Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Word Verification Edition Number Four

Dourram - A barman who has seen every single aspect of humanity that life can throw up (literally and figuratively). So much so that no amount of friendly flirting, pleasant chit-chat or hilarious attire will raise an eyebrow, let alone a smile. "He's a right old Dourram, isn't he? Douggie said 'Surprise me,' and the sour old bugger poured him out a small glass of Wild Turkey."

Snalg - The disgusting by-product of an unprotected sneeze. My worst snalg occurred in a fancy restaurant when I turned my head to sneeze and a shimmery oyster shot across the room and landed on the tweed-covered trouser leg of an enderly gent several tables over. Nobody else noticed but me. Public Snalgs invariably end up on Fail blog, YouTube or Facebook profiles.

Haboofic - Live performances that go so wrong they end up more entertaining than if things had gone according to plan. Recent examples include Australia, United States and Italy's performances in the World Cup; Russell Hantz's (pictured below) clueless anger in the Survivor finale; any wardrobe malfunctions or fainting grooms featured on Australia's Funniest Home Videos and bad lip-synching during the Eurovision song contest. On film, 'This is Spinal Tap' provide a truly haboofic performance of 'Stonehenge' during their ill-fated American tour.

Rucloact - The unappetisingly unattractive shadowy 'patch' just above the pubic area that the viewer hopes never to get a glimpse of again. Mr Hantz, pictured above, unfortunately lost a bit of weight whilst living on coconuts and seawater and his Rucloact was increasingly on show due to the increasing sagginess of his jocks. Never was I more grateful for Survivor's prudish editing and generous use of pixellation than during the last series.

Twayorit - An uncool person who joins Twitter in an attempt to 'get onboard with rapidly changing technology to connect and engage with Gen Y and Millennials'. The Twayorit's intentions may be noble, but they are sadly destined to be mocked or, worse, ignored entirely. Besides, both of those outcomes can be achieved just as easily by blogging but without the dependence on a mobile phone.

Infit - The agonising decision to put up with a creeping wedgie whilst walking down the street in public. Accepting an infit means enduring physical discomfort rather than risk being seen picking out your knickers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sapph's Blue Cat

Unlike my perfectly good self, poor Sapphire is allergic to a lot of things.

Several very common grasses, dust mites, dogs (but only if Milly licks her) and cats. Throw in the classic trio of asthma, excesma and hayfever and mix in a seven month episode of Whooping Cough, ear infections and permanently puffed sinuses and we decided that it was worth a referral to an allergy specialist.

Four months after having her arm pricked and spotted with liquid allergens, Sapphire had eight fortnightly injections with tiny doses of those same evil beasties to reduce her symptoms.

Last week, the raised, itchy red lumps on her nurse-scratched arms didn't look promising. "Nope, that's just not good enough young lady," Dr S said. "You need two weeks of twice daily nasal sprays and then another visit here for your third skin test before we start your second round of injections."

Considering that Sapphire's 'nasal spray' is actually a little-known asthma inhaler meant for the mouth with a baby's teat stuck on the mouth piece and a sliver of rubber nipple snipped off, she's been impressively sanguine about it all.

Therefore, as interested - and determinedly non-purchasing - onlookers at a recent art auction, it was a bright and breezy blue cat partially hidden behind some recognised (read: price-of-a-new-Corolla-pricey artists) that caught her eye.

"Ooooh if I was rich I'd buy that one, Mum," she pointed, disdainfully ignoring the Clifford Possums, Blackmans, Dickersons, Picasso (!!!! etching), Bromleys, Norman Lindsay sketches, Pro Hart's oily shite and a couple of Whiteleys. "After all, it's probably the closest I'm ever going to get to having a cat of my own," she smiled.

My big brother Rob and his wife WC had clearly done their homework on Aboriginal artists and were there to bid. Sapphire and I were there to be entertained and after three hours, we were still sitting there utterly mesmerised as the auctioneer ploughed his way through hundreds of different pieces.

After a particularly beautiful central-Australian Aboriginal painting went for $20,000, the blue cat came up. It was by no-one famous, wasn’t a signed print: just a picture that no-one wanted in their office anymore. I grabbed WC’s bidding card and bid.

"SOLD to number Forty Nine for thirty five!" Woo Hoo!! I had never been to an art auction before, let alone bid at one....

Sapphire couldn’t believe it and because she’d spent several hours hearing the auctioneer say ‘Ninety five’ when he meant 9500, she said, “Oh Mum, thank you thank you thank you! But did you just spend $3500 on this picture for me – what will Dad say?”

I rang Love Chunks immediately. He could hear the ludicrously high prices being called out by the auctioneer in the background as we spoke and I said, “LC, I didn’t mean to, but I’ve bought a painting.....” I swear I could feel his heart stop beating from a postcode away until thirty five was revealed to be just that - thirty five dollars. "You can't buy a frame for that."

When we got Sapphire’s huge picture home she propped it up in the hallway, admiring it.

