Friday, January 30, 2009
Everything was brown. Or at least that is how I remember it. Brown grass lawns that ran to the edge of homes that lined the street. Some people watered their lawns, usually the older ones who had more time on their hands. Parks, planted out with gum trees, after ten days of a hot and rainless bout of weather, would look like a faded water colour.
We certainly had no air conditioning to speak of. Who had that? Occasionally you might see an air conditioner fitted into a window of a home to cool one room. But mostly, people just endured the heat. Kept doors and windows closed, blinds pulled down, awnings pulled down to keep the hot sun from bearing down into the house. When it got too hot, you might sleep on a back porch or even out in the back yard rather than swelter inside.
When I think about it, when I was a child the heat never bothered me or my friends. We just went along with it. Ran outside irrespective of the heat. Jumped on the pushbike and ride around the streets. Children were an accepting lot then. My son won't venture out in the heat. He finds it unbearable.
My mother, being a foreigner, was paranoid about us getting sunburn. She would seek out sunscreen from some obscure chemist and insist we had it on. In fact, it was called sun block and was a very liquid blue concoction. Still, it was hard to escape a summer without a case of sunburn to deal with. Then she would be there with sliced tomato to ease the sting. Days later, when the insane itching started as the skin peeled away, she would cover us in Calomine lotion.
We would play in the back yard with buckets of water. Run under the sprinkler and hose each other to cool down. Sadly, these days, with water restriction in place you are not allowed any water toys at all and definitely no sprinklers allowed ever. During those hot days, dinner usually consisted of cold meats and my mum's awful salads. Lots of home made icey poles during the day.
But in the end, after days and days of relentlessly hot days, the bubble would burst. Kids would get whiney, parents annoyed and not even the best board game would stop the boredom. It seemed fortuitous that it was around then that clouds would appear and a fantastic downpour would happen. The expression "the heavens opened" describes it so well.
When that happened we would sit out in the back sunroom and listen to the sound of the rain hammering on the tin roof. It was deafening. My mother would open the front and back doors to let the cool air rush in and give us relief.
Not so much like that now. We don't get as much rain. There are more people using water and the water reserves, once full to the brim, are now only at 33.2 % full. Most people have rain tanks now which amuses me greatly because it is not so long ago that councils forbade rate payers from installing water tanks. Then a new set of problems arose. Less water for storm water drains to be flushed out. Tanks attracting mosquito's and some carry dengue fever.
So many things to think about these days.
Not sure what to blame for the heat that sucks the earth dry. No one thing. So many factors. Increased population. Deforestation. Open cut mining. Bad town planning with no thoughts of the future. Everything and everyone has contributed to how things are now. So, I guess that is where the term "global warming" comes to mind.
All you can do is your very best to be thoughtful.
But, I am still not having a four minute shower.
I would rather wear dirty clothes and save washing water that way.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
A few days of 43 Celsius have been plaguing us. Along with the extremely warm nights where you toss and turn for hours and then wake up with a puffy face and hands.
I cannot imagine how anyone lives in a constant heat such as this. You would have to acclimatise to it. Or go insane with boredom.
Hanging around the house when I want to hang around the house is fine. Hanging around the house because it is too, too hot to go outside is just bad news.
I have developed "bloat" syndrome. You know, when you drink loads of water and hardly have a pee because your body is so thirsty. Like a big, fat, roly poly puffer fish lying on an unmade bed. That is me, right now as I type this.
My brain has melted. I cannot think of anything to write.
Oh, wait. I want to tell you about the new coffee machine at work.
I am such a lucky girl. At work we have always had the latest built in, whizz bang Miele coffee machine. Every so often the supplier changes the old model with the new one. And each time I think to myself "why bother". If something works fine and dandy, just leave it be.
The latest one is the worst kitchen appliance I have ever come across. The previous models allowed you to heat your own milk via the steam spout. You need to heat your own milk to get a good creamy texture. This is done by tipping the jug at a certain angle and keeping the tip of the nozzle just under the surface of the milk. This allows you to "stretch" the milk and give it volume without air.
Not the new model. It has it's own milk container you fill and it is meant to do the milk for you. You push a button for the coffee and out it comes. You push a button for the milk and out it comes. Very, very impersonal. Plus it makes bad coffee. To make good coffee you need to be connected to the process.
And, with that milk container and plastic pipes that carry the milk to it's final destination, you can imagine how unhygienic it could get. So EVERY DAY I have to pull apart the machine and clean it. With little stupid wire pipe cleaners. It takes me fifteen minutes and after that I need a cup of coffee, even a shit one.
I am going to take it out and put the old one back which we still have.
I think I may roll off the bed and get some more water.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
It is stinking hot at the moment. 43 Celsius. So I cannot expect him to do much more.
Anyway, when I came home I made him some snacks etc. Made myself something to eat and jumped on the internet. My husband had gone out to visit his dad.
So, after an hour or so my son jumps up from the couch to go into the office and play on the computer. On the way he stops at the dining table and points to something on the floor.
"Oh, mum, by the way, that's poo there", he says casually as though it is a natural everyday event to see CRAP on the floor.
"What? Whose?" I ask looking at where he pointed. Sure enough, there under a chair is a strange blob of something stinky.
"I dunno. Probably Angus's. Maybe it fell of from under his tail", he replies (Angus being the dog).
"So, pick it up with some toilet paper and flush it down the toilet", I told him.
"Eeeewww, no way. It's disgusting", he says whilst at the same time doing some sort of violent dance of disgust. Like I had asked him to eat it or something.
"Since when has picking up dog poo become my role in the household? You saw it, you pick it up. How long has it been there?" I demanded to know.
"Er, I dunno. I just saw it", he says. I know he is telling me a lie here because of the way he casually pointed out the turd on the way to the office. Like it had been there ALL DAY LONG waiting for me to come home and pick it up.
"Pick it up now", I tell him.
Which he does. I think he thought it was some sort of nitrate based material the way he handled it. In case it might blow up in his face.
He has now admitted he saw it there two hours ago. Or more.
Why didn't he ask my husband to pick it up? Why wait until I get home?
Truly, I need to stop doing so much for my son.
I really don't know what to add to this post.
