Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't Worry, I still exist

I've just realised that I haven't posted anything for a while, compared to my usual every couple of days. Nothing is particularly wrong this end (at least, for me) - I've just had a full schedule and nothing interesting has been happening. Just so you know.

The chance that I can make something funny happen just because I need blog fodder?

... Approximately None

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cheeky Shower Art

I'm not a huge fan of housework, but I like my house reasonably clean and tidy. It's amazing how much clutter and grot can acculate around two adults and a Little Black Dog. I like to think that the Little Black Dog is responsible for most of it.

In fact I'm glad some days that we are as yet childless. I think that would just put it over the edge into chaos, or as my friend Givinya would call it "Ransack Chic".

There are, however, times when I enjoy housework. When there is sufficient time to do the tasks required I can enjoy allowing my mind to wander the universe as I reduce mess back into order. And I like the sense of accomplishment. And the nice, clean house.

But (and with housework there is always a but) there are a few jobs which I despise.

Cleaning the shower is one of them.

There is something about pulling soggy hair balls out of the plug hole which disgusts me. There is the sheer surface area to be cleaned. There is the fact that the worst of the mess always seems to happen on or near the floor (which is a very long way down). There is the fact that soap scum takes a little encouragement to come off. There is the fact that it only looks clean until the next time it is used, or (in the case of the shower near our guest room) until the dust settles on the floor.

I'm on a bit of a cleanliness kick at the moment. I decided that if I wipe the shower over after I use it in the morning (my Beloved is always first through the shower) it would stay clean. Or at least not need so much work at the end of the week, err... fortnight... okay, month.

So, after drying off, I pick up the cleaning cloth and wipe everything over before I get out of the cubicle. I'm very glad that the en-suite is a private place, because I'm not certain that me, starkers, bending over to wipe the floor is a picture that anyone needs to see. Including me.

I've been enjoying the glistening glass and chrome and the shiny whiteness...

...until I realised that the shower cubicle is not as big as I obviously had thought.

Perfectly imprinted on the gleaming purity of the clear glass shower screen were two little (?) circles. Just below hip height. Hmmm.

What are the chances I took a photo as evidence?

... Approximately None!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Little Black Dog and Cosmic Balance

It amazes me that our Little Black Dog has so many pet hates. A dog whose heart beats with so much love that he has to release it through the beat of his tail. Whose eyes shine adoringly at anyone that he adopts into his pack.

And yet he can hate with everything in him.

I had a letter to post and decided to walk up the hill to the postbox (am I not dedicated to my Skinny Cow objectives?). I took the LBD with me.

The postie (for those visiting from overseas - the postman, or alternatively "Area Manager - Residential Mail Distribution") came by on his motorbike and a little later I happened to be just about home when he recognised me. The LBD was ready for battle. His old arch enemy the postie was about to attack me by handing me the mail.

You might not realise how difficult it is to reach one hand out for the mail and control a frenzied dog at the same time. I'm glad the LBD is not any bigger than he is.

It has caused me to create a list of the LBD's pet hates:

  • Rattling trailers or utes;
  • Semi-trailers;
  • Earth moving equipment;
  • Vacuum cleaners;
  • Mowers and whipper-snippers;
  • Motorbikes;
  • Shovels and brooms;
  • Cats;
  • Dogs larger than him (particularly German Shepherds. Why would he want to take on a German Shepherd? In any confrontation, my money would not be on the LBD);
  • Being washed (he succumbs with the most long-suffering little face and body language);
  • Having his rear end and tail brushed;
  • Me going anywhere without him (particularly if I'm on foot);
  • The door bell.

It's almost like there is some cosmic balance he has to achieve between his loves and hates. But then, how much would the hate outbalance the love?

... Approximately None.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well, I missed it...

I had quite been looking forward to reaching my 100th post. Excited even.

Then I hit a busy week, and there were bushfires down south, and floods up north, and the novelty of hitting my first century was entirely forgotten.

So welcome to my 102nd post. Triple figures. Fancy this blogging phase lasting this long!

To celebrate I'm going to describe one of my more embarrassing moments. Now, technically this would be much more fun if all of you described one of your embarrassing moments - that would seem like more of a celebration from where I'm standing. But I can't make you do that, and it would be quite unfair of me to describe my friends' embarrassing moments without their consent (yes, Benita, the massage table story is safe for a little while longer).

So here it is:-

My Beloved and I used to be part of the local Choral Society when we lived up north. Each year there would be a musical in the middle of the year followed by a concert in November that raised money for a local charity.