But only for a small moment. The next thing we heard in her disapproving nanna voice was, “Oh man – there’s boobs in it!” Sure enough, in the far right hand side of the picture, there was an upside down topless woman.

A week later, the picture was still out in the hall and the focus had shifted from the bright blue moggy to the upside boobs with candy pink nipples.

"When are you putting your boobs in your room, Sapph?"
"Geez Mum it's not boobs I'm allergic to!"

The blue cat is now above her bed and is the first thing I see when I walk into my daughter's room. After the boobs of course.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Student days, Schmudent Days

No Julia commentary from me - there's so much already out there that's expressed better than anything I could excrete out. No, I'm going to go all navel-gazing on you and talk about a time in my life that most people would consider their best time. For me, it was one of the worst times.

University. I know I've mentioned that I hated university before, but most of my unhappiness was actually to do with where I lived. Dare I mention the residential college by name? Perhaps not; but it was located in North Adelaide in some beautiful old Victorian buildings and some shocking 1960s high-rise jobs, all done to accommodate country kids recently matriculated from high school but without the culinary or housekeeping skills to fend for themselves in the big smoke.

By the end of school, I was a fairly confident girl. Reasonably intelligent, nice boyfriend and destined for university. Any specific career goals were beyond me and studying for an 'Arts' degree was considered a safe choice, one that would give me time to think about what I'd like to be when I finished (I had to stop myself from saying 'grew up' even when struggling to make small talk with other uni students). The main point was to just go to uni, get out of the small country town I grew up in and make something of myself.

Lincoln College - there, I've said it now - was almost the unmaking of me. Even twenty four years after first staying there I feel no fondness for the place. Instead, the two years I spent there were ones of confusion, low self-esteem and barely-hidden disgust.

Yep, at nearly forty two, I feel like I can finally admit that I hated it there. It seems like I might be in the minority though, because I keep getting invited to 'Back to the Eighties' events - mostly by people who studiously ignored me when I was there. A Facebook friend request even turned up from someone I played one match of inter-college doubles with and she stalked off the court immediately following our loss and never acknowledged me again for the next two years: why the phark would I 'accept'?

However, I place 90% of the blame on my own weak shoulders. The atmosphere of the place terrified me. Within an hour I was in the President's room, drunk on sherry: my first ever taste of the drink after only daring to sip WestCoast coolers over the summer holidays as a just-turned seventeen year old. Everyone around me seemed better able to handle their drink, their studies, their nightlife, sex lives, dance skills, cultural references, social groups.....

The rest of the week continued in a haze of chicken-and-champagne, Fruity Lexia, Blackberry Nip and Southern Comfort-and-coke with just the vaguest attempts to attend any O-week introductory lectures. All of this was done with the security of Sean, my faithful sweet boyfriend who was never more than a metre from my side. If I wasn't known as 'Sean's Girlfriend,' I was known as 'Rob's Sister'.

Any fool knows the best way to make friends is to be on your own and not with a lover stapled to your hip, but my shyness meant that I relied on him for everything and avoided everyone else. I could not even walk into the college dining room on my own without Sean or my best girl friend Jo by my side.

Once there, it was back to the dreaded cliques of school again. The 'top' table, furthest from the door, was where the self-annointed Cool Group sat. The Katherine Read of 1986 meekly accepted this and did not dare approach or make eye contact with any of those illustrious beings. How I wish the Kath Lockett of 2010 could walk in, plonk herself down right in the middle of that table and chat away......

How I wish I could tell young and awkward Katherine Read that feeling trapped and bored in a relationship two years later at nineteen was not good; that at that age things should still be exciting and be worth looking forward to. I wish I could have told her that spending her hard-earned holiday pay on ridiculous labels, bad perms and uncomfortable shoes would all be for nought: she'd still feel 'out of it' amongst the large, unfriendly arts student crowds and still be snobbed off by fellow collegians she occasionally dared smile at whilst passing on the footbridge.

I'd tell her that these were not the halcyon days or the times when she was having the most fun. No, I'd tell her that it was okay to feel disgusted at how much drunkenness, sexism and disregard for the privacy of others was openly celebrated as accepted college culture and that she should try to make friends with some of the Malaysian students. Yes, they kept to themselves, but wouldn't you, in a new country with horrible food and even more horribly-behaved neanderthal students?

As she hid in the library, struggling often to even understand the meaning of the essay questions set by disinterested and dysfunctional lecturers, I'd give her a quick hug and assure her that a Pass mark would be fine; no-one outside of North Terrace and Victoria Drive would give a Fat Rat's Clacker about the Prehistoric World View or Roman Art and Archaeology as interpreted by an eighteen year old and that sex would be infinitely better than anything furtively done in a single bed in the KMB building with shouting and laughing students on the other side of the door....

