Saturday, March 28, 2009

Further to Yesterday's Post...

For some reason I seem to be a little stiff in the shoulders, arms and thighs this morning.

The chance that I might not be as young, strong and athletic as I thought?

... Approximately None!

PS, I've added a photo of Giggles to the recent post for anyone interested.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Dead Yet.

Warning - This post is vintage Jen. The Exuberantly Verbose Version. If you are not a fan of the odd long post stop reading now. By the way, WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING READING THIS BLOG??!!??

I have a client. He is an elderly man who doesn’t appear to enjoy the best health and often wheezes his way through our meetings. When I ring to talk to him and ask how he’s doing, he invariably answers, “I’m not dead yet, young lady,” in the beautifully lyrical remnants of the Italian accent of his youth.

It’s a bit disconcerting until you realise he’s joking and has probably used that same response for the last 50 years. I mean, it sounds as though his laboured breathing might stop in the near foreseeable, but obviously he’s not expecting it any time soon.

Today it so happens that I’m a bit closer to the end of my life than I am to the beginning.

Yes, I know that’s true for everyday, but it so happens that the odometer clicks over another year as of about 6pm this evening. And according to my Dad, I’m now middle aged. Yep. If I’m headed for three-score years and ten, I’m half-way. Thanks, Dad.

So I was very heartened to find out that I still have youth and vitality.

How did I find out that I still have youth and vitality, you ask?

Well… (and this is where it gets long)

Sometimes I have to go down to my Beloved’s business to mind the phones and the counter because both of the boys have to be out doing installations or quotes and someone needs to “shed-sit”. I take my work down and mind the phone for a few hours.

Today the phone rang and it was someone who is getting work done by the business in the shed next door. They are closed for a few days, but I know that the two businesses help each other out often (sometimes they mind the phone when our boys are out, for example), so I was happy to do what I could to help.

It was quite simple. It involved going and getting the VIN off a trailer for some paperwork the new owners are filling out and needs to be finalised as soon as possible.

Sounds easy?

Not so much.

You see, between the trailer and where I was standing is a six foot high chain mesh fence. The gate was padlocked.

Now, neither of the boys would have had any difficulty in scaling the fence, reading the VIN, and letting the lady know.

I, on the other hand, am a klutz. A ten-tonne weakling who has no gross motor coordination. At all. Whatsoever.

And I’ve never made a habit of scaling fences. I’ve always been a law abiding citizen who avoids breaking into industrial premises. Or any premises at all, really.

But, I am also a bit of a people pleaser, so of course I will give it a go.

I put the phone down between the gates and used the hinges as a toe hold to get started. Only one toe slip on the way up. Fortunately the panel beside the gate had a top-rail, and I swung my leg over just like riding a horse (except backwards – wrong leg) onto the cross brace that was cleverly placed on the far side for just such a situation.

I was very proud of myself for getting there, and it was easy getting down because I simply shuffled down the cross-brace until it was low enough to jump.

I picked up the phone and read off the necessary number (thankfully the trailer was not locked), then farewelled the lady and headed back to the fence. One issue remained - now that I was in the back yard I had to get out.

Actually, it was a bit easier to get up from this side. My friendly cross-brace allowed me to get up on the top of the fence with ease. The only problem was that the top hinge had a padlock chain around it, and securing a toe hold on the other side was not easy. It was also an awfully long way from the ground and the bottom hinge was not going to be easy to seek by feel.

So I drew on my horse riding past to remember that I’ve jumped off heights two footed many times in the past when I was much shorter than I am now, therefore possibly the equivalent of the fence to the ground compared to my size now.

Or so I hoped.

I got my toe hold, swung my leg back across, rested a little on my tum and then swung both legs out together and jumped.

Perfect two-footed landing. Unfortunately it is now about 10 years since I last rode a horse and I was a little unprepared for the momentum a woman’s body can accumulate during the process of dropping.

