Friday, October 31, 2008

Post-migraine Plugger without a Pumpkin = My own natural Halloween costume

Mr Migraine paid me his usual, all-too-regular visit; waking me up at 6am with a king hit to the head and a total loss of my morning. It's left me feeling groggy and hungover (but without the fun of the night before unfortunately) and, as such, in a good mood for a rant.
We blokes and sheilas here in Australia don't celebrate Halloween. Never have, and - if I had my way - never will.

Admittedly, thanks to a force-fed diet of Yank sitcoms from Bewitched, Happy Days, Family Ties, Home Improvement and Friends, most of us can name more US presidents than we can our own Prime Ministers (me included. No, not as a Prime Minister, but one of the telly-tards).

As such, we know rather a lot about Halloween and the tradition of little kids wandering around the neighbourhood trick-or-treating. Bless their sweet hearts: it's all fun when the candy is good, but if some psycho inserts razor blades or wipes the lollies on his arse an hour before handing them out then I'm sure some kiddies will regret not trying a 'trick' instead of the 'treat' they received.

We also know about Thanksgiving, and most of us are under the impression that Americans will virtually risk their savings, relationships, sanity and lives in order to make it home for turkey (surely the worst roast 'bird' in the civilised world) and some kind of pumpkin pie thing that doesn't sound too appetising to me. It seems to be more revered than Christmas which, as someone who is rather fond of presents I don't have to buy, wrap or pay for - seems rather odd.

Until a couple of years ago, our proudly Australian doorstep had never been darkened by any you-beaut ankle-biters asking us for free sweets or threatening to play a 'trick' on us. This has been a great relief considering that we may not yet have gone shopping that week or were on diets and could only offer them sun-dried mango slices or cucumber that wastarting to turn slimy at the bottom of the vege crisper.

Not so last year - about a dozen of the little beggars hammered away on the door and I was too taken aback to reply with 'Eat S**t and Die You Bastards,' but instead muttered something about seeing what we had and ventured out with the flavoured Chup-a-chups from old party bags in flavours that my daughter Sapphire clearly didn't enjoy. There the piss-weakly-clad mites stood, accompanied by their parents, who, being around my age, wouldn't have ever participated in such an American event during their own childhoods. The bloody nerve....

Sadly, my own daughter Sapphire was indoctrinated into the suckiest culture of them all as well, having been invited to a Halloween Party by one of her school mates last year. She went as 'Zelda the Zombie' courtesy of some bargain $2 eye liner and black lipstick that expertly complemented the white and red face paint I still had from my ill-fated (and tragic) efforts at face-painting at the kindy fete some years earlier.

I also took her to K-Mart and willingly shelled out cash to buy an oversized black t-shirt and shorts that we ripped up into shreds to support the concept of just having clambered out of a five year old gravesite. *Sigh*, who was I to pour my cynical lemon juice on her innocent anticipation? Yes, she even persuaded me to buy a few extra bags of lolly pops, fruit tingles and redskins for her fellow Halloweenie horrors who knocked on our door.

At her friend Simone's party tonight, she's settled for a witch's get up - much easier to do with my left-over 1990s-era black dresses and last year's make up not touched since, well, last year. I too have bought more blue-tongued zombie chews, Wizz Fizzers and sherbies in sad acceptance of our doorbell being frequently rung tonight.

Perhaps I should accept this newish trend as one which is overdue. No, not our celebration of everything American but that we've had our Guy Fawkes' Fireworks Night banned for nearly thirty years now, and desperately need a pointless, celebratory replacement. The subsequent declaration of 'Fireworks Night' as being illegal was thanks to scores of stupid Aussie bogans and boganelles who were drunk on Summerwine and Southwark tinnies and ended up blasting off their faces and fingertips as they flung Catherine Wheels and Roman Candles into the middle of their BBQ salad table or inside the rocking Sandman of their best mate.

At least Halloween is less dangerous - in a life-threatening sense, if not a calorific one.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Warwick Capper topless? WHY??

Things have been a mite stressful these past few weeks, so it has been a while since I've ventured to StatCounter to see how people were finding me. Above and beyond the regular number of the usual visitors and blog explosion cruisers was this - Warwick Capper Topless. It had been entered in many, many times and inexplicably, kept leading to this 'ere blog. I have no idea why* - I've never featured him, let alone mentioned him being topless and I'd prefer to keep it that way.