Except to say that I did think my son had farted rather horribly when I got home.
It seems that I was wrong.
It really was the dog!
It sniffs around like a hungry dog waiting for a moment to slip in my head and wreak havoc.
Or perhaps like a shark circling a prospective meal.
Just waiting for the defences to drop. Did she sleep enough? Did she eat well? Did she exercise enough? Has she been applying her cognitive behavioral therapy techniques enough? Has she pmt? Is she stressed? Is she emptying her head out properly? Is her self talk working? Any triggers around?
When can the shark bite. Get a feed.
Anxiety is the driver behind a depressed state of mind for me. I have been off anti depressants for four years. I like to stay off them because being on them makes me incapable of writing, painting and loads of other things.
I can go to bed in one frame of mind, wake up in a different one and by the end of the day be in another. Up, up, up and down, down, down. Usually I just ride with it like a leaf on the wind. But some days it just is nigh impossible to control. Especially if I get three in a row combined with a tardy attitude towards sleep, eat and exercise.
Anxiety gets in and the "ego", the "little girl's voice" wants to be heard. Natter, natter and always negative.
So, I am practicing keeping the mind silent. Keeping thoughts still.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I am not the only one. My brother gets fired up he sees someone doing the "litter bug" thing. One time he watched a man open his car door and empty his car ashtray under the car. Totally disgusted, my brother marched over and tapped on the window and, after a brief discussion with my brother, the man, shamefacedly, got out of the car and picked up all the cigarette butts he had dumped on the ground.
There have been numerous times I have stopped people in the street after seeing them throw their rubbish on the ground. I am very nice about it, asking them if they actually think it is okay to litter the streets. After pointing out just how close the rubbish bin is to them, they then pick up what they dropped and dispose of it thoughtfully. My son just watches with mild amusement.
I am sure that one day someone is going to get angry at me for pulling them up in a public place because they have been a pig. Perhaps I am being over zealous, but it really shits me when I see people being downright lazy and having no thought to others they share the world with.
Well, my husband has his own little gripe about population polluters and that is those who drive cars that belch out filthy, stinking, black smoke as they drive along. Here you can ring an EPA (Environmental Protection Something or Other) phone number and report the car to them. You give them the car's registration number and they send a letter to the offender who then has a certain amount of time to resolve the problem or risk a fine.
However, the other day he exceeded my expectations as a do gooder.
He was sitting in the car park of a supplier he had just gone to. Whilst he was sorting out what was on the day's agenda he noticed a car pull up near him. A guy in a suit got out and went around the back of he car, opened the boot and rummaged around for a few minutes. Now, I know we should not make judgements based on someone's appearance, but my husband thought to himself that the guy looked like a real prick.
His thoughts were confirmed when he watched the guy eat a banana and, upon finishing it, throw the skin on the ground. Just like that. Then he shut the boot of the car and went inside an adjacent building.
Had I seen anyone do this I would have shot out of the car like a bullet and pointed his misdemeanour (risking a punch in the face for sure). I then may have done something completely foolish like shove the banana skin in the guy's suit pocket or something.
My husband sat for a few minutes and thought what to do. He got out of the car, went over and picked up the discarded banana skin and smeared it on the windscreen and then tucked it right in the middle of the screen, held firmly in place with a windscreen wiper. Then he got back in his car and went on to do his work.
When he told me this I was so surprised. It was most unlike him. I then spent the rest of the day intermittently laughing about it as I thought about what the guy's face would have looked like when he got back to his car and saw that banana sitting there. He would have been really, really annoyed.
Call me a busy body, tell me to mind my own business.
Whatever makes you happy.
But don't throw rubbish on the ground when I am in view.
I'll be watching. And I will bring the unsavoury behaviour to your attention (in the nicest possible way).
Sunday, January 25, 2009
My son had gone off to the pictures with a friend and K was playing at a music job.
What to do. What to do, I asked myself.
Oh, I could do housework. Make the bed. Hang out the washing. Go and do the weekly grocery shopping. Catch up with the ironing. Bake a cake.
Or just do what I felt like. Which is just what I did.
I spent some time in the studio starting on a new painting. It has been a while since I pulled my finger out and got stuck into a new project. After an hour of painting and fiddling around I decided I was unsure where to go with what I was doing and cleaned up the brushes with the intent of coming back to it.
Outside was warm. One of those delicious summer days. Not too hot that you have to stay in the house to shelter from the heat that we had been having last week. I looked up at the blue sky and figured it was the perfect weather for a bike ride.
So that is what I did. Jumped on my lovely, lovely bike that lives in the front room and made my way down to the beach.
It is about a 15 minute ride down to the beach from my house. Although on a very busy main road, the traffic was quiet as most people have gone away for the Australia Day long weekend. I was able to ride without the wild anxiety that goes while pedalling with cars racing up behind you.
Initially I thought I may just get to the beach, have a cup of coffee and then pedal home. But when I saw the twinkling blue of the bay and smelt the salty air I made my way to the bike path that takes people down to the busy beach down at St Kilda.
There are extensive bike tracks along the bay, the local Councils having sunk a hefty wack of rate payer money into the bayside infrastructure. As a result, we have miles of asphalt paved track for people to run, walk and ride along. You can ride through many suburbs without putting your life at risk on the road. In summer, some parts of the track can get a bit hazardous with pedestrians straying from the walking track and into the path of earnest bike riders.
The suburbs change as your ride through them. In Brighton, large homes back onto a sandy stretch of grass that leads to the beach. People park in the dead end streets that give access to the beach. As you move out of that suburb you are in St Kilda with its busy cafe and restaurants that look out straight to the beach. St Kilda is a mix of expensive homes, numerous back packer hostels and discreet brothels. Luna Park, Acland Street and a council vegetable garden plot share space with trendy boutiques and funky pubs. For years people tried to get rid of street walkers and drug addicts that St Kilda was very well known for. But try as they might, it did not really work and now everything kind of coexists in an uneasy harmony.
I stopped there for a while, had a drink and looked around. I could hear people screaming with laughter from rides at Luna Park. People were everywhere. After a while I got back on the bike and headed back the way I had come.
