Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I have never done a wordless Wednesday

But here is a try...

Once upon a time there was a young lady named 'Salina.

'Salina liked to dress up...

'Salina had a wonderful dress-up box that her friend's filled for her fourth birthday.

One day, 'Salina decided whimsically to create her own mythical beast...

This monster was half-cat, half-horse, and could breath fire and grant wishes...

Unfortunately, the magic fire could not quell the moment being captured in its beauty, and no matter how much she wished she did not become invisible.

Ah, the curse of being a blogger's daughter - even your past is not safe...

She did live happily ever after, though. So did her mum.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Night is Taco Night

Do you know what sort of mother I imagined myself being?

I was going to be laid back. The sort of mother who would be so cool to hang around. If something came up, I was going to have my child so well adapted that she would surf any change and enjoy the adventure. My child was going to be confident and able to bounce any experience because she would have such a totally awesome mother.

My life was not going to be boring, and my daughter was not going to have a boring mother.

ha ha ha ha.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Yes, universe, lets all join in and LAUGH at that concept.

Unfortunately, I discovered after not too much experimentation that this vision of myself as a mother was just not going to work.

For a start - I have never been a "cool" person. More a quirky square with idiosyncrasies. The people I hang around with tend to be of the same cloth as me, so that went by the by.

I found that my "laid back" strategy had a few holes - there are moments when tautness is called for in parenting, and it is much easier to assume taut from a more upright position.

My child was a normal child. She had confidence in spades - sometimes for minutes at a time. But she also discovered the delights of playing with fears, and not every experience ends in "bounce" - sometimes they end in "shatter" and you have to be prepared to put them all back together again.

I found I was not a "normal" mother.

But I also learned that there are very few card holding members of the normal mothers club.

I discovered that going shopping can be an adventure if you play it right (or wrong).

And I found being boring can be very rewarding - especially if boring means a child not undergoing meltdown.

As a result, we have a v-e-r-y set routine during the week, and excitement on the weekends can tend towards the planned end of the spectrum.

When we dovetailed V into our lives, he learned to adapt fairly well. Considering his previous life meant he was only responsible and answerable to himself he has been admirable in his lack of meltdowns.

Due to commitments last year, Tuesday night was always his turn to cook dinner - and it has been such a loved institution that we have continued. As he is originally a Southern Californian boy (although he has had half a life of Aussification), we let him cook us tacos and burritos - well, we let him chop the salad, grate the cheese, cook the mince and beans and heat the t&b, really.

He is very good at that.

So tonight is Taco night, something we all look forward to. And I want to share with you a recipe for Corn Tortillas* that I have carried around for years.

This is for those moments when you have forgotten to buy burritos, are too poor to shell out the $3-$4 for 15 Home Branders at Woolies, don't live anywhere near any place where they have Masa Harina (an ingredient needed in all corn tortilla recipes on the net) or just want to taste something yummy and different.

Corn Tortillas
325 ml (11 oz) water
40 g (1.4 oz) butter
100 g (3.5 oz) polenta/cornmeal
175 g (6.2 oz) wholewheat flour
1 tsp salt
  • Bring water to boil and add 1/2 butter.
  • Stir in cornmeal over low heat.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in remaining butter until smooth.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Mix flour and salt together and stir in cooled cornmeal.
  • Knead to soft dough.
  • Divide into 12 and shape into a ball
  • Roll each into 6-7" circle.
  • Cook in ungreased frying pan for 2-3 minutes each side over moderate heat until flecked with dark spots.
* I know that these may not be what is considered truly authentic. I did mention I wasn't perfect, didn't I?

I just got a phone call. From next week I will be the school tuckshop lady until they find a replacement. Eek! I certainly never expected to be this mother!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why I am the trampoline police

WARNING: Sort of got carried away in this yarn. It is long so settle back and enjoy. There is some pain and big lessons. I was inspired in my diatribe by several blogs yesterday.

The first made me cry, because it is so beautiful. Scribbit runs a Write-Away competition every month, and the February winner (under the "Love" theme) was Roses are Red, Violets are Violets - Lime Popsicle.

The second was the ongoing hassle a newly found blogger has had of late over her daughter's medical condition. Another warning - it is liable to make you very angry at how doctors treat mothers and children. Three Ring Circus - and her update on the "ugly" going on in her life.

The third was my sister recounting the battle they had with her son's health when, as a baby he went through a few medical dramas. I lived through it and I still cry every time - but there is a happy ending, folks! The Dash story - Our King of Hearts Part One, Part Two, The Postscript.

Finally, a favourite blogger of mine has a son aged 3 who recently broke his arm. She too has had medical authority insensitivity - but she doesn't take it lying down! Oh The Joys - Telling it fairly straight on broken arms

This all culminated in me pouring it all out - first to V last night, reliving how anguishing it is to be the mother of a hurting child, and now here.

Do you know what the first two-syllable word my daughter learned was?


Quite a logical outcome, really, considering the amount of times it came out of her mother's mouth.

"Careful" as she banged blocks together. "Careful" as she went up and down stairs. "Careful" as she got things out of cupboards. And of course "careful, careful, careful" if she noticed a trampoline.

I was 8 when we got our trampoline. A Christmas gift for the three of us - hooray!! There were a few rules, of course. (Where do you think I learned the "careful" routine?)

We had to have spotters - no-one was to be out at the trampoline jumping alone. We were to jump in the middle of the trampoline. And only one at a time. Let me repeat that: only one at a time.

Christmas is a hot and busy time of the year. There is lots of mustering, swimming and branding* - our Dad used to joke (his version of a joke) that we went to school for a rest - holidays were for working.

