Monday, 30 September 2013

I want Spring back!

$260 that I will never see again!! My but aren’t the little beggars expensive these days!

It seems that summer has bullied springtime right out of existence this year and with the heat and the humidity and the unfulfilled promises of rain, has come an avalanche of ticks and other nasties which have never worried us before.

The ‘dog park’ folk are all full of tick related news and as I witnessed one ‘mummy’ de-tick her beloved this week, I thought it prudent to get some tick repellent sharpish. The other normal pills that Dibley gets don’t cover tick protection and so after wading through the research to see what is compatible with her chemical lot, I walked out of the pet store $230 poorer!! But as the story in the park goes, the local vet has made $30000 in the last little while treating dogs for tick related illnesses, not that I am thinking for a minute they are pleased about that! It seems a small price to pay for that sort of insurance and anyway I am a lazy cow and so will no longer have go over dog looking for lumps and bumps. Yeah, Dibley is sorted.
Every morning I go out to the pond and feed ‘the girls’. I call ‘em over and they swim, on masse to greet me. I do love watching them! But over the past few days the pond has turned from crystal to green sludge and now it is not easy to see the girls coming. The lack of visibility is bad enough but the stink is the real kicker!! What a pongy pond I have!! I have tried scooping out the green bits leaving the filter, ( the pump thing for the Wise Old Woman Fountain) on all day. This only results in the filter getting all clogged with green shit and that really is stinky to clean – oooh yuk all under my nails!!

So I got some stuff from the pet shop that might just help the slime. Seems the girls don’t care about the sludge, so I guess in reality the stuff is more for me than them. I reckon it is quite the job to clean it out so that will see us busy tomorrow.

The best news though is that the cure for the other truly shitful pests of the season is free of charge. Steve’s size 42s or my thong ( read flip flop you poms!) just need to be at hand. The early summer has seen a stampede of bloody spiders into the house. Some of them as big as your hand! This is no joke! What I always called old garden type spiders, turn out to be Huntsmans. Pretty harmless fellas, I thought, except that one of them lunged right at me, yes it leapt at me a number of times and I had to retreat across the room to escape it. The only thing that stopped it was a well aimed size 42. Flattened and splattered. I googled about them and found that yes indeed female huntsman spiders are aggressive and do bite! I can still taste the adrenalin from that particular fight or flight episode. Since then we have had 3 more invasion incidents. Steve managed one with furniture removal and some Mortein and I took a slap at another and the third just wandered into the aircon vent, where in my nightmares it is breeding like a maniac and preparing for a final onslaught.

Whatever happened to springtime – a moment to collect yourself for the intensity of summer, to ease into the prickly heat and the bugs, find some shorts that fit, and actually spend a couple of minutes getting ‘tog ready’. I am not sure about global warming, but I do mourn for the loss of spring.





Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Larder’s Full and the Freezer’s Heaving.

Yep, that’s another 2 hours I will never get back!

It definitely seems to me that the question of joy from ‘doing the groceries’ is about as polarising as red versus white wine, or shaving versus waxing. You either love or you hate it. I don’t think there is much middle ground.

Sociologists wishing to see the best and worst of the human condition could do worse than sit and watch the procession of folk at any supermarket on a Saturday morning. There is an excellent cross section of people, old, young, women, men, able, disabled, polite, rude, and really really bloody badly mannered sons of bitches.

I usually have a little chat to myself as I wait in line to grab a trolley. ‘Now you know that there will be hideous people in here today, so smile and see if you can maintain some decorum at least until you get to the check-out. You are not in a rush so don’t use that baguette to hit that fucker who just pushed in. Smile and say thank you instead. Try not to use the canned goods as shot-puts to really give that kid something to whinge about, and fight the urge to explain to the young carer that the old fella in the wheel chair might not be able to walk but that doesn’t mean he is a complete fucking idiot – he can choose his own food without a running commentary about then heart safeness of it from YOU!’ Ah there’s my trolley, wonky wheel and all.

The Give Way road rules are as foreign as nutritional goodness in a KFC burger. Trolleys are banked up especially at the aisle ends which are stupidly, overflowing with whatever shit is ‘on-sale’ this week. Making your way without moving like a lemming up and down every aisle, is definitely taking your life in your hands. People growl, and wheels are run into ankles, hips are smacked with swinging baskets and Oh shit, there goes the stack of cereal boxes.

I like to go the drinks aisle first, and then to the canned goods. I have a very neat and tidy trolley load, all the heavy stuff on the bottom, neatly arranged, and then I buy some meat and then finally I get some fruit and veg cos it gets squashed if it is not on the top.