A few years back it was a big anniversary for Mr Rogers (of Rogers and Hammerstein/ Rogers and Hart fame) so the concert was excerpts from various things he had written. So far, so good. There's plenty to choose from: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and many, many others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

I was selected to play a role in an excerpt from Carousel. For anyone who knows Carousel, it was the only amusing scene in it, where the young girl is skilfully manipulated to allow the villain of the piece to embrace her as he apparently teaches her the art of self-defence. The bloke playing the villain had to lift me up in a fireman's lift, in which compromising situation my 'fiancee' was to find me and then repudiate me as I bawled loudly (but in tune) for the whole of the duet by the two men.

There were a few issues with the selection. For example, my broad American accent was enthusiastic, but possibly not quite authentic.

Then there was the fireman's lift.

Firstly, the villain was played by a man who was having trouble with one shoulder at the time. We had to be a bit careful.

Secondly, I'd been married for about 18 months and had started to gain a little weight.

Thirdly, one night at rehearsal I was wearing my work uniform which had a long, lined skirt. Unfortunately the skirt fabric stuck to the villain's shirt and the lining stuck to me and then the fabric and the lining decided to slide all over the place. No one was seriously injured, but it did give some idea of the precarious nature of what we were attempting.

But we eventually had it down pat. For the dress rehearsal I donned a very attractive gingham number, long skirt and button up top that I believe had been made for a production of Oklahoma some years previously. I had gloves, ankle boots, pretty ribbons in my hair and the whole bit.

But because costumes are often made for people to be able to change quickly, the buttons were actually fake and it was fastened down the front with press studs. Which were entirely adequate for the task, unless you were to subject them to extraordinary shear pressure. Like the weight of my body as I was lifted up onto a man's shoulders.

I heard/felt them go as I went up, but there was not much I could do about it (dress rehearsal stops for no-one). As we continued to play on I tried surreptitiously to do up the clips, but I couldn't do it while wearing gloves, so had no option but to cross my arms over my blouse, pretend to be crying into my hankie, and hope that I nothing that should be covered was too obvious.

The pianist, prompter and musical director were howling with laughter at my predicament. The cast was entirely professional.

Until we got to the end of the scene and went onto the next song on the programme - "June is busting out all over".

Chances that I didn't wear another blouse under my costume top for the performance?

... Approximately None.

Oh, and was it coincidence that Choral Society started doing two full dress rehearsals not long after this?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Every. One.

As I write the death toll for the Victorian Bushfires stands at 181. It seems that it's still expected to rise significantly, even up to another 100. Unthinkable.

And although I think it right that the damage and destruction be measured in precious lives lost, rather than how many dollars of damage are caused it is a horrendously large number. Even though people have lost homes, livelihoods and items of sentimental meaning for them it's not the 'face value' of them that matters so much, it's the meaning beyond the dollars.

I'm certain that for most of us death in a fire must come close to the top of the list of worst possible way to go. And the number of deaths is staggering.

The tales of personal loss are staggering.

And that's where it sticks for me. Every one of those lives had meaning. Every one leaves behind family or friends who mourn their loss. I would hate for those individuals to get lost behind the statistics.

There is a community of suffering down in Victoria at the moment. It seems that the survivors are looking out for each other and others have come to help look after them, but I'm not certain that the individual loss is lessened by the fact that so many others have also lost loved ones.

I also feel for all those who have lost loved ones in the last few days across the rest of Australia. There are people missing in the floods up north. I'm certain that there would have been people who have died with cancer... heart attacks... stroke. People who have had car accidents. Every one is important. The loss that their loved ones are experiencing is just as real as those from down south - just not as widely publicised.

How many lives lost over the last week count for something?

... Every. One.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What is it about cleaning the lounge room windows...

... that makes all the other windows in the house look dirty?

I've been avoiding looking at the lounge windows for a ... little while because they were disgustingly dirty. To the point that if I knew visitors were coming I would close the curtains part way to hide the worst of them.

Yesterday I washed them and they now sparkle. I got a lovely rush of pleasure this morning as I opened the curtains because they were clean.

But by this evening instead of basking in the glory of clean, shiny windows I can't help but notice how dusty the ones in the office are.

And our bedroom.

For that matter the windows in the rumpus/dining/kitchen that my Beloved cleaned not that long ago aren't that great either.

And although I hardly ever go into the spare bedrooms, they are probably worse than any of the others.

Why is it that housework is only obvious when it doesn't get done? Chance that I'll get around to the other windows this weekend?

... Approximately None.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Legacy of Bushfire

When I was reasonably small I remember that each night I had a routine before going to bed.

I had to push my face up against the fly screen on the window, first one way, then the other, and check as much of the surrounding neighbourhood as I could see to make certain that there were no fires coming. (I would have loved to be able to take the fly screen out to be able to see better, but I don't think Mum and Dad would have appreciated that.)

If I couldn't see a fire, then my family would be safe to go to sleep. I don't know why I thought a fire couldn't come from the other side of the house, but I never felt the need to check beyond my own window. I'm not certain that Mum and Dad ever knew that I had to do this to protect our family (yes, typical oldest child - I was personally responsible for everything, including the safety of our family from fires).

