Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Shopping

3 more shopping days until Christmas

Well, that is what I have available, anyway. I am going over to help my mother for a few days this week, so only today and Friday to do any shopping that I need to do - there is Saturday, but that may be procuring ingredients for feasting on Monday.

How prepared am I? Well, I have bought one nephew 1/2 a present in September, last month I haphazardly bought some books from a school fundraiser that will get doled out, and I have bought 1 stocking stuffer.

How prepared should I be? Well, I have 6 nieces and nephews, 1 daughter, 2 cousin's babies and 3 external to the family kids I really should buy for. "The Family" (familiar name for my ex-outta-laws) - there are 4 that will probably get scratchies (if they are very lucky), my family - 8 lots of variable levels of more expensive scratchies... And then my honey - who reads this so I won't mention the hotrod I am getting him, or the baubles I expect there!

(Oh, and I am not going to mention the 54 cards I need to do tonight, am I?)

Every year (for the past few) I have been broke at this time of year. Whitegoods, cars and living expenses tend to make that happen - every year I try to make stuff to extend the what I can affords but just didn't get around to it this year.

Ho hum, off to budget and list. Anyone need anything while I am at the shops? More importantly, anyone have any really good strategies for me?

My Resolution for this year was to be more organised - ha ha - its still good for next year, methinks!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hooray for Holidays

Today is the first day of the Queensland School Holidays - Hooray!!!!

What is it about weekends and holidays that require one to get up at 5.25am, whereas a schoolday can pull a sleep in until after 7, oh child?

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Competitive Edge

Note at the start - my family are not land creatures - put us in a foot race and be prepared to wait it out - in the water it is a different thing, however.

Yesterday was the "swimming fun day" for dd's school (the years 4-7 had a competition, 1-3 not allowed competition because it could damage the children's psyche).

All week, dd has been saying she is going to win the backstroke, as she won last year (same scenario - no official placings but my goodness the kids all know!) and she has been trying very hard and practicing.

I saw her in the freestyle - there were about 20 kids across the pool and it was more a maul than a well structured assault - and she did okay. As I do the reading with the kids, every one of them in her class (and a few in the other class who I don't know) came up to me and told me how they had fared.

As they were not doing official placings, everyone got rewarded by being doled out a reward at the end of each "race" - a lolly.

The kids were not so well behaved after a few laps'n'lollies routines - I wonder why.

Anyway, proud mummy moment - in the mayhem that was the backstroke, my daughter did reach the end first. I really think it is her mindset that got her there for that - she can be as good in the other styles, but she now thinks she has a speciality and it is backstroke and noone is going to take her glory away!!!

The Competitive Hedge

I was never naturally competitive at sports - never good enough to be lol - but had a very competitive family, and lived in a very competitive region.

My school softball team won the B-schools softball shield every year I was in it - lol with only 13 girls to choose from in the whole school, most everyone was in the team from about grade 2, and reserves from grade 1, so we were a fairly tight crew.

My father was a competitive swimmer, polocrosse player (his team won National Titles in the early 1960s) and campdrafter.

My grandparents met because they were both competitive campdrafters. My grandfather was also a boxer, while my grandmother was in the victorious Queensland campdraft team at the Royal Easter Show in the 1930s - her brother and father, also, and my great-grandfather actually bred champion stock horses.

My sister was a swimming champion, a high-jump champion, an artist and writer (now photographer) of some brilliance, and even had a stint at beauty queen!

My brother was too small to play Union, which was his heart's desire... So he took up weightlifting to build himself up and became Queensland Schoolboy Champion. Then he (who couldn't get a game in the Under 13 Es) was some sort of head or other prop in the first 15, although his ultimate dream was to be a hooker. He played at college and then undertook playing for a team 150km from home - he didn't get to many training sessions - he got this close to a Queensland Country jumper but never quite made the Wallabys. When he finished with Rugby, he started woodchopping and did very well for himself until fatherhood put a damper on his time.

My uncle has only just returned from his final National Titles for polocrosse – his team didn’t win the title (were in the finals) but he thought it was time to hang up his reins – the body doesn’t bounce back as well at 56 as it did at 17.

My mother's family's competitive genes are more on the side of art and acadaemia. (I will go into that kettle another time).

So you could say it was pretty competitive, the family I grew up in.

I wasn't very good at many things - reading is not a competition, meek on a horse after a few too many busters, too myopic to take much interest in things of speed or precision (although we didn't know it).

