Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Freddie Mercury might have had the dress sense of, well, Freddie Mercury, but he still had a wee bit of knowledge about the childish mind. “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all….and I want it NOW.”
Bless him for being able to articulate the words over a set of teeth so bucked he could rest sweeties on them, and also because he has so expertly summed up the complete lack of pre-consideration a child does before asking their parent something.
This morning was a classic example for me. Sapphire turned seven last week, yet is still at the stage of wanting things now. The concept of waiting or thinking about how to appropriately set a time for something is still completely foreign to her. Hence, at 7am this morning, I was bent over, putting on a clean pair of knickers. Completely starkers (except for the knickers, which had only reached my knees) when there was a tap and an immediate walk in.
“Muuum?” Sapphire asked, in her ‘I-want-something-from-you-Mum’ voice.
Me, still wrestling with the undies in my embarrassment: “What is it Sapphire?”
“Can we do the embroidery stuff now? You said we could….”
“It’s 7am and I am NAKED. NOT NOW!”
Sapphire scuttled out, but not before showing me a dramatic expression of hurt and betrayal on her pale little face.
Oh well, at least my loose wetsuit of a body didn’t put her off her quest, and my bent-over profile seems to be the one that garners the most requests. As I was unloading the dishwasher about twenty minutes later, it happened again: “Muuum?”
Me, sighing (I’m a rotten Mum but I just couldn’t help it). “Yes, Sapphire?”
“Could we unwrap the embroidery set and just check to see if all the materials---“
“SAPPHIRE. We are going to eat our breakfast, drink our milk, clean our teeth and pack your bag for school and mine for work. We don’t have time now. You’ve got to think about how much time you and I have got before you start asking about---“
“Ok, Ok,” she muttered, slinking away. I could recognise the ‘how many times have I told you, so sit down and listen to my lecture’ tone in my voice and hated it.
After school and after work, there was a tap on the toilet door. “Muuum?”
There was a pause for a few seconds whilst I contemplated the wisdom of answering: maybe she’d think it was Love Chunks and go away? Nah, no such luck. “Muuum!”
“Can we do it now? Please? You said later two times already today and now is later.”
“All right, but can I at least do my drops and plops in privacy please?” She’d already gone, skipping out into the lounge room, to get the hellish little set ready and I felt pretty foolish yelling irritatedly at a wooden door.
You see there are two issues here. The most obvious one is that my child considers me the hub of all key activities and yet invisible when it comes to my own ablutions; and, secondly, I can’t sew for nuts. How the hell was I going to help her put on an embroidery hoop and sew up the butterfly pattern shown on the front of the packet? It was time to play one of the oldest and most handy parental tricks – the ‘Your Old Enough Now to Do it Yourself’ manoeuvre.
“Sapphire, have you read through the instructions?”
“No, because you----“
“Hang on, hang on. You’re a great reader. I think you’re old enough to read through the instructions and try it yourself.”
Surprisingly, this last comment was processed and accepted. “Ok.”
Ten minutes later and the room was filled with her happy singing. “How’s it going, Saph?”
“Great. I did what the instructions said, but didn’t like it, so now I’m making up my own pattern.” I forced a bright smile of appreciation on my face: if a cancerous lower intestine is the pattern she’s looking for, then good for her.
At 6am on the Sunday morning, there was a gentle tap on my cheek. “Mum?” she whispered.
Brushing aside my uncharitable thoughts that having a child was like a hangover every morning minus any fun the night before, I raised my head off the pillow and replied, “Mmmm?”
“Mum, I’ve just been sick in my bed. It’s dripping on the floor and Jesse the Cowgirl is covered in it.”
Oh geez. “How do you feel now, do you want me to get you a bowl, or---?”
“No I feel good again Mum.”
“Want to get in here with me and Dad?”
She somehow used my hip bone as a springboard to wedge herself in between us in two seconds flat. “Now, try and go back to sleep. It’s still night time.”
All was silent and restful for about 30 seconds before there was a tapping on my back. “Muum?”
“WHAT?” I whispered furiously, flipping around to face her.
“Well, what about, my, you know, my sick?”
“It can stay where it is until it’s time to get up. GO TO SLEEP.” What my voice lacked in volume I made up for with an angry glare from red, sticky eyes.
Miraculously, I could hear her regular breathing within a couple of minutes. Instead of taking the opportunity to go back to sleep, I couldn’t help but turn over to look at her. It seems that it is only when our kids are asleep that we get the chance to really study them; to look at their soft, young, trusting little faces and feel dazzled all over again at their beauty. How lucky we were to have such a gorgeous, wonderful little ….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….
Tap tap, tap tap on my forehead. “Muuuum, it’s light outside now. When are we going to make those pink cupcakes you said we could make?”
Monday, May 29, 2006
PICK YOUR NOSE - for your healths' sake....
My local sunday newspaper reported that, according to a lung specialist in Innsbruck, Austria, nose-pickers are healthy, happier and most likely to be better in tune with their bodies than non-nose-pickers. And eaters. Dr Friedrich Bischinger believes that society should encourage children to nose-pick-and-eat. "It's a great way of strengthening the body's immune system. Medically it makes great sense and it's a perfectly natural thing to do."
Well, if it prevents cancer, heart attacks and AIDS, I'm all for it. I think...... On a different tack, just one google effort revealed that dear Phlegmy Friedrich opined all this daring information two years ago via Wikipedia and Ananova. So much for 'News as it happens, as it affects South Australians' then: Freddy must have assembled a mini canoe glued with his own boogers and floated it across the seas to the Sunday Mail if it is to be swallowed (ahem) as being latest news.
I have previously admitted to blowing my nose in the shower as one of my regular, bad habits. It clears everything out, saves on tissues and makes my groggy sleep-laden head feel about a kilogram lighter. That's right, I'm not ashamed of this daily springclean of the sinuses. However, I do not eat it.
In my reception year, I remember seeing the object of my (somewhat misguided) affection, Matthew, sitting directly in front of me in the school Activity Room. We were at an assembly, held inside because of the rain, and Matthew was mostly focussed on the inner recesses of his nasal cavity as opposed anything our deputy principal Mr Miller had to say.
