Archive for the ‘Sheer gratitude’ Category

When I was originally diagnosed with osteo-blah-blah-blah, the doctor I saw gave me two suggestions: take glucosamine and do the dishes.

“You ladies are lucky,” he said. “Your therapy is part of your work.”

Like washing dishes was automatically a woman’s work! Shuh!

Admittedly, though, it is technically this woman’s work in this house. Yes, I am the Domestic Dish Pig. Sometimes, as I feel like I stand at that friggin’ sink all day, washing dish after cup after splade after saucepan, pausing only to fix another meal for my rabidly hungry children.

The problem about the dishes, of course, is that they cannot be ignored – unlike laundry, which can be left for a couple of days until someone runs of out underpants or I lose one of the neighbour’s kids under one of the huge piles.

Anyway, after my recent weekend in Sydney, I had the worst flare-up of my osteo-blah-blah-blah in my right hand. It was only after a few days of being back home that the terrible truth hit me: I had been in such pain because I hadn’t had to dip my hands in warm soapy water for over 72 hours.

It was like the thing that I hated the most was the thing that saved me. How ironic! Stick that in your stupid song, Alanis. Because it’s actually ironic, unlike “rain on your wedding day”, which is merely unfortunate, or “ten thousand spoons when you just need a knife”, which is some kind of crazy spoon-invasion situation. I say to Alanis, “The spoons are coming! Get out of that damn cab and run, run for your life!”

Anyway, I decided I should see a doctor about my flare-up but couldn’t get an appointment for a few days. (See how smoothly I got out of that spoon-invasion scenario just then?)

While I was waiting for my appointment, I quickly discovered that the best way to forget about arthritic pain was to get a cold sore – it gave me something else to focus on. And the quickest way to stop worrying about the cold sore was to start developing one of those kaleidoscope-vision migraines. And the most effective way to transcend a migraine was to have one of your kids throwing up All. Night. Long.

And then the best cure for the whole damn lot was to drink lots and lots of champagne in honour of Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

On the morning that Julia Gillard took charge of the nation, I came home from the school run to find a message from the Mild-Mannered Lawyer insisting that I drop everything and join her and our friend MGK to drink champagne.

I looked at the time. It was less than hour and a half to my doctor’s appointment. Could I honestly go and talk to my doctor about my ailments after chugging champagne and risk her lecturing me on the perils of drinking before noon?

So I did what any responsible person with a sense of occasion would do: I canceled my doctor’s appointment, forgot about my persistent headache and my cold sore, left the dishes undone and hot-footed it over to the MML’s house, where we drank champagne and watched events unfold on the television for many hours.

And that afternoon, when I picked the kids up from school, I looked into the eyes of my small red-headed daughter and told her “You can do whatever you want to do!” and really truly meant it. It would seem that the position description for a woman’s work just got a whole lot broader.

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Every evening, after our young masters have retired to their chambers, my husband and I settle down in front of the TV with a glass of wine to enjoy those precious remains of the day together. 

Just the other night, we decided to finally start watching the box set of UK 1990s show “Cracker” that had been given to us. The first thing that struck me was how utterly dated the mid-90s already look – I mean, hello! That was when I was supposedly at my coolest and it turns out I was actually no cooler than Fonzie on waterskis.

The second thing that struck me was that, after 20 minutes, I still had no idea what the hell was going on. I started thinking “Wow, those Granada scriptwriters in the 90s really knew how to challenge an audience”. There was no drawn-out spoon-feeding exposition for this show – no way! Instead you were, like, totally slam-dunked straight into the world of Cracker…

And then, after just one too many exchanges between characters referring to events such as so-and-so’s suicide and the affair with such-and-such, I turn to my husband say, “Are you sure this is the start of the series?”

And it was at this point that my husband admitted that the disks weren’t numbered so he had just randomly selected an episode to start off with.

I picked up the box and there, on the back, as clear as a well-ordered list, was a list of the episode titles, helpfully organised in chronological order. And I realised my dear husband had a little less helpfully launched us into the series with Episode 9 (of 10), which was a little like starting a joke with the punchline. 

