Category Archives: Hubbys Musings

BYO (Anti-Venom That Is)

English: Sydney funnel web spider

English: Sydney funnel web spider (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another ‘American living in Australia‘ experience has prompted me to post…

My poor husband. Truly there are times where he marvels that our country is so heavily populated. How so many more of us haven’t perished from a spider/box jellyfish/crocodile/shark or snake bite defies logic for him. The fact that we have so many deadly creatures is one thing, but this recent development to him was going way too far.

It was announced on the news recently that there was an anti-venom shortage for the funnel web spider bite. For those of you that don’t know, the funnel web spider is the deadliest in the world and is found well, pretty much everywhere people are also found en mass. As you can imagine this creates quite a problem.

My (apparently incorrect) assumption was that ‘they’ (being those anti-venom experts) had some kind of breeding center where they bred these nasty beings and milked them for their venom. I’m not suggesting that I’ve come up with some kind of ground breaking solution or anything, but to all those funnel web experts out there, you might want to consider this option in preference to the ‘solution’ (and I use that term loosely), you offered below.

Surprisingly this is not the case. Given that there is no such facility, along with the announcement about the anti-venom shortage was also a rather detailed segment on the prime time news explaining what we as good citizens can do to help alleviate this problem. In short, they were asking regular Australian citizens to catch funnel web spiders, and all they were suggesting we do it with was a cup, a piece of cardboard, and a well-written will in hand. (I lie the will was never mentioned,  an oversight no doubt.)

It was this segment that I found my husband watching in horrific disbelief.

You must watch the clip, it’s really quite laughable and only 2 minutes long. (Note how he moves the cup so calmly when the spider looks to be headed in a different direction – 2 inches from his hand!!)

How to catch the worlds deadliest spider – with a cup and a piece of cardboard.

Being a good Aussie girl I myself watched this segment with relative disinterest thinking back to all the times my father had searched the yard for these notorious killers when we were kids, pouring mineral turpentine into their holes, lighting a match and throwing it into the hole before walking away in search for his next victim. I never thought much about this, his obvious duty was to protect his family and this was the safest and most efficient way to get the job done. Funnel webs were an unpleasant part of life, but not one that I gave much thought to – until now.

Hubby looked at me when the segment ended in absolute disbelief. “That would never air on the prime time news anywhere in America” he exclaimed; “In fact I doubt it would air for any reason, ever, anywhere in America! That’s the kind of advise that would end up in lawsuits by the thousands!”

I pondered this for a moment and came to the conclusion he was right. That said, I also don’t think too many Americans would choose to play with such a dangerous creature even if the segment were to go to air – unfortunately there is a large population of (mostly) young men here in Australia who seem to be er.. mentally challenged in such areas. That segment essentially endorsed stupid and dangerous behaviour, they would be most happy to comply.

No doubt this is why you saw the very clear direction from the expert on not allowing dad (read: men) to perform this task. As you can see, the one positive my hubby took out of this whole clip was that he wasn’t expected to catch the spider – in fact it was deemed that both children and dads should stay away from these deadly creatures. It seems that us ‘mums’ are either strangely resistant to the bite of such a spider, or perhaps perceived as just a little more dispensable. (I’m fairly sure which, and I don’t appreciate the insinuation!)

This whole ‘population rescue’  that us mothers are supposed to make, is all contingent of course on the fact that we aren’t bitten by this worlds most deadly and notoriously agressive spider in the process! Which, ironically, would require the need of an anti-venom that is already in direly short supply.

Is it not enough that we are almost solely responsible for populating the world, and now we’ve been lumped with the responsibility of keeping you all alive as well? Something seems very wrong with this picture if you ask me.

I did find a special kind of pleasure in hearing him say in the post script portion of the segment “The one you catch may save your child, mother, friend or relative.” Notably, he neglected to mention that the one you catch could also end up being the one that causes demise of your own being.

Gotta love the Australians it’s such a small detail, no need to mention it and get people all all worked up over nothing.

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A Day in the Life

The right side of my ankle does not normally look this fat. This was about an hour after what I have termed as ‘the incident.’

Anyone who knows me, knows I am prone to accidents stupidity that often results in physical pain.

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a ‘sporty’ or coordinated person. Put simply, the ongoing joke is that when God was handing out coordination and talent I was hiding behind the door.