Still scratching my head and leaving Adam the electrician scratching his over why our sensor lights refused to turn on at night or blazed on all at once during the day and sometimes also started up the loo fan, I left him being silently stared at by Milly and Skipper and collected the mail. Yes, my fortieth birthday looming like a dried white dog turd on the footpath of my horizon on the 3rd of November, but I really didn't need a specifically addressed piece of junk mail from Laubman and Pank informing me, "It's now TIME for you, Katherine Lockett, to get your eyes checked. Ageing rapidly causes the eyes to deteriorate." Happy Birthday to me.....

Farewelling Adam, I again sat at the laptop. As with most writers, I'm constantly expecting rejection but to get nothing, not even an acknowledgement is really frustrating, especially when the editor's PA has given you their address to send stuff to and you've been talked up to said editor by someone with a bit of clout. I re-read some work I was particularly proud of and noted, with a sinking stomach, that I'd actually written Sunday Fail instead of Sunday Mail. That might explain the lack of contact then.

After power-walking my red-faced embarassment into scarlet-faced sweat on the treadie to nowhere, I showered, ate and felt much better. The sun was shining and the scent of the roses in full bloom on the way to the school were particularly lovely. I'm one of those dags who actually does stop and sniff roses.

Picking up Sapphire from school and sucking on an iceblock with her in the backyard is always part of the day I look forward to. We tell each other funny stories; ooh and aah over how cute the dog and rabbit are and invariably do our own peculiar version of arts and crafts - today it was Sapphire crocheting a bird's nest (long story) and me doing a very bad job of mending an old black chemise she wants to wear as a witch costume. Life was pretty nice and it would do me a helluva lot of good to keep remembering it.

Later on, as I was back on the net looking at Melbourne houses for sale, she was in her room doing guitar practice. After the usual scales and songs set by her music teacher, down the hall wafted, 'I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me....' KISS. On recorder, self taught. By a nine year old. In 2008.

She eventually popped out for a cold milk and milo and to ask me a question. "What's pole dancing, Mum?" An answer - despite not being approved of - was at least provided, but no solution was available to her next question: "Mum, where can I find a skeleton of a kangaroo?"

After dinner - a hastily prepared frittata courtesy of our chooks Hermoine, Luna and Ginny and with fresh herbs from our vege patch - I sat down to watch the news. To be honest, I don't watch the news, I'm really only interested in the weather forecast which appears in the last two minutes. Inexplicably and with monotonous regularity however, I end up paying attention to the boring blather on ore stocks and FTSes and when the actual weather segment is on, I vague out and miss the entire segment.

"So is it going to be hot tomorrow Mum?"
"I dunno love."
"But you just sat there and watched it!"

Perhaps I just need a block of Toblerone for my birthday. This one in particular - four kilograms for the bargain price of $149. I can't believe that my local, humble K-Mart has two.

* Perhaps even more distressing was that the search topics 'Lengthy Labias' and 'Bonnie Tyler's dog' also led here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Neither a seller nor a buyer be

Love Chunks was pumped. He was ready to buy us a new, neat house in Fairfield, Melbourne, even though we hadn't yet sold our own place in Adelaide. He'd chatted to the agent, got all the boring building and council particulars on the property and had a deposit cheque ready to sign.

The bank was OK with it as well, agreeing to lend us the deposit and any 'bridging finance' (ie shit-scary numbers) that would cover the cost of the new house whilst we were waiting to sell our old one. Nerve-wracking but exciting.

LC had his game plan all worked out. The advertisement said $590+, so he was going to sit back and only enter the fray when it got close to our limit ($650), thus scare away any minor minnows still with their hands raised.

At the same time as the auction, Sapphire, Milly-the-dog and I were busy erasing any evidence of our finger prints, reading materials, hairs and the dish-rack before closing the door behind us, handing the keys to the real estate agent and choofing off in the Magna to the end of the street. There we bought ourselves McDonalds (oh stop your nose wrinkling; it was close, cheap and an easy way to placate a child already teary about the move interstate) and sat in the park until it was time to return home.

Trish, bustling the 'Open For Inspection' sandwich board into the back of her gleaming silver Honda, didn't have the time to sugar coat things.

"Sixteen separate groups came through and they all said the same thing," she said, glancing at her watch to remind me that she had an open house in Prospect to dash off to.

"And what was that?"
She smiled tiredly, us being her fourth open for the day so far. "That your family room is too small and that they want a second bathroom."

I immediately shot back with, "But the ad says one bathroom, so did they turn up and hope that we'd somehow magic-ed up a second one? Sure the family room is snug but that's why we have a large and separate formal dining room and massive shed with a gym and workshop....Why did they bother to come....?"

