Thursday, October 30, 2008

This Gross will Post You Out

Now, it being Halloween it is apt that I should tell you a story that will send shivers along your spine. Well, goosebumps to your flesh? Oh, okay, bile to your throat.

This is a little tale that meanders all over the place but ends up with one destination - and it is a tale of truth. I know, because I lived through it just last night.

So you who are weak of stomach or light of gut, LOOK AWAY NOW.

I can assure you you do not want to read this grotesque fable.

(ha ha - wouldn't it be sinister of me, given the discussion in my comments section, to then hide a picture of the pre-honeymoon action in the tale?)

Go, scroll to the end of the post and say "Jeanie, don't ever do that again" in my comments, or gird your loins and read on.

For the gore-lovers amongst us, I will set up a few background shots and flesh out the true horror of the situation.

This particular tale of calamity should be laid at the feet of the housekeeping gods and questions should be asked (while a fist is shaken) as to why I was given so little talent in that pursuit.

In fact, being a fantastic housekeeper is not on my "list of things I am good at".

I don't have self-esteem issues, I actually do have items on my list - but housekeeping and I keep our own sides of the street clean, if you know what I mean. (Well, obviously, I don't but I ask you to respect the metaphor.)

Where was I? Oh yes - background shots.

This bit isn't gross.

Well, not horridly as gross as you would expect it to be.

Yesterday was a good day in terms of the old "ticking off the list" strategy in life.

'Salina and I have slackened off a little in our early morning exercise routine.

I got a little EMER shy after I had two consecutive occasions of "getting 'Salina out and about for our walk or ride" being followed immediately by a bout of "mystery stomach ailment" precluding her from school attendance. I don't think one caused the other - but I sort of need her to attend school for oh so many reasons.

As a result, I am finding new and interactive ways for us to be active in the morning - and if it ticks off a list item, so much the better.

Method of choice yesterday morning was renovating a garden.

The garden in question is a poor neglected bulldust pit, pre-my-living-here it housed very sturdy plants recommended in terms of their ability to live (and do so prolifically) with little regard to soil quality, moisture content or the garbage and crap that blew in off the street and lived amongst them.

Several other renovation projects have been attempted on this plot, but once the ugly was removed the beautiful did not move in and say "great pad". Rather it sniffed disdainfully and keeled over.

Yesterday, petunias were the intrepid bits of fluff I was putting forward in our latest attempt at turning this ghetto into something that would please the eye.

So of course, there were a few preliminary jobs to do before doing the job we had to do, if you know what I mean.

There was the "take a barrow-load of bulldust from the pit" task, the "put a barrow-load of compost in the pit" task and the "move the compost pile" task that all had to be ticked before pretty petunias could reside.

I know a lot of people go "ooh, compost, gross, gross" - but really, the dark rich peat that we have created with our scraps over the last few months had an earthy, sweet smell not at all irritable on the olfactory inputs.

ha - that was leading you up the garden path, wasn't it? Or was it? What has a little gardening and compost to do with this tale dripping with putrescence?

Maybe nothing, maybe more. Read on...

It was definitely not as horrific on the senses as the waft that my larder has been issuing.

About two weeks ago, I opened the double doors that lead to the cupboard we refer to as the pantry and was assailed by something that inhibited the appetite and curdled the joy that normally goes with me cooking.

However, this was not the first instance rank vapours have upset my culinary genius, and therefore I knew the first place to look is the potato sack for the culprit.

I once read a book about the Irish potato famines. Man, there were some truly harsh conditions meted out over there during those times.

While reading it, I was agitated by the conditions of the economy and how it had ended up creating such a society where a family could have such a precarious hold on survival. I was both uplifted and offended by the reactions of the societies that impacted on and were impacted by these famines. I was distraught at the images of huddles of starving people without money, food or even clothing.

But the bit that really impacted, because I have been there, is the fact that their potatoes were rotting - and I could just smell it.

As I did two weeks ago. I went to my potato sack. I found the rotten potato. I was vindicated and joyous. The badness was gone.

Or was it?

Last night, we were getting ready for bed. Now, when I say "we were getting ready for bed" I mean "we were getting ready for bed" in the sort of way two adults do.

Oh yes indeedy, on V's "list of things I am going to marry Jeanie for" housekeeping may be fairly low, but there are other things that make "getting ready for bed" a euphamism that we don't need to go into.

I mean, you people can read (d'uh!) and so I figure that a few allusions between the lines will lead to a nod of understanding. I don't need to spell out anything too graphically for you to go "oh yes, enough information, you were getting ready for bed" and get what that is all about, do I?

