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Archive for November, 2010

Yesterday morning, my husband woke up to a grim reality. Not only did he face the  possibility of a conservative State government, but he also had to deal with the memory of FatherOfCrankyPants and I singing karaoke the night before. In his mind, it was hard to know which was worse.

“Perhaps the new government will do something about the karaoke problem in this area!” he said, trying to look at the brighter side of things. “The Brumby government had eleven years to fix karaoke but they did nothing. Nothing!”

“Huh! To think that our rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ might have been avoided with a more robust policy making process at a state level,” I replied, shaking my head.

Still, we’d had ourselves a great party. A chance meeting on the street had led to us inviting the CrankyPants family over for an afternoon barbeque. And then, when Mistress M had rung, scratching around for something to do on a wet Saturday afternoon, the party was complete.

I must admit that I’d had a few misgivings about having nine children trapped in our tiny house by the rain, imagining they’d be bouncing off the walls like silly putty. But the stars must have been in alignment for us because the kids quickly broke into splinter groups and discovered the dress-ups, the Wii and the Lego, leaving the adults to eat, drink and make merry for six hours.

And merry we made. Even the Glügg came out – to a far more receptive audience than the night of my 40th, it must be said, but perhaps only because the vodka came out, too. Even Mistress M’s husband ‘The Sculptor’, a naturally temperate person, entered a world of “Yes, please!” once the vodka arrived.

And then I cracked open the karaoke on the Wii. Although, FatherOfCrankyPants was the only taker amongst the adults, I did notice that The Sculptor stood in the doorway in a nonchalant “I can turn and leave at any moment” kind of way but was singing along all the same. Yes, I saw his ‘karaoke potential’ in that moment and swore to bring out the vodka and the karaoke earlier next time to fully convert him to (what my husband calls) my “karaoke ways”.

[An aside: I later found out that The Mild-Mannered Lawyer was at that very moment in the city being forced to play charades with a group of senior insurance managers, wherein she found herself having to mime ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ to her husband’s boss. So it’s fair to say I’m not the only person who knows how to have a great time.]

At eleven, our guests left in a big walking bus (or, rather, “staggering bus”) outside our house and my husband turned to me.

“Now that,” he said. “That was my 40th.”

“What? Even though your birthday’s not until next June?” I asked.

“Well, if I was going to have a fortieth, that’s exactly what it’d be like,” he replied. “Maybe not with the karaoke, though.”

Yeah, right. As if he has any choice about that.

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Some people like to procrastinate quietly in a corner with a good book and a family block of chocolate.

But not I. No. I like to gently avoid putting away the mountainous piles of clean laundry and/or stand at the kitchen sink for the fourth hour that  day by thinking about how much I dislike mermaids.

Yes, I am a mermaid-basher, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

The other day, I jumped onto twitter with the following question:

The general consensus from my twitter friends was that mermaids didn’t eat fish because “fish were their friends” and that they were sea-vegetarian. I, for one, don’t buy that for a moment. C’mon! They’re half-human! Don’t tell me they don’t have carnivorous urges. I mean, they must be at least pescetarian, if not omnivorous. I mean, the occasional cow must fall overboard a freight ship, right?

Still, what goes in must go out. How do mermaids shit? If they’re anything like Mr Justice’s neurotic goldfish, they must swim around half the day with a long string of faeces coming out their fishy arse. But you don’t see that pictured in any of your mermaid fairytale books or in the Barbie Mermadia series. Oh, no.

As I was thinking about all this, I could see Tiddles McGee’s lunch plate balanced on the edge of the arm chair from the day before.

Vaguely, I wondered if it would eventually make its own way to the kitchen. And that’s when it hit me. Like, really hit me.

If McGee had eaten his lunch under the sea, the plate may well have drifted to the kitchen with the tide.

Moreover, it wouldn’t need to have drifted to the kitchen because it was already under the water.

Which is why mermaids look so well-groomed and beautiful all the frickin’ time. Because they never have to worry about the fucking dishes! Or the laundry, because they don’t have any clothes to wash. I mean, those shell bras? Puh-lease. A bit of scrubbing to get the algae off may be required from time to time but if you can’t be arsed doing it, its not  the end of the world. You’re naked from the waist down anyway and you have all that great hair to cover your breasts, anyway.

Talking of great hair, even my hair looks great under water. It’s all soft and flowy and beautiful. Whereas out of the water, even one hour after washing it I’m grateful if it’s raining outside so that anyone who sees me will think my hair looks like that because I have just bravely run through the rain and not because I’m a complete and utter skank.

Here are some other things mermaids don’t have to worry about, just off the top of my head:

I think that’s enough about mermaids for now, don’t you? Next topic for procrastination: why Geppetto never had children of his own and had to make a puppet for company. Did he never meet the right lady or was he gay?

