Monday, December 29, 2008

If you didn't laugh you would cry...

We are heading off to the big smoke for a few days of catching up with people who are in town, seeing 'Salina's father's family and old friends.

We are coming back on Thursday - a day I thought was New Years Eve.

So to that post where I said we would be at South Bank on Wednesday? Yeah, me and a million others.

Better luck with my organisational skills NEXT YEAR hey?

Cheers - see you next year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Call to Brisbane

On Wednesday, weather being fair, we intend to make our theme park du jour South Bank.

If you want to catch up, email me at jeanie in paradise at yahoo dot com. Only leave out the spaces and insert symbols where they are required.

In other news, Paradise is cloudy, and it is not just because I have to finish the washing and pack everything by tonight. (Don't tell my inner environmental conscience, but I have a dryer).

I will be back before the year is through.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

'Salina and the Santa saga...

This morning, I actually awoke before 7am.

How is that for progress, a child who lets you sleep in until 7.30 on Christmas Day, and not because she hasn't been up from 5am!

And then she pulled the same again yesterday - Boxing Day - I am liking this 9 caper.

Great present.

But today I was up before all.

And I regarded the festivities we have had and are having.

Christmas is Summer is perfect beach weather here. We have been taking advantage of that.

As usual some presents are FAN-bloddy-TASTIC and some are duds.

What comes to mind is the fat red fella, and how he went this year (and years past)...

I was never going to be pushing the whole "Santa" boat when I had a baby. Unfortunately I didn't get that choice - not because her father was a Santaphile but because she was the first grandchild and there were many pushers who didn't want the flagship child to be thus neglected.

Unfortunately Santa has had to fit within my budget and so her Santa sack has not always been as brimming with material worth as those children in other households. But its the thought, isn't it?

One year Santa sent a carousel that wasn't set up before the morning of, and it took several hours for Nana and Mum to realise that not all pieces shown on the cover were included in the set - just the bits to make it all connect and work. I do hope those elves got a good talking to.

This year, Santa apparently made several visits.

On Tuesday 'Salina and I went shopping and she found an adorable (italics hers) stuffed toy dog that attaches to a harness and lead and by pressing a button on the lead (judiciously) it makes a cute (again, italics by 'Salina) yapping sound.

She bought it with her own money (due to some embargoes imposed by the adult members of the household regarding stuffed animals) and was very busy in her room afterwards wrapping the darned thing. Not an easy task - the lead is solid so the shape is not of the "easy-wrappping" variety.

She made herself a card - and signed it from Santa.

This brought a whole new dimension to the fable that is pushed as the jolly red guy.

Of course, the big guy also had procured other items for the indulged girl, so he cannily mentioned the "dog he had put into the real world for her to find" in his other cards.

But he didn't get her the right CD.

And the stocking stuffers were a bit hit and miss. The staples didn't fit any of her staplers. There were no decent toys.

The "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" turned out not so much to be the DVD so loved (because it is the best of the Harry offerings) but a CD-ROM game - which she had seen and heard of and its reputation was one of "great" - except her computer doesn't think so (darned old-fashioned hand-me-down non-gamer machine) and so it again falls into the whole carousel category of Santa gifts.


Good thing she loves him and overlooks his inadequacies in the field of gift-giving.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The update that wasn't

I have several draft posts in my dashboard.

One about going mustering after years of not.

One about working as a team in the yards.

There are also the unwritten drafts in my head.

One about the lack of preparation for Christmas.

One about rearranging 'Salina's room.

One about a rather intriging opportunity the new year may give me.

Yesterday I didn't write a post about the non-day I had thanks to the sort of migraine that makes you throw up all day.

And today I fear I will not write a witty and insightful post about failing to update you all on the minutae of my life and philosophy - because the "to-do" list is long and the time is short.

Just a quick reiteration of my apologies for not visiting and leaving comments, for not being that witty and insightful person that I aspire to be and for once again leaving you with a post that says - nothing...

As my reports cards always said "must try harder".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The town mouse in the country house...

Oh this country girl has become a bit citified, it seems.

When you go to the property, the unwritten rule is that you leave your keys in your car. That way, if it is required to be moved, anyone can do so.

I grew up with that rule and respect it to the extent of remembering to return my keys that I automatically palm on leaving the drivers seat.

My daughter is a city girl who loves to visit the country. But she has a different rule ingrained - always. lock. the. car. on. leaving.

Now, I am adamant that I have told her there was a exception to the rule once you hit the dirt, she is adamant that she understands this exception and did not do so - BUT she was the last to go to the car to get her purse out - so it was either her or Mr Nobody (who does have quite a record here on the property, if I remember my own childhood rightly) (or indeed the animals have not only learned how to hold the handle up but got over that whole opposible thumb thing) but...

You can see where this is going, right?

Indeed - the bad news is, there is no local RACQ to come and rescue the damsel, and in this day and age of cars being built to keep the people breaking into cars out of cars I am not as quick to reach for the wire coathanger as I once was.

The good news is, it only takes a few phone calls, the organising of my sister's brother-in-law's wife to rendezvous with V in a tyre store 200km away and then somehow get another hook up between my sister's brother-in-law's wife and my mother about 50km away for the spare key to get to me before I head back.

Easy, eh?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Perfect Blend of Friendship Award Presentation

Many moons ago Trish gave me this little award.

It comes with questions and everything!

1. Do you have the same friends since childhood?
I don't really know how to answer this one. I very rarely get to see my friends from childhood, mainly because (a) there were so few due to sparse population and (b) I moved away. That being said, I have very, very rarely "dropped" a friend with deliberation as it tends to be gegraphically challenging rather than moving on on a friendship level IYKWIM.

I haven't seen my kindy friend since I was about Grade 1, but I often wonder how she is. I occasionally see some of my primary friends and some of my high school friends, but keep caught up on their doings (as no doubt they do of mine) through family. I have a few friends from Uni days, and they came to my wedding - as did friends from my time in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

2. What do you value most about your friends?

I love that each of my friends is unique. Some I love because they are just joyful to be around, some because we have interests in common, some are great at talking, some at listening. What I value most is they all add to my life and enrich it - I would be a poorer person without them.

3. Are your friends your sounding boards?

Hmm. Not really. I tend to be my own counsel, and I would probably turn to V, my sister or my mother if I needed another view.

4. What is your favorite activity to share with your friends?

Definitely eating - which is of course mixed in with talking and laughing and drinking.

As I love to cook, this is a great boost for me. As I am on average 800km away from most of my friends, this means I am getting fat.

So now - to pass this along to some of my favourite bloggers (and commenters) - Debbie, Melody, Jen and Elizabeth - because they have all become friends of mine.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chrissy Hols!!!!

Yes indeed, 'Salina has entered that no man's land that is neither grade 4 nor grade 5 and out in front of her stretches 6 weeks of play, imagination, horses, pools, travel, presents - oh and the interminable tidying of the room.

I know in other parts of the world it can get a wee bit chill around this time of the year, but for me and my whole childhood, Christmas equals heat and the holidays equals lots of hot and dusty work punctuated by cold watermelons and swims at the end of the day.

My father is exactly the same age older than I as I am to 'Salina, so it seems that much easier to understand my parents at certain times in my childhood now.

As a result, telling V the story of "going away for Christmas" to the Sunshine Coast during the year when we (hugely mistakenly) had a sedan, I now get swung around to another view of the trip and see the planning and promise that my parents put into this delight.

It still doesn't explain the need for all three children to lose 100% of our legroom and live with the fear of the balanced bundles on the back ledge, but it does put a bit of shading in that whole "don't give us your bellyaching" looks they gave us while we whined.

As the few months prior to Christmas is when all the baby calves hit the ground, Christmas is the ideal time to innoculate and brand the little darlings. Of course, I am sure it doesn't hurt that school holidays happen to coincide and the free labour force is utilised fully.

If ever we whinged about waking early every day of our holidays, Dad would say "best part of the day" and we would splash into the pool for our wakeup.

If ever we complained about callouses and tired muscles and saddling up again during our 13 hour days, Dad would say "people pay to do this" and so our muscles would relax into the gait of the horse and our hands would knit the reins as we rode through the hills with mobs of the most cute babies in our care.