(You know, full teethbrushing, take your pills, check the locks on the doors...)

Ahem - grossed out yet?

As I was saying, doing the last round before bedtime and I was in the kitchen.

Eddie looked at me with his big beautiful eyes and cried starvation.

Eddie, of course, does this with a bowl of meaty morsels in front of him. Its not so much about starvation as power trips, really.

Before you call the RSPCA, he isn't starving. But I filled his dry bowl anyway, because I am one of the wussiest cat owners around, and I know the territory I cover when I make that statement.

See, there is another "good point" for my list. Not having housekeeping as a skills isn't looking so bad when you chuck "good at brushing teeth" and "wussy pussy owner" up there!

Oops - sorry, getting off the gross highway, wasn't I? Where was I? Oh yes, in the kitchen approaching the dry cat food.

The dry cat food is in the pantry - bottom shelf. Also on the bottom shelf is the potato bag and all those crappy containers and bulk items that you don't grab too often because its right at ground level and who wants to bend over that far that often?

Anyway - dry cat food in bowl - that's right, I finished the dried cat food and remembered I had asked V to purchase some more, so I turned around to investigate the success of this request.

He had. It had been placed on the bottom shelf of the pantry beside the spot where the dried cat food (in its plastic decanter) was usually shelved - but I had the plastic decanter now void of dried cat food in my hand and therefore there was a space beside it.

That space meant I could see the new box of dried cat food appeared to be on damp chipboard.

Now, one thing you don't want in a pantry is damp chipboard. I know, its sniffily seventies to have chipboard in any state in your pantry - but that is the sort of kitchen we offer - not only is there lurid yellow benches, but all the qualities of chipboard have been embraced as well.

Damp chipboard means a multitude of sins.

It also means that there is a sinner lurking.

Recall the successful potato purge I had enacted? Well, the smell had lingered long after the spud had left the building, and I had been checking the potato sack often.

No more rotten potatoes - but that rotten smell seemed to be getting worse, not diffusing over time.

Damp patch of chipboard in the pantry, combined with the mystery of the vapours made me pull my detective hat down and squat to face the squalor of the bottom shelf.

Now, if I was any sort of nice person I would have a picture here to break up the tale and offer you another tea or a biscuit because I have been waffling, haven't I?

Here is a picture. Isn't it lovely? I do think this artist has a certain talent, and she was displaying them so young!!

Oh, you wanted a different picture?

He he he he he - what was the offer I made RIGHT at the top of the page? That is right - grossness, not wedding snaps!! And the fact that it is 2 weeks yet to the wedding (17 days to be precise) means it is impossible to realise your dreams of the snaps you want until then. Okay?

Interlude over, put your popcorn away - you last saw me peering into the black hole that is the bottom of the pantry.

Behind where the cat food normally gets shoved, there was a plastic bag.

It appeared the liquid was oozing from the plastic bag.

I reached in to take out the plastic bag.

The slightest movement of the plastic bag confirmed that this indeed was the source of the foul smells - like a bad aftershave, once this was recognised the reek increased in intensity, volume and offensiveness.

You could smell death.

Rotting vegetables put in a black plastic bin in sunlight with doses of soil and moisture = sweet smell of rich promise.

Rotting vegetables put in a plastic bag in the dark with no air flow = gag reflexes of astronomic proportions.

Grasping the plastic bag I pulled it out and regarded it (for a very short time as I hurled it into the rubbish bin and put the rubbish bin outside the house).

Mostly, it was a liquid. Khaki in colour (really, really carky) and floating in the liquid the last few bits of vegetable matter that had withstood the test of time.

Green vegetable matter.


Zucchini from - well, we don't quite know when.

One thing about living in Paradise is there is a farm up the road where you can get bags of zucchini for $1. This was one of those bags.

So yes, we got to have a great television evening last night.

The smell (well the cause of it) has left the building, although there are a few decent malodours left lying around that I have sprinkled liberally with bicarb as a libation to the housekeeping gods.

So please, make me feel better. Give me your star moment.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't you don't like it

The title comes from my darling daughter, who when she was younger took very seriously the "we don't say hate" lesson.

So don't you don't like it when you had a week last week on the blog about being tight on time, tight on money, loved ones medical mishaps and lighthearted dramatics of the child - and really, you have nothing further to add this week?

V thinks he might try to go back to work tomorrow. He said he would work until his back killed him. I asked if he could possibly only work until 1/4 to his back killing him.

I would tie him down and ban him from going, except that (a) as holder of the purse-strings, I know the nuances of that, and (b) I get more work done when he isn't here.