Uh, maybe I should just put away the laundry…

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I always felt that, given half a chance, I would make a most excellent seamstress. There was absolutely nothing to support this theory, save a poorly-sewn and never-completed skirt project from Home Economics in 1982, which I’m pretty sure the Australian fashion world mourns to this day.

Twenty-eight years later, I’m finally getting my chance.

You see my husband – no doubt hoping to start up a sweatshop on our kitchen table and kick-start an alternative income stream – pooled together with my mother and my parents-in-law to buy me a sewing machine for my 40th birthday.

For a few weeks, the machine sat intimidatingly in its box until one day last week, I pulled it out to see if an old dog really could teach herself some new tricks.

Now, I’m not sure how hard they must have whipped us in Home Economics classes but the memory of how to wind on a bobbin and thread a machine came back to me very quickly – with the aid of the instruction booklet and a healthy continuous flow of top-shelf expletives, that is.

And before I knew it, I was sewing. Actually sewing (*weeps with happiness*).

Now I know that what  I may lack in excellence as a seamstress, I certainly make up for in enthusiasm. In five days, I have made a total of four bibs and a zip-up bag – all thanks to “Sew La Tea Do”, the latest book from Melbourne-based blogger Meet Me At Mike’s. Here they are:

Now before anyone gets too excited, please note that this photo is taken from a healthy distance so as not to show my (many) sewing errors – errors which I’ve subsequently decided are entirely deliberate, made to give my work a happy-clappy folksy home-made feel. Yes, that’s my “value-add” to the world of sewing.

Anyway, excited by my successes, I decided to contact the force behind “Meet Me At Mike’s” on twitter to say how much I was enjoying her book. However, I got a little sidetracked by her twitter handle.

Which is probably something she gets a lot. Almost as often as people ask me if I’m affiliated with the NDM-1 superbug virus or the National Democratic Movement in Jamaica, which happens, like, all the frickin’ time.

And of course, me being me, I had to take it a little further:

Which pretty much stands as the textbook example for getting in contact with someone whose work you admire.Yep, that’s it right there, people. Watch and learn. WATCH. AND. LEARN.

________________________

Leave a comment on this post and get a chance to win a bib made by yours truly, which handily can be worn while you drool over my deliberate-yet-mildly-charming sewing errors.

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I have no great talent for walking in high heels. In fact, it’s fair to say that whenever I wear them I resemble a novice stilt walker with an ear infection.

And then I discovered that Doc Marten’s did heels. Yes, Doc Martens heels. Heels so comfortable I can walk, run and pogo dance in them for hours. Thanks to these miraculous heels, I was no longer the only girl at the ball wearing “comfortable shoes”. I was a lay-dee.

And so it was only natural that I would wear my heels to a garden party we’d been invited to. What I didn’t realise at the time of choosing my footwear was that the “garden” referred to in the term “garden party” was on the side of a mountain.

The party didn’t start well for me and my feet. My husband had dropped us off at the gate of the house and driven further up the mountain to park.

When he arrived a few minutes later on foot, he exclaimed “Oh shit! I forgot the present!”

“So when I rang you and asked you to bring the sunscreen ‘as well’ what did you think the ‘as well’ referred to??” I grumbled.

“Um… ‘as well as my good self’?” my husband ventured.

Somehow, I ended up trekking back up to the car to get the present. On a loose gravel track. In my heels. It was like I’d been sent to High Heels Boot Camp. And yes, it was a pity I wasn’t wearing these Dr Marten high heeled boots because that would have made that metaphor very tidy. Very tidy indeed.

Anyway, this set the tone for the rest of the party – an otherwise beautiful event – where I endlessly hiked up and down steep pathways with the kids, who had been drinking from a never ending fountain of soft drinks and needed to do toilet trip after toilet trip in the house at the bottom of the mountain. Moreover, I had to carry Tiddles McGee up and down the mountain, because he’d conveniently fallen into a pond in the first five minutes of the party and spent the rest of the time barefoot and rockin’ a toga fashioned from a bath towel. Which was the kind of thing I’d normally expect my husband to do, quite frankly.

Needless to say, by the end of the afternoon, my feet were knackered. I had adopted the gait of a novice stilt walker with an ear infection who’d gotten rat-arsed drunk while taking antibiotics for said ear infection. Which is always a good look at an afternoon garden party.

And of course, I had another party to go to – without any chance to go home and change my shoes. When my husband dropped me off in town, I immediately set off to buy some band-aids. Eight blocks later, I realised this was doing far more damage than good because the party was in a restaurant and all I was going to be doing was sitting and drinking and eating and chatting and the only walking I’d have to do was to the toilets, which ended up being conveniently and mercifully situated four steps away. I say “mercifully” here not just because of my feet, but also the fact that later in the evening I managed to emerge from the toilets with my bodice sash tucked into my knickers, thus parting the front of my dress like a pair of goddamn curtains. Which is always a good look at a fancy restaurant.

