Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Make McKoala's New Year Resolution List

I never make one, so thought it might be fun for you to do it for me. Whatever you like - writing, food, bad habits (not that I have any, of course) - post 'em for me.

Try to keep away from the dark side, but knowing some of you, I reserve the right to pick and choose! If any of them are vaguely attractive to me, I'll give you monthly updates as 2008 moves on.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Hogmanay!

I'm a Scot, so I will persist in my traditional greetings, however politically incorrect.

Many of you have posted kind festive greetings on the pickled brain thread, and thank you so much for your good wishes, but I thought I would pretend to be elegant by putting a special post up to return the holiday happiness.

It's been a fun year; I'm glad I started to blog at last and met so many nice people. Have a wonderful Christmas season, whatever you are doing and whatever you believe in. See you next year if you're taking a break! I'm not, so I'm happy to chitter chatter with anyone else who is just hanging out over Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I have pickled my brain

I do have some quite interesting, well, at least vaguely relevant things to blog about, but not today.

'Tis the day after the School Mums' Night Out. I missed almost all my other Christmas nights out due to illness, so I went to this one determined to have a good time. I did. Today is not so good. Funny how it's not until the next morning that you realise that last bar was a really, really bad idea.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I am so exhausted

Nonetheless, I dragged myself to my keyboard to share good news.

I finished the Christmas gift shopping today!

I know you're happy for me. Really, I do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where I am with my writing

Slightly on hiatus! This is my busy period for work - everyone wants copy for brochures and web sites they hope to have ready either before Christmas or in early January. So I'm writing thousands of words, but it's all commercial copy. There is simply no time or head space for anything else. The good news is that things slow down later this month and most of January is pretty dead so then I will have the opportunity to get back to some fiction.

My aim then is to finish redrafting 'Ghost Boys'. This is a young adult ghost story which I first drafted around the middle of the year. It's now in second draft after some great suggestions from Conduit who very kindly read the first draft. I did 'complete' a second draft, but I wasn't happy with it, so now I'm changing something very specific, which runs through the whole story. I've started doing it, but then the work pressure was on so I had to abandon it. I'm not too perturbed about having to back away from it for a while as I know what I want to do and how to do it. I hope it won't take too long to actually put it down in words!

I'd also like to write a few more short stories along the lines of 'Sand Baby' or 'Preparing the Body' - some of you may remember those from the Crapometer. I should be thinking about writing more womens' stories, as I seem to actually be able to sell those, but I have very little desire to do that at the moment. I want to explore other things. Writing womens' stories does take more effort than some people think and, like all other kinds of writing, you need to be dedicated to do it properly and I just don't have that dedication at the moment.

I also think I need a web site. Now there's a challenge.

So that's where I am with my writing. Where are you?

Monday, December 03, 2007

What's in a name?

In some ways, mostly daft, certain parts of my fuzzy brain are set in stone. One of the daftest Stonoids sometimes affects my reading.

It's my utter loathing for the name Gillian. I just cannot handle it. If I read a book about a supposedly sympathetic character called Gillian, I have no sympathy. To me, a Gillian is automatically the bad gal. I wait through the entire book for her to turn on every other character and if she doesn't I am utterly dissatisfied. And I still have no sympathy for her. Whatever happens.

That's probably the most extreme example of Name Stonoid Disease, but there are others. To me, the name Caroline exudes confidence. That means that if I run into a heroine called Caroline who is weak and soft, I simply lose all belief in her. 'Pah, Caroline, pull out those sharp bitch nails i know you have under your fluffy paws and give 'em hell!'

As for characters called Louise or Emma, I'm afraid I can't even pick those books up off the shelves. Nothing personal. There are just too darn many of them in too many books. Rightly or wrongly, to me it says 'bland'. Probably wrongly, but that's Name Stonoid Disease for you.

If this is the day I find out all my readers are called Gillian and have written books with heroines called Louise and Emma, not to worry. I'll just set Caroline on you. And, by the way, can I call you Jill?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm hoping this will be a photo...

It looks like a load of meaningless code to me, but hopefully it will magically transform into a photo when I publish this post. It's Polly the Puppy, by the way.