Not that he intrudes on my working - its just that sometimes my work requires me to zone right into the machine and its hard to hone your zone when your used to honing alone.

I am going to miss my lunch being made for me, though.

So yet again, this little duck isn't making the rounds of blogland for a bit. Profuse apologies.

On the upside, I did some really fantastic to-do lists on the weekend and they got done and dusted (with accompanying sneezes from 'Salina).

Less than 3 weeks to go until the wedding. Gave myself palpitations on the weekend when I was doing my money massage and suddenly the money set aside for various fripperies like clothes for V, shoes for me, a hair colour, the possibility of flowers and "folding money" for the days before, during and after vanished from my equations. Not a pleasant feeling - more an "oh goodness, where did I hide that G?"

Luckily I found it this morning. Phew.

With my time budgeting, the week before the wedding is slated for those little fripperies to be finalised...

Anyhow - how you all doing?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The lesson I have learned today (placed here for your convenience)

I got up early.

I do get up early anyway, but a combination of cat, mental conniptions and conundrums and the glorious arrival of the sun into Paradise led me to arise from my bed at crack-of-dawn o'clock.

Luckily for me, I had a little job on my desk that would fit nicely into the gap between crack-of-dawn o'clock and reasonable hour.

So, saddled up with a cup of tea, I sat down to do a little document.

Now, part of my lustrous work life involves me tapping keys on my computer rather fast.

Another part of my lustrous work life involves me finding the right words.

Sometimes the right words required are "code" things, to make the computer or the internets do stuff that the people who pay me ask for.

Sometimes the right words required are "fancy" things, to put into documents when the right words haven't yet been found by the people who pay me and I have to grasp them out of thin air.

On these occasions, I have been knows to I stare into space, gesticulate, mutter and engage in other bizarre rituals for them to approach me. (I mention this embarassing fact to save someone who knows me IRL from outing me in comments).

During this whole song and dance performance this morning, the ever helpful Microsoft Word 2002 popped up one of those little notices and I waved it away mangnanimously. (I hate it when software programs interrupt me!)

I then found the right word and my fingers flew across the keyboard - to absolutely no bloddy effect at all!!!

(For those who wish to emulate the following lesson in a practical sense - get the message from Word by leaning on the Shift key for longer than 8 seconds)

I wracked my brains for a clue as to what Word had flashed at me while I was busy plucking ideas, and the word "Filter" fluttered past.

Luckily (?!) for me, the little help paperclip was lurking and ready to jump to my every request - so I decided to.

" " I tried to type. Nothing.

" " - again nothing. I hit keys, tried the shifts, alts, ctrls and combinations but nothing.

"F " after leaning on one key for a long period of time, a letter appeared.

"FI " gee whiz, typing when you have to be on one key for a long time is actually much, much harder (not to mention more frustrating) than touchtyping at speed.

"FILTER KEYS" - so easy to type off now, a real pain in the doo-what at the time. (And yes, the caps lock key was also stuck on).

I clicked the "search" button, and the the little help paperclip offered just that - very little help.

"Do you want to ask the internets?" it asked me.

"Why yes," I replied, and so it opened up an (COUGH-no-COUGH)help page from Microsoft Office XP.

And guess what? I typed " " - the bloddy thing was not just a Microsoft Word 2002 dilemna, but a computer-wide issue.

Even so, maybe Microsoft would know the solution if only I asked the right genie.

"FILTER KEYS" I asked the Microsoft Office XP site.

"I know nothing." it told me.

"FILTER KEYS" I asked the Microsoft Office 2007 site.

"I know nothing." it told me.

Now, this is where I GIVE YOU the benefit of my amazing computer fixit abilities.

A little ray of sunshine beamed into my mind. I remembered something. I remembered that if you have a computer-wide issue, you go to the Control Panel.

Once upon a time (pre Vista) you could click into Control Panel and find an icon called "Accessibility" - of course, in our "dumb everything down" technological revolution powered by Microsoft, Vista** tries to put it into touchy-feely terms.

Once you have selected "Ease of Access" (with a marketing background I know someone sat there and said "we have to give it a positive spin - use key words like "ease" and the punters will stop stressing" and got paid quite a nice sum of money to say that) option, you are faced with more...

Under the "Change how your keyboard works" (funnily enough without the additional "because we have screwed it up on you" topic heading isn't there), right down the bottom is a check box for "Filter Keys" (which apparently Microsoft Office help doesn't know about, it just automatically hits you with it).

Now, I can see the reasoning behind having an option to "Ignore or slow down brief or repeated keystrokes and adjust keyboard repeat rates", really I can.

