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Archive for July, 2010

One of the things my husband likes to do is to cook all the sausages in the packet, wrap the uneaten remainders in foil and then leave them in the fridge. After about a month, I casually ask him what he plans to do with the sausages. His inevitable reply is “Oh yes. They should be ready now”, after which he puts them in the bin.

Recently, however, I’ve had to concede that at least the sausages fit in a bin – unlike the deep freezer, that is.

The sad and sorry story of the deep freezer’s demise goes something like this: our washing machine died in the arse on the first day of the school holidays, as washing machines are prone to do because they are Satan’s white goods of choice. When the guy came to look at the washing machine, the deep freezer got accidentally unplugged and, because I was out of the house for the weekend (and therefore wasn’t having to retrieve items from the freezer’s depths Every. Five. Minutes), my husband didn’t realise the error for a number of days. By which time, most of the once-frozen contents of the freezer were on their way to being well and truly “ready”.

My husband was philosophical about it. We’d been thinking of decommissioning the deep freezer anyway, so now was as good a time as any, he reasoned.

I was less philosophical and more shouty about it, mostly since the task of cleaning out the stupid thing fell upon me. It must be said, though, that I worked swiftly, without complaint (much). But because I’m what’s technically known as a ‘short arse’, I could only clean it out to a point. Alas, those rogue fish fingers and pools of melted ice cream scunge lining the bottom surface were just out of my reach. The only way I could possibly finish the job was either to lower my body in head first, using an elaborate system of levers and pulleys, OR to pull the whole thing onto its side and crawl in like some kind of dog. Neither was an attractive prospect.

My husband, seeing my problem, gallantly announced “Don’t worry about that! I’ll deal with it this afternoon.”

Of course, over two weeks have now passed and the freezer remains untouched. I think my husband is waiting until the micro ecosystem inside is “ready” and the microbes have evolved enough to have discovered penicillin and be able to kill themselves.

For my part, I am growing increasingly nervous. It’s like a time capsule gone terribly wrong and I’m worried that when it finally is opened,  it will be just like that scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark when the Nazis open the ark and all get melty faces. Who knows what horrors it will unleash? I mean, for one thing, my husband could end up like Indiana Jones with a mid-life critical earring and a wife 25 years his junior. Oh, the horror.

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All families have their own family folk lore. You know, the stories they like to tell each other.

In my little family, we like to tell of how a newborn Mr Justice lay in his hospital crib with his legs completely stretched out, causing a passing midwife to comment “You don’t see that every day!”. And how the Pixie, was born the size of a small planet and had cheeks like giant marshmallows. And how Tiddles McGee managed to urinate not only on the delivering surgeon but on the pediatrician, too. This last story is particularly popular with the kids and Tiddles takes great delight in randomly telling people that he “peed on the doctor’s face!” – which, when taken out of context, sounds like all kinds of wrong.

It’s little wonder that our vomitous misadventures on the mountain last year have become the stuff of legend. The kids often like to sit ’round retelling the sorry chain of events.

“First, Pixie threw up on Tiddles’ head,” they like to say. “Then Tiddles threw up in Mummy’s hand in the snow. Then KC, Master D and Daddy got it, too. Although, Daddy didn’t vomit, he just got a ‘blurty bum’. Then Mummy starting vomiting… But only Mr Justice and MM stood strong!”

Turns out this nostalgia is as contagious as the gastro itself. As we drove to the ‘scene of the crime’ (our holiday house) last week, I found myself pointing out a bleak stretch of road and exclaiming “I think that’s where we stopped for someone to throw up!”.  Once at the house, MM and I found ourselves standing in the laundry, looking wistfully at the washing machine and laundry sink, site of the scrubbing and soaking of many stained sheets and clothing. A lot of good times, a lot of good times. Over in one the bedrooms (and scene of the initial vomit-on-the-head incident), I found myself thinking “If only these walls could talk…” shortly followed by “Shit, someone should really either clean these walls or slap a gagging order on them before they can talk…”.

Slowly but surely, however, the house was transformed from the House Of Horror to our happy holiday home again, thanks to plenty of good company, good conversation, good food and good wine.

There only remained the mountain for us to reclaim.