Sadly, I found his actions fascinating - I was only five-and-a-half, after all. Then, after surveying the glistening green globule on his index finger, he put it into his mouth. There were conflicting feelings of revulsion and fascination swirling within me as I saw the look of preoccupied enjoyment on his face. Perhaps I should have a go as well, I thought. And so I did. It didn't take me long to find something worth picking out, and I sucked it from my finger.
Bleccccch, it was salty, tiny and horrible. Even now, goosebumps are springing up on my arms and my scalp as I write this.... Any early stages of a crush for Matthew disappeared quicker than mum's chocolate crackles at a birthday party. How on earth could he do that?
Nearly thirty three years later, I still haven't worked out the answer to that particular question, and if I saw Matthew again (his parents still know my parents), it would take me at least 4 glasses of sparkling shiraz before I'd dare bring it up.
What I do know is that, mostly, the pick-and-eat debacle showed me at a very young and impressionable stage in my life that if something seems different but also disgusting, avoid it. 'Disgusting' is normally a pretty strong indicator that it's best to stay away. Key examples of this have included:
- ** Eating a bowlful of melted copha, icing sugar and cocoa (aka the liquid ingredients of chocolate crackles) - Mum left it out and went outside, distracted by something Dad was making in the shed. The first few mouthfuls tasted like heaven, the other 27 were disgusting. As were my bed sheets, blankets, pillow, hair and face later on that night.....
- ** Trying Philippa's Dad's roll-your-own smokes during a sleepover when I was 13 - It was OK when Philippa tolerated me 'bum sucking' the first ten whilst we squinted at a section of the Rocky Horror Picture Show on the driveway screen visible from her bedroom window. Much later, 'Sweet Transvestite' wasn't how I was feeling when the room began to spin and there was only the hood of my sleeping bag to unload in....
- ** Riding the 'whizzy' in the playground for a full half-hour before setting off on a 450km drive with my family - I was not alone in this episode of stupidity. My two brothers were with me as well. All three of us continued to sit there, grunting out smart stuff like, "I feel a bit woozy now," but not having the sense to get off. We hadn't even driven 10 kilometres through Coff's Harbor's banana farms before the sick cartons at the back of the landcruiser were full.
- ** A bottle of $4 St Agnes brandy (on special) seemed the ideal drink to consume at an 18th birthday party - I was hilarious, beautiful and a fantastic dancer for the bits of the party I remember. Then I was covered in bits - my bits. Bits of pizza, chips, dips, crackers.... In my hair, my boyfriend's car, my brand new jumper. To this day brandy ranks right up there with offal, broad beans and pumpkin as foods only to be force-fed in hell.
- ** Sitting in the front of a mini-cab in London - it all seemed so thrilling at the time. On my way to an interview, I regaled the rather unattractive, shifty-looking driver with what I considered to be very exciting news that might cheer him up. I was just off the plane, hardly knew anyone, had no idea where this place in Hampstead was..... He couldn't seem to find the address for some reason, and pulled into a side street. As he reached over to grab at me, I had my brothers to thank, for I had already undone my seatbelt. He received an almighty HENPECK to the nose and as he yelled in fury and pain, I got the hell out of the car, only to find that 'my' street was just around the corner. I dusted myself down, took a deep breath, walked in and got the job.
There you go, just a few things that seemed sort of digusting at first but kinda exciting as well. As all the old wives' have said for donkeys' years (how long are donkeys years anyway?), go with your first impressions.
Other things that initially seem exciting but I also know to be disgusting are: people who think they become more hip or interesting if they're drunk or stoned; thrice-married, well-monied celebrity columnists telling us how to run our homes and relationships; dealing with home renovating tradesmen who possess a much lower quality work and time keeping mechanisms than the average human being; taking ten minutes to make one cup of coffee and then having to clean the %$#@ machine afterwards; Eaveless, cheaply constructed McMansions - destined to be Bogan Boxes in five years' time; and any contestant from any version of any season of Big Brother.
So, don't pick your nose and eat it. I'm betting that this Dr Friedrich Bischinger was a tubby guy with a lazy eye who also ate sunday school paste. He may have a stronger immune system, but I bet his little black book isn't exactly bursting at the seams.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Hard Rubbish Hunting
Our great mates the Gregory Five (2 adults, 3 kids) have just bought a renovator's delight: quite literally the 'worst house in the best street'.
Over the weekend, they had been given pre-entry rights by the family of the dead Aunt who used to live there. "Hey Dad, what room did she die in?" asked 9 year old Patrick, with genuine interest. The deceased's family were more than happy to let the Gregory Five swarm in, clean up and remove any of the furniture not already taken by the Aunt's various nephews, nieces and great-versions.
Love Chunks, Sapphire and I offered to help. LC would help Kent move out the furniture and knick-knacks left behind and Jill and I would get to work wiping out cupboards, scrubbing loos and kitchen benches in preparation for some of their stuff to be stored. Sapphire, at age seven (yesterday!) had the best job: just play with the Gregory Three: either outside, in their empty in-ground pool or inside the transportable rumpus room.
A couple of hours into the afternoon saw most of the house clean enough to unpack Gregory Five gear, and the worst of the furniture out onto the footpath. As luck would have it, their posh local council was having their twice-yearly 'Hard Rubbish Collection' this week. Residents were able to fling out anything that wasn't a) poisonous, b) a danger to the environment (macrame excepted), c) green matter (put them in the bin you pay for, idiot) or d) car tyres.
Love Chunks and Jill looked at a copper and tar indoor pot stand, both commenting, "That's about the ugliest bloody thing in this house, and that's saying something!" Indeed it was. The house may have had some beautiful art deco brick features, glass, interior doors and fabulous ceiling roses but for some reason, Auntie decided to give her entire home a facelift. Sadly, it was one from the 1970s. This was the particular decade that gave us the Bay City Rollers, cork platforms, burnt orange and mission brown laminates, Womens' Weekly Recipe Cards and the Sonny and Cher show. Suffice to say it also gave us Number 7: The Home That Taste Forgot.