We would start early (it gets hot very quickly in the mornings) and finish when the sun retired - every single day (except for Sundays, but that is a different yarn). That equated to about 10 - 12 hours in the Queensland Summer sunshine.

We also had a nightly ritual. Our whole family did the washing up together - that way we could carry the argument from the dinner table to the sink without pausing. Being a grown-up and mother now, I can see this ritual as being very sensible indeed.

One evening (8th January, 1978 to be exact) my sister and I got a special reprieve from the washing up, as we had put in some big days and had a very big day mustering steers the next day. Dad needed his jillaroos to be in top form for it.

My sister and I looked at each other, suddenly awakened by the possibilities. The temptation was immense. We snuck outside to the coveted trampoline.

We were good. For a few minutes we were good, silently getting great joy in the sudden freedom of being let off washing up and being slightly naughty playing on the tramp.

And then we got cocky. We figured, if the parents didn't know we were having a little jump for joy, then they wouldn't really know if we broke the rules would they?

So we hopped on together and oh, what fun it is to jump two at a time. The necessity for quiet and the sheer illicitness of it probably made it threefold fun. Around and around we bounced, putting in our little "trick" kneels and sits and making the other bounce really high with a sudden stop.

And then? Well, then there was this one "sit" where I sat on my bottom, legs outstretched but funnily enough the bottom part of my leg bounced up. Just the bottom half of my left leg. Do you know the physics and anatomical deviations involved in such a manoeuvre?

My sister begged me to stop screaming. "Mum and Dad will hear us" she whispered, but oh, my leg, my leg!

Well, of course Mum and Dad heard us. They came outside and figured I must have twisted the knee - it was immobilised and packed with ice and both of us were in bed right then. Maybe it would be right in the morning.

Well, it actually wasn't right in the morning, and a very chastened big sister had to look forward to doing the work of two while I had the delight of going in to see the doctor. The verdict: broken, very neatly just below the knee. I was very lucky - I was lucky I was slightly knock-kneed, so the kneecap had slid rather than snapped.

If you ever want a child cured of wanting to jump two at a time on the trampoline, put them in a hip to toe cast for three of the hottest months of the year. I can tell you, it really works.

Obviously, I did not want history to repeat itself. We were offered a free trampoline, but no way was I having such evil in my yard. We often went to visit friends with trampolines, but 'Salina's mum was no fun because she would patrol the nasty contraption and tell them tales of woe. Other children's mother's thought I was a little touched by my zealousness.

8th April, 2005. The first Friday of term two, grade one, 'Salina and I had a playdate with her best friend from childcare. There was to be afternoon tea with playtime for the girls and chat time for the other mother and I.

There was a trampoline. Three times I went to the edge of the veranda and verbally hauled the girls off when my sacred rule was broken. Three times they sheepishly did as told - but the temptation is very great, and the eagle eyes of mothers distracted by chitchat only so powerful.

"Don't worry so much" said the other mother. Just before I raised myself to pull them off for good (the last warning had been issued). They could darn well jump on the ground if they couldn't listen to Grumpy Jeanie's reasoning.

Unfortunately, just one second too late. Just in time, really, to see the girls practicing the "super-bounce" - where one suddenly stops and the other bounces really high - or in this case, high and wide. Just in time to see my daughter catapulted through the air. Just in time to watch as she and the ground came together in slow motion. Just in time to see her arm outstretched to reach the dirt, just in time to hear her scream, just in time to see her stand with one arm now several inches shorter than the other and of jelled consistency.

I drove her to the hospital in hysterics. I cursed every red light, every bump, every slow driver. I cursed myself mostly, for giving warning after warning after warning rather than just being the mean bitch I should have been in the first place. I cursed fate and the genetic heirloom I had given her in trampoline injuries. I cursed every mother who had told me to stop worrying and who were not now driving their inconsolable child to emergency.

One good thing about having your child so obviously distraught and injured is you go straight to the top of the queue - or at least, it worked that time.

She was immediately hooked up to some super strong pain relief and taken "out the back". By sight, anyone even without medical training could tell that her arm was very broken - and the x-ray confirmed it.

Do you know what a supracondylar fracture is? (Warning - that link is to a PDF file with lots of detail). It is the most common arm injury to children aged 3-8.

There are 3 types - one where you can't really tell without an x-ray and, with a little support, should be fixed in about 3 weeks. The second is a greenstick fracture. The third - well, here is an x-ray on the web of what the third type is like (scroll down slightly).

She would need immediate surgery (well, immediate after her afternoon tea had digested - I was informed why you cannot eat before surgery and agreed it was best to wait) and the only person available to operate was no doubt a very fine registrar - he just wound me up the wrong way immediately.

She needed immediate surgery as she had snapped her humerus right next to her "funny bone" - that is the major intersection of all the arm nerves. If they didn't, chances were she would end up with permanent nerve damage. I was not told this in a "there, there, don't worry so much" tone - it was blunt and it was stark and it was one very distinct moment in solo parenting that I truly wished there was another to share the burden, the choices, the consoling.

Thank goodness I have great friends. I let one know who let the network know. As my daughter was wheeled in to theatre at 11 that evening, an old friend of mine arrived to sit with me - I thank him and his wife so much that he could be my "Dial-a-Dad" for that little experience.

For the next two weeks, she did not stir from our house. She was on morphine for the first 12 hours, and strong pain relief for the next week. I had weaned her off panadol by about the third week.

For the next month, her visits to school were short and in my company only, as the slightest jostle would send her over the edge. We basically home-schooled with books collected and dropped off every couple of days.