But there were a few years where Mum and Dad actually organised for us to have a REAL Christmas holiday. One that involved NOT BEING AT HOME. One where we would be near the beach and seafood and seeing our parents outside their natural habitats.

The preparations would take a full day of packing - presents, clothes, eskies, artificial tree - and the morning of set off was always a frenzy of Dad packing the car with Mum supervising closely.

With a station wagon, which was generally our car of choice, this packing can be 80% achieved in the rear section (to the ceiling - who needs rear view) with some thought to placing 6 lower legs across the back seat between the detrius. With a sedan, there was a vast difference in the amount of thought involved in stealing this (and any other space) for the bags and boxes and "stuff".

Now, if we were say visiting the town only 50km away, it would probably have been bearable - but said coastal holiday at the time took place at the Sunshine Coast - nowadays possible to traverse in 4 hours (if my brother in law is driving) but then it took a full day and a few dodgy roads.

Add to that three children but only two window seats. As the older wiser members of the trio, generally we girls would nab them, but the downside to that strategy was little brother's ability to sleep the moment the car moved, and in lieu of a door to slump against would use a sister - we took turns throwing his hugely dense pumpkin from side to side.

In those days, there were no namby-pamby DVD players to enthrall the younger generation, so my mother would alternate her Val Doonican with music of our choice (from her selection) and we would all holler along to Charley Pride, Tom T. Hall, Olivia Newton-John and Slim Dusty. See a pattern?

We would play games - I spy, White Horse, shopping list, working out time and distance left to travel and taking turns making up fitting tall stories for creek and river names.

I was renowned for being able to "hold on until Brisbane" as I had a thing about going to the toilet at the servos, but there were generally a few stops along the way.

Ban Ban Springs, where my grandmother always filled her thermos on her journey as it was so pure and clear (not any more), Nanango where the park next to the service station had lots of shade and room to run around, Blackbutt where the local version of Yeti has been formed into a towering wooden sculpture, the Big Orange, the Big Cow, the Big Pineapple - all passing markers to our final destination.

We knew we were nearly there when the speed levels dropped. In those days, a two-lane road twisted and turned for many miles before reaching the ocean, and our noses would scent it far before we saw the blue.

The first job on arrival was taking the explosion of goods from the car to the holiday flat and fighting for the "best bed". Mum would open the sliding doors and windows and we would throw our belonging around searching for togs and water toys.

Dad would then walk us down to the water a few blocks away while Mum got "peace". I know now that "peace" would have been fairly packed with activity and how blissful it would be to complete such in relative quiet.

When we got home, Mum would have tidied up, done a grocery shop and assembled dinner - and then we would put up the tree and put our pressies under. (In Australia, 9 times out of 10 it is an artificial tree - or in our case, 10 times out of 10. Not big on rotting vegetation chopped down to disinitigrate in the living room, and given it is high summer that is the guaranteed process)

Then we would ask the big questions - How would Santa know how to find us? What time could we wake them in the morning? What were we going to eat? When would we be able to go for a swim?

After we were tumbled into bed, we children would chatter on (in increasingly hushed tones) our plans for filling the hours before we could wake the parents, generally involving creating a breakfast feast and turning little brother into that year's thematic Santa) until the sound of the distant waves would send us off.

Christmas itself I never really remember - sort of like all those times you are having such a great time being drunk as a young adult - you KNOW you are having a good time but all the stimuli overloads and crashes.

Christmas night when we were away always meant being taken to some relatives who we hardly saw as often as every 4 years and sent to play with the kids while the parents ate and drank with the other adults.

But Boxing Day was always a tradition - swim first, then feast, then cricket on the telly (while you played with your toys) then snacks, then cricket on the telly (while you napped) then a swim, then cricket on the telly (while you helped pack up and tidy) then toasted sandwiches and early bed.

It always seemed the holidays were that short, and the next day was the trip home again - as there was always mustering to be done, calves to brand, cows to dip, watermelon to eat and the pool needing a stir.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why the term "School Concert" now provokes an automatic shudder...

We went to see the school concert last night. Can you see me hiding my delight?

When I began blogging, I reviewed the last school concert we attended.

It was not the main reason that I joined the P & C, but one bonus was my influence might work on the selection of fare available for such soirees.

Of course, a lot of water has passed under that particular bridge since that decision and me and the P & C aren't spending so much time together these days - but I still try to show an interest.

Apparently there was also steak with some onion was available last night - I wouldn't know, as circumstances are such (although the promise is it will change by Friday) that frivolities like buying crap at a School Concert is currently not worked into the budget.

Otherwise, sausage on bread, softdrinks, chips and chocolate was what was available for eats.

But that is not what bugs me today.

And it isn't the fact that for six months you can ask people "what can I do" to get a vague "nothing" and then know that if you ask on the night you will be working the whole night because anyone who asked got the same response until D-day. Is the term "put your name on the roster" that hard to grasp? Well, it is if there is no (expletive deleted) roster because there are control issues involved. Not, not that at all.

Don't get me started on the petty politics of the P & C either - now is not the time of the month to see such frothing at the bit - but that is not my whinge du jour either.

No indeed, it is the fact that a perfectly fantastic concert showcasing our children was ruined by longevity.

The theme was "Vaudeville" - and do you know how much I ached for a crook or a box of tomatoes for the last hour and a half?

The seeds of doubt were planted in my mind when the new principal decided to open with a longwinded speech, but kickoff was set for 6.30 and by 6.45 we had the green light for the real entertainment of the evening.

By 7, we were starting to get (expletive deleted) off with waiting for the show to start already.

To give them credit, the first hour of the show was okay. Its always fun to watch the little kids sing and dance, and they did. The 12 inch remix of a particularly boring song with two words may not have been the ideal choice. And they might have thought to concertina these three classes into one song and dance routine rather than give us the mental room to realise that there were another 12 acts to go, and given the timing thus far we might get out by midnight.

Unfortunately, then the creativity of the children and individual teachers began to shine through.

Word to the choreographers of the 8 year old boys division - a few classes explaining the term "preparation" wouldn't go astray.

Putting the child of the P & C president and staff teacher on for a full mime sequence may have worked - if he had a routine to work with, a chorus line to play to OR indeed less than 10 minutes to fill.

Oh, and the comedy skit featuring someone elses hands and underwear jokes - the clue to a good routine is making people actually laugh, and someone should have road-tested that one.

Not that it was all bad - I mean, 'Salina's class did brilliantly - and I am pretty sure that is not just because I am her parent but because obviously some thought had gone into three of the main rules of entertainment - keep it short, keep it sharp and get on and off the stage quickly.

So the second hour was a bit up and down.

The third hour took about five hours, I swear - even the kids on stage had that "get me the (expletive deleted) out of here" glaze to their eyes - mirrored by those of the audience that were left.

Still - it was an improvement on last time - it finished at 9 rather than 10 this time around, and I had enough foresight to have a stew ready for us when we got home.

What would you sit through for you child?

What is a polite way to yank them out of the auditorium early?

How the heck are any of them going to perform at the swimming carnival today?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I won!! I won!! I won!! I won!!

Can you believe it? I don't win ANYTHING (well, very nearly nothing) and so I am sooo excited!!

As I told you last week, Jen at Semantically Driven is giving away DVDs at the moment - and I won the first giveaway - which is fantastic.

Of course, now I am going to have to get V all commenty to enter her next giveaway - for Stupid Stupid Man.

Now, if you haven't had a half-hour to kill between Spicks & Specks and Life in the past six months, this little gem of an Aussie comedy may have passed you by - but although there are moments when you truly cringe there are moments when you - well, okay, V and I - crack up.

Stupid Stupid Man is set in Coq magazine, and if you can handle that snippet of humour you may be able to stomach the rest.

We did - and held our stomachs laughing.

The first time I remember ever winning was at the tiny, tiny town where I grew up. The local hall was renowned for old-time dances, and it seemed there was one held every other month.

As kids, we would gather at the end of the hall for the man to put out the sawdust, and it was our job to slide all around the hall spread it and make the floor slick for the promenades and waltzes.

Our job done, we would then gather outside and play games and spy on the teenagers sneaking away and blow their covers while the grown ups danced to the tunes put forth by the drummer and pianist on stage.