And so, both slightly peeved (one of us a little more than the other), we decided to spend the rest of those precious remains of the day catching up on some sleep. 

However, my husband’s attempts earlier that day to create “somewhere comfortable to sit” in our room by installing a chair on my side of the bed, meant that he had completely destroyed all chances of finding “somewhere comfortable to sleep”. Everything that had been carefully hidden down that side of the room had been, with equal care, lifted up and dumped on our bed.

And so, too tired and disheartened to sort the situation out, we decided that the best thing was for both of us to sleep on the fold-out bed in the kids’ room under the glare of the daylight-nightlight. Which was fine until the usual game of Musical Beds started shortly after midnight, when Tiddles McGee magically appeared between us and then The Pixie also threw herself into the mix around 2AM. At which point my husband promptly relocated himself to the pink princess bed, leaving me wedged between the two children. 

In our household, The Pixie and TIddles are both classified as “Snugglers”, who have to have as much of their body pressed against you as possible, while the rest of us are what I like to call “Separate Sleepers”. I looked wistfully over at Mr Justice and his Separate Sleeping Ways and was wishing that I was sharing a bed with him, until he suddenly sat bolt upright and laughed like a little mentalist in his sleep and I instantly recalled with great clarity all those times he’d punched me in the face when we’d had to share a bed. 

And then to top things off – oh joy of joys – my husband started snoring loudly because, now that he was no longer under my direct jurisdiction, he was sleeping on his back. And trapped as the Meat in the Snuggle Sandwich as I was, I was completely unable to kick him back onto his side. 

So there I was, lying in the dark, thinking my night couldn’t get any worse except, perhaps, if someone started throwing up, when I suddenly felt that all-too-familiar sensation of – how shall I put this –  the “Red Tide” coming in. And I was forced to somehow get myself out of the bed and to the toilet as quickly as possible A) without waking the Snugglers and B) before I created a Japanese Flag situation. Without giving away any secrets, let’s just say that I did it and it certainly made that Catherine Zeta-Jones scene from Entrapment look a complete and utter doddle – although, I was considerably less cat-like than CZJ was, it must be said. 

But the strangest thing of all happened when I returned to my Meat position a few minutes later. I found myself lying there and listening to the surround-sound breathing of my precious family for a long, long time. And I thought to myself that, even if I wasn’t able to get back to sleep at all, I couldn’t think of another place on this planet that I’d rather spend the remains of that night. And then finally, sleep came.

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Somehow I managed to fall in love with – and subsequently marry and have children with – a man who did not share my taste in books. Yes, my husband simply refuses to read any fiction published after a very specific date which I  believe to be somewhere around mid-July, 1959. He has, however, conceded that he has some interest in reading “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis one of these days, claiming it was published in the early ’60s. However, when I wikipediaed it, I found out that it was first published in 1954, thus proving that his Cut-Off is iron-clad. 

Anyway, this was all an interesting lesson for me about how we can’t get everything out of the one relationship and why they invented Book Group (see “In The Good Books” for more on that merry band of women in my life). And in any case, I have been lucky enough to collect enough friends over the years to complement the many different facets of my personality. I have Sparkly friends and Sane friends. Silly friends and Soulful friends. Coffee-Scones-and-Double-Cream friends and Long-Afternoons-Drinking-Cheap-Fizz friends. And I love them all. 

And then I have “The Cousins”. On my dad’s side of the family, there are eight of us who have been putting on Cousin Christmas Spectaculars and sharing in-jokes since we were in nappies (some of us are still in nappies but I ain’t sayin’ who). Somehow, however, the Cousin Thing in my life has been kept largely separate from my Friends Thing. Perhaps it’s because, whenever the two worlds meet, all my male hetreosexual friends try to crack onto my cousins – both the boys and the girls. What can I say? We’re one hell of a good looking family. 

