Tag Archives: PostAWeek2011

Halfway Dead

Cover of "Happy Birthday to Me"
Cover of Happy Birthday to Me

I am 38-years-old today, that’s right 38-years-old! 38 years!!

Happy Birthday to me, right?

This reminds me of Bill Cosby on the ‘Himself’ tour, talking about being in first class on a flight, and little ‘Jeffrey‘ running up and down the aisles announcing “I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old!” throughout the duration of the flight, driving everyone crazy for hours. It ensured they got no sleep, and it was the worst 2 thousand bucks they have ever spent traveling between New York and LA.

I reminded my husband of this when I repeated my age 12 times before breakfast; “It could be worse, at least you aren’t on a plane with little Jeffrey.” He didn’t seem to feel there was a whole lot of difference.

By far my favorite line from the show was this one;

“I said to a guy, Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful, and he said, because it intensifies your personality. I said, Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

I know a few of those cocaine snorting assholes, and so the statement rings even more true now than it did back in the 80’s, when I first saw the show. It never loses its humor to me, and that’s one of the many brilliant things about Bill.

Bill Cosby - Quinnipiac Law

Bill Cosby, comic God.

I’ve seen that “Himself” video (yes video, it was released in the dark ages, otherwise knows as the 80’s) dozens of times – and if you haven’t I highly recommend you rent it out – I guarantee your sides will hurt for days for having had the experience, and it’s much more enjoyable than a Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred workout (yes, I speak from experience on this one), with arguably the same result.

Moving on.

I’m 38-years-old today, and my husband tells me I don’t look a day over 37 and 11 months, (he really knows how to flatter a girl). 38 is kind of a big deal, because in just over 2 years, by the law of averages, I’d potentially be halfway dead.

In fact, though I like to pretend our move to Australia was for more noble causes, the actual reason I hopped up and moved, was I saw the latest life expectancy statistics in the US.

The average life expectancy for a woman in America is 81.3 years, but here’s the kicker, the average life expectancy for a woman in Australia is 84 years, the third highest in the world following Japan (not sure that it’s accounting for the recent disasters) and Hong Kong.

Do you see what I just did there? I added almost three years to my life, just by packing up and moving to the other side of the world!

Genius? I think so!

Right now, I am a full 4 years from halfway dead! So awesome! (Of course this precludes terrible accidents like being hit by a bus, or my stalker hiring a hit man to take me out.)

It’s weird isn’t it, when you begin to see your life in terms of how long you have left.

Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of 38-year-olds that think this way, but they should. I suspect people would be a whole lot more productive in life if they made decisions based on how it’s going to affect them in the afterlife – or in the few months or years before they get to the afterlife.

I for one, am determined to be a lot nicer to my son.

After all, it’s he that will make or break me, when it comes to crunch-time. When I’m begging him to let me live with him, and not send me to that dreadful home – promising not to soil my adult diaper ever again – I’m going to remind him of all the times I let him have a day off school just because, and the times I paid out his pocket money even though his table-clearing and dishwasher-packing skills, left a lot to be desired.

And I have a backup plan – you simply cannot be too prepared when it comes to your inevitable demise – I’m going to be rich.

In the unfortunate event that I do a terrible job raising my son, and he wants to dump me in a home quicker than I could say “geriatric neglect,” I will use the undervalued power of manipulation. I will wave the all-desirable will in front of his face with threats to leave it all to the pygmies in Africa.

I don’t actually know who, or what, the African pygmies are, but my grandmother has spent her lifetime sending them all her money, and they still don’t seem to have enough, so they seem as worthwhile of a cause as any.

As for the riches, I don’t actually have a concrete plan for how I will be building the massive wealth, but you know, you can’t get too caught up on the details – do you think Steve Jobs made his money overnight? – Of course not! So I’m not sweating the small stuff in my master plan, all in good time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my 3rd January on a beautiful summers day here in Australia, Happy New Year to all my friends all over the world who followed in the footsteps of Australia and finally made it into 2012.

