Friday, January 30, 2009

An (un)electrifying day

I truly feel for my Southern borthers and sisters at the moment. Truly I do.

Part of the reason that I left Melbourne after a year is it really has no concept as to how to run a good weather show. And my memories of my two (separate) weeks in Adelaide was "don't get weather (and where is the moisturising cream)" and "still don't get weather (but love the music)".

I had to return to Queensland. I mean, sure it does howlers around August and can ramp the temperature up quite well come Summer (or even any other season) BUT it knows how to do it well.

And I really do feel for my Northern hemisphere cousins. I can only imagine how extreme cold must feel.

I made a decision 14 years ago that I don't do Winter and therefore I spent real money on a holiday to the snow because when you make such decisions, you have to do so with style.

I even strapped planks of wood to my feet and maintained a certain verticality while whistling down (gentle) slopes. In fact, with my "fake it until you make it" attitude I even got to the orange slopes, which was just as well as the only other way to return to the lodge was by t-bar, and that is one thing that I didn't manage.

So I was extremely glad I live in Paradise yesterday, because the balmy 28 degrees with a gentle breeze was required for the hours of no electricity while they put up new poles and rewired the corner.

We got notice on Tuesday that there would be no power from 8.30 until 1.30.

Okay, I thought, that is okay and made sure that I made no promises to clients for that time.

Okay, I thought, and immediately slated the housework for the month week into that 5 hour window of opportunity.

Okay, I thought, V's home, there are many projects a newly married couple can undertake without power.

We had to scratch the last thought, though - highset house + 4 loads of cherry-pickers out of the window = more effort for housework.

By 11, the office had been reorganised and cleaned of dust. Lots of dust, a few found items and WOW organised shelves!

By 12.30, the floors were glistening and the toilet smelt fresh.

By 1.30 - well, by 1.30 I must admit the rushed tidy up for the rest of the house had avoided the more serious bathroom and kitchen issues, but all in all I was pretty satisfied.

By 2, there were still 4 cherrypickers in the wires.

By 2.30 I was having serious internet withdrawals and leaving messages for the client.

By 3 I was trying on the above empathy for others to dissuade my inclination toward self-woe.

I went out to get 'Salina from the school bus and got to chat to a few workers during the wait.

Apparently Ergon have a habit of being "optimistic" - and their optimism isn't enough for the contracters to work faster. Something about doing it "right" rather than "fast". Fair enough.

Today, twice as much work as slated - still looking for salaries but heck, there is something in sending out invoices and hoping for payment that can make your own bills seem more manageable - and V got a hopeful call for a start some time in February.

Its funny - when things get big and ominous, the smallest reprieve can seem delightful.

I truly hope all of you get some reprieve today - be it weather, financial, health or a combination.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Surfing, selection criteria and moments of national significance

Still hot but not as wet here today.

We arose early (do we ever do it any other way?) and I had a batch of chocolate chip cookies done and dough rising for buns by 9 - and so by 9.05, we were heading off to the beach.

The tide was high, the water swell and the crowd yet to (swell - its a play on words).

With the recent weather, strands of seaweed are part of the whole ocean swimming experience - which is disconcerting at first, but you get used to it and start to chuckle at the newcomers shrieks upon the discovery.

The waves were beautiful - here, they will never imitate those of Hawaii, California or the Sunshine Coast (much to V's disenchantment) but they are fine for that great Aussie past-time, bodysurfing.

I recall going to the beach when I was a child. My father took forever to get to deeper water, because the slightest hint of decent wave would see him disappear back to the shore.

There are almost as many opinions as to the best way to bodysurf as there are variables to consider when chosing your wave.

However, there is nothing like launching yourself into the oceans power and feeling yourself ride the crest of the foam, the sudden cessation of support and the sensation of seaweed in your togs. Well, the last one can be done without, I suppose.

Since that moment, I have analysed the financial situation (eek), baked the buns (yum) and got up 'Salina's nose by not being as helpful with her book cover design for the pile of schoolbooks to cover.

V and 'Salina have gone for a repeat at the beach this afternoon while I address selection criteria, redesign my CV and scour for job opportunities. I know what I would prefer to be doing!