The recesses of my brain seem to be saying that the rate of acceleration is 9.8 seconds per second, but firstly I’m not certain that my brain would accurately remember Maths II from more than 15 years ago, and secondly I can’t remember what I should do with that fact once I’ve ascertained the accuracy of it.

Nevermind – whatever the mathematical reasons for it, my legs couldn’t hold my weight at that speed and so I fell back onto my bottom and rolled over onto my back in a surprisingly restrained, loose but controlled way. I used to do much the same thing when I achieved an ‘accidental dismount’ from a horse.

Unfortunately, another reminder of my horse riding days is that there is inevitably a prickle patch wherever you happen to end up coming off.

I was wearing a thin cotton top (which has no protection from prickles at all) and suede pants (which are not the easiest things to get prickles out of).

But dodgy landing aside, I was incredibly proud of myself. I still have it. I am strong. I am not ancient and incapable. I can do ANYTHING! (insert loud, triumphant music here)

This story could have finished here, except that there was one other thing.

One other thing that makes the whole rigmarole hilarious.

One other thing that makes it so that it could only happen to me.

My Beloved came back and I told him the story and how proud of myself I was. He looked at me oddly before telling me the truth.

You see, the land with his and the other businesses on it and the land belonging to the shop next door are part of the same property, despite the fence between them. The backyard area where the trailer is sitting is common to both.

And whilst the gate from this side to the back yard is locked because the neighbours are not open today, the gate from the shop next door is not.

The chance that it occurred to me to walk out to the street, then down the neighbour’s fence and into the back yard through their gate?

… Approximately None
(But would I have felt as ALIVE!?!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Niece: the musical prodigy

Giggles came for a quick visit on the weekend. It was great to see her.

Oh, and great to see her Mum and Dad as well, of course.

The exciting news is that she not only loves music, but that at 21 months old she has written a song.

Well, maybe not so much 'written' - she's still not really into transcribing music - maybe 'composed' would be a better word. And each word of this song was clearly intoned so that I was able to take down the lyrics for posterity. Not bad for one so young, I thought.

The words went as follows:-

Aunty Jenny, Aunty Jenny,
Aunty Jenny, Aunty Jenny,
Aunty Jenny, Aunty Jenny, Aunty Jenny
Aunty Jenny, Aunty Jenny.

How much of my heart didn't melt?

... Approximately None

* Update* Giggles - As requested by Trish and approved by Dad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Explosively Funny?

Disclaimer: No Jennifers were seriously injured in the making of this post.

I learnt a new lesson on Monday.

When cleaning out a thermos-style milk jug with a hinged lid do not under any circumstances do the following:-

1. Sniff it and discover that it smells a bit icky.

(Well, okay the sniffing wasn't pleasant, but actually had no potential for injury)

2. Decide it needs a really good cleaning and partially fill it with boiling water and detergent.

(You can see where we're going, can't you?)

3. Find that the only available kitchen brush does not fit into the opening, so that there is no way to actually clean the interior.

4. Decide that I'll have to shake it vigorously instead, so put my hand firmly over the lid.

5. Discover that somehow (and I didn't do physics in Senior, so I'm only guessing that this event is triggered by some obscure steam-expanding pressure-building thingamy) vigorous shaking causes a build-up of pressure such that it will explode the lid open and spray boiling water over the mug stupid enough to try it.

It was so unexpected by everyone that another lady, after helping me to find wet towels and frozen peas, asked me how it had happened? When I explained, she made the mistake of saying, "What, like this?" and did it again. Fortunately I had sprayed about two thirds of the water all over me, so she didn't actually get burnt at all, although she ricked her shoulder jumping back from the 'unexpected' spray. Truly a Plass* moment.