It was a fierce head wind on the way back and I was forced to pedal extra hard. It was exhilarating. When I got back to the place where I would head back home, I had a cup of coffee and a huge, freshly made fruit salad. Sitting in the sun at a picnic table with seagulls waiting nearby in the hope of a feed. It was around 3.00pm, enough time to extend my ride just a bit longer. So I jumped back on the bike and continued along the path. It was peaceful, not many other bike riders around. A few people walking along with dogs.
I just kept pedalling. Looked at the water, watched the beach goers as I passed them by, their semi naked bodies laying supine under the sun. Children running in and out of the water, squatting at the edge with plastic buckets and spades digging holes. I love how people are so devoid of self consciousness when a sunny day tempts them down to the seaside. It is how it should be. All shapes and sizes being squeezed into skimpy bathing costumes. Young people walking around with the strut that goes with youthful beauty. Old people walking around with the resigned confidence that goes with acceptance of the loss of youth.
It is interesting to see that, despite all the information being made available to the public, hardly any person covered themselves from the sun. Children with their pale skin turning a shade of pink were half naked. Young girls in the briefest bikinis lay like oiled mackerel in the sun, their shiny pink faces squinting behind sunglasses. People forget the warnings when the prospect of a tan arises. Even I put sunscreen on today. My son has no choice when he gets on the beach. Sunscreen or a rash vest. Fifteen minutes sun on a hot day here can leave you with a nasty case of sunburn.
One woman caught my eye. She was nut brown from repeated sunshine exposure. Her skin smooth as a new leather couch. She sat upright on a towel, her legs apart, knees slightly bent. Though her body was as slim as that of a young girl, in the black bikini she wore, you could tell that it had seem many birthdays. But, what really captured my attention was the thorough inspection that she appeared to be giving to the ingrown hairs on her bikini line. It was as though there was not another soul around to view her personal grooming.
As I rode I felt so at peace, so relaxed. It crossed my mind that I could just keep riding on this track. Maybe another ten kilometres or so before I would turn around and head home. Then my mobile phone rang and broke my peaceful reverie. My husband wanting to know where I was. I had ridden twenty kilometres and suddenly felt a bit fatigued. So I turned my bike around and headed home. Back onto a main road and then a short cut to get home sooner rather than later.
What made the ride extra special is that I did not have to be home at a certain time. It was just me and my bike, the blue sky, the warm sun, the sea air and my thoughts.
For a couple of hours I had the feeling that goes with irresponsible youth.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
My sister lives in a place I shall call Boganberg (bogan being the equivalent of trailer trash and chav I think). Parts of this place are okay but most of it is just typical of certain parts of Australia. The weather is great since it is situated in a sunny state. She lives not far from my mother and both of them are planning on moving down south by the end of the year.
She is a member of a local Toastmaster's group because it is hard to make friends that are like minded or just civilized where she lives. Last night she went way out of her routine and was talked into going out for dinner with some friends from the Toastmaster's club and, since her two boys were on a week's holiday with their father, she thought it would be nice to go out.
During the course of the evening a few other patrons at the local pub came over to the table and started chatting to everyone. At one point my sister was left alone at the table with a rather dubious looking guy. Being of the same ilk as me she made polite conversation to him (which he instigated). She gave him no indication of her single status as there was no way she wanted to encourage his attentions in any way at all.
During the course of the conversation she mentioned how her youngest son was due to have his tonsils out in a few weeks. He had been plagued for so many years with chronic ear and throat infections and a specialist had advised this was the best way to deal with the ongoing problems.
The conversation took a creepy turn when it went like this:
Creepy man: "You need to get your son to gargle his throat with his own urine".
Sister (after a moment's silence): "Ah, I don't think he would agree to that".
Creepy man:" No, really, my father was a chemist and he was so informed about the benefits of urine and I agree with his ideas".
Sister (polite as ever): "Well, each to their own, personally I am not interested in ingesting mine or anyone else's urine and certainly not interested in using it on my son as an alternative to surgery".
Creepy man: "You should try it. I always gargle my throat with my own urine when it is sore and it just clears up straight away".
Creepy man then went on about the benefits of urine and also talked about how girls spoil their own natural body odour by washing and waxing.
My sister got and left. Her natural instincts urged her to get away. There is a limit to how polite a person can be.
Imagine if he was a hot date and told you his natural remedy AFTER you kissed him.
Friday, January 23, 2009
It was a long drive down. When we got there the first thing I did was to get a cup of coffee so that I could walk around and look at the cars in comfort.
One of the cars on show was a London Taxi and it was for sale. Around three years ago I made extensive research into the possibility of importing a London Taxi to Australia to use as an everyday car. Unfortunately with our emission laws it was not feasible at all and I finally bought the car I have now which is a Mazda 3.
When I saw the taxi I was so excited. However, the price was $30K and I don't know about you, but that sort of spare change is not jangling in my pocket. But I had a look inside, felt a bit of wistful thinking coming into play.
They had some vintage police cars on show with appropriately attired policemen around. However, you know you are getting older when cars that you recall as being new on the block find their way into classic car shows. The yellow police car is the sort I remember being on the road.
On the way home my son decided to jump in the car with my husband to go home as he likes the old Rover. So I drove home on my own.
It is not often I actually get an hours driving time alone. Usually it is only for the 15 minute drive to work or something along those lines.
So I drove home, the sun was shining. I was listening to Paul Simon on the cd player. Then I turned the music across to a radio station and they were interviewing the singer from Spandau Ballet. He was talking about the song they released in 1979. They played the song and I recalled when it was released. It seemed like yesterday when in fact it is now 30 years that has passed.
Thirty years and there I was driving the car, listening to the song and thinking about years that have passed, other songs that have been and gone since then.
Timeless, ageless, aging and changes that just roll around and tumble along no matter what we do. I suppose you just have to go with it, cross your fingers you do the right thing at the time because there is a lot of reflection when you get older.
A lot of thoughts and "what if's' to process.
I should spend time driving in the car alone more often.
It is very cathartic.
This week I received our water bill in the mail. Currently the aim for every user in Victoria is to use no more than 155 litres of water per person each day. Hence the talk about 4 minute showers etc.
Well, in our house we have been using, on average, 126 litres per day each.