The main bedroom was painted a thick layer of lilac which went well with the brown berber-striped curtains, home-made white built ins and gold-flecked lino. The second bedroom was, in LC's words, "wall-papered in a golfer's trousers". If I hadn't seen it for myself, I would not have believed it - some fat guy died so that this room could resemble his putrid plus fours.
Mercifully, the bathroom was too compact to stuff up too badly style-wise, but she had given it a red-hot go. White 'equipment' (bath/shower,toilet and handbasin) were all acceptable, but the technicolour floral wallpaper we could all have done without, as with also the busy mosaic blue floor tiles, not unlike my local swimming pool changeroom. Hell, she'd even added a wallpaper border at the bottom of the mirror - why?
Undertaking the cleaning of the kitchen gave me far too much opportunity to see this cack-inducing room up close and personal. Despite having three doors off the room (to the dining room via two sexy saloon doors, the laundry/back door and front hallway), it felt about as open and bright as a troll's cave. She'd gone for the look of 1978 and had obviously gone the whole hog, food preparation area-wise. Pine cupboards were everywhere so that the troll's cave resembled the inside of a caravan and were decorated with matchbox-sized, sun-yellow tiles for handles. These were almost poo-brown with nearly 30 years of accumulated grease, food and grot and make me queasy whilst scrubbing ineffectually at them. The rangehood was - of course - a fetching beaten copper job, overlooking an electric stove with fawn-coloured hot-plate covers. Let me digress here - what on earth do metal hot plate covers do? Protect an unsuspecting idiot from the heat - No - they'd conduct the heat, so you'd still get burned but at least have a fetching leaf print design on your palm instead of a hotplate spiral! Do they prevent dust - what? Since when has a dusty stove top ever been a problem for anyone other than Nicole Richie??
These silly-but-entertaining thoughts were interrupted by someone calling, "Excuse me? Anybody there?" at the front door. An obese version of Where's Wally was standing there, trousers held up with baling twine. "Is this pot stand out here supposed to be in the hard rubbish?"
"Yep," I told him. "Help yourself."
Wally beamed. "WOW! Thanks! I can't believe my luck!" I couldn't believe his taste. Wouldn't you know it - the thing we hated most was the first to go. Admittedly to a total oddball, but there you go. Seeing as I'd made the unconscious mistake of still standing there, daydreaming, Where's Wally decided to make his move. Hitching up his trousers, he whispered into my ear, "You know, if it was this week I was moving into my Housing Trust unit, all of this" ---- he spread his arms wide --- "would go right in!" He looked at me with a 'Hey hey, nudge nudge wink wink' look on his face.
"Oh, that's nice," I said weakly. Oh, is that my HUSBAND, Love Chunks, calling me?"
It wasn't long before Kent was assailed by a Father-Son duo looking most like twin Gollums on steroids. "These dining cupboards here - how much do you want for 'em?" The look of surprise on Kent's face said it all really - you mean you want to pay me money for those three butt-ugly, woodgrain veneer monstrosities with smokey glass and spray-painted gold knobs? "Oh, go for it, they're yours." Kent shot me a look: if that poor loser thinks he's won the furniture lotto, then so be it.
Jill and Dean were trudging back and forth from the shed with various collections of chairs - all in good nick, just uglier than a beer-goggled bushpig at 2:00am. I joined in, flinging several dozen home-embroidered lounge cushions, quilts, platters and coffee tables into the fray. A third ute pulled up and the soft furnishings were snatched up by Ma Clampett before the cigarette in her mouth had a chance to drop any ash. "See yers," she croaked, her gnarled old face cracking into what she thought was a smile but in actual fact reminded me of a handbag with the zip broken.
Where's Wally was back again, this time with his dog, a jack russell puppy. He made a beeline for me. Unfortunately. "I've left a note on the units, saying that they can't be taken, 'cos I'm gunna go back home and get my van." He noticed the tree growing smack-bang in the middle of the front lawn. "Are they grapefruit? Do you mind if I take one?"
"Take FIVE," offered Jill, who'd only just told me a second ago that the bloody tree would be the first living thing whipped out at this address. Any thoughts I had that he'd now favour Jill, weren't to be. He sidled closer. "Did you know that a grapefruit costs almost as much as a banana?" I didn't know that, and thought that it was very interesting but hey, I'd better head back inside to get back to work, so enjoy the fruit....
Worzel Gummidge called out, "These CHAIRS are great - you should be SELLIN' 'em, not leaving 'em out 'ere for us to get!" His beady eyes spied the three dining units. He took a few moments to read the note that either the two Gollums or Where's Wally had left on them. "HEY!" Kent wearily wandered back outside, struggling to appear faintly interested. "You live 'ere?"
"Y-e-s," Kent answered warily.
"These dining cupboards here. Who says you can leave a note to 'barleys' them? It's first in, first-in-the-trailer as far as I'm concerned."
"Oh, I don't really know----" Kent began.....
"Look mate, why don't I give you twenty bucks so that I get to take them off your nature strip right now?"
"That's a kind offer mate," Kent replied, "But I'm not really prepared to get into arguing over who gets to have them. Once they're out of my house, they're free rein as far as I'm concerned." Worzel removed his Port Power beanie to give his head a good scratching. "Hmm, so if I shove them in right now, then they're all mine, aren't they?
"Er whatever," said Kent, disappearing back into the house.
Sadly, we never did get to see the scene when Gollum x 2 and Wheres Wally turned up, full of anticipation and hopes for their latest furniture acquisition. By that time, the house was clean, locked-up and empty of all of its treasures. Including us.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Gwyneth, loveypuss - you need to get those roots done. There's no point continuing your macro-biotic, veganistic, chakrah-aligning, yoga-lovin' lifestyle if you hair looks about as real as Pamela Anderson's.
Or is a homage to your new son, a black stripe left there to symbolise Moses parting the red (or, in this case, ash blonde) sea?
What a surprise, Ms Mariah - you're wearing some over-tight, slutty outfit designed to remind us all that you have legs, a gut, shoulders and a chest struggling with the enormity of your mammoth-sized mammaries.
At least said milk rack is under cover for a change, although you obviously thought you were too covered up without the ginormous slash under your right hooter. Will we ever see you in an outfit that fits? Or one that doesn't make you look like a prostitute circa 1987?