I just think the darned thing should be easier to turn "Off" than it is to turn "On".

(Oh, and then Blogger wouldn't work for me to post my stress. Aaargh!!!)

Anyway, I hope this saves you the stress I went through this morning, and that everyone's Friday moves us all that one step closer to universal understanding.

(Oh, and just to let everyone know, I am the sort of luddite that has been whinging about every Microsoft upgrade for the last 20 years for the same things)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I am back, V's back and breaking the budget

Yes, we are back from the country. 'Salina had a great time, filled with lots of cousins and a bit of horse-riding.

I also rode the computers fairly hard while I was out there, and I think I have taken the buck out of them.

V, as you know, is a bricklayer. On Monday, without his girls around, he wrecked his back. No - not by slinging bricks or mixing mortar - he was getting up from a chair.

The good news is we can still afford to get married in (gulp) 3 1/2 weeks.

I am so blessed - we are not going to starve, we are not going to be homeless, I can massage figures around until they are shiny, I am quite busy with work at the moment and I live in the best country in the world.

I am also blessed because V is not work-shy, does do what he can around the house, tries to be mouselike while I am working and somehow manages to say the right words when it matters.

But gee - you know, there are days when I contemplate salaried life and think "wouldn't it be nice to not worry so much".

My best budgeting tip is to do one - that way you KNOW what you have to play with.

What works for you when the worries sneak up?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Smiley Saturday - You've got to acc-entuate

Advance apologies for me not doing too much commenting in the blog-o-sphere - I am at Granite Glen and other far-flung realms until Tuesday. Now, I know in this technological age that far-flung doesn't mean off the radar, just means the radar operates t-h-a-t m-u-c-h s-l-o-w-e-r...

However, a quick post, and I tip my hat to Lighteningfor hosting:

Here are a few smiles from our day:

Before heading over here this morning, 'Salina played softball. There was one unusual time-out called during the game - when a goanna wandered through the field of play.

Of course, if I was another person (like my sister) I would have had fantastic shots of the 30 eager children and 20 eager adults attempting to muster the goanna to the end of the mesh that protects the spectators from fly balls (and apparently goannas) but I am not, so you are again going to have to just imagine it, waddling along getting more and more agitated, checking every few feet to see if he could get through the mesh (he couldn't) and the adults trying to get the kids to stay behind the goanna (they didn't) so he wouldn't double back (he did). Eventually he got back to the batting plate and so our team opened the gate through to their dugout for him to go through to the bushland behind the folding-chair flotilla of spectators.

Still, two weeks ago we had time-out while a mob of kangaroos cruised the diamonds.

The three hour drive from Paradise to Granite Glen has its moments - of extreme static and cursing at the piece of crap radio that has only one speaker working (and yes, that would be the one farthest from the driver) and only one direction of its high-faluting controls guaranteed to work - which would be the volume control to lower the volume.

It has not be proven yet that the only way to increase the volume is to swear loudly while holding the button firmly in the up position after the 60millionth attempt - but nothing else works every time!

As a result, sometimes (when you have moved past the "static" or swearing zone) silence fills the car.

There are good times for silence - but I often demand that my passenger fill the void. If it is not organically filled with games suggestions or song requests I have been known to even pester said passenger with questions - curly questions about school and stuff that we-don't-always-like-to-talk-about.

I must say, however, that 'Salina outperformed herself on the ducking these questions - and she even got the volume to increase enough to be out of the firing line.

Some report was on about the financial crisis in Asia, and a very English journalist was giving it.

"Americans sound funny," observed 'Salina.

I was too busy holding back the splutter to correct her on (a) the nationality of the jounalist or (b) the non-pc behaviour in singling out others for differences.

"In fact, everyone sounds funny because they have accents." she went on. "Its good we don't have accents."

"But we do have accents, honey" I told her.

"Oh yes," she agreed "when we are talking to Americans we have accents - but otherwise we are just normal."

Pop over and check out Lightening's story and the linky for others participating.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Waiting For The Third Shoe to Drop

The night before, I woke with a cramp in my left calf - leading to a limp for half of yesterday because I think I pulled a muscle.

Yesterday, a broom fell on my left foot (possibly because I had upset its rest and actually used it) causing the limp to get worse.

Questions that are raised resultantly:
  • Can I go back through history to find the "first" and therefore negate the worry about the third?
  • What is the bit on your foot actually called when it is not your toes, sole, instep, heel, ball or ankle? You know the bit I am talking about.
  • Should I steer clear of housework in the future, just to ensure my safety?
  • How the heck can you get comfortable to go to sleep when you naturally lay on your stomach, but flexing your foot too much causes calf agony and stretching your foot too much causes that-bit-of-the-foot agony?