This may be because my son doesn't wash, well, except when I hound him into the bathroom. He would never actually volunteer to wash. In fact, the other day when I told him to get in the bath he asked me why he couldn't just spray his body with deodorant instead. Hmmmm.
Another thing is that our dishwasher died three months ago and we decided to not get another one. Just did not want to spend money on it. Not when the choice was between that and a new television! Life without the dishwasher is perfectly fine. I can stand and dry dishes whilst watching my big television.
And so that means I can continue to shower at leisure and no longer feel guilty when I enjoy that warm water for longer than the eco friendly time suggested.
Nothing like being guilt free now and then.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I never knew what that meant until a couple of years ago. Apparently there is a plethora of such little gems that I know nothing about and, at the age of 45, laugh like a child whenever I hear a new one. Then I promptly forget the majority of them. Or I like to make up my own.
When I worked the corporate grind I was introduced to the most vomitous amounts of acronyms that I used to start laughing when people used them. Not only because they could remember them, but also that they actually used them as though it mattered. Once a month we would get an email from HR with an attachment of the latest acronyms that we should endeavour to remember. It was about 14 pages long on average.
One time a work colleague and I were asked to come in for a meeting with our boss to discuss some dreary twaddle. This colleague and I were sitting in the meeting room with it's big glass wall that exposed us to everyone working away. The boss had his big whiteboard with unbelievably boring scribble on it and we both watched on with feigned interest on our faces.
Then some words were bandied around. They are corporate kinds of words like "synergy" and "information highway". This was 15 odd years ago just as the digital age was descending upon the public with great force.
As the meeting progressed I noticed a few times the term "KPI's" being bandied about. My work colleague and I had to come up with "KPI's" by the end of the week, based on our performance, for the boss to assess.
I sat there thinking to myself "what is a KPI?". Looking across at Chris I saw the look of awareness on his face and gathered that he knew what it meant and he would let me know after the meeting.
When we got out of the meeting room and got together to discuss what had to be done I asked Chris what a KPI was. He replied "I don't know, I thought you did. You looked like you did?". At least we looked liked we knew what was being said which is half the journey done in the corporate world.
So, the two of us had to find the meaning of the acronym KPI which, as most of you would know these days is "Key Performance Indicator". Which basically means coming up with a really good reasons of why Chris and I were actually at work each day.
It was tough, but we did it. Came up with a whole lot of calculations that proved our success in providing training to outside parties.
If anyone told me to come up with KPI's for the business these days I think I would just raise my eyebrows.
And then remind them what happens when I am away for three weeks holiday.
The KPI at work would be reflected by the pile of paperwork on my desk that would collect each day when I was away. Nobody else there to do it.
So instead of a KPI we should have a POPI.
Pile Of Paperwork Indicator.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
It is PMT time of the month again. Even though I had the hysterectomy I still get the PMT.
It is a weird thing PMT. I wake up in the morning with the sound of two words in my head "fuck off". It is like some little bitch climbed out from neuron buried deep in my brain and thought she might come for her monthly visit. Years ago it was an absolute nightmare. That bitch sat around in my head for three weeks. Although, it was more of a monster than a bitch. These days it is just for a week I have to handle it.
So, I wake up with this awareness and say to the two boys in the house that I have PMT. Not that I actually infect the house with my mood, but I do need have less "triggers" and I also need everyone to know that if I am silent or non responsive or snappy, it is not their fault.
What I found interesting today is that everything conspired to agitate me. I woke up with a thumping headache and bad nausea. Coffee machine at worked played up. Two fat blowflies annoyed me all day. I had to do a complicated spreadsheet with lots of dreary data. Things are financially tight at work the moment and I have that on my mind. It is all about timing, but there are bills to pay and I am at the firing line when people ring. But they are pretty good about it all.
After work I drove to a shopping centre to pick up my son's Xbox that was in stock and, on the way, every song on the radio was a bad one. I ran out of water for the window washer and when I went to use it, the windscreen wipers smeared bird shit across the front window which was dusty and dry so then I had dusty, dry, bird crap smeared windows that I could not see out of. Had to stop my car and use the water in my drink bottle to clean it.
But, there is always something good in everyday. Really, no matter what the day coughs up I can always find a nice thing in there to appreciate.
Today it was when I went to exercise class. It is outdoors and tonight was warm with a lovely breeze. I lay on the mat doing butt lifts and looked up at the blue sky with the clouds drifting across it. There was the smell of cooking meat on a nearby BBQ in the adjoining park. Children laughing and playing on the playground equipment. While I did squats I watched people playing with their dogs, walking around with friends and family.
It was nice.
Difficult days don't last 24 hours. They may feel as though they do, like a newborn baby that cries. You think they have been crying for ever, but really, it has not been that long. In between all the angst that goes on is always a few brief moments where you can just be in the moment.
So, there you go.
Nothing much to say, but I said it anyway.
Monday, January 19, 2009
There are about ten to fifteen of us working out to instructions given by a personal trainer.
Naturally there are lots of conversations going on in between push ups and squats and I tell you, girls have the worst conversations. Totally inappropriate. Or maybe it is only when I am there.
Well, around three months ago one of the girls was telling us about her work. She is a radiologist who specialises in giving ultrasounds to men who are getting checked for testicular cancer.
It must be quite a difficult thing for a man to go and have his family jewels handled by a stranger in a sterile hospital environment, especially when they have the added worry of the prospect of cancer being found.
I have heard that a man's "willy" has a brain of it's own so I wonder if a guy worries that it might choose to use it's brain when in the gloved hands of the radiologist? Thankfully this girl has, to date, never had the problem of anyone's member" standing to attention when she has had to move things aside to use the ultrasound.
So we were all having a bit of a laugh about such a job and the responsibility of it when she said, "One thing I have noticed without fail is that men with red hair have a much larger penis than the other men".
We were all silent for a few seconds before responding with sounds like "er okay" and 'oh, I see".
I have to say that since then I have not been able to look at a red headed male without thinking about her words.
Really, I do wish some people would keep some work secrets to themselves.
It makes future conversations with any red headed men strained.
I would like to know if it is true but figure that asking outright would create a rather awkward moment all round.
So I shall just share this on my blog.