Robin asked how things were up the eucalypt... Frenzied is the answer. I worked five days last week. I don't think I have done that since Cricket Boy was born. This is always a busy time for me, with lots of clients wanting things ready to print for Christmas or early next year, but this year has been bananas. I could work three or four days this week too, but I don't think it's fair on Princess or Polly so I'm trying to squeeze everything into the few hours I have.

Also, my mother-in-law's aunt died - the last of her generation, so we've had to comfort Grandma. Plus the kids getting into Christmas performance mode, Cricket Boy's birthday coming up this weekend and one of my friends has just split with her partner - initially amicably, but now he's just tossed her out, so needing to offer support there, too, and practical help. So...yup...frenzied.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Over to you...

My last post about the weather (exciting topic, eh!) got a bit pretentiously writerly, I thought. That's because I was trying to write it without any visual description whatsoever. Did anybody even notice?!

So now...can you do it? Tell me about the weather where you are without using your eyes!

Friday, November 16, 2007

How's the weather with you?

It's spring here. The air is thick with the smell of freshly cut grass and cicadas hum to one another across the garden. In the middle of the day my skin is clammy with sweat and when I lick my lips they taste of salt. The puppy and the kids pant, slurping water, or crunching ice blocks. You can almost hear the rustle of new growth, of the earth relaxing under the gentle sun. In a few months it will become brutal, blasting everything brittle with dryness. But for now it caresses us, slipping its warmth under our goosebumps, coaxing us outside with its tender touch.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We have puppy!

It was a struggle getting her up the eucalypt, but we managed in the end.

She's a nine-week old cavoodle (they used to be called mongrels, but now they're getting all fancy); a Cavalier King Charles spaniel/poodle cross. In the shop she was 100% Cavalier, loving and smoochy and very mellow, but then we took her home and she turned poodle on us, dashing around the garden in a frenzy, playing with the kids. I like that she has both natures in her, it will keep us on our toes. As will the pee and the poo all over the laundry floor. I've got pads out, but Madam prefers to choose her own spot - a different one every time, although she does pee on one side of the laundry and poo on the other, so I suppose it's a system.

Her name is Polly, chosen by Cricket Boy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reading superstitions

As a child I think I may have had mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. If I took a drink, whether it be from a tap or a cup, I had to have an even number of mouthfuls, and preferably in multiples of two and then four etc.. Two, four, eight...and if I accidentally took that ninth swallow, I was up for sixteen, and then after that... well, it was a stretch for the bladder. I also could not stop reading on page or chapter 13 - or multiples of 13. That meant some late nights if I was reading a book with long chapters.

I'm over the water thing now (tg!) and over the multiples of 13 thing - but I still cannot stop reading on chapter 13, or any chapter before or after. So I still have to decide whether or not to stop at the end of chapter 11 or if I forge on to the end of chapter 14.

OK, so now you know I'm a complete freak, do you have any weird reading or writing superstitions or habits?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cricket Boy Clean Bowled

Along with the rest of his team. Once again they ran into a team infinitely better than themselves. Seems to happen every week actually.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Revised Sand Baby on Crapometer

It's here if anybody would like to read it: http://www.crapometer.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cat or dog?

We have a mouse in our bedroom, scritchy-scritching behind the wall. Simultaneously, the cat or dog debate has been raging in our house. I thought this would seal the cat side, but husbad claims that he read somewhere that mice will also stay away from a house with a dog in it. Any ideas?

Cricket Boy bowled like a...well...really, there are no words...no, not demon...so not demon...more like something that really can't bowl...fish with its fins tied behind its back. Better draw a veil over that one. However, he won an award for his excellent batting last week, so he was happy. (Really, it was the coach making sure he'd bat next week, but he's not to know that...)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Late update on Cricket Boy

There were tears. There was stamping. There was messy nose blowing. Cricket Boy did not wish to bat.

'But you were great last time!' Big, wet eyes that knew the truth looked up at me.

Quick update. 'You'll be great this week!' More tears.

Then, coaxed every step by the coach, he dragged out to the crease; shoulders slumped, bat a-hanging, pads unravelling.

And he whacked that ball! He slapped that ball! He clouted that ball! He didn't score many runs, but he did score a little bit of dignity, and that's enough for me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The rules of cricket

This is a quick read, honest. Only two pages. Big letters.