Oh and
  • Can I count sleep deprivation as the third?

Your input would be appreciated.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


There are moments when the words "I told you so" get swallowed in the overwhelming desire to turn back time and change one tiny thing.

It wasn't because of her softball match, where her team won (although we're not counting - YET) with only 6 turnups against a very professional team of 10.

(Even though she did have a stint behind the plate, with armour built for a taller player and an old mask that obscured the vision. She looked a natural.)

It wasn't because of our trip to the library, despite her eager participation in some extreme book selection with a friend she found there.

She certainly wasn't deliberately placed in any danger by our mad dashes in and out of various grocery stores in search of as much sustenance as possible for the shekels at our disposal.

In the flash back scene in the movie of our life, ominous music would start way in the background when I rang a friend and offered to collect a few things for her.

There would have been some "don't do it" staccato thumps when we pulled in to her driveway.

When I blithely said "sure she can stay here for an hour before you drop your kid and mine over at ours", the sky would have darkened and the viewers would have KNOWN it was not a very good idea.

She didn't show up until 20 minutes past the hour - which I must admit did tickle my concern buttons, as my friend was scheduled for a massage at that time and I don't know about you, but if you have the offer of childminding while you are having a massage, the tendency is to take advantage of the childminding at the earliest moment - I would have thunk.

But instead it was 'Salina what thunk - against a rock (!) when the swing she was standing on (!) broke and she fell onto the compacted earth and rocks - she saved the rocks for her head.

The good news - no broken skin or bones.

The bad news - slight concussion and 72 hours of high alert for any further head bangs.

Other interesting facts learned:
  • I don't have so sensitive a stomach I can't hold my daughter's hair from her face when she throws up - hooray, I CAN be my daughter's girlfriend.
  • There is a free service called 13 HEALTH who offer triage over the phone. In my dealings with them thus far (i.e. one call) a nurse will advise you to seek medical attention when you are in the dilemna of the "should I/shouldn't I" moments. It helps to have someone say that to you when you have the "over-protective mother" doubts.
  • 'Salina can talk in a small and shaky voice when she is unwell as well as when she is putting it on.
  • Once stomach contents are emptied, a bowl of soup will make a little girl feel a bit better.
  • A good night's sleep can be achieved after sleeping all afternoon (except those moments when your mother wakes you to see you are okay) and will lead to the same vibrant, active, curious child you were used to.

Thank goodness.

Friday, October 10, 2008

'Salina and her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day*

'Salina woke up this morning with all of her bedding on the floor. She wakes up with all of her bedding on the floor nearly every morning. Her mattress is too slippery, her fitted cotton sheet too old and the elastic to un.

I bet mattresses aren't slippery in Timbuktu.

'Salina came out of her room and saw it was raining. She doesn't get to go cycling when it rains.

I wonder if it rains in Timbuktu?

'Salina's aunt was visiting, but she had come in too late for 'Salina to see her last night, was leaving too early for it to be a real visit and she didn't bring her children. 'Salina loves her aunt - but her aunt's children are excellent fun to play with.

'Salina's mother forgot to buy tomatoes. This meant 'Salina didn't get tomato on her breakfast toast.

I bet mothers in Timbuktu never forget tomatoes.

'Salina's mother also nearly forgot to remind her to finish her homework she didn't finish the day before. Unfortunately she remembered. 'Salina did her homework really quickly, but 'Salina's mother asked to see it. 'Salina's mother had issues with her neatness, especially on the times table, and asked 'Salina to redo it when she got to school.

Unfortunately 'Salina forgot.

'Salina's mother was in tuckshop today. 'Salina asked her mother to go to assembly because 'Salina likes her mother to go to assembly. When at assembly 'Salina's mother saw 'Salina's teacher and they discussed neatness and the room for improvement the team of 'Salina's mother, 'Salina's teacher, V and hopefully 'Salina herself were hoping would be made this term.

It is a very big room.

When 'Salina went to visit her mother before little lunch for her fruit salad, her mother was at the office. When 'Salina went to get her little lunch, her mother was busy and didn't make a fuss. When 'Salina couldn't find her friends at big lunch and came to visit her mother, her mother only offered her left over yoghurt and fruit salad and wouldn't give her crackers and cheesesticks.

'Salina even got in trouble for chattering while her mother was counting. And she was only meaning to help.

When 'Salina got off the bus in the pouring rain, her mother was waiting at the top step of their house one door away. 'Salina told her mother it would have been nicer to have been met with an umbrella at the bus door. 'Salina's mother laughed when she agreed, but she didn't turn back time.