Happy Australia Day - sausages, burgers and chops on the barbie later for one last celebratory evening before that most auspicious of days - the start of Grade 5!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Steamy Saturday Afternoon Storytime

Oh yum - V just gave me a taste of his latest salsa - we have a bumper crop of chillies here (thai, cerrano, jalopeno, anaheim, banana and habernero) and we are constantly looking for ways to make the masses we harvest into edible, lastable impressions. This one is fantastic!!

Anyhow, thanks for all your very wonderful suggestions as to how frogs were not the most scary things to find in a bathroom - it brought to mind a trip to a school camp when I was younger, and as it is a very wet and steamy Saturday afternoon with only a few games of cards and zucchini to prepare for dinner ahead of me, I thought I might take you with me to visit the scariest toilet scene in my memory bank.

The year was 1985. The destination was the annual Year 11 camp at Blackdown Tableland, where we were to spend time learning all manner of things natural and beautiful - but the lasting impression that we came away with was that of the local fauna and their ability to mess with the minds of 16 year-old girls.

Imagine this - 160km on buses with 60 other girls and several long-suffering teachers. The campgrounds are primitive even now, with the dirt for your tent, the stone rings for your fire and the composting toilets. It was roughing it - and roughing it, on this scale, was not often afforded to 16 year old girls more used to the privations of boarding school.

Imagine this - food barbecued over open fires and the swoops of native birdlife attacking your sustenance on its travel from fire to plate.

Imagine this - bushwalks every day through pristine wilderness (complete with pristine spider webs and the potential of snakes at every corner), washing up in waterholes (with frogs and eels), complete lack of sanitation and privacy, mud, rain, tents - isn't it all so romantic?

And then there were the toilets. Composting toilets give the impression of all things organic - in all senses. Add 60 odd sixteen year old girls and the ablutions of a few days, heavy rain and mud surroundings and you might get part of an idea.

And then add the myth idea of the mad magpie living in the pit.

Oh yes, never were we so glad to see civilisation - and the throne of respectability available.

Good thing I wasn't into chillies so much then.

It hasn't (totally) ruined me for camping. But it has made my standards include showers and bird-free toilets. Its not too much to ask.

So come on - one-ups welcome!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Amphibian Ambivalence

Say hello to the most common threats to showering without stress when I was a child - the green tree Queensland bathroom frog.

I know there are many out there who know not of what I speak, but if you ever lived in or visited a home before 1983 in regional Queensland you will nod your head and say "ah yes" with a little flutter of repressed panic in your voice.

1983 is the year that bathroom renovation hit the regional register, I believe.

Oh, I am not saying we were all hicks, but prior to 1983 while bathtub may have moved into the main building there was always the shower for the workmen down on the cement block where the laundry was, where the plumbing was "adequate" (if adequate is expanded to include drains being hollowed grooves in the concrete or a pipe from the wall) - and where the walls/doors/windows did not offer full protection from the green tree Queensland bathroom frog.

Now, it is the case that the true fear of my childhood wasn't ever the frogs, it was the frogs jumping on me - or towards me, at least. I once had a few of these friends as my "pets" so it wasn't really about the frog - my fear was definitely restricted to the bathroom when I was vulnerable and naked.

There is one other vulnerable moment in a young girl's life that can also be affected by the green tree Queensland bathroom frog and that is on the throne. As they have a proclivity towards sneaking in to these furnishings, there is a look to Queensland loos that I haven't seen often elsewhere. Often there is a requirement to remove the lid of the tank - and there seems to be such an oftenness to this that it just darned well gets left off.

Fast forward a millenia thirty years and in the modern age, there are some improvements on the Queensland bathroom - and some very obvious traps for young players.

Take for example the ensuite to a bedroom infrequently used, and my adventures within on the evening before I write this epistle.

Now, to do this experiment at home, first you must have someone use the ensuite earlier in the day, ensuring that the light is left on to attract insects, and the door both into the ensuite and out to the garden surrounded balcony are left open.

When I first went in to put my things in for my shower, I had certain expectations. I mean, at the family bathroom, there were three very fat green tree Queensland bathroom frogs having a feast on the outside of the closed windows, so when I saw the light on I knew the odds were good to excellent of a few creatures in the room, so it was with a certain amount of relief that I counted one on the window sill and one on the floor in the ensuite. Two - I have two eyes, so I could keep one on each I figured.

The good news with the green tree Queensland bathroom frog is it will imitate a statue if you have your eye on it, see?

