Wednesday, October 31, 2007

LERF? I nearly cried

Well, its only 28 here, but in this little hotbox I call my office (other people may call it the closed off bit of verandah attached to my bedroom) it is stinking hot - especially trying to work out money matters by the end of the month!

So, who put money on the Local Electrolux Repair Firm (to save typing, referred to hence as LERF) fellas actually getting back to me yesterday? Anyone? Nah, odds are definitely stacked against them on that one.

Todays update is I rang LERF (again - that would be the 13th time since the latest breakdown from my end) and spoke to Gail (again - I have had the pleasure on about 5 of those occasions) who had no idea who I am (again - I have offered to make them a dartboard with my name as the bullseye).

She is very good at the local brand of customer service.

Sorry, Pshe is berry goob ad vae locl bwanb of cushomer serbice (thats how you say it with your tongue in your cheek).

Before I began my breezy self-introduction she cut me short and wanted to know my address. Why? Because there are so many LERF customers in this town with the same name, apparently it is easier to file your cards by street address. Hmmm.

I explained the latest development of the saga, and she told me that no-one by the name I mentioned worked at LERF. (I wonder do any of them?) I said "perhaps someone with a similar name?" and then listed the many similar names to that particular handle. Ah, yes, someone did actually call that spot their workplace with one of those names...

(I have a problem with Gail - she is also the one who advised me that Rosscoe had retired and expected me to roll over and play dead).

She finally found my card and informed me that the part was not in. When I enquired what day would be a good day for me to continue the LERF brand of self-abuse, she ASSURED ME they would call when it came in. (Doubles or nothing, anyone?)

She then said that the wholesalers must not have any in stock for them not to have received it, so I should expect it on Thursday - which defies logic.

Why? Because I figure that LERF may well be passing the pain down, and that their wholesalers may have taught them the "cushomer serbice" that I have come to expect.

Silver lining on the experience is the blogging - you gotta admit, if it wasn't for blogging, this carp would be unbearable...

To the person who found my blog by googling "Electrolux Ecovalve" - great while it works, get to know your LERF and develop a positive relationship before you have to get up close and personal. Apparently you should budget on a two year turnover - which unfortunately is the rule of thumb with whitegoods in this day and age.

Other googlers:
  • "killer tummy ache" - I am sorry, but I am glad you found one of my whinges rather than one of my recipes.
  • So many people are looking for variations on "hole in the bucket" its astounding. I wonder how upset you were when you found a moan about the washing machine?
  • "Is cat eat corned beef safe" - I would say yes, make sure there was plenty of water available.
  • Many, many, many people wish to fold fitted sheets - and do you know how much it empowers me that I have provided this service to the hordes? If you wish for an even easier method, one of the commenters has invented something or other and wants to sell it to you - if anyone buys it, let me know (cause I know how to fold fitted sheets!)

Of course, some purverts (yes, I know its spelled wrong, but I don't want them to google me on it) looked for a lot of things they are unlikely to find on this blog - although if you are still looking for boob, you still have a chance to help save them, as I have internet friends doing all sorts of fundraising for Breast Cancer in the next few weeks - drop me a comment and I can connect you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wishy Washy

Gee, its been a while, hasn't it?

I have been meaning to get back here, tell you all about the little inspirations of my life - but you know, life, computers, work, family and washing machines are conspiring to stop me and my blog from connecting anywhere but in my imagination.

Life update - going on at a rapid rate - everything still wonderful, just more busier...

Computer update -
  • I have good anti-v!rus stuff on board now - excellent.
  • It found 80 threats in the first 12 minutes of scanning my machine - not so wonderful.
  • It has resulted in my computer g-o-i-n-g very slowly - especially surfing - during the moments when I wish for speed - hmph.
  • It gives me a lovely breakdown of who is using my wireless network every 10 minutes - great.
  • This results (my own router and V's computer) in interrupting whatever I was doing every 10 minutes - huh?
Work update - actually have a few irons in the fire and set to design a few more irons at the moment - some of the moula firmly stashed in the bank and I am thinking of ways to spend it - it seems that the computer black hole may take a fair whack...

Family update - I have had the pleasure of hosting every member of my immediate family in the last 5 days! Unfortunately, one of those visits was due to 4yo Rockgirl having a nasty accident involving boys, a barbeque, a door and her little finger... The good news is she didn't lose it - the confusing part is the medical dramas to get to that point. I have since heard that my uncle cut off the top of his finger the next morning with a chainsaw and my BIL split his face open with a branch yesterday - so that is the 3 thanks fate.

Ah yes, the washing machine update. Where were we at with this little drama?