Hm, you'll need to cut and paste that as I am a link-making fool.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cricket Boy's First Steps

The slap of leather against willow. The gentle applause from the crowd. The smell of the dry grass that crunched under his feet. The feel of the giant pads, strapped tight against his legs, making him walk like a constipated brachiosaurus. The heavy bat, dragging along behind him.

Thus it was that Cricket Boy made his way to the crease for the very first time.

He lifted the bat, weighted it in his hands, then lowered it so the tip touched the sandy spot by the stumps and turned side on to the ball. The bowler, unemcumbered by pads, scurried towards him, released the ball - a flash of red - clatter - stumps ahoy! Out first ball.

To be continued as the cricket season unrolls...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Great words that need a little more exercise

Over on the most reverend Church Lady's blog (http://abenchpress.blogspot.com/) a few of us were distracted by some wonderful words that just don't get out of the house enough: namely 'turgid' and 'roil'.

Can you think of any other words that deserve to be sent out in the world a little more often?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Things you fail to notice in writing and in life

So I trundle downstairs this morning to find a spotless kitchen floor, but kitchen cupboards stained with brown. Husbad had dropped a cup of coffee. He had the brains to clean the floor before the Wrath of Wife descended on him, but even with all his academic and professional brilliance at his power, it simply did not occur to him that the coffee might have landed anywhere other than on the floor, and his eyes failed to register the streaky cupboards.

When I write, my eyes fail to register the word 'just', and I have to go through all my manuscripts using find and replace to cut the 'justs' down to a reasonable amount. I've found it occurring three or four times in a single sentence. I also don't always notice repeated words in my own writing - a much harder problem to fix as I can't use find and replace on every possible word I might have used (can I?).

Is there anything your eyes or brain simply refuse to register, either in your writing or in the world around you?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spending your imaginary advance

JJ the Goblin says it's OK to blog brain fluff, thus refreshing my confidence in my ability to blog. Brain fluff. I can do that.

Today, however, I've come over all Proper Blogger and actually have a question which might be remotely interesting. There's a fine old wrangle going on at http://rejecter.blogspot.com/, basically The Rejecter vs Unpleasant Anonymous Blogger aka Anon 7.55. Hie on over there if you wish to follow the main thread of the argument. My question, vaguely arising out of their grandstanding, but requiring absolutely no knowledge of that to answer is: (drumroll)....

Your novel has just been accepted for publication (woo hoo!) for an advance of $5000 (hmm). What would you spend that money on?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pointless entry

Jeez, I'm one lazy marsupial when it comes to blogging. About to go on another trip, so the situation won't improve much over the weekend.

I think the problem is that this blog has no focus. Bit like me, really.

You tell me. What should I blog about?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What fun it was in paradise...

Sea, sun, sand... Not that we froliced (should that have the 'k' or not?) much in the sea or on the sand, because when folk bring sand in lorries and lay it on bare rock in front of a tableau of oil tankers it's really not that inviting. The sun was good though. Apart from the rain.

OK, here's a very funny thing. Flight: $1000. Suncream: $15. Discovering suncream not waterproof after a whole day at the pool: priceless. When I could walk again (legs) and the littlest koala could open her eyes again (face) we bought new cream, to which Soccer/Cricket Boy then had an allergic reaction. Sooooo funny...

This sounds like a catalogue of disasters, but everything else was fab. Paradise. Best hotel swimming pools in the world. Three separate pools, all with warm water and one with water slides for little koalas. I like my pools hot, hot, hot and spent hours in a chlorine marinade. We eschewed the poolside bar for the water safety of the little koalas, but made up for it with cocktails later when the furry babes were tucked up tight in their eucalypt. We also had some top times with a friend from the old countree who now lives in paradise, and has a maid who looks after baby koalas and does grubby holiday washing while cooking dinner with her third hand. Maid? Angel.

No, I'm not telling you where paradise was. Koala secret.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Holiday hiatus!

We're dragging our weary bones on to a plane later this week, seeking sun and pleasure. Hoping to come back fully re-energised and raring to go with a fun-filled blog... I'm sure post-holiday koala brain will be much more entertaining than pre-holiday koala brain, which is as full of holes as a slice of gruyere.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Befuddled and therefore simple

My head is stuffed and befuddled by some weird virus or other, so I'm keeping it simple today (well, that's this week's excuse...). Let's talk the last soccer game of the season!