For the next three months, we visited the outpatients at the hospital, seeing a different arm specialist each time, amassing a file in x-rays and five minute "she should be fine" nods at me as I asked anxiously about future movement and possible nerve damage.

Her arm was supported in a "backslab" with bandaging and a sling. I was warned her elbow could not be immobilised as that would cause more damage than good - towards the end of the drama, she envied others fibreglass casts so much - we couldn't even find cool colours!

She could not wear dresses or shirts during that time - I was informed that fashion and school uniforms were trumped by a necessity not to move her arm too much. However, I got good at creating clothing from sarongs tied in intricate ways to cover her modesty.

Finally, she was free to take off the sling and get the wires out. There is another story for another day regarding dressings and bandaids but we got over the trauma eventually.

Her hand was atrophied in a curled claw at first, but on the advice of a specialist we chose a "wait and see" approach. He also advised "window washing" over a physio to stretch it out. It took months for her tingling to subside in her hand, but today there is thankfully no effects.

So please - remember, be careful, careful, careful around trampolines - and please, only one at a time.

And if 'Salina ever has a daughter, I am taking all the trampolines in the kingdom and burning them!

* I know - I keep linking to my sister's blog - but she gives the best pictures of what branding is all about as a kid on a country property.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Five get down in Paradise

Isn't blogging a funny thing? You begin to write one because - well, you read a few, you like a few, you may get the guts confidence to put your head up and comment, you think you might have something to say, you need someone to talk to, you take photos, you write poetry, you ride a bike - there are a thousand becauses and all of them are good and worthy.

And along the way, you "meet" other bloggers - you like one of their comments on another blog so you click on through, you think their name is interesting on a blogroll, they stumble across you and say g'day, someone else likes their stuff and links it, you join a community and - well, its all discovery, isn't it?

And then there are games you can play - there seems to be a game or two for every day of the week where you can do your own post on a theme, a letter, a photo, an idea. There are festivals and competitions and challenges and awards - and memes.

You can see where I am leading, right?

You can see this is a roundabout way of saying I've been tagged by a lady I met through such a procession.

Because I found Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and sent Bush Babe to check it out (which helped her over the hurdle of starting her own blog) where she wrote a comment and attracted a few interesting ladies to comment on hers who I then clicked on - and that is where I found Debby.

Man, I am glad I did. This lady is funny but wise and witty and between the lines you realise that life may not have been always as amusing, but she is darned determined to find the joy - and "Life's Funny Like That" was a great blog to find.

So anyway, I am meant to talk about "My Five Pet Peeves". The problem is, she has taken a lot that I would love to have put down!

And while I would love to play on words and include "Pet" as the focus, we only have Eddie and he is far too beautiful to relate to the word "Peeves".

So I pondered - and I thought "man, you have been whinging for days and I am sick to death of all this negativity, so anyone left reading you will be begging for mercy if you make it too blue".

But then I thought "well, with all this whinging, I am getting pretty good at it, so lets let it go with both barrels".

Which brings me to my first peeve.

1. I hate it when the voices in my head start arguing and neither side will listen to reason! I mean, I need a mediator in there to sort things out occasionally. Except, of course, a mediator would never find her way through all the other carp that I just shove in there and be so exasperated when she finds them battling that she would probably just hit them together or start another argument. See - even my imaginary mediator is ready for a stoush! Don't you just wish they would all sit quietly some time and let it all be? Ommmm.

2. I hate that I have always been absolutely adamant about how good Yoga and Meditation would be for me, and yet I have never actually gone. Can you believe it?

3. I hate how I am can't just slip down to put something extra into the bin at 6.25am on garbage days because I am still in my nightie and there is a construction site on the other side of the road. Why can't I just make myself invisible for the purposes of the exercise? It would save a lot of frustration and angst my end. Of course, I could cause them a little frustration by an early morning stroll in the negligee - but then the above voices would be hammering at me again, and I need a few caffeine hits to handle them.

4. I hate that the school bus returns my daughter just as I get my teeth into a good rant and therefore I am stuck in the quandary of quality time with 'Salina vs quality time griping, and just when the Good Jeanie wins that battle I get advised that 'Salina has social plans and can she go play with the girl down the road, and Bad Jeanie is all dancing and ecstatic because now she can get a bit more off her chest.

5. I hate that I have enjoyed this so much! It should be harder to find things to get stuck in my craw - I should not be able to just fire off five and feel disappointment that there is only 5, and not 10 or 20 more because I just remembered about kicking bricks and the angst of passing this on and Centre!ink visits and outlaws and cats and hoons and hairstyles and ....

Well, we have now scientifically proven that I am a champion whinging cow, and now I have the pleasure of tagging - well, anyone who wants to play, really.

I have just discovered how much fun it is, I want to spread the Joy! (Oh, and I have a decision-making crisis if I were to tag, having recently given all my known readers awards and I don't want to show any favour) (I know, that IS bull, but I still have the same crisis, just can't choose between you all) (yes, yes - bull again, any of you still reading. Anyone? Anyone at all?)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Search for the Silver Lining

After all my whinging, its time for me to try a little upbeat (as opposed to beat up).

Yesterday morning, I saw boy-next-door's mother at the bus stop, and she was heading in to town - so I got a lift with her - how cool is that?

Yesterday morning, I got to my appointment early - yahoo!

No one was there, so I scored a few minutes downtime with some coffee and toast - excellent!

Still no one about, so I phoned another who was to be there - and found out I was 4 hours early - ummm - yay? Impetus for a better, handbag fitting diary. (See, you nearly thought I had lost my Pollyanna touch - ha!)