I'm fine. Frozen peas, the gift of an Aloe Vera plant (to cut up leaves to apply to my skin) and a call to my little bro (who is a paramedic) seem to have saved my skin. No marks on my face at all, and only a few red marks on my chest which are thankfully away from either sensitive or visible areas. No blistering to date. It remains to be seen if I peel - using lots of moisturising cream and Aloe Vera.

Of all the people in the world how many other people could have this happen to them?

... Approximately None!

Although I am encouraged to think that there is at least one person who is sillier than me.

*In Adrian Plass' book "The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4" he manages to cut his thumb on a knife while doing the washing up. When asked how he had done it he did the same thing with his other hand, causing the same injury. Plass tell it much better than me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A strained relationship with my Mum

I love my Mum.

We get on very well.

When we're together there is lots of nonsense and lots of laughter.

We enjoy that.

We convened a couple of times this week so that we could make up an outfit for me to wear to my cousin's wedding in a couple of weeks time (despite the fact I haven't yet made my 8 kg goal, but I need something to wear).

We could have done without Murphy's help. Definitely anything that could go wrong did and it's a good thing I know how to wield a quick-unpick. It's also a good thing that I didn't screw up the skirt pattern despite my mother's airy assurance that we'd finished with it. I had placed it in the top of the bin folded, which made it easier to retrieve it to cut stiffening for the top of the skirt yesterday.

We had a good time, and the skirt is finished save the hem. It is lovely to have a piece of clothing that fits. Most of my clothes are either too loose, or I'm not quite small enough just yet. The blouse is nearly ready for fitting.

But as soon as the blouse is ready it is necessary to exact retribution on my Mum.

After I thank her for her help, that is.

At one point I noticed that she was looking perplexed as she pinned the lining of the skirt to the zip. I made the mistake of asking why?

Apparently one usually just tacks the lining down around the zip, but she didn't want to that as this skirt has no waist band and is made out of a soft Swiss voile. She wanted the lining to "take the strain" rather than the fabric.

"Take the Strain?!?" I know I haven't been sucessful in getting to my next weightloss goal, but "take the Strain?!?"

The chance that after we finished laughing that I didn't say, "I'm so blogging that"?

... Approximately None

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The One That Got Away...

I've said a few times lately that I've been a bit busy.

Last week, on my madly-driving-into-town-about-7-times-in-one-day day I noticed something and thought, "That would make a very amusing post. I must blog about it when I get home."

I remember thinking the thought. Chance that I could remember what the amusing thing was when I had time to sit down at the computer?

... You guessed it! The big one that got away. Lost Forever. *Sigh*

Monday, March 16, 2009

Listening with God's Ears

I went to the evening church service last night. It's very informal, set around the meal table in the church hall, and has an average attendance of about 12.

A man I shall call 'Len' comes to the service. He has an intellectual disability and enjoys the food and the company, and is very enthusiastic in helping set up and clean up.

Len loves hymn singing and often closes the book and sings whatever words he feels like to whatever tune he feels like. Very loudly and enthusiastically.

...which can make it difficult to stay on tune when we have such a small group, but we love his enthusiasm.

Last night we had a hymn that has a beautiful descant to it. I had done it in choir where we lived previously, so I decided to stand up despite the fact that we don't bother standing up to sing in the evening service (there was no way I had a hope of getting a high G without being on my feet - it's touch and go at the best of times for an alto).

So Len, always enthusiastic, got to his feet too. Good on him!

When we finished, the Minister thanked me for providing the harmony. Len was right there with the fact that he'd stood up to sing too.

And do you know what difference I think God would have heard in our contributions to the hymn?

... Approximately None.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

To Do a Very Hard Thing

With a few recent accidents at open level crossings between trains and various road vehicles there's been quite a bit of stuff on the news about how one should not ignore or try to race the lights on a railway crossing. There's also been a pretty busy schedule of community service announcements based along the same theme.

It's probably those things that made it so hard this week when I came up to the flashing lights on the crossing and a man in a fluoro jacket waved me across.

I didn't want to do it.