It should be noted here that driving up to the snow each year involves the same kind of precision planning and execution required for a large-scale military coup. There’s all that damn snow gear to pack and snow chains to hire and the drive up a perilous stretch of road and then the scramble in the back of the van to locate everyone’s gloves and hats and boots before anyone can even start getting wet and cold and whingey.

It’s the kind of thing that really does made me wish the mountain could come to me instead of me going to the mountain. Especially when I can still remember the hot, wet weight of Tiddles McGee’s vomit in my hand eleven months after our last mountain trip.

For the record, our trip to the mountain this year was vomit-free (or “free vomit” as The Pixie later misquoted). Indeed, I wore the NDM Children’s Vomit Scale t-shirt’ KC and MM gave me as a birthday present last year.

Yes, I made that mountain my bitch again.

But while there may have been no vomiting, there was this:

In case you can’t tell, that is a hot jet stream of piss coming out the sliding door of the Starwagon, giving credence to the adage “Don’t eat the yellow snow”.

And yet this was no holiday mishap. Oh, no. This was another act of reclaiming that mountain. All we needed was for the piss to be hitting a print-out of last year’s holiday blog post. Or, even better, having a bemused and panicked doctor in its direct line of fire. Then this blog post would have been complete…

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Every parent dreads it: losing a child in a crowded public place. Of course it’s a little different when that child is made of plastic.

Yes, we had brought Abby, my ‘fourth child’ (and my daughter’s plastic doll) to the indoor play-centre. I had initially convinced The Pixie that Abby was “happier” watching from the stroller, but after four hours of constant exposure to screaming children high on food colouring and sugar, my judgment became somewhat obscured. I found myself agreeing to let her take Abby on the slides – admittedly as a strategy to avoid having to go on the slides with her myself. I have a long-held hatred of those play-centre slides, mostly because I am naturally a ‘charged’ person and the static electricity I get off those damn things turns me into the Emperor from the Star Wars movies. No, really.

I had just come back from taking Tiddles McGee to the toilet for the 87th time, when The Pixie came up to me, crying that she’d lost Abby. Apparently, she’d been sending Abby down the slide by herself and then following shortly after. But after one too many turns, she got to the bottom to find Abby gone.

We looked under tables, in the ball pit and asked at the counter. I even sent a reluctant Mr Justice and his friend up into the extensive labyrinth above the slides to see if she was up there. We looked and looked. Abby had vanished.

Knowing I’d never be able to leave this hellish place if we didn’t find her, I approached some mothers sitting near the foot of the slide.

“Sorry, but have you seen a baby doll in a pink jumpsuit?” I asked.

“She’s not a doll! She’s my sisssstttterrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” The Pixie wailed behind me.

“Yes. I mean, have you seen a baby in a pink jumpsuit who, uh, looks very much like a doll?” I carefully rephrased my question.

The mothers hadn’t seen her but a couple of them, seeing how upset The Pixie was, offered to help me look.

Finally, one of them (who, though we never knew her name, shall always remain one of our Family Heroes)  located Abby lying on a table at the back of the play-centre in front of a woman. My guess is that one of her kids had picked her up and taken her back to the table to share the chicken nuggets and potato wedges. I found myself bristling a little when I saw how casual the mother at the table was about Abby’s presence there.

“Excuse me, but that’s my daughter’s sister,” I said huffily, scooping Abby up. I mean, if one of my kids found a doll or a teddy bear at the play-centre, I’d immediately take it to the counter. It’s called ‘civic diligence’, people! Well, admittedly, that might not be what it’s called but it’s close enough.

Anyway, a few days later, I found myself regaling this tale at our local cafe to the owner and one of the waitresses. The owner, after all,  had asked after my ‘fourth child’.

It was when I got to the point in the story when I asked the mothers if they’d seen a doll that the penny dropped for the waitress.

“Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly. “Oh, thank god. I thought you were talking about an actual child. You seem so… so… ”

“Non-plussed?” I suggested.

The waitress nodded, no doubt secretly taking her finger off the speed-dial button for Social Services under the cafe’s counter.

Note to self: make sure you issue a full disclaimer to all people in hearing range before talking about your “fourth child”.

Other note to self: make sure you don’t write the previous note to self on a piece of scrap paper and then lose it.

Final note to self: ending posts with notes to self is lame and clearly shows you didn’t know how else to end this post.

Final FINAL note to self: Shut the fuck up.

Final final FINAL note to self: Okay.