Waiting in the line to part with large amounts of wonga is a great time to catch up on the celebrity gossip. Yes I am one of THOSE. I have a quick flick through the mags at the counter. Well why else would they put them there. Surely it is to relieve the irritation of waiting for some 11 year old  to toss  your eggs on top of the loo cleaner and the canned stuff.

I carefully arrange everything on the conveyor belt, heavy things closest to the 11 yr old and the grapes and the eggs together at the other end. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just a crap shoot really as to what goes into what bag. Rushing through and going like a maniac to re-arrange the stuff in the bags is usual and so my growling begins. It beggars belief that on spending a few hundred dollars it is necessary to oversee all this like a forensic accountant going through the mafia’s books. Why is it not possible to employ people with a brain. Is being clueless a prerequisite to being a check out chick. Did that grub really just sneeze snot into his hand and then pick up my bananas....SHIT SHIT SHIT, it really is time to be going NOW, before I lose all sense of humanity and strangle the closest shithead with my mile long docket.

No prizes for guessing on which end of the ‘joy’ spectrum I sit.


Friday, 27 September 2013

The Fasting Diet is not very FAST

Ho bloody hum!!


3 weeks ago I thought I would give this a try. Fast for 2 days a week and then eat as usual for the rest of the time.


Now I am a bit of a lazy cow and didn't want to count calories and anyway I could not work out how to download an app that would do it for me - what a dinosaur I am. I thought about the logic of this 2 day fasting and decided that it would not be too much trouble so picked 2 days that were not going to interfere with too much and started.


I must admit that swapping a skinny chino for a double expresso and a touch of skim milk is not all that pleasant, and that by 6.30 pm I am getting snappy about chowing into my 500 calorie dinner, but actually it is not a bad diet.


Except that I have not lost a gram, not an ounce!! and by any logic that is just NUTS! It means that had I eaten normally for the last 3 weeks weeks I would have put on even more weight!!


I am not crazy obsessed with the idea of losing some weight, but as I have put in the effort for 3 weeks I thought I might have been rewarded with a little tilt backwards on the scale. So again ho hum.


Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows the routine. Hop up and wee like a horse and wearing as little as possible step lightly onto the scales. When the reading is not what you are hoping for, hop off and try again because of course there must be something wrong with the scales. Ho hum.


I will keep up with this silliness for a couple more weeks and then no doubt it will go the way of countless others over the years. Ho bloody hum.

 ( please not even the paragraphs are skinnier.... SHIT!!)

Monday, 23 September 2013

It's just a car.