Who knows, someone out there may be able to clarify the truth of the comment made.
On the other hand, don't clarify it. Just leave it as a mystery.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
My husband has taken his classic car out for the day on an historic car rally. S and I could have gone with, but it is one of those days where my husband really enjoys being on his own. Driving the car there, parking with the other Rover's and then wandering around admiring all the other classic cars. He gets the same pleasure out of it that I do from visiting an art gallery. Something to be done on my own to really enjoy it.
So, once again S and I are having a sunny day alone together and I am reminded of how much time we used to spend with each other when he was a little boy.
When he was small, I would take my son for long walks in the pram. Down to parks, onto the train, into the city, off to the Botanical gardens, visit friends, off to the shops and other places. I wrote what we did and where we went every day in a diary. I have kept all the diaries in a box and occasionally I take them out and marvel at the things we did.
On sunny days I would spend time out in the backyard with him. We had a small, hard sided paddle pool which I would fill with water for him to paddle in. There was a sun shelter that I would spend half an hour putting up and then drag over across the little pool to protect his milk white skin from the hot sun.
I would lay on the warm grass and look up at the azure sky whilst listening to my son chatting away to himself. Now and then he would come over to me, his naked body wet from the pool. He would lift up my sunglasses and peer into my eyes and I can still see his little smiling face against the back drop of the beautiful blue sky. Sometimes he would lay next to me for a while and I would feel his hot breath against my shoulder as he spoke to me. His skin was smooth and warm.
I felt he was all mine.
We do other things now together. It would be a battle to get him to spend hours in the backyard these days. His relationship with the sun is not a good one. His body is not small but his skin is still smooth and white, undamaged from sunshine. He has a voice of his own and has learnt to push buttons in me that make me react with laughter.
Today he wants to go and buy himself and Xbox 360 now that he has saved enough pocket money to do so. It is a tough decision as he is loathe to let go of the money he has saved, yet the lure of the Xbox is strong. Yesterday he went, for the first time, shopping with my husband and chose his own clothes. Last night he told me that he did not like the lasagna I had given to him and he refused to eat it. He has his own opinion and I always respect it.
When you have a child you often wonder who he is like in personality. Does the genetic code make itself obvious. Is it nurture or nature that makes us who we are? Travelling overseas last year made my husband realise that my son was so much like me it was uncanny. He said he felt like an outsider sometimes. Even at home he feels like he is living with two spies in the house. He cannot open a cupboard without one of us saying "what are you looking for?". If he does anything out of the usual routine he is questioned. Heaven forbid if he watches a cartoon. You can bet one of us will be making a note of it.
This post is not really going anywhere. And, really, does it have to? It is just me thinking about things and writing them down before the thoughts drift away.
My boy is out of bed now, his hair still messy and his face flushed from sleep. He discusses with me some more detail of the Xbox purchase. I want to guide him to spend a bit more on a better model but he won't be moved. He has a budget and he, even though he can spend a bit more, he refuses to budge. Such a guy. I would be agonising over it. He just wants the deal done so he can get home and play with it. That is where we are so different. That is where the x and y chromosome come into play.
I have to get dressed, he has to get dressed or the day will be gone all too soon.
Even though he is grown up, even though he does his own thing, even though he has his own opinion, I still feel he is all mine.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
And the room that you stand in and look teeny in the corner despite actually being taller than your son.
Anyway, we got there early with the thought that it may be a bit busy later on. How thankful I was that we did take that tack as when we were leaving the line of noisy children and grumpy adult was long indeed. The noise was dreadful and I was glad to get into the car and off to the next attraction.
Another place we visited was a reserve called Swan Lake. If I recall the information correctly it was once just a paddock area and in the 1960's it was decided to turn it into a natural bird sanctuary. Enthusiastic volunteers planted out the area with native Australian plants which have grown to maturity over the years. There was some complaint recently that the tree and bush planting was incorrect as the species chosen were not indigenous to the area. Who cares, it looked great.
Since I had been dilligently reading the little information posts that had been scattered around the Swan Lake reserve I decided I knew enough to answer his question and the conversation afterwards went something like this:
Linda: "Phillip Island used to be made up of smaller sand islands"
Husband: "Where did you get that information from? Smaller sand islands?"
Linda: "On those information things at Swan Lake. They said that there was a significant geological event around 6000 years ago"
Husband: "And the event was? Can you have just small sand islands?"
Linda: "I don't know what the event was. I only know it was 6000 years ago. Why can't you have a small sand island? Maybe it has stone under it. How do I know?"
Husband: "You're the one who made the statement about sand islands and geological events. I was expecting more. Really, Linda, you are like someone who starts a good joke and forgets the end of it"
Linda: "Hang on, I got the information from those thingies. They only have sixteen lines of stuff to read so it is not like I am going to get the nitty gritty of the geological event or the facts about what the sand island is all about. All it said was "Phillip Island was once made up of smaller sand islands" and followed by blah blah blah "after a geological event 5000 to 6000 years ago".
Husband: "What does the blah blah blah bit mean?"
Linda: "I forgot, it was boring".
Silence and then:
Husband: "You have been most informative. Good night".
A little bit of knowledge is completely useless. Especially for me. One should not make statements about geological facts that they have picked up from fading information boards at nature parks.
You are bound to not get all the facts.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Did you know, if you peel a banana from the bottom you won't get those stringy bits.
Apparently that is how primates peel a banana. Seems they know something we don't.
This morning, after I relayed this vital information to my husband, I was told to get out of bed and stop looking up such stupid things. Sheesh! My mother sent me the tip. From one primate to another, sharing learned knowledge.
Anyway, later on as my husband was about to eat a banana I reminded him of this exciting banana peeling tip and he begrudgingly obliged.
It worked, no stringy bits.
So, next time you eat a banana, turn it upside down and peel from the bottom.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The move was not as bad as I thought it would be, possibly because the actual physical move was done by the boys whilst I was having a good time at Phillip Island.
The office space is pretty small but the light is natural and fresh. I have chosen the best seat in the house so to speak. I see everyone and everything in the office. I gave up my big desk to our office assistant so that my computer screen was not facing anyone. Besides, our assistant gets dumped with so much of my paperwork she needs the room to sort it. At first she kept asking if I was sure I was happy with a smaller desk and, after much reassurance, she settled in nicely.