But I trained - I would do 80-100 laps every morning - and I eventually got good enough to beat the local champion at breaststroke on the zone trials - I even got this close to a spot in the State Championships.

I was also in a rowing crew at boarding school. Now, for someone 5' 4", rowing is actually not the best sport to be in! But we trained - we had rowing every morning and 5 afternoons a week we would do sprints, weights and long-distance running. Did I mention that my family are not good across land? But we eventually got good enough to go to the National Titles. We blitzed the heats, lost an oar in the semis, someone cracked one of our oars just before the repacharge but we got into the finals by this much. Lost the finals big-time!!!

Now, I know it is not such a great thing, being quite as competitive as my family were (are) - but it is a case of the baby with the bathwater sometimes. Actually working really hard to achieve a goal - as I did with that training long ago - is a really good thing to learn, and as early as possible. It doesn't mean that you should live your life by it, but it is there as a handy life tool.

The Competitive Ledger

Anyhow - your thoughts - is it better to give kids crap sugar treats all equally and pretend there is no competitive nature than to allow kids to aspire and wish to extend themselves while finding some (yet unidentified in my mind) way of encouraging the others?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

And the Oscar for best direction goes to...

I just love watching my daughter's creativity unfold. Sometimes it reminds me of my own childhood, whereas other times I just think in awe that I could never have done that.

When we were children, we had Mum's cassette recorder and we would compose and put together who radio programs of the variety show type. We would script little plays, ads and news bulletins (a la The Two Ronnies) and then present them to our parents (we being my sister, my brother and myself - and any visiting child at the time).

I sometimes feel sorry for my only child not having any siblings, but then, she is quite happy in enlisting the help of those around her big or small - so in such endeavours I lose my sympathy and again go for the awe (okay, and small moments of frustration as Mummy really needs to put the dinner on).

As a very young child she was a crack-up in the car, mimicing and pulling faces and noises and playing with words. I told her she would be a comedienne one day - she nearly cried as she replied "No Mummy, I don't want to be a 'medienne, I want to be a nurse".

But I think she has the goods to be a director or producer. I have already made her promise that I will be her date to the Oscars!

When she was 4 and at childcare, she and a friend wrote a script for a fairytale they had been read. She then cast her friends in roles (and did not take the biggest one for herself - very proud of that), organised for several boys to be "the castle wall", created and organised other kids to make props, wrote a program and did tickets and seating arrangements for the play.

On being advised this by the room's Group Leader, I asked if she thought my child was "bossy". She thought for a moment and very tactfully replied "she is more of a benign dictator". lol - that's my girl.

Last weekend at her Nana's and Grandpa's, everyone was very busy packing boxes so she was playing and helping quite happily when a brainwave occurred.

She got bits of paper and made stick puppets and a puppet theatre. Then she roped me and V into being the other characters, and wrote very squiggly directions on what our stage movements were to be. Then she got Nana to be narrator and help write the narration (my daughter's penmanship, unfortunately, can be genetically traced to her mother). Finally, when her cousins and aunt and uncle arrived for afternoon tea, got her (littler) cousins to help set up the chairs.

And her performance worked - fair enough, not a very scintillating tale (from a well-read critic's perspective) but I am SO PROUD OF HER!!! Our stage directions and timing was perfect with the narration, and it worked.

She then tried to hold a Q&A session, but there are only so many questions that non-interactive adults will pose - then she gave away the puppets to her cousins.

I so wish I had thought to take pictures and keep those moments - but then, there WILL BE another production, I am sure.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poetry Yarn

I originally come from Country Queensland. I grew up on a cattle property about 25km away from a tiny town that’s main claim to fame was that it was first in the postcode book – although that honour was taken away from them 20 odd years ago as the local post office was closed.

Anyway – my father was at least 3rd generation Country Queensland and had grown up pre-television – and one of the requirements of being a child in his days was to be able to recite and tell a good yarn.

My mother was a City girl (although she grew up all over Queensland as her father was transferred regularly), but her family too had a strong story-telling tradition.

As a result – culturally, genetically and environmentally – my whole family are good for a yarn.

BTW – my father’s best renditions are Banjo Patterson verses like A Bush Christening and Clancy of the Overflow - and I am sure that his stirring articulation which made it alive to me meant that I carry a big love for poetry that many shy away from.

(Just discovered from that bout of googledrift something very pertinent: according to Holtie, the hut used in the filming of The Man from Snowy River has been affected by the annual bushfire event down South.)