Trish could see how offended I was and muttered a few platitudes about some parties showing 'a bit of interest' but that sounded about as solid as a starlet in stilettos standing on sand.

After lugging in Milly's beanbag, two portable fans and the laptop from out of the shed and back inside and placing the dish rack back on top of the draining board, the dirty clothes basket in full view and the TV guide back on the coffee table, the phone rang. It was Love Chunks.

"Guess how much the house sold for."
"Hi! How did you go?"
"I said guess how much it sold for." His tone was even quieter and lower than usual, so I knew that it hadn't been sold to my favourite weatherman.

"What happened?"
"I got blown right out of the water," he replied. "The first bid was $640, then the next guy said $660, so I didn't even get to bid." He went on to tell me that the house sold for $740,000. One hundred thousand smackeroonies above the reserve price.

"I've managed to change my flight times, so I'll be back home - tail between my legs - by dinner time tonight." That was the one good thing about it, I supposed.

On Sunday morning, Love Chunks and Sapphire made a special trip into Norwood to find a copy of The Sunday Age to see how other Melbourne auctions fared. It was the worst day for auctions in over four years but of course the place we wanted went completely against that trend. Oh great. And the lotto quickpick I'd bought to celebrate my mention in the AWW didn't even try to raise my hopes of instant wealth as it failed to produce more than one matching number in any row.

I know; someday I'll look back on this and laugh. In the meantime, I have chocolate. And gin and tonic. And kettle chips. And a good run on the treadmill nodding in deference to that pigeon who still faithfully clings to his powerline, never letting go......

Friday, October 24, 2008


No, I don't think the spoiled tennis brat and his soapy wife on the cover are cute; AWW is an acronym for the Australian Women's Weekly. I got a couple of mentions on page 246 and it's enough to cheer me up and distract me from nervously wiping everything inside the house 6 foot and below with a damp chux.

Plus, I've just vaccuumed and mopped all the floors and have trapped myself in the study, waiting for them all to dry. You'll be pleased to know that the anal -retentive part of me has thought this scenario through carefully, and I'm in here with the laptop, the phone, a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee and some vegemite and cheese-slathered cruskits.

Actually, eating cruskits are a bit of a challenge in my current Nazi Housefrau mode because they're crumbly little buggers. I've been biting into their cardboardy shells by leaning my head back and letting the wholegrain shards plop directly in, hoping like hell that the neighbour on my south side isn't treated to my silhouette from their courtyard.

Milly's asleep at my feet in her beanbag, slightly huffy because I kept her outside when the vacuum was on and because I haven't dropped anything edible on the floor for her own little wet black hoover attachment to suck up and enjoy.

Back to AWW:


As I gaze down at my crackly, wrinkled hands, worn out from too many excessive rinses and wringings out of the chux superwipe, the irony of the article's title (and the uncanny likeless of the insanely laughing lady in the photograph) does not escape me:

I never wear yellow and she's probably flopped out on the ground because she's already sold her flippin' house.....

Perhaps, when the floors are finally dry and I've carefully put away the mop and bucket, un-fingerprinted the class coffee table, de-spotted the kitchen sink, cleaned out Skipper's hutch and finished sweeping up all of the pesky bark chips and bottle brush blossoms outside I'll take my own advice and pick up Sapphire from school and head directly to Cibos for gelati. Do not pass go, but feel welcome to collect $200......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Climbing aboard the Crocheting Craze

Sapphire goes to a Steiner school via the public education system here in South Australia and it has a big emphasis on simpler and more natural ways of learning.

This can be difficult in the third millennium's noughties, but her teacher does a good job of ensuring that, at least for six hours a day five days a week the kids don't have to worry about computer games, iPods, fashions, plastics or chemicals while they learn. Instead, they use natural beeswax crayons to write in their handmade books, collect wood and seed pods to use for counting games; grow fruit and vegetables that they then harvest to take home or cook in the classroom for shared meals and enjoy a great deal of story telling and music making.

Steiner education may not permit Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards, Beanie Kids or sticker swapping in the classroom but the kids still have their own crazes and fads. Crocheting is the cool thing to do in Grades 3/4 in 2008, believe it or not. I'd dearly love to be a fly on the wall (painted in organic, natural-dye paint by us parents during weekend working bees of course) to witness Cathryn encouraging some of the slightly more worldly and cynical boys take up the craft but somehow she has.