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Loyalty Cards

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Image via Wikipedia

At this time I have about 53 loyalty cards either crowding my keyring, overflowing my junk draw or cramming up my wallet. They are the bane of my existence for two reasons;

1. I hate all the extra crap I have to carry.

2. I cant not have them because I’m possibly missing out on a discount, a rebate check – or worse – a free set of blunt steak knives made in China, from some kind of cheap, toxic plastic and quasi-metal.

I went to the local grocery store the other day and as I was checking out, the lady asked for my loyalty card. As I searched in my bag for the card I said to her; “I’m not sure if I have one, Im not really that loyal.

Of course what I meant, is that I wasn’t that loyal to that particular store. I usually shopped at a grocer much closer to our house. I dug around in my purse a little more, and then looked up at her to find her staring at me oddly.

I immediately realized what I had just said and stupidly decided to explain myself further.

Well I am loyal, you know…..in life. I’m just not that loyal to your store. I’m really a very loyal person by nature, I mean, I’m not having affairs all over the place on my husband or anything….but, you see, all these grocery stores are so close together, and they all have a card, and there are so many cards, its so hard to keep track, and well….”

My voice trailed off as much for breathlessness as for lack of a really plausible explanation, that would clarify things, and get us on a better track.

You know that moment where you know you are rabbiting on like a raving lunatic, and you know the other person is thinking you’re a total whack-job? Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to stop yourself rambling aimlessly, in a desperate attempt to sound like a lucid person?

This was my moment.

Of course I intend to reward her for my humiliation by showing absolutely no loyalty, and never visiting that grocery store again.

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Planking Mario’s, School Principals, and Lunar Eclipses.

We love my son’s school. Love. If I could go back in time and go to school again, I’d attend myself.

It’s one of those nice unexpected surprises in life. You pretty much assume that you’re going to like some things about your kid’s school, tolerate others, be totally agitated by a few, and pretty much just get through. When your expectations are exceeded, it’s like winning the lottery.

Before my son started at this school, we checked out another. We met with all the appropriate people and liked them. It seemed like a good fit, the grounds were well-looked after, facilities were great, class sizes reasonable. It ticked all the boxes – until we met the principal.

I’ve had a theory since High school that all school principals are assholes (sorry to all the principals reading, but bear with me on this!) My principal(s) were very small men (figuratively), who took great pleasure in being king of their castles, and wielding the power whenever possible. I went to a private schools so rules were usually more strict and discipline was of primary importance.

One such rule was when you were old enough to get your drivers permit, you could only drive your car to school on approved days. The reason?  There was not enough parking in and around the school for teachers and students.

What this translated to for most students, was the permission to drive to school a day or two per week, necessitating train and bus transport for the remaining days.

This is almost an exact replica of my first car. Except mine was a faded baby-poo green. I'm sure you can imagine my popularity and level of coolness.

Unlike most of my more intelligent counterparts, who drove whenever they liked, and parked a decent distance from the school – walking the rest of the way and keeping the school none the wiser – I decided to confront the system with honesty, and buck it to their faces.

Why, I questioned, did the school not plan for this growth and expansion by choosing a location with ample parking? What was the board of directors doing about this issue? Many hours of valuable homework time were being lost by seniors, wasting time on public transport when they could be home focusing on work (or the latest cosmo magazine and manicure), depending on your definition of ‘work’.

I found a lovely old lady who lived a few houses up from the school, who had no car and an empty driveway. She was more than happy for me to park my car at her house every day. The principal declared it a ‘no-go’. It would be unfair to other students, he claimed.

My father got involved and there was a lot of back-and-forward letter writing for a while, before, totally exasperated, dad decided to call the principal and talk it out – hopefully solving the problem once and for all. I don’t remember much about the conversation other than hearing him shout “You have your head so far up your ass you can’t see the light!”

My father was not prone to bad language. In fact, this might be the only time I ever heard him use the word ‘ass’. Clearly this principal had driven him to the point of absolute frustration with his lunacy. I understood completely.