Having an urge to use the other facilities on offer, I moved towards the toilet - and three more heads popped up from the tank. That increased the degree of difficulty, I can tell you.

Then when I switched on the shower, they began to call to each other - to the one in the upper corner of the ceiling, the one behind the towel rail, the one on the side of the dirty clothes basket - but thankfully, none in the enclosed shower stall.

In I went, closed the doors and breathed a sigh of relief - at least I was safe from their jumps - until I noticed movement at the top of the gap the sliding door left when it was closed - and as much as I enjoy looking at the bottom end of a frog statue while showering, I am sure both the frog and I breathed again with relief when I abluted with full speed and escaped!

It could have been worse. Sometimes other things follow the frogs into dwellings... (please note how nice I am not finding an image of the green tree snake?)

What is the scariest bathroom experience (short of remembering The Shining) for you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wordless - heck, speechless!

Last time we drove home from Granite Glen, 'Salina asked me to look at a cloud as I was driving.

I explained that I couldn't do that, and maybe she could take a photo and I would see it later.

I finally looked.

Wow, hey?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jeanie does Debby('s Interview)

I have tracked it back to the (recent) source.

I am being interviewed by Debby, who was interviewed by Rhubarb, who was interviewed by Frogdancer, who was interviewed by Sanna, who was interviewed by XUP, who was interviewed by Nat, who was interviewed by Princess of the Universe, who was interviewed by Avitable who dug it up out of his archives from years ago...

1. If you had a magic wand, and could change one thing in the world, what would that be.

Intolerance - I am totally intolerant of intolerant people - and I think I would be able to tackle the biggies of war, famine, crime and pestilence under this umbrella - or at least, this swish of a magic wand...

2. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Oh - is it bad that I can find more things to change about me than I can about the world, and therefore this question is harder than the first?

Hmm, one thing, one thing - so I will have to squish down the thighs issue and possibly put the whole bank account on the backburner while I look at my insecurities.

I would like to wave the magic wand and get over myself a little. Be able to grasp a few dreams and stop letting me get in the way of myself.

3. What's the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in your life?

My goodness - that puts you on the spot. Have you ever tried to think of that ONE THING? I can say the funniest thing that happened to me on New Year's Eve between the hours of 6 and 7 - would that work?

We were having dinner - 'Salina, V, 'Salina's cousin BPC and myself - and having intelligent conversation - as you do, especially when dining with 9 year old BPC because when trying to define BPC, the word intelligent is one of the first.

Anyhoo, munching on hot dogs (hey, its NYE and fireworks are due soon and we did have a salad and oh - you weren't judging me...) and BPC says to V "do you ever get indigestion, V?"

After a negative and more intelligent conversing and munching and some time passes before BPC says to V "its amazing you don't get indigestion, V, because you take humungous mouthfuls and you only chew like 24 times and you should chew 27 otherwise you will get indigestion."

Neither he nor 'Salina could see why we cracked ourselves up so much at this observation offered.

Maybe you had to be there...

4. If you had to pick a defining moment in your life, what would that moment be?

Darn - do I have to answer any question with a redefinition of the question?

(alternate 4th question: If you want to see Jeanie good and mad, just ______________________. How would your family finish that sentence?

Ah - much much much easier - "use a leafblower".

5. Best book you've ever read in your life?

Can I change this one a bit also?

I am a voracious reader - have been since it clicked what reading was all about at the age of six - and I have long lost count of the number of books that have redefined me just by reading them.

During primary school I prided myself on having read most everything on every shelf - and taught the little kids to read when I had annoyed my own teacher too often.

During boarding school, I broke the record for the number of library cards fully used up.

From Robert the Rose Horse read with my mother, through The Plum Rain Scroll read by our teacher at primary school and the absolute devastation of On the Beach - I wept reading that and couldn't work out people walking around normally. "The Longest War: Sex Differences in Perspective" got me fired up as a fledgling feminist, Jitterbug Perfume is my Tom Robbins book (everyone should have a favourite Tom Robbins) and I recently reread Eva Luna - something I tend to do at least once a year - but these are only a few of my "bests"!!

Want me to interview you?