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The other day, I was talking to a friend (I still have friends, you know) about the fact she had her book group that night but had only read 30 pages of the book.

“I won’t be making much of a contribution,” she admitted.

Luckily she was talking to the Right Person when it came to attending book group without having read the book.

“Bring two bottles of wine. That’s a valuable contribution!” I told her. “Also, tell them you decided to approach the book from a different angle by reading the Wikipedia entry about the author.”

She looked unconvinced.

“Or you could just bring along a list of books for future meetings and shout at them that they’re all stuck in the past and that they should move on like you have,” I suggested. I always have the best ideas.

We actually have an official book list for my book group. At our last meeting, one of our group was writing down on the back of a takeaway menu.

“You’ll lose it!” everyone warned her.

“No, I won’t,” she replied. She seemed very confident.

“No, she won’t,” I concurred. “That’s my job.”

After all, I used to be custodian of that list except, well, I lost it (the list, that is). I searched high and low for the scrappy piece of paper I’d scrawled it on, before finally having admit my error to the group.

ANYWAY, the next morning after my last book group meeting, I was about half way along on the one kilometre walk to school when Mr Justice picked up a random piece of paper on the ground, as often is his habit (you never know when you might stumble across a mystery or a treasure map, apparently). He held it out to me, asking “Isn’t this your handwriting, mummy?”.

One glance told me that this was The List. The lost one. The one I had searched high and low for and which had stripped me of whatever remaining credibility I had as a Responsible Person with my book group.

Whether it had fallen out of my coat pocket, the pram or the sky was unclear. Maybe it hadn’t even fallen. Maybe it had been there all along for six whole months. Or maybe, I thought, The Mild Mannered Lawyer had nicked it off me half a year ago and then planted it along our school route just to fuck with my head.

And then it struck me: this could be a message directly from God.  After all, you may remember, He recently made contact with me by giving me a bruise that looked like His Son. If I were an atheist instead of a weak-arse “Ooh! I don’t know if God exists or not! (*sound of pissing pants*)” agnostic, I would possibly consider taking out some kind of restraining order at this point. But since I’m as open to messages from God as I am from messages from anyone else (for example, literary agents, publishers and people who want to give me a free iphone), I decided not to be freaked out. But if this was a Message From Above what was it trying to tell me?

When I got home from the school run, there was an email from the New Bearer Of The List admitting she’d already lost it.

And so it goes. One list is found, another is lost. One door opens, another one closes. Swings, roundabouts, etc etc. That’s the message. Sheesh! It hardly seemed worth the postage from Heaven to tell me that.

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NDM Lite

I am on holiday this week. If you think that sounds relaxing, you should read the account I wrote about last year’s winter getaway, titled ‘Go Vomit On The Mountain‘.

I have scheduled blog posts this week (as usual) but please don’t be alarmed if I don’t respond immediately to all your (numerous and flattering) comments. I will do that upon my return. After I’ve finished vomiting, that is.

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My husband has a habit of waiting until the precise moment that I’ve fallen asleep before coming to bed himself. This way, he has a better chance of waking me up. And, as you can imagine, I just love being woken up. I mean, with three kids, I really don’t get enough of it.

The other night, I went off to bed early, leaving him in front of the SBS News. It should be noted here that the SBS News is the only news in Australia you can rely on to never to open with a story about an Aussie Rules footballer getting a five-match ban instead of, say, the electoral victory of a communist party in a country the size of Burrumbuttock. (For those international readers, Burrumbuttock is the name of a real town in Australia with a population of 150 and SBS is Australia’s international channel and stands for ‘Something Broadcast Something’).

Anyway, I lay in bed waiting until ten o’clock when the news ended, so he couldn’t try his little ‘trick’. Ten o’clock came and went but no show. After ten minutes, I went back to the lounge room.

“Are you coming to bed?” I asked gently in that way that suggests a direct order.

“In a moment,” my husband replied. “I’m watching this Japanese film made by Hal Hartley.”

I looked at the screen where a Japanese woman in a long bridal dress was making her way through the thick undergrowth of a forest.

“Why is she in a wedding dress?”

“She just got married. Her husband dropped her off on the side of the road in his shiny VW Beetle – you know, the new kind” – like that was relevant – “and then drove off.”

“Why?”

“We don’t know why. This is Art.”

We watched the bride for a few minutes with her struggle.