Katherine Read would no doubt be a bit perturbed to see the wrinklier, daggier and less-repressed version of herself offering advice, but I'd also assure her that most of the Lincoln students that she thought didn't like her or weren't interested in her had their own issues of inferiority, nervousness and ineptitudes to worry about and would mostly mature into decent and generous people worth knowing.

I'd tell her that she too needed to take risks. To start smiling or talking first; put a silly comment out there and see if it catches. To go to a party on her own; travel overseas on her own; find her strengths on her own.

Katherine wouldn't be given a look into a crystal ball, but she might have got a hint that her happiest times would be sitting across from Love Chunks on their first date; seeing the tears in his eyes when their baby was born and feeling the warm of his back against hers on a winter's night. Glimpsing Sapphire at the school gate, hearing her chatter and kissing her forehead before going to bed. Laughing with the physio just this morning as one of the roof tiles was removed and a tradie's head popped into view: "Oh, sorry ladies. Good thing it wasn't a pap smear, eh?"

Still, a year after Miss Read finished uni and was finding her way in the corporate world, she accompanied a friend to The Waite Ball; a fairly raucous event frequented by rowdy B&S and agriculture students. Dressed in her finest, she heard - and then saw - one of the Lincoln Cool Group Guys. "HEY! Rob's sister!"

Quick as a whip she yelled back, "HEY! DICKHEAD!"

She was finally on her way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Word Verification Explanation Number Three

I'm sitting here at the computer feeling nothing but nauseus. Factor in some dizziness when I stand up and a fair old dollop of self pity and you'll find it a breeze to picture me, still unshowered and in my gruesome dressing gown, in front of the computer.

Still, there are words - important words - to define, so as I sit here Woozoing (see below), here we go:

Fauslypo - The act of sucking in one's stomach when passing by a group of particularly attractive people; ie at outdoor cafes, nightclubs, picnic grounds or fun-runs.

Noneins - Flying into a predictable rage each and every single time you see Sam Newman/David Koch/the mum who wipes her kitchen counters down with a raw chicken leg/Diego Maradona/Chevy Chase/Peter Helliar or any 'football great' who is apologising for any racial comments 'made out of context' because he's normally a 'great bloke', on your telly.

Woozoing - The precise physical state I'm in right now, as it happens. Woozoing depicts the cruel digestive decision yet to be made by a stomach that is sending signals to the owner that the meal they ate - often many hours ago - may yet be violently flung back up and rejected, or may, in the fullness of time, be reconstituted as explosive diarrhoea. This usually occurs the moment the person has decided to ignore the Woozoing because 'time waits for no man', and they've showered, dressed, locked the front door and are now on their way to train station.

Patturs - The unwanted splash of toilet water on the buttocks immediately following the plop of a particularly large poo, thus rendering any physical satisfaction from the effort of excretion both null and disgustingly void.

Joistat - Often encountered at parties, the Joistat is often shy until innocently asked what they do for a living. They will then gratefully launch into an hour-long description of why their statistical analysis skills coupled with the latest technological support packages and innovative KPI measurement strategies make their job and existence utterly fascinating. To them. The listener, by this time usually wedged into the corner and suffering their own personal hell, finds it impossible to escape because all the other guests at the party are so relieved to see the Joistat so happily occupied they remain at least 20 metres away and thus can ignore any pleading signals or eye contact.

Preguee - A particularly cloying form of pregnant female, usually encountered in the workplace. The Preguee tends to announce to the office that she's "in the family way" the night after a particularly good shag and wears clown-sized maternity pants from week one with every conversation - no matter how irrelevant - focused on her foetus. Avoid the Preguee at all costs or wear a 'Population Control' membership badge on your lapel whenever possible.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Surface Skid Marks

In the space of twenty four hours, I've realised just how many 'masks' or surface appearances one person can assume.

Just before dinner last night, Milly and I were Litter Ninja-ing along busy Mt Alexander Road. I've had a beer can and 'LOSER' hurled at me before, but yesterday I was called a "slut."

Now my grasp of modern vernacular is about as cutting edge as my music choices but since when is a 41 year old woman, clad in baggy jeans, a man's jacket and accompanied by a friendly orange dog, a Slut? Do nymphos and females of flexible morality now earn their stripes by wielding a pair of barbeque tongs on their own garbage-strewn streets?

No matter. Later that evening, as we enjoyed our big bowls of spicy noodles ala Love Chunks in front of 'Australia's Funniest Home Videos', my graceless persona was one of finding eye-watering hilarity at seeing evidence of anyone - from toddlers to old ladies - publicly humiliating themselves in the most indignified of ways. An old chick slips onto some rocks: side splitting. A kid falls off a swing and plops into the mud: pants-wettingly funny.

My Bad Samaritan side is not unnoticed by Sapphire and Love Chunks who - out of the corner of my eye - I could see trading lifted eye brows and shared shame at my hoots of laughter. I honestly wish my reaction was a different one and I normally avoid watching the infernal show, because despite my best efforts at self-control, my hard-won maturity, kindness and empathy flies out the window.