There was always a bar, with the men taking turns serving beer and shandies, but the main refreshments were served at half-time, when the plates the ladies had all brought in were put on trestle tables outside, and the urn was boiled for teas and coffees.

There were also softdrinks available for the kids - Creaming Soda, Sarsparilla, Lemon Squash and Fanta were things I dreamed of, although I had the sort of parents who limited our intake severely.

As the adults were still taking their last sips and chatting, again we would gather for the sawdust trick to be repeated.

Occasionally, we too would dance - our father's would walk us through "The Pride of Erin" or we would pair off for "The Gypsy Tap". We always made sure we made up the numbers, however, when there was a competition.

Now, the dances were more known for their access and fun than for the finesse in which they were performed at my former tiny tiny school town (despite the attempts for several families of very shiny shoes to make it more spectacular) and so the competitions were never about form or style - more about what corner you were in when the music stopped, and what card was drawn from the pack.

My best friend Hel and I teamed up and were ever so lucky to just escape the drawn corners time and time again this one time, and edged out our rivals by chosing the black corner from the red.

We won!! Yes indeed, at the grand old age of 8, we were the proud recipients of the prize of - well, the organising committee had obviously not thought this the whole way through, and we were rewarded with chips and a can of softdrink and the packet of cigarettes and six-pack were put into the prize cupboard for another day.

Have you ever won? What is the most unusual thing you have ever won?

Oh - or go to Jen's to win Stupid, Stupid Man and then come back and tell me about that.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Paradise Update

Thank you everyone so much for the blogiversary wishes.

Right at this moment, I am being serenaded by a magpie on my front window.

Magpies have a bit of a reputation, but also the most glorious songs.

We don't know if she (he?) is singing with delight at the rain and the nibblies it is washing her in the gutter, or if she is seeking old love or new love or children.

She (he?) has been at it for a good 15 minutes so far. I did try to take a video (is it still called a video?) of it, but long story short, (a) you get what you pay for and (b) there is nothing more unnerving than trying to get a good shot of a severely backlit magpie on your front window without getting freaked out by the intense eye contact she (he?) is directing your way.

Did I mention it is raining here? On and off since a thunderstorm last night we have had quite heavy showers.

Rain is a blessing and always welcome in my history, but I now live a life where there are direct downsides. Downsides which are also upsides, I might mention.

V is a bricklayer. There is something to do with the actual structural integrity as well as health concerns that require bricklayers to only work when the weather is clement.

Which is great for me, because the words "child free time" represent the sum total of our ongoing honeymoon it means I can concentrate on my work without having to think about any household tasks because ma'honey is around (cough).

It has been a perfectly tempered weekend, actually.

  • Saturday
    • was glorious weatherwise,
    • 'Salina's team won their softball match,
    • Santa visited the softball grounds (that guy gets around),
    • I discovered the proof to a theory that no woman my size donates to any charity shops - they all discard their "skinny clothes" when they finally realise that it is NEVER going to happen - which made me feel better in a way because that means I am a normal woman even though it also meant that I couldn't even shout myself some cheap clothes,
    • our groceries came to EXACTLY the budgeted amount,
    • I happened to find in the fridge exactly the ingredients I required to make a freaking AWESOME moussaka (with eggplant-free variety available for the immature palate) that met with the double-thumbs up and request as a regular menu item.
  • On Sunday
    • 'Salina and I cycled to the beach for a swim in the amazingly warm ocean,
    • then came home to 'Salina impressing herself and us with her fabulous room tidying talents with the added bonus of being HAPPY while she did it,
    • the skies darkened but saved their moisture until I had taken all the washing off the line,
    • we watched "Scrooge" and even though I slept the majority of the way through it (strict training in saying "yes" when asked "are you awake?" while asleep is required to attain this prize) I was awake and got a tear when Tiny Tim got his present,
    • got a light show with dinner to the accompaniment of thunder - but not in a scary way, more in an awe of nature but really really safe way (the upside to living in a really FLAT part of the country)
    • and saw 49 up with V before turning in and falling to sleep with a crescendo of rain.

So - how was your weekend?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday, blog

And you have hardly changed your look at all!!

That is right - I have been whinging, expounding and basically exposing myself on this blog for 2 years today!!!

I had a look back...

December 2 years ago I was whining about my washing machine, other people and young people today. Not much has changed...

I have been waking early for nearly two years.

I gave poetry, recipes and taught the world about tuckshops.

I told you about V when V was a new addition in my life.

I warned you about trampolines.

I finally broke ten comments when we bought some jewellery - six months after I had begun blogging (and 17 months before tying the knot).

I got stumbled when I taught the world my secret to folding fitted sheets.

I have whinged about shopping for bras.

I broke 20 comments for my tribute to 'Salina's father and again when I had my first kiss.

And yet - when being googled, the post that is found most often? All those strange people googling may be surprised by my version of a plastic bag fetish - although admittedly, a decent second is where people will find joy as the words to Moja Mala are indeed here.

I have met many wonderful people through this blogging lark, and over 20,000 people (probably the three of you several thousand times) have been to see my 333* posts.

So thank you, all those who do check in. Would you like some cake?

Technically, this is my 334th post, but I just found one I never posted...

This is not right...

Edited to add: I just noticed Jen has a competition up at hers for The Ellen Show DVD. If you want something to smile about, romp over there and enter!!!

Warning - what follows is a whinge.

Go to the post below that where we look at a photo which I have buried with my little tanty.

Go see the kitchens of Elizabeth and Pencil Writer (well, her mother-in-law's).

Wonder at the words of Woman in a Window as she watches her child grow up.

Flee while you can.

Waaaah!!! I got up at 4.18 this morning.

I would love to blame the cat, but really, the cat just confirmed that I was awake and made a request due to the angle of the sun on the horizon and the comfort of his bladder.

It would be fantastic to blame the heat - but it is nowhere near oppressive enough yet to use that chestnut.

Despite V's penchant for taking up real estate and pinning cover access in the bed, its not his fault either.

Its the economy. And yes, while the worldwide one is getting a look in, it is mainly the very local one that is stirring me up.

As in, the one I control right here.

And my goodness, I have learned to control rather well, even if I say so myself.

Back in my heady days when I was a career woman, I got done over very effectively by accepting an income that sounded like a lot to student me in a different city, and then tied up neatly by the term "wage freeze".

I learned how to spend to my limit and live on very little for the majority of each month, but I always ensured that bills were paid first.

As I moved up the ladder the money did get better - it could hardly get worse - but any employer I had always got a good deal out of me. A cheap workaholic, it seems, is a dream come true. But again, I learned how to spend to my limit without regard to the concept of "saving".

Once I jumped off that particular freight train, I worked for many years as a temp - which again brought out the frugalities, as without a guaranteed income I was forced to balance very closely the hours of work I needed with the lifestyle I was affording. Savings was a term I learned, and achieved in the sense that during the days of plenty some was salted for the days of lean - unfortunately those days came about as often as the other.

However, when I first had 'Salina, I DID HAVE a nest egg - which was effectively whittled by the outlaws unique microeconomy, and there were a few years where balance wasn't always achieved as smoothly as I would have liked.

I am ever grateful for the wonderful support that I got from my family and good friends during such times, but I truly hate being in debt, even if it is to ones that I love.

When I first moved up here, I had dreams of finding some sort of position that might give me a regular income, but it was not to be. They don't exist, and when they do it seems I am not the right person for the job - whether it be from their end or mine - but that turned out okay, because I now run my own business from home where I work and theoretically get paid for the hours I put in.

As you know, I have been working quite hard lately, and in the main it has been for one client.

I always operate on a 14 day payment policy, and for the most part only one reminder call is needed if that for my clients to even the ledger.

At the beginning of last month, the client paid for what was due to that date, and when the next one was due was advised that bill payments would only be made at the start of the month.

I changed the layout of my invoices and the 14 day policy, and therefore there is now an outstanding bill for 6 weeks work.

Knowing it to be resultantly a large figure, I put a "we can discuss" phrase in the note I sent with all my statements. In fact, I sent it twice as I was not acknowledged.

During a phone meeting, I brought it up again as I still had not had any indication that it was noted.