During high school, I was what could be termed a phrase that is unladylike (and I would have linked it to the definition, although no begger in Australia has defined "smartarse", and the Canadian and North American terms are not quite right – well, not from my perspective) and as a result teachers were fairly wary of me, and distrusted me with positions of power or fame – like a role in the debating team. I used to surrepticiously assist in the speech-writing of the accredited members, and when I finally got a Guernsey (I think thanks to an epidemic of flu) I opened with a poem written for the occasion.

I branched out into standing in front of an audience for fun (Public Speaking) although I never won the prestigious events such as those held by Zonta and Rostrum - I think they were looking of more marketable commodities in the Cultural Circuit than “What’s In a Kiss” – but I got the popular vote.

When I was a young adult and ventured into larger communities, I remember being amazed that, when people were discussing multiculturalism, they would lament the "lack of “culture” in Australia.

I find you are always most aware of the community you are in and their little ways and manners (and EVERY community has this) when you are from the outside.

Not that I am knocking in any way international culture – I really enjoy celebrating every new option and experience that comes into my life. My palate, auditory canals and friendship circles has always been diverse.

Anyhow – when I was going through my early-twenties crisis, launching myself off the career trajectory into free-falling living of life – I discovered performance poetry, and a love affair was born. (Nice segue cough, cough )

My very first venture onto a stage with the sole intention of inflicting my poetry onto members of the public (who had paid to see poetry, it must be said) was the Poetry Slam at the Harold Park Hotel (which I have just googled and discovered is closed! Merde – what is the world coming to when there is no Harold Park Hotel!Another part of my history defunct!) – I came second!! I was so stoked – the lady who won had an absolute rip-snorter of a second poem that sent shivers down your spine.

From then, a large part of my life was being a poet – I don’t care that you don’t make pots of money from it – that is what other jobs are for – being a performance poet made me alive…

Until – well, until I returned to Brisbane (after a few adventures – there are a few years between “from” and “until”) and found that the people who chose to be in Poetry Politics was static and not proportional to the total Poetry Community – and small pond big politics did not make it “fun” any more. I supported a few venues, but felt my love get pruned…

Until – well, until at a reading I met someone who I fell in love with and who I made a baby with and I sort of got busy with that for a while…

Until other factors became more complicated and before you know it 7 years have passed and you have been to only as many readings as fingers on one hand in that time…

Until you are in a new part of the world and again you are the outsider looking in and trying to find your own path and you remember, while yarning to a friend (who is an insert appropriate swearword here AWESOME performance poet) that you always had that dream…

(Stay tuned – if we EVER get our acts together, maybe we will put on a show with our yarns!)

But in the meantime I am a poet in search of a stage (already have many muses and the buds of new words). And I realise that I am excited, wary and scared - excited because I am fairly well a virgin in this neck of the woods - which means that all my old are new again, so I can be working on editing the new for a while yet; wary because it is even a smaller pond and you never know who's toes you accidentally step on when trying to find your footing, especially in the heady world of poetry, and scared as I also hope that the I don't get shot down for not rhyming and rhythming to a regional formula (which can happen in whatever size pond) or they won't "get me".

Better actually give you a poem after all that, I suppose. I only have ever had one published to the net (without my knowledge at the time - hmm) but here is one of my more recent ones, and was about similar concerns that I have now overcome. (As has my long-distance darling in so many ways - congratulations darling!)


You know why these walls exist, don’t you?

The barricade of white brick encircle me

High in this tower

Where only the portal-side whisper of wind

Breaks the calm.

I know in my youth

I braved


Launching myself into maelstroms of love.

No sooner had I seen a tangent of passion

I alighted that path

Believing its flight to be true

Then these rays of refraction would shatter

Upon me

the mirror of lust

And enshadowed my soul.

Injured but brazen I would dust myself down

Ignoring the shards that promised more wounds

Again I would cross over that moat

And make for my tower…

But though I would seek for

The friends I wished true

I would ultimately find a companion who

Only too fast

Would step to the edge of this friend road I sought

And dive overboard with fey delusion

Of making us whole

Foolishly I’d dive also and down we would fly

And swoop over our lives

Laugh with relief

Those mirrors of camraderie belied

Cracks in the bond

And hands that entwined once

Became fists of frustration and of rage and of hate

So again I took that late ferry home

And stepped through threshold

Of my kingdom

So I have made a new nest

My needs and wants few

And although it is quiet it does have a view

The white brick a blanket

O’er cliffs just below

The wind a reminder

The wind a warning

The wind a whispering

Such words I shan’t hear

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel”

© Sophie Jean 7/5/05

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Baked Blog

I only recently discovered blogworld.