Now Julia, on the other hand, has reverted back to 1887. Breasts held firmly in check, body hidden under her great grandmother's tablecloth.
And the shoes.....?!!! What on earth are they - suede canoes?? Are the twins hiding in them? Did you pay your stylist to come up with an outfit designed to 'Frighten away anyone under the age of 70 and...... podiatrists.'
You're gorgeous, Julia - is that such a crime....
Nicole Richie - famous for being I don't know what exactly - is to be admired for possessing the strength to lift up a handbag twice her own body weight. It is unclear what she keeps in it (certainly not food) - maybe a spare pair of sunglasses.
Oh Matthew, Matthew Matthew. *Sigh*, at least he's not naked or playing the bongos. Or maybe he should be, instead of venturing out in his 'It's enough that I got out of bed, stuff getting dressed' ensemble. Ugg boots (on a man!) and pyjama bottoms - surely the effects of last night's weed doesn't mean that he still thinks he's in his own living room?
He's got his red-heeler (Aussie cattle dog, for my overseas lurkers) with him and they love a good scamper. I was not aware that $20 ugg boots provided the sort of athletic support required for a 10km power walk....
I may be a bit biased here, because apart from suffering through 'Herbie: ReLoaded' with my godson, I have absolutely no idea why Ms Firecrotch is famous, other than for sheer comedic value.
One website was proclaiming this outfit as a fashion masterpiece, but I suspect that they may have inhaled too deeply when Matthew McConnaughey shuffled by.
If any of us mere mortals wore this, people would smile on us patronisingly and awkwardly, thinking how nice it was that a girl from the sheltered workshop was allowed to go to the beach on her own.....
This human Crunchie bar is the sorta-super-model Eva Herizogova. The poor thing was rooted to the carpet because she was too terrified to step forward and inadvertently flash us her map'o'Tassie.
One does wonder how the original design request comes in: 'I want a backless, sideless, frontless and crotchless dress please. Oh and I'd like it to be colour of a golden shower - that'll really set a tasteful entrance at Cannes.'
Ah Heather: so Richie's shagging your old mate Denise and you're about to enter the fray of the divorce courts; but it's nice to see that you're getting out of the house now and then.
But this top? Love Honey Love - you're pushing fifty, no-one wants to see your china-painted face, scrawny plucked-chicken chest or every tendon in your neck. Why don't you quickly pop back inside and put on a polo neck and a sensible blazer and we'll forget this ever happened.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I love a good lurk and surf through fellow blogs, and most of them, if not directly shouting out 'BUCK FUSH', they're wishing all the mothers in the world the very very best for the Sunday just gone.
Wow, what a huge effort to write those ones. Really. They're the equivalent of those annoying 'Thursday Thirteens' or 'Nine things you like starting with the letter K.' Granted there were some genuinely heartfelt accounts of missing their mothers now Not-Of-This-Earth (and I don't mean Geri Halliwell) and ones that genuinely tried to tackle the reality of being estranged from their mothers. But, on the whole, for every one of those mildly interesting ones were a hundred lazy ones.
Why are chrysanthemums supposed to symbolise Mothers Day? Yes, the word 'mum' is in there, but they're the floral equivalent of fruit cake or beige slacks: everyone's supposed to have them even though they don't like them. What mum (or non-mum) has ever announced on their blog/wish list/death bed that they really, above all else, needed a bunch of chrysanthemums? They should be used to perform colonic irrigations on gerbils, not for the flower least likely to be named in a love song.
A very quick straw poll of my colleagues - okay, two of them - around a coffee shop table this morning and reminiscences of what some other mum mates of mine have told me, has revealed that breakfast in bed and chryssy-bloody-anthemums are NOT what mothers want on their own personal May Day.
Mother of two boys, Pip, surprised me with her candour. "All I wanted was a sleep in, but nooooo, they got up extra early to climb all over me in bed so that they could give me their 'presents'."
"Ah yes,", I replied, "Something useful like a plaster cast of their footprint decorated with glitter, or a set of decorated wooden pegs?"
She nodded glumly. Our mate, Helen smiled the relieved smile of the childless and the well-rested.
"As for me," I went on, "Sapphire also woke up about an hour earlier than usual on Sunday, but her homemade presents were great." Pip's face fell - was I about to insinuate that she was a cold, heartless parent? Hell no: "But it was very hard to repress my more immediate reaction: BUGGER OFF BACK TO BED UNTIL AT LEAST 9AM, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
Jill, she of the 'Hate After Eight' fame (http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2005/12/hate-after-eight-my-longtime-buddy.html), tried to tackle things from a different angle. When her beloved husband of 11 years asked her what she'd like to do with him and their three children, she actually had the temerity to answer: "Does it have to involve you people?"
Sadly, in order to keep her marriage, home and lovely children's self esteem intact, she hurriedly laughed and said it was a joke. What she really wanted - she confided later - was a day to herself. Not a day out, but a day off. One where she gets to stay home and her kids and husband get to go out.
You see, having a day out isn't very peaceful or relaxing because you always have to keep your socially-acceptable mask on. If you want to sit down, it has to be upright, on a chair, in a coffee shop that costs you money to be there. You can't lie on the floor, in your baggy old trakky daks eating twisties and leaning your head against the dog. And there's no point wandering through the fancy boutiques looking at sequinned fringing-posing-as-dresses when the most formal occasion you attend these days is a parent-teacher meeting and simply flicking off the stray piece of baby booger on your shoulder is your entire grooming regime.
And breakfast? There are too many mums out there who are presented with a tray of all sorts of gelatinous eggs, burned toast, slopped-over coffee and some sour-sobs shoved in a bud vase. The idea is so much better than the real thing - poor Mum normally hasn't had a chance to empty her bladder after a (hopefully) uneventful eight hour sleep, and yet her kids are eagerly watching her, ready to burst into accusations that she hates them if she doesn't immediately gulp down the drink and inhale the now cold oyster-like eggs.
Then, once Mum finds the right spot for that bag of home made pot pourri, she enters the kitchen, wearily noting that her day of not cooking breakfast instead changes to a Day of Cleaning egg off the stove, toast sweat from the bench, flower petals off the floor and doing the dishes.