The last match was a good one. Against an all-girl team, but they had one of the most solid defenders I've ever seen (solid in every meaning of the word, too) and a good little attacker. Still, we kept them at bay with a 1-0 result. An accidental ball to the face of the attacker may have influenced that result - she refused to play any more after that. I'm reliably informed that Soccer Boy scored the goal, but unfortunately I wasn't watching at the time, and despite recording most of the match on my video recorder, you've guessed it, I missed the golden moment... Idiot mother.

Now, sadly, the Era of the 7G1s has drawn to its close. Never again will the exact same combination of boys and girls grace the field (guaranteed by the fact that one of our kids has already moved house and has been toiling long distances to get to our matches...). It's been fun, fun, fun all the way. Highlights: Soccer Boy's hat trick (grin). The Winner that Never Was (the whistle had blown, but we mums had missed it and went into full-on celebrations with all the kids laughing at us...). The Dancing on the Field (from one of the girls). The Dancing on the Field (from one of the boys). The Mums' Nights Out (heh, heh). The End of Season McDonalds Party and Presentation (Soccer Boy - Top Goalscorer). The End of Season Parents-Only Party (yet to come, but I'm optimistic as to its success).

In a month or so, Soccer Boy will return to the blog in another guise...Cricket Boy! Roll on summertime!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Stretched thin like chewing gum

Remember in the gross years before you realised anything was gross, you'd take a bit of chewing gum out of your mouth and stretch it until it was long and droopy and so transparent in the middle it seemed thinner than paper, but somehow it still held together? That's how I feel right now.

In the past three weeks we've been undergoing a major crisis with Soccer Boy who decided to grow a big lump in his neck. All kinds of tests showed nothing. We were about to have a biopsy for lymphoma and were quivering with fear, when at the very last minute his last blood test showed glandular fever.

He has glandular fever and we're happy! It's just, the other options were so awful. What's more he's not even unwell. A little tired and grumpy, but still going to school, even still playing soccer - although no goal this weekend, so clearly it is affecting him in some ways, heh heh...

Back to that gum...and then after you'd stretched it so far that it was just a thread wafting in your breath, you'd bring the ends back together, all dry and crusted with whatever dirt was on your hands, then you'd put it back in your mouth and chew it all back together again.

We're going on holiday in two weeks. We need to bring the ends back together again.

Monday, July 30, 2007


It's been a long time since I've updated the progress of the 7G1s and, my friends, I know you are on the edge of your seats, because under sevens soccer is everybody's idea of a top sporting event.

The weather was against us for the longest time. Weeks without a match, weeks without training, weeks of small boys weeping every Saturday morning when they saw it was raining yet again. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the sun crept out again and... we got crushed 5-0. Oops. The next week, though, the team were back on form with a 3-0 victory and this week a 4-0 victory, with Soccer Boy scoring twice in each game. Ah, mummy's so proud!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Has Harry Potter manipulated me?

*No spoilers in this post, honest. I wouldn't do that to you.*

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I bought a book on the first day it was published. You know the one...

I'm not a frantic fan (with respect to those who are...hi jj!). I like the series; no more than that. I've read them all, mostly a year or so after publication. So why did I rush out and buy this one?

It was the spoilers, my friends, the spoilers. I never like to know the ending of a book before I've read it. I'm not a Last Page Looker. With the panic and furore about extracts on the web, reviews that reveal the plot and the general chit chat in the media about Harry's possible fate, I realised that sooner or later I might tune into something that would tell me what happens before I get the chance to discover it for myself. That would annoy me, and annoyed koalas have teeth and claws and a family to use them on.

So I bought the book. And after I bought it and made myself part of the fastest-selling-book-ever-on-the-planet phenomenon I started to feel slightly...dirty. Something started nibbling at the edges of my brain. It was the memory of the devious ways of marketing men. Of sweaty fifty-year olds that flick through catalogues of pretty young things commenting on their boobs, then pick 200 of them to leer over in the board room, and then send the chosen beauties to city bars to order a specific high-alocohol drink simply so they can tell the person next to them how yummy it is, like drinking chocolate pudding, and then move on to another bar to do the same thing, and again, and again, and again...