Went to the bus stop and had missed the hourly bus home - but only by 2 minutes. Umm, oh joy.

Well, therefore I had time to visit the Centrelink and adjust tax estimates - bonus. (All those great people-watching opportunities, the chance to observe Australia's finest being screamed at for "failing to do their f*cking jobs" - by someone, I might add, who seemed to be failing to do ANY f*cking job, but that was about as judgemental as I got, so pat on the back to me.)

Ach - who am I kidding here?

Yesterday afternoon, my Dad rode in to town and saved his little girl from public transport - and hooray, his dental appointments concertinaed nicely with my needs.

The garage rang and the car is fixed. The tagline at the end is just one big, fat, double-the-original-quote downer.

Hmm - upbeat? Well, definitely the real silver lining here is my Dad. I now owe that money to that Knight in Shining Armour instead of the mechanic - and my car is working and with me again. I am so, so grateful for that (and I am moving heaven and high water to make the reliance on Parent Bank situation a short-term affair).

I really tried to give you all that "uplifting" feeling about my yesterday, but I can't do it, can I. Just too blah about the whole day - today is a new day and I have a list. I work better with lists.

And to make you smile, I will send you to a post yesterday by Bushbabe* where you can have a good one. It worked for me.

* Disclaimer - I know, I know - nepotism at its finest, but I send you over for more than to admire the amazing photography and wit of my big sister. I guarantee, it will make you smile. Well, either that or scream. But its okay, you are on that side of the screen so fairly safe, and then you will smile in relief as well, so twice as many smiles. Bonus!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Clutching at nothing

I know - two posts in a day - but the car whinge I was working on has been escalated.

Man, have I had a shocker of a week.

My car (which has been around since 'Salina was a baby) needed a little TLC, so I took her to the mechanic last Monday.

"Could be oil," said the mechanic. Only it wasn't. We would need a full clutch repair.

Our budget doesn't need drama. While V and I both breadwin, my winnings are currently crumbs and are absorbed all too readily and have to be accounted for very strictly as it is a NEIS initiative, and his crusts are currently quite soggy due to the fact that he doesn't get paid when bricks don't get laid - and they don't get laid when its raining.

As a result, I asked for a quote. "$685" was the reply.

Yikes - but hooray, I actually have (by coincidence of not buying the laptop I need last week) that amount of money.

On Wednesday, I rang to see how my car was progressing.

"Not well" they said "as we have been flat out fixing cars that got wet in the floods." Obviously my $685 was not the priority to them that my car is to me.

On Friday, I rang to see how my car was progressing. We were travelling to CQ for the weekend, and if we could swing it I was staying on to do some work in that neck of the woods for an extra day.

"Not well" they said "as when we took out the gearbox before lunch, we discovered the main seal has been leaking and we had to " he then mentioned some other car bits and dramas.

"How much?" I asked, and he laughed and said it wouldn't be cheap, and it wouldn't be ready any time soon.

I did have options to get the extra work on the weekend - but one option involved having someone "drop me home" on Monday (only 400km out of their way), and the other option involved me getting home - tomorrow - and V having 3 days and nights of sole parenting, which, while both he and 'Salina are admirable buddies now, was not something I wanted to foist upon either of them. Therefore, no extra work on Monday.

Today, I rang to see how my car was progressing.

"Well, there is good news and bad news. Which do you want?" he asked. Honestly, I only wanted good news, but I knew that wasn't going to REALLY be an option.

"We fixed it - all finished - yesterday. Took it for a test drive. Then the clutch fork broke." he said.

"Is that the good news or the bad news?" I asked.

"That is the good part. The bad part is I had to order the part in, but there wasn't one in Brisbane so they are sending one from Sydney. It should get here tomorrow."

"How much?" I asked.

"Well, the part is about $200, but with labour and that its hard to tell." he said.

Tonight, I have a networking function to try and build my business. At least I can borrow V's work vehicle and rock up.

Tomorrow I have an agency meeting about developing my business further. Public transport in this neck of the woods is laughable, and although I valiantly cycle to the school and shops, there is no way I would do it 15km to the "big smoke".

And I think that, tweaking the budget figures, I should be able to pay for my car some time around Easter - if we live very quietly, have sunny days and lots of work from home for me...

Okay - enough of a pity party. At least it IS sunny, at least I have someone to look after 'Salina while I try and get things happening, at least I have his car when he doesn't need it, at least I have a family who will bail us if we get into really dire straits and at least I have friends who I can occasionally go "waaaaah" to.

A funny thing happened on the way to my whinge (now with added bling!)

Its funny, I can get all down and gloomy and then little lyrics (generally from a memory instilled by my father's recital) pop in to my head. This one is always good put away a whinge:

Life Gets Tee-Jus Don't It - Carson J Robinson 1948

The sun comes up and the sun goes down
The hands on the clock go round and round
I just wake up and it's time to lay down,
Life gets tee-jus, don't it?

My shoe's untied, but shucks, I don't care
Cuz I reckon I ain't a-goin' nowhere,
I'd brush my teeth and comb my hair
Just too much wasted effort.

The water in the well gets lower and lower,
Ain't had a bath in a month or more
I've heard it said and I'm sure it's true
That too much bathin'll weaken you.

Danged ol' mule, he must be sick.
I jabbed him in the rump with a pin on a stick
He hunched his back, but he wouldn't kick
Something cock-eyed somewhere.

Hound dog's howlin' so forlorn
Laziest dawg that ever was born
He's howlin' 'cause he's sittin' on a thorn
Just too tired to move over.

