Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Many of you suggested Op Shops - or as you quaint foreigners call them "Thrift" Shops - and if you knew the younger, spritelier version of Jeanie you would all have nodded sagely and whistled under your breath at how audacious she was at using such vendors.

I had a high-flying career (once upon a time) built around home-made suits and bargains from such stores. In fact, once upon a time there was a fantastic shop in Newtown, Sydney, where I made a weekly pilgramage, paid homage to the rather obese unmoving patronness and her rotating crop of Asian assistants and spent hours among the racks (that ran two tiers around the whole store and double depth in the middle) finding bargains just made - or about to be remade - for me.

I still have dreams about some of those garments - heck, I even have remnants of some of them in my "mending" box.

When I did my hippy stint, it was dressed in threads provided by Lifeline, St Vinnies, the Blind Society and Saint Veronicas.

And then I had a child - and my clothing vision became one of clothing her. Again, I turned to my shops of choice and she was a run(a)way model for hand-me-downs and bargain bins of charity.

But I forgot about me - I couldn't justify spending on myself, it seems, and has been the song for nigh on 10 years.

I have tried - since moving to Paradise, the one shop that offers such and the few (I have found six) in nearby big town have all been scoured for my style - but it is so sad, not only do they not have me, it seems that 'Salina no longer has cute and gorgeous wardrobe choices waiting to be snaffled.

Today, op-portunity knocked - hard.

I had to get to work. I had left early to pay bills and thought I would grab some lunch on the way.

My food outlet availability was a bakery. It is a good bakery - but there is something about bakery products + work clothes that just doesn't gel.

I opted out of the curried egg & lettuce sandwiches - I like egg & lettuce with mayo, but powdered curry powder added to egg brings out the snob in me.

Therefore my options were - pies or sausage rolls.

Obviously the sausage rolls = crumbly pastry = crumbs all over the shirt = not the choice for the occasion.

I discussed the pie options with the shopkeeper. He recommended the pork or lamb and vegetable options, as the filling was not too liquid and therefore would lessen the drip factor. I went with the lamb.

The first few bites went okay - good thing I like mint, as it had a fair whop of that also in the mix, but otherwise edible and filling.

Then the moment dreaded arrived - one bite and I swear half a lamb fell out with contents onto my pristine shirt.

I quickly did some mental arithmetic - I was 10 minutes ahead of my schedule, and therefore could blow 10 minutes on clothes shopping.

The "Clothesline" was on the road in - Lifeline's barn of clothes where I had never found anything worth salvation, but perhaps this was providence's call.

I entered. The racks are set up in long avenues.

Of course, they rearrange every other week, so there is no automatic going to one corner, you have to read the helpful placards.

Ladies - sleeveless - I didn't even bother, because frankly, I know my assets and my upper-arms need the offer of allure.

Ladies - short sleeved - that was what I wanted, although 75% were automatically out as t-shirts do not make the front-office job make.

I sifted through - unfortunately, the few options left were all "S" or "8" and while I have an active imagination, my bosom overcomes. I did find one rather beautiful one - but the sheer black would not have worked with the white bra I was wearing.

Ladies - long sleeved - didn't merit a glance. It may be the last day of March here, but I live in the sub-sub-tropics and daytime hours are partial to the upper end of the thermostat.

I had already wasted 4 minutes of my 10 minute breathing room and then glanced over to the forbidden territory - Ladies Oversize Shirts.

Luckily for me, I verge on the upper end of the non-oversize ladies, and so the lower end of the oversize could still work.

Within minutes I found a shirt that would do - I won't go into ecstacies, but it filled a gap - or rather, covered an expanse of skin that my lamb-stained business shirt couldn't do without shame.

The good news - well there were three. I got a shirt that was workable, I only spent $4 (I put 50c into the tin because I thought it was worth more than $3.50) AND I have discovered that they now open on Sundays for 4 hours - 4 hours more opportunity to go through racks and racks of clothes to find not quite the right garments - but for a whole lot less than retail!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who the hell am I?

I was going through old papers the other day - the endless war against holding on to everything for posterity Vs functionality - and I came across some old journals.