I was told that things were tight and payment would be made, although it may be a little slow and in bits.

Since then, I have been asked to keep doing more and more work for this client and its just peeving me more and more.

The amount I have done on this client's behalf has meant that I have not aggresively sought new business or followed urgent leads, because my plate was full.

I have not been able to do the volunteer work that I normally do because I was too busy.

I have not been able to help out at 'Salina's school to the degree that I normally do, because I had a paying job in my lap and I remain a cheap workaholic.

And man, you should see my financial systems. I know where every cent is - business, savings, household - for the next 6 months. I know how many hours I have to work to break even to cover the fact that V and I won't get a lot over Christmas, I know how much I have to have in which bank account to allow for electricity, phones, food and medical insurance.

It isn't always straightforward, as V also works and gets paid by the hour. That means every hour he can't work because of health or weather or the grossly incompetent organisational skills of certain members of the building industry impacts his economy, and therefore his ability to contribute.

But that is okay - because I have my little systems and can move things around so there is no red showing in any of my categories and I can economise where I can and we can maintain our lifestyle.

But the fact of the matter is - I have not been paid since before the wedding. In fact, I have not been paid for any of the work that stressed me during my preparation for the wedding either.

While there is still no red in all my ledgers, there is also absolutely no fat left to trim and the "are you going to have a honeymoon" question is getting quite irritating. We were going to, but right now honeymoon funds are what stands between us and Christmas.

But that is not what got me worked up at 4. What got me worked up was an email from this particular client wanting a phone meeting to discuss a project I am working on - or should be working on, but frankly I have to prioritise right now.

Today I have to call a friend who has been through a whole different version of hell and is now on the other side of that journey.

Today I have to do up the books for tuckshop for the P & C.

Today I have a project to finish for a paying client.

Today I have to go and see my daughter's class perform their end of year song & dance routine.

Today I have to take 'Salina to softball training and get briefed on being the dugout mum this weekend.

Today I have to feed my family, do several loads of washing, put together thankyou letters for the wedding and contemplate Christmas card lists.

Today I have to work out just how long we have before red shows on my books if an invoice or two isn't paid.

Today I don't expletive deleted feel like having a phone meeting with my client over what is perceived as timely or important to my client.

And today I feel really upset about that, because I am a cheap workaholic who would bend over backwards for anyone who needs me and because I am being forced into unkind thoughts when I really don't like to have them.

And what upsets me most about today is there are many others who are having a much tougher run than me, and I wish that I could give them strength, health, good thoughts and hell, even money.

And instead of being magnanimous and gracious and generous and full of goodwill to all mankind, I feel petty and nasty and angry. Three things I like least.

So today I will get myself and my daughter ready to go to school. I will collect the books for the tuckshop and buy petrol on the way home with my allocated petrol money. I will call my friend. I will do the work for the client that will pay me before the deadline for their invoice. I will do the books for tuckshop and drop them in for their meeting tonight, along with my polite note as to why I will not be at it (due to them not notifying more than 2 days out and my previous advice that Thursdays do not work for me due to softball training unless I am advised and can work out with V alternative arrangements) (I won't really put that in). I will enjoy my daughter's show and take her to practice. I will be gracious in my profuse thanks to those family and friends who gave such wonderful gifts for our wedding and businesses who helped me have a great day.

And somewhere in there, I will have to put together an email explaining to my client that I can't be the cheap workaholic unless some of the cheap is paid.

Maybe I should just send a link here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Six by Six

Jen tagged me a little while ago for a meme. Which reminds me - I have three others to trot out soon.

Anyhow - the rules are:

1. Find your 6th photo folder (hard drive or online)
2. Find the 6th photo in that folder.
3. Share the photo on your blog and give the details of the photo.
4. Tag 5 folks to do the same.

As this is a relatively new computer, I went into the old one to dig out something of interest.

This would have been taken about 2 years ago, just after we had first moved here. You can tell by the tooth missing and the sandals worn.

We are at Turtle Park - a local landmark. It is a really cool park - firstly because ANYONE can find it, so it is very easy to meet people there. It also has a toy fishing boat, a climbing net, a huge percussive harp, water features, two slides in its flippers and a huge sandpit - which you can't see, because its all behind the turtle.

Paradise is a beach town, and in fact if you imagine looking over to your right, you would see lava (lavial?) rocks and white sand and the ocean.

While you are using your imagination, add some blustery sea breezes to whip your hair around. It smells good, as it doesn't combine the "beach" feel with the fishery smell - a blessing hey?

Within the turtles mouth is a cave for small children to play, with some steps up his throat and another entrance where his shell might have been, had it not been filled with all the other features.

I am passing the baton to Bush Babe because she is missing her camera at the moment but I KNOW there is an archive of unseen shots in her repertoire, Kari at "Hi my name is", Elizabeth at "Probably, but not likely", Rhubarb Whine and KB at "Being Me, Just for Them".

Good luck all!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kitchen in Paradise

I contemplated this when I read of Ree at My Life as a Hotfessional's Household demolition Improvements last week.

I gathered impetus when Kate at Picklebums posted her kitchen in response to a dare by someone I don't even know (called Rhubarb Rhubarb - as opposed to Rhubarb Whine). Is it rude to steal an idea on the blogosphere if you have never stumbled upon them before?

Of course it isn't.

It also assuages the guilt I feel for not yet following through with the pictures of the desecration calculated remodelling improvements to our backyard for a myriad of different reasons.

So now, to allow you all to feel better about yourselves, here in its unvarnished wonder, I give you - KITCHEN IN PARADISE...

Shall we begin at the back door - or rather, the main entrance to the house, because this is always the way we come up and in.

So the first thing you see is the fridge, the freezer, the water filter and the fruit bowl.

The water filter is magnificent and has saved us a dowry in not buying bottled water because the local tap water - horrid.

It has taken two years to acclimatise to having it in tea and coffee, and if weren't for the whole darned monthly thorough cleanse and daily refill it required, this water filter would be considered family.

What you don't see is the stockpot awaiting some real muscle to get the burned cabbage off the bottom. Its okay - we keep missing it too.

Now the sink - this is where I try to put on my best "om" when I emulate the latest in dishwashing gadgets. Of course, I often fail, but I think one day I will perfect the serene spiritualness required to wash up in an aura - either that or get a dishwasher. We are contemplating training 'Salina up for the role.

The bit that really trips me up the most is that whole concept that it is a four-step task - I rarely clear the old "dry and put away in a timely fashion" hurdle, and that is what I lay the blame on for not having the whole karmic kitchen experience.

We like to joke around that this is a bench. I know, we love to laugh.

But honestly - this particular piece of real estate is a much sought after commodity in this part of Paradise.

Sure, its yellow. But really, when combined with the chin height cupboards, the toaster, the kettle, the coffee machine and - on an inspired day - the toaster-grill, you have to raffle every square centimetre.

Oh - and can you see that beautiful ceramic bench stove disappearing to the right of the photo. My pride and joy - especially joyous when it replaced the previous version (for the full story of that, you will have to travel to Winter last year).

In fact, if you clicked that last link, you would know why it is there is something missing from this shot.

In fact, household renovations are up there with the discussions on organisational strategy for the wedding - I could either build up a little blood pressure and try to talk it out with my beloved OR I could accept the many benefits of such an arrangement (Well, actually, not really - apologies to V) smile at the beauty of not having to fight like a navvy to open that darned cupboard as much as every other cupboard in this kitchen requires. Apparently someone though "living by the beach" equated to "cabin catches" for all kitchen doors. Great for the abs.

Oh - by the way - this is the good bench for preparation, with only the microwave and knife block as full tenants. The food processor, the hand beaters (oh how I love thee), all chopping and decorating take place here!

Technically, this is not within the kitchen, but our stash of presents are yet to find their final homes. It has only been a fortnight, after all.

The problem with looking at all these goodies and thinking about where they should dwell is it leads into discussion about which wall we have to knock out, how to most efficiently take away valuable cupboard space to alleviate some of the stress with kitchen preparation (especially from "the best kitchen hand in the world" - a self-bestowed but not that far of the mark title) and where to put the electrical outlets.