This morning we were getting ready to go on a protest march. As you do on a rainy Sunday in winter. "Sapphire," I said gently, over our crumpets, "before we leave I want you to put on your extra thick jacket because it'll be freezing outside." She nodded with the added air of 'stop hassling me' that always makes me count to ten and remind myself again of her good points.

Later on, she'd cleaned her teeth and announced that she was ready. "Sapph, you need to get your jacket," I pointed out. Milly was put outside, the back doors locked and the umbrellas found. "Where's your jacket?"

That's when Sapphire's sigh and accompanying eye roll saw me change from Relaxed Kath to Malevolent Mother. "GET YOUR JACKET ON RIGHT NOW BEFORE YOU FIND YOUR iPOD FRISBEED OVER THE ROOFTOPS!"

As we walked to the tram, I cooled down, Love Chunks chatted about seeing a movie after the protest march and Sapphire's warm hand reached for my colder one. No grudges are held if I can help it and I leaned in to kiss her hair. "Stop it, Mum."

During the march, I was The Embarassing Weirdo. Most commonly found on public transport, but sometimes in slightly further-flung areas like LaTrobe Street in the rain, always doing her best to make her own flesh and blood blush. "Mum, stop talking to that smelly old guy over there - you don't even know him!"
"Muuuuuuum, saying the chant in a hillbilly accent was funny the first three times, but not now."
"Dad, can't you get Mum to stop pinching me?"

After the march we saw 'Robin Hood' at the cinema. We were sure that Sapphire, a veteran of the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings Trilogy would be able to handle anything the M rating threw up. Just to be sure, I became the living embodiment of Parental Guidance.
"King Richard isn't really a goodie in this version because he's made his army fight and kill for ten years and made his own country very poor," I whispered.
"I know, Mum."

"Marian needs to pretend that Robin is her husband or she could lose her land to the Sheriff."
"I know, Mum.

"Those young boys are running amok because they're orphans."
"Shoosh Mum!"

Several hours later, we hopped off the tram and arrived home. Love Chunks busied himself with preparing the roast beef, Sapphire went outside to cuddle the rabbit and Milly and I went for a walk.

Passing by the school I saw three boys, aged around thirteen. One had climbed onto the roof of the transportable used by the builders currently installing new science labs. The other two boys were handing him full cans of Pepsi Max. There were three boxes at their feet.


They froze. Red head in glasses jumped from the building. "Nothing, sorry."

I looked over the adjoining basketball court, already littered with around thirty crushed cans. "Let me ask you again. WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING?"

They huddled together. "Um, we were just chucking these cans and----"
"Pick them up. NOW!" I yelled.

I was furious. Several times a week I pick up papers, litter and the smashed bottles and cans of Friday night bogans, but I'd never seen these gormless goons before. Instinctively, despite being outnumbered three-to-one, I felt safe. And strong. And red rage angry. None of them looked like 'bad news' to me, just stupid little boys with nothing better to do.

They scurried around, collecting the cans. I'm afraid to say that I started to relish the Angry Old Vigilante role and carried it further. I held up my mobile phone. "I've taken photos of you three and hey - I KNOW you, don't I?" I said, pointing at the tallest.

"Um, yes...."
"You live near here don't you? And you too?"
"Ye-e-e-e-s," they chorused, looking at their feet.

"Do any of you go to school here?" I knew none of them did, because I'm pretty familiar with all of the kids who walk past our house.
"No, but we know lots of kids who do," chubby boy said, trying to smile.
"Well what gives you idiots the right to think that their school is worth vandalising?"

Still they didn't move to escape or to tell me to bugger off. My voice got louder. Liar Lady mode then switched on. "I know where you and you live and I work for both the council and the police station so you'd better collect your stuff and go back home."

They nodded and as Milly and I turned to head off into the other direction, my mind changed. I decided to follow them.

Sure enough, they'd just done a lap of the block next door to get out of the Mean Old Bag's sight. "HEY! YOU BOYS! I've notified the school and they've assured me that the surveillance cameras are working and will have captured your activities, so unless you want me to take this further, TAKE YOUR CANS AND RUBBISH STRAIGHT HOME!"

They immediately turned on their heels ninety degrees and walked faster. Milly and I kept following, she enjoying the trotting pace immensely. When we were only only twenty metres behind them I dialled my mobile and said loudly, "Yes, I've taken a few photos of them and know where two of them live..... Yep, sure...... So, do you want me to lodge a report?..... Uh huh...... Yep, I've got the details, thanks."

Having left that ridiculous lie on my own answering machine, I saw the boys shuffle further and further away, shoulders hunched. My heart was beating as hard as it does on the treadmill and to hide my stupidly jubilant face I bent down to ruffle Milly's ears.

"Well, furry face, it's time for this old slut to pick up some rubbish."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bunny Boy

Some of you may know that Skipper, the youngest and smallest of the Lockett Clan, was crook a couple of weeks ago.