Recently we had a mini Cousin Get-Together because one of my cousins was in town with her brand spankin’ new fiance. Some last-minute scheduling problems meant that this get-together converged with a spontaneous BBQ we had put on for some other dear friends of ours. As I was introducing everyone, I realised that they already knew each other but just not in the flesh. Why, there I had three of my regular blog commenters all in the same room – “mystery v”, “MM” and “KC” (although, I should hasten to mention that MM and KC have been married for over a decade and have managed to have a relationship outside of my blog, their son being overwhelming proof of this). Luckily, mystery v’s new man “Imaginary D” had been exposed to enough of my blog to appreciate the exchanges of knowing “Aaahhhs!” and cries of “Boobalicious!!” that followed. 

And so we all sat around my kitchen table for some hastily-thrown together food, cheap fizz and lively conversation. I realised I was in safe hands when I was able to exclaim “Bloody Haemophiliacs!” without anyone judging me too harshly for such a random and tasteless joke. And certainly, once my “Rock Cousin” arrived, things shifted to a whole new level. At one point, there was muttering in one corner about “www.cousinswap.com”, which nobody involved in its conception seemed to be able to explain to me. And then later, there was even talk of “www.cousindump.com” which I think was a website that helps arrange certain scattalogical services to be performed by a distance blood relative but I can’t be sure. Best not dwell too long on such things, really. 

In any case, I was well pleased. Some of my worlds – virtual and real, family and friends – had successfully converged for a pleasant afternoon of spontaneous silliness. As you would certainly hope would happen when some of the family you love and some of the family you’ve chosen meet… Perhaps that’s what http://www.cousinswap.com was all about?

Whatever the hell it is, we here at NDM Central raise our glasses of cheap fizz to friendship! And to cousinship! And lazy Saturday afternoons! May the three often converge…

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Personally, I blame it all on having read Orwell’s “1984” at too young an age. To put it plainly: my fear of rats makes The Pixie’s brief bout of galeophobia look like shark-fancying (see “All At Sea“). My fear helpfully extends itself to mice, too –  if only because I have no way of distinguishing them from rats. Apparently you can tell by the width of their tails and the number of nipples they have, but since I’m really not planning on ever being that close to one to actually do any measuring or counting, the distinction is still completely lost on me. 

So when Genghis Cat casually sauntered in with a live mouse in his mouth early the other morning, my reaction was less than mature. If someone were to ask for the transcript of that moment it would read something like “Eeeeewwwwweeoooooooo aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Farrrrrrrrk!”. Which truly represented exemplary role-modeling in showing my children how to deal with their fears.

Upon hearing this profoundly pithy exclamation, ol’ Genghis dropped the mouse, which limped as quickly as it could under the fridge. Genghy then proceeded to sniff vaguely around the “Dust Baffle” area and, realising that there would be enough biscuit crumbs under the fridge for the mouse to live off for a year, he wandered off with the distinct air of someone whose work here was done. Panicked, I immediately rang my husband at work for advice – replacing more traditional telephone greetings with a strangled “Faarrrrrkkkkk!”. My husband calmly and quickly came up with a plan of action for me. 

“All you need to do,” he said. “Is move the fridge, grab the mouse, put it in a plastic bag and then take it outside and drop a brick on it.”

Now let’s just run through that action plan step by step:
1. Move fridge
2. Catch mouse
3. Put mouse in plastic bag
4. Drop a brick on it

Shuh! Like any of that was going to happen. Well, maybe I could have done Step 4 but without completing steps 1-3 it would have been as pointless as, well, dropping a brick on an empty plastic bag.

Luckily, my husband pretty much realised his plan wasn’t going to work the minute he’d presented it to me. My reaction no doubt had something to do with this realisation – again, that transcript would have read something like “Uh, guh, guh, guh, can’t, uh, do, uh, it, aaggghhhhhhhhh.” Under normal circumstances, he would have advised me to leave the house with the children for the day and then sorted it out himself after work. But the problem was that on this particular day, I was picking my husband up from the city and we were all driving straight off to a special holiday destination for a few days. And if the mouse stayed and died under the hot fridge in the hot weather, it would have effectively turned the house into one giant Dutch Oven. Clearly something had to be done and I wasn’t the person to be doing it, blubbing like a baby as I was.

In two words, the answer was Uncle B. 