Quick recap for those who haven't yet and don't really want to read the backstory (because they know I have a verbose habit):
  • July 2005 - Bought an Electrolux Eco-valve front-loader. Small drama with delivery, but happy and very impressed with outcome.
  • December 2006 - had a few problems. Used 25yo Simspon washer until fixit guy fixed it.
  • December 2006 - 25yo Simspon washer had a few problems. Fixit guy fixed it and front-loader. Front-loader back in action, 25yo Simpson becomes useable spare with drip-dry issues.
  • April 2007 - had a few more front-loader problems - Used 25yo Simspon washer until I could find some paperwork.
  • June 2007 - Front-loader fixed under warranty. 25yo Simpson washer back in reserve.
  • 9 September 2007 - Front-loader had a few more problems. 25yo Simpson washer back in action. I write a snarky email to Electrolux.
  • 10 September 2007 - Electrolux reply, but not with the answer or concern I was looking for.
  • 10 September 2007 - Rang and was assured front-loader would be fixed under warranty - they would call me.
  • 11 September 2007 - was called and advised they didn't ever manufacture my washing machine as could find no parts. After my assurance they would keep looking and call me when the part came in.
  • 12 September 2007 - was called and advised they didn't ever manufacture my washing machine as could find no parts. After my assurance they would keep looking and call me when the part came in.
  • 24 September 2007 - Rang and found guy who assured me front-loader would be fixed under warranty had retired - they would call me back when they knew more.
  • 2 - 12 October 2007 - Rang every other day and found no-one ever knew what I was talking about - even if I had spoken to them two days prior - they assured me they would call me back when they knew more every time. They never did.
  • 16 October 2007 - Rang and found no-one knew what I was talking about - they would send the technician on Thursday.
  • 19 October 2007 - Technician came and I was assured they would find out about the warranty status and how much/when it could be fixed - he would call me back on Friday when he knew more.
  • 26 October 2007 - a load (containing a school bag with remains of week old banana mashed into the seams) managed to dislodge the pin advising the 25yo Simpson that the lid was closed.
  • 26 October 2007 - Rang and and found no-one knew what I was talking about - but it was the manager who answered the call, so he went to check my card. He was gone a VERY LONG TIME. He returned 10 minutes later and assured me it would be fixed under warranty. They will call me when the part is in on Tuesday (which would be TODAY).
  • 22 October 2007 - the amazing V, with the assistance of a screwdriver, several cups of coffee and some creativity has fixed the 25yo Simpson... Of course, the lid is no longer connected and wires held together with a clamp protrude from the back - but it goes nicely with the drip dry problem and the hot water adjustments required to get a good wash happening, so all in all - he got well rewarded for his efforts (even got some clean clothes).

30 October 2007 - I am taking money on the odds they will not call back. I am trying hard not to show cynicism - but I have to face at least 5 loads today, which will involve 15 interactions with the Simpson and am not believing in fairy tales...

I have a partner who works in construction therefore tends to get a little dirty laundry, a daughter an active nearly 8yo girl therefore tends to get a lot of semi-dirty laundry, every family member visiting therefore acres of sheets to wash regularly and me getting fatter, therefore limited wardrobe choices and more reliant on clean laundry...

Inspirations that did not make it to this blog: - 'Salina's current nightmares; Wednesday night television; thank you notes; V (the bits I am allowed to blog); construction; Rockgirl's medical drama and the conundrums of modern medicine in a rural setting; environmental impacts and 'Salina; and Eddie, the wonder cat and our food fights.

Sorry I have not been by to visit many of you of late - I will once the computer and I are talking more civilly.

It has taken about 2 hours to do this 1/2 hour job this morning, so its more swearing than gentility we are using at present.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Funny Old Weekend (and week thus far)

Well, a lot has happened in Paradise (and to the inParadise family) since last I blogged...

Lets see - feasting, family, funny heads, frantic computing, finding sandals, feeling for friends, and computer v!ruses (or should that be v!rusii?) - so it wasn't completely f-ed! I amuse myself.

Friday we went to the local Mexican establishment to sample some delights and take my San Diego boy back to his roots (so to speak).

They have an "all you can eat" deal available certain nights so we thought, what with the appetite of V, that might be the way to go.

It was good and it was not so good.
  • Good in that 'Salina enjoyed the decor, we got a laugh at the toilet signs.
  • Bad in that they put us at a table and disappeared without explanation for a time.
  • Good in that the garlic bread (how very traditional Mexican) and fried potatoes with cumin and sour cream dip was very much appreciated and delicious.
  • Bad in that we realised their ploy was to fill us on crap before the decent stuff came out.
  • Good in that the nachos were very authentic, without absolute reliance on the dairy products and with a very yummy blend of beans and stringed beef in the sauce.
  • Bad in that 'Salina's leg was very sore "like its bruised on the inside".
  • Good in that, when the main chicken and beef dishes arrived, they were to die for wonderful.
  • Bad in that 'Salina was full by that stage and didn't want to eat any of the vegetables.
  • Bad in that we were then ignored for a long while.
  • Good in that they finally asked if we wanted anything more.
  • Bad when we were advised that we could have (if we were really that gluttonous) some queasadilla (sp?) or start the sequence again.
Yes, we were very full. But no, we were not satiated. We got a take-away menu as the food was good - but the prices? We have realised why we eat out or get take-away so rarely!!

On the weekend we went to the family property, as I am doing a bit of computer work for them to (a) take the load off them, (b) have a great excuse to visit more often, and (c) they will pay me!

On the way there, we stopped at our usual playground (where there is a merry-go-round with real live plastic horses to ride). As we left, 'Salina was questioned on the status of her sandals. She replied in the car, and I made that fatal mother mistake of NOT CHECKING. Needless to say, she only had a pair of riding boots to wear all weekend.

It was great seeing everybody - and we got to see the whole shebang - 5 children, 4 parents and 2 grandparents. My family are a wonderful bunch of people - and like a lot of large groups with familial ties, we have our moments and idiosynchrasies - I am sure that people require a lot of training and forebearance coming in from the outside - and other families who have their own unique moments and idiosynchrasies.

Poor old V had been a little under the weather all week, and got family-stroke so was laid out for the whole evening session. He had just finished a full week of physical labour and needed to rest. My family - well, we haven't been brought up in a rest-advocated environment. We are opinionated, vocal and a lot of work - even in leisure-time - gets attempted.

Well, I was out there to work anyway, so I did. Pagi (grandpa) delivered a bull with the girls - 'Salina, FlowerGirl, RockGirl and Supergal (Spideyboy was girled out and Bruiser went home for a much-needed nap) and then Pagi to saddled the horse for her usual ride. Both mothers and I did officey stuff, Nana packed up more "stuff" (she moved - ahem - from there 10 months ago) and BIL sanded back a floor in the new kitchen - because its the weekend, and that is what you do on the weekend. Its not real work, its weekend work!