That said, a few months back a friend whose husband plays pro football here in Australia, gave us a match game ball… we decided to throw it around the yard as family (something we haven’t done before) and my husband was apparently impressed enough to comment, ‘you have a pretty good arm on you!’  I can assure you, no one was more surprised than me. It just may have been my finest moment. Ever.

I digress.

I often sometimes occasionally during red moons, walk to pick up my son from school. I had walked so often over the past weeks along with my daily jalk that I felt I might possibly have graduated to being able to jog the whole way, without causing myself serious bodily harm.

On this particular afternoon I had dressed in my cute Lorna Jane outfit, tightened my sneakers, attached my ipod in its handy little silicone pouch, and found my sporty Oakley sunglasses…I was ready to go become a jogging machine!

I closed the door behind me as I took of at the speed of an Olympic athlete. On stride two I slightly misjudged where the garden bed actually met the driveway, and in a swift motion went down like a sack of (well-coordinated and fashionably attired) potatoes. Stride two, people, stride two!!

The pain was excruciating and I was sure I had broken my ankle. Unfortunately my elderly neighbor was outside at the time and saw me go down. He yelled out asking if I was OK. In my desperate need not to be humiliated further, I forced myself to my feet and plastered a smile on my face and yelled out “FINE!”as I gave what I hoped looked like a cheery wave. I suspect my ‘wave’ looked more like a drowning victim giving his last desperate signal for help before never being seen from again, but I did what I could.

I waited for him to walk indoors before I collapsed to the porch and bum-crawled my way into my home. I continued the bum-crawl until I got to the couch and called hubby in a fit of crying.

“You have to drop whatever you are doing RIGHT NOW and go pick up our son from school. School lets out in 10 minutes and there’s no way I can get off the couch, to the car and use my foot to drive.”

In typical fashion, he did what he usually does when there is work to be done in life he’s not too fond of doing – he delegated. Deciding he couldn’t possibly make it on time, he called a friends husband who was picking up their kids that day, and asked him to collect ours too.

Turned out this poor guy was already carpooling a zillion other kids and our kid would put him over the car-safety threshold. If only he had asked, my husband would have told him it would be no problem to strap our kid to the hood (he’s liberal like that).

After a while I heard the sounds of children’s voices from outside the house. It turned out this poor man (Thanks Ray, we still owe you for that one!) had to walk all 7 or 8 or whatever number it was, children to our house to drop our kid off, and then walk them all back to school where his car was parked, before driving them all home. To say he was gracious is an understatement. I suspect we aren’t his favorite people of the year.

My kiddo walked in the door and saw me and my ankle and realized things were not good. He (sweetly) asked me if he could get me anything. “Ice, towel and nail polish,” was my reply.

He didn’t question me, but my husband was incredulous when he arrived home and saw me stretching over in serious pain, in a valiant effort to paint my toenails.

“What are you doing?” he asked, “I know, I know, don’t answer that. You’re painting your toenails even though you are in obvious pain, because you don’t want to go to the hospital and have people looking at your foot un-manicured. I’m right aren’t I?”

My face was the only answer he needed. “You’re insane,” he responded, “completely insane. I can’t believe I married someone as crazy as you, frankly it speaks volumes about my mental health….” he sighed... “Let’s get you to the hospital.”

Having yet to visit an Australian hospital to test the system out, he was quite excited to see what ‘free’ healthcare looked like (especially given he wasn’t the guinea pig).

I think he quietly suspected there would be sick and dying people lying in the hallways, bright yellow warning tape across various rooms and a severe shortage of painkillers along with people screaming in agony and a mild infestation of roaches.  With that expectation, he was destined to be pleasantly surprised.

This is the same ankle, about 4 hours ‘post-incident’.

Here’s how it went:

5:15pm. Hubby goes into emergency and is followed out by a nurse with a wheelchair. I am taken straight into a private room where they took all my details, level of pain, how it happened, given pain meds etc.

5:25pm. Sent to X-ray. Told they were waiting for me there and given directions for how to navigate our way around the hospital to find it.

5:30pm: Arrive at X-ray. Hubby left me to get a snack for our son since we figured I’d be waiting a while.

5:40pm: I call hubby to rush back, they are ready to take me in

5:45pm: X-ray completed. We are told to wait right where we are. The X-rays would be developed and digitals emailed through to the orthopedic surgeon.