So what do our Mums really want?
A sleep in, which we've already established. Followed by brunch (hence the sleep in) - preferably out of the house so that no household member is stuck with the tidying up saga.
Presents - anything the child would like to make, but must only be presented to the mother after 9am.
Lunch - doesn't matter. Just as long as the father and the kid(s) are out of the house, and she remains within it. Trust me, most mums would be happy with some dry coco-pops and the leftover Tim-Tams.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Migraines (http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2005/09/mr-migraine.html) are one of the cruellest ways to feel absolutely sh**house for no discernible reason, and then, when they’ve finally gone their evil little way, you feel kind of ‘hungover’ for the next couple of days but without the riotous fun that normally precedes one.
I’ve had more than what I consider my fair share of migraines, but today it’s not my head, it’s my stomach that’s giving me the heebie jeebies health-wise. Apart from milking Mothers Day far too freely in order to inhale as many chocolate truffles as my heart desired, I can’t think of anything dodgy that I’ve eaten in the past day or so.
The jorgi and I went for a nice run this morning, I ate some home-made (yesterday) chocolate-chip (of course) muffins with Sapphire and followed it with an orange (to cancel out the chocolate chips). After farewelling Sapph at school, I made some very rudimentary, student-like coffees for Nik and myself during our meeting: instant coffee, made tolerable with ‘extra’ sweeteners and those totally useless triangles of long life milk. I reckon they call them ‘long life’ because it’d be several decades before you could rip the confounded tape off and not squirt it down your trousers instead of into your cup.
But I digress. A little. Lunch was a turkey, cranberry and lettuce wholemeal sandwich accompanied by a young and zesty Farmers Union Iced Coffee – my non-water, non-alcoholic tipple of choice – and since then, I’ve felt about as comfortable as a cat on a pool mattress.
The stuffiness of the tiny office I share with my boss isn’t helping things. We can’t control the temperature or when it’s turned on. Some brainiac in the works department elected to have our controls connected to a room two floors away. Obviously that occupant likes to go through autumn/winter still wearing shorts and having their loose papers fly about the room like frightened seagulls.
However these petty grievances are now in second place today, replaced by the torturous queasiness of my quietly growling stomach. All too quickly the feeling has taken me back to 1973, 73, 74 – oh for gods’ sake – right up to 1984 – and the memories of sitting in the middle of the back seat of my parents’ Volvo. I will leave all comments about being Volvo drivers out for the purposes of this article at least. What was more pertinent to me was just how vomit-inducing it was to be a passenger in the vehicle even though we didn’t have to look at the car from the outside.
Rob, Dave and I loved it when our parents told us that we were going to drive to Adelaide to visit either set of grandparents. Yay! The anticipation of seeing what weird and wonderful gizmos grandpa had brought back from Mexico, tasting Nanna’s lolly-loaded chocolate ring cake, sucking down eight cups of milky tea with Grandma or pestering Grandpa with heaps of questions in his garden shed was our idea of holiday heaven.
About an hour before the journey though, the shine would start to dull a bit. Mum would ‘hide’ a sea sickness tablet in a teaspoon of honey or ice-cream and call us inside: “Kids, it’s time for a treat before we go!” We weren’t fooled for a second of course, but seeing Dad stand next to her with his rare-but-effective ‘Don’t You Even Think About Mucking Around’ look on his face, we all screwed up our faces, closed our eyes and theatrically swallowed the muck, making all sorts of choking, suffering sounds. Mum and Dad quite rightly ignored us and briskly said, “OK, hop in the car.”
It was there that the real suffering began. In those days (that would sound so much better if I could whissstle it through some loose dentures whilst setting aside my walking frame), the drive was a windy one through the hills. It was probably rather picturesque, but all that the Kanmantoo farmlets conjure up for me is the thought, “Where’s the sick carton?”
My brothers were similarly afflicted. It would start with the gentle lurching around each bend in the road, the warmth inside (winding down the window was too deafening to live through) and the damp wool pong of the brown fabric seats. Naturally, if Rob chucked up first, it would set the rest of us off. Dave, the youngest, seemed to win first prize most often, and sitting next to him wasn’t too much fun when out of the corner of my eye I could see the lurid yellow vomit slopping unbecomingly inside the old ice-cream carton.
Perhaps this story is appropriate being only one day after Mothers Day, because, even though she managed to keep her breakfast down and her mental faculties intact, it would have been even worse for poor old Mum. Dad wouldn’t stop the car until he had sighted the tollgate. There, by the side of the road was a narrow parking bay with a curved ‘Visitor Information’ shelter that was studded with dozens of Rotary, Lions Club and Scouts signs. Mum somehow mustered the strength to empty out three containers of sick in the weeds growing next to the phone booth. She cleverly ensured that there was a cordial bottle filled with rainwater in the car, which she’d then use to give all three receptacles a rudimentary clean.
What a lovely trip down memory lane. That barf bay is no longer thanks to the introduction of the Heysen Tunnels and the bypass of Devil’s elbow and Mum is not sitting here next to me, asking me if I’d like to lie down on the lounge with blanky and pillow to watch Humphrey B. Bear on television and try sipping some flat lemonade. Unfortunately.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
As I was in the doorway-wide, stinking hellhole known optimistically as the Department Kitchen, the realisation that our hygiene standards drop several levels when we're at work suddenly struck me.
For instance, there I was, the recent proud (and grateful) owner of a sparkling new dishwasher who regularly chooses the '55C/Anti-Bac' cycle, content enough to merely swish out three days' worth of coffee residue from my cup, give it a shake dry and plonk it down on the carpet next to the kettle in the office. Charming! Think about it - would you feel comfortable with just giving your dishes at home (after being used at least 8 times over the past couple of days), a half-hearted drip dry and then put back in the cupboard? If yes, I bet your dinner guest return rate isn't too high.