As I heard him hang up the phone, I smiled to myself, knowing that only a positive outcome for me could come from such a statement.

It did. I drove every day for the duration of my schooling.

I digress.

When we met with the principal at the alternate school we were checking out, he put out his hand to shake ours and his voice boomed; “You are so lucky to find a space with us…. this school has such an exemplary record, we have a waiting list of people desperate to get in. You really should consider yourselves incredibly lucky. I was honored as one of the top 20 principals in NSW in 2002.”

2002!! That’s like 9 years ago dude! Before wireless internet and Justin Beiber (his fame – not his birth – though it’s probably a close call). It barely counts as this decade! (Judging from his personality,  I also suspected the criteria was very ambiguous.)

I mumbled something polite, while giving my husband the look. The look said; “we are not sending our kid to learn under this douches guidance, under any circumstances.”

We left and I exclaimed, “Can you believe it? I thought it was only because my last memories of school were as a kid, that I thought all principals were such douchebags! They’re still douchebags, even though I’m an adult!”

(Perhaps not the most eloquent way to describe it.)

My opinion changed when I met my sons current principal.

I liked him immediately. As we toured the school he shared story after story with us, keeping us laughing and impressed all at once, but what sold me was this statement;

We have a zero tolerance rule for bullying in school, we don’t have a bullying problem…well except for Jennifer L,” he sighed dramatically.

Jennifer L is a grade A student, prodigy at violin, mathematics state champion 4 years running, volunteer firefighter and all-round incredible person. Unfortunately she had a fight with her boyfriend in the senior center last year and slapped him across the face and she’s been labeled as a bully ever since.”

“I flinch every time I see her, or use a book as a protector shield if she comes to my office – I just never know what she might do. She is mortified. I use her as the example for bullying for every new student that comes in the school.”

His eyes twinkled as he described the situation and his mouth showed the beginnings of a smile.

It was hilarious imagining this super-achieving ‘good girl’ let the emotions get the better of her (as only teenage girls can do) – and slap her man  – and then be the poster-child for bullying for the rest of her school life.

I loved it. And so did he. The smile on his face told me he enjoyed telling the story and he enjoyed ribbing her about it at every opportunity. I suspect she is able to laugh about it too.

So here my son will stay (at least until their bullying mascot graduates and then we’ll need to reconsider our options), and in the meantime this school has given me hope that there are school principals that exist who are nice, normal, amusing, and not on some kind of crazy power trip.

Thank you to all those who fulfill this role with dignity, fairness and kindness.

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As we all know the lunar eclipse happened on Saturday night (Australian Time). It started about midnight and I had decided to stay up to watch and try to get some photos.

Clouds did not predict a successful outcome

I am not particularly great with a camera. I love photography, but the aperture, ISO, white balance..blah, blah, blah… is just all to technical for my little mind and so I just randomly change these things up and down as I take photos and hope I get a few that work. (Really, I do. Makes my husband crazy.)

Unfortunately, this theory landed me with a hundreds of photos from the eclipse that were useless at best. Shockingly, a few of them did turn out OK and I decided to include them here. All I used was my Canon Rebel XSi, a tripod, my Front Porch, a Sigma 70-300mm lens, and a bottle of wine.

(Bottle of wine is mandatory, remember you are staring at a big light in the sky for hours with nothing else to do but check out the edge work on your neighbor’s lawn. Studying that edge work is a lot less arduous when you are liquored up. Trust me.)

It started really cloudy, so I didn’t get any good full moon shots, and I wasn’t sure how it would end up

They eventually started to dissipate and I decided to hang in there to see what might be

Clouds moving - Showing some promise

I got it!

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The Real Blog Post (Not The 7-year-old Clicked Publish Before I Was Done, Post)

English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Q...

Image via Wikipedia

***Apologies to those that received an unfinished version of this post earlier today. My son was playing around on my computer and I had my account open and somehow he hit the “publish” button. (Note to self: lock the office door when I am not around, to avoid nervous breakdown and desire to strangle child)***

I can’t believe we are this close to the end of year! We have now officially been living in Australia for just over 1 year and my husband and son are starting to jive with the culture and seem a little less out-of-place.