The reason that I discovered it is because my oven had died and I had a weekend of visitors - including my daughter's grandfather (that is the shortest description) and the impact this was having on my psyche, complete with his dietary requirements and the desire to be the perfect hostess meant that I had to find a solution - and fast!

(My previous attempt to delight his palate had failed dismally. Not due to my inferior cooking ability, I might add, but due to quite a few things that would include swearwords and unflattering reflections on the man's country, arrogance and manners).

A few weekends before, I had bought a slow-cooker to attempt to fill the gap in my culinary requirements. But the only experiment I had tried had failed.

I was desparate - I turned to my good friend Google.

"Google," I said "I want to find the sort of culinary delight that will both please my child, she of the S-Sound diet, and bridge the gap of understanding between an elderly, autocratic, diabetic Croatian man and his deceased son's ex."

Google of course did not follow such a request with anything useful, so I had to be more concise with my search terms.

Anyhow, that is how I discovered blogworld - Becki does a recipe a day, and happened to be doing Crockpot Cooking that week. (My search did not go unnoticed, either, as she had a post wondering who would be looking for "crockpot children"!)

From there, I discovered a lot of the mums on the MomsBlog board, and through their links more folk, and through their links more folk - the core of which is my links list.

Anyhow, as my letters and postings to my messageboards tend to be blogs anyway, I thought I would do one of my own - ha ha ha - it took me until Jenn called for the virtual cookie exchange last week that I finally pulled my proverbial out and put together a blog (or whinge, thus far)

But it gets back to my original problem - I have no oven, and therefore I really have virtual biscuits (and also no photos – good thing, as I am on a steep html learning curve as it is!) ...

Ginger Nuts would have been my first choice. These bikkies have family favourites since the Australian Women's Weekly published a cookbook in the 1980s at about the same time as my mother had Ross River and I became the family chef for a while. I loved cooking, and especially (and still do) loved taste - and these offered that in spades as well as perfect dunking (actually required) opportunities.

Anyhow, as I was at my mother's on the weekend I thought it would be a perfect chance to dig the recipe out for Jenn... The problem being, the reason I was at my mother's on the weekend was to assist in packing her hoardings over the last 40 years - and it took two full days to pack the display case and other china (19 boxes of breakables - my mother doesn't really hold the "cull" mentality as well as some) and therefore the recipe book cupboard didn't get a look in. Will have to look to my own recipe books - but as I am going as virtual as possible, cannot be any that I have not yet made...

Then I remembered Anzac Biscuits - but have discovered they are a recipe that falls into the category of "unfound since moving", and I can scoff at my mother no more…

So, I am reduced to giving two recipes, neither “biscuits” in the strictest sense, but both offering a cultural experience, I promise.

The first is Chocolate Squares. At any country event where a plate is required (which is basically every social occasion in the country excepting those you aspire to during your 15-30 age years, where alcohol is the only offering), there will be a variation or two of these on offer. This offering is from the “Mulgildie School P&C Recipe Book” – but is so good that I have it copied onto a scrap of paper and the paper has travelled this country and been enjoyed by many!!

Chocolate Squares

  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 4 oz melted butter

lol – my on paper instructions are shorthand!

  • Anyhow, mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the melted butter.
  • Press this mix into greased and lined slice trays.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in a moderate (180/350) oven. (If you double the mixture, bake for 30)
  • Ice with icing (made of 1 cup icing sugar, 1 dessertspoon cocoa and enough milk to make icing) while warm and sprinkle with more coconut.
  • Cut into squares and see if any actually make it to the event – it is delicious!!!

My second is from my (to try and minimise the explanations) mother-in-law, and is from Croatia. When asked for its proper name, the answer is Biscuit Kolaca. Another divine creation with minimal explanation on my piece of paper. Baka (means grandmother or old woman) used to make this for everyone’s birthday treat – but arthritis, old age and excess weight means she can’t stand up to do the time in the kitchen any more.