So what if the spoilers, the reviews, the general chit chat that the publishers, the agents, the marketing men are all so upset about are not an accident? What if behind the scenes the marketing men are rubbing their chubby little hands together and saying:

'Top hole Aubrey, that little 'accident' in sending out early review copies really worked! You even fooled the New York Times into doing our work for us! Now the muggles will rush out and buy the book as soon as possible so they don't find out the ending before they read it!'

'How about that spiffing little spoiler you managed to arrange by losing a manuscript on the train! Sheer genius, Carruthers.'

'And all those fake blogs Geoffrey's been working on down in the basement. The ones he's been writing for the past two years, simply so he can start posting hints and discussions that the muggles think come from real people!'

'I say chaps, it's been a team effort and we are all simply marvellous! Another Choccy Fizz? It tastes just like dessert you know. Chin chin!'

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Here's a something...

...from the start of a short story. It's up on Evil Editor at the moment, and doing OK, despite the harrowing topic. It's a hard one to write, but I'd like to finish it, even if I have to do it bit by bit.

Ethan had the face of child, but the scalp of an old man. Tendrils of blue veins reached out under the pale skin, curving and parting like rivers searching for the sea. Rivers in winter, sluggishly winding under ice, compelled to struggle and flow to their destination, even when the surface lay still and silent.

Nothing in this room smelt of life, nothing offered freshness and perfume; only the sharp, nose-biting scent of intervention, blended with bleach, vomit and old food. On the bed Ethan was barely a wrinkle under the crisp-cornered sheets. The only thing that moved was his dummy, pumping in his mouth under closed eyes. The suck-suck-sucking sound of him working at the little rubber teat pulsed rhythmically against the humming of the machines propelling the medicine into his system. The machines that were keeping him alive.

Abby should have got rid of his dummy. Told him that if he’d give it to the poor kids Santa would bring him a special present. That’s what I did with my kids.

I suppose he can suck it for as long as he wants now.

‘Visit,’ her mother said, when she met me at the supermarket. ‘Please visit. They had lots of visitors at first; from the pre-school, from playgroup, but now…’ Her eyes gleamed bright with uncried tears, her mouth burst with unspoken words: ‘now there is no hope.’

‘They need their old friends,’ was what she actually said.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

And after three months of procrastination...

...I'm finally into the rewrite of the novel fondly known as 'Maureen'. The first draft of this was young adult; but something bugged me about that and it turns out that Maureen was actually grown-up the whole time - well, at least on the outside. How she becomes adult on the inside is kind of the point of the novel, along with a bit of a murder mystery.

It's also going wholeheartedly into dialect, well, not to an incomprehensible level, but I've learned from some of my recent reading, that, yanno, it's OK to write the language that I heard around me throughout my childhood. As a Scot, I have the right, and hopefully the ability, to do that. I have a slight concern that it might be a turn off for some readers, but I'm not going completely Irvine Welsh and I'm doing very little phonetic representation. I loathe people who write dialect as 'Ah canna do verrrry much the day.' We're not idiots in Scotland. We're perfectly capable of realising that although we may pronounce 'I' as 'Ah', that's not how it's written, also the rolled 'r's are completely normal to us and not something to be remarked upon (we're sorry for those of you that can't say the 'r' and the 'ch' sounds, you poor dears). I'm trying to show the dialect via the vocabulary and the rhythm; with a minimum of phonetic representation and no 'och aye the noos'.

Interestingly, writing and thinking in my home tongue is bringing it out of my mouth too, and I think there's been a marked increase in the strength of my accent in the last week or so, not to mention some new words for the kid koalas to learn. Ah, the multicultural life.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The power of the shower

I had this great idea for a blog post while I was in the shower this morning. You know, an actual post, some real thoughts and conclusions, perhaps a little discussion. Something deep, rich and meaningful.

I'd written half of it in my head, the rest was rolling about in there, all in the wrong order, but just waiting for a pen and paper to line it all up and make it behave. Today I was going to be a real blogger!

Then I stepped out of the shower.



Just me and a few drips of water on the tiles, and the words 'deep, rich and meaningful' racketing about in my head, which wasn't much to go on as the words 'deep' and 'rich' came off my conditioner bottle in the first place. Gee, I love a good cliche.