But there is one little snag with this move.
At the old office the letter box was just across the road and I could meander out the front door, cross the very quiet road and post a letter. Easy as can be.
At the new office there is not a letter box to be seen. Even on the drive home I only see a couple of the red boxes on the other side of the road. And I have a rather unpleasant trait when it comes to posting letters. I hate doing it. I hate having to stop the car, get out and post a letter. And if the box is on the other side of the road you can bet that there is no way I will make the effort.
As my mother used to say to me "Linda, you are as lazy as cat shit". Seriously, she did say that. I cannot imagine where she got that one from. It is kind of weird when I think about it. I mean, you could change the word cat for dog, horse, cow and fish. The result would be the same. Although "lazy as fish shit" does not have the same ring to it.
My letter posting laziness is so pathetic that even today, when I passed a letter box, on my side of the road, that had a parking spot in front of it, I could not make the effort to stop and do the posting. When I get in my car I just want to get home. End of story. In car, drive home without stopping (except at lights etc.).
I even hate going to the post office to post a parcel or to pick up stamps. If I do go I make sure it is early so that I don't have to stand forever in a queue and get shitty after ten minutes of waiting for someone to post their onerous amounts of eBay parcels. Or wait for them to pay all their utility bills one at a time. I know they are fully entitled to take their time, but it makes me agitated which is really selfish of me. But, there you go, it really, really makes me say the f.... word in my head over and over.
So, I now have four letters in my handbag that need posting. They have been there since Monday and now it is Thursday. You know, instead of New Year resolutions like "lose weight" and "exercise more" I just should have "post letters within 24 hours".
My boss is even worse than me. Once he dropped a friend off to the airport. Just as his friend got out of the car he handed my boss a letter and asked him to post it as it was a birthday card for his sister. My boss promised faithfully to do it. Seven months later my boss picked the same guy up from the airport and on the way home this friend dropped his sunglasses on the floor of the car. As he searched for the glasses he happened to find, under the passenger seat, that very same letter that he had asked my boss to post seven months prior. He could not believe it. Knowing my boss, I am not surprised at all.
My husband would NEVER ask me to post a letter. He knows what would happen. Absolutely nothing at all.
However, I love posting Christmas cards and postcards. Perhaps because they are happy things to post and totally unrelated to business.
Tomorrow, I shall post those letters. Well, actually, my son will. He is coming to work with me and I shall stop the car at the letter box nearby and he will jump out and post them for me.
That is the most effort I can put into it I am afraid.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
It was settled sometime in the early 1800's by a pioneering sort of guy who decided to farm the land. Goodness knows what compelled him to do such a thing as the wind from the sea is pretty fierce. But, pioneers do what they need to do, bless their determined souls. They remind me of how weak and lazy we are these days.
A larger house was built on the property in 1872. Below is a picture of my son outside the front of the historical home.
The house sits pretty much in the middle of the island and has the most gorgeous cottage garden surrounding it. I found it inspiring enough to make the effort to water my garden when I got back home.
The house itself at Churchill Island had been restored very kindly. You cannot take photos of the inside unfortunately. It was used as a holiday home for many years which must have been fantastic.
Not far from the house is an information and tourist centre. They also have a fantastic cafe which served great food. They work very closely with local producers to provide fresh food. Once a month they hold a farmer's market on the island. During summer they have outdoor movie nights. There is still a farm being run on a small scale.
When you go through life just doing your stuff, going to work, driving your car and all those day to day activities, it is nice to be inspired by things as simple as a visit to this house. I look at the photos of the garden and feel very enthusiastic about making small changes which will introduce something fresh into my tired little garden.
Sounds a bit twee, but it isn't. It is just making sure I don't get all caught up in the mundane aspects of life and forget to take a deep breath now and then.
Old houses just thrill me. They tell stories of people who had nothing to do with me but left behind something for me to enjoy. Old houses speak of a time where aesthetics were more important than ego. Even the smallest and most simple of homes have stood the test of time. Even poorer people were entitled to some level of integrity when it came to building a house to suit their meagre budget.
So that was another couple of hours spent at one of the touristy jaunts at Phillip Island.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Years ago, when I was a teenager, you could clamber freely down to the rocks. People made their own tracks up and down along the hills. You could walk along the rocks and wade in rock pools without any boundaries.
Inside is a very ordinary food area that is akin to one you find in a shopping complex. Adjoining that is a large souvenir shop that sells every conceivable piece of tat you can imagine. There is also an "interactive" section that takes boredom to a new level. The roof is high and the noise level is thus increased to the point where you don't want to be in there. It has the warmth of a restaurant cool room.
When we went here the day was chilly, the wind was fierce and the sound of the sea was beautiful. Compared to what I see on a day to day basis living in the suburbs, I felt pretty close to nature as I stood there looking at it all.
You can see an awful lot in one day at Phillip Island. I was pleased with that as sometimes when you go on holiday you get so caught up with seeing it all that you end up seeing too much. Here, you can see all the tourist attractions in one day and then spend the rest of the time just hanging around down the beach doing what you are meant to do when on holiday.
Which is what I did in those three short days.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Hope at Hope Radio who is a most complex human being who comes across as a dynamic, intelligent and focused mother and wife who now and then allows herself to access her own individuality. She writes about her marriage, her children, her friends and her thoughts yet she still keeps me wondering.
Annie at Annie's Rexia. Well, this is a blog about Annie's struggle with her eating disorder. No self pitying here. Honesty, humour and some ugly reality showing the truth of what happens when a grown woman is trying to get out of the cycle of an eating disorder. It will make you realise that having an ED is nothing to do with vanity (too often people think it is about wanting to look good) and more to do with a complex process of trying to achieve some sort of inner self control. Worthy of being in a book in my personal opinion.
Mars at Media Junkie. Young woman in another country writing about her life. Different culture, different country yet the problems are as poignant as anywhere in the world. It shows to me that humans are busy creatures that have to deal with the same issues no matter where their roots are.
Karen at The Pitfalls Of Life. Karen's blog confirms my belief that people can rise above the most dire situations in life and take the best out of it whilst still coming out full of joy and hope for each day that is given to them.