Simply comment or email me requesting it, whereby I will email you five questions of my choice and you answer in your blog - and so on and so forth...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jeanie Hearts Cooking - and V's Carrot Cake

I notice a bit of a theme running in advice for my 40th - and that is that I should farm out the cooking.

Now, can I tell you what I had for my 30th birthday?

A dinner party.

And who cooked?

I did.

I have a (not so) secret confession. I love to cook for people.

Honestly, nothing breaks my heart more than having people come by and not be able to feed them.

And nothing gets me going more than concocting in a kitchen for the culinary delights of my friends.

Isn't that sick?

Actually, I don't do pressure all that well, so I have taken some of your excellent advice on board and am percolating the next step over the next few days...

Anyhow, a decade ago I had a sit-down three-course vegetarian feast for 50 of my nearest and dearest.

I actually found the invite the other day - I will post it when it is next near a scanner.

A few things have changed since then, of course.

I am now in Paradise. I am no longer vegetarian. I now have a 9 year old daughter (whose existence we announced at my 30th). I now have a husband.

Speaking of whom - may I present V's "oh my this is my birthday cake every year from now to forever"?

(First posted last year here but made some changes and added heaps of photos so redoing. It is still beautiful even though rejigged, and is the standing order for all of V's birthdays - actually, for anyone's birthday. Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom!!!)

  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted after measuring
  • 1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. That is 180 degrees in the new money - blah blah adjust for fan forced - whatever - about middle stump, what you always use for baking.

* Lightly butter and flour 3 20cm cake pans.

Or in our case, 3 x 20cm-ish cake pans, because our pantry doesn't extend to having 3 x 20cm cake pans just like that. We make do.

If you have a free child who wants to help but her help is hindered by quality programming on Sunday morning television, the buttering is the job to give to her. I have shots, and will use them for bribery purposes in a few years.

I have to admit I do get a bit of a thrill flouring buttered pans (I know, how bland my life must be to achieve such cheap thrills) - but come on, there is some - um, kindergarten-y delight in putting a bit of powder in and banging it around a tin. I defy you to not delight (with a rum-pa-pum-pum).

Of course, if you take up the child labour option for the buttering of pans this is a bit tempered by irrational irritation at the realisation that the pan is not buttered enough in some areas (and the flour doesn't stick) but frankly, with this recipe it matters not. It is so dense it will stick a little, but not break up on release...

* Put flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cocoa in a mixing bowl, and whisk together to blend.

Now, I know it says "baking soda" and that is not the same fish as "baking powder" - but really, if you pretend to be a bit dim about that and don't notice, then I have noticed that the cake - or at least the eaters of the cake, who are the most important arbiters - do not notice either.

And while we are on the topic of "oops, I don't have that ingredient in the cupboard" issues, I have to admit that actually, the cinnamon I used was not of Ceylonese heritage. Horrific, I know, and I must admit that I am ignorant of the background of the cinnamon that I used.

I do know it was in the coffee and cocoa cupboard rather than the spice cupboard, because there are occasional cravings for something sweet with a little spice (not followed through on, of course. I am a slave to my svelteness - or rather, I am a thlave to my thweltneth, because that would be a tongue in my cheek).

* Put the sugars in a large mixing bowl, and whisk in the peanut oil. Then whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla.

Now, shall we laugh about the irony of sugar for a moment.

Notice the good people of the Food Network asked for "light brown sugar" and "granulated sugar" like people can just go out and get whatever type of sugar they like just like that! I mean, what do they think, we have a sugar mill just down the road or something?

Well, actually we have a few sugar mills just down the road, but that doesn't help us because for some reason the concept of "sugar mill just down the road" does not equate to "choice" or "price" or even "light brown sugar" and "granulated sugar" ending up in my pantry.

I used "raw sugar" - cause its sort of tasty like brown, and sort of crunchy like granulated - and "caster sugar" because it is neither. I figured that it would work itself out - and it did.

I am a jeanie-ous.

* When fully blended, add the flour mixture all at once, and mix just until smooth.

* Stir in the grated carrots and the nuts.

* Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Drop each pan sharply onto the counter from a height of about 6 inches to remove any air pockets.

Please note - this step is REALLY fun - don't tell your family you are about to do it and then "BAM" - man, do they come running. Of course, by the third one the joke is RATHER thin - but take a look at the washing up that has been building and USE THAT stress to get a good BAM going.