Well, the cow's gone dry and the hens won't lay
And my well dried up last Saturday
My troubles keep pilin' up day by day
And now I'm gettin' dandruff.

Roof's a-leakin' and the chimney leans,
An' there's a hole in the seat of my old blue jeans
Now I've eat the last of the pork an' beans,
Just can't depend on nuthin'

Mouse is gnawin' at the pantry door
He's been at it now for a month or more
When he gets through he'll sure be sore
'Cause there ain't a dang thing in there.

Well, it's debts and taxes and pains and woes
Aches and miseries and that's how it goes
And now I'm getting a cold in my nose,
Life gets tasteless, don't it?

See, I was all set to cry about:
  • How my car is not yet fixed and getting more expensive by the day. (The mechanic made noises about extra costs last time I disturbed him, and hasn't yet called me back with a time or how much of my left kidney he really wants.)
  • How not having a car can affect my work. (I still could have done some extra work at the beginning of this week - however, it meant that someone would have had to drive 400km to return me OR I could have got a lift back tomorrow - as much as 'Salina and V are getting on much better now, but I am not prepared yet to let them rely on each others company for that long, nor put someone else out that much.)
  • How the lack of communication from my daughter's school is driving me balmy - especially as I had a spirited spit to the principal before it started this year about how it got up my nose. I obviously wasn't spirited enough as it didn't rule out finding out about the P&C AGM to be held tonight - by pure chance on Friday. They wonder why parents won't give and get involved - I was going to go and tell them, but tonight is the only night I am going out - for work purposes - in the whole month.
  • How I have nothing, nothing, NOTHING to wear for aforementioned function this evening.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Really, I could whinge for Australia.

However I also read blogs.

Some of them make me realise that I am so lucky and have nothing to whinge about:

Some of them lift me up and give me joyous tears of delight:

Many have just had babies:
  • Kate at Being Me Just for Them
  • Akeeyu and Sam at Herveryown
  • Beth from So the Fish Said and Chris from Rude Cactus welcomed Owen - this was the line that got me (from Chris): "I loved him immediately, right there, standing in the OR. It hit me like the bullet from a gun and forced tears to my eyes. I can't really put into words the difference between being a father of one and of two. But it's not what I thought - the dad stuff inside me wasn't split into two. Instead, it doubled. And frankly I never knew I had quite this much space inside." - all together now - Awwww.
What I love about baby news (and no, not fully in cluck mode) is they are so sweet when you can hand them back!

And some of them make me feel very loved indeed:

cRaZy tRacE gave me this! Apparently she thinks I am excellent, which is really sweet of her.

I would love to pass this along to

Megan at Imaginif child protection became serious business because she does such an excellent job giving voice to an issue that needs to be at the core of our society;

A at Three Times Kewl - again, I know her elsewhere, which only adds to my awe of the things she makes me contemplate - as well as her moments to amuse.

Three Ring Circus gave me a friend's award - so nice to find new friends, always!

This should definitely go to some of my favourite commenters!

Debby - Life's Funny Like That
BrissieMum2 - These Days of a Busy Mum
Bushbabe - Bushbabe (at Granite Glen)
Cathy - Arkie Mama
Elizabeth - Probably, but not likely
Jay - Kill the Goat
Janice - Twist and Skewer
Jen - Semantically Driven
Julie - Using My Words
Just-me-Jen - What's with the Handbasket?
Kate - Being Me Just for Them
Lin - Hold on Tired
Mama Zen - The Zen of Motherhood
Melody - biglittlesister
Tee - Its all about T
strauss - The Brave
Tracey - Crazy Trace
baby amore' - My Little Drummer Boys

There are many more, but I really have to move forward with the list - if you have ever commented, you are my friend! If you feel like commenting, I am quite friendly (although not always on top of my correspondence "to-do"s).

Anyhow - I am going to make a new cup of coffee and start working, because - well, because I have a car bill coming up, and I have a business to expand.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The things nature gives us

Nearly wordless but not Wednesday, I know. I am about to put my skates on and will be away from this computer for 3 whole days!!

So I leave you with something nature has given us after all the rain.

Certainly something your mother would warn you about!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What I mean to say is...

Long have I wanted to have all my ducks in order to take part in Julie Pippert's Hump Day Hmmm - and today's topic is "Are people we know fair fodder for writing? People in our real lives? Online? Other bloggers? Things we read, such as blog posts, emails, news stories, etc?"

Now, as you know, this blog is all about me. Well, sort of - about what happens around me and sometimes that includes people around me, although I do try to keep to the sidelines on injecting too much about others. Even with my two closest compatriots - V and 'Salina - I do tend to try and tell only the amusing. Otherwise, really, it is all about me. And the weather. And not getting things done.

I try not to put too much extended family or friends into the frame, mainly because my sister, SIL, a few close friends and my daughter's old teacher read this blog quite often they are other people's stories to tell (and my sister, SIL, a few close friends and my daughter's old teacher read this blog - hey girls!) and again, I tend to be a yarner so anecdotes that amuse are fair play, online psychological battering is off-limits. (And not because I long to indulge in online psychological battering - just a counter to what I try to do!).

But its funny how you start to write one post and then whoosh - you are sidetracked by another train of thought.

Because once upon a time, I used to think. I used to expand my mind. I used to engage with people and share and grow and argue and agree. I really liked me then, but I am not sure whether she and I would sit comfortably over a wine or cup of tea.

The me then would not have written the blog in the style that I now write. The me then would have let a lot more hang out, would have put forward more opinions, would have found a soapbox to stand on and would have roped in the stories of those around her to make her points clearer. The me then also used to drink more, party more and didn't have a child, a partner - the me then was living what I call my history now.