5:52pm: Radiologist comes out with our X-rays, tells us to go back to the original check in area, and the orthopedic surgeon would call my name. We head back but are intercepted in the hallway by the surgeon who is waiting for us, and taken to a private room to talk.

5:55pm: Surgeon shows me the X-rays and talks about what happened. I have torn ligaments in my ankle, it would have been better if I had broken it he tells me. Ligaments take as long to heal – often longer…blah, blah, blah. (It’s all sucky news.)

6:05pm He goes to get crutches for me and fits me for them and wraps my foot. Gives me extra wraps and bandages and pain killers and tells me to rest, ice, elevate etc and come back if I have anymore trouble.

6:12pm: As we are leaving the doctor tells me if the pain is really bad, to ‘swig a couple of pain pills down with a scotch or something.’ (I think he was joking, but later in the evening, I briefly consider taking his advice.)

6:18pm: we walk out of the hospital with my husband actually asking the lady at the front desk where the billing department is. She looks at him like he’s a little slow in the head. “There is no billing department” she answers “There is no payment for these services.

He’s giddy with joy, like a kid in a candy store. It was almost amusing.

6:25pm: We are in the car and on our way home with me having narrowly missed losing my life in front of an ambulance pulling in, due to my lack of co-ordination with the crutches. I suspect another accident in the near future if my crutch ability is anything to go by. (No one warns you just how much coordination is required to use those things!)

6:26pm: My husband excitedly announces that its “awesome” we got crutches for free and when I am done with them he’s selling them on eBay -declaring that this ‘accident’ of mine will end up being a profitable venture for our family.

6:27pm: I witheringly explain to him that no one in Australia will actually buy the crutches, because we can all get the for free from the medical community anytime we need them.

6:28pm: He seems visibly disappointed and wonders out loud about  the shipping costs of sending crutches to the USA to sell to the poor sods there – where nothing in medicine is free.

Later that evening: “Do me a favor honey,” (he looked at me lovingly) “leave that jogging stuff to the professionals from now on…eh? Sometimes we just need to know our limitations in life, and this is clearly one of yours.”

I didn’t cook him dinner for a week.

24 hours ‘post incident’. I no longer have an ankle, its swallowed by the awesome swelling, along with most of my leg. The nice grey color reaches about 3/4 way up to my knee. Sexy, no?

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And The Mouse Made Four

Previous Freddo Dairy Milk design (12g)

The delicious Freddo Frog (Image via Wikipedia)

The evening after Halloween, kiddo asked me if he could have some left-over chocolate Freddo’s. I nodded in the affirmative and moments later, he brought me the whole bowl – asking why so many of the wrappers had been torn, and the chocolate eaten.

It turns out we have a mouse.

A mouse that favors Cadbury Chocolate Freddo Frogs.

Of course I was horrified at the mere thought of a mouse running around my kitchen while I slept, and out came my trusty humane trap, something I have used previously to deal with such incidences.

Regular traps just aren’t an option for me. The idea of waking in the morning to find a dead mouse splayed out with a metal rod across its back is too much for me to bear – and the alternative thought of it not actually being dead, just suffering endlessly until I have to hit it with a brick or something – well, I simply cannot imagine.

We have a deal in our house – I can use humane traps and my husband will empty them for me – far, far, away from our home. Our house backs up to a reserve of forest-type land (an area kept protected for the wildlife), and as a result we see the occasional field mouse.

My husband set the trap with chocolate inside (since this was obviously the mouse’s poison of choice), and I put the bowl of remaining chocolates up high, away from the place where the mouse first tasted the decadence.

The next morning the trap hadn’t been touched, but the bowl had once again been raided! I was incensed! I triple-sealed the remaining untouched chocolates in zip-lock baggies and went about my day, as hubby left on a business trip.

To be honest I forgot all about the trap, until last night.

I turned off my light at about 12:30am and prepared for sleep, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes later that I heard someone trying the handle of our front door – or so I thought.

A strange jiggling sound had me on high alert (granted it would have to be the loudest burglar in the history of the world, but that’s all I could figure). I got up and turned every light in the house on, as I checked all the doors.

Nothing.

All had gone quiet and I went back to bed, perplexed.

Of course it started again, and it was so loud, it sounded exactly like someone trying to get into the house! I went checking again and nothing! I repeated this one last time, and this time I picked up my iphone as I lay in my bed hearing this strange noise and I turned on my voice recorder to record it.