But this is what makes it all worthwhile (well, except for the fantastic food that comes forth, if I do say so myself) - no, not the compost awaiting emptying nor the recycling bin, but the light - no longer tinted red, I realise, but still - Paradise just out of the window.

So come on - give us your kitchen in all its glory - and the only rule is you are not to specially tidy just for the shots.

And I have just realised - those curtains HAVE TO GO.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday night all right

Last night was a very rare occurence in the night the life of Jeanie chronicles.

Last night I left the house - and not only did I leave the house, but I left behind 'Salina and V and set off unescorted all the way to the local pub.

Oh yes, big party animal that I am, I met with all the other tuckshop volunteers for a wild girl's night out.

Big party animal that I am, I drove - because I figured that even if I got smashed I could take my life and the lives of unwitting pedestrians into my inebriated hands and lurch home in my green pride and joy without getting breathylised I could stagger the 3 blocks home, even if the gale force winds were against me. V did offer to rouse the sleeping child and come get me if the situation required.

I was also fairly secure in the knowledge that however exhilerating the company I wouldn't get too plastered, because these days I just don't do plastered.

I never was much of a plasterer anyhow - whenever that status was achieved it was very messy and painful - and I derive greater pleasure from good company and conversation than I do from feeling out of control.

My body assists me in the pursuit of non-plastered status also, as it has a habit of bringing forth the hangover before the plastering is fully achieved, so it is not a goal on my horizon.

Anyway, I toodled down the road to the local to meet with the tuckshop ladies.

I did imbibe - I discovered that it takes 2 hours to imbibe 2 tall vodka, lime and sodas, and the effect of it is quite enough for me.

I also ate - yes indeed, food not cooked at home, a novelty indeed.

A novelty in a "gee, its okay but I would have left the sauce more chunky to bring out the full character of the olives, capers and anchovies a little more rather than give the impression that tomato is what you were ordering, why do they garnish with an indifferent triple-curled parsley clump rather than put an effort into the whole presentation and use a little creativity (like maybe an olive, a caper an anchovy - and heck, continental parsley), why do chips have to come with everything and take up so much of the real estate on the plate, do you call that a salad bar and what else could I have spent that $20 on" sort of way.

Yes, shut up, internal Gordon Ramsay. (The internal food critic - I don't have any other internal GR leanings - well, okay, I probably swear more inside too. But that is it.)

The conversation did range considerably, especially considering our posse was made up of the quiet achiever neighbour of the convenor (handy for functions and cleaning), a couple of raucous party girls (who fire up the tuckshop every second Wednesday), the convenor and me.

Apparently the common denominators for such a fivesome to connect in terms of conversation starts with parenting, children, children hitting puberty, how we hit puberty, how our parent hit us handling handled us hitting (freudian slip there) puberty - and sort of degenerated from there into realms not covered in this blog.

We were given gifts by the convenor. Considering the complete lack of fiscal support by the P & C for such a gathering, her choices of gift were token but very well thought and meaningful. I got a jumbo pack of lifesavers and angel earrings.

It was then decided to go into the public bar where the pool tables were for a game. Where the two pool tables were. Where the two pool tables were - one with skinny, ever-so-slightly post-pubescent youths gathered and impressing each other, the other with skinny, time-, sun- and spirit-cured regulars.

We put a coin on each table and waited patiently for our turn.

It was impossible to get a drink, as the two behind the bar were busy handling the TAB.

It didn't smell like the pubs of my youth - instead of the reek of stale beer and cigarette smoke, there was a lone reek of stale beer. I wonder if they banned beer from pubs would they at last smell tolerable?

It was impossible to chat, as there was some loud noise which I would like to call music pumping - but it was so loud that I actually came away with no discernible impression other than "noise".

The only way to converse was to stand lips to ears of the person you were talking to and say your bit, then it would be repeated back in the reverse position to verify, then the whole dance would be reversed and we would purse our lips and nod in complete accord. Or, if not in complete accord, the decision would have to be made whether to pretend accord or try the whole round again to give a different view.

The table with the more weathered players apparently cleared - but another had put a coin on before our claim and so it was bare and alone.

After a very long ten minutes, we gee'ed each other up to be brave enough to enquire the status of the table. After all, we all have extensive experience in getting swathes of children to stand in one line and say please and thank you - how tough could it be?

The bravest of our number went to the table and asked the nearest character. Quite vehemently she was told that it was impossible for us to fit in a game while they waited for their friends to return from the smoker's balcony. Oooo-kay.

It appears my tolerance level for such behaviour is below my tolerance for children behaving rudely and pushing and shoving for poll position - but rather than shrill at them I contemplated my lot.

I could stay in the bar and wait for a table and wait for a drink and try to have a good time - or I could mosey on home to my beloved and have a conversation at normal pitch on any subject chosen with my best friend where I was guaranteed to enjoy myself, the company and maybe even a wine or two left over from the wedding.

Hmmm - tough decision there.

Ah yes, the last of the party animals, that is me.

Am I old?

And is that really such a bad thing?

I did have a great time, despite my jaded description. But man, I am so out of practice and wonder if it is worth my investing in practice when, quite frankly, I have always been one who associates loud music with dancing and all other social engagements with food, conversation and comfort.

Yes, I am old. I prefer to call it "grown up".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I crashed

I crashed the computer putting together the pictures...

I crashed into many brick walls with work today, so didn't get a chance to revisit the backyard...

I intend to crash early tonight.

I will crush all my work tasks tomorrow - after I have crash-tackled the weekly tuckshop challenge I set myself.

Then there is a breakup for tuckshop volunteers - the four of us may get smashed.

V and 'Salina will have a quiet night in, won't they?

I hate it that I can't give you what I promised, what you want nay what you need from me - follow through.

But I crashed.

And now I think a chardonnay is in order.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Promise yesterday something for tomorrow that, when today hits, proves impossible.

It wasn't that I didn't take the photos - hundreds of the beggars (well, fives anyway).

Then the pear formation began on my day.

First, there was the delight that my new husband would be with me for the day... As exciting a prospect as that was, I had a hooverload of work to do this morning, so I sent him fishing and to hardware stores, and promised him some of my afternoon.

Second, there was the "little requests" from my client that I do love to do - and indeed I did them. However, those little requests knocked my own workload sideways and it threatened to topple if I didn't take something I had on my agenda to get done today into the get done tomorrow pile - which sort of kyboshes my plans to do some much needed clothes shopping - but I had an afternoon promised with V and there are so few of those with the concept of "child-free" attached.

Even so, my "little requests" did stretch into a portion of afternoon, and so all too soon the concepts of "child-free", "afternoon" and "with V" came to a halt.

I did assemble the first series of photos into a nice montage - on the other slower but more photomanipulation friendly computer in 'Salina's room rather than my handy-dandy notebook.

However, my daughter had done some neat homework and was to be rewarded with an afternoon of softball in the backyard.

And we have plans for a barbie.

And I have taken 10 minutes off my salad preparation time to let you all know and beg your forgiveness.

One day, I promise you - one day you will see photos on this blog.

But blog promises, as is life, does not always run true to plans...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today I promise you tomorrow

I know, it is unforgiveable but I have been out of the blog loop since I griped about the weather.

And since I griped about the weather, Paradise has turned on all her charms - hence my hesitation at staying indoors at this keyboard, and with the exception of promises of some shekels tying me down to it for some hours yesterday, I have been enjoying these charms under many pretexts.

On Sunday I weeded and pruned and harvested the vegie beds. You want photos? Ha - I did not think to take any.

Then on Sunday I went to the beach with 'Salina to meet up with cousins and siblings. My sister and SIL took many photos - but again, a vacuum here.

Then on Sunday, we (as in V) dug large holes in the back yard to plant some wedding gifts - and hopefully we will be inundated with limes and mandarines and lemonades in the years to come. (add in your own chorus of "yes, there are no photos").

Yesterday, I actually derived great joy from escaping the computer for stolen moments here and there pegging out the washing. When V and 'Salina were both home, we then took advantage of long Summer hours to work on batting and pitching and catching (and getting to know our neighbours as we fetched the ball back from other backyards).

