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!