What I was doing, I can’t tell you. If I were to be found dead in my bed, the cops would all be shaking their heads…“she had time to run for her life, but instead chose to lay in bed and record the burglar coming to attack, what was she thinking?”

Apparently people do strange things when they are tired and perplexed. And by people, I mean me.

A few minutes later I remembered the trap and considered the possibility that it had something to do with the noise. I ventured to the cupboard and sure enough the trapdoor was closed, signalling entrapment.

I was terrified – much more terrified than if it had been a masked burglar. I was all for ‘saving the mice’, but I didn’t want to have to be actively involved in the disposing of them.

This is why one finds a husband. Rodent removal, diamonds, and to teach sons how to pee.

I went back to bed hoping that now I’d figured out what it was, I could ignore the mouse and get some sleep and my 7-year-old could deal with it for me in the morning (parenting at its best).

The subsequent noise was incredible. Reaching a crescendo of epic proportions this mouse had clearly decided to throw itself with all its weight at the trapdoor, time and time again, in the hopes it could break free – at least that’s all I could figure.

I felt vaguely sorry for it as I imagined its fear and desperation. I threw a pillow over my head and willed myself to sleep.

Moments later, the kiddo woke up from the deafening noise and called out to me, asking what was going on. I told him to go back to sleep and I gritted my teeth and told myself that I was going to have to deal with this – there was simply no other option.

THE MOUSE IS IN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!

I opened the cupboard door and gingerly picked it up (making sure to keep the oh-so-important door sealed) and headed for the front door.

As I opened the door, the dog pushed past me and ran out. He had seen a kangaroo (they often feed on our lawn at nights), and was now taking off down the street in chase.

The culprit.

I broke into a run of my own, all the while doing the yisper (you know that thing you do when you are yelling; “get back here now!!” But you have to do it in a loud whisper, because its 3am and you live on a super quiet street in a cul-de-sac, and you don’t want to piss off the neighbors?)

Your mind is yelling, but your voice is loud-whispering. Yisper.

So this is what it’s come to.

A kangaroo being chased by a labrador, being chased by its owner (while balancing a trapped mouse), at 3am down a quiet, suburban street.

We chased  each other through 3 gardens, 4 yards, an empty block of land, past a “Koala Corridor” sign and over a roundabout. At which time I realized I was a more than a street away from my home, my 7-year-old was alone asleep in bed, it was 3am and I was in my pyjamas with bare feet, holding a trapped mouse.

(It’s stories like these that get people arrested. “No officer, I wasn’t going to streak or break-in, I was chasing-my-dog-chasing-a-kangaroo-holding-my-mouse. I just didn’t have time to get dressed.”)

Logic took over and I turned around.

The dog would have to work his way back – thankfully the kangaroo is way faster than the dog anyway – he would soon realize it was a hopeless cause.

I got to my driveway and looked at my trapped mouse (who probably had awful motion sickness by now).

I set down the trap in the forest area opposite our house, lifted the trapdoor back…and ran like hell back to the house. As I did, I heard the door fall again and I realized he wouldn’t be able to escape this way. The mechanism that makes this humane trap work is based on the principal of a sea-saw.

When he walks towards the door, the contraption tips and the door closes. There was no possible way the mouse could get out without me standing there and tipping him out – and that couldn’t happen with my phobia and history of bad-ass luck – if I did that, he’d be sure to turn and run over my foot and up my leg and I might have a heart-attack.

I couldn’t believe that my nightmare wasn’t over yet, and now I was going to have to start a damn craft project!

I made a decision and headed back to the house and returned outside, bringing a tape dispenser out with me. As I sat on the roadside rigging my plan in my pyjamas, I thought about what a complete idiot I would look like if someone saw me.

I placed two large pieces of tape to the front of the door and got ready and pulled back the door and taped the remaining ends to the back of the trap, all  in one swift motion …and hightailed it back inside the house.

I never looked back (until this morning when the kiddo wanted to know what happened to the trap and I pointed to the other side of the street as we left for school).

This was my blissfully empty trap the next morning. Ready for reuse! All for the bargain price of $2.49

Later, I thought about how much crap my hubby was going to get from me when he got home, for being away on the one night this all had to happen. One night a year that he has to be “the man of the house” and deal with a mouse – and he’s not around for it!

Typical.

I’m thinking of trying to get a refund for him. “Excuse me sir, mines not working, he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to – whats the return policy?”