* Bake for 25 minutes, or until the centre springs back gently when touched. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks until completely cooled; then unmold.

See that innocuous "unmold" there? Well, what that means is it sort of shrinks from the sides but has sort of stuck in the pan, because of the density and the buttering strategies of the very young.

Again with the percussion, I know, but there is nothing better than inverting these onto a plastic chopping board and having a nice little roll going to get the cakes out.

Nice crunchy offerings for slave labourers and those who are not so self-concerned about the svelte.

300g butter, chilled and cut into pieces
500g cream cheese
2 cups sifted icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

* Place the butter in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed just until the butter begins to become malleable, about 3 to 4 minutes.

* Add the cheese gradually and mix until thoroughly blended. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, and mix until blended.

* Increase mixer speed slightly, and continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.

Ice between layers, top and sides.

We took some out for decorative purposes - I had my orders on what amounts for what colours, and I think my artistic director did pretty well - don't you?

Monday, January 12, 2009

100 days to go

until I end the 3rd decade.

I want to have a dinner party.

Any ideas?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


At 9.02am on the 11th of January sometime last century, a boy child was born in San Diego.

First conundrum - does that make the "official" birthmoment 9.02am here, or 3.02am tomorrow morning here?

After two score and something years, a lot of adventures and a journey across the globe, this boy child (now a man) entered our lives.

For the last 2 years we have given him carrot cake. Not always on the day, but with much love and icing. This year is no different.

I love you so much, honey. Thanks for being in our lives.

I am glad the sunshine I pre-ordered came through, and sorry that I hadn't cleared the beach of nippers for you to get more out of the very rare surf.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Movie Warnings

You know how they have all these lovely warnings before a movie on tele these days?

You know - V for violence, L for language, S for sex, D for drugs.

We once saw a show that had a few of these and they really, really emphasized that viewers may be disturbed. It was a comedy and for the first 10 minutes was hilarious - we couldn't see what the fuss was.

Unfortunately then we saw the skit that generated the ominous disturbed warning.

That was when I started taking the television's advice.

After last night, I seriously think they should contemplate a few extra.

Ones like "Warning: The following film will suck you in and take away 3 hours of your life."

Or perhaps "Logical Guidance Advice - if you are choosing between watching the end and going to bed, go to bed."

Maybe "MR this movie will decrease your Marital Relations quota for the week."

How about "PE: This movie has a pathetic ending."

Even "75/25 - 75% of this movie is promising. Chose bed 40 minutes before the end."

When I was a child, the local commercial station had an ad to tell children to go to bed at 7.30:
and now is the time, girls and boys, to do you teeth, kiss Mummy and Daddy good night and go to bed. Good night.

We could really have done with an ad saying:
and now is the time, ladies and gentlemen, to do you teeth, switch off the idiot box and go to bed. Good night.
at about midnight.

Can you sue a movie for starting well, generating laughs, having great characters and a half-decent storyline and then throwing them all away and turning into a dog?

What do you think? Could we form a movement here?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Logic 101 - Classes now open with Professor 'Salina

This morning I awoke at 7. A bright, sunny day with a sheen of mugginess hanging heavy in the air.

'Salina was already in the living room, having been awake since 4.45, just finishing breakfast and playing happily with a phalanx of My Little Ponyies, a doll, a pair of scissors, a roll of tape, paper and some pencils.

I went in to brew coffee and fill the water filter, make the tea, arrange my brain and gird my loins for the walk I had promised this morn.

Negotiations were made on the timing of our promise (she opened with waiting until a certain level of digestion had taken place - I must tell you one day about my leftover turkey pies).

V wandered out to the scent of the coffee (while I finished the washing up - shhhh, not sure if I am more embarassed that my mother will find out OR that my one New Year's Resolution lasted only a week) and weather was discussed.

"It has rained a lot" observed 'Salina.

We all agreed it looked and felt like more.

"So, its been sunny then raining then sunny then raining?" I enquired.

"No" she countered. "It was raining then sunny then raining then sunny. Otherwise it would be raining now."


Monday, January 05, 2009


Every so often, I see posts linking to Painted Maypole and her Monday Missions.

Of course, I always see them on a Tuesday because we are well into Tuesday by the time many of my worldwide blog-siblings are Mondaying.

But she must have been up with the birds, because I saw her latest Mission AND it is still Monday here - sweet!!!