Some were from when I was at school - endlessly outside the loop and dreaming of how many I was going to invite to my first million party. The plan was I would blow all of that on the party and horde the next million.

Some were from when I was on the cusp of one life and entering another - throwing away the chance of that million and the party but dreaming of the life-long party my life was set to become.

Then there were those from when I first had 'Salina and life with P. was unravelling. Certainly no party nor millions in store.

I have moved a long way from the schoolgirl, the hippie and the newly solo mum floundering around.

But I still look at the girl/woman that I was at those times and the girl/woman I am now, and I know those versions of me and understand far more of the creature that existed in those static snapshots than I do now.

I know a lot more of the who I want to be (more like little bits of those snapshots - but cropped!) and the who I DON'T want to be.

Of course, this introspection is brought to you by the sentence "shopping".

I did it yesterday - and came our poorer and not much wiser.

Yes, I actually bought some (1 shirt, 1 pants) clothes, but I tried on far more than I bought and lost a lot more than just self-esteem.

Truly - I can recommend one fitting-room where a market-savvy hairdresser should discretely place cards, because it made each grey root glow!

And then there was the advice I could give one t-shirt designer - putting a print of a girl pouring tea on a shirt - nice. Putting the teapot spout right on a nipple? Not wise!

Finally, if you see a size (insert relevant number here) shirt at a certain chain store, they meant it for all measurements except that where they saved material and increased profits - between the shoulder and where the bust should sit. Really - the band should go UNDER the boob.

Oh for the days of uniforms or hip business suits or tie-died cheesecloth or not giving a damn.

Clothes may make the (wo)man - but I sure as heck can't find the ones to make me!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


(or "watch out for those curve balls")

I am a worker bee. If someone needs a job done, I will do it.

That being said, I am not one who seeks the titles or wants the responsibility.

About a month before the end of season, the step-father of one of 'Salina's team-mates (and a seasoned softball parent and player) asked me if anyone was organising gifts for the coaches and assistants. I had not heard of this happening and wondered along with him.

As the weeks passed, I realised the answer was "no-one" and eventually I got sucked into that vacuum, and so on my list this Saturday is get gifts and cards for the coaches, wrap them, track down all the team on the Sunday break-up to sign the cards and present them.

But that is small fry responsibility, and I realised that we can't all always hide behind poles when these tasks are handed out.

Last night was the School P&C AGM.

I have always tried to be an active member of the P&C because theoretically a good P&C means you have some recourse in having a good school body. Unfortunately I am very much in the minority with this - even though we had a great turn out for the meeting last night, the 12 families represented there was a tiny decimal of a percentage of the 270 families at the school!

We left 'Salina in the capable hands of our 84 year old neighbour (who has an unfortunate habit of tidying my house for me when we get her to cat sit on occasional weekends) and V & I went along. ('Salina, reading over my shoulder, tells me I shouldn't have "and V & I" because too many ands...)

On the very short drive to the school, V asked that I hold myself back from taking on too much work as I have the new job and my old clients and am getting a little busy. I agreed.

So as I was saying, last night I was willing to put my hand up for a position - if there were no other hands. I would have done secretary or (if pushed) treasurer because someone has to do those jobs.

I didn't get either - because by the time nominations for those roles came up, I already had a hat to wear.

And so did V!!

Hence Jeanie - the woman who only a short time ago wondered about being apart a bit from the local community - well, now I am a responsible member of it.

(My new job is a role in a community organisation also)

Just call me "President" - and V is my first man!

Eeek!!! I will need to go clothes shopping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


good news on the work front.

Enough hours to meet the minimum income to keep the household running, few enough that I can keep working for my own clients, interesting enough to keep me learning and with people who say things like "family is the most important thing, so we can be flexible".

Yay, hey?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last Night

It was Sunday night, we were all exhausted from jobs well done and the child had been read with and put to bed. Within 10 minutes, she was asleep.

V and I turned to adult discussions - which channel of mind-numb to set as background noise, what hour we had to sleep to ensure a good Monday morning, what our options were regarding entertainment until that hour.

'Salina emerged from her bedroom for a toilet stop. She does that - just gets up and goes in the middle of the night - so no drama, but a certain relief that some entertainment options had not been taken early.