A few weeks back we took a trip to Sydney.

Our first stop was my Holistic dentist where I had my last two mercury fillings removed. Not the most fun thing to do, nor was it as bad as I had anticipated. An excellent practice, incredible staff and safely getting rid of those toxins once and for all, made for an all-out pretty pleasant day and they we’re done in under an hour – impressive!

Next stop was our hotel in Double Bay.

One of the most affluent suburbs (often referred to as Double ‘Pay’), it is also an incredibly beautiful place with designer shopping, quaint cafes and bars, located (as is indicated by its name) in a bay on Sydney Harbour.

It’s only a short train or ferry ride into the city (great for kids)  – for those of us not wanting to pay Sydney’s $50+/day parking fees. (That would be me.)

Double Bay, (Sydney) Australia. I took this photo as we were heading out of the bay towards Sydney Harbour on the ferry.

Even as a former Sydney-sider, I delight in taking friends and family members on a ferry ride on the Harbour. There is something completely magical about it. I have lived in a number of places over my lifetime and so many of them have that “special something”. Sydney’s “special something” is its Harbour.

As we boarded our ferry along with the business people on their way to work, I wondered how great it would be to sit outdoors in the sunshine with the sea-air blowing in your hair as you traveled your mode of ‘public transport’ to work – not too shabby!

The Harbour Bridge in the Distance, Taken From The Ferry

We then took in some of the sites of Sydney and had a blast, I highly recommend spending time in your “home” city as a tourist. Stay at a hotel, see all the sites and you may be surprised at how cool it is and what’s on offer!

Charlie Chaplin Reincarnated?

The Big Smoke

We started by wandering down “The Rocks” area, it’s on the edge of the Harbour, full of historic buildings, Australian artifacts, tourist shops, artwork etc. I love the rocks, its quaint and historical.

"The Rocks"

Next we watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo on the foreshores of the Quay. (HA!) This guy is about as “authentically aboriginal” as I am.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have aboriginal heritage, but I promise you, he goes home to his big screen TV, and judging from his pecs, he eats plenty of McDonalds and drives his 4wd to ‘work’ everyday.

But, the tourists love it. (As did my son and husband. I just snorted in disgust and took photos for my blog. Note the gold rimmed glasses. My husband named him “Kanye Dundee” )

"Kanye Dundee"

We took a walk to Darling Harbour (about 25 minutes walk from Circular Quay – where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is located), and discovered a cool playground with a mammoth climbing structure (amongst other things), that my husband declared. would never exist in any playground in America.

His reasoning? “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen”. We wouldn’t sue here, we’d just brush little Billy off after his fall and tell him he’s “fine”, and to “stop complaining, you’re scaring the other kids.”

Regardless, it proved hugely popular with the kids, including ours who in this photo is perched on the top left.

"Lawsuit Waiting to Happen."

Next to the playground was a water park that had an awesome array of lessons. How water works, ways to pump, divert, spray and more. It was the perfect place on a warm summers afternoon and we spent hours there.

Cool toes on a hot day can only be a good thing!

The afternoon had worn on and we left the water park behind.

Father and Son Are Insperable!

On our way out of Darling Harbour we saw Santa trying to escape the city unnoticed.

Someone needs to tell him when you are this big and jolly, incognito is not really possible.

We decided to walk back down to the Circular Quay (where the Harbour bridge and ferries are located) to eat. On our way we passed a floating Sunglasses Hut store, my husband thought it was ingenious.

The ultimate transferable store

And motorbike parking that was markedly cheaper parking (reason to own a motorbike when living in the city).

We grabbed a quick dinner at Mad Mex, a place my husband had been dying to visit since we moved to Australia. It had rave reviews as fast food Mexican, and as we haven’t found any decent Mexican in Australia ( I don’t think Mexican restaurants even existed here when I left to move overseas in 2000), he was desperate.