Our model here, young Skipper, is wearing what Sapphire calls a toy hat and - bless him - he was prepared to leave it sitting on his head for about thirty seconds; literally an Ice Age of tolerance for a domestic pet being laughed at and photographed. We couldn't even catch Milly (even with two gammy arthritic legs and chalky hips) to try on her red pinafore, let alone get the camera out. Milly may be prepared to rub her anus on the carpet in front of visitors but try whipping out the tiny Santa Hat and there's only a cloud of hot dust in her wake as she is painfully sensitive to open mockery and hilarity at her expense.

Since then, Sapph's crocheted clothes for her toy rabbits, a handbag for me, sunglass cases, friendship bracelets and created entire dolls out of wool (100% merino, naturally) donated by folk eager to keep the materials as Steinerish as possible.

Luckily, her talents for clothing haven't extended beyond her toys because I'm dreading the return of the crocheted bikini since its last real outing in the nineteen seventies. Although maybe the Brazilian was invented for just such an unlikely event?

It reminds me of my grandfather who at the age of seven was forced to wear a knitted bathing suit made by a clueless great aunt who posted it over to Strathalbyn for his birthday. Being 1920, it resembled the standard fashion of the day - a kind of Graeco-Roman wrestler's uniform of boy briefs and suspenders stretched over the shoulders. His aunt's version was, he once wrote to me, mercifully thick and dark and thus designed to ensure complete modesty and comfort.

Until it got wet that is. Then, the wool sucked up the lower stretches of the Angas River and gained several stone in weight, dragging the straps down so that they cut into young Jack Herbert Read's shoulders and resulted in the briefs stubbornly settling around his ankles in a slimy heap. What started out as a relatively innocuous swimming costume now resembled a paedophile's peep show framed in purl one, plain two, purl one. Even Steiner can't be relied upon to manufacture anything better for the water than spandex and quick dry lycra.

However, it is not only Sapphire and her classmates who are fond of crochet it seems.

Young Skipper has developed a real liking for the old towels that line his kitty litter tray and reduced them to passable imitations of crochet but without the use of the hooked needle.

They don't look too bad when the sun shines through them either:

Perhaps he'd rather his hat done in blue than white.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Supercilious Self Righteousness

There I was yesterday, at Coles Supermarket in Firle, shopping list in my hand and eagerly checking out the blueberries and strawberries. They looked great, were in abundance and most importantly, were on special.

After grabbing my share (punnets of blueys can be frozen - yee hah - that's the kind of excitement I'm into these days), I finished wandering through the vege section which peters out into the bakery and deli areas.

Idly eyeing off the Cherry Bakewells, pink iced donuts and peanut butter cookies, I was full of internal self congratulation when I elected not to put any of them in my trolley and reached for the wholemeal pitta, multigrain sliced and crumpets instead.

Next to me, a woman as wide as she was tall was chatting happily to her husband as she eagerly seized a 12-pack of day-old cinnamon donuts, marked down in black texta to $1. "I can have these you know, because I've been good all week and eating my Weight Watchers stuff, and I've designated Fridays as my sugar days."

Her husband, taller but no less wide, considered this logic for a moment. He stopped pushing the trolley towards the onions and potatoes and looked at her face; so happy with her badness bargain. "Um, but won't you undo a lot of your hard work if you eat that?"

It was then that her inner Nigel Tufnel came through. "But this speaker goes up to eleven," she said. Actually she didn't say that. What she did say was, "But for six days I've been really good, so today I can eat whatever I want."

He remained puzzled but unsure how to tackle this. Perhaps more than one thought was swirling inside his head at that moment - Do I discourage her efforts so far; Will she share those sugary buggers with me; Isn't she now talking about those cheese-n-bacon scrolls over there; Perhaps she's right- one out of seven isn't such a bad risk after all. In the end, he took the packet from her, and placed it gently on top of the four 2-litre bottles of coke that were already in their trolley.

I smiled at them vaguely, to let them know I might have heard some of their discussion but wasn't judging them for it in any way and wheeled on towards the tinned tomatoes.

My smugness at my own trolley's contents stayed with me, increasing exponentially as I noted that I'd finally remembered to bring in the green shopping bags and had already been for a run that morning and eaten an orange. I was David St Hubbins - not quite as dim as Nigel and at least trying to develop a new stage show (Stone 'enge) and try hard.