And actually, now I think about it, it’s something I should have done much earlier in the day to take my mind off my aching feet. There’s nothing like the pain of embarrassment to negate the pain of a hard-earnt blister.

In fact, now that I think about it further, I should have just thrown myself in the pond after Tiddles and made my husband and a team of his friends carry me in my towel-toga up and down the mountain in a sedan chair. Or, indeed, skipped the pond all together and demanded the sedan chair anyway.

And I pride myself on being an Ideas Person. Sheesh.

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Let’s face it: there’s an awkward gap between bedtime and actual sleeptime.

In this household, this gap is traditionally filled by the kids listening to storybook CDs in bed, something which require no parental input – except, of course, when the CD needs changing, at which point Mr Justice will call “Finished!” and the parent in charge will call back “Coming!” and try to find the remote control to pause the DVD he or she has optimistically started watching, but for some reason Mr Justice will not quite hear the call or will grow rapidly dissatisfied with the parental response time and will roar “FINISHED!” again, forcing the parent to roar back “COMINGGGGGG!!!” and accidentally knock over a glass of wine or trip over the homicidal cat, which will delay them even further and cause all three children to chime together “FINISHED!” and make the parent burst a blood vessel when they shout back “I’M COMMMMMMIIINNNNNGGGGGG!”.

Of course, with all that shouting and carry-on, sleeptime is pushed just that little further back. Nice work, everyone.

In the middle of this year, we made the interesting decision to put the boys in separate bedroom from The Pixie so now we have two CD players to manage. Sometimes, I feel like a flippin’ DJ working two dancefloors or that I’m living in the middle of one of those Crazy Warehouse Guy ads, what with all the shouting and banging for attention.

It can be a little… annoying.

But add a few more things to the mix and it becomes interminable.

For example, add a puppy. And not just any old puppy, but a puppy who automatically cranks the dial up to 11 the minute the kids are tucked up in their beds, like she’s just been directly injected with yellow food colouring mixed with pseudoephedrine.  She just runs around from room to room, bed to bed, revving everyone up. But don’t try to put the puppy outside. Oh, no. She’ll only recreate that famous scene from The Shining where Jack Nicholson breaks down the door – except instead of an axe, she’ll just be using sheer enthusiasm.

Now add a four year old who claims to be “so scared” and insists that he needs “somebody to sleep wid him” – that “somebody” being me and not, say, the freebasing puppy.

And then take away my husband. Yes, that’s it. Put him on a plane and send him interstate. Don’t bother reminding him it was his idea to get a puppy before going away for practically two weeks. He’ll deny it. Because he can. He’s 800km away, you know.

With this heady  mix, my evening ends up like one of those children’s games where you whack one thing down with a hammer, only to have another thing pop up elsewhere – usually in the form of a figure at the doorway informing me that her contractually-agreed “fresh water” hasn’t been provided or, just as I’m creeping out of the bedroom away from the now-sleeping four year old, a puppy rushing at me with such great speed that I get winded and the four year-old leaps up and shouts “I’m awake!!” quickly followed by “And I’m scared!” when he realises I’m trying to make a getaway.

Is it little wonder that, three nights out of four this week, I’ve ended up drinking wine and watching ‘Arrested Development’ with the four year old sleeping on my lap and the puppy gnawing the side of the sofa we’re sitting on because I’m sooooo way past the point of giving a shit? I mean, if that gap between bedtime and sleeptime is going to be so interminable, it may as well be filled with cheap wine and good TV. No, really.

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It was one of those idyllic afternoons, when the hot day had surrendered to a cool change and we were all sitting in the backyard, basking in the sun and the breeze. The two younger kids were jumping on the trampoline, Mr Justice was reading aloud from a book, I was sipping from a flute of ice-cold champagne and Roxy the puppy was sniffing at my toes.

And then I saw him, standing at the back door, glowering at us through the fly screen, his heart hardened with hatred by what he saw before him.

No, not my husband – he was at work.

It was the cat.

The fricking-fucking cat.

I’ve made no secret of my feelings about Genghis Cat on this blog and in public. I’ve shocked many a person by referring to him as a “complete arsehole” in casual conversation. Even my husband has been known to tell our guests “Genghis? Oh, Genghis is a cock.”.

But at the end of the day, he’s *OUR* complete-arsehole-slash-cock and we feed him and love him as best as you can love something that bites you as quick as he’ll look at you. And I must concede that the arrival of a puppy would’ve upset even a cat like Fluffy Fluffkins of Fluffville Manor.