Sure, his vet appointment and medication cost more than he did (with de-sexing, a hutch, water bottle and a weeks' worth of pellets thrown in!) two years ago, but a week after my final grapple with holding him still, forcing his reluctant mouth open and squirting in some liquid antibiotics, he seemed to be on the mend.

Which meant .......

..... Bunny Bath Time!

Normally, he's self-cleaning, but the accumulated dark brown crud on his back legs of ancient dried blood and urine were obviously a mix he wasn't prepared to lick off during his leisure time. Plus the vet advised me not to give him a bath until he'd recovered or the shock might set him back.

The laundry trough was one-third filled with warm water and a few squirts of organic body wash. He looked so tiny in there, soaked and bewildered.

I put my most ancient Polarfleece top on; the one I wear when I'm cuddling him because it disguises the handfuls of fine white hairs that he discards like pollen. Sapphire stood by with the camera, alternating between laughter and "Careful, Mum!"

He was surprisingly calm during it all and rather sedately allowed me to towel him down. Gently, of course.

Again heeding the vet's advice - no hairdryers because they're far too hot for rabbits' delicate skin and fur - he was wrapped in another dry towel and sat with me in the living room directly under the wall heater.

I even dared fancy that he was quite enjoying the warmth and attention as well as being allowed inside whilst Love Chunks was still at work. I know that I was enjoying it - he may only weigh one-and-a-half kilograms but he's still worth a kiss or three on the nose and stroking his warm ears and silky soft fur is both mesmerising and therapeutic.

A couple of hours later he was dry and ready to be placed on the lawn outside with a fresh carrot. Sapphire was doing her homework and I decided that it was time to read through all of the Age magazines and weekend inserts.

Love Chunks arrived home to hear my shocked snort. "Oh he can't read, you daft old sod," he said, ruffling my hair.

Of course I knew that. Still, this particular Saturday insert was one that would never make it into the pile of papers used to line Skipper's hutch.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Weekly Word Verification Explanations 2

Perse - The tense few moments a busy shopper experiences the day before pay-day when they open their purse or wallet to pay for something non-essential whilst praying that the EFTPOS machine will approve the purchase.

Noutlers - The tiny pile of yellowed toe nail clippings that are shoved between the couch cushions by the clippee.

Scenchio - The precise moment the heady weeks of utter fascination with everything a loved one says, does or emanates is no longer cute or acceptable. "Isabella's relationship with Hans reached a scenchio when she rolled over to face him on Sunday morning and realised that his previously-sweet morning breath was in fact comparable to decaying mincemeat marinated in manure."

Redne - A bogan too lazy to be an active racist, Super Cars fan or intellectual pygmy who just likes to wear the black t-shirts. Can sometimes be mistaken for an Emo from a distance until the strains of ACDC and odour of Winfield blue is detected.

Arfrinel - A symbolic destination arrived at when, after driving for many hours, the reality of the accommodation compared to what was promised on the website booking becomes sadly apparent. "Five star hideaway my arse - that's mould on the shower curtain, not a Florence Broadhurst design!"
"You're right sweetie. We're stuck in Arfrinel."

Colase - The square of condensation left from toast when it is buttered directly on the kitchen counter without a plate. "Can you hand me the sponge - Barry's left colase all over the bloody counter again."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nii Nah Nae Nee NO!

Have you ever been to Eildon? Or Lake Eildon?

If you haven't but are planning to some day, make sure that you have a robust sense of self-worth and a big wallet or you'll suffer the same fate as we three - sorry, four, Locketts.

After deciding to meander home from Mansfield via Lake Eildon, we discovered that the town itself looked like it had decided to stay and fully embrace 1982. The optimistically-titled 'restaurant' had mis-spelled cappuccino, the 'bookings essential' sign was written in chalk with the specials already worn off by the rain and the pungent aroma of green slime was wafting up from the upper and lower ponds. The real estate shop had long gone, with only 'houseboats for sale' stickers placed in the hardware shop window.

"Nah, it's all good," said Love Chunks, jollying Sapphire and myself along. "The old guy in the Information Centre says there's plenty of spots where we can see the lake and take Milly for a walk."

An hour and several detours later, our views of the lake were restricted to stretching our necks over the cement barrier as we drove along the edge of the dam(n) wall and reversing out of three 'Private Boat Owners Only' signs and padlocked boom gates.

'No Climbing on Rock Face,' said one sign in the only spot we could see that wasn't fenced off.
'No walking on bridgeway', said another.

"Well, lets head off to Jerusalem. It's a state park and we're allowed to bring Milly." Our orange dog yawned like a squeaky screen door from the back of the station wagon.

Several minutes later, LC pulled over into a muddy ditch and I ran out to read the park's noticeboard. 'Dogs are permitted in camping areas one to eight.' Oooh, that's good, I thought, before reading the next sign, 'Areas one to eight are booked out for the long weekend. No further sites are available.' Oh.