'Salina then emerged from the toilet and went straight in to our room. Now we were greatly relieved - but perplexed. I went to investigage.

"Honey" I shook her awake, "'Salina darling, you need to sleep in your own bed."

She looked around and half sat up. I moved to take her into her own bed, and she rolled and snuggled in to the other side of the bed.

"'Salina" I shook her awake again, "Darling, you're in the wrong bed. Come on, into your own bed."

Again it was as if she woke - and gave me half a smile before rolling back away from me and cuddling up to the pillows.

"Come on 'Sa, stop playing games."

Again - I had woken her, she looked around in seeming surprise and moved as if to get out of bed - only to turn back our sheets and nestle down.

"'Salina Gina, out of our bed RIGHT NOW!! Stop messing with my mind." I said quite sternly.

Eventually (and believe me, the above conversation took a few more entries) I half-dragged her (she is too big for me to carry these days - sob) towards the door. As we passed the living room opening, apparently she pulled a rather clownish face at V before going straight towards the bathroom before I manhandled her into her room and bed. She was asleep before I tucked her in.

Of course, the sheer terror whether she was awake or asleep kyboshed any entertainment options that involved our bedroom, so we spent the time reconstructing and wondering what was she doing.

When I asked her this morning if she had gotten up during the night, 'Salina remembered nothing - and laughed uproariously at my rendition of the evening.

This is not the first incident where she has appeared awake in the middle of the night, but it was the most involved.

Should I freak out now, or just keep the video camera handy?

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Yesterday was an excellent day!

(Thank goodness, hey, because we had a run of Miss Positivity here running out of ways to make lemonade)

We started early - V left at first light to catch some waves. They weren't quite up to the standard set by the cyclone, but he had 15 minutes of the whole ocean to himself before a horde of other expectant surfers muscled in on his patch - but still, a good surf is the best way (apparently) to set up a Saturday.

Chef 'Salina only has one recipe, but she is excellent at it - scrambled eggs on toast were consumed to the background of sunshine, good humour and anticipation.

'Salina had her last game of softball for the season - the team we were playing has a reputation - or rather, have a coach with a reputation. He would be an excellent coach for under 14s or under 17s, but really, sledging should be shelved in under 11s. Each game is life and death, apparently - and as we were the second best team and last game of the season, it was all about the sheep station.

Of course, it doesn't help that every time we play this clown's team, our own coaches become as silly as wheels - they aren't that far from wheel status at the best of times, but it is like watching a David Attenborough documentary in the dugout.

We did end up losing 13-11 - but our team did play excellently and we would have all been chuffed by the way they did (if it hadn't been for the couches arguing finer points of Under 11 rules - which seem to change weekly), and all kids got a trophy for playing the season, which really impresses 'Salina.

Groceries weren't really THAT exciting - I think receiving a voucher for a free kebab was the universe softening me up for that small grape incident in the fruit and vegetable section.

In the afternoon, Girl Down the Road came up and we all went cycling - ostensibly to cast our vote in the State Election, but we also whizzed down through the tourist section of shops, boardwalk, beachside and parks.

Last night, we had one of our favourite meals - homemade pizzas - everyone went to bed happy.

See universe - except for the sunburned nose, you have NAILED Saturday!!

And a big thank you - it looks like Sunday is cut from the same cloth.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Because Thursday was not worth the advertising.

Let us just say that when I went to bed before 9 last night, it was to cut Thursday short.

May Friday fare differently - well its bound to, as I have now put in the audit figures for the Tuckshop, got the results of the interview and visited the government department that had Thursday stamped all over it!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Screw Up Tuesday

Has raised its head again - quite providentially in time for us here in Paradise.

Mistress B at Dances to the Beet of Her Own Drum hosts a weekly round up of such - and until last night, I would have scoffed at my need to include myself in it.

And then, last night happened.

Last night really began yesterday morning, with the usual banter countdown to bus time that takes place between mother and daughter some mornings.

As I was screeching advising 'Salina of the finer points of a tidy room, a lead from a pacer made its point - right in my foot.