The shower is one of my favourite thinking places and our water bill reflects that. I've had ideas for articles, come up with witty headlines and pithy body copy and solved gnarly plot points. The problem is...holding that thought. The instant I turn the water off, my shower ideas go down the plug hole with the soap scum and loose hairs. This is why my kids are occasionally treated to a naked, dripping me rushing towards pen and paper screaming 'I've got to write that down!'

Maybe I should glue a pen and whiteboard to my shower cabinet. Maybe then you'd get that wonderful blog that this replaced...

Where do you have your best ideas?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Washday blues

A comment Shanta made below reminded me of this little story, which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald a couple of years ago. To save you from scrolling, Shanta mentioned doing an interview with a paper while wrangling her baby boy. I did a live radio interview about this article while filling a paddling pool with a hose and trying to stop my toddler daughter from hurling herself into it. No idea what they thought about the background noise, but that's the life of a mummy writer in a nutshell.

Washday blues

Why are modern clothes and modern washing techniques so incompatible? Did it never occur to the manufacturers that their products might, once in a blue moon, be used together?

I concede happily that traditional delicate fabrics, such as wool and silk, deserve a little respect and a box of the best hand wash soap flakes. After all, they were created by sheep and silkworms hundreds of years before man came up with top loaders, front loaders and tumble dryers.

But I have no patience at all with man’s latest fabric initiatives, most of which have been created by test tube and pipette. Did someone forget to pour in a few millilitres from the bottle marked ‘Make sure it’s machine washable’?

Just a quick rummage through today’s washing basket will provide the full spectrum of sage advice from clothes manufacturers.

“Hand wash only”. Thank you for the suggestion, but no. If I handwashed every $5 t-shirt that my son dribbles juice on, then you could use my hands as a cheap alternative to sandpaper. Not to mention that I like to come out of the laundry every now and again to check that my family are fed and watered.

“Machine wash separately”. Yes, I’m going to put my washing machine through an entire cycle to wash a single baby’s jacket.

“Remove buttons before washing”. What, and then sew them right back on again afterwards?

“If bought as part of a suit, wash together.” I’d be happy to do that, except this only ever seems to appear on items that have been bought separately.

“Do not wring or spin.” It’s just a shame that I’m not psychic and I can’t anticipate the exact moment that the spin cycle is going to start, so that I can break off from helping the baby throw Weetbix at the walls and fish through the suds for a single shirt.

“Use mild detergent”. Ever tried soap flakes in a top loader? It creates enough foam to clean up an oil slick. Regrettably, oil slicks aren’t that common on laundry floors.

“May be dry cleaned”. Well, that’s good to know, but it’s not going to be dry cleaned. Not at $7 a shirt, thank you.

“Dry flat away from direct heat and sunlight”. Hmm, how to do that on a Hill’s Hoist in the middle of the back garden?

“Reshape while damp”. It’s a sweatshirt, not a playdoh animal.

“Cool iron on reverse”. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought that the whole point of an iron was to be at least moderately hot.

“Do not iron motif.” Well, why then, does the motif cover the entire back and front of the t-shirt? Do the manufacturers think that it makes Spiderman more of a superhero to be as crumpled as an old envelope?

And possibly the most common instruction of all: “Do not tumble dry”. Despite the fact that the tumble dryer is one of the greatest blessings to modern mothers on a rainy day, I can count on one hand the number of garments that I am allowed to use it with.

But being a slovenly slattern, I do it all anyway. Everything the manufacturers tell me not to. I recklessly wash everything in the machine. I heedlessly fling it all in together, even the items that beg for special treatment. I spin it like a whirling dervish and am a stranger to the dry cleaner. I leave the buttons on, I hang it in bright sunshine and on a rainy day I tumble dry it. On a good day, I might even iron it. And you know what? It all comes out just fine.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Here's one from the archives

I write these slices of life for various purposes; some have been published, some haven't. This one's from a while ago when princess was just a baby and it's called 'A Simple Phone Call'...

It should have been a simple phone call. All I needed was an address so that I could pay the phone bill.

(Background: man the husband receive bill, man write cheque, man bin envelope in which cheque to be returned, woman try and put this right with a simple phone call.)