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Ode To My Husband (The Only Man In The World Who Would Have Me)

The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado

9 years ago today, we walked into a courthouse in Denver and eloped.

As we left, you with a lifetime of possibilities and me with my free goodie bag of Tupperware (a total 1950’s housewife gift, I was insulted and planned on writing a complaint letter. Like most of my planned complaint letters, it never materialized), I hoped I’d done the right thing.

The Day We Eloped - Ootober 18, 2002

A few months later with 80 of our friends and family, we officially tied the knot at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel (and I was right, it was an improvement on a Mexican restaurant).

The roller coaster ride began, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Our wedding day - January 2003

The first day of our honeymoon as we began our drive down the coast of Mexico, you impressed me by crushing a beer can on your forehead (splitting your head open when you used the wrong end – the one with the sharp edge).  I laughed for hours, and have rarely stopped laughing since.

I knew without question then, you were the boy for me.

As far back as our wedding day you were making me laugh

You have been the best sport as I laugh at you more often than with you (most often in blog posts that I share with the world), and as we incessantly argue the value of crap shows like Smallville and True Blood, your addiction to community Poker games, the necessity of me owning more than 50 pairs of shoes, why Channel and Chanel sunglasses really are not the same (despite appearances), and the inappropriateness of showing your kid how to use a whoopee cushion on unsuspecting guests.

We have come to an agreement that you may not criticize my country’s wacky city names, when your own has a place called Arkansas (Ar-Kansas) and yet, you pronounce it Are-Can-Saw. This one city name definitively established that whatever the subject matter, you have no case – and never will.

You now know that here in Australia, a napkin is not something you use to wipe your face at dinner but rather, a ladies sanitary item. (That was a humiliating lesson to learn, I know.)

We have established that we can raise a great kid, but have no clue how to raise a well-behaved dog.  We know how to run successful businesses, but cannot work in one together, we’re different in almost every way, but we’ll both stand up for what we believe in (even if the cost seems exorbitantly high), and we have learned together, the largest of sacrifices result in the greatest rewards.

Our badly-behaved, but adorable dog

We can live anywhere in the world together and have a good time (not always keeping on the right side of the law, and that’s OK, because most laws are overrated and antiquated anyway). We now know that a foreign drivers license and a confused expression will get you out of almost any tight fix.

You are a man with remarkable patience, and impressive tenacity. Your fortitude is great, and your resilience is admirable. You are the best father I know (even that man in Cracker Barrel thought so), and your ability to kill a bug in the middle of the night without your contact lenses (by sheer bionic-perception), is extraordinary!

You are the son with the integrity, the father with the most adoring son, and the husband with impeccable taste…

If you are ever unsure why you are with me, remember what you told that guy who asked you why you didn’t marry an American girl:

“ Because my wife can defend the honor of a family, confront a scam artist (and convince him to accept an appropriate consequence), make a meal, prove a doctor with a foreboding diagnosis wrong  – reclaiming the health of our child, run a business and keep a house. And she can do it all without carrying a gun, visiting a shrink or popping a Xanax. That’s why I married an Australian girl.”

It’s been a crazy ride, but one well-worth taking.

Happy Anniversary!

xxx

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You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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How Do You Like ‘Dem Apples?

Nectarine

Image via Wikipedia

Picture the scene if you can….

7:30am summertime. (School is on vacation so I’m still asleep, but hubby is up because he has to go to work.)

Kiddo says he is hungry, and could he have an apple?

Hubby goes to the fridge, and peels and cuts an apple for our son. He gives it to him and walks away.

Moments later, my son comes into the bedroom and I hear the whining; “Daddy this apple doesn’t taste like the apples mummy cuts up for me…I don’t like it.”

[The opportunity for sleep is gone with all the action, coupled with the fact that the two boys in my life sound like a herd of raging elephants when they walk around the house, so I give up on sleep and get out of bed to investigate.]

I view the offending ‘apple,’ and see immediately what the problem is.

My husband has peeled and cut up a nectarine for our son.

I mean, really?? Think about that for a minute. Do you know how hard it would be to peel a nectarine? They are soft and squishy and not created to be peeled. The mess when he peeled and cut it must have been extraordinary!

It’s one thing to mistake a nectarine for an apple as you pick it up – who am I to judge? But to peel and cut the whole thing up, never once during the process stopping to think; “hmm… this doesn’t look/taste/smell/feel like an apple, perhaps I have the wrong fruit?