Topiary Cow. Says a great deal with few words. Which indicates that there is more to this Cow that meets they eye. Has great appreciation for books, movies and the art of topiary.
WOW at DarkStormyLoopy. I have only just started reading his blog and it is really interesting to see life from a male's point of view. Whether it be family, personal or work related, it all culminates for an small insight into the mind of a guy just getting on with life. Plus, it is funny.
Catherine at Chunks of Reality. Catherine talks honestly about her depression and the toll it takes on her life. Through it all she always maintains a positive outlook and has learnt to ride the waves of depression. She shows that depression does not have to define you.
And last of all, CopenhagenCycleChic. This has now it's own dedicated webpage. It started life as a blog page. To me, this site shows how all countries should embrace riding bikes. In Australia there is a small push to put bike lanes in more areas. The trouble here is that car drivers hate bike riders and are aggressive toward them. Many car drives think bike riders should not be allowed on the road. We have had a few incidents where a motorist has deliberately hit a bike rider in anger.
Also, distances are vast and to get to work you may well have to pedal for an hour. I would ride to work if the roads had a bike lane but to do so now would be to take my life in my hands every day.
There are a few others which I will mention in a week or so.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I am really strict with this little process as I have, more than once, forgotten to do the full check and have had to call out to a stranger to pass some loo paper or dig deep in my handbag for a tissue.
Well, whilst at home the other day I made the silly mistake of going to the toilet, sitting down and at the end of it all suddenly realising that there was no toilet paper on hand.
Normally I would call out rather pathetically to anyone in the house only this time there was nobody home.
So I was forced to use panty liners.
Hate to share that with you all, but in case it actually happens to you and you don't have a tissue in your handbag and no one to call out to, well, those panty liners are quite useful.
So, that is my household tip for the day.
Friday, January 09, 2009
When my son was younger I think we may have allowed him to watch shows that were of an adult nature. Whilst every other kid was watching Sesame Street, my son was absorbing Tony Hancock comedy shows.
I let him watch The Three Stooges. In fact, I bought him the entire collection for Christmas one year. Despite all the warnings about the risk of him adopting the Stooges style, he did not.
Then there were all of the Monty Python movies, including The Life of Brian. And all of the Monty Python series.
Plus Mr Bean movies and television series.
Fawlty Towers as well.
All in all, he has over the years absorbed copious amounts of mostly English off beat comedy humour with no ill effects. Oh, well, perhaps the odd "silly walk" and recitings of stupid sayings specific to any one of the Monty Python movies. Ah, okay, plus a few really stupid sounds he may have picked up from The Three Stooges.
All very short lived adaptations, until now.
This Christmas we bought him the complete series of The Young Ones. I am not sure if you are familiar with this series but it was pretty big in the early 1980's. It was about three guys living in a share house, all had their own unique and cringe worthy attributes. I recalled watching it and thought it was funny at the time and, with that fond memory in mind, I thought that maybe my son would enjoy it. Besides, he had seen a couple of clips of it on You Tube and had shown great interest in it.
On Christmas day he watched it. On Boxing day he watched it. On every other day that followed he watched them. He watched them in bed. He took the DVD's with him when we went away and watched them again.
To top it off, for the first time ever, he has adopted all of the disgusting "ways" of the characters. The irritating voice of Vivian. The doleful hippie mannerisms of Neil. The "two fingered" salute that is particular to Rik.
This went on for three days and was so annoying that I had to tell him to stop it more than once or twice.
You know, if I were to let him watch a copy of, I don't know, something like Mumfy The Elephant, I am sure he would not adopt the sweet style of the main character with such vigour.
If he asks me for a pair of Doc Marten's ten ups I will worry.
Until then I shall have to put up with a sneering face and a two fingered salute accompanied by a hunched over gloomy walk.
One of the beaches he would go to was Berry's Beach. So we thought we may make our way down there just to have a look.
I love the grass, the sand, the gnarly roots that seek water and support as they grow. Most of the area is protected along the beaches to ensure survival of native plants. Years ago people just made their own tracks down to the beach, but now it is more controlled.
They have toilets near this surf beach that are in line with ecologically sound practices. So, naturally, being near so much water I had to visit one. Talk about drafty. I lifted the lid and way, way below was a black hole to nowhere. It is some super composting tunnel or something.
As I lifted up the lid a huge gust of wind blew up from the darkness at me and actually blew my hair around my face. Thankfully any smell had dissipated by the time it reached daylight. However, I was a bit hesitant to perch my bare bottom above the open space below in case the draft blew it all back up at me. Besides, there is something a bit spooky about sitting over a black hole. Anyway, all I can say is that it was a very breezy experience.
Afterwards we made our way to some other scenic activities.
Yes, more photos are going to bore you for just a few more posts.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Phillip Island has a number of beaches to visit. Because one side of it faces the open sea (Bass Strait) and the other side faces the bay (Westernport) you get a range of beach styles to enjoy. Where we stayed was in Cowes which faces the bay and the beaches are quiet and family friendly.
The photo below was taken by my son from the pier. You can catch a ferry from here and go to a smaller island by the name of French Island. French Island has over 200 species of native birds and over 600 different species of plant life. People live on it, but not that many. It is very isolated. Kylie Minogue actually has a holiday home there which is currently up for sale.
I often think it would be great to do the eco-friendly, nature nurturing life change thing and then think what would happen if I had to do something like have a two minute shower because there is only tank water and it had not rained for the past six weeks. Then the novelty approach fades quickly.
There were some rock pools to explore. A world within a world that you can peer into. The rocks were covered in mud and seaweed and I walked on the with barefeet, the warm silt was lovely under my feet. I am sure I would pay a large amount of money at a day spa to get the same mud mix smothered over my toes if I were to have a pedicure.
You shall have to suffer the boredom of holiday photos over the next couple of posts.
Just think of it as a slide night or something. Something one has to endure.
Monday, January 05, 2009
My brother is a builder. Whilst my boss specialises in building sterile, beige and uber modern houses, my brother tends to renovate old homes to their original condition. This often means he has to buy second hand timber, windows and other architectural fittings from an assortment of demolisher's.