By next day, V was up to light duties (keeping Supergal, Spideyboy and 'Salina out from the house)- an easy prospect in the end as there are many interesting things for youngens out there. Dog pen, bulls, horses, shed, sand piles - you know, the perfect playground. I was back on the 'puter, BIL sanded back more floor in the new kitchen and SisterJane uploaded and edited the photos that she had taken for the local kindergarten - its Sunday, and that is what you do on the weekend. Its not real work, its weekend work!

Okay, so my family is touched! But I got the work all finished by lunchtime. After lunch I agreed to a stay of leaving for 'Salina to watch a movie and I commandeered some downtime - and took V for a drive around part of the property.

Because of the nature of our times out there, V has not got the drives that my Dad used to take us on every weekend - the "check the property this is not work" task that occurred regularly - so I took him on the scenic route.

This picture is so cute - my family have Brangus cattle, and their habit is to have the calves in "nursery" with a few babysitters while the mothers graze a little way away - but if anything disturbs the babies they come running from the hills! It makes them easy to muster.

The prickly pear are in flower, which either means it will be a good season or a really crap one - they need it to be the former!

This is a view from Top Back Creek towards the house - V now at least has a bit more basic knowledge when our family refers to landmarks and act as if they are just over there, when in reality could be 15 km away!

On the way home to Paradise, we again we stopped at our usual playground (where there is a merry-go-round with real live plastic horses to ride) - and lo and behold, some kind stranger had found the sandals and put them in shelter! It makes you smile to know there are good people in the world.

When we got home, we flaked.

Both V and I had friends who sorely need to be better appreciated. I had just found out about some computer v!ruses (see below) and was a bit sad on behalf of a funeral that I couldn't get to.

Then I found out about Lucky Dube's death. I had helped with the band in Sydney when he came on tour - of the guys that were out here with them, very few are left alive - some due to the same senseless violence that Lucky died from.

When they were here, we had some of the guys at a newsagency in the Cross when a suspected shoplifter was caught. You have never seen 3 Africans disappear into the shelves like them - they could not believe a gun had not been brought out, because that is the way it would have been at home.

On top of that, I did not get my chance to catch up on the world online - due to (a) getting a v!rus (in the form of a Mozilla Update, I am pretty sure - I don't tend to open attachments) and losing all Firefox essentials (and bookmarks) - such as a menu, toolbar, window or control - just a wee blue line with "Firefox" and an "x" on the screen - close it and you got another... I flicked to my AVG - who told me "yes, we did find a v!rus a few days ago - put it somewhere safe but couldn't save you but WELL, WE ALSO DIDN'T LET YOU KNOW LIKE WITH A BLODDY GREAT WARNING SIGN!" - oooh.

I went to IE, which I have problems with as every so often it has a memory clash with something else and wants me to debug it... I did a little surf on essentials (you know, follow up emails) and clicked on a facebook message - and wham - 14 pop up windows appeared - I tried closing them down as fast as they opened, but scared the carp out of me.

According to AVG, today I have nothing at all wrong with the computer - it is all d-a-n-d-y - I am not so blithe as once I was!

Yesterday (Monday) was a pupil-free day for the kids, so I had 'Salina in tow to do more mundane tasks or left her to her own devices while I just did what I had to do - great interactive mothering, hey?

As is our way, the day that 'Salina gets a pupil-free day is the day that V gets to knock off the work site early! We are still in that stage of our relationship where a few hours of prospective child-free time is a luxury to be enjoyed, not endured - but was not to be. Instead, V got to take 'Salina for a cycle and swim at the beach. For which I was very appreciative - as I said, great at interactive mothering!

So today I am very tentatively approaching the machine. I was less tentative about reminding a client that the money due a week ago is still not apparent - as that stands in the way of decent v!rus protection, new opportunities and my trip to Armidale - and was successful with that, at least.

Electrolux still aren't giving me any love - they aren't hating me either, just giving me the "we'll call you" shuffle and leaving me in limbo.

That brings us almost up to date - 'Salina is at guides, so V and I have had some child-free time (where I blogged - priorities!), V is cooking mexican (its Tuesday night - its always much anticipated tacos and burritos) with additional difficulty as I forgot the seasoning mix!

So I will sneak out of here - should be back to blog surfing strength soon - until then, hello all internet friends, I miss you...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spin Queening

Gee whiz, it sounds like I have a lot to do in my life, doesn't it? That is because I am the Queen of Spin.

The secret to that, my friends, is I write my blog early and tell you of my intentions.

Today, due to the nature of Fridays, instead you get to see my results.

Take yesterday's to-do list, shall we?

As tomorrow is Boardies Day for Surf Life Savers fundraising - and as 'Salina has a peculiarity about her waist sensitivity that I blame on her father - I have need to dust of the sewing machine. The material we have chosen from a stockpile I had - and as I am making one pair, I might as well make 6 (include all the cousins - I have enough material), a dress for myself (different material), picnic rugs for the extended families for Christmas presents and maybe do my mending.

Well, I did cut out the three size patterns I would need in regard to shorts. I also cut out the pieces for the six pairs of shorts, the smallest three using the old "rough gauge" to alter for size. I did the fancy-schmancy stuff for the pockets and I sewed up the sides, I pinned the crotches - and then I ran out of steam.

In came 'Salina from school - and the ones her size (the largest as she is the oldest cousin) didn't fit. So I again used the old "rough gauge" to alter for size and made one complete pair of boardies. The rest are in the very large "to finish" pile...

Oh, and today?