Last night, after Sapphire and I went to pick up Love Chunks from his piano lesson (maybe the subject of a future blog article), we saw a woman murdering a meat pie in the bushes outside the laundromat. As is their tendency, the pie had obviously spewed its dodgy meat substitute and gravy onto her lap like an angry envelope. She had then countered this by eating it outside, leaning over a bush, dribbling brown globules all the while. The normally boring wait for LC just flew past because of my fascination with her eating style. Madame Meat Pie then bunched up the white bag that had held the pie, shoved in further into the shrubbery and wiped her meat and sauce stained hands all over her trousers. And these were the ones that she wasn't washing at the laundromat. Would she have dribbled a meat pie over her shag pile rug at home, shoved the bag into the back of the lounge cushions and wiped her hands down her trakkies? I sincerely hope not.
Work, road house and public toilets are another area that shows a staggering gulf between what one would - ahem - 'do' at home and what a lot of people seem to get a kick out of 'doing' in any convenience where there's a gap between the bottom and top of the door. You're welcome to accuse me of living a sheltered life, but I've yet to visit anyone's house and find cigarette burns on their cistern, 'Narelle is a f**king mole who roots anybody' scrawled on the wall or a river of urine flooding the floor. (One exception - my share house in the eighties after a 21st).
On the reverse side, there are situations when our expectations of cleanliness/hygiene/food are much higher than what we're willing to put up with in our homes. One classic case of this is when a cleaner is involved. I've been on both sides of this particular field of self delusion and confusion. For six months I was a live-in housekeeper for a family in London, and was repeatedly told by the lady of the house that the toilets (all four of them) and bathrooms (3) were to be cleaned every single day. Now you can't tell me that if she had to do it she'd be prepared to clean them every twenty four hours. Nah it'd be the complete opposite - the wet areas would probably only get a quick squirt of bleach when the mushrooms threatened to block out the shower drain.
For three god-awful weeks I was a nanny in Hampstead, London. Again, the mother had a few standards that she insisted on reminding me about: the children's bed sheets and pyjamas were to be washed - and ironed - every single day. The beds were to be moved every second day so that I could vaccuum underneath, and the curtains were to be done twice weekly. Their bathroom was to be scrubbed every second day and all toys were either to be wiped down with disinfectant or put through a hot wash every week. Looking back, it's a wonder I lasted as long as three weeks, especially when Mrs Haughty House had a masseur arrive twice a week to give her an all-over massage!
This unreasonable attitude towards 'the help' isn't just restricted to British billionaires. Common folk such as myself have been heard to moan, "Oh my cleaning lady's absolutely crap. She doesn't clean the oven, wash the outside windows, dust the skirting boards or wipe every doorknob...." Oh, and you do, every single week?
But wait, there's more. Haven't we all gone on holiday, more eager to see what the room in our resort's like first rather than rush outside to check out the local scenery? It is with disappointed sighs when we enter the smallish sized bathroom and find that there's no mega-whirl spa-bath, massaging dual shower jets or Chanel No5 bathroom products. We seldom try to remind ourselves that our own bathrooms are likely to have a soggy, hairy soap splatted wetly in the holder, silicone waterproof shower sealant now black with mould and more pubes than a Brazilian waxer's bin scattered all over the tiles.
And finally, the meal out. Paying cash for our victuals seems to give us the expectation that we deserve a meal of Le Grande Bouffe proportions. This can be somewhat of a challenge in a busy Italian coffee and cake bar. How many people these days will say something like, "Oh, this coffee isn't as good as La blah blah down the road...." How come in the last couple of years we've all become coffee gourmands? Most of us wouldn't know if the worker (OK, sorry, 'Barrista') spat in it before he put the froth on. I'd be prepared to assume that pretty well none of us could be bothered to roast and chop five cups of hazelnuts for the flourless orange cake that we're currently turning our noses at.
To be fair though, I'd never expect anyone to ask for something we'd eat in the privacy of our own home, such as: "Could I please have a week old, cold slize of Hawaiian pizza - hang on - can you bring out that piece of mud cake first - just nuke it for ten seconds in the microwave. What, you dropped it on the floor? Don't worry - if it aint been on the ground for three seconds or more, it aint infected, I always say. Can I eat a packet of cheese twisties while I'm waiting? Can you bring that bottle of diet coke over - no don't worry about a glass I'll swig it straight."
My point here is so small it might as well be one of Shane Warne's brain cells, but it's this: standards aren't standard. They can't be standard if they change. And if you don't think your standards vary depending on the situation, then ask yourself this: Would you be prepared to let rip a ripe old fart during a job interview? Drop your sauce-covered pastie on the floor but eat it anyway? I didn't think so.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Shame Shane's such a Shockin' Sh**head
Shabby has long been known to like a fag or two. The red Marlboros, not the George Michaels. Incredibly, enough of his brain cells managed to survive the chemical onslaught of hairdressing bleach long enough to accept a $200,000 payment from Nicabate to kick the habit and set an example for Aussie youngsters. Sadly, the dye eventually burnt off all remaining functioning synapses and he was soon photographed puffing away on the cricket pitch, suckin' a ciggie in a bar and angrily chasing away one of his young fans after he caught him smoking.
Naturally, for blokes of his, um, mental magnitude, drugs entered the picture. Not coke, grass or even Eccies, but his mother's diuretic diet pills. A forbidden substance in even the cricketing circles, they were found in his urine test. Manfully, he blamed it on mummy and admitted that he wanted to lose a bit of weight before his upcoming media conference. Well there was a media conference all right, but it wasn't his weight that got people's attention; it was the sheer vacancy of thought and the overriding vanity regarding his physical appearance.
And then, there were the women who still seemed to like him regardless of his porky pig like physical tendences..... Bless his wilful little willy, Shane's game was SMS and lots of it. If he wasn't offering to lick red wine off the bulging body of a British nurse, he was annoying shabbier South African drag queens. Plenty of these conquests came forth to the reputable pommy newspapers such as 'News of the World' and 'the Daily Mirror', spilling all of the gory, "He was insatiable", details. It seemed that Shaggy Pants wasn't too fussy on the looks department as most of his nookie chookies were on a visual par with the livestock centrefold in the Rural Journal.
All through this, his wife, Simone, also a possessor of an empty fruit bowl brains-wise, regularly posed with her children on the front covers of Australia's finest magazines: No Idea and Womens Duh, shoving it down our throats that hers was a rock-solid marriage of fidelity, commitment and um, the goodest smartness or something like that. Wham-Bam Warney continued with his horizontal hobbies. Heaven help the floozy on his futon the night he ate baked beans on the tour.