The me then would no doubt have given voice to enlighten all about whatever the topic of the day was, but not necessarily have been fully mindful on the effect that it had on others. It wasn't that she was totally insensitive, it is that her focus was on a different plane.

I don't know what happened, as it happened so gradually, but I changed from that person into one that has sporadic clear focus on how anything I do may affect others, and vaseline lenses in regard to WTF is really going on in my mind. My mindfulness of others, although sporadic, is also so hair-trigger in some cases I overshoot the mark and trample others feelings regardless.

So much so that so often I start to think and ponder and put together an argument (or a post or a point of view) and then I get sidetracked by another train of thought, and quite often that train of thought is carrying a freight of fear.

I don't think that the fear is all a bad thing. I think it wise to dose the fear with the reality,

I don't really want to paint unflattering portraits of those that I love. By this I do not mean I have a bad view of them, but the fact is that I don't have a good reflection of myself at all times and I sometimes become a dullard in being able to showcase the amazingly wonderful things I want to say about these people. My main reason to not lay it out there (and therefore several draft posts where I attempt to sing some praises) is that I don't want the less than perfect to be open to hurting those that I truly do not want to hurt.

I certainly do not post very often on people that upset me without them being rendered nameless and faceless. You will see me erupt on salespeople, telephone support (ha) and unwitting repairmen if it adds humour to my exasperation - but I won't scream (another draft post) about work situations or people I actually know even superficially. I do this in the karmic hopes that they have the same standards when (and if) they blog - oh, and because when things hit me personally I lose that "amusement above abuse" rule and can find words that are designed to hurt (although sometimes they are long and people don't understand them anyway).

It is funny how so much of my "social circle" is now made up of the online community. Being a single mother for a while, being a student, being a person who worked from home, moving that home - these all moved my social focus away from the "party 5 nights a week with real people" girl (aged 17 - 23), the "party every weekend, attend poetry slams and workshops, see real movies with close friends" girl (aged 23 - 29), the "try and work out WTF is going on with my life and who are my friends" girl (aged 23, 27 and 30 - 37) to what it is today.

Of my close friends from those first phases, I still have half a dozen that I talk to on the phone, visit or get visits from (I live a great distance from them now) and occasionally play scrabble with on facebook.

Of the friends I have made in the latest phase, the ratio would be about 80/20 online to face to face. I find that many of the friendships I have formed over the internet started more focussed on certain issues but now they are people that I care about deeply. It is also an interesting reflection on the neighbourhood I now live in (or my latent agrophobic tendencies - another post).

I think of OL friends in the same way that I think of IRL friends, and I consider a lot of the chats and discussions that we have, online or otherwise, to be that of true friends once the superficial has passed.

Other bloggers - well, some of them I would truly like to be my friend if I were to meet them IRL. Some of them (and they do overlap) make me think and wish I was that insightful, that open, that witty, that determined - that much more like the girl I once was.

Many of them have been responsible for a whole raft of draft posts that I didn't have quite work as I wanted them to. I think that if something does make you think and respond then it is fair game to link them and discuss what it means for you. I just don't have the guts words or thought processes available to me any more to get out there and hit "publish".

But this blog is mainly about me. About the me that I am - this fearful bunch of nerves that wishes she could distil more from the person I once was and hopes that she can become the person can, on clear days, become. I had hopes that this blog would be more about her journey and less about the fears - but that is who I am today.

Tomorrow I may have made a step towards it - and maybe one day I will blog it - but until then, I read and I try to elicit more thought provocation within myself - and I blog about the anecdotes, the weather, the garden and the things I have not yet done...

ETA: Here is Julie's take on the subject: How to talk about other people on your blog : 7 Simple Guidelines

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Always looking on the bright side...

One of the wonderful things about being affianced to a brickie is that they get downtime during wet weather. This brings to mind playtime a chance to get chores done around the house.

Of course, one of the not so wonderful things about being affianced to a brickie is that they get unpaid downtime during wet weather. But hey, you get plenty of time to work on the budget.

Today was such a day. The good news (finally) for V is that I actually got to do a little work today so that $685 clutch repair required on my car will only blow our budget to smithereens, rather than to Katmandu.

When I started to think about writing this post, this was our backyard.
V had just measured the rain from the gauge - 57mm (just over 2 inches in the old money).

My view from the desk to was inspirational, and I picked up the camera to capture the results.

It was nice to see that the windows on the front veranda had anticipated my need to wash the floors, and had prepped them nicely.

'Salina was very slow to get down to her homework, as the whistling wind and cacophony of the rain was distracting - who am I kidding, she can be distracted by nothing. However

my lack of alacrity on that darned pandanus pile mocks me, as it is now a flood level for us to measure in the back yard.

And still it kept raining.

"Hooray" shouted 'Salina, "my backyard is now a swimming pool."

So was the front yard.

The two boys you can just make out at the causeway thought better of hopping in upstream, and threw themselves into the water on the sea side - and hopped out again quick smart as they hit the corner. Somehow sense must have made an impact.

Then the rain turned in to a deluge, and the causeway went under and our road became part of the stormwater drain.

So, looking on the bright side - umm, isn't it a good thing that I hadn't mowed that part of the lawn on the weekend?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Jeanie's Gunna Post

Ever been to "Gunnadoo"? I have been there all week.

For that is where you would find so many of my blog posts this week - the threats (fortunately/unfortunately not realities) of massive thunderstorms have kicked me off the 'puter early each day. Well, that and the fact that someone paid me real money to have me work out of my own house this week - I didn't even get a chance to spend more than minutes checking other blogs out - apologies if I didn't comment or if I did but it was pap.