Back in the car, we decided to drive on in search of a picnic ground.
'No cats, No dogs, No firearms,' it said, carved into the pine bollard and coloured in yellow paint for added emphasis.

Love Chunks pulled over into a side bay to turn around. 'No 2WD vehicles beyond this point.'
"Why don't we just go back to Eildon and have a bit of a better look around the river there?"

A car park overlooking a houseboat marina but without public access had a cement brick toilet block situated on top of the hill. Each of us visited it gratefully but no water came out of any of the taps. Sapphire started to laugh, "It's us, remember? We've been told 'no' to everything we've tried to do in this place, so why would we expect water to come out of the taps?" It was one of those times when the tube of Wet Ones circa 2001 mouldering away in the glove box was a welcome rediscovery.

In Eildon itself, we soon got used to the odour of slime and became more and more amused by what we weren't allowed to do:
No camping
No swimming
No fishing
No boating
No diving
No watersports
No bodysurfing

Milly was busy trotting between us we walked the circuit of Upper and Lower Pondages. The sun had finally emerged and we were even feeling slightly warm. Milly lapped at the edge of the water before I noticed another bloody sign. 'No drinking water available. Water is unsuitable for human consumption.'

Further along, some burly blokes had their rods resting on Y-shaped sticks jammed into the muddy bank and were standing near their cars, drinking beers. "Caught any fish, fellas?"
"No love, just a cold."

We walked on, and I noticed some blackberry bushes entwined between the eucalypts and willows. Yes they're a weed but maybe it was right time of year to eat.......... 'Please note - these blackberry bushes have all been sprayed. Do not eat the berries.' Right.

Our circuit completed, we stood in front of the town bakery. It was 2pm and we were all starving for a late lunch.
"Do you have any beef pies left?"

Of course not.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Wednesday Word Verification Explanations

For a while now I've been jotting down each 'word verification' that pops up every time I've commented on someone else's blog.

Some of them seem too good to let fade away into merely acknowledging a human interaction in cyberspace before fading into electro-oblivion and I'm tossing up the idea of making this a weekly segment. After all, new words are being introduced into our language all the time or else we'd still be reading the original 18th C Samuel Webster.

And so, today I present to you some new words, defined:

Pididi - Two meanings, in fact.
1) Little known-cousin to the Llama, found solely in the isolated southern region of the Andes. Stemming from a very small breeding stock that commonly results in bottom teeth growing past the nostrils. Prized for their ability to stand in for Gary Busey, drink-affected Muppets and extras from 'Deliverance'.

2) Slang for an elderly person's genitalia (male or female). 'The carol singing was going swimmingly until Grandad pushed his zimmer frame aside and whipped his Pididi out.'

Mingo - a popular form of entertainment in US recreation centres that forbid gambling of any sort, particularly in the Bible-belt. 'Hey, are you coming with me to play Mingo tonight?' Instead of placing a monetary value on a successful outcome, people participate in the game by seeing how long they can perch on specifically-designed, elongated suction plugs. The first to fall to the floor must clean the toilets at the end of the evening.

Efoonst - The act of discovering rude words or double-entendres in research findings, scientific equipment or electronic devices. Commonly enjoyed by high school maths students, physics graduates and laboratory technicians. Teachers the world over are often seen rolling their eyes and scornfully saying, 'Oh for gods' sake Leithold, can you stop efoonsting long enough to finish your algebra test?'

Nerchicc - Gender confusion identification experienced by the onlooker and not the subject under observation. Commonly attributed to the rise of obese youths interested in Goth culture, thin males entranced by 'Twilight' and 'Glee,' the increased uptake of facial piercings and an indiscriminate use of Photoshop. 'Is that a girl or a guy over there? See, the one with the really skinny jeans and neck tattoo?'
'I honestly can't tell. It's the seventh Nerchicc I've seen on the tram today.'

Kabbele - From the ancient Latin 'Kabbe', meaning 'forsaken'. A struggling, alternative religion not yet taken up by celebrities, billionaires, aliens or child molesters. All worshippers must forgo wearing socks, eat only foods that are voluntarily discarded by others and commit to spending half their waking hours reverently cleaning up the alleys, footpaths and hotel rooms used by AFL footballers after nightclub visits. Debate still rages as to whether their Divine Being is Wayne Carey's original Mullet, Fevola's Financial Advisor or the Mayor of Port Adelaide.

Wallock - A short, sharp, physical act of violence that is an automatic reaction to seeing ridiculously pointless and impractical clothing worn by people clearly under the influence of drugs or head injury. 'The judge ruled that Dennis had no case to answer, for his swift wallock to the shoulder blades on a youth clad in jeans with pockets at the knees was considered an appropriate response.'

Sunday, June 06, 2010


What Would Ned Kelly do?

It was freezing in Melbourne on Saturday. Slippery streets, cold drizzling rain, finger-numbing temperatures.