This was a good moment to call. The house was quiet, with my son contentedly watching tv. The baby was a bit hungry, but this wouldn’t take a moment.

The phone number was printed right at the top of the bill under the heading: Bill Enquiries. I dial and run into the usual electronic options.

“So we can help you better, please enter your phone number, including the area code. Thank you. Press 1 for billing or general enquiries. Thank you. A Customer Representative will be with you soon.”

The baby is gambolling around my feet, but rather ominously, is also muttering “num num” (‘food’ in her language). Luckily, for once the Customer Representative actually is with me soon.

“Hi, I want to pay my bill, but my husband has binned the return envelope, so please could you give me your address.”

“I can help you with that, but please can I first have your phone number?”

“I just entered my phone number.”

“I’m sorry, but for security purposes…thank you. I’m sorry, but you’ve come through to wrong number.”

“I dialled the number given for Bill Enquiries,”

“That’s the wrong number.”

The baby is now gnawing gently at my leg, her way of showing that it really is time for num num.

“All I want to know is your address.”

“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to transfer you.”

“You don’t know your address?”

“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to transfer you.”

Back on hold. The baby has graduated from muttering and gnawing to a hysterical wail: “NUM NUM! NUM NUM!” Never mind, this won’t take a moment once I’m through to the right person.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“Hi, I want to pay my bill, but my husband has binned the return envelope, so please could you give me your address.”

“I can help you with that, but please can I first have your phone number?”

“I’ve already given it twice,”

“I’m sorry, but for security purposes…thank you. Now can I have your name, please…thank you. And now your address, please.”

“NUM NUM!” The baby has decided to forage for herself, but all she has found is toilet paper. “NUM NUM! NUM NUM!” And now my son is getting in on the act. “MUM! I CAN’T HEAR THE TV!”

“My address? Why do you need my address? I’m phoning to get your address.”

“I’m sorry, but for security purposes… thank you. Now I need your date of birth.”

“Really, I just want your address.”

“I’m sorry, but for security purposes…thank you. And your husband’s date of birth.”

“NUM NUM! NUM NUM!” The floor is covered in shreds of toilet paper and the baby is bashing the tv screen in a hunger driven rage. “I CAN’T SEEEEE THE TV!” my son is bellowing.

“For security purposes?”

“That’s right…thank you. Now how can I help?”

“Your address, please.”

“PO Box 123, Sydney 2000. Can I help with anything else today?”

With a lucky, or unlucky, swipe, the baby turns the tv off and simultaneously vomits up some half-digested toilet paper. “NUM NUM! NUM NUM!” “MUUUUUUUM! THE TV!”

“No, I really don’t think that you can help me with anything else today.”

Monday, June 11, 2007

More about nits

By way of a post, here is the article that last week's brief nit agonising turned into:

A few weeks ago my daughter and I became members of an exclusive club: Those Who Have Had Nits.

I first discovered them when blow drying my daughter's hair. A small dark spot had appeared on her scalp near the crown. As a cool, calm, collected kind of a parent, my first shriek was: 'Melanoma!' Then the spot moved: 'Crawling melanoma!'

Cooler heads prevailed and within five minutes my husband had picked half a dozen lice out of her hair. Then he turned to me. My daughter really hit the nit-picking jackpot when she inherited his fine, blond hair. My long, thick, curly hair was another matter. After half an hour of intense chimp-like picking and whooping (but thankfully not eating), my husband confirmed I, too, was thoroughly infested. Then he and my son shuffled their Pure and Clean Heads along the sofa away from us. A very long way away.

In the ensuing hunt for A Product That Actually Works, and the humiliating phone calls to inform playmates, in case any of our new friends had jumped ship on to their heads, I discovered the massive gulf between Those Who Have Had Nits and Those Who Have Not.

Those Who Have Had Nits were amazingly blasé: 'oh yeah, thanks, I'll whack some conditioner on their heads tonight and don't worry we're still friends'. Those Who Have Not turned Incredible Hulk on me: 'killer beasts?! Aaah! We never want to see your nitty faces ever again.' No doubt I would have reacted the same way a few weeks ago, except without the ostracision, because as a relative newcomer to this land girt by sea, I need all the friends I can get.