My mind also had a little vacation - this week tends towards the blue end of the spectrum anyway, and I think my cheerful disposition packed its bags.

I was even gunna go to my family's property this weekend to let 'Salina ride and help out with the branding - but my Pollyanna appears to have taken the smooth gear change my car once had with her - oh, and the smooth workings of V's knees - thus I enforced a stay at home and a serious attempt at the jobs that await me here.

The first big gunna did get done yesterday - well, nearly - shall I start at the beginning?

Regard the Pandanus. Watching Food Safari last weekend gives me hope that it may be related to the Pandan leaf used in Sri Lankan cooking, as the Asian and Indian stores near Paradise are sadly lacking.

This is an excellent tree for screening the neighbours, corrupting the neighbour's driveway and essentially peeving the neighbours during high winds.

It also has excellent mulching qualities, hence our propensity to pile it high in anticipation of running the mower over it.

As you can see, it has been several mows since that task was last undertaken.

Yesterday, it was time to mow the "guts" of the lawn (V assures me he has intentions of whipper-snippering, but given his knee complaints of late I will contemplate edges on a provisionary basis later). There was a lot of the lawn to do even with the sides being brought in, and I had an impending thunderstorm to race.

After the first drinks break, I was winning!

The thunderstorm started singing a song, but I yodelled louder as I navigated the strips of grass.

I even gave the storm an incentive, putting all the washing on the line to taunt it. Ha, if I wasn't so set on my backyard blitz, I may have contemplated washing my car - the temperature rises, the humidity cripples, the thunder roars - but always the disappointment to the north or south.

Every round I did, every new load onto my lawn-clipping-woman sculpture, every new drinks break I looked at my task and saw I was winning.

Well, I was winning all battles except one small taunt. Curse you, pandanus pile, squatly mocking me.

I would love to say I did it. I would love to say that the Pandanus Pile is no longer on the Gunna list. I would even love to say that it was the refreshing downpour of the promised thunderstorm that kyboshed my attempts. But I wouldn't be telling the truth.

The truth is the call of the neighbours pool grew louder than the thunderstorm (that yet again never was)... But I am glad it is - because look at what hopped out of the catcher.

I aim to look at you again today, pile - but then, there is an approaching thunderstorm that may save you again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I think I'll keep her!

This morning was a typical "post-Chinese restaurant / Blue Tuesday" combination. Good thing those two don't align very often, as I do not recommend it.

Awake from 4.30, but not the "oh I must get up and attack the day" kind of awake - more like a Jeanie with a very sore head. I groaned and grumped my way through the morning getting the chores done without joy.

Even the concept of having a "rain day" - therefore a few child-free V-filled hours - did not bring the delight that should have been felt. Good thing the surf was okay (and I had all those goodies baked).

My wonderful child came in to see me while I was wasting time on the computer planning my day to let me know "oh, it looks like the postman has been."

Hanging on a candelabra was a hand-made envelope, with a handmade paper windmill and this letter:

I just got one of those hugs - they come with smiles attached!

(Oh, and she is definitely my child - look at that handwriting!!)

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Great Lemongrass Battle - just one of the exciting adventures from our weekend in Paradise

Paradise is currently a marvellous weight-loss centre (or it would have been had not a certain Jeanie filled the fridge with baked delights because its "pick the emotion" week here and I needed to have placatory options in case a simple "Well, sorry" with a snarl would not do).

The temperature is a balmy 28 Celcius - or for the more old-fashioned victims, pushing 84 Farenheit with a very light breeze and good cloud cover. According to my weather vane (otherwise known as Yahoo), it is only 64% humidity - of course, that is 16km away at the airport, because I can assure you it is about 94% where I sit in a pool of sweat!

I call my sitting here sweating away proactive in my quest for physical perfection (I have just vacuumed, so moving around sweating away has been tried - and it sucked!). Of course, over the weekend, I attempted much, much more and I will use some of my energy in conveying how much fun it was to be us over the weekend.

Saturday dawned, and we were determined that the garden would not be left untrammelled by the day. V and I took our coffees for a tour of the backyard in an attempt to visualise all that we hoped to achieve.

Then we realistically cut our goal in half, because by 9am (come on, its Saturday and our days start early every other day of the week) - as I said, before that seed of perceived judgement distracted me, by 10am it was already quite steamy - especially as an early morning shower had held us back and was evaporating as we surveyed the potential mayhem.

We decided to start on the chillies and lemongrass - of course, we were well into our task before the official photographer had arrived, so I am having to get you to imagine this photo here

With all of this photo here still attached. (and yes, that is a rare sighting of the Jeanie in the previous shot...)

Please note that behind the lemongrass (or rather, stump of lemongrass) is that nasty bushy thing that I decimated last year. It ain't there any more...

V and I (okay, V with me shouting encouraging words) then set about freeing the lemongrass from the hold that planet Earth (or a large chunk thereof) had of it
Planet Earth won for a very long time. After my (ahem) cheering had spurred V into shattering garden tools, my more placatory methods (and a smaller fork) were put in (I think V might have lent me a hand with a crowbar) and voila -

the great lemongrass haul of 2008!!!

Our photographer then officially retired, so you do not see the blood, (mud), sweat and tears (and axes and handsaws and swearwords) used to pull this beggar into smaller bits - for me to put back in to the ground, give to friends, neighbours and unsuspecting passers-by (or would of if a: V had approved AND b: I had remembered) and use in cooking.