It was as good as he hoped it would be and their frozen margaritas were as authentic as any we’ve ever had. The most spectacular thing was the Corona beer bottle chandelier, something we had never seen before, but a totally cool idea!

We decided to put an end to the day and caught the train back to the hotel, much to our 7-year-olds delight.

"Train Expectation" - Town Hall, Sydney, Australia (Iphone Photo)

All in all, we had a fun day, and after a good nights sleep, we took on the city again the next day!

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While I was on my SIBL (Self-imposed Blog Leave), my all-time favorite red-haired blogger (C’mon Carrie, don’t be thinking you’re the only red haired blogger, their must be plenty!)  had a surprise waiting for me when I returned.  A blog award!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty un-talented. I’m not good at much of anything, which has resulted in a gaping empty space in my awards cabinet (What? It’s weird to buy and awards cabinet in the hope that it will karmic-ly cause awards to be bestowed upon you?? Apparently NOT, because it worked!)

No more!

Carrie from A Sassy Redhead has broken my 37 11/12th years drought, and given me an Liebster Blog award that I will be forever grateful for.

(That one in Kindergarten for “best talker” doesn’t count because we all know what was the five -year-old equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the teacher).

(In all seriousness, Thank you Carrie, you rock! )

(And not just because of this.)

(Really)

My job is to now send you on your way, to explore the wonders of five other awesome bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve your support. So this I shall do, as I bid you adieu.

1. The Unknown Cystic – He and I get each other. (Which kind of sucks for him, because I’m pretty odd.)

2. Fifty Four and A Half – She is the most interesting writer, and she uses her age in the title. Being another person that cares not a whit about telling people my age, I think this rocks  – and that’s all before you start reading her awesome blog!

3. Spit and Spirits – He doesn’t post as much of late, he’s getting married and preparing to be under the thumb (kidding!!) but his posts are awesome, and he assures me he will be back, so you gotta love you some Jake J Fox.

4. Good Food 4 All – I just found this blog in the past few days. It’s awesome, all about toxins in our day to day life, organic living etc. For all those that don’t know I’m a closet hippy (if you want to see more of my activist-hippy side you can check out  Natures Conspiracy or This Dish Is Veg). Before you do check out GF4A.

5. Meg’s Simple Life – Meg has a family friendly blog about life, love and family. It’s wholesome, interesting, and she seems sweet as pie.

(Note to Mark at Yelling Near You. Wanted to add you, but I couldn’t because Carrie stole you first.)

She has it coming now…

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Your Children Aren’t Nearly As Intelligent As You Believe. (Trust Me On This.)

This company assumed children blessed with the gift of logic, would be drinking their milk.

Today it became crystal clear to me why Doctors say our kids shouldn’t be drinking flavored milk, or soda pop.

Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the sugar content, obesity epidemic, rampant ADD in our schools, or the complete lack of nutrition.  In fact, it’s a much less hotly-debated issue.

The reality is, they aren’t at the age where they are equipped to deal with the complexities of these drinks.

“Complexities?” I hear you ask; “what could be more simple than drinking a sugary treat?”

What, indeed.

Last night my seven-year-old finished dinner, we were eating outside (it was a beautiful night), and my husband left us to return a phone call.

I had promised my son after he had eaten his dinner, he could have the chocolate milk I had bought him (a rare treat in our house), and his pleasure was evident when I distractedly handed him the drink, and began texting on my phone.

I was paying no attention to him, until I noticed him wiggling a little in his seat. In typical parenting style, I ignored it (not wanting to open up a dialogue on kid related things that would almost certainly be akin to watching paint dry on a wet and cloudy day).

The wiggling continued and turned into actual bodily shaking… he was now standing in front of his seat with his hands and arms moving in the air as well!

“What the hell?” I thought to myself.

Don’t ask”, my inner voice warned, “don’t open up that can of worms, continue on with your texting.

I knew this was a road I really didn’t want to travel, so I left it alone and continued with my text.