I also received a host of advice on nit repellents. Tea tree oil is apparently popular, but if you take it too far you will smell like a freshly disinfected toilet. Vinegar and water is reliable, but small boys, drunk on collecting football cards, may rummage through your hair on the grounds that if you smell like a bag of salt and vinegar chips, the Darren Lockyer gold card may just be hiding in there.

My favourite piece of advice was: never wash their hair. Ah, no more screams about shampoo in their eyes and conditioner in their ears! No more wielding the hairdryer to cries of 'too hot!' 'you're burning me!' On the other hand, if I stop washing their hair, Lazy Me might take over and it's a small step to no more toothbrushing or clothes washing, and from there, an even smaller step to No More Friends At All.

Nits are not fatal. Not nice, but not fatal. I'll wear my club membership badge with pride as I go back to the chemists for yet another foul-smelling cure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Coming soon...

...more confessions from a domestic ogress. No soccer this weekend due to flooding (wimps!) so a bit busy preventing frustrated Soccer Boy from taking out his irritation on the Princess.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nit not wit

A few weeks ago my daughter and I became members of a very exclusive club: Those Who Have Had Nits. Actually, I'm not really justified in using the past tense in my case, as I've discovered it's very hard to clear them out of long, thick, curly hair. My daughter really hit the nit-picking jackpot when she inherited her father's fine, blond hair.

Interestingly, I have discovered that members of this club are amazingly casual about the beasties. I had to phone a bunch of people to let them know, in case our new friends had jumped ship on to any of their heads. Anyone with previous experience was amazingly blase: 'oh yeah, thanks, I'll whack some conditioner on their hair tonight and don't worry we're still friends'. It was the people who had never experienced Itchy and Scratchy who flipped: 'killer beasts? Aaah! We never want to see your nitty faces ever again'. As I suppose I would have done a few weeks ago.

Nits are not fatal. Not nice, but not fatal. I know that now. I'll wear my club membership badge with pride as I go back to the chemists for another foul-smelling cure.

7G1s - 2-3, darn! Beaten by the 7G2s from our own club. My own Soccer Boy scored both goals, although the second bounced off about four defenders on its way in, so not sure how much credit he can take for that one. I can't be too rude about the opposition this week, given that my son may one day end up on a team with one or more of them, but let me just say...there was blood and it wasn't coming from any of them.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'm a tragic

Is anyone else still visiting Miss Snark every now again, just in case?! I can't believe I'm the only tragic out there.

0-0 draw for the 7G1s this week. The kids did spend a fair bit of time in front of the opposition's goal, but couldn't quite kick one in. Not helped by the little savage that kept tripping them up. Sent our kids flying more than once by sticking his foot out when they were running full pelt. The joys of under sixes on the soccer field; sometimes they're not quite fully socialised.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Do as 'true says

'true says I must blog, therefore I must.

Today I am sad. Miss Snark is retiring. The nitwits have worn her down (gee, hope it wasn't me). Miss Snark's was the first blog I became attached to, as in checking twenty times a day, just in case another jewel had dropped from her nib. I learned loads, became permanently attached to many other blogs that she introduced me to, and met some great people who write, critique and make me laugh.


On the plus side, my son's soccer team won 1-0 and he scored the only goal. Go the 7G1s! (snappy name, I know).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

To blog or not to blog

Man, this blog's on fire! Two visitors in recent memory. Must think of something to say. Blog on the blog. I feel positively faint with excitement, nope, nope, that's not faintness, just a little...mmm...sleepy. Maybe blog later...

*mckoala snurkles and curls back up in the branches of the eucalypt*

Give me a kick if you want me to wake up.

Monday, April 30, 2007

And now I have links!

Gee, I'm all about the blogging. Two posts in a matter of weeks. And links!

Quite tired now after all that. I'd better go and have a little lie down.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A popular functional blog

In just over one year of this elegantly simple blog: one post, lots of people peeking and nine comments, only one of which was pornographic. Deleted that one, but thanks for the thought, it was very flattering.

So here's a second post. While I was here I went crazy and changed the template and added a profile and e-mail so people can actually contact me, which, apparently they have been trying to do. Crazy fools.

I'm exhausted after all that. Who knows what I'll do in another year's time. Maybe I'll even check back before then.