That is, until I got home, put the fresh stuff in the fridge and remembered, in the third-to-last aisle just before the dairy but after the dry dog food - that I'd snatched up these little beauties:

....because they were on special. It was then I realised that I was but two stone and ten years away from having the exact same conversation - albeit in the confectionery aisle and not the bakery section - with Love Chunks. Or the doctor monitoring my glucose and cholesterol levels.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Sale

After literally crapping at least three kilos of my own body weight in nerves and anticipation, the auction of our home was about as fulfilling as any one of my nine sessions on the bog earlier this morning.

A horde of gleaming, late-model cars and serious-looking people holding copies of our floor plans turned up as Love Chunks, Milly and I hung around Koster park, keeping out of sight until the auction formally started. I had seeping sweat stains under my arms, but goosebumps on top of them.

We joined the fray and Richard the land agent gave the usual interminable waffle about the certificate of title, all fixed goods and chattels, binding contracts, no cooling off blah blah blah as we all stood in the shade of an ageing Jacaranda, eagerly waiting for the fun to begin.

"What am I bid for this beautiful home?"

Nothing. No sound for aeons until some bloke, there supporting his daughter, stuck up his hand and said a figure that was laughable. Except it wasn't.

"Any further bids? That first one is just for the land, what am I bid?"
More silence, until Milly took umbrage at a staffy passing by and Richard vainly joked, "We can't accept her bid, she's only four." Oh how the audience laughed!

We were gestured to go inside with the auctioneer and the agent. LC trotted in with them via the front door as I so woodenly walked, utterly conscious of sixty people staring at the back of me, with the dog up the drive way and around the back.

No to-ing and fro-ing between us or the dips**t outside increased the offer beyond his stupid, far-fetched and insulting first utterance. Auction finished. ".....has now officially been passed in but the owners are keen to sell and will consider any formal offers.....," Richard droned on outside as I could hear the engines of cars driving away.

Love Chunks and I sagged on the lounge, still in shock. ".........of course it's a buyers' market right now what with the uncertainty about the world economic crisis, collapsing share markets, banks under pressure and all that. But hey, you'll be able to enjoy the same kind of bargaining power when you're looking to purchase in Melbourne, won't you?"

Yeah. Except it will be difficult trying to buy when we don't have the money to do it with and walking slowly up the street to have an unsatisfying late lunch at McDonalds was a far cry from champagne, hopeful laughter and smiles. Love Chunks looked at me over our shared fries with concern as my eyes kept trying to spill over with tears but, miraculously, didn't. Yet.

"Fucking, fuck, fuckers fuck!" I said petulantly, laughing in spite of my anger. I felt - and still do - as though it had been a dishonouring of the house, our home. A beautiful, loved, well-preserved stately old lady that needed new owners. Owners that would respect and revere her. Owners that would have as many happy, hectic, sad, stressful, hilarious and rewarding times in her as we have.

Love Chunks grasped my still-sweaty hands as we walked back home in the spring sunshine.

"It's not too bad having to live here for a bit longer, is it?"
"Or to have to share the place with you, Sapphire and Milly."

Not too shabby at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mrs Nosey

Is email snooping on my nine-year old's In-box a bad thing?

If it is, then I'm guilty of it. When I saw these two emails though, my heart melted. After school today - and before the final inspection at 6pm - I'll take Sapphire out for an icecream at Cibos (her favourite) and we'll walk Milly in the park until Love Chunks gets home.

And I'll give them both a big hug, and then call up my Dad to tell him how much I love him too.

-----Original Message-----

From: Sapphire Lockett
Sent: Monday, 13 October 2008 7:45 PM
To: Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

Guess what two words I can spell?
Malevolent and Manoevrability.
Do you have any new words to spell?
Grandpa, what do you do when you don't know to either feel happy or sad because so much is going on?

I feel that way at the moment. Mum and Dad are really busy with all the drama about the house and I just wanted to ask you.

From Sapphire xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo (size five-out-of-ten hugs)

Sent: Monday, 13 October 2008 9:00 PM
To: Sapphire Lockett
Subject: RE: Spelling

My darling grand daughter

Spelling words first: (1) Which is correct - acommadation, acomadation, accomadation, accommadation, acommodation, acomodation, accommodation, or accomodation?

Perhaps none of them?
(2) Which is correct - embarass, embarras, embarrass, embaras, or none of them?

Now to your very thoughtful question (and I will try to give a thoughtful answer).

If I have a choice on how to feel about something, I always try to take the positive, or optimistic, way to feel because it makes me feel cheerful rather than sad, and if I try to convince myself that something is a GOOD thing then sometimes I can come to believe that it is, and then it really IS a good thing.