Moments later, he sighed loudly and sat back in his chair, with a force that comes from the exhaustion of moving so energetically on a warm evening.

Then the lunacy spewed forth from his lips;

“mummy, why do I have to shake well before opening this drink?”

Note the little " symbols they have added to the bottle to really emphasise the shaking - little did they know the confusion this would cause.

This my dear friends, is the result when one’s reading ability, far surpasses their intelligence level. (A condition I suspect many adults also suffer from, but that’s fodder for another post.)

As a result of this illogical display of senselessness, my son will only be given one  beverage option – water – when requiring relief from his thirst for the next half decade or so.

Until he is capable of reading the label and deciphering for himself that wording like “twist top”  is not an instruction related to the shirt he is wearing, “contents under pressure” does not refer to an unresolved emotional conflict or a tight work deadline for the beverage, and “ring pull”, is not the can asking you to present your buttocks for any kind of assistance – he will be banned from all beverages that are not see-through.

And from what I’ve just witnessed, it may be a long 5 years.

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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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I Was Flamingoed (and more of my week)

Kana from Kana’s Notes flamingoed me last week. What does being flamingoed mean? Well, I suggest you read her highly entertaining post for yourself.

In short, I happened upon her blog and read it religiously and comment when its worthwhile – and of course because she’s such an awesome blogger, its always worthwhile. So I got flamingoed (its all very logical).

Here is my flamingo.

In turn she asks that I flamingo my supportive blogger friends and so I have elected my chosen few.

[As an aside I think Australia is the only continent that doesn’t actually have native flamingos, so what are the chances that you would be flamingoed by an Australian girl with no native flamingos? I know. If this isn’t a sign from the heavens to purchase a lottery ticket, I really don’t know what is.]

Without any further ado…

Carrie, at A Sassy Redhead – Shes  hilarious and she comments on all my posts – she might well be the perfect woman (and she’s currently single boys, so line up)!

UnknownCystic – He’s deep thinking, reflective and funny, and he manages it all while living next a gun-toting neighbour. He deserves an award for that alone!

Tinkerbelle at Laughter Is Catching – She reminds me of me, when I was in my 20’s, I just love her and her outlook on life. Plus she featured me in a Halloween blog post, so she has excellent taste.

Eleanor from How The Hell Did I End Up Here? – The kind of woman I hope to be when I’m a little older. Fun, energetic, full of fascinating stories and gorgeous!

I know I have so many more friends that I have met recently, and please don’t think I don’t appreciate you all!

Thank you to Kana for the awesome idea, and I do hope that now your flamingo has gone global, your fame doesn’t change you. 🙂

Onto other news…

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I jalk. A jalk is a term I have coined that describes the hour + that I spend jalking (jogging + walking) around the beach, almost every day. (And by almost every day, I mean twice a week on a good week.)

It basically means I jog for a while – until my eyes are seeing double, my lungs feel like someone cut through them with a blunt spoon, the sweat has stuck my hair to my neck and my shirt to my back, and my feet no longer face in the direction in which I am headed – then I start to walk. (This typically happens after a credible 40 to 50 seconds of jogging.)

At this point, I walk for a while, and when I have determined that I am not in fact, going to die, I start to jog again and the cycle continues.

Jalking. And yes, it really is as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, it really is beautiful where we live and often I will see whales or dolphins out playing in the ocean, and so I thought it would be cool to take along my iphone and take pictures of the path I take on my jalk, to give you an idea of what I see and experience. These were taken last Wednesday.

The beginning

 

This is where the gasping starts

The end of jogging as my feet start to wobble in the wrong direction. Here's where death is nigh and I move to walking to ensure I stay upright and lucid.

Walking upright and relatively coherent

Love this rockpool

Perfect dolphin and whale-watching vantage point

I actually saw someone crawling up these once, they're so intense. Sure, it was a toddler, but still.

Almost there

This is where I have the team of paramedics waiting. I'm kidding. At this point I turn around and have to go all the way back to my car, and I often consider flagging down a teenager on a skateboard for a