Biscuit Kolaca

  • 1 litre milk
  • 8-10 tablespoons plain flour
  • 5-6 tablespoons sugar
  • 60-70g butter
  • ½ block dark chocolate
  • ½ block milk chocolate
  • 1-2 tablespoons imitation rum
  • Cup of milky coffee (instant is fine)
  • ½ block dark chocolate
  • ½ block milk chocolate
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 packs of milk coffee biscuits (rectangular plain biscuits of any variety)

Again, my paper instructions are very brief - and a little stained - I will translate as best I can.

  • Mix together milk and flour on lowish heat on stove until thickens – about when your spoon leaves tracks (I am making this more detailed than her notes, I swear!)
  • Take off heat and add next 5 ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  • When mixture is cooled, make a cup of milky coffee and let cool to blood temperature.
  • Line a baking pan with alfoil.
  • Quickly dip individual biscuits into coffee, spread with the chocolate mixture and layer in baking pan. It makes no difference how creative you are with your biscuit layering – the coffee “opens” the biscuit to soak in flavour and the choc mix sort of melds in and you end up with a 4-6 layered block.
  • When you have run out of your bricks or mortar, melt the remaining chocolate then mix in milk and butter and pour over the top. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Slice and serve – very rich and very delicious.
Warning: If you haven't put weight on reading this recipe, you may do so eating the offcuts! Slice about 1cm x 5cm slices with a hot knife and it will be eaten like wildfire!!!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Carols by Consideration

Last week after my sweetie went back to his work camp (lol), my daughter and I dressed ourselves up and went to enjoy the Carols on the Foreshore...

I had foresight enough to pack a few ham wraps for daughter to enjoy (ah yes, that ham), I had foresight enough to take a warm wrap for myself, I had foresight enough to ask if my daughter wanted something warm to take - ha ha ha ha - not enough hindsight to take the darned thing anyway!

Anyway, got there and man, was there a turnout - live in a small town where 60% of inhabitants (and about that of visitors) are retirees and a night of hearty Carols, Nativity Play and the Salvo Army band and they will turn up with their warm rugs and folded chairs (NOTE TO SELF - when talking about foresight, contemplate the folding chairs).

As another 39 1/2 % inhabitants have children, we had a pretty crowded foreshore.

Now, in their infinite wisdom, many councils have decided to step around the whole "Christ" bit from "Christmas". Fair enough, their call - myself, I want to be able to celebrate the spirit, not just the marketing - and if I knew enough about other religious festivals I would like to think I was big enough to respect the spirit of them - but that is me and one thing I have learned is I don't rule the world or anyone in it.

Here, nuh-uh - if our council is going to do Carols for Christmas then they are darned well going to do it with the combined churches of the area and get the whole message across. So none of your namby, pamby Santa Claus-y carols here. No sirree - the standards used were "The First Noel", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", "Mary's Boy Child" etc, etc. All very much about the Jesus part of Christmas and all good belters for the average caroller to vibrate the chords on.

And not only that - seems that some of the combined churches are those modern institutions where they don't feel beheld to just trot out standards - no sirree, apparently Colin Buchanan has a few stirring tunes out soon and they were featured. They are also of the "this is what the Christmas message is all about" ilk, rather than the "ho ho ho, more presents and chocolates for you" variety of carol.

(aside - my most unloved carol is "The Fairy on Top of the Christmas Tree" found on a cheap casette a few years ago, is about - well, the fairy on top of the Christmas tree - and how it is so sad that no-one notices her. What is that about? Have you got a worse one? What IS the worst Christmas carol?)

Anyhow, so there I am, proud Mummy attempting to see my darling through the other children carolling near the front, chortling away myself, when I notice this little group beside me.

Now, it is Christmas and I hate to be uncharitable, but really - I could not work out why they were there. It obviously was not because they had any joy in the event - sure they shrieked with hilarity at their witty riposte to each other, but they were not actually "engaged" in the action available. It certainly was not because they enjoyed the feeling of being in a crowd - any notice they had of those around them was how to be as upsetting and rude as possible. Perhaps it was to show the child they had with them how to ruin a large group of peoples joy. And that is being charitable.

And then they noticed me and the lady beside me, exercising our lungs - and made us the feature of their mimicry. Oh, they were hilarious. It is a very good thing we were singing such Christian songs, as the sentiment is the only thing that held my violent thoughts towards them at bay.

How (insert swear word of choice) dare they attempt to ruin it for me and others. Yes, woo-ha, this prissy woman has come to Carols to sing - can you imagine? Why, goodness, she is actually enjoying the singing - ha ha (insert swear word of choice) ha.