Tomorrow's to-do list immediately formed, as the weekly budget comes down today, flea powder and bombs can be bought, we will all be away from the house for bombing (oh, the joys of tuckshop day), yet I will return by the afternoon for cleaning every surface, vacuuming all beds and floors. I will also be able to zip home intermittently to move the washing every ounce of bedding along.

Shall we all laugh together? Best way to kybosh that little plan? Forget to buy the darned flea stuff.

Today was tuckshop day, which was joyous as usual - and that was about it. Well, that and spent an hour discussing all aspects of feeding times at the zoo with a friend (accompanied by some very good humour). Had a nap while 'Salina had afternoon tea. Nearly got the washing up done - and I have picked some parsley for tabboulleh.

We are going out to tea tonight (yay us - we never go out) and are going away to my family's for the weekend, so will be taking the weekly parsley crop out in the form of a salad offering.

And to end this exciting round up - I warned V and 'Salina to take their hands out of the way and to stop pulling faces else I would post a photo on my blog.

Oh, and V just thanked me for making him the happiest man in the world - another tick off the to do list - it was said before I posted this, however.

(All images of V belong to him. So I s'pose I am in trouble now.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Early Bird

Ahh - yes, one of those mornings when I was in the middle of an interesting dream (I believe) and was awoken pre-dawn.

Immediately, like an old Southern Cross windmill, my mind went into action, pumping the chores and activities that I would like to undertake over the next few days.

My first thought was "cat has fleas" as his incessant scratching was what first stirred me. Tomorrow's to-do list immediately formed, as the weekly budget comes down today, flea powder and bombs can be bought, we will all be away from the house for bombing (oh, the joys of tuckshop day), yet I will return by the afternoon for cleaning every surface, vacuuming all beds and floors. I will also be able to zip home intermittently to move the washing every ounce of bedding along.

With that preliminary workout, I then turned to matters today. As tomorrow is Boardies Day for Surf Life Savers fundraising - and as 'Salina has a peculiarity about her waist sensitivity that I blame on her father - I have need to dust of the sewing machine. The material we have chosen from a stockpile I had - and as I am making one pair, I might as well make 6 (include all the cousins - I have enough material), a dress for myself (different material), picnic rugs for the extended families for Christmas presents and maybe do my mending.

Then I got out of bed - it was 4.30am - the good news is that I have already ticked off 5 things on my list - the bad news is that it is now 2 1/2 hours later, I have just read the above and the rest of my list and I suddenly feel very, very tired!!!

Quick housekeeping from the last few posts.
  • There was a good explanation why my friend had not yet been told. There still is no good reason that our other friend died as she did.
  • I have nearly nailed down the childcare fix for me to do my training, get my girlie weekend and ensure 'Salina has a good time WITHOUT too much extra driving!
  • We are at the end of PMS - yay!!
  • My friend managed to have one of her paintings sold, so at least one benefactor found the show

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Death Etiquette

I lived in Melbourne 10 years ago for a year. It was mostly a good year and I had some great friends down there.

I received a call last night from one of those friends to tell me another had died suddenly last week.

The news reminded me that there are many of my friends I have lost touch with over time that I should have made more effort to maintain basic contact with.

I am a shocker - I mean to do Christmas cards every year - sometimes I get around to doing a few but never enough. I have a folder of "I must reply to" emails that is so huge now - and many are over a year old...

I used to be a habitual "form letter update" to my far-flung friends, then it was "form email update" - both have petered out.

I tell some about my blog, but really this is neither a journal of the minutae of my life nor a true individual communication, rather a mirror or telescope into little aspects.

It seems like I am paring off the feeling part of me that I used to put into my friendships, and I realise now that it REALLY sucks.

I have HAD so many friends through my life. I have moved many times, and sometimes I have kept the contact, other times faded away.

It takes a wake up call like this to make me realise that my friends (and I am lucky, as I have family members who are also my friends) deserve a little more from me...

Jo was many things and will be missed greatly by her family and her friends. I do miss her too - but I also miss that, apart from sporadic contact, I missed so much of her when she was alive and I wish I could have told her.

So I am making an effort to rectify this with other friends, starting today...

Of course, I immediately stumbled, as I called the friend who had originally introduced us to comiserate with her - and she had not been told.

What is the etiquette there? And why do I feel so crappy that I was the one to have to tell her?

Whistling in the wind here - be back and hopefully less naval-oriented then.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Parental Conundrum

Yesterday, I had a very exciting phone call. It was to do with work prospects. A company that could send me a lot of flexible work (I love flexible work) wants me to go and visit them so they can train me up - FREE OF CHARGE - in the software they develop and distribute.

Its computer software stuff - I love computer software stuff. They service industries that I know a fair bit about. It is servicing clients that may involve a bit of travel but that should be able to fit in with my needs.

The company is based in Armidale - a rush of blood went to my head when I realised that I will be only a few hours from there one weekend not too far away. I was going to allow 'Salina's paternal extended family the pleasure of having her for the weekend while I (and V, if we could wangle a day from his job) had a weekend in Northern New South Wales with one of my oldest friends and some of her other mates.

I even have an appointment on the Monday with a Brisbane client to tie up some loose ends there - oh, the time management I was bouncing about.

But I only pencilled it in. It was not until discussing it with V later that I realised what I was suggesting.

I was suggesting that I dump my own child on people who probably don't want, need or possibly are not up to the responsibility of 4 full days and nights of an 8 year old child.

While I could probably ask V to take one day from work for the Brisbane appointment, it is impossible to ask that he take 3-4 days to accompany me for babysitting duties when currently his is the main (read almost only) income that keeps us in the lifestyle.

And if I left her at home, I would be asking that we have a patchwork of carers from 80 year old neighbours and other mothers to cover the gaps that his work makes due to his timetable and hers - and I would be dumping my kid on my boyfriend!

