first bike ride since striving for fitness! I neither had to stop for screaming muscles nor did I stack it turning off Kamikaze Hill. Yippee!!!

Chance that I'll set off again before getting someone to replace the brake cable?

... Approximately None. (Does that sound like a really good excuse?)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

School Holidays - Contributing to the Economy

I think Mr Rudd got it wrong. Here he is, handing out thousands of dollars to pensioners and people with children in an effort to stimulate the economy. Stimulating the economy is probably not a bad idea, as I have no desire to live through a depression, however I hope anyone who was actually a recipient of any of this money has enjoyed it, because I'm certain that some of our taxes have been used to contribute to the personal bank balances of people who earn more than us (but that's a totally different post for another day).

Where I think he went wrong was that there are other ways to stimulate the economy which would require no extra funds from the government. That's right. None.

All he has to do is declare a few more weeks of school holidays in the year.

Any of my readers who happen to be of school age are cheering (if I have any - drop me a line in the comments if you are actually at school).

Now I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. The reason I've thought of this is that my Beloved has a business where they make security screens and reglaze broken windows. They always get heaps of extra work during the school holidays as a result of vandalism and break-ins. It occurred to me that there would be more money generated by security firms, child care, and recreational activities as well.

So there you have it. A quick study to isolate the most destructive age groups, and they get a few extra weeks off school to do their bit for the economy.

How impressed do you think the government would be with this suggestion?

... Approximately Not At All.

Disclaimer: This post is not in any way intended to show support for destructive behaviour by any minors who may happen to read my blog. Don't do it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Be Still and Know that I am Dog

Yep, I'm expecting that lightning bolt any minute.

One day I am going to write a book on Canine Theology. It will be all the lessons about God that I've learnt from my Little Black Dog. As distinct from the things the LBD does where I'm fairly certain that there is no lesson about God. Like eating manure.

So often my time with the LBD is doing stuff. We go for a walk. I feed him. I bath him. He sits in the back corner of my office and sleeps as I work. We used to play in the backyard, but tug of war and balls are out due to possibility of leg injury these days.

Today I went down to give him his breakfast and he wasn't interested, he followed me back to the steps. So I sat down on the second step and gave him a cuddle and patted him and we just hung out together for 10 minutes or so. He looked at me and I ran my fingers through his full, thick coat. I enjoyed it. He enjoyed it. Neither of us was doing anything 'constructive'.

So often my Christian walk is like that. I do things with and for God. I get busy. I should spend more time just hanging out with Him. He would enjoy it. I would enjoy it. Despite the fact that neither of us would be doing anything 'constructive'.

The odd thing was that during my 'official' time out for prayer this morning my stillness seemed to be swamped by my mind remembering all the things I have to do today (and for that matter this week and month). I wonder if the LBD is aware of being used as an angel (the original Greek means messenger) from God?

What are the chances that 'constructive' things will recede in importance to make way for simply hanging out unless I actually try to make it happen?

... Approximately None.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Playful Professional

I'm working. Honestly.

I was just reviewing a section of a report I'm currently writing, and found this accidentally alliterative gem in my heading (did you know that there is no synonym for 'gem' that starts with 'a' ? Is it scarier that I actually checked, or that I actually wrote that down to be published? *sigh*) -

"Rebuttal of Reasons for Refusal as Recommended by Officers"

What a pity that I didn't call the officers "Representatives". Lost opportunity.

It's a good job I remembered the computer's Thesaurus because the only alternative I could think of starting with 'r' was neither nice, nor politically correct (although it would have expressed my current frustration precisely).

Chances that the heading is NOT going to be severely reworked?

... Approximately None, and I'd better get back to it.

Getting a Grip

Well, I've been losing a little weight, despite putting some of it back on over the Christmas/New Year holiday season. I'm back on the wagon this week, eating better choices of food (and less of whatever it is) and rowing, and walking. I'm feeling good again, having experienced feeling heavy, bulky and lethargic last week. Rowing does that for my body, and walking does that for my mind.