In Timbuktu I bet all mothers have the power to turn back time.

'Salina asked her mother and V is she could call Girl Down the Road and go and play there. 'Salina got asked to tidy her room for 20 minutes first. 'Salina told her mother Girl Down the Road's father was going to pick her up in an hour and THAT WASN'T FAIR. 'Salina's mother said it was raining and she had to tidy her room for at least 20 minutes and she might be able to talk to Girl Down the Road for a bit at the end of that. 'Salina shot a look of death at her mother that V intercepted. V asked for an explanation for the look and 'Salina told V that she didn't send the look of death at him. V said that was not the point. 'Salina cried.

After 10 minutes, 'Salina's mother checked to find out if 'Salina had used her time wisely to make the sort of decisions she could be proud of. 'Salina had not. Instead, she had chosen to take the bedding off the bed again and form a crying cocoon of dramatic intensity.

Children in Timbuktu would have been proud of the crying cocoon of dramatic intensity. 'Salina's mother was not.

'Salina used her next 15 minutes to increase the volume of dramatic intensity from the crying cocoon, but 'Salina's mother and V failed to pay any attention what so ever.

'Salina finally spent 3 minutes tidying her floor and asked her mother and V to inspect. 'Salina's mother and V were not so impressed that they waxed lyrical. 'Salina's mother asked her to empty her school bag. The first thing to come out of her bag was her homework.

'Salina's mother and V were very unimpressed with the homework not being handed in.

I bet mother's and V's wouldn't even notice homework in Timbuktu.

'Salina then started cleaning her room. She bent down to pick something up from the floor and hit her ear. She is sure the upper part of her ear will be very bruised by the encounter, but at least mum tickled the bruise away with a kiss.

After her room was tidied to a level where it passed a lowered-bar inspection, 'Salina's mother made her write out her homework 100 5 times. The first 4 times were deemed too messy and the spelling was not correct. The fifth time was also deemed too messy, but at least she had tried harder. V and 'Salina's mother then announced a crackdown on neatness for the next few weeks.

'Salina thinks she will remember to put her very messy homework in next week for the teacher to punish her rather than leave it in her bag and risk another round of this.

Either that or she will send her homework to Timbuktu.

* For my continental guests, yes, I know the Judith Viorst classic refers to Australia in your version, but as we are already there the publishers decided on Timbuktu for the antipodean print.

Oh, and for those of you who belong to the "prevention of 'Salina abuse for doing the things her mother did when she was a child" society - its okay, Mum, she is smiling now.

Oh, and for those of you who want to join the above society and think I am one mean mother - will the fact she is having Fish and Chips and Salad for dinner placate you?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thank Goodness We Won Lotto Yesterday!

Yesterday was the Wednesday before... If you know me or have read me for a while, you will note a cycle of events, and we hit the woetime when it is the Wednesday before.

I woke up late. 6.15am is late when you enjoy the timelessness of 5.30am.

V has been unwell all week. On Monday I was all consideration and sweetness. On Tuesday I treated him with cotton-wool gloves. These came off on Wednesday.

I know its not his fault he is unwell - but it was a catalyst for an internal conversation screaming match I held when I escaped with 'Salina on our bike ride.

One good thing about the irrational rage and unappeased anger swells I have on such days is that I can recognise them and try to stuff them away or stop them from spilling out into the real world (too much).

It is about the only good thing - although my sister-outlaw on the Croatian side once said it most perfectly in a hormone-charged conversation she had with her partner (that we got to be witness to) "its at this time of month, mate, that I don't placate you and tell you how it REALLY is".

Sister-outlaw's partner is originally from Zimbabwe and had 9 sisters, a mother and a grandmother who all cycled together. His grandfather taught him quite young to run for the hills when the moon was in a certain phase. Unfortunately sister-outlaw hunted him down.

As I said to a client yesterday, one thing to be said for partners and spouses is it gives you something to focus on.

Anyhow - I am over that now, and had talked myself into being over that by the time we got to the post office.

'Salina asked if we could buy something special from the Bakery. Okay, so maybe I wasn't so much over it as scanning the world for a new focus for the rage, and so she got a more vehement explanation as to why we couldn't do that at this point in time that had more to do with financial crisis and priorities than was necessary to emphasise, no doubt.

It did put me in mind, however, to get a treat for V because he had been the unwitting recipient of my inner dialogue earlier and because I like to make up for my bitchiness in cheap thrills.

So I lashed out and got him TWO newspapers.