While he is absolutely wonderful and wanting to be the best father role in the world for her and we have done the whole affiancing thing, it is still a bit rich to say "hey, going away for work training and a weekend with old girlfriends - have fun" to your daughter and your boyfriend.

So, of course, in true jeanie style, I obsessed it a little. I did a fine line in obsessing it while at the shops. I subconsciously obsessed through dinner, through bedtime routines, even through crap tv.

V went to bed at 9.30 but I stayed up to watch a darned movie I have seen before and has Adam Sandler in it. And I cried. I then hopped on to the computer and checked out posts and cried. Except for totally getting where my blog-friend Jaycee is at with her plea last night (Semantically Driven - What do you say to someone who says he hates himself) I did not know why everything was getting at me so much...

I then also read Serving the Queens - what I cannot give her and Plain Jane - I do what I do and could not believe how the theme was building.

Then I went to bed, and the subconcious broke out.

How DARE I expect others to take care of my child. How SELFISH of me to want to do something that will improve our lot when THIS IS MY BED and I should just suck it up and lie in it.

Speaking of lying in the bed, after an hour of such self-loathing I left it to try the cocoa trick. When I returned, V had left me a v-e-r-y narrow precipice to teeter on. I tried his side, but it just wasn't right and had too many pillows. I tried my side, but the knee placement, the foot placement and the fear of killing his arm led me to curl up, top to toe with him covered in a crocheted rug - very apt for self-pity!

Had I been still in Brisbane, this opportunity may not have come along - but had I been still in Brisbane, I had a network of single friends and single parent friends who I could have knitted something together with - but up here, the school parent support network is less obvious and my friends are farther away. I miss that aspect and probably should make more of an effort - but it is so hard to do so when the chances of being rebuffed seems stronger. I don't know.

I was a wreck by morning - but at least my insomnia had given me fodder for an excellent to do list.

One of the things to do was call my mum. My mother is very wise. I told her my yarn and she told me that no-one does a line in guilt like me, and I should learn to stop that and now.

She then suggested my sister for the babysitting role, with 'Salina having a week at the local one teacher school thrown in. I have yet to talk with my sister, so it is still not carved in stone.

But that does not matter. I know my training does not really have to be on those dates - it just seemed provident. If it doesn't, I should not agonise over it, I should reschedule and move on.

And I realise that I am not an island. I do have V who will cover for me when I am so ill I cannot move or when I have short term time issues in a parenting role - and who will be beside me while parenting as much as he is able which is far more than most men would offer and I am grateful and happy that he is part of our lives.

I also have the most supportive family a woman could want. My sister and BIL are 'Salina's godparents, and I was already a sole parent when I made my decision and I think it a very wise decision. They love her truly - as she does them - and they have ponies. And if they need a break, right next door is my brother and SIL, who also have her wellbeing at heart. They have a pony too.

While I gripe about the ex-laws, I know that had I asked them they would have said "sure" - it was more my own peace of mind and the fact that it would be a struggle for them in terms of time and effort to have that long a visit. Both brothers are now working (there is an unusual star alignment in the heavens there) and are only really good childcare for an hour or so "playtime". Sister is fantastic, but her son goes to a very big school and so she works and plays during her child-free hours - I would either be hindering that or asking my child to go into a large possibly bullying environment (there have been issues). She also has 50/50 parenting with her ex, so her child-free time is also a premium. Baka is great too, but she is an unfit, barely mobile 70 year old woman who plays poker and watches soap operas with the kids.

This morning, I also learned a few more blog lessons, from
Parenting without a License - Making the Grade and Dream Mom - Gone Fishin’. Both made me cry, but the tears were more of the joy of simple lessons life can give.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monthly Madness

I am lucky - generally I don't have the debilitating cramps some women get on a monthly basis.

V is not so lucky - generally, he does pretty well walking through the quicksand the week leading up to Red Wednesday but sometimes it can come out of left field.

What do you expect when you combine the weekly shopping list, the budget limitations and a woman who feels like every comment is a personal barb?

Then I and 'Salina went off to the shops. The shopping centre of the moment (until 'Salina pays off her lay by) is not exactly designed for people with PMS.

For one thing, they have really stupid people shopping there. Truly - I think they truck them in, especially at this time of the month JUST SO I CAN GET well and truly narked at them while waiting in the long queues.

Secondly, they have been renovating for the last century or so, and therefore only one lot of toilets is open - and its not the ones near you when you want to "freshen up" - and the ones that are open rarely are filled with luxuries such as toilet paper , soap or flushable toilets.

Then, after artfully moving all the stupid shoppers into my path once again at the grocery stores, they change the layout, hide the obvious and decide that cat owners will just have to put up and shut up with the choice of ONE CAT FOOD in the fresh meat section, because they need that extra eighty acres of pet food refrigeration for dog food. Nothing against dogs, but they will eat anything - my cat, a little more discretionary.

They only have about 60% of the checkouts open, and each has at least one or two of the stupid shoppers unloading groceries for the next month. If you show any hesitation in choosing a checkout, guaranteed another fellow consumer will whip in and take the most appealing spot.

I got home and V wasn't quick enough to help me unload the groceries - big mistake, as I have a great line in passive aggressive grocery unloading that would curl weaker people. After lunch I needed a kip (hell, you do after shopping) and he made the mistake of lying on the wrong side of me in front of the box - which of course meant that he was not happy with our current sleeping arrangements, he had put up with it and shouldn't be so wimpy in making his stand for which side of the bed he wanted and maybe he should just - I don't know what he should have done, but his suggestion that it was not the discussion that should be held at this time of the month both infuriated, got a giggle and made me somewhat weepy...