Today's mission is to "write a post in the style of a prediction".

Back in the days when I was on the brink of being released from my Red Roof Jail incarceration, there was a quaint trend where you got your cellmates classmates to write something witty or deep in your friends' exercise books for them to keep for all time.

I would dig mine out, but I think it has long gone the way of the bonfire.

Anyhow, then, as now, I had a habit of using lots of words very messily in the space only a few should do, and punctuating like (a) crazy (woman) - and I gained a reputation.

You see, I tranced into my alter-ego, Madame Zelda Factaire Extraordinare (there were a few other names in the full title, but without the records to hand we have to rely on my memory - very chancy) and wrote swathes of fortunes for my friends.

As word of my generous predictions spread, girls who I barely knew in my year were requesting these tomes in their books also. If Madame Zelda could conjure futures for these strangers, surely she can blog?

Today, I shall attempt to channel Madame again for the purposes of many links across the blogiverse finally getting to put together a Monday Mission.


By years end, you will be older. Tread carefully into the new decade. Try not to cry as you admit your age, and if you do, put the tissues directly into the rubbish bin.

If you are too lazy fail to find a rubbish bin in couching distance, put your tissue into a pocket rather than on the coffee table. This warning is brought to you by the letter V.

I see great things before you. Great things. Great big things that could either help you or hinder you in your quest. Or maybe little things. Little insignificant things dancing like confetti on the winds of your fortune.

Question these things. Start with the question "what the expletive deleted are you?" because it is always best to define before making any choices.

Do not fail to check all pockets, for the moment this task is failed it is guaranteed a miasma will spread throughout your wash. Either a miasma or tissues.

When you see this sign, you will hear the voice of your mother from your past advocating this sage wisdom.

There is money in your future. I cannot see whether it ebbs or flows. Just be prepared for tides and batten down for gales and earthquakes. It could be the money is in the pocket with the tissues.

The cards will fall, and as often as they fall they will be incorporated into your hand. Be gracious whether they be spades or diamonds, for both have their uses. Do not put in pockets but lay on the deck for most advantageous gain. If your gain be not of a positive nature allow grace and humility to colour your reaction.

From the swirling of the mists I can see that you will hit the orange publish button, and as soon as it is pushed you will wish to revoke and edit.

lol - one of these predictions has already come true today!!

So - what does your future hold, and how can you channel it?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Maldons, sweeps and the secrets to a happy marriage

So many of my friends of old would be shocked to know that I have only recently taught V to play Casino. My habit for years was to carry this card game amongst friends and addict convert them to the code.

There is a great deal of ritual in the game. With two players, there is no rest from the shuffling (from the original rules I learned). V actually calls it "the shuffling game". The past dealer shuffles, the new dealer shuffles, the past dealer cuts, the new dealer deals - two to the old dealer, two to the table, two to themself and again. The first deal is the only deal that includes the table.

Casino is a game of strategy. You capture cards. You build to win cards. You add on builds to win cards. You double to win cards. You pair to win cards. You trail.

The cards are of varying value, and there is strategy in when to throw, what to trail, what to hold, what to leave, what to build and sweeps (when you clear the table).

A maldon is a term from another card game I know and love - Maltese Rummy - and it basically means "bad deal" - where, by slip or slight or just grabbing up the wrong cards you wipe out the whole game.

But that is all beside the point. Somehow, for 40 something days of marriage (and 2 something years previous of unmarriage) we had always found something or other else to occupy our hands and minds without a deck of cards.

But then the passion for cards (combined with babysitting in a house not ours and lack of access to the internet or television) came back with a vengence and I created a new convert.

After a trepiditious start, learning the main rules and a few strategic pointers V really got into the swing of things, wiping the floor with me graciously accepting my defeat as we saw the New Year in.

He saw that as portentous, however I see it as a chance to stop going softly with my beloved. I have been known to be quite competitive (despite rumours to the contrary I can lose graciously, I just don't like doing it) and V also has this capacity.

He has already learned how to use the Maldon to his advantage. I have other assets of the non-card variety to throw him off his game.

Who knows what stories the score sheets will tell over the years, but its a nice addition to an already very nice thing we have going here.

So - are you a card player? Your favourite game? Have you mingled it with relationships? And what are the pitfalls...