Then we get to the HUGE-ASS STONE in the middle…what on earth did he put that down to?

The whole concept of such colossal failure is beyond me. I can’t express my incredulousness to you. I really can’t. I didn’t even say much to him, I just kind of looked at him thinking; who are you, and how did you function in life before you met me?

The next day I found my voice and after ribbing him mercilessly, he began to claim the reason he thought it was an apple was that it was “so early and I had just woken up.”

Uh huh. That’s right, sleep deprivation was the problem here.

I blame his mother. She is responsible for this disgrace. By his own admission he was never fed nectarines when he was growing up. If you listen to him, all he ate was Doritos’ and M & M cookies slathered in a little spray cheese. (The Doritos, not the cookies – at least that’s what I assume he meant.)

Still, on the positive side it tells me that I am needed.

Without me, my son might be eating ice packs instead of ice cream, cardboard instead of toast, eggplant instead of eggs, and uncooked quinoa instead of cereal. Clearly they cannot get by without me, and though we mothers know this in the depths of our hearts, I have never had the evidence thrust before me in such a shameful display before.

As it stands, no matter how fat my life insurance policy, I simply cannot die. They won’t survive in the wilderness that is the 21st century – you know – with all its confusing fruits and vegetables and stuff.

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Torching Me Seems A Little Excessive

fire

Image by matthewvenn via Flickr

Hubby and I were doing spring cleaning around our place last week and as expected, marital bickering was a part of that deal. Even so, nothing prepared me for the following events.

I was weeding the garden and hubby decided to push past me on the path, instead of going the long way around me and keeping it nice and simple. (like a normal person). Sounds all very innocent, right?

At the time he was holding a whipper snipper (weed eater to the Americans), and had unscrewed the cap on it. (For a still-undisclosed reason, I might add.)

As a result, when he squeezed by me, he had to perform a contortionists act and in doing so, upended the contents of the whipper snipper tank all over my back.

Have you ever been doused in any kind of fuel? If you haven’t, and you have it on your list-of-things-to-do-before-you-die, I suggest you take it off. Now. (I can assure you, it’s nowhere near as cool or amusing as you may have imagined.)

For a split-second after it hit my back, I thought it was water and gave him the death stare while I screeched in protest. A nano-second later, when the stench hit my nose and I realized what it was, the death stare darkened and became even more evil, as I responded to my instant reflex – and stood up.

Big mistake. Huge.

Standing up caused the fuel to run further down my back to my, er… rear. An important point to note here, is that fuel running down your rear, burns. A lot.

I still hadn’t yet said a word to him as I bolted for the shower, with him following me calling out “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it! I’m so sorry!” (Being married to me for almost 10 years, he was well-aware that no sound from my mouth, coupled with the death stare = whole world of trouble for him.)

After I showered, I put the clothes in the washer and washed them three times. They still stink of fuel and will have to be thrown out; an outcome I am less than pleased about.

However, a slightly more disturbing issue is the fact that my husband doused me with fuel and cannot provide a plausible explanation as to how. He explained that he had the cap unscrewed, but couldn’t seem to elaborate as to why it would be undone on a tank full of fuel in the first place!

He maintains that since I did not view a lighter, pack of matches or a piece of flint on him, I cannot claim anything more sinister than the accident he is  professing. Still, a girl can’t help but have her suspicions and while I do, I’m planning on milking it for as many ‘make-it-up-to-me-gifts’ as I can get.

After all, in the midst of some garden-variety spring clean and tame marital bickering, torching me does seem a little excessive.

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Worlds Greatest Dad

My husband finished work early and I invited him to come along to Target with me, to find a small $5 gift for the father’s day stall at our son’s school. Apparently the offer of such a fun-filled afternoon was too tempting to resist, and a short time later we were wandering around the store.

He took a business call when I happened to pick up a mug;

“World’s Greatest Father,” it read.

He finished his call and looked at it sitting in my hands. He stared at it thoughtfully for a few seconds before announcing; “You know whoever manufactures those mugs should stop processing the tens of thousands they do every year. They should just make one, and sell it for a fortune.”

I laughed my way around the store as he stared at me perplexed. “I love these moments;” I told him. “The moments where I am not only reminded why I married you, but actually glad that I did.”