That was Saturday. Yesterday I again got hit with the worst side-effects of my career - migraine central.

You begin by having your head both implode and explode at all times, doubly so when you are required to move. If you are forced to face food (sort of a "must do" with a child) rarely will your stomach sit still.

If you try and sip some liquid to sooth your throat, your body will expunge the nasty incursion with a refund of both the liquid plus an acidic concoction that smells nasty, requires all your muscle groups (including the ones that would usually hold other parts of your body in place - mothers of the world, you know the ones I mean) and BURNS that throat that got you into trouble in the first place.

My day consisted of - wake up, groan, take panadol and water, look at daughter's breakfast options, throw up, lie down, groan, throw up, lie down, sip water, groan, throw up, lie down, throw up, lie down, groan - sleep happened a lot, waving pitifully in the direction of 'Salina and V happened a few times - I think the Kiwis were operating on the same level as I because some of this was done in front of the Rugby League test match (to keep V company) - it was a non-day.

Today, I am operating on about 150% because I don't feel anywhere near as bad as that - and I am enjoying the delights of being free of such hell.

Oh, and a postscript to my friend's art show:

She was a little too embarrassed to try and find out what had happened to the show, so I volunteered to find the information.

There was nothing at all about it online. I found something about the agency that the counsellor she works with, so rang their umbrella organisation as it was the only available number.

Man, I would hate to be having a Mental Health moment while trying to talk to these Mental Health administrators - if you weren't close to the edge at the beginning, you would be by the end - but after divulging a lot of personal information (bang goes any chance of the paranoid receiving help), having some knowledge of what I was looking for (bye bye to confused mental health patients) and being persistent I finally got given another number of the specific agency I was looking for - as they had no idea about any art show.

So I rang that number - and got straight through to my friend's counsellor. I explained my need to know where the show was, so she told me - very detailed how to get there instructions, including the words "turn left at the railway gates", "don't park in their carpark" and "then ask at the kiosk".

She then said "you then go over to the Powerhouse building" and the pieces all clicked together. She HAD told my friend it was on in the Powerhouse - just turns out its not the Powerhouse we all assumed because its a large state arthouse, theatre and museum - rather the Powerhouse because it indeed was the Powerhouse for the old asylum that now houses the Mental Health facilities they operate from.

Glad we got all that cleared up. Just hope the rich benefactors can find it!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How I am celebrating Stress-Less Day

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams -English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 - 2001)

As I mentioned below (yes, I know - two posts in one day!), today is World Mental Health Day. Or, if you are in Queensland, it is also "Stress-Less Day".

I was discussing with a friend this morning whether procrastination was a tool of mental anguish or mental health.

On the one hand, you have looming goals and deadlines that seem to grow exponentially. You cannot ignore them, and they are just more and more imposing the longer you avoid them. I think this is quite stressful - yet I procrastinate.

She mentioned that procrastination had recently been given new meaning to her, as someone explained it was the mind's way of preparing itself for the impending stress - a sort of stretching and limbering up before exercise, I presume.

I am not sold - however, it is a much more restful way to view procrastination, methinks.

So today, I had a very short to do list - just those little, minor, pesky tasks standing between poor me and me who has some self-generated wealth - and then I was going to reward myself by digging among the newly cleansed garage area for some materials and patterns to make myself and 'Salina some Summer threads.

So I :
  • pegged out - I had forgotten that unchecked box yesterday,
  • tidied the kitchen and dining areas,
  • walked the garden (check out my 8 headed sunflower at the bottom of the post!),
  • wrote a blog,
  • contemplated the garage box mountain to source the material and patterns later (may be more difficult than it first seems),
  • spoke to my friend *,
  • tried to source information for additional Mental Health Week activities,
  • checked my blogs and boards,
  • made a cup of tea,
  • printed up some envelopes for the work stuff (almost a step),
  • considered my filing pile,
  • looked at my to-do list,
  • printed off the email for the first task (nearly the whole step),
  • and replied to the email (yay - tick) - all before lunchtime.

After lunch, I then:
  • sourced the contacts for the second task (another nearly there step),
  • checked my blogs and boards,
  • made a cup of tea,
  • actually rang the contacts (woo hoo)

It actually wasn't that difficult! No, really, not hard at all. Of course, it could have been done by 9 this morning but I needed to flex a lot before committing!

So - only two more ticks required and I shall reward myself.

So - do you find procrastinating stressful, or stress-less?

* By the way, my friend is one of the artists showing at the in a display for Mental Health Week - and you can buy some of their paintings.

I would give you the link to where it is meant to be, but my friend has just called me and her "Stress-less Day" has been a doozy.

Last year, the exhibition was at The Powerhouse in Brisbane - and that is where she was told and where she assumed it was this year - as you would.

So she decided to celebrate by going to view her pictures and those of other artists - only to find they were not there!

She had to laugh (long after the event) on the image of herself running all over The Powerhouse (amongst the trendy folk who looked askance at her) trying to find the Mental Health Art Exhibition. She thinks they all thought she was certifiable.

So I will let you know where it is when she finds out.

Here is the 8 headed sunflower - fantastic, isn't it?

World Mental Health Day - October 10

Magic Bellybutton alerted me to the fact that today is World Mental Health Day - how about that!!!

This day has been observed internationally for the last 15 years, and has been promoting mental health advocacy and public education. They World Federation for Mental Health stresses that this is not a one day event, but includes activities (some up to a month in length) globally that are prepared for up to a year in advance.

They are right to stress that, as anyone who has ever had dealings with someone who has to deal with mental health knows, this illness doesn't fit into time frames either - or any categories!