The particular thing I've noticed today is that when I'm standing up, it is getting harder and harder to get a grip on my 'spare tyre' (at the front - diagonally at the sides is another matter entirely, but my front has traditionally been more solid). Sitting down I can still get a good handful suitable for a mountain bike, but standing up it's getting closer to a road bike if I slouch a bit. Standing straight it's getting harder to get a good grip at all. Don't get me wrong, there is still visible bulk there, but it hasn't got enough softness or depth to allow me to actually grab onto it firmly.

This makes me happy. It was actually my spare tyre that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back and spurred me on to lose weight. When I started I would have been happy to keep my tummy if only I didn't have the spare tyre making rolls of Jen all the way down me. I now know that I want to get rid of the tummy too (which is okay, because it is going as well).

It makes me happy particularly considering my Christmas excesses and the fact that before Christmas my spare tyre was closer to that required for a wheelbarrow than a mountain bike, and back when I started I may as well have had a motor bike tyre under my shirt (a small motorbike, but a motorbike nonetheless).

How much 'spare tyre' do I want to end up with?

... Approximately None.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Burr under my saddle

I got dressed after my shower this morning before I went down to the church for prayer breakfast. I'm usually running late as I'm not really a morning person, but I was doing okay today, maybe even a little ahead of time.

As I bent over to pick up my 3/4 pants I noticed something scratchy in my undies. A burr. Admittedly small, but spikey.

It's interesting that at that moment my mind did one of those replay a specific moment things that they sometimes use on television dramas. The specific moment was of me picking up that particular pair of undies off the ground because I dropped them when I was hanging the washing last week.

I made a mental note that I should check clothing a little more carefully if I drop something as I'm hanging out the washing.

After prayer breakfast I was hanging out more washing and I dropped a pair of undies. They belong to my husband. Chances that I checked them carefully?

... he, he, he.

Friday, January 2, 2009

So My Computer is Not a Morning Person Either

Just so that you know, I'm not blogging. I'm downloading my emails for the day before I get stuck into the housework that didn't get done before Christmas or holidays. The list is so long that I don't think I've got a chance. So I wouldn't be blogging. Too much to do.

While I was waiting for the computer to download the 10 emails (8 of which my computer put straight into the junkmail folder) I couldn't help reflecting that my computer is always so grindingly slow when I first turn it on. This usually results in me flicking the on switch when I get up to row, so that it has warmed up and updated the anti-virus software before I actually need to do anything.

There is nothing worse than a client ringing first thing in the morning and you can't answer the question because your computer is in that early morning grogginess. Particularly when I'm in my early morning grogginess. There's something about the both of us being in morning fog that just doesn't work.

And the chances that it's just my early morning operation of the computer that slows it down?

... Approximately None, of course. Computers are not inanimate objects - they plot against us!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Mum, Dad, my Beloved and I have just had a few days away at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. This was after Christmas and the big family gathering on Saturday. Sunday we headed off in our car to catch up with a friend of mine who is by now back in her Yorkshire winter then to meet Mum & Dad at our motel.

Had a great time. Tried to be reasonably good. Rowed on Sunday morning before we went, walked miles on Monday, ate my head off on Tuesday and haven't stopped yet. My will power seems to have evaporated with the final days of 2008. Or it might have been the gelati/yoghurt/cheese & icecream that they make in the area. Or the all-you-can-eat buffet on Tuesday night.

I might need a wake-up call on Saturday morning to re-establish my momentum. I was doing so well through Christmas, but now I'm eating everything in sight and REALLY cranky at those who left behind food after our Saturday family get-together (you KNOW who you are!) because if they hadn't done that my "I feel like nibbling on something, but there's nothing in the house" plan would be working.

But we caught up with my brother and his family and her family. Spent heaps of time looking through craft shops and art galleries and bushwalking and looking at views.

Wishing everyone all the best for this brand new year.

Chance that I haven't put on weight in the last four days?

... Approximately None.