If you start off trying to think that something is GOOD, you can always modify it to not-quite-as-good-as-I-hoped, or not-really-all-that-good, etc., but it's pretty hard to start off thinking something is bad and then trying to convince yourself that it isn't. This might be a bit of a tangle of words - I'm sorry if it is, but I think you'll be able to work it out if you re-read it once or twice. If you can't, I'll try to explain it more clearly when I see you - talking usually doesn't cause as much misunderstanding as writing.

If a glass has some water in it, some people see the glass as half empty and others see the same glass as half full, yet it's the same glass. Half empty is the negative, or pessimistic, way to see it, where half full is the positive, or optimistic, way to see the same glass. When we look at a situation, I think it is best to VERY CONSCIOUSLY try to take the OPTIMISTIC or POSITIVE view of it. Not only does this help ourselves, but helps the people nearest and dearest to us as well.
You are naturally a cheerful, positive sort of person, and I really believe you are, and will be, very good at seeing the positive side of things (though sometimes it isn't easy, and we have to try very hard to do that).
The house, and the move, are VERY big things for Mum and Dad, and you might feel that your thoughts and feelings are being neglected a bit. I think that things might be a bit easier after the auction on Thursday. I know, for an absolute certainty from talking to Mum and Dad, that what is going to be best for YOU, the person they love more than anyone or anything in the world, is of the very greatest importance to both of them. They may not always be able to tell you that, but you know, and can always be sure, that this is true!

If you would like me to carefully try to remind Mum and Dad of how you might be feeling, I will. I won't mention it to them if you would rather I didn't. You might prefer to talk to them yourself.
We all love you HUGELY, Sapphire, and would do anything to help you in this pretty tough time.
Thank you very much for trusting me with this VERY important question. I hope I have helped a bit.
All my love,

Grandpa xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox
(any sized hug you like!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Show us yer Tightly Held Pocket

Sigh. It's been eight long years since we've been through the stomach-clenching stress of selling a house and looking to buy another.

In 2000 we handed over the keys to our little red 1950s clinker in Heidelberg Heights (home of neighbour bogans fond of drunken and naked domestics at 3am) and moved back home to South Australia with a one year old baby and a crabby blue heeler in tow.

Now we're selling our beloved old dame of a home in Adelaide and moving back to Melbourne; this time with a nine year old young lady, a friendly Jorgi and nervous white rabbit as entourage. The car, however, is still the same - a now twelve year old Magna station wagon with its fair share of dings, dog hairs and cassette tape-only sound system.

Love Chunks' work opportunities are going to be more challenging and wider-ranging at Nerd Central (aka the Bureau of Meteorology) in the Docklands and I'm hoping to get Sapphire settled into her new school/sport/music/social life whilst also keeping my beady snot green eyes out for any writing opportunities that arise.
Yes, the competition will be much greater than in Adelaide, but hopefully too there'll be more avenues to investigate and maybe even more willingness to entertain submissions from a writer who is not related to Nicole Cornes, has never appeared on Big Brother and is not currently - nor ever in the past - been busy shagging an AFL player.

Anyhow, the process involved in tarting up our house has been exhausting and, hopefully, rewarding. Dramatically decluttering and rediscovering the forgotten arts of dusting, wiping down the glass shower screen and weeding has been but the tip of the sweeping, mopping, furniture shifting and perfect-bed making iceberg and it was therefore a relief to swan off to New Zealand for a couple of weeks and let the agents hold open inspections without us actually living in there thoughtlessly messing up our own work.

Two weeks and a delayed flight later found us arrive smack bang in the middle of an Open Inspection (sounds rude in any other context), and we asked the taxi driver to drop us off at the park instead. It was a rather sad little scene with Sapph and I standing uncertainly under a bottle brush bush surrounded by our wheelie bags and backpacks as LC dashed up the street, wandered into our home as though he was a 'looker', silently nodded to the agent and surreptitiously swiped the car keys out of the front bedroom and backed the magna out of the driveway. Hopefully none of the potential buyers thought that car thieves were spectacularly audacious types in Trinity Gardens.....

..........and my heart twinged when Sapphire said nervously to me this morning, "Don't worry Mum, I haven't messed up my room at all by being selfish and playing with my toys or getting out my papers to do any drawings." How frickin' cruel am I, denying my own child the right to play, relax and enjoy her own little corner of the world?