Eventually his marriage ended, and 'poor old Simone' scored more magazine covers, a home renovation column (who knew she could renovate? Hell, who knew she could write), a gig on 'Dancing with the Stars' (the term 'star' is used in its loosest possible sense here in Australia) and several TV appearances in which she ran the gamut of emotions from A to A. Even I felt a tad sorry for Shane as he sobbed to all of us about his regrets, his desires to do anything to get Simone to take him back and how he would seek help to change. Sadly no, he couldn't remove his SMS thumbs, 'cos he needed them for chucking that red ball around.
But, a few days ago, our Bowling Bonehead was caught on film in a London hotel room with two women and a blow-up doll. These girlies, colloquially referred to by the media as 'models' but known more commonly as 'skanky whores', were quite happy to release the footage and again tell us of his prowess and willingness to try anything. Of course it takes two to tango, or, in Shane's case, three plus a doll. Again, I feel a slight tug of sympathy towards our blonde-tipped bozo - he was very obviously set up, but also he is very obviously dumber than a box of stilettoes at a lesbian hockey club.
It could be safely assumed that Shaggy Dacks would also have paid good money for receiving some kind of media training, deportment skills, career planning, marketing and public speaking, yes? At the very least, couldn't they have all banded together to make sure that he was to be babysat at all times by a team of experienced Retarded Rootrat wranglers - or at the very least popped into a strait jacket in front of Hi-5 until his next cricket test was on. Whoever is currently his manager should be nominated for their equivalent of the Fugly award, with the key achievements being:
.... well done for protecting your client's anonymity and personal life! Hey, wait a minute - is George Best really dead or is he now living in Australia....?
Friday, May 05, 2006
.........Is very difficult. Love Chunks and I were on our way to pick up our darling daughter Sapphire from my parents' place after three days holiday with them.
As all parents of school-aged children know, coordinating care throughout the school holidays can be about as tricky as getting Paris Hilton to wear a polo neck. LC and I realised a while back that even if we two never got to have a day's holiday together, we still couldn't cover all of Sapphire's days off. We get eight weeks leave in total and she gets a whopping thirteen weeks.
That's where my parents come in. They're classic SKIPees (Spending their Kids' Inheritance) and thus we have to book their services in advance. Otherwise they could be off to New Zealand, Greece, the Flinders Ranges or houseboating on the Murray river. They also have to juggle their longstanding commitments to Probus (apparently a kind of Rotary for Wrinklies, despite the unfortunate-sounding name), Country Women's Association choir practice, working in the LifeLine second hand goods store, playing golf, learning how to play competitive bowls and eating out at any hotel that features a smorgasbord.
John and Pauline were happy to have Sapphire for the week. In fact they were eagerly looking forward to having her all to themselves. All kinds of activities were planned including the obvious - 'Ice Age 2' and 'Eight Below' at the movies and trip over to Granite Island. They also booked two reading and craft sessions at the local library and took Sapphire to the whale museum.
She was also their willing (and chatty) escort to the Grosvenor pub's 'Tuesday Night Roast', Cafe Primo's 'Schnitzel Celebration' on Wednesday and eagerly joined the church social club at the Crown Hotel for 'Friday Night Feasting'. Luckily she took her bike and scooter with her because Grandma was making her famous little cakes and needed the wisdom of the six year old grandchild's culinary experience.
Love Chunks and I missed her terribly. At first we looked at each other after she'd driven off with Grandma and did an 'Oh What a Feeling' impersonation - "Yee Hah! We can do what we want, when we want! Let's go out to a restaurant that doesn't feature nuggets and chips on the menu!" Which we did - three nights in a row.
What dampened our long-forgotten feelings of childless freedom was, well, the child. Our house literally resonated with her - any second we expected to hear her little voice singing from her bedroom or to see the dog trot in with an array of flowers, scarves and beads hanging around her neck. Her toys were in every room and spoke volumes about her interests, her fun and her loving nature. Maybe that's why we went out: the house felt too empty without her....
At the restaurant, we were even worse. All parents have a moan about never having enough time or energy to be alone together and have some decent conversation (among other things), and, after a few moments of surveying the menu, Love Chunks' first stab at breaking the silence was, "Gee I miss her."
"Oh me too! You know, she did a really funny thing the other day when she....." and thus went the discussion for the rest of the meal. We talked about a few other things like what we'd do if we had the money to properly renovate the house, or what sort of car we'd get but they too were connected to Sapphire. The house needs extra space for her activities and the car, well we wonder if it's too old and unsafe for her to be in now.
So, by Friday night, we both got home from work as quick as we could. We knew that she was with my parents at the Crown Hotel for dinner, but figured that the 110km drive would allow us to grab a takeaway and be there in time for them to get home. And that's why we were sitting in our car in a sidestreet off Portrush Road, the windows getting increasingly steamy due to the freezing rain outside and our boxes of takeaway noodles inside.
"Why oh why did you get chopsticks when you knew we'd be eating in the car? I could have been driving and eating, but no, I'm sat here in dark with shreds of onion plopping on to my trousers..!"
He was right, but I took umbrage at his accusing tone. "It's not my fault - that's what they gave me. I'm sure you'll live - just lean right over the box and shovel it straight into your gob - it seems to work for you at home."
He snorted and poked me in the ribs with a chopstick. I squealed and reactively squeezed the box too hard, causing sticky sweet and sour sauce to ooze over the sides and drop onto my brand new jeans.
"You're a funny one," he said, smiling at me. "Let's go get our girl, shall we?" He dropped the empty box on to the floor and put the keys in the ignition.
"OK," I said, still pretending to be offended, "but you might want to take out the coriander from in between your teeth. It might be dark but it's not that dark."
"MUM! DAD!" Sapphire yelled as she climbed out of Grandpa's car and ran towards us. "Look at the swan we made out of a serviette!" We two grown ups might have been sticky, covered in spilt noodles and reeking of garlic sauce, but god, it felt so good to be her parents again.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Last night we had Love Chunks' Melbourne boss, Roger, over for dinner and to stay the night before he left for a thrilling 4WD ride to Woomera to look at some new weather measuring equipment from Japan. LC was relieved that it wasn't him who had to make the journey, preferring instead to stay in his study at home, in the warm, computer chugging away and dog sleeping cosily in her beanbag at his feet.