Lady beside me turned during a break and said she was going to say something to them if they continued, and (the woman is a hero) she was true to her word. I wish I wasn't such a wuss - so timid and meek and (insert swear word of choice) useless sometimes - but this lady was wonderful. Of course, the moment she sat down they roared with laughter and continued - until the man behind them put his bit in. Oooh - did they shut up.

It was a joy to behold, and gave me great Christmas cheer! I don't know that they have learned anything about respect, but hopefully they will think twice before going to Carols again (and I wanna find that lady and sit near her again!!!)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Two raves and a rant

Last week, I got a special bonus – my daughter had her school concert on, so my long-distance darling extended his weekend by a day to come along. 3 days, 3 nights and 2 of my favourite people!

School Concert Review

Well, I think that I am going to have to weigh up my desire to have nutricious interesting fare at school functions with my total lack of desire to be involved in committees – I am either a worker bee or a queen bee – can never be a committee bee!

Honestly – who in their right mind thinks that the food portion of a school affair would be adequately covered by an offering of a dry slice of bread with a sausage on top – and a pretty lousy pork sausage at that!

The lady behind the counter breathed a little fire when I asked whether there was any onion – she was obviously having a hard time being queen bee and had nixed the onion idea apparently – and I was just the latest of 20 or so patrons who had asked for more.

Shoot, dragon-lady, I am more than happy to slice a few kilos of onions – trained for the task, one might say, after being a Show Society and Campdraft Committee orphan in my youth!

If you are about to commit the sausage sizzle faux pas at your event, a few pointers:

  • You can never “fill up” on dry bread and sausages – you either give up or throw up in the attempt;
  • No, tomato or barbecue sauces are not considered good enough extenders to reach the above goal;
  • When parents are being force-fed the need to feed children healthy, balanced and nutricious fare, it is only fair that any organ of the P&C Committee should attempt to emulate it.

I am seriously considering stepping up for the role next year – after all, I did cut my teeth on the Show Society and Campdraft Committee Barbecues for all those years!!

(Oh, and before you scoff – I DO volunteer at the school several days a week, and did hop behind the canteen counter for my hour of high-energy serving during the interval. Also, they only asked for volunteers between hours that I could not do - if they had asked for a task I could perform during school hours, while doing my other stuff or while being a sole parent (like making salad or chopping onions) I am more than happy to.)

Anyhow – that is not what I am meant to be reviewing – the concert was really well done – commendations to the staff at my daughter’s school for getting the kids choreographed and clued up – they put on a wonderful performance.

Oh – and my daughter was brilliant – really got in to her songs and dancing and reciting – and the finale where they all had to dance with the teacher’s singing she was one of the few littlies who followed instruction and danced facing the audience (bossy boots in her directed a few companions!).

Only downside was maybe it was a teensy bit too long (finished at 10 instead of 8.30) – and had a couple of tired and cranky but hungry folk to feed when I got home (but hey, I won the ham – it is a good thing I am not Jewish or Muslim, given the pig products for the evening!)

Food Review

The next day was lovely – as I had swapped my tuckshop day to spend some quality child-free time with my beloved – it is something we only get quite rarely. We have a great time with my daughter, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I look at other single mothers and envy them the every other weekend deal – am I wicked to say so?

Anyhow, we discovered a café last Friday.

Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of it – it was something like “Your Place Our Place” – and they didn’t have cards – hmm, I feel another money-making idea! Anyway, it was chosen from the myriad we saw on our wander by the fact that it looked quite relaxed (and clean), had menus out the front for perusal and they were willing to work with food tastes and boasted home cooking – at a reasonable price.

The lady behind the counter was very helpful in our drink selection (I chose to change flavours on her recommendation).

As we were running late on our chores for the day, didn’t get around to lunch until about 2, and had to be home for my daughter’s bus at 3. Now, my very sweet man has a hidden side – he can be, hmm, what is the word – impatient – tends to start counting out loud if things are delayed for no good reason – so I tactfully asked up front how quickly our meals could be expected – 7 minutes was the promise and 7 minutes later they put the food on our table.

As we had said we wanted to share our meals, they had thoughtfully split our meals into separate plates – no mess, no fuss! I was already in love!