Cars are really only a necessary evil. I have no interest in them. I don’t recall ever being impressed by the car a fella drives, except perhaps when my high school beau picked me up for the formal in his very own baby pooh brown escort. We arrived, with it spluttering and smoking, while other kids were being dropped off by mum and dad’s taxi. It was a dangerous rust bucket of a thing and in retrospect I am surprised my father ever allowed me to get in it, but it was a hoot being independent and carefree - the memory of the exhaust fumes and lack of seat belts not withstanding.
I have owned surprisingly few cars in my life, certainly compared to most people I know. 2 whilst I was married – a Datsun which we bought new, which we called Friday afternoon, cos it had so many idiosyncrasies like the horn blasting every time you turned left, that it had to have been assembled in a big hurry by oafs more interested in getting pissed and trying to cracking on than building a precision instrument. It was a very pretty blue colour though. The service department men would just cringe and hide behind the oil drums when they saw me coming with no doubt yet another weird problem which was just beyond their area of expertise. Soon we tired of its madness and bought a Toyota also new, which I managed to smash the shit out of when only a month old....yeah, ooops, big ooops.
When I got divorced – possibly not related to the smashing of the new car, I didn’t get custody of the Toyota so with the dubious help of the guy from the credit union, I managed to buy a 20 year old automatic  toyota which was built like a brick shithouse and went about as fast. I reckon in his most casually sexist way he thought this was a perfect fit for a woman, safe and reliable and crash resistant.
Belly and I really grew up in this car – NOG we called her. We went everywhere and it was truly reliable. It carried kids by the car load to kiddie places and then became the venue for sex and drug education as it filled with girls on route to the high school dances. The girls would hope out chanting the mantra of the day, like ‘Never leave your drink unattended’, and then go off and do whatever they wanted in true teenage fashion.
By my late 30s NOG was dying a very slow death. We had tried all manner of resuscitation but it really was to no avail so she slid into the murky world of spare bits and pieces and I got a new Ford. This gal was lovely and smelled new and was manual and had airconditioning and power steering and a radio that worked! Like all my cars, she was blue too, well perhaps teale, but blue green.
When I arrived in London I thought I would manage without a car and that idea lasted about 3 days. I found a fella who knew a fella who knew someone who was selling a white car for 300 pounds – quite a bargain. So I bought it, insured it, registered it and drove it like a crazy woman all over southern England. It used about as much oil as it did petrol but she sure went like the clappers. While I was off in Greece, Belly was unlucky enough to be rear-ended in it and the petrol tank was punctured so the car had to go off to the big car shop in the sky.
The same guy’s brother helped me out with another car but this one was less, well less everything really. It had a piece of timber for the drivers’ window and blew smoke so badly, that one night driving back from the theatre, it just blew up and I had to leave it by the side of the road. I did of course remove all ID before I legged it home because it was an ‘illegal’ – no registration no insurance and given the state of it, no MOT. I loved driving this car. I had become some crazy sort of villain parking anywhere and laughing ruefully at all the parking fines. I used to post them home with a view to wall papering a small room with them. Yeah I know.... it was wrong!!
When I moved in with Steve, for the first time in my life I had a car that was just for me. I didn’t have to worry about driving kids places and as he had a big car I didn’t have to worry about boot space for weekend luggage etc. She was a blue Ford convertible and she went like a shower of shit so long as you weren’t stuck in London traffic. I thought very seriously about bringing her back to OZ but the paper work was a killer and it really is too hot in Queensland for a convertible anyway.
Now I am on to my second blue Mazda. They go well and are comfortable, easy to park, and quite famously can transport a whole bath if you happen to be building a house.
This girl is only 6 months old and as a result of my being busy being unwell, has not gone many kilometres. I only mention this because it seems to be a scam that the car dealers insist on 6 monthly servicing whether it needs it or not.
I wish these people would just bugger off and stop trying to bully me into giving them money for old rope. It’s a car for god’s sake not an invalid relative! It’s just a car.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Good Old Girl Nextdoor

The park next door is a pretty good neighbour. Mostly she is pretty quiet and asks for very little from me, in terms of effort to maintain the gardens or the trees or the grass, unless you count the calls I make to the council to ask for a bit of a hair cut or to tell them that it’s time to kill the bindis before they flower. She is a well dressed and carefully coiffured older woman who watches over a broad spectrum of society. I reckon we could do worse than ask her about the general state of play in the suburbs.  
Almost every weekend one or both of the rotundas are commandeered to house the screaming delights of children at birthday play. Balloons are strung and food is spread and kids play and my dog runs amok if I let her out amongst it all. Generally all this goes off with no inconvenience to me, but last weekend some overindulgent soul thought it necessary to erect a noise making, generator driven, gaudy jumping castle. I could only suppose that this was the so no adult would be called upon to actually play with the kids. The hired help supervised the jumping and the adults enjoyed a chardonnay. The silly party games of my youth and those that I used to play at my girl’s parties seem to be sadly a thing of the past. I miss them and I bet if modern kids knew about them they would pine for them too.

There is a 20 something couple who take up the position on one of the garden benches, every morning. They cuddle and sit transfixed by each other. I just wonder why they are not at work ( they could wonder the same about me) or  if they are having an affair and have nowhere else to meet, or if indeed they are drug addicts just sleeping off the morning in the sunshine soaking up a bit of free vitamin D. They are a bit grubby so I am only guessing and it could well be my middleclass-ness that is influencing my thinking. They do no harm and Dog just ignores them. She seems to know that they have NO interest in playing with her so she leaves them well alone.

It’s an off-the-leash dog park so dogs of all shapes and sizes get about. Generally it is all quiet on the western front, although there have been instances of aggression and unpleasantness, but that is mostly when owners are having a bad day or are just unpleasant bullies. Idiots have been seen threatening others and yelling in a frenzied way but this is far outweighed by the development of strong friendships and the exchange of local gossip.  What does beggar belief is the number of dog owners who do not clean up after their animals. There are bags aplenty and lots of rubbish bins, but still some folk find it beneath them I suppose to bend over and scoop up a bit of dog shit. It does lack dignity, but it’s all just part of owning a dog. It has been known for me to yell out and let Mum or Dad know that a baggie is needed and then stand point until the shit is cleared away. Rather self serving really as I can live without slopping my thong into a steaming pile of pooh.