While getting the coins from my purse, I noticed a couple of lotto tickets I hadn't checked.

Over here, you can be a registered lotto cardholder, which by rights means if you throw your winning ticket out you can still claim - and in fact, I believe they will even tell you if you have won the big bucks (correct me if I am wrong).

I know that the odds of winning lotto are less than being kicked to death by a donkey, but I also know the only way to guarantee you WON'T win is to not have a ticket.

Sort of like the only way NOT to get kicked to death by a donkey is to stay away from their rear end.

We are registered cardholders, but we have never received the call. I don't know if the above is an urban myth or not, so I hoard all of our tickets and every so often find them all in one place and get the poor newsagency girl to check them all for me to make sure.

Yesterday, our luck changed. WE WON!!!!

Okay, it was only $18.90 - not a bad return for the $660 investment over the last two years, hey?

Still, it bought a bakery item for 'Salina and a small settling of the mind for me.

Of course, on our cycle this morning, 'Salina noticed a lotto where you could win $10 million tonight - which would definitely come in handy.

I explained to her there are chances to win millions almost every night these days, and we have to limit ourselves to chosing only one night to focus our attention on, as it could be a bit expensive to try our luck on all.

But, to quote an old friend of mine, when asked to explain his ability to be anti-gambling AND buying lotto tickets "Its not gambling. Its my ONLY chance."

Edited to add: Moreena at Falling Down Is Also a Gift has just advised that Annika has just received a new liver.

I would gladly hand over all of my ill-gotten lotto wins for Annika and Deb (and anyone else going through tough stuff at the moment) to enjoy many years of healthy living!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A dress, addresses and addressing life

I have a dress. It is the dress I will wear to the wedding unless I find another.

In case you haven't noticed, I am the opposite of a lot of bridezillas. It will happen. I only get stressed about it when I start getting other people stressing about it and then I blow.

There is a saying from mustering days (attributeable to my father or one of his mentors) - "Work them wide" - this is about cattle with a large flight zone. If you get in too close to them they will bolt for the hills rather than succumb to your will. However, if you just hover on their flight horizon, they will work in with a mob and head in the right direction.

I think either I am working the wedding wide, or I am the wide-worked bride.

Five weeks to go and I am sending out the last of the invites today - oh so very organised, hey?

So really, just need to organise the ceremony, chairs for people, what V is going to wear, finalise the details for the reception and work out where we are going to stay for the night.

Thats almost wide enough.

'Salina is back at school today. Which means I am back working today. Hooray!!!

I have almost finished the to-do list in my brain to put down on paper, but its getting long.

One thing about addressing life with a list is you believe you can handle it and control it.

Sometimes life throws a curve ball.

One of my favourite bloggers has been thrown a curve ball in the form of breast cancer. Two weeks ago she was getting ready for her day with her mental to-do list - which got completely sidelined when she discovered a lump in her breast.

Today, they hope they have removed all the cancer and she is about to start a list involving radiation, chemotherapy and survival.

Please everyone (and this includes blokes) put "check for lumps" on your to do list - right after the "count blessings" checkbox. I plan to.

A few posts I have found the last few days regarding breasts:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Scrumptious Silverbeet Omelette

This is one of those posts where you have to imagine the fantastic photos, because you probably need a few images to go with the sensational meal I will concoct with you this afternoon.

We have been child-free for the last 5 days (no, turn off your imaginations on that one - that is a by-the-by statement, not one to generate any sort of related picture) and resultantly, we have been eating some pretty fantastic stuff that 'Salina would delicately decline (you can put up a picture of that if you want).

We have had surprise salad (several times - so yummy it is a repeater that I will definitely post - maybe even with pictures - one day), tuna pasta bake with a parsley and lemon sauce (another successful creation), curry, burritoes with lots of onion and chilli and the most scrumptions silverbeet omelette ever!!! In fact, I think we might even sneak the last one past 'Salina's palate because it was really THAT GOOD!!!

Begin by harvesting the silverbeet that has been growing copiously in perfect conditions. No, I didn't take photos BEFORE the harvest - but here are half of the plants two days after the harvest.

I request that you imagine just how much silverbeet that is. It is the biggest bowl that you have to overflowing, it is your largest saucepan three times filled with steaming silverbeet, it is about 3 cups of post steamed silverbeet all chopped up - it is lots and lots!!!

If I had been buying silverbeet, I would have had to buy about 4 bunches - so folks, get planting because once you are addicted to this it will save you a FORTUNE! Six plants, two weeks between harvests and you're home and hosed. Either that or frequent a shop that buys lots of silverbeet, sells little and loves you for taking it off their hands...