Didn't he know that crossing against the flashing red lights is bad?

Couldn't he understand that I am programmed to comprehend and obey all traffic control devices?

But how much did I want to stay waiting for the lights to change with a growing line of traffic behind me?

... Approximately None

And yes, this piece of inane rubbish is about the only thing that was remotely bloggable during the last week. My life is very, very sad.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Letter to a LBD

Dearest Little Black Dog,

I very much appreciate the habit that you've been in for most of your doggy life, of leaving your... err... 'nuggets' around the perimeter of the property fenceline, rather than where I would be likely to walk.

This is a very positive attribute and I would like to encourage it.

Now, I realise that the backyard is not as huge as you were accustomed to in your youth. However, it is big compared to many yards in Australia, let alone the rest of the world. Believe me. There is plenty of room.

So please, please, PLEASE don't leave nuggets under the washing line.

... Especially not on windy days.


The chance that I remembered to do a 'poo patrol' prior to hanging the washing?

... Approximately None.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Apologies for the World Wide Biro Shortage

Do you have a habit of going to meetings and grabbing a pen to go with your paperwork, then putting the pen in your handbag after the meeting?

Do you find that (despite the fact you work from home. Alone.) you seem to be losing biros at a world land-speed record-breaking rate?

Every now and then do you decide to clean out your handbag?

Do you then discover that you could lend a pen to every man, woman, and child living in your whole town if they happened to go to a community meeting without one?

Does it then prey upon your mind that if you were arrested on suspicion of shop-lifting at the local newsagent that you wouldn't be able to explain the logic of why you actually have about 25,000 Staedtler medium point blue biros in your bag?

... Me neither.

How much do I doubt that publicising this fact is grounds for locking me away?

... Approximately None

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Listening to a Gurgling Creek

So after a pretty full-on couple of weeks (that, by the way, shows no sign of letting up anytime soon) I had the opportunity to go and spend some time with people from all over the Darling Downs who happen to go to the same brand of church as me. Much of it was business meeting with heaps of chatting time between, around (and even the occasional cheeky interjection during) the meetings.

But Sunday was especially wonderful.

They had arranged for a retreat day, and whilst the music during the introduction/focus part wasn't really my preferred style it was designed for us to focus and it did help me to do that. It also tied into some of the talks from the days before about setting time aside to listen and "waste time with God". Maybe they planned that.

But my absolute favourite time was when we were given a worksheet and told to go off by ourselves for a bit. I loved the gentle way they introduced it, and told us all that if we wanted to get extra comfortable on a mattress with our eyes closed that was okay too.

So I headed off down the hill to the creek. The site is adjacent to a national park and is entirely beautiful. Tall eucalypts standing like classical pillars, supporting their canopy so far above. We had gentle breezes weaving around the mountains to caress our faces. I couldn't help being reminded of all the similarly beautiful places in Victoria that no longer exist and popped up a few prayers for them on my way.

When I reached the creek I sat down on the causeway that is the main entry to the property and enjoyed the happy, noisy splashing sounds that a determined current can make against the rocks. I had time to just sit. Sit and let my mind wander. Let my mind wander and breathe in deeply the refreshing air. Watching the play of filtered light over the water, quick-silvery over the rocks and next to invisible in the pools. I watched the bubbles lightly borne on the surface.

After a while I lay down on the moss-covered concrete and shielded my eyes from the sun and continued to enjoy the sounds of the creek and the calls of different birds, particularly the clear, percussive sweetness of the bell-birds.

Later I sat up and must have been so still that a little speckledy-stripey water dragon came and started eating ants within a couple of metres of where I was sitting. Quick, decisive movements then still and stick-like.

I did work through the worksheet, but used it as more food for mind wandering than anything else.

So this week is just as busy as last, but I feel like it is do-able. And it's mainly due to taking the time to listen to a gurgling creek. How much would I ever want to give up these few hours?

... Approximately None.