This morning however, the tranquillity was disturbed by MIKE. Three young brothers were in the play gym area while and mum and step dad watched on. There was a scuffle between the boys as there so often is and one gave another one a bit of a clock around the head. There was some crying and a sook to mum and then the smacker became the hunted as Mike chased him around the park yelling at him. The kid was terrified crying, ‘Don’t Mike. Please. I said I was sorry. Don’t. Please.’ Well Mike caught him and threw him to the ground and started belting the poor bugger. He hit the kid around the head while he sat on top of him. I felt like someone should step in except that Mike was out of control, clearly shaking with rage, and there could have been no guarantee that he wouldn’t turn on you. Now in the calm aftermath I feel like I should have said something. The poor kid! I wonder how many people would have interfered.

Old folk, young people, kids, dogs, workers on their breaks, black white and brindle, meeting in the park and for the most part just rubbing along happily together. She is a lovely old girl, that neighbour we have.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gardening, well almost.

What with the early onset of summer and the recent bucketing down of the wet stuff, I could no longer ignore the cries from the garden, so yesterday with secateurs in hand I attacked the sad spindly branches of the shrubs which I expected to be thick and lush and all joined together by now.

I am NOT A GARDENER! There is nothing at all that I like about gardening, except maybe sitting in quiet contemplation while I water the ground. I loathe getting dirt under my fingernails and I hate carrying all the shit out to the bin and chucking it away. I hate sweating and getting bitten by bugs and the smell of fertilizer, but needs must and all that so out I went, hat on, aerogard slathered and gloves and equipment to hand.

My father was also not a gardener, but he did love the pruning season. He always went a little mental with the shears and the secateurs. No overgrown garden was too much of a challenge for him. He’d go at it like a hungry bloke at the all you can eat trough at Sizzlers, and in just minutes the follage would be flattened and lying all about the place. All too often there would be nothing left except a small bare stalk. But that’s where his gardening finished. I used to think that maybe I was one of 3 kids just so the parentals could avoid doing all the jobs they didn’t enjoy. It was the kids' job to clean up the debris.

Dad used to do the mowing, and never ‘catch’ the grass. That was the kids’ job too. Dad would hand the rake to my brother like it was some sort of boys’ only initiation tool and my sister and I would gather all the clippings and carry it into the grass pile, where we would build caves and  race tracks and little towns, all the while revelling in the wonderful smell of just cut grass. Even today that smell takes me straight to my backyard in suburban Brisbane. Ahhh, lovely.

The grass seeds and dust got up my nose about as much as not being allowed to have a go at the rake. Dad had a real demarcation about what was a boy’s job and what was a girls’ job. Boys used the tools, and did anything that would typically involve working up a stinking sweat, while the girls carried out activities which would allow a soft glow and not damage too much those just painted nails. I used to bite my nails down to the elbow so I wasn’t worried about all that girlie stuff and he and I could often be seen in mid Mexican stand-off.

Yes my lovely Dad was sexist.  He had a very firm idea about who did what, and I spent a great deal of my teens and twenties and thirties proving to him and the world that I could do anything that I set my mind to, I painted houses, fixed roofs, paved deck areas, mowed lawns and yes I even gardened. I used power tools up the wazoo and I loved it. And I wore frills and soaked forever in foamy baths and shaved my legs and gossiped and cried like a baby when the mood required it.

Yes he was sexist, but never a misogynist! Through the recent ‘Gillard moment’ we seem to have replaced sexism with misogyny, and I wonder how that happened. There was absolutely nothing about women that my father hated,  and I reckon he would have argued that his expectations of women had all to do with respect and nothing to do with hatred.

Now in my fifties I am happy that I have a little list of ‘my jobs’ and Steve has a little list of ‘his jobs’. And these jobs are often though not always split down into traditional sex roles, except that I kill the spiders and he vacuums the floors and cooks the roast dinners. Sometimes it is necessary for us to fill in for each other and of course that is possible cos we are not invalids or idiots, but generally I find it reassuring to know that Steve will collect the dog shit and I bet he is pleased to know that he will not be required to use the washing machine.

Anyway, he hates gardening more than I do, so yesterday I was let loose on the bushes. As the memory of  Dad’s massacres is never far away, I started slowly, but that only meant that I had to go back and have a second and then a third go. I was finished only when there was no more room in the bin! Yep the bushes are now about the same height, well maybe a little shorter, than when I planted them 18 months ago. I obviously have not fallen too far from my tree. Ho hum!! I did dose them liberally with fertilizer and then spend a lovely half hour hosing it all in.

I hope they forgive me and start sprouting again very soon.