So without ado (or adieu as my grandmother would say) rinse in a large sink of water any dirt off the leaves, chop off any stems, and throw into said saucepan - you should have enough water on the leaves to steam them if you keep turning. As this silverbeet is "coloured", the water turns a lovely pink colour. Can you imagine that for me please?

Chop up all that silverbeet. Do you know I thought silverbeet was spinach for many years because it grows so well over here it is regarded as interchangeable on all recipes? I now know better, and regard it as interchangeable on all EXCEPT salads - raw silverbeet just doesn't do it as well. Of course, my childhood was not exactly packed with spinach in salads, so I didn't know that then...

Chop, chop, chop that silverbeet. Turn it over and chop, chop, chop. Give it a quarter turn and (you guessed it) chop, chop, chop.

Drain off more of that pink juice. Imagine that you now have a mound of rich green mush.

Separate 5 eggs. Do this individually into a cup and then put into your bowl, because as sure as eggs you will have one "oops" and you don't want that moment to ruin your bowl with 5 egg whites - we need the whites to be pure.

Mix your yolks with the rich green mush. Grind on some salt and pepper, a good grating of parmesan cheese and the leftover ricotta you have in the fridge from the spanikopita(silverbeet wrapped in filo pies) you made on the weekend. (See a theme here?)

Instead of the photo that should be here, I ask that you imagine the silver bowl reflecting the greens, yellows, whites and black flecks half-mixed, because the picture would be all arty like that.

Start some butter melting in a large frypan, and then get out your handy-dandy electric hand-beater.

Of course, you could use a whisk, and good luck to you. I used to be the sort of foodie hippie that did that sort of penance, but ever since my brother struck the jackpot in the Christmas gift selection one year, I have been very attached to my handy-dandy electric hand-beater. It is still the same one - my brother is going to fluke such present selection about once every 25 years, so he still has about 11 24 years to top or replace it.

Plug it in (very important part of the instruction) and whip those whites.

Imagine these whites in my white jug (I am a big believer in using the handy-dandy electric hand-beater with my white jug - not just for aesthetics but also because it stops stuff from plastering the walls - something to remember when you have children joining you in the handy-dandy electric hand-beater fun) going all hard-peaky.

Of course, if I was a certain food blogger (actually, any sort of food blogger at all) I would offer a handy-dandy electric hand-beater give away at this point, but until I get old enough for my brother to replace it OR I win some money OR the cheap-ass-brand that didn't even put its name on the cheap-ass economical handy-dandy electric hand-beater gives me a couple to give away (with postage) I can't do that sort of thing.

I am the sort of food blogger girl who asks you to imagine the photos so I don't think THAT is happening any time soon...

Where was I? Oh yes...

Fold the hard-peaked egg whites into the green-yolk mix very gently. Do this fairly much straight after you have beaten them, because if you stop to yarn about how you would do things differently if you won lotto or gave assessments on your family's gift giving stakes or whatever, then the whole "peak" aspect of the eggs is gonna get lost.

Someone once explained to me that eggs are like elastic - and when you beat them, they are "stretching" around the air. If you stretch them to max (hard peaks) and then have them all sit around, its going to be like those trackies that have been all stretched out one time too many and they no longer had the body stretching them out - if you get the imagery (or have checked out my laundry).

You are thanking me for that information, aren't you?


The picture here would have the silverbeet mix all nicely in your polished frypan, so that is what you should both imagine (if you are playing the game by my rules) and indeed do (if you are cooking). You would also notice that I had grated the leftover knob of parmesan over the top because I am fairly decadent when it comes to parmie.

Have it cook gently over medium heat for 5-10 minutes - until it sort of starts to bubble at the very edges because the mixture is so dense and the air cannot force its way through all that greeny goodness.

When it is at that stage, put it under the gorilla for another 5-10 minutes (medium heat again).

Once it is cooked, you can either gobble it up immediately OR take advantage of being child free and let it go as cold as it likes and heat it up when you finally get around to eating.

And here would be the picture of the empty plates with only one artfully draped crumb of egg-coated spinach fleck and two very, very happy people, sated with our scrumptious silverbeet omelette.

Isn't imagination wonderful - of course, I would edit out the bit where V then said "I am still starving" and cooked these cheese quesadillas - but forgive him, because he is a bricklayer who eats infrequently, but when he does clear the decks!!!

Oh, and he does do a mean cheese quesadilla!!! - as a bonus - here is the recipe (no pictures).

Take a tortilla. Slice some cheese. Wrap the cheese in the tortilla. Nuke.