Last night, right at dinner time, the phone rang. This is not unusual, as it seems certain companies have discovered that I no longer have a silent number and they would love to offer me free phones and better deals - and there is no time like dinner to shower us with these presents.

But this phone call was different. This phone call was from the tree guy.

He will be here today. And so today, before that moment, I will take and make a photo montage of my backyard. And also today, after that moment, I will take and make a photo montage of my backyard.

How exciting - the anticipation of actually getting a picture or two should tide you all (or at least both of you) until tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Welcome To Paradise - beautiful one day, howling the next

Many of you noted the time of the banter exchange on yesterday's post and remarked that it seemed a little on the early side.

We do early.

My father would laugh at that concept - he spent my entire childhood encouraging this feature courtesy of a wet washer, although I think it had a more profound effect on my vocabulary.

But here in Paradise, we do early - especially at this time of year.

In conjunction with our feline alarm clock requesting access to the great outdoors, nature does her bit in the wake-up function.

She starts with a gentle heating of the atmosphere as the sun begins its ascent behind the Poinciana.

On good days, Sol peaks through the windows and winds around curtains to tease you with promises including garden delights and swims to cool you down. These are often enough to get a bounce out of bed in joy.

On other days, steam begins to generate. It is hard to find sleep again when you are sweating.

Today, the Northerlies that have been howling through the louvres all night have upped their intensity. It is impossible to cool down with judicious openings of windows or doors.

I have never done well on the sleep-in thing. Once I am awake, I am ON. My mind, which has been lurking in the corners generating dreams stretches it power and starts to churn - things to do, things to plan, things to cringe about in my past - recent and long ago.

As a result, it is a rare 6am that passes without me upright and making my morning cup of tea.

And it is also a very rare 6am that my companion 'Salina is not up, churning, drawing and creating.

V doesn't mind a sleep in. His habits are slightly different. He very rarely sleeps right through, and so may have had up to 6 wanders during the night - as a result, he has an ability to either fire or fall back into bed, dependent on the need for him to be awake. It is a skill I envy.

Monday - Friday, his work starts at 7am on a jobsite - whether that jobsite is 5 minutes or an hour away - and he has a knack for being ready at the moment he is needed to get into the vehicle to go.

However, on a Saturday (as it is here right now) he can sleep through my crashes in the kitchen, 'Salina's giggles of delight at a "brilliant idea", the sticky sweat bath and the howling wind.

Last weekend was the wedding.

The weekend before it was sticky and stormy and howling and uncomfortable.

This weekend it is sticky and stormy and howling and uncomfortable.

Last weekend it was hot and brilliantly sunny and a gentle breeze was cooling.

That is why this is Paradise - just because it is the sort of weather to send a girl mad today, there are many of the brilliant to make up for the discomfort.

Friday, November 21, 2008


"Grapes are like communism." remarks V. "Great in theory, but in the end I always have to throw away more than you guys eat."

Oh yes, this is the logic that works at 6.30 in this house.

Any good similes in your house this morning?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The view from the kitchen

at the moment is the poinsiana.

It casts a red glow across the room when the sunlight hits it right.

Now is the only time I love this tree. In a month's time the rotting flowers will carpet the ground, then the leaves will fall and the twigs are an endless pain in the derriere.

It has not had a lot of love over its life, and the lack of pruning makes it unsuitable for children to climb, gives it sprawl across the neighbours rooves, the lack of planning for neighbours means it lifts their concrete.

My grandmother had a poinsiana right in the middle of her back yard. It was pruned regularly and so perfect for climbing. It probably left as much litter across her lawn, but she had endless patience for the delights her garden gave.

I too want to delight in my garden, but I have not the time for raking, nor the love for reclaiming what the years have wrought, and indeed not the money for making my neighbours happier or safer.

Next week, baby, it is coming down. As is the travelling palm and the pandanus.

We are contemplating new shade options and planting fruit trees. We may well put back some natives - but well away from the borders and the unnecessary divide irksome plants on boundaries can create.

Right now, this poinsiana in all its brilliance has my affection.

I will enjoy it to the end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For those baying for more...

Hmph. You don't think our repast was worthy enough?

The day before most guests arrived in town. I roped about 6 into drinking champagne and filling bonbonierie bags. 'Salina, V and I went to stay at a local resort and then met about 30 friends for fish and chips near the beach at the town centre.

The day itself was gorgeous, the 75 guests were lovely (although rather hot), only 1 person fainted during the photo shoot, 6 of the 9 tables were relatively well behaved during the feast, the cakes were yummy (I found out for myself at about 9 in the evening), bowls were lots of fun, we got away about 10 minutes after V had reached his threshhold and I believe the party continued for many.

We ate dinner - you already know about that.

Yesterday we packed up and came back home, where Mum was hosting a barbeque for any lingerers, so about 30 people had burgers and salads and birthday cake for my brother. Oh - and the bonbonierie we forgot to hand out the day before!!

Most guests were out of town by 5pm and we opened many wonderful gifts.

I dropped the last guest at the airport this morning and came home to work frantically - all I want to do is sleep!

But you want photos - photos that I do not have. My sister has a few shots up and I have received only a few more.

Here are three of them...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Festival of Jeanie and V

is drawing to a close.

We are exhausted and delighted. Many stories we are still hearing about what really happened.

Huge thanks to so many friends for travelling, and my marvellous family for disaster-management.

There are no photos yet (we failed to take our own camera, and the specially bought camcorder stayed in its box until 9am this morning, when I took 50seconds footage of the view from the balcony at our hideaway). A friend had his far superior skills and camera available and was ordered to film it by his wife who could not attend.

So instead, a recipe.

We snuck away from the reception at about 4pm on Saturday - well as sneaky as going around and saying individual goodbyes to 70 people scattered across a bowling green can be.

After an attempt at a nap and a small mini-drama involving one of our witnesses, an ex-wife, a father-of-the-bride and a found wallet brokered through our mobiles can be, our minds turned towards food.

See, we spent the night (and the night before - but with 'Salina) at a swank resort apartment on the foreshore, with the most excellent kitchen. As our night before had involved fish and chips and 30 friends at the turtle park, we were very keen to test out all the possibilities of our surrounds.

And our surrounds had very cool benches and a Smeg wall oven. Much as we were exhausted, we have experience in creating marvellous food.

Our options were crap take-away, recreating our first date with an undercover outing to the pub (good decision not to - apparently the whole wedding party ended there for dinner), or grabbing one of the cards with cash gifts and getting some ingredients for a feast.

Chicken Enchiladas a 'la Jeanie and V and the Superior Smeg Oven
Mini tortillas (yes, not traditional but given the range of the local IGA)
Taco seasoning
3 chicken breast fillets
Sliced jalopenos - would have normally got fresh for free from our garden, but we cheated and bought a jar pre-sliced
Can of re-fried beans
Sour cream
Grated tasty cheese
Grated mozzarella cheese
Jar of mild salsa

A bit of oil probably wouldn't go astray - we forgot but luckily the pan was non-stick.

Mince chicken and cook in pan. Add taco seasoning, water and some sliced jalopenos and simmer.

Warm refried beans with a little sour cream if you have inferior Australian excuses for refrieds. Whack some sliced jalopenos in there as well, because you can and don't have to consider the palate of a 9 year old girl.

Spread about 1/3 of the salsa around a baking dish - hey, some oil would have been handy here also!

Try to work out how to operate a Smeg oven that has no actual markings on the dials. Think you may work it out from the manual that is helpfully in the bottom drawer. Find out that the only diagram they have failed to include in the 32 page 8 language instructions is the one that tells you how to operate an oven.

Twiddle until you work out something that approximates warming up.

Do not attempt to work out how to change the time. Really. Don't.

Spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, top with a little sour cream, roll and put in tray.

Realise you have cheese. Spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, top with a little sour cream and grated tasty, roll and put in tray.

Notice avocado out of corner of your eye. Slice and spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, add a slice of avocados, top with a little sour cream and grated tasty, roll and put in tray.

Pour rest of salsa sauce over the rolls. Chop tomato and add. Put rest of avocados on top. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and put into oven.

Find out what has happened to your child not just after the wedding, but interesting antics during the reception that I was completely unaware of. The upshot of it is 'Salina can handle herself well, and sometimes it takes a terrorism expert to deal with ADHD children.