After a huge meal of roast chicken, tiramisu and some delectable cabernets, we were all bleary eyed and ready for bed. "What do you have for breakfast, Roger?" I asked, playing the role of dutiful wife and soliticitous hostess.
"Ah, well, just a stockman's breakfast really."
LC and I looked at each other with blank expressions. Like we do most of the time, actually.
He laughed, "Oh, a stockman's breakfast is nice and simple. You have a smoke, a piss and a quick look around."
And I think that's exactly what he did this morning before he left! I was out for a run with the dog and LC was having a more substantial breakfast of tea and toast. Sapphire soon woke up to her bowl of 'rabbit droppings' (as we all call them), or 'Nestle's cocoa puffs' as they're more commonly known.
My breakfast - a Working Mum's Breakfast - was a stray slice of cheese left over from making Sapphire's school sandwich, an orange cut into six segments crammed unbecomingly into the mouth whilst leaning over the sink to catch any juicy spurts and a meusli bar shoved into my pocket as I headed out the door. A few minutes later as I sat on the bus on the way to uni, I wondered about what other 'breakfasts' there are.....
The Newlyweds' Breakfast - (After a long Sunday morning lie in) - Percolated coffee in matching mugs, warmed croissants with gourmet jam, fresh exotic fruits. Usually eaten outside on the decking/balcony/garden bench with the newspaper divided up into the relevant sections and time out for a few kisses when trading the sections with each other. Time taken - 2 hours plus
The New Parents' Breakfast - (rubbing eyes) - "Whaaaa--? I'll feed the baby right here and can you just shove something in my free hand over here? Yeah yeah, that's fine, whatever - I can suck the condensed milk out of the tube hands-free. Hey, see that bowl of olives on the coffee table - can you push those over as well....?"
The Established Parents' Breakfast - (or maybe I'll be honest and call it MillyMoo's Breakfast) - "Wah heeey - there's some leftover cherry cheesecake, yesss! That'll go down nicely with a cup of coffee (with skim milk and sweetener mind you: gotta keep that weight under control)..... Wonder if I've got time for a second piece before the others wake up? Nah - I'll just take this easter egg and smack it on my desk for morning tea later on today."
My Boss's Breakfast - 11:30am, sharing a taxi back to the office - Holds up a clear plastic bag with what looks like gum tree bark and mushrooms in it: "Hey MillyMoo, want some of this?" "Err what exactly is it, Queen B?" "It's pumpernickel and cheese - it's supposed to be my breakfast." Nodding politely, I'm still cheeky enough to say, "Well good for you B, but I'd rather suck a bird turd - you go and enjoy it without me."
My Mum's Breakfast - A cup of tea so weak that she freaks out if her hotwater so much as looks at a teabag. This is followed by a bowl of her homemade muesli which has enough dried fruit and nuts in it to keep her chewing for most of the morning. To make it completely unpalatable, the top of this squirrels' wet dream-of-a-banquet-in-a-bowl is covered in bee pollen granules. They look like yummy yellow cake sprinkles but taste like, well, what they are: bee vomit. She swears that taking them has eliminated her hayfever and I don't doubt it. Besides, she deserves to get rid of it just for being brave enough to eat those noxious little pellets.
The Morning After Breakfast - Coke, non diet. Also known as "The Black Aspro." Lean forward so that the tiny fizz comes out of the top of the glass and pings against your nose. See: you can feel something, you are still alive. Pizza, always served cold. Microwaving it changes its dynamic and the smell will make your puke pipe want to work its magic. Stick to cold - the congealed grease will seal off your stomach and keep everything down. Now, shuffle over to the kettle and make a coffee with at least three teaspoons full.... gently now!
The 8 Hour Drive to Melbourne Breakfast - (Shielding our eyes from the rising sun as it catches every speck of dirt on the windscreen): "We're at Tailem Bend now. Time for a wee and some breakfast." Several minutes later, Sapphire and Love Chunks come back to the car with an identical trucker's feed: flavoured milk (chocolate for her, coffee for him) and two large sausage rolls with sauce. This gives me a second or two to feel mature and superior: "For goodness' sake, that's a terrible breakfast. Those sticks of bum fat are like Dr Who's tardis - they produce more crumbs of flaky pastry than were stuck to the sausage in the first place!" Then it is their turn to mock: "Oh, and a chocolate hedgehog slice and King-sized Kit-Kat washed down with nearly a litre of iced coffee gets the tick of approval from the Australian Heart Foundation, does it?"
The Dog's Breakfast - One weetbix, finely crushed, topped with a generous slop of skimmed milk. It is enthusiastically lapped up in less time than it takes for me to step back through the door, her tail wagging madly all the while.
And lastly, My Dream Breakfast (available only in MillyMoo Land) - Before Jude Law the masseur comes to gently wake me from my slumber, the help has left a silver dish filled with a dozen dark chocolate lindt balls, pesky foil wrapping already removed. Each one is sucked slowly, giving me that essential energy boost needed to leave my boudoir. In the kitchen, Love Chunks has prepared a platter of tropical fruits drowned in cupfuls of passionfruit pulp and hands me a cup of his freshly-brewed coffee.
'The Age' Sunday edition is laid out on the table, ready for me to decide which section to read first. Love Chunks joins me at the table in time for John Cusack to serve us our grilled bacon, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and wholewheat toast. My attention is slightly diverted by the sight of him rubbing down the kitchen counters....... Topher Grace clears the plates away in time for Hayden Christiansen to present us with ricotta hotcakes drowned in maple syrup and generously sprinkled with assorted berries. Now full and content, there comes a tap on the french doors overlooking the infinity pool.
George Clooney is there, tennis racquet in hand. "I'll just get dressed and I'll be right out, George!" I give Love Chunks a lingering kiss goodbye and watch his departing back as he walks out to the helipad on his way to his office in Port Douglas. It's great that he earns half-a-million bucks per hour but still makes sure he has time to have breakfast with me.....