'Salina then made the inadvised move of asking me to fill out a form before making sure I wasn't dying of lead poisoning.

Yesterday afternoon, 'Salina finished her chores and asked Girl-Down-the-Road for a play. Play they did, but she was not a stepfather-friendly version at the conclusion of the playdate. After overlooking a myriad of implements they had strewn around the backyard and failing to advise on the breakage of backyard furnishings, there was somewhat of a strained atmosphere in Chez Paradise during the evening.

An addendum to this situation was discovered today - apparently she and GDR discovered the cache of bonbonierie hidden in the fridge downstairs - and helped themselves.

Last night (after the long evening), I was putting away the washing up making coffee when the front of the cutlery drawer came out - but the rest of the drawer didn't. It now matches the cupboard door that doesn't exist - I am touching wood (but walking on chipboard flakes) that the timeline on dream kitchen renovations isn't farther afield than the timeline on a completely matching rustic kitchen!

Today, the fan in our bedroom died, and so joins the microwave and the electric keyboard on implement demises over the last week - we are hoping to heck that the rule of three applies.

However - on the list of things that I hope will not be affected by our current run of outs
  • there is a trivia night tonight in the chatroom on a forum that I love;
  • I have an interview tomorrow for a part-time job that would dovetail nicely into the work I currently am doing;
  • My sister gets to eat her birthday dinner here;
  • I am tuck-shop bitch boss for Thursday and Friday;
  • 'Salina is having a break-up training session for Softball on Thursday - at the swimming pool; and
  • the weather is absolutely divine

So, how is life treating you?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Performance - and the dishwasher poem

Do you know what I did yesterday?

Besides get out of the wrong side of the bed, snark at my beloveds, do the groceries and take more panadol than I normally do in a month?

I finally went to a local poetry reading.

See, the timing has been abysmal - in the nearly 3 years I have been here I have seen this poetry event advertised about a dozen times - 10 of those times, I was not going to be in town, another time I was flattened by a migraine - and I was darned if I was going to remain ignorant for another month about the possibilities.

My problem is not performing - heck, I have been known to recite to cattle while droving so I don't quake at being in front of an audience - I know, scary and wierd!

My problem is walking in to a room full of strangers in the first place.

But yesterday, walk in I did - and I am glad I did.

Although the crowd was small and very much "traditional Australian verse" poets, they did make me feel welcome and didn't boo the fact that of the three poems I did, only one rhymed and none had references to the olden days (unless you count the 1990s as olden). Some of those "Bush Poets" can be hardcore, but some are willing to deal with the bizarre!

Here is the most racy that I did, however. As I had brought the median age down by a decade or so when I entered the room, I didn't think they were quite the target for Teaser.


      I look at you and regress years.
My maturity dies,
And the desperate devotion
Of a teenager surfaces.
Illogical, but so in lust!

      Your eyes, surveying your surrounds,
That I have forced into,
Meet my face and pass.
I read a thousand meanings in that glance,
      My mind in turmoil.
Turgidly it fights for realism -
My soul destroys such thoughts
And builds a castle on this foundation.

      Your smile - so complete,
      So sexy,
Rips my resolve.
But it was for another
And I crumble.

      Sweetly secure behind the cake counter you pose.
I scribe my desire,
Hoping passionately you can read minds;
Hoping fearfully that you can’t.

      I want.
And my want is fervid.
The hormones rush and settle on fragments.

      Oh! The casual toss of a tea-towel
      over a shoulder
Takes the place my head would fit.

      Your hands plunge into the warm, soapy water,
Were that they were mine.

      I sit and stare.
Your hair! Your eyes!
Your movement a sublime ritual,
Your face in concentration
      Over a stubborn milkshake container.

      You turn.
I turn away.
My spying eyes burn in shame.

      But this teenage bout
Of lust a fantasy
That I fear
Would not sustain any maturity.

      So I sit
      I stare
      I dream
      I drool
Yet I realise that
If, and when, perhaps we meet
You shall be well protected
From an onslaught
Of ravishtation
By the tentative hold this woman
On the girl within.

Copyright Sophie Jean 1993

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kick off

Did you feel the subtle change in the air?