When all melty and yummy,eat with extra sour cream and jalopenos.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thrilling Thursday

You will be pleased to know that I have given my sister and mother a little job to do.

After a day on Tuesday of coincidences
  • my hairdresser came from Golden Bay, the only place I know anything about in NZ because family of a friend moved there
  • her trainee's stepmother is the lady at the bowls club who is organising that end of the deal
  • A girl I know who runs a lawnmowing business with her hubby can come and do the lawn (okay, that wasn't a coincidence but it pays to have all sorts of contacts)
  • V got served in a clothes shop by a friend of the lady at the bowls club
Yesterday was a little less free-flowing.

The money for the chairs and tables hadn't gone through but the cake deal was finalised, my contacts came in and I was able to put a hold on a camcorder.

That's okay - that is what running round like a headless chicken today is designated for - but also lady at the bowls club in now in hospital, but the guy who is standing in for her is as laid back and got the "no worries" attitude.

Until 7 last night - while sitting down to dinner with my sister and mother. A phone call from the chairman of the board at the bowls club wanting exact number, exact timings and the news that the "lady at the bowls club" no longer held that position.

So I have handballed that looming mess to my mother (who was dealing with them anyway about alcohol requirements). She is going to take my sister along for moral support and a bit of backbone (my sister is great at both).

I also gave my sister a task last night of prettying a few things for printing - signs, table lists, orders of service. See, I can let go!!!

Today, I have to organise the printing for them, pay for the cake, pay for the chairs and tables, collect my contact lenses, collect a few Sydney girls from the airport, collect the camcorder, do the groceries, my brother's birthday present, another girl's wedding present, girl-down-the-road's birthday present and gather fripperies for bonbonierie (or however the doggarned things are spelt) - and try to coincide with the mower guy here to pay him. Then there is only softball practice to contend with...

It is all in control. And if it isn't? Well, it will happen. C'est la vie.

Had a bit of a funny thought, though, last night. I am going over to the "other side" with getting married.

I have had relationships and boyfriends on and off over the years - but I have always been an independent single girl - as are many of my friends.

And although V and I have been together and doing the family thing for quite some time now, my technical "solo mum" and "single gal" tags are being traded in for "blended family" and "married woman".

I am not scared about that or anything silly - its just weird...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - in a rather wierd way...

That is my day (and my daughter's spelling list).

I would much prefer this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday To Do List

  • Wake up oops - an hour later than normal, though!!!
  • Strip spare beds
  • Sort washing
  • Put on the first of four loads of washing
  • unpeg dry clothes
  • Make to-do list
  • Fold dry clothes
  • and put away
  • Put on the second of four loads of washing
  • Breakfast
  • Lunches
  • Make beds
  • Tidy
  • and wash up
  • Finish work project
  • Budget
  • Sort desk and find numbers, vouchers and little bits of paper with notes on
  • Call bakery and chase about cake - wait for call back
  • Call mower guy
  • Call cleaners - wait for call back
  • Get ATM card from V
  • Go to beautician for waxing
  • Hairdresser for colour, cut, foils and looking at books
  • Home to finalise another part of work project
  • Do other three two loads of washing and peg
  • Send email to reception with final numbers and tables
  • Cook beans
  • Take 'Salina to hairdresser
  • Turn to do list into blog

For those in a different time zone, I cheated, and crossed of my last "to do" early - so its all still ahead of me. 6.38 and all systems go here!!

And now it is 8.32 - do you really think the cat needs ringlets?

I think trainees who don't know how to "play with" hair should possibly rethink their future career paths... Just saying...

2.30 and its off to put on another load of washing, do a little work, look at the washing up and piles of folding before 'Salina returns for her hair appointment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tale of the Sister-Outlaw and the most unusual present ever given

I do love Sister Outlaw - with every aching muscle in my body.

She and Favourite Cousin arrived after school on Friday. They came bearing gifts and chocolate.

We had coffee. Her eyes surveyed her surrounds. I know she was looking for dirt and grime, checking out the smudges on the windows, counting up the cobwebs on my ceiling.

Its not because she is judging me, which is a mercy because I have had coffee with folk like that and the coffee never tastes as good as it does with the Outlaws.

She was sizing up, planning her attack, assessing the foe and assembling resources in her mind.

The kids played in the back yard while I pegged and she pondered.

"Do you have meths? Scourers? Vacuum? Rags? Bicarb? Disinfectant?" She rattles off the requests.

"Some holiday you are having, SO." I said to her.

"Ah mate, we can have a holiday next time I come to visit. You guys have got a wedding next week. What sort of rags have you got? I only like 100% cotton." She was only 80% joking.

Once she had put together a list of requirements and we had bathed and fed the kids and put up with a few whines and put them into bed, we all relaxed with a few wines.

That is one of the best things about Sister Outlaw. I may never have chosen her as a friend as the odds on our paths meeting without my having met her brother first are astronomical.

However, we did meet and she is the only girl in a family of five kids - and the chances of her two brothers over here finding a stable girlfriend are extremely slim while the brother in Croatia is as dodgy as a goat on goatweed. So I am it - her one shot at a sister.

And even though she lived through my breakup with P. her brother, we all went through his illness and burial, and there are moments when we do not gel - all in all, I am the closest thing to her having a sister and she is a pretty handy person to have as an outlaw.

And when we get together, we can talk. In fact, on the first night we did - time was called (when it was finally noticed) at 1am.

Saturday morning, and V and I took the kids to softball.

"Have a sleep-in" I advised her. Sister Outlaw is known for appreciating a good sleep-in.

"Nah, mate." she replies. "I didn't come up here to sleep. Get me up before you leave."

'Salina took a catch at shortstop in the first innings - her first catch! It was a reflex, and she was blown away because she didn't even know she had caught it.

It was a tight game - first innings was 7-6, their favour. Second innings was 11-10 to us. It was a timed game, so they had room for another innings of 5 minutes each. They scored 4 more - and we just got our 4th when the game closed - so we won by 1 run.

Then I dragged the kids around the shops looking for shoes for 'Salina - which we are going back in to buy with the dress as the chosen cloppers came in 2 colours.

We got home around lunchtime and I had yet to get the groceries.

Sister Outlaw had got a start. The thing about Sister Outlaw's cleaning method is she is extremely thorough. You do not realise how truly slack a housekeeper you are until a Sister Outlaw comes into your house and does a thorough job. The downside of being thorough, of course, is time becomes elastic.

The kids by this stage had gone past the "I am so excited to see you, I have wanted to play with you for months" stage and were into trying to impress one another.

I honestly don't know why 8 and 9 year old kids do this - because the suck at it big time. Every time another bignote is issued, it seems to either require trumping or sulking.

I promised the kids I would take them to the beach if they stayed out of Sister Outlaw and V's hair while I got groceries.

The wind was howling, so the promised barbeque was postponed and a roast was prepared before we went to get sandblasted.

Sister Outlaw said "I can go to the beach another time, mate. I just like to keep going once I get started."

V and I galloped them up and down the beach and then to the playground. We left the playground to the tunes of "its not fair, he got to" and "why is she whinging so much".

While I prepared the veg and Sister Outlaw cleaned, V watched the kids play kid games in the backyard. Then there was an almighty blowout and 'Salina was crying in her cupboard (oh yes, not woth being a drama queen unless you can be really dramatic) and V got to be all blokey with Favourite Cousin in rolling their eyes and saying "girls."

They got washed and we all got fed and then bedtime again had "how come he gets to stay up later than me" because we enforce a fairly strict bedtime for 'Salina - not out of cruelty but because we do know how she reacts to overtiredness. It is not pretty for anyone.

All the grownups called it a night at about 10.00. The room Sister Outlaw had cleaned - from ceiling to skirting board, every window and fiddly crevice - looked amazing.

"Should I do the bathroom tomorrow?" I asked because when you sit at the feet of the mistress, you want to be able to take orders.

"Nah, mate, I don't like anyone working beside me because I just feel I have to redo what they do - no offence."

She also refused money. "This is my wedding present. None of the family can come and we can't afford a big present for you guys."

Sunday, and there was no way I was going to let my guest work so hard without getting a sweat up myself, so I found a corner of the house well away from her after asking her instruction on technique.