“Why didn’t she just walk along the road?”

“This is SBS. Deal with it.”

We both watched the bride a little longer, now crawling on her hands and knees.

“You’re just waiting for her to get her clothes off, aren’t you?” I remarked.

“Pretty much.”

I wasn’t surprised. SBS’s foreign language films are the nearest thing to free-to-air porn you can get in Australia.

Anyway, I soon grew bored and wandered off to bed and, eventually, to sleep. As if on cue, however, the moment I dropped off to sleep, my husband stumbled in.

“How did the film end?” I asked, somewhat groggily.

“Don’t know. Gave up on it,” he grunted.

“Did the bride get naked?”

“Her dress spontaneously fell off but she was wearing underwear,” The disappointment in his voice was palpable. “Then a cross-dressing wood nymph started to take off her suspenders in a dream sequence.”

“That sounds kind of hopeful…”

“Yeah, but when she awoke, there was this freshly-folded kimono next to her and she put it on. Yes, she put in on,” he said bitterly. “I mean, we were starting to go backwards. Call *that* ‘Art’?”

And with that, he rolled over and went straight to sleep, whereas I lay awake in the dark wondering about the bride in the forest and the kimono and the cross-dressing wood nymphs until even I grew bored and fell asleep. That’s Art for you.

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My life right now is just like one long spin-off of ‘The Big Chill’, but without the infidelity, the drugs, the corpse or the ‘six times platinum’ soundtrack. Yes, just like it.

I think it may have something to do with turning 40 this year. Increasingly, I’ve found myself having frank and open conversations with old friends about our shared capital H ‘History’. This is of course is made easy because most of the things we are being frank and open about happened so long ago they may as well have happened to other people. Nice.

I suspect a lot of this has been an attempt to purge myself of some of my more inglorious moments – you know, those kind of moments that your mind likes to replay to you like some kind of PowerPoint presentation in the middle of the night instead of, say, letting you get some sleep or something crazy like that. The moments that make you go ‘Ouch!’ or just shudder with the embarrassment of it all. The moments that make you go ‘Eurggggghhhhh’.

One of the highlights of my own personal PowerPoint presentation is the tryst I unexpectedly found myself in  with a boy that my bestest Uni friend ‘verycleveralias’ liked at the time. My friendship with verycleveralias, which had been closer than close, subsequently cooled a little and, a few months later, I left Perth, ostensibly forever. I have blushed from head to toe every time I have thought of that gross error of judgment. Eurgggghhhhhhh.

Recently, I was having brunch with VCA  when she spontaneously confessed to me that she had long since felt responsible that we’d drifted apart at that time because, knowing I was leaving, she had deliberately distanced herself.

“But I thought it was because of me having [insert embarrassing details of encounter with boy here]!” I blurted out.

“You did that?” she laughed. “What were you thinking?”

“Well, obviously I wasn’t thinking about you because you liked him,” I said.

“Did I?” she said. “I don’t remember that at all.”

So basically I’d been beating myself up about something for almost twenty years without due cause. Doh! My PowerPoint presentation was now one slide shorter – in fact, I thought, I could probably go delete a whole heap more and live the rest of my life virtually guilt-free!

But then I caught up with my friend Some Guy In Paris. Over the course of many bottles of wine (he and my friend Mistress M were drinking Aldi cleanskins which, according to Mistress M, cost $9 for a case of six. Them’s $1.50 per bottle, people!), we ended up having another round of ‘Big Chill’-style confessions.

Some Guy In Paris reminded me of an incident. Someone once told him I’d said something Not Very Nice about him and he’d harboured that hurt for a number of years before he and I had met up again and managed to sort the whole thing out. Of course I hadn’t said that Not Very Nice thing about him at all – in fact I can’t remember even thinking it let alone saying it – but I began to worry about what I actually did say that had caused that Someone to report such a thing. I mean, l’ve said a whole lot of things in my life, some flippantly, some in anger, many more under the influence of alcohol. And I guess I can never know what people will choose to grab hold of and hang their own shit on for years and years.

And I realised that for all those things I’ve been beating myself up about over the years which I needn’t have, there’s probably at least as many things which I should be beating myself up about which I don’t necessarily know about.

Which is just great, if you think about it.

Which is why I think I’m going to go have to buy a whole truck load of those Aldi cleanskins so that I never have to think again.

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