Ah yes - its football season, and we kicked off last week in usual style - a drunken debauched smiling face of football falling flat on his sense of entitlement.

Nothing like a few off-field dramas.

But that is so last week baby.

Tonight was kicked off in true footy style, with grown men doing what grown men do far more beautifully than get drunk and grope - running fast, bashing into each other, tossing around a football and pleading "me sir?" at the referees.

And so another season begins - another season of losing V's intense attention before the second game on Friday night, another season of yelling at the ref (indeed, they have increased number of referees per game so even more to yell at), another season of inane quips and commentry.

Bring it on.

So, how about them Broncos*?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Depression, thy name was Hamish

But now you're gone, gone, gone.

We still have wailing winds, more moisture than you wet our hair with when you were whole and threatening, pumping surf and a shoreline devoid of sand that you sucked away.

Perhaps we shall occasionally remember you as the one who threw a trawler about and stole three fishermen from way, way out at sea.

I am sure we shall also remember the pure miracle that you (well, possibly the big boss) tossed an EPIRB to one in the middle of the ocean and gave him life - life that, when we heard of his rescue, we all valued that much more.

But now - back to the business of living without you taunting us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ho hum Hamish

Apart from the best surf V has encountered since moving to Paradise, Hamish is just being busy doing not much.

When I was an inmate at the Red Roof Gaol, we encountered several cyclones fit enough to make life a boarding school exciting.

  • 3-4 March, 1983. CYCLONE ELINOR - memorable mostly because my cousin was born during it - and I was advised in sick bay, because apparently the boarding house we were living in was not rated for cyclones.
  • 22 February, 1985. CYCLONE PIERRE - a whole lot of rain, causing our fire alarms to go off several times a night for several nights. Seeing firemen when you are in an all girls boarding school? Fantastic. Seeing firemen several times a night when you are shivering on the school oval while it was bucketing down rain? Not so fantastic.
  • 1 February, 1986. CYCLONE WINIFRED - this one was noticeable because it decimated our ranks - many other inmates were in flooded regions when school reopened, and the ratio of misstresses to inmates being so high really sucked.
  • Unfortunately for Des (January 1983), Grace (January 1984), Ingrid (February 1984), Harvey (February 1984), Lance (April 1984), Monica (December 1984), Nigel (January 1985), Vernon (January 1986), Alfred (March 1986), - obviously you were the Hamishes of yesteryear

I never really had high expectations of Hamish, anyway - the only cyclones (in my lifetime) who have had the guts to come this far South and crossed the coast been very fewhave all bar one been ladies.

Cliff crossed the threshhold in February 1981 and broke a drought - but we all have to doff our hats truly to Gertie (December 1995) (not to be confused with the Gertie of April 1964 or the Gertie of February 1971, or indeed the Gertie of 1985) who was no longer a cyclone when she came over, but came in from the West and traversed the whole continent!

So Hamish - it appears you are not an Althea, an Emily, a Fran, a Dawn, a Wanda, a Zoe or a Daisy.

Is it just me, or does it appear cyclone names are pretty wussy?

Apparently you can request (in writing only) a name to go on the future preferred name list.

What do you think is a good name for a cyclone?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Hello Karma

thy name is Hamish.

So tell me - is it because I didn't clean the bathroom?

Oh - and Elizabeth - front-loading washing machine + approaching cyclone = excellent drying conditions, so as every load was pegged, a dry load was taken off.

(Paradise is to the left of the zone where it might head)

I think I might have to offer the bathroom to the money gods next, now that I have form.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Jeanie and taunting the weather gods...

Apparently, there is a cyclone to the North of us. It is category 4 (which is really, really big - like you don't want to argue with it) and caused the weather girl to say on the news last night "most of coastal Queensland is being declared a disaster zone" which is just so typical of today's journalism.

Here, 650km to the South of the flaunted "disaster zone" (with another 500km to the South of us) it is fairly still, the waves are fairly flat (to V's dismay) and the rain only threatens.

My maths says that there can be no way over 50%, let alone "most" of the coast declared, so a big "nyah" to commercial television reportage.