We ordered the nachos – and they were divine – the beef & bean mix was definitely home cooked, and fairly well from scratch – no acidic tomato-base – with any cheese artfully hidden (I hate the cheese-lava you sometimes have to deal with!); the corn chips were so fresh and light – not dusted with seasoning and oil-saturated; such fresh avocado and the sour cream just so – beautiful presentation! The menu had promised sweet chilli sauce but my sweetheart is originally from Southern California – he likes his chillies and he likes them hot – so they brought out the special hot sauce from behind the counter for us to dress up the nachos as we saw fit on that one.

The other thing ordered was the Chicken & Avocado Salad – and it was so light and fresh and just divine – sort of like the old fashioned Queensland salad, but really well presented and full of flavour.

When we finished, we were very full – but in a wholesome, well fed way, not a hindered by overeating way! We just had to go in and tell the ladies what a wonderful experience it was – and isn’t it amazing how the universe works sometimes?

She had just that morning had a really bad experience with a customer. He and his wife had a light meal and coffee just on closing the night before, and had handed her an unsigned letter complaining about everything – the service, the coffee, the food, the flies, the etiquette of cup placement and takement – and she really needed that reinforcement of why she was in the food business at all.

Well, all I can say is if you are ever in Bundaberg – pop in to the café whose name I cannot remember (I am going in there today – I will find that valuable information and insert!) and have something wonderful!!!

Edited to Add:The cafe is Your Place Our Place - near the corner of Bourbong and Targo Streets

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

There's a hole in my bucket

Not really - it’s just that I am feeling rather Liza like, dealing with all the Henry's out there in regard to my current washing machine saga. I am beginning to realise that I may have this sort of affinity with all large electrical appliances.

I was going to begin my journey in blogworld with insightful and witty reflections of the Paradise part of life, but there appears to be a problem in the whole move to paradise thing, and that was my very efficient packing strategy. I thus far have not managed to find
  • a citrus juicer;
  • my tax return from last year (but hey - if you want to see the one from 10 years ago, I can lay my hands on it straight away); and
  • the paperwork from my washing machine and dryer.

There are possibly a myriad of other lost objects, but I haven't had to look for them yet!

This should not be a problem, as I always chose to shop and do business things with large anonymous stores that would keep details like this for me in case I did something silly like move 400km from Metropolis and lose my paperwork.

And this strategy worked for my tax stuff – fair enough, has added about 2 weeks to getting my return in, but I was running late anyhow so just means that my bonus will be 2 weeks later than anticipated (and heck, family & friends can look forward to Christmas goodies mid-January, therefore allowing me to get more bang for my bonus and them to have an extended festival – win-win I say).

However, it seems to have come unstuck on the old battle with the laundry. See, the reason that I got this whiz-bang you-beaut front-loading washing machine was because – well, my last one sort of blew up – like quite a spectacular noise and very efficient cessation of all power to my house type of blowing up – and I had just received my tax return (I was more on the ball last year) and man, I needed to spend that money quickly or else it would be put towards frivolous things like clothes and Christmas. Good thing I had an appliance to buy.

So I trotted off to the nearby Myer Megamart at Coorparoo. The Coorparoo Centre always holds such memories for me, as it was where my Grandma used to take us for shopping and iced coffee treats when we came in from the sticks to visit her. Also, Myer is a BIG NAME in shopping – you just know they are going to look after you and care when your shopping needs meet their inventory list. With care and appropriate nudging from the sales guy (who I am sure was doing it from love for his job and loyalty to the company) I chose my Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine. It had as many Water Saving Droplets on the front sticker as I could afford, and he did me a good deal.

I had a few concerns with delivery. I HAD told them anytime EXCEPT between the time of 8.15am and 8.45pm when I would be depositing my child at school. Well, doesn’t take a fakir to know that meant the delivery guy would therefore arrive at 8.20am and deliver a phone call irately informing me that that I should KNOW that I had to be there for delivery guy. But that was smoothed over, and I now had my Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine.

It took my ex-brother-outlaw ($20 bucks fuel money) and I about 2 hours to unwrap it from its packaging, but then I fell in love.

Anyone who doesn’t have an Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine (I should get them to sponsor me) or indeed any frontloader should know something – they really CLEAN your clothes. Like really, really clean. Like you have never seen in your life before your clothes/linen/plastic bags (okay, inherited from Mum and it makes environmental sense before you start scoffing) flapping on the clothesline so happily.

I have never had many problems with it.

Okay, it takes about a century to do a load, as there is only one inlet for cold water and then it gently heats the water (and not too much water) to the optimum temperature for your load – plus side is that you get to do more than washing in your day – set, forget and so long as you remember before mould sets in, you can get your weekly washing done across the space of the week.