The kids alternated playing games and bickering like siblings and Sister Outlaw cleaned the other entrance room - again with the cobwebs, the dust, the dead flies and the windows.

Well, the whole downstairs is not pristine - but the main areas to attract people during the barbeque on Sunday after the wedding are now glowing with the efforts of sugar soap, elbow, bleach and disinfectant, even if I do say so myself.

After the chil'ens had expended some energy on computer games (another excuse to argue) and room tidying (ditto) V had girded his loins to take them to the beach for a swim (where apparently they argued about the boogie board).

I hooked in. The area with the fridge where the food will no doubt be prepared and guests will no doubt be herded in case of rain is good, so long as you don't start comparing the walls of that section with the walls next to them past a certain point (that would be the brick pillar neatly marking "clean" from "unclean").

That is the problem with doing a thorough clean, though - you can really tell the difference.

We don't have shed, so the closest thing V gets to a "zone" is the downstairs toilet. Its curtains got washed, the toilet (which was actually pretty clean-within -the-bowl-wise) reverted to some former glory (or as glorious as a downstairs toilet can be), the walls denuded of goodness knows what and several hundred daddy-long legs were made homeless, the window can now be seen through (so you can see the clean curtains clearer) and the deck got swabbed.

Sister Outlaw finally headed to the beach in the afternoon, taking the kids for another round and I did another acre or so of wall and doors so from one angle (so long as none of those pesky guests look sideways) it looks like a new downstairs.

A storm was threatening, so our barbeque was cooked on the stove and the kids were cleaned, fed and poured into bed - and then Sister Outlaw headed back for a bit more bathroom activity while I did the laundry.

And my muscles also had a certain glow up last night as I tried to sleep.

3am this morning, and with a little assistance from Eddie my half-wake state moved into full and I did a mental to-do list before I went to sleep.

Today, once people are awake, I have to pack them up, drop 'Salina off at school, drop them off at the station, collect a script from the chemist, see if there are any camcorders still on special we saw in a catalog (and while Sister Outlaw will not take money, she wants a video of the day) get one of them, get home for an hour's work before going in to see 'Salina perform in a concert, come back home for as much work as possible before collecting her from After School Care. I also have to call the cake lady, the cleaners (to finish up the floors that we didn't get around to), and lawnmowing dude (because bad weather meant it didn't happen for us on the weekend).

For your enjoyment, here is a private concert with 'Salina from a few months ago - she was pretty good then - now she is awesome. I hear her practice nearly every day, but she put on a show (which I didn't tape) for us on Friday and it was excellent. I would say that even if she was someone else's daughter!

Well - I was, but the 32M of it was just too much for me to wait for - and no doubt would have affected your download too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Fend

I bought shoes yesterday. I so never ever buy shoes, so I dragged a girlfriend into town to help me.

I started by forgetting the friend. Had to drive and extra 10km for that little mistake.

Then I forgot my keycard - V had grabbed some milk and bread on the way home yesterday and gave it back, but I didn't put it in the wallet.

Then I forgot my pin on my other card - because on that account, I do nearly all transactions online.

So really, my friend bought me some shoes yesterday. And a dress. And a bra. And hair fripperies.

So all I have left to do is:

  • organise flowers
  • work out to MC or not MC
  • advise the club exact numbers and arrangements
  • get the cake finalised
  • clothes for V
  • shoes for dd
  • Sign for the venue carpark (so people know where to turn off)
  • Printed lists for the table
  • Another tussle with to MC or not MC
  • bonboniere

And people are launching themselves at me offering assistance.

It appears I am very hard to help - but I have discovered I am my own version of Bridezilla, because even though I may have everything under my version of control (which is fairly free-flowing) letting anyone in means they I live in fear of them moving into bulldozer mode (I speak from a certain level of experience - I have historical scars - how else does a toddler get known for saying "I can do it myself") and so I say a very firm NO before they can start their engines.

Any advice (that I probably won't take but at least I do listen and make a decision - offers of help get the deafness)?

Anyhow - I know when they arrive and crunch time comes, things will turn into the dictatorship and zey will do what I say.

I just wish I had a bit more grace in the dictatorship.

All booked in for hair stuff on Tuesday - this beautician who my forum-friends got the voucher from works out of a local hair salon so that took the guesswork out of who I would have fix my hair!

And then the talons on Friday, so I can sink my claws into V beautifully on Saturday.

I really tried to keep the numbers down - honestly, if my list had been the first draft it would have been about 3 times as many people (most of whom would probably have gone "Who?"), even still there will be 75 of us sitting down (at last count) to Australian Chinese cuisine on Saturday week.

In the RSVPs I have had two pregnancy announcements, a separation advisal, a widowing, a leaving Australia decision and about 10 wonderful surprises of people who I never expected to travel so far.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The commentluv experiment is over until a glitch or two is fixed...

The commentluv itself worked - sort of - but the posts were not in order and it was too confusing for even my most hardy commenters.

Meanwhile, on the wedding front...

I know, its all wedding all of a sudden - 'Salina did successfully turn 9, V has successfully returned to work and I am consumed with feeding them, housework and working - and the wedding...

I know I don't talk about my work here because really - how riveting is it for you that I entered a few logging sheets and put a few graphics on a few pages, fixed a few forms and analysed some statistics today?

So, my all consuming passion apart from this today was working out who is going on which table. Whee.

Do you put all the marrieds together?

Should I scatter the very sparse male representation across the room?

Is it okay to just have a spare seat on each table for V and I to hop and just ditch the whole "sacrificial alter" thing?

We have no wedding party except from 'Salina - our witnesses are guests - and she is very keen to be queen of the kids tables.

While it would be nice to just have a tete-a-tete with V, I don't like the goldfish bowl thing.

There are people in our family who could probably be up there - but it is a large family and I want them to be on tables with guests.

I want to be on tables with guests.

I am not stressing. Yet.

Ah, that is better - I just typed a whole psychobabble about something and then deleted it.

Suffice to say, I am glad I got it out onto the screen - and I am glad you didn't have to read through it!

8 more sleeps. Sister outlaw and favourite cousin arrive on the train tomorrow.

They can't make the wedding so they are having some special time with us before.

Besides being a really cool person, sister outlaw is a professional cleaner always in need of cash, and I am happen to have some aside for some professional housecleaning (I am very much in the part-time amateur field) it is a fortuitous combination.

Favourite cousin has been best friends with 'Salina since she was 3 months in-utero. Sister outlaw worked out her pregnancy status at my party where we announced 'Salina.

Shoe shopping tomorrow. I hate shoe shopping. Bra shopping too. Ditto. Thank goodness sister-outlaw is in town tomorrow afternoon - a bright spot to look forward to.

Sister-out-law and favourite cousin are visiting and helping with a house blitz on the weekend.

Try to fit a week's work into Monday.

All things hair on Tuesday.

The first wave of help arrives Wednesday - friends and family.

Everyone is offering to help but I have no idea what tasks to set.

All I have left to contemplate is shoes, flowers and bras, really.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Social life courtesy of the internet

I am blown away by the kindness of the people I know through this little box.

I have this from Bettina.

Tiff gave me this a little while ago.

And Trish gave me this last month also.

I will, when given the chance, go through these and do all the i-dotting and t-crossing they require. Saves me having to think. That is good!!

Right at the moment I am looking at 10 days, 75 guests, no shoes and no flowers. Otherwise its just work and the general hum of life here.

However, I also have to give thanks for some IRL love from online friends.

Up there with anticipating the wedding, is anticipating the opening of gifts - and we are all intriged by a parcel delivered all the way from the USA from Debby.

And to help me get to the special day, some ladies (and a gent) on my favourite Aussie forum (no link, its for sole parenting and if you want it drop me an email) sent me a voucher for a beautician to help me turn into a princess.

By the way, I have made a change on my blog to enable CommentLuv - if you have any problems, my email is jeanieinparadise AT yahoo DOT com.

So really, its not a post, is it? Its more a "my goodness, I have to remember too much stuff, I will put some out there with links so when I need to remember I can find things again" sort of post.

Sorry folks.

I am lucky if I talk sense to myself at the moment...