Yes, I KNOW if you live in regions North of the "disaster zone" you sort of want to give rain a wide berth or send it South, but see, here in Paradise my car needs a wash and I may have to contemplate turning on a hose for the little citrus trees to grow up to be big citrus trees.

(I know - I was only whinging about rain a few short weeks ago, but (a) I am a fickle creature, and (b) I have a black belt in whinging and like to lash it occasionally.)

So anyway, I have hatched myself a little plan.

To entice a little of the wind and weather to my neck of the woods (just enough to water the garden, wash the car and get a surf for V - I am not greedy), I plan to:
  • wash seven loads of washing, including
    • a small backlog built up since I last washed on Tuesday including the washing I forgot to take out of the machine on Friday
    • the sheets off the beds that were stripped on Tuesday
    • the entire range of teatowels from the kitchen and bath towels from the bathroom, and yes that means the dank washers found in nooks and crannies and even the < gasp > bath mat < /gasp >
  • Hang them on the line (take THAT weather gods)

Of course, that may or may not work.

I also have up my sleeves
  • Clean the bathroom (oh yes, I believe in pulling out the guns when the guns are necessary) and discussing the situation with the weather gods (including a small discussion with the big boss, if necessary)

I am going to get really upset if that still hasn't pulled a tear from the skies, but I still have an ace to play.
  • The car will remain hidden in the garage so they don't know my sinister plot until the rain starts to plop, but if necessary I will forego my chance at a free carwash and actually do the darned thing manually. That should get the rain-juice flowing

Of course, if all else fails, I will have to water the garden myself.

Of course, the speed and direction Hamish is heading has caused a few weather predictions with him on our doorstep some time during the week - which may be about when I am over the whole hoping for rain thing and want sunshine - but hey, I can be as fickle as weather.

Friday, March 06, 2009

In which Jeanie throws caution to the wind and advises the public of her status as a "bad mother"

Did I ever tell you what a wonderful mother I am?


Well, that would be because I am a bad mother.

I steal lollies from the child. That BAD.

And do you know what else?

I take great joy in eating them - a two-fold joy really, because
  • (a) she isn't going crazy from a sugar high, and
  • (b) I am!!

  • Sorry to whip the scales from your eyes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Jeanie and her string of calamitous events

I was at Granite Glen on the weekend - a little computer mustering; a little offering of 'Salina for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and horses to delight in; a little giving V some peace and quiet.

While there, I had the unfortunate experience of finding something under the wheel of the office chair.

It sounds so innocuous, doesn't it.

"finding something under the wheel of the office chair"

Do you know what the something was?

It was my mobile phone charger - oh, not the whole thing (which would have made an awful speed hump on my sliding around BushBabe's office) (and I am not sure I would have had the run up required), just one little bit of it.

One tiny little bit.

That tiny little bit what sticks in the phone.

You know.

That tiny little bit what sticks in the phone and charges is. Makes it work. Enables you to call, take calls, text, find phone numbers and rings an alarm when 'Salina is due to leave the house to catch the school bus.

Yep. That would be the school bus she missed this morning.

But do you know what?

I am all for silver linings.

I arrived home from Granite Glen without any problems, thus negating the need for the safety device for the 200 km trip home. Heck, over 130 of that doesn't have mobile coverage anyway, so it was false security. Of course, my thumb itched to send the "MP" and "GG" (milestones on the trip) to V, but each time it did, the cents I saved just chimed back.

I have had enough work over the last two days that I have been firmly tied to the office, and not needed to be out and about.

I was able to find my ex-SIL's phone number on an old statement and call to enquire after the health of the family.

I was able to find my ex-MIL's phone number from her to wish her well on her operation this morning.

I got to drive 'Salina to school, therefore giving her those few precious moments to remember I had to pay for an Arts council ticket for her. I had exactly the right amount in my purse for that purpose.

And tomorrow, I will be in town anyway so I will see about a replacement then.

I will be in town because I have to give blood. Yep, that blood I couldn't give at the start of the month due to antibiotics, that blood that I couldn't give last week because of the adverse reaction to a coffee - another silver lining.

Pronoia - it is the best game invented!!!