Well tough. Fingerprints, gluesticks and rabbit hair are buggers to remove.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hi-ba! How-ba are-ba you-ba to-ba day-ba?

Good-ba? Me-ba too-ba!

Yes, imitating Fat Albert's speech patterns amused Sapphire and I nearly 24/7 on our two week drive-through holiday of New Zealand's north island.

We both loved the challenge of adding 'ba' to every single word we spoke during the tedium of being stuck behind logging trucks and single lane bridges and simply enjoyed the spit-soaked hilarity that imitating speech impediments as fast as you can always provides. At least for my daughter and I but not, I suspect, for Love Chunks, who tended to look at us both convulsing with laughter as though we were unsightly stains on the brand new seats of the rental car he needed to return without incident or additional costs.....

"But Dad, wait until you hear us sing Abba's 'Dancing Queen' like Fat Albert: 'You-ba can-ba dance-ba, You-ba can-ba jive-ba, having-ba the-ba time-ba of-ba your-ba life-ba, Oooh-ba Oooh-ba Ooooh-ba.....'"

Sadly, he remained resistant to our pleas to join in with our frivolities. He may also have found a soulmate feeling equal dismay in Laura, our Lord of the Rings tour guide, when I decided to pose in the very spot of Rivendell that Orlando - nay, Legolas - did, albeit wearing plastic elf ears and shoving the tip of Frodo's 'sting' blade up my nose in jest.

Or perhaps it was when we were in our fairly-blah hotel room in Napier, still getting over the utter excitement of seeing some badly painted art-deco buildings, the over-priced fur socks at the o-possum shop or somehow finding three wineries using a scandalously inaccurate map only to find that they were all shut until the summer season that we gave up, returned to our hotel room with cheese and crackers and he turned on the taps to fill up the jet-propelled spa bath: the real highlight of our stay there.

Imagine, you fellow parched Aussie readers out there: water so plentiful we sank up to our nipples when walking on the always-sodden grass and the concept of the four-minute shower timer merely an interesting anecdote mentioned to front desk staff at check out time!

"Kath, I've added half the bottle of their bath gel stuff, so it should bubble away for you and Sapph quite nicely."

And so it should have, if I'd been mature and left it at that. But nooo, I wasn't prepared to wait ten minutes to see the water levels rise and the bubbles with it; I had to add the rest of the tiny freebie bottle and the entire contents of another freebie bottle I'd swiped from the previous hotel as well.

When Sapph and I eased ourselves in - elbows keeping every part of our nervous bodies out of the water except our arses which were the first parts of our anatomy forced to endure the hellish assault of flesh-peelingly hot water - the magic button was eventually pressed and the jets pulsated. "Ooooh, this is nice, Mum! Look, I've got a bubble beard!"

Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles appeared, rising higher and higher until Sapphire had to stand up, and my glass of rose (from the Napier region of course) had disappeared under the white creeping clowd along with the taps, the folded pile of towels and our pyjamas.

"Er, Love Chunks? Are you out there?"

He was, and walked in slowly, the "What have you done?" still on his lips as he saw the quicksand of detergent moving past him in its determined journey from across the bathroom floor, out of the wet area and towards the mini bar fridge. "Where's Sapphire?"

"Oh she's in here somewhere. Aren't you Sapph. Sapph?"

Still, I learned that there's a surprising amount of soaking capability in paper drinks coasters, face flannels and the contents of our week-old dirty clothes bag. And quite a lot of cheap laughs to be had in blobbing on the bed in front of Sky NZ telly watching a ten year old episode of 'Hypnotize' and photographing flavours of Whittakers chocolate not yet available in Australia.

"Hey-ba Sapphire-ba - Want-ba a-ba few-ba squares-ba of-ba choccy-ba?"

"Yes-ba please-ba Mum-ba!"

Sapphire's first comment on seeing this photo she took of me (forsaking glamour for warmth during the Bay of Islands cruise) was, "YOU can dance, you can ji-ive!"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lit's go kuss some lups!

We three locketts are spending the South Aussie school holidays in New Zealand's North Island.

We've only got two weeks, and were advised (quite wisely, as we're discovering) that it would barely be enough time to see the North island, let alone the South. We'll come down and visit the bigger island in a couple years' time when it's seen as cool and not cruel to hang your child upside down from bridges on elastic or by flinging them down cliffsides.