Thinking about it, it was probably grade 4, because the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 would have happened in the first term of my grade 4 year. And that event (whilst I don't remember it) was widely reported across Australia.

There is no way I could have had first-hand experience of fire. I've never lost any possessions to fire. I've never lost anyone I love to fire. I've never lost a pet or my livelihood to fire. The only way I could have known about it would be from images on the news and the hushed tones in which my parents would have discussed it. And yet, it impacted on me strongly enough that every evening I had to check to make certain we were safe from fires before I could go to sleep.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are currently involved in the fires down south, particularly as the death toll rises with each successive news report.

And it might not be a bad idea for those of us in the rest of the country to have a word with our kids (if we have any) about the fires. Even if you don't think they can know about these fires, they may have seen an image on the TV, or heard discussion at home, school, or between grown-ups somewhere.

Having said that, I have no idea what would have put my childhood fears to rest. Eventually we moved and for some reason I don't remember needing to check for fires at the new house. All I know is that fire impacted on my life in a very real way from the safety of a couple of thousand kilometres away.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Penultimate Mango

At my residential College at university we had a very sweet principal who was very correct in speech and behaviour. She also had the mesmerising ability to ask my friends and I to do things in a way that we had absolutely no ability to frame a negative response to her request.

Each week we had a Formal Dinner to which we wore academic gowns over 'suitable' clothing (although an academic gown can cover over a multitude of sins as long as you were sure to don appropriate footwear and drag a comb through your hair - oh, and make certain to hold the open front of the gown together at all times).

Unlike other meals it had a specific starting time and we filed in and stood behind our chairs awaiting Grace, and the tutors (senior residents), principal, and any guests were served by the staff at the High Table (which actually was not in fact any more elevated than the other tables, but tradition dictates that a university college should have a special table called the High Table at which sit the more important personages).

Members of the High Table were also served after dinner mints with their coffee afterwards. The only time in my life that I have regularly drunk coffee was during my two years as a tutor, and only because I love after dinner mints.

Each week there would be some formal elements, such as a speech by a guest; Grace and Returning Thanks; and messages for the student body as a whole.

And at the second last Formal Dinner each term our beloved principal would start the proceedings by carefully intoning "This is The Penultimate Formal Dinner for this term..." before she said Grace.

That's the way I see it in my head - capital 'T', capital 'P', capital 'F', capital 'D'. That was the title of the second last Formal Dinner for the term - "The Penultimate Formal Dinner". For every one of the 20 terms I stayed at college. You could have taken bets on the fact the name would be used, except that you wouldn't get anyone to bet against you.

It's really the only context in which I've ever heard the word 'Penultimate' used. Ever.

We had a church meeting today, following a BBQ lunch to which we were asked to bring either a salad or a desert. I decided to sacrifice some of our last mangoes to treat our friends. Most of them were chopped up and frozen and now I was onto the last crisper-full of fresh ones.

As I selected the second last mango from the crisper to top up my plate I carefully intoned, "This is the Penultimate Mango for this season."

What are the chances that I'd give up my college memories?

... Approximately None.

I'd love to hear any comments from old college chums if you happen to read this post. Or anyone else, really. Comments are great. Just click on the "So-many Comments" below, then write away!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Most Amusing LBD

Our Little Black Dog is very cute sometimes.

He has little self-appointed duties that he takes incredibly seriously.

For example, shovels must be bitten at, even if it means getting a face full of dirt.

Or that as soon as you hear the garage door motor start you must run around the car and squeeze out under the opening door and wait outside behind the car. If you are unable to get to the garage door there are two standard alternatives.

1. If you are inside - run up and down the hallway a couple of times, then turn around to look down the stairs intently. (Running down the stairs to wait at the internal garage door is optional)

2. If you are outside - run up and down the fence beside the driveway. (Barking optional, but preferred)

This morning I was putting some washing on downstairs. I had the external laundry door open which goes out onto the driveway and is only about 1.5 metres from the garage door.

The LBD was sitting pretty much on the threshold of the laundry door as my Beloved went to load some stuff in the car. He hit the automatic door button and the motor started.

The LBD jumped up, ran past me, through the internal doors between the laundry and the garage, around the car and squeezed himself under the garage door to wait in his designated position. A distance of about 12 metres dodging around things in a big U-shape, rather than the short-cut out through the external laundry door.

How much do I doubt his attention to detail when doing his duty?

... Approximately None

Friday, February 6, 2009

Is it Beer O'Clock Yet?

It's Friday afternoon and I don't feel like concentrating anymore. I feel dozy and lazy and certainly not like working.

It's got to be getting close to that time of the day some of my work colleagues used to call "Beer O'Clock". Knock off time when you can go, sit around the lunch room table with a beverage of your choice and simply enjoy each other's company.