It is not a sexy topic, and it certainly doesn't garner votes BUT its funny (in a weird way), but once you have dealings with mental health issues, either personally or vicariously its like you step through the looking-glass - and there are so many "regular" people you know on that side as well. In the six-degree view of the world, it generally only requires 1 degree of separation for anyone to be connected to a mentally heightened/enlightened or frightened friend or even family member (possibly themselves).

This year's theme is 2007 - Mental Health in a Changing World: The Impact of Culture and Diversity. I did go to the PDF to check out some of the minutae, but I was not quite up to the 51 pages!

My (black) humour take is wondering whether one Eastern European conglomerate will have their own section - I personally think that citizenship to this former country gives people a headstart in mental health issues! Very un-PC of me, yes - but I base it on personal observations.

I know there are no easy fixes or solutions to a lot of mental health challenges - but I think that people opening up and accepting that it is not an issue of "fault" or "blame", it is not something to be swept under the carpet, it is something that can come with stress, grief, fear or just life and that there are issues of justice, love, medication and faith that need to be examined.

Apparently the Queensland Mental Health Association have deemed today should be a "Stress-Less" Day - I am all for that!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Can you hear that?

.. that is the sound of NO Harry Potter DVD's being watched, no 'Salina's cries of "the scary bit is nearly here, you can come in now", no incantations being yelled as you are unexpectedly ambushed by wand-waving children.

.. that is the absense of the "I'm bored" riff that can permeate the holidays. The pleas for the activities manager to get her act together and make life more fun and joyous. I mean, why ask the woman whose aim in life is to make you eat your vegatables, do you homework, set the table and learn to entertain yourself for ideas for fun? Holidays seem to make for slight amnesia in 'Salina in regards to this aspect.

.. that is the satisfied groan of a woman who, looking at the holiday tasks list, can sit (painfully) on her laurels and see only one item unticked. Of course, I did them all in one day after visitors had left, and there are various muscle groups still sitting around bitching about my herculean efforts. (My attempts to include such chores as "entertainment opportunities" were lost on minors)

.. that is grown up music playing without regard for language warnings.

.. that is the howl of the Northerly rattling the flyscreen against the shutters reminding me that 'Salina forgot to take a jacket to school and October always lulls you into a false sense of Summer.

.. that is my little voice telling me that it is NOW time to get SERIOUS about several work committments and stop blogging.

.. that is my other little voice telling me I can read blogs all day if I could just bludgeon that other voice into submission.

Its going to be a long first day of school here. What are the sounds of your world?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How to stuff sleep patterns, a Meme and Operation Wednesday

(Warning - vegetarians may want to skip down about half-way)

How to stuff sleep patterns

You know those days when you wake up refreshed and think how you will attack things with clarity and passion?

Well, today was not one of them.

Last night's sleep was of the variety "hmm, not asleep yet. How about thinking about something like that tongue you have to cut up and press in the morning." Mmm, guaranteed sleep NOT.

About that tongue. Months ago, my sister and her family came for a visit and brought an esky of meat - because we are that sort of family. (When V first discovered that I was the daughter of a cattleman, I am sure that his interest in me, already quite keen, went up a few notches. His exclamation of "beef - my favourite meat" leads me to this conclusion.)

So anyway - we have worked through all of that esky except the parcel labelled "corned beef" as ham is so easy to get ready sliced and you don't need to boil for hours and find an ant's nest for the water afterwards.

On our holiday to visit the family, we had corned beef as a hot meal. Now, my only experience of this in the past was the boarding school offering, so you may forgive me if the thought of that didn't induce salivation. However, my BIL's mother had a very good recipe passed on to the next generation, and it was not only extremely edible but also became a hit in the 'Salina camp.

Yesterday morning (at 3.30am), I took out that corned beef to thaw. By the time I put together the secret ingredients the crock pot recipe required, I had talked it up quite a bit to 'Salina, so she was there as I unveiled - a cut of beast that was very obviously previously used to cush grass.

After dry retching, my country girl roots came through and cooked the darned thing anyway. Also, my parents were visiting last night, and I could not show them how soft I was. No, the worst case scenario is that the darned thing would be shipped back to the place of origin as dog food - but I would try the old recipe trove for a solution - that, and I am so tight I could not "waste" good food when shekels are being counted this week and hoarded against our menu choices.

It now lies in a dish with a lid weighted on top and we will see if (a) it sets, and (b) we have any takers. V's reaction was dry retching also, so his love of beef seemingly has limits where recognisable features are concerned, too.

a Meme

So, as I said, not a great night's sleep. However, it did stand me in good stead for a pleasant little task set for me by Foilwoman's Diary.

An interesting animal I had
I grew up on a cattle property. There was only one "pet" and that was Mum's Siamese cat, Gabriel Katari Aloysius. Of course, we had poddies, ponies, dogs and horses - even at one time had a beautiful lamb. This brings us to

An interesting animal I ate
This is where the definition of "interesting" comes in to play, as Mary-Jane was all of that to a seven year old. As we had only cattle, "ground-lice" were things of delight and wonder, and Dad had brought her back from a visit to his sister's out West. She was great fun - except when she got into the house and crapped everywhere. I am sure that is why we were allowed to discover the state of our rooms after we had been on a week's holiday BEFORE we discovered that Mary-Jane had gone, and we were having lamb for dinner.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal
When I was about 5, my godparents and their children came to visit from Sydney - a large, mysterious city in the South. My sister and god-sister were of a similar age and went off to bond in 7/8 year old style - and so my 11yo god-brother and I were playmates. We discovered we both had an interest in amphibians - and thus began a week of frog-wrangling. We got the fathers to make us a little frog house, with a slide door and mesh roof. We spent hours catching flies against the side-veranda windows and offering them to our hapless frogs. (Do not feel too sorry for the frogs - their only options were to be fed and grow fat and happy around the artificial pond in the frog house or climb onto the open beams above the patio and follow family tradition of seeing if they were Superfrog - they rarely were)

An interesting animal in the Museum
In the Queensland Museum on the upper floor, there is (or was) a great display of ancient Australian animals - one of them appears to "breathe" as you walk past and will scare the bejesus out of you and any child you are taking on an educational excursion! I am not one for reading the labels however. They also have an endangered animals exibit that has the sound effect of road kill being enacted - anything to enlighten youth, hey?