The Gregory Five were having a One Day/One Night cheap flight-n-hotel deal from Adelaide and joined us for Yum Cha, a wander around the city for a game of 'spot the weirdo' and a trip through the Old Melbourne Gaol.

I'd never been before and had resisted mostly because the reverence of bushranger Ned Kelly had always made me uncomfortable; the same deal for Phar Lap. After 80,000 years of Aboriginal culture and slightly over 200 of European settlement, all we have is a criminal and a horse to worship? And no, I've not studied or read about either hero in any detail, so I'll pre-empt any anger and ask that you direct all complaints to my alternative email address: kathwon'treadthis@couldn'tgivearat' .

Arriving through the git shop (the 'git' was a typo when it should have said 'gift' but I'm leaving it in now), there were ice-creams and Ned Kelly snowdomes for sale. Noooice.

Not unexpectedly, the prison itself was dank, grim, forbidding, sad, silent and dark. In the tiny cells that were open to the public, each contained a story about a particular prisoner who was hung, with their death mask enclosed to enhance the atrocity. Their backgrounds were all particularly harsh and cruel - bar none - and it was a relief to hear a bell ring and the actress playing Ned Kelly's mother call us down to the ground floor for her next performance.

With her loud Oirish accent occasionally segueing into Glaswegian, she restlessly paced the flagstone floor, telling us the tale of Ned and her sons from her rather biased and naturally emotional point of view. Life was unmistakably pitiful and merciless when she was widowed and left to care for eight children on her own.

It was cold on those hard plastic seats and every time I moved to crouch a little tighter or rub my hands, she seemed to be upon me, finger jabbing as she made her point, eyes boring into mine. "He was my SON," she yelled, making the elderly couple sitting next to me flinch involuntarily.

Three rows ahead, a young man groaned. It was then I noticed that he was one of six adults with intellectual disabilities. The teenage girl to his left was rocking back and forth, fingers in her ears trying to drown out the angry lady's voice. Sobs were heard from the boy three seats away who raised his arms in the air every few minutes on his own, lonely rollercoaster ride. "Err, this might not have been the ideal choice for their outing," my friend Kent whispered.

Forty minutes later, the performance ended and I found myself still struggling to accept the continually force-fed idea of Ned as a bonafide hero. The disabled adults, on the other hand, were struggling to make their way out of the hall without overturning any of the chairs in their haste. What had their carers been thinking?

Exiting through the gift shop, I wondered what Ned would have been thinking about had he been exhumed and given a few minutes to roam the Git Shop, casting his worn eyes over the foam and nylon balaclavas carelessly assembled into his head gear that were on sale for $9.95 a piece, or the 'Ned Says it's Your Shot' spirit glasses, koala-like clip on mini-Neds, beer coasters, pencil sharpeners, stubby holders, mouse pads......

.....and pencil cases;

....not to mention the earrings!

Perhaps he'd ask for a fair split of the profits before insisting, "I give fair warning to all those who has reason to fear me to sell out and and do not attempt to reside in Victoria but as short a time as possible after reading this notice, neglect this and abide by the consequences, which shall be worse than the rust in the wheat in Victoria."

Fair enough.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Yellow Dog Day

Relax, dear reader. It's not the Black Dog gone horribly wrong or colour blind but an adoption drive for homeless dogs in shelters all around Australia.

Milly and myself were tracked down in the blogosphere with the former cited as a good example of a 'lost dog' being adopted by a family for a second - and much better - stage of life.

We found Milly six years ago at the Sandy Creek Dog Sanctuary and she was the first dog I saw. It was love at first sight for both of us. I've written before about how Love Chunks said, "Steady on Kath, don't go for the first one you see, take a look at them all," and I dutifully did, but we ended back in front of Milly's kennel.

Thirty minutes and eighty bucks later, she was sitting in the back of our station wagon, tail wagging and eyes sparkling as we drove home. Love Chunks looked me, grinning and brimming with joy, and said to the back of the car, "Milly, you've won the lotto."

Six years later and my little orange best friend means the world to me. Walking to meet Sapphire after school, snoozing in her beanbag under my desk as I write, leaning against me when I'm sad or sick, assisting the Litter Ninjas by thoughtfully eating the squashed hamburgers, dropped Red Rooster bones and dribbled thickshakes and showing me how a good body shake and flap of the ears helps release tension and get over things.

The enthusiastic welcomes and the love she gives makes me feel like a ruler and rock star every single time.

By visiting the Pe
digree (there's some irony in the name for you) Adoption Drive website, you can search for and adopt a dog, make donations to help homeless dogs and buy merchandise. Alternatively, you can buy your own dog a can or two of Pedigree dog food and they'll donate a portion of the proceeds to renowned rescue organisation PetRescure.

It's me that won the lotto.

And Milly is now asking Sapphire to stop using flash photography so that she can get on with the more pressing business of rolling over for a tummy rub and a quick snuffle under the dining table before settling in front of the telly with her beloved pack.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tram Talkin'

As I stepped onto the Number 59 tram, I felt a little better.