But - I don't drink beer. Can I call it "Ginger Beer O'Clock"?

But - I work from home and there's only the LBD for company. Then again, that's got to be okay because dogs are some of the best company there is. I won't have to listen to how his week has gone, nor will he be likely to get more and more inappropriate as the beers go down.

But - it's not quite time yet. (It would be if I took a half hour's drive south of here into New South Wales where they are inflicted with Daylight Saving.)

So I think that as boss of my business I'm going to give myself an early mark, pack up and go home (i.e. out of my office) - because realistically how much work am I going to get done in the next 55 minutes?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Getting of Wisdom

Someone please hand me a rusk.

I've always been bad at teething. Swollen glands and the whole bit. I feel sorry for small children because they have no way of telling anyone about their feelings, so they just need to get fretful, chew on anything that comes to hand (or mouth) and drool in a manner reminiscent of a St Bernard.

You'll be glad to know that I've chosen not to drool, but would quite like to chew if I had anything chewy in the house. (Who thought that Operation Skinny Cow was a good idea? Not a Minty in sight!)

Once or twice a year my wisdom teeth decide that they really ought to do something about making an appearance. They've been grumbling on and off since I was about 16. They decided that today was a good day. I was sitting here trying to work out why I had a headache (when I've actually been wearing my glasses for a change) then realised that it is actually the grinding push of all my teeth trying to make a little more room at the back.

Not having had my psyche scarred for life by orthodonture I don't panic about the fact that my teeth are a tiny little bit more concertinaed than they used to be. But I'm not keen on pain.

If you're about to comment that I could get the wretched things removed and not have the pain ever again I think you're forgetting that the removal would cause HUGE pain. Well worth avoiding by putting up with this grind a couple of times a year. The whole fact that my dentist told me that if they hadn't come through by the time I was 25 might mean that they'd need to come out has driven me from his hallowed halls ever since.

Okay, that and the fact that he retired.

And the fact that he used to charge about $20 for a check-up, and I think it might cost a little more than that these days.

And the fact that in town here it takes about 6 months to get an appointment if you have a regular dentist. Obviously making an appointment now is a bit of a waste - my teeth won't be sore in another 6 months!

Having said that, I do see a dentist regularly. One comes to my church most weeks.

So for the purposes of discussions with any local dental practitioners, how much pain are my teeth giving me?

... Approximately None... Really.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mother Knows Best

Have you ever noticed how often mothers are actually spot-on correct?

Dreadful, isn't it?

My Mum has long had a saying (presumably based on the Queensland climate), "Don't worry if your washing is out and there's a shower in the morning - it will still be dry before dark."

I did a quick load this morning, despite the fact that the day did not look propitious.

In fact, if it had been anywhere but here (we usually miss out on the rain here - all the towns around get it) I would have said it looked downright precipitous.

Anyway my washing was out and the sun wasn't, but I'm sure it was getting dry slowly. Then I noticed the sound of light rain. As I was about to do the run down to rescue it I looked out at the neighbours' roof and realised that it must have been misting and lightly raining for a while. Too late for dry washing rescue. Nevermind, my Mum always used to say, "Don't worry if your washing is out and there's a shower in the morning - it will still be dry before dark." It'll be fine.

I looked at the time. It was 12.15pm. Do you know, my Mum was exactly right - I reckon the washing was about 15 minutes off dry when I checked it as the sun was going down.

How many sets of clean and dry underwear do we have in the house?

... Enough for tomorrow, thankfully.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Screamin' Chicken

I could be quite happily carnivorous. Don't get me wrong, I love my vegies, but I've obviously got some genes throwing back to my caveman ancestors. Give me meat!

And I feel entitled to eat meat because I've seen firsthand what it takes for us to have meat. I've seen chickens running about headless; sheep slaughtered; I've watched the men scrub down a pork carcase with boiling water to get the bristles off; and if you haven't ever seen a 'bush kill' of a steer, you're missing out - it's amazing the way they skin the beast and lay the hide flat to get a 'clean' working space in the dusty yards.
I don't think I'd be too keen to be the one doing any of the shooting or plucking, and I wouldn't have the physical strength for the butchering of a beast three times my size, but I get what's involved.

Okay, so I do have a soft spot for animals I've got to know. I don't think I could actually slaughter some critter that was looking at me with soft, dark eyes. I guess it would depend how hungry I was, and if there was anyone else to do it for me.

It's their faces. Eyes looking at you. The expression on their little faces. That's why I was a trifle put off when I went to carve tonight's roast chicken:

Yep, this chicken obviously died while being roasted alive.
Chance that I didn't eat him afterall?
... Approximately None (but my Beloved believes I'm insane because I insisted on photographing our dinner!)
By the way, it was very tender and yummy.