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 and all the trimmings

Ahhh - we are back at home-sweet-home.

The trip to Brisbane was wonderful. Didn't catch up with anyone except the Outlaws and one other person the whole time we were down there - my mind was constantly spinning the "oh I should really call such and such" routine, but then the internal giggles from listening to 'Salina and her cousin BPC interacting would drown it out.

We chose discretion as the best part of valour, and did the South Bank thing on Tuesday instead.

Uncle Bo came with us, and the kids (including Auntie S and Uncle Bo) all splashed happily in the water (V and I had a romantic moment or two in chasing shade that coincided with a view of the splashers - I don't have Auntie S's body or a strong desire to share water with very strange strangers, and V has a thing about still water) until the impending waterburst from the sky chased them out.

However, at Southbank we had to have a banana split, apparently. Of course, I didn't because of a strong aversion to bananas, and V doesn't because he has an aversion to eating heaps of crap while out, but the Outlaws and 'Salina saddled up to one of these monstrosities each. There was a verbal agreement that sharing would take place however when crunch time came the willingness to share was revoked and so each participant ate (or attempted to eat) a whole one each.

The skies opened while this was being attempted, and 'Salina's tummy issues (which would be linked to her mother's constant nagging - causal relationship, not resultant) combined with the deluge from our inadequate cover meant 'Salina was the only one not to finish her feast.

Before long the storm had passed and we walked back along the river to the cars. Along the banks many lizards were to be found, and there is no cheaper entertainment than watching a couple of kids count lizards AND get exercise while walking the path. Well, toss up between that and the eruptions of conflict between two only children with strong wills. That is fun too.

Tuesday also signalled the day that 'Salina's mother failed dismally in her tyrrany of controlling sugars and other crap being inhaled by her daughter, the end result of which was a very messy evening. She is the sort of girl who enjoys a sugar high - and gets a hangover from hell to complement it. I have tried to explain to her (and those who offer) that I am not being cruel in banning soft drink and sweets, but occasionally you have to illustrate the point, it seems.

On Wednesday, the deal was that in lieu of pressing our flesh against the flesh of 50,000 strangers at South Bank we would take the kids to the park for a portion of the day, Auntie S would do something with the kids for a portion of the day and we would allow them fireworks for supper.

Colmslie Beach Reserve has a fantastic flying fox. Apparently (because others with me read the fine print) the fox is rated for 119kg, so the kid in V also came out.

There is also a really cool circle of swings, although once they have been heated up a bit they are not so pleasant to swing on (apparently lol).

The warning signs advising "Snakes have been sighted in this area" heightened our thrills, as the children (without knees over the age of 20) raced through the obstacle course - forwards and backwards - several times.

We then went down to "Colmslie Beach" proper. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. It was high tide, therefore the only "Beach" that could be seen was the tidal line of driftwood and rubbish - however the view was great, with the Gateway bridge in one direction, the circus in another and a bird on a pylon for artistic effect.

Of course, you don't have shots of these spectacles because I am not a very good photographer, so you have to rely on my words.

The fireworks in the evening were at 8.30, and we were prepared. I had rung the Council and Arial had assured me of the time and location. We had discussed our strategy and worked our route to the vantage point of choice.

Even the best laid plans have a few kinks.

It seems that asking "shall we take the picnic rugs?" should not be seen as answered in the negative if noone offers an affirmative, a pair of legs to go and retrieve said item OR an arm to carry it under. Taking stoney silence as a negative leads to the constant whine of "I knew we should have brought the picnic rugs" from the under 10s.

It seems I should have questioned Arial a little more closely about the lawnmowing services the council offers parks that have advantageous views of the fireworks.

It seems that someone should have factored in the geographic skews of hills and trees, and indeed the growth rate of such trees since last time that park was used for such a purpose by the participants.

However, after Auntie S took the children to a spot to the right and higher for better "awwws" and "ahhs", there was another factor.

I should have asked Arial about bull ants.

We overrode the non-voting members on a "stay up all night" request (we are not STUPID and appreciate child-free time any night of the year) and played cards, drank wine and coffee until the cheers around us alerted us to the calendar change and then we slept.

Its been a pretty good 2009 so far, and I figure that I am not upsetting the cart with any "resolutions".

I do, however, have goals.

Happy New Year, all!!!