An interesting animal in its natural habitat
One of the joys of growing up in the country is having your own dump. Mum and Dad are natural hoarders, so it was with great difficulty that anything ever made it to this trove - and sure as eggs, we kids would troop down there and "discover" stuff - or rediscover. While there, we would sometimes shade in the nearby trees, and if you looked between the granite boulders you could see curled balls of echidna. We never actually saw them out and about - we did see a few snakes out and about which eventually cured us of the dump runs.

There are no real "rules" it seems on this meme - but I would love to see the takes on this offered by Mad Goat Lady, Magic Bellybutton, ArkieMama and DOASMOTE's Janeen - but only if you want to!

(Vegetarians - you are safe to join back in!)

Operation Wednesday

After that start, did not fire until after lunch really. 'Salina had a playdate this morning that allowed me to wrangle with the computer for an hour or so - still have some boring in front of the computer stuff tomorrow for 'Salina to whinge about but hey, I anticipate monetary rewards for such wrangling and she anticipates me having money some day so I can water down the whinging.

When she came home, I noted that the whiteboard had two seemingly innocent lines. One said "floors" and the other said "fans".

Never one to do things by half, I moved all of the furniture into one corner of the living room, poured all the bicarb I had over the carpets, put the dining table beneath the living room fan and gave 'Salina a cloth, a bucket, another chair and a project. I then swept all of the tiled and lino floors, washed them, vacuumed half the available carpet, rearranged the spare room, started dismantling the TV unit to put into the spare room, vacuumed the other half of the available carpet and pegged the 3 loads of laundry I had sporadically induced the 25 year old washing machine to churn during the day.

Of course, now I have a living room that looks more like a camping ground, at least 3 large pieces of furniture to move to completely different rooms or aspects of rooms to get anywhere decent.

I have to do this in the next day an a half - as 'Salina's father's sister and son are going to visit from Friday afternoon. She is actually fairly good value, but cleans houses for a living and can be a perfectionist, so I have to bust a gut to get to her standards. Sigh. Something is not right with the world there!

Tomorrow I also have to defrost the freezer and fridge while they are bereft of goods, take 'Salina swimming (payoff for her letting me out of the swimming/cycling half promise I didn't get around to today), do a grocery shop and rearrange 'Salina's room and turf a heap of detrius.

Friday, as well as collecting the Greek/Croatian connections I intend to mow the lawn, sort the detrius downstairs into a cohesive "garage sale or turf" plan.

My little whinge - I will have no adult help during daylight as V is with a new boss he is much happier with and while the days may "feel shorter" they are actually about 2 hours longer - but then, a happier but tireder V is a price I am willing to pay OVER one that involves certain previous bosses exploding from dagger looks or pushing my love one inch too far. Oh, and add to that New Boss's longer hours options takes away some budgetary constraints I have whinged about above by tomorrow morning, so I will just shut up now.

I will have 'Salina's help, but that little lay-by plan that is working for us so well has a downside - she expects payment for the slightest show of enthusiasm.

Oh - and the photo essay I promised - ha ha, only took photos of 'Salina, ponies and cousins the whole week! What is new. Here is a typical one:

This is all why I maintain my addiction to blogs - otherwise I would be far too busy to have a life!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Back and Crumbling

Hey there - had a great holiday, wonderful week, back to real life transition initialised.

My bloglines advised me I missed 1800 posts while away - I don't think I will get around to them all. A lot of them I probably wouldn't have anyway, but if you had a great post in the last week that I should read, please let me know!

I had a little tussel with my mate insomnia at 3 this morning, and contemplated a post at that point - but decided to do the dishes instead.

Yes, I should could have done the dishes last night, but hey, other things got higher priority.

Then I did an amazing to do list - and then decided to curl up next to my honey for another 1/2 an hour - and slept soundly for 2!

The list is being ploughed through, although not with as much alacrity as I had at 4am!

As a result, am both fairly wiped at the moment to recount every detail - will probably give you a photo essay later on - and daunted by the monumental tasks I have to complete today, tomorrow and over the rest of the holidays!!

Instead, will give you (and my family) the recipe I promised long ago.

Jeanie's Marvellous Muesli Bars

2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup choc chips
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 cup coconut
300g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup or honey

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt butter, mix in syrup or honey and then mix with dry ingredients.

Put into a lined slice tin and bake in moderate oven for 1/2 hour.

Cut while warm but allow to cook before separating.

Edited to add:

Having only half the flour and none of the coconut will result in very gooey bars - but yummy nonetheless (from experience at my sisters place)

Failing to put in the sugar results in very crumbly bars - but still yummy nonetheless (from yesterday's experience)

Secondgoround: I would probably up another dry goods quantity and experiment a bit if you didn't want the coconut - but you can hardly feel the coconut! However, the oven is a necessity.

Tracey: It is so easy, you can get little middle children (apologies 'Salina) to make these for you with minimal supervision. It is probably even easy enough for certain teenagers to contemplate...

Liv: My family don't have "holidays" - my father is someone who actually doesn't know how to relax - its either working or sleeping - and it rubs off on everyone to a degree on the property. But it is still fun. And also wonderful to be in my own home again!