These are guys who will strip a house of anything that can be sold before they demolish it. They are inclined to be of a certain calibre. Think Steptoe and Son and endow them with the vulgarity that comes with today and you might get an idea of them.
This particular demolisher my brother went to has been dealing with our family for many years. He used to know my father when we had the family business and would sell second hand flooring to us which was used to make furniture. He was utterly repulsive 25 years ago so I can only imagine what he would be like now.
So, anyway, my brother had to go to the demolisher's to pick up and pay for some timber that he needed. The yard was filled with the most enormous amount of timbers, windows, doors, garden accessories, bathroom fittings, old stoves and any other junk that may, in the course of the next twenty years, be sold for a little profit. Some of the stuff had been there so long that it had lichen and moss growing on it. The surface of anything metal was brown with rust. Second hand doors had become swollen with dry rot after being out in the rain for years. Having been to these sorts of places I can appreciate what it was like.
After my brother loaded the timber onto his car he had to go to pay the guy. Unlike you and I who go home from work and then live in a separate house, this guy lived in one of those site sheds you have on building sites for the foreman to work from or the workers to have lunch in. The demolisher actually lived full time in this small, utilitarian building amongst all the crap that he brought back from a demolition job.
When my brother got to the door and opened it he said his stomach clenched. The room was barely lit. The windows were so grimy that hardly any natural light could get in. The interior was as dingy as it could be. Grey, brown, grimey and it stank. Some parts of the room were darker than others. At the end of the room, where the two walls meet were two couches. They were in the dark but because the television was on my brother could see two men sitting, one on each couch.
He chatted to them for a few minutes trying hard not to take in how utterly disgusting the room was. There was a single bed against one wall which was covered in filthy grey blankets and what he thought were grey sheets but they were possibly once white. There was a dirty sink filled with rubbish. A bar fridge nearby. The carpet was rancid, the air was full of stagnant smoke and unwashed body odour.
Eventually my brother had to move closer to where the action was. The action being two men sitting on a couple of putrid couches, drinking beer, watching television with the sound down and smoking cigarettes. As he moved closer to the demolisher he had to give the money to he was able to take in the piece de resistance of the entire picture.
The demolisher was sitting at one end of a couch. Beside him, on the floor, were two things that made my brother want to vomit. One was a 30litre tin that was full to the brim with cigarette butts. The second thing was a pile of ash on the floor next to it where, for goodness knows how long, the demolisher had sat smoking cigarettes and dropping the ash in the pile for years. The pile would have been almost 18inches high.
The demolisher himself was so unwashed that my brother was taken aback. His singlet was grey and sagging, his hair was matted and his bare legs were dirty. The smell was ripe. The guy's body had molded itself into the couch and it all blended in a picture of unique filthiness. Fortunately my brother was able to keep his jovial demeanour whilst inside his head a voice was screaming to let him out.
My brother, after that episode, decided that the people who run the Quit Smoking campaign have it all wrong. Rather than go on about risks of cancer and ill health, they should just bring each person into that room for a reality check. It really was the most disgusting thing he had seen.
I just wish I could have been there. It sounded so vile I wanted to see it for myself.
Which, knowing how I am about germs from the great unknown, kind of intrigues me.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
The eighteenth one actually. We almost forgot. But, I hate to admit this, we are not the sort to make a big deal. What is that saying? You get less for murder? Something along those lines.
This post is a brief run down of my husband. It is kind of odd when you realise that you are hanging around the one person for a substantial amount of years. I guess we must be doing something right. Or perhaps it actually takes a few years to work each other out.
One thing I did do today was to get out in the garden for some productive work. I had to stake some trees, plant a few things and mulch the garden beds. Not too much, but more than I have done for ages. It was hot, the soil is like dust and it constantly amazes me that some plants soldier on no matter what. Years ago I used to be really into gardening, even had my own glass house in the backyard in which the hot sun killed everything. I would like to make more time for it for it is a very satisfying activity.
Having surgery in November really forced me to sit back and rest. It has occurred to me that I have been doing a bit too much leading up to it. So I am going to rethink what tack I shall take in 2009 in regards to work, exercise and personal interests. It is as though I have been busy in some areas and completely lacking in others. The balance has not been right and I intend to change that.
More studio work and more writing definitely. Have to feed that creative urge.
Have a good talk to my boss about the stress levels at work and what he needs to do to reduce them. That does sound funny doesn't it? Me telling my boss what I want him to do. But I am not looking forward to going back to work and I need my boss to change how he feeds information over to me otherwise I will be worn out again. It is not about money, for if I asked for more he would give me more, it is about working in an environment with positive stress as opposed to negative stress. It is going to be a very tough year and I want to be able to manage it without the high anxiety levels I have had (despite wonderful coffee machine in the work kitchen).
Okay, this is a good one. Less housework. Whilst I was recovering from surgery I paid the lady next door to do my ironing. She used to be a dressmaker and irons clothes like a professional. Everything comes back so immaculate. She uses starch! The bed linen is as crisp as can be. I have decided that I will keep getting her to do it. She needs the money, now her husband has retired. It takes her two or three hours what it takes me four or five hours. I always feel guilty about getting others to do my "dirty work" so to speak. Always feel as though I should do it all. But sometimes it makes sense.
Exercise will always be a must but I will get back to yoga once a week, more walks and less heavy exercise. I was just too tired last year.
So, a bit of ruminating about what do to in the year ahead. Not resolutions as such, just trying to look at improving on the year passed.
Oh, almost forgot, we are going away on Tuesday for a two night break at a little place called Philip Island. We are staying at a very nice place which is a bit of a treat. Phillip Island is quite pretty but full of bogans. Some people like that (other bogans especially) , I don't. So, I have a two night limit there and keep a wide berth from caravan parks, camping grounds and sad hotels. And if that makes me sound like a snob, well, then it appears I am one. We will take our pushbikes and pedal around the place. I am not sure how my son will manage three days without internet combined with more than usual physical activity.
Tomorrow, unfortunately, is a work day so I will have to get out of bed early. I think I can do it despite being out of practice.
Oh, dear, I just had that awful feeling you get on a Sunday evening when you remember that you have to go to work on the following Monday.