Now, the definition of True Friendship is being able to call someone with a mouse-in-the-house problem before 7am. KT – wife of Uncle B – answered the phone in a cheerful manner – or as cheerful as someone whose children habitually wake before 5:30am can manage. But because Uncle B was still sleeping (having worked til midnight the night before) she immediately offered her mouse-removal services instead, fearless girl that she is, and was there on my doorstep with her children less than ten minutes later. 

Immediately, KT set to work. She bravely approached the fridge, while I rather less bravely put a closed glass door between me and any mouse action – although, in doing this, I cunningly claimed to be “nobly protecting” KT’s very curious daughter, Cyclone Bella. Since the fridge was too darn heavy for her to move it by herself, KT instead rocked it slightly, and then proceeded to poke the injured mouse with a long stick for ten long minutes. Which got me wondering about how when we say things like “more chocolate and champagne than you can poke a stick at”, it suggests a glorious abundance of something, whereas “more injured mice than you can a poke a stick at” doesn’t quite have the same happy overtones. Because if it was a matter of “want to” rather than “can” when it came to poking those injured mice, the desired number would definitely be NONE. Which is not the case with the champagne and chocolate. Although I would obviously prefer to consume them than poke them, stick or no. Which is all just a good example of the little mini-breaks of the mind I go on when facing my greatest fears. 

ANYWAY, after all that brave poking of the stick, KT had to admit defeat and went home to wake up her husband. Once she’d returned with Uncle B and he was on the job, KT and I were both free to go hide in the front bedroom with the children – and with that bedroom door firmly shut and a story tape on the stereo, we created ourselves a kind of Disney Bubble which could not be penetrated by the mouse’s (or Uncle B’s) screams back in the kitchen.

Less than five minutes later, the Dreadful Dead had been done, the corpse had been disposed of, and I was making suburban hero Uncle B a Very Strong Coffee Indeed. And because he’d had to get down the microwave from on top of the fridge in order to move it, I took the opportunity to give the microwave a good wipe inside and out, plus the top of the fridge, before he put everything back. Which just shows that the mouse didn’t die in vain and from such adversity came a nice clean microwave and fridge top and the reminder of how lucky I am to have such Great Friends.

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Dear Readers, 

Here in Australia, it’s already Christmas Day. One of the few benefits of living in the arse end of the world is that we get to open our presents first and I’m about to go and help my children unwrap their body weight’s worth in toys.  But before I do, I have a few Christmas goodies for those of you who are still managing to log onto my humble blog amidst the Christmas Mayhem (all three of you). Look upon it as thanks for helping me be ranked  1,420,615th on the Technorati blog list. That’s quite some achievement, eh?

No, seriously, that really is my Technorati ranking. There are blogs written by robots, rabid monkeys and small chunks of cheese that have a higher ranking. But what that stupid ranking doesn’t reflect is the sheer calibre of the blog’s readership.

So here’s the really serious bit: I’m actually very grateful to anyone who has ever stopped by my blog, however briefly. Returning to writing has been the biggest gift that 2008 has given me and I certainly couldn’t have done it without the encouragement and support of… (gesturing widely, with tears in eyes)… All Of You. 

So here are my gifts to you all. The first is a Christmas story that the six year old Mr Justice wrote yesterday – yes, he of the “extreme enthusiasm and creativity when story writing” (see “An Assembly to Remember“). I’ve kept the original spelling and punctuation to further enhance the reading pleasure. 

Christmas Avencher

One Chrismas night a man went fishing, but when he got to the jety, he saw a tente-cool come out of the water. So he ran home. On the way he met a rinkely person, his name was Yoda. Then 10 Hyena-droids atacked Yoda. Then he chopped there heads off. But 7 escaped. 

Isn’t that just a lovely little Christmas fable? I think there’s a little something in that for everyone. 

And then there are these three little photos – which some of you have been desperate to see ever since my post “Gin and Bear It“. And for the rest of you who have no idea what this is all about, then let’s just look upon this little photo essay as a timely reminder of the Dangers of Excess… as both the subject and the photographer now know all too well. 

And so, from Not Drowning Central, I wish one and all a very merry Christmas indeed. 








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