It doesn’t help that Roxy is prone to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” around Genghis. She dances and prances and yelps all around him while Genghis stands as still as a rock. A murderous-looking rock.

It also doesn’t help that Genghis had turned our backyard into the Killing Fields in the weeks leading up to the puppy’s arrival with many a grizzly discovery made when we were setting up for my 40th birthday party.

And it certainly doesn’t help that my husband, who having breezily said “Genghis will just have to deal with it!” before bringing Roxy home, suddenly announced a day after Roxy joined us with extreme gravity: “I think Genghis is capable of killing our puppy!”

He had obviously finally remembered the guinea pig. Lest we forget the guinea pig.

Still, we’ve all been working hard to broker some kind of peace deal between the two.  And slowly, ever so slowly,  progress is being made.

One week on, they can be in the same room without us all being on high alert (in the case of the kids, “high alert” means putting their hands over their ears, shutting their eyes and shouting every time Genghis walked in the room). Indeed, this morning, Tiddles, Roxy and Genghis all shared my bed at five-fucking-thirty-AM. Everyone was happy, except me. Because it was five-fucking-thirty-AM.

Yes, Genghis seems to be growing tolerant. For one thing, he’s recognised the fact that Roxy provides him with a whole new avenue of food. Turns out he loves puppy food. Of course he loves puppy food. It shits all over cat food. Just as burnt popcorn scraps, squashed peanut butter toast and congealed milk shits all over cat food. Stupid cat food.

I also suspect Genghis’ PR people have had a few words to him about his image. Suddenly, he’s trying to climb up on our laps and letting us pat him for more than a second before going for the jugular. But it’s a bit like Darth Vader handing out balloons or Heath Ledger’s ‘The Joker’ doing face painting at the local primary school fete – the menace is still there.

You see, I fear he’s playing a longer game than any of us are expecting. When we’ve all long since been lulled into a false sense of security, he’ll whip out a rocket launcher fashioned from the bones of dead birds, rodents and guinea pigs and blast the dog to kingdom come.

Arsehole.

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Even though I’m now 40, I still take an active interest in what the Young People are doing and saying. Yes, I’m staying hip to the beat of the youth on the street.

Thanks to my dear friend KT, who maintains contact with the teenage world, I recently discovered the  mot de jour is ‘Awks’, a derivative of the word ‘awkward’. And when something is, like, TOTALLY awkward, it becomes ‘Awks Giraffe’. There is a hand gesture and everything (and I think we all know how much I love my hand gestures) which is like the old “one potato, two potato, three potato, four!” routine, but with the antlers of the giraffe poking up at the end. Tidy.

Of course the greatest thing about the gesture for ‘Awks Giraffe’ is in itself ‘awks giraffe’ because when you do it, people tend to stare at you as if to say WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? It’s awkward for everybody and that’s so hotrightnow.

Anyhoo, it’s fair to say I have filled my life with awks giraffe moments, even if I didn’t always have the phrase (and the accompanying gesture) to express it as such.

Like the time my sister Belle got up at my ‘Champagne & Cereal’ 21st birthday party and, in her speech, described how the thirteen year old me used to get her to tie me to the bed and whip me with shoe laces.

“But you don’t understand!” I shouted out, in my defence. “I was the slave and she was the master!”

Which just added to the whole awks giraffe-ness of it all – well, for me, anyway since my party guests were laughing so hard they were blowing Froot Loops out of their noses.

(Of course, what I should have said was all I wanted to do as a thirteen year old was lie around in bed and daydream about boys, so I devised games to play with my sister which allowed me to do just that. The very same principle applied to the other game where I’d pretend to be ‘Googie the big baby’ but let’s not go into that right now.)

And then there was the time the kids’ Foreign Language Teacher was raising money for a primary school in Chile and every announcement he made about it at school assembly made me go weak at the knees because he didn’t pronounce it ‘Chilly’ like the average Australian but instead said it ‘Chil-ay’ like he was pouring warm honey directly on my soul. And then when I brought cakes in for The Pixie’s birthday and ended up hanging out with her at lunch time, we saw the Foreign Language Teacher in the playground and he remarked “Oh, Pixie! I see you have someone special with you today!” and I smiled shyly and said “Great work with the Chile fundraising!”, only to have The Pixie tell me a few minutes later that she’d told the teacher that very morning that “My mummy likes it when you say ‘Chil-ay’!!!”.

Awks Giraffe.

And then just the other afternoon, I discovered, during a particularly heavy rain shower, that the front windscreen of the car had a leak in it so that every time I turned a corner, a puddle of ice cold water fell into my lap and I ended up having  to pick up some kids from a birthday party looking like I’d completely pissed my pants.

Awky-Gee.

And then there was the time I didn’t know how to finish this post, so I set up a YouTube channel just so I could post this (soundless) video:

Yep: A dot G dot.

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