Okay - its still all over the back yard, as we went on to have many more adventures and I forgot to hit up the unsuspecting passers by - so, anyone have a recipe for pickled lemongrass? Or want some fresh? Otherwise, we may just have the sweetest smelling mulch pile in Paradise.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When I'm Sixty-Four

You know how you just sit down in front of the computer because you have had a hard slog in the garden and its a few hours until the circus and nothing on TV and you are percolating a little post in your mind and you think you might just check out a few bloglines and notice that Picklebums has a post about the Top 100 Australian Women Bloggers at All For Women - and I am Number 64, baby!!! The fact that until recently they only did the Top 50 and have recently expanded makes me very appreciative!

That first number (225,753) is my Technorati rank (apparently) - this measures how many places out there have linked to me, either in posts or blogrolls - or through magical tricks in their comments (still don't really understand "NoFollow")

The second number (35,016) is my Alexa ranking, and I have NO IDEA how that one really works, except to inform me that 0.00002% of the internet thinks I am wonderful (thank you, all of you).

The third number is an average of those two - and voila, there are 63 sites I need to check out some time to see where I can improve or steal (only joking - you can tell when its not my work by the apparent lack of waffle).

I also get to put a new little pic in my sidebar:

Those that I already know, read OR have read in the Top 100:
Number 7 - All for Women - they also have a forum and a bloggers forum - and have recently done a "sisterly" deal with Imaginif
Number 9 - Imaginif - a wonderful service to the community with a marvellous woman at the helm
Number 13 - Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum - check it out - she has just announced some exciting news
Number 14 - Sueblimely Discovering Blogging - I have just discovered Sue Blimely through the Australian Bloggers Forum
Number 32 - Mad Goat Lady - the reason that I first discovered the All for Women site (and service)
Number 30 - Virtual Assistant - having found her through ABF, I read with intent
Number 36 - Aussie Bloggers - the blog behind the forum
Number 38 - Lightening - I am not sure where or when, but a good find
Number 45 - crazy meezer - met through AFW forum
Number 46 - Semantically driven - one of my oldest (as in long term) blogging buddies
Number 62 - Magnetoboldtoo - through ABF
Number 69 - Three Ring Circus - there are two blogs with this name, and I was confused for ages til I worked out the Aussie one!
Number 71 - Dances to the beet of her own drum - I met through a forum
Number 72 - Roaming Aussie Mum - ditto
Number 76 - Dancing about Architecture - ditto
Number 77 - Blogging Personal A new blog just released!!! Again, a forum find
Number 81 - Picklebums - ditto
Number 90 - Bone blower - ditto
Number 95 - Moggie Madness - and again!

Anyhow - back to battle with the photos from our morning and contemplate the afternoon delights - cheers!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hey There, Hoopla

(From "The Circus" - C J Dennis - A Book for Kids)

Hey, there! Hoop-la! the circus is in town!
Have you seen the elephant? Have you seen the clown?
Have you seen the dappled horse gallop round the ring?
Have you seen the acrobats on the dizzy swing?
Have you seen the tumbling men tumble up and down?
Hoop-la! Hoop-la! the circus is in town!

Hey, there! Hoop-la! Here's the circus troupe!
Here's the educated, dog jumping through the hoop.
See the lady Blondin with the parasol and fan,
The lad upon the ladder and the india-rubber man.
See the joyful juggler and the boy who loops the loop.
Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Here's the circus troupe!

This was a poem that my daughter's Grade Two class learned to recite very expressively a while ago, and it always brings a smile to my eye.

'Salina has had a very eventful "non-relationship" with the circus.

When her father and I separated, a large circus was in Brisbane and he wanted to take her. For various reasons, I was unwilling to do this unless there was a responsible adult with them. It ended up being a bit of a non-event, I had several months in purgatory with his family for being such a b!tch, he decided to work that day and all in all it was a blessing - as the then 15 month old child had an amazing capacity to create phobias out of anything, and letting a bunch of clowns loose on her would have been agony for Mum (as a Mum who has dealt with fire, dark, birds, loud noises and snake phobias with her, trust me, the clown thing may well have been a straw we didn't need!)

When she was four and we were visiting where we now live, we heard the beat of sledgehammer on iron pegs and got to watch a big top (well, a middle-sized top) get erected across the park from us. Unfortunately, the truck carrying the big top was the only one of the convoy to arrive, and we escaped the circus thrill once more.

Yesterday, my eagle-eyed daughter spotted a truck with an interesting load and "a little pony, Mum, a little pony"! across the park, and we (with Boy-Next-Door) cycled across for a closer look.

Indeed, it seems that the "Eden Bros Good Time Circus" is paying a visit to this neck of the woods, and will be having 3 shows in the next two days.

I had a chat with the ringmaster - John - while the children ran around to pat the goat, the donkey, the horse (failing to heed the "nip" warning - she was demoted below the other two in their affection). He has been touring regional Australia for 25 years now. Most recently, with Equine Influenza as a factor, his run has been the back blocks of Queensland - regions that he obviously loves.

As he looked to be some distance from his 40th birthday, I asked what made him run away to join the circus. "I was a political journalist" he reported. He prefers these clowns.

Grandpa has slipped a little something towards the tickets in my pocket - all 'Salina has to do is be on her best behaviour for a chance to finally see - the circus.

Eden Bros Good Time Circus
7pm Friday February 1
4pm & 7 pm Saturday February 2
Nielsen Park, Bargara

Everyone at Children's Prices ($10)
Front 2 rows $12

Under 3 sit on your knee (or pram or stroller) ABSOLUTELY FREE