Okay, if you decide to recycle any water for washing floors or stuff (thanks Mum for handy environmental household routines) and forget about doing that, it will siphon the water back into the machine.

Okay, at one point the screeny thing on the outlet hose decided to block the outlet hose, which is sort of fundamental (especially as the door won’t open until the water is out) but a nameless appliance guy fixed that without any eyebrow raising (and within his reasonable callout fee) when I first moved here.

But now – well, Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine, thy name is DISENCHANTMENT. It seems that there is some little inner thingy that checks that the door is closed, and until that condition is met nothing happens – and that little inner thingy has decided that the door is always open, even when it is definitely shut, darn it.

Which I can live with – at least until it is fixed – as there is a 20 year old Simpson toploader just sitting there unused as this house used to be a holiday home and it was part of the holiday experience. Happily it will chew and mangle your clothes (okay, not that bad, but when you are used to an Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine, toploading action is just uncouth) for about 20 minutes a cycle. Fair enough, you are left with enough suds to think about doing it all over again. Fair enough, the clothes are still wringable at the end of what it thinks is a spin. Fair enough, it too can siphon out your tubs if traces of liquid remain when it stops (as does happen, as it pumps out too quickly for the miniature plughole).

But hey, at least it works… Or rather, it worked – it seems that 1 1/2 weeks worth of clothing for a grown woman, a 7 year old girl and a part-time man (in situ part-time, not confused about gender part-time – makes for different washing conditions I am sure) and the entire linen for the above plus several guests plus approximately 25 stuffed toys that got a little bombed when I decided to nuke the house for unidentified biting things – well, anyway, it was working, and then it don’t work no more.

Anyway, nameless appliance guy is very happy to come and visit me again tomorrow (for only $66 including the first 2 hours labour – can’t argue with that), but he will not touch my Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine as it should be under manufacturer warranty. And I should have the paperwork to back that up.

Should is such a dirty word… It exists, I put it in a safe place – and now I am not sure where that safe place is… But hey – bought it from a big store – they should have the records, right?

Hooray, I went to get the phone number – hmm, but it seems that after haemorrhaging money for 5 years, it was closed by the parent company November last year. That is okay, parent company should keep records, right? Nah, they only did that for a year – try with the extended warranty people (I paid the extra, as it is a big, important appliance).

Unfortunately as it is still under manufacturer warranty, their records don’t have it available yet. Have I tried with the store? Oh, well then, give the serial number to the manufacturer and they should be able to track it.

There are 4 visible sides to my Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine where it is sitting – lots of stickers extolling its virtues but no identity. If I heaved a lot, I could see that the 5th side was also useless as far as serial numbers go. My Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine is a heavy mother –oops, appliance – so maybe the manufacturer’s representative could give me a hint or two.

Now, the woman answering the phone for Electrolux did not inspire me that she could really help me with my enquiries. I never got her name, as she never gave it. As she only started yesterday, no doubt that will be covered in the training in the next few weeks. In fact I only knew it was Electrolux as I asked directly – someone saying “oh, there is someone there. I wasn’t sure that the phone rang” as a greeting does bring to mind large and benignly helpful to the customer company.

I advised her my story thus far in regard to the Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine and that I could not find the serial number on any visible portion of the appliance. She was of approximately -0.05% help in directing me to where I would find it. She suggested it might be beneath the machine – I don’t know if you have ever attempted to look beneath a floor standing Electrolux EcoValve 6.5kg Frontloading Washing Machine, but it is not as easy to do as it is to say.

So I am back about where I started – looking at the confusing pile of papers and feeling despair, feeling the piles of washing growing behind me and looking forward to another visit from nameless appliance guy. I am going to get him to try and read the serial number as part of his fee.

Wow – what a gripe – to offset, letting you know that the weather is excellent here, and I would be enjoying an garden exploit if 7 year-old was not home from school “feeling sick” – heartless mum sent her yesterday with the same complaint and had to retrieve her, so giving her recuperation but trying to make recuperation as boring as possible. Well, gives me a chance to look through papers…

Or maybe dream my latest money-making venture, whereby someone like me can hand over just bits of paper to the representative at the store in the first place, say "file this for me" and then only have to call 1 number when crises develop... I think the idea has legs, just so long as I am not running it!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Testing testing

One, two, three...

This may take a while.