About a day after booking the trip, we had a few big decisions to make. Firstly, Love Chunks just-missed-out-by-this-much on scoring a two year gig at the World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva. It had been on the boil for far too many months, which of course leads to dangerous thinking. And hoping. And assuming. Stuff like, "Well if the treadmill conks out, there's no point getting another one because we could be living in Geneva by then" or "Might as well get that card-carrying Mummy Mafioso Matriarch at the school gate in a headlock and mash her fat face into the playground bark chips because I won't be here for her poxy fete day fiasco," and such like.

To therefore find out that, after many months of nothing, the powers-that-be decided to leave the current lack-lustre spot-filler in the role without even interviewing LC was devastating. For too long I'd been entertaining the pleasant idea of being the person who 'kept the home/apartment fires burning', looked after Sapphire's school needs (a bilingual English/French establishment please), planning weekend and holiday jaunts around Europe in our funky new Fiat and keeping up the tappin' at the laptop in colder climes had its appeal.

About a day later, the Melbourne Meteorological office contacted Love Chunks and asked him to consider a return to the city of bad iced coffee, cretinous Collingwood fans and Bell Street bogans. We said yes, and put our beautiful, beloved Trinity Gardens house on the market. Any thoughts of sheep, hokey pokey icecream or the rotten egg gases of Rotorua were put aside for gardening, dusting and de-cluttering about an hour after I sweat soakingly completed running the three hour 'How to write a self help book' workshop at the SA Writer's Centre. My presentation that morning was about as sensible and orderly as a seed-sowing epileptic during a dust storm.

So, when the Geneva dream had flipped us the bird and scooted off into the far horizons, I'm ashamed to say that, like Bert Newton, cheese twisties and Homy Ped shoes, the thought of travelling around Kiwiland didn't seem quite as exciting and even on the actual plane flight over, I had barely opened up a brochure on the country let alone the in-flight magazine. I'm more relieved to say, however, that it's bloody nice to be wrong and to be pleasantly surprised instead of predictably disappointed.
You've got to love a country that:
  • Sells Ponga Logs by the roadside and has subtlely called one of their most popular chocolate-coated icecreams BIG NUTS (or is that pronounced BUG NETS);
  • Has two main communities called Rodney and Russell (still waiting to find out where Shirley and Maureen are located - maybe the South Island);
  • Urges us to pull over past Auckland to visit 'Sheep World' and has the saying 'Tall Trees Catch the Most Wind' on the back of their removal trucks (any thoughts?);
  • Celebrates public toilets - especially those created by artist Friedensrich Hundertwasser that are made of glass bottles, ceramic pots and mosaic tiles and have grass and a tree growing on the roof;
  • Makes pronouncing some street and town names rather disrespectful and problematic. Whakepapa, for example. 'Wh' is pronounced as an 'f', so there's a helluva lot of 'Phuckers' to be said, to much evil giggling by Sapphire. Either that or, 'Ded hes the shuts, disn't he Mum?' is said often to much back seat amusement;
  • Hate possums with a passion and have a shop proudly filled with stuffed ones posing as road-kill, foot slippers, violin players and art-deco aficionados;
  • Sometimes get lazy and, when tired of naming their natural wonders with Maori words or dedications to distant English monarchs, will go for the obvious. 'Hole in the rock' at the Bay of Islands is one instance.

Travelling around in a car 16 years younger than our own; eating food that is mainly crumbed, deep fried and sitting on top of a chip pyramid and yet to spot a live kiwi has, at the very least, given me respite from worrying about the sale our house, planning and packing for our soon-to-be 'new' life interstate, wondering where Sapphire will go to school and just what in the hell I want to be when I grow up (in Melbourne) and missing Milly the dog so much I rush over to pat and coo over any and every New Zealand mutt I see ......

....... all before arriving home, picking up Skipper the rabbit and Milly and hiding our dirty laundry, dust and dog hairs for a few more hours until the last open inspection is over.

"Mum, what's Dad doing over there in the Kauri forest?"
"He's er, um, he's just taking a little break."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Love Chunks' Numbers

My darling husband, Love Chunks, turns forty one today. Some of you already know about my Rainman-like preoccupation with numbers and there's a wee fact about his birthdate and mine that's always appealed to me.

He was born on 2/10/1967 (or should that be 10/2/1967 for the Yanks amongst us), and I was born on 3/11 /1968.

That makes him one year, one month and one day older than me.

I don't know if he was born at 6pm or not, but I'm hoping so. Or maybe 5:59pm, so that I can be extra creative and add 'one hour and one minute' to the equation as well.

Just something I've observed......

Happy Birthday, Love Chunks.