Mr Migraine now a distant memory; the plagiarist suddenly apologised and removed my stolen words when the MEAA stepped in; and the school principal will sit in on future writers' workshops from next week onwards.

This morning I did something I rarely do these days and that is - no, not catch a tram - but catch one during rush hour. More black suits, tink-a-tink ear buds and blank-faced office drones than you could fling a Myki at, and it made me wonder if there'd be any people-watching opportunities in such a dreary crowd.

Ah, but there was something that slipped my mind, only to bounce back in when a bloke, looking unshaven and tired and oily squeezed aboard. My Weirdo-Magnet was on in full force today as he sat alongside me and slurred, "Is it Thursday today, love?"

Thursday. The day of pensions, dole forms, shopping and Centrelink appointments. Maybe that's why I got a seat - the drones were standing so as to not engage in conversation and us nutbags and non-office slaves were free to sit in the seats and...... talk. Or listen, in my case.

In front of the Childrens' Hospital, a laptop-lugging drone accidentally brushed it against a man sipping a takeaway coffee. "Sorry," he said as he passed.

"So you bloody well OUGHTA be!" yelled the sipper. I snuck a look behind me. Both ears had more steel coils in them than a mini slinky and the WuTang Clan jacket and black beanie certainly seemed to suggest that he wasn't a morning person.

A sweet old lady was sitting opposite me and raised her eyebrows in response. I leaned forward and whispered, "He probably needs another seven coffees and a hug, but I don't think I'll be the one to offer them."
"Oh aye," she agreed. "You should have seen some of the bad tempered old blokes I used to serve in the mess hall. A snotty lot they were, but most could be jollied along with a friendly smile."

We chatted a bit further; me asking her how long she'd been here from - where in Scotland?
"Glasgow love, and oh, only for a wee forty eight years," she chuckled. I revealed to her my love of people-watching on trams and she nodded. "Oh aye, I see some lovely young gerrruls (girls) wearing the most pretty and well put-together outfits and I'll often tell them how beautiful they look."

She waved me farewell as we pulled into Bourke Street and went our separate ways - she to the Myer stocktale sale and me the 86 tram to Collingwood.

A man wearing shorts and t-shirt on a still-misty morning ran on. He asked the tram driver for a call out so that he'd know when to get off and plonked himself beside me. Rummaging through his pockets he pulled out a box of matches, a pen and some crumpled pieces of paper. Leaning over on the empty seat opposite, he started writing.

It was hard not to sneak a read. "I'm so sorry Lisa"
"You are my sunshine"
"Your massages are the best"
"I want to make this work"

Every thirty seconds or so, he'd stop, strike up a match and heat up the tip of the pen - "It's an old trick from school," he told me when he caught my curious look - and resumed his tattered love letter.

Ten matches later, it was clear that the pen was dead. "Hey do you have a pen I can borrow?"
"Sorry mate," I said. I did have one, but it was my only one and I was off to interview the convenor of an ESL course for refugees.

"No worries." He looked left. "This is my stop, see ya - and hey, you smell nice," he called, half way down the steps. A university student lifted his nose out of his economics book to stare at me. Yes, I'm a Weirdo Magnet, I wanted to say, or maybe it's ME who's the weirdo? I got out my own notebook and jotted stuff down inside it instead.

On the way back home, two men sat behind me, both reeking of BO, beer and bacon. 'See the bombers fly up, up...' rang one of their phones. "Yeah Marty, but I'm not home right now. I'll be back at 4 o'clock this arvo...... Yeah I'm number 65...... Nah, not that one, it's the blue caravan, right by the toilets." He paused, listening. "Oh yeah, me too. I'm hoping to go to WA one day, reach my goal of seein' all the states."

His mate chimed in, arm swishing as he tapped his shellsuit-covered shoulder. "It's our stop here, Brucey, or you won't be seein' any meat and cheap veg here at Viccy market if you don't get off."

Opposite me sat a young, very elegant woman, dressed all in black and adorned only in silver and turquoise jewellery. She made a call. "I'm off to Dan Murphy's for a shift now, but apparently I've got a job on the Monday..... yeah, handing out flyers for some show or other...... Uh huh, he says if I do this he'll take some photos for my portfolio..... just as long as I'm still able to work on Saturday. It's double time you know."

My stop was next. I pulled the cord and walked to the front. There sat my Glaswegian lady from earlier that morning. "Hello!" we both chimed delightedly.
"How was your morning," she said.
"Good, actually. They do some great work there and I'm dying to get it written. What about you?"
"Oh, nothing special, but my daughter will like the sheets I got for half price. Oh love, what's your name?"
"Kath. And yours?"
"Kath too! Is yours short for Katherine?"
"Yep. How's that for a coincidence!"

I stood on the footpath, smiling like a loon and waving as she pulled away.