Yes, like many women I spend a good percentage of my lifetime frustrated my husband, and the drawbacks of being married to a man with so many (perceived) faults.

Things like loose socks left lying around, spilled coffee on the kitchen counter, cartoon watching, buying whoopee cushions for our son, procrastinating of household chores, the insistence that imported beer is definitely one of the five food groups (and considered daily necessity for basic survival), and the resulting beer bottle caps that are found all over the house.

With these constant reminders of how my life would be neater, cleaner, less work and more peaceful if I were not married, its good to get another reminder; that it would be a heck of a lot less fun, as well.

That said, happy early fathers day to my husband. Never forget the words of the old man in Cracker Barrel who leaned over his table to ours and said;

“I’ve been watching you since we sat down, and I just want to congratulate you on being a really fantastic father.” (I need to mention here that he said nothing of my excellent mothering skills, an omition that I am sure was merely oversight.)

Funny, and a fantastic father. I guess I can pick up a few more socks and tolerate another episode of The Avengers, (that show that you insist is not a cartoon, but in fact animated television).

You’re a bit of all right.

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How To Fit In, In Australia

2006 WSOP Main Event Table

Image via Wikipedia

My American husband has been playing poker on Tuesday nights almost since we moved to Australia 9 months ago.

One of the things that really stood out to him when he first started, was the lack of people asking what he did for a living.

In our experience in the US when you meet someone new, pretty much the first question out of their mouth is; “What do you do?”

It’s so different here in Australia. People just aren’t judged by their job, we  have a completely different system for sizing people up and its pretty simple and unique; you fit into category A or category B.

A. Is he a wanker?

A ‘wanker’ is pretty much the equivalent to being an ‘asshole’ in the USA.

or

B. Is he a ‘good bloke’?

A ‘good bloke’ is generally defined as someone with nothing to prove, who isn’t trying to impress anyone and who ‘bashes’ (trashes) the Kiwi’s (New Zealander‘s) and loves beer.

So hubby starting going to this weekly poker match about 6 months ago and for the first few weeks he didn’t say anything about this. After about 2 months he came home and it was as though he couldn’t contain himself any longer…” Its been months now and no one has ever asked me what I do for a living!” he exclaimed.

He was really quite fascinated by the whole process. Everybody chatting, playing cards, drinking and having a laugh. No station or prestige, just guys being…well, guys. Its been about six months now and he just recently found out that he’s playing every week with a Doctor, a judge, a trash collector and a newspaper reporter, amongst others. What a fantastically eclectic bunch!

I really love this about my country. No matter who you are, what your situation is in life, you’ll be given a ‘fair go’ by strangers just as long as you keep downing those beers and blasting those kiwis!

Ok, I jest a little, being a ‘good bloke’ is much more than this. Being able to laugh at oneself, not being ‘up yourself’ (pretentious) and being affable and willing to lend a hand are all traits that will take you far. Things like telling people you come from a ‘good family’, or announcing some prestigious sounding job, or showing off a fancy car or watch, will take you to category ‘A’ faster than you can say ‘friendless!’

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not the fact that you might have a prestigious job, wear a fancy watch or drive a luxury car that’s the problem. It’s the need to make people aware of it that turns us off. We are always happy for a ‘mate’ to have success and good fortune. As long as he remains a ‘good bloke’.  Confused yet?

The overwhelming message here is that what you do, what your title is or where you come from, is not important. Who you are, what you stand for and how you treat others, is. And to us, it defines you.

It’s a message I am so happy to be instilling into my son as I watch him grow up.

* Disclaimer: I know that not everyone is the US judge people by these values, and of course not everyone in Australia doesn’t. This is just an observation from the snapshot of our lives and the experiences we have had overall. My husband is American and we love all of our many and varied American friends!
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Beer School

We have recently moved to Australia from the US. My husband has been endlessly fascinated with the strange and amusing things he experiences here. One of his favorites is the ‘Beer School.’

Whenever he cracks a bottle of beer he looks under the lid. There is a little piece of Aussie trivia. Its usually something useless and uninteresting but he’s constantly amused by it.

Here’s one from tonight:

For The Love Of Rugby

Q Who scored 4 tires VS the all blacks in a game in 1978?
A Greg Cornelson

Hubby thinks that this is the way that you study for the citizenship test in Australia – just read the underside of your beer bottle cap. Seems perfect somehow doesn’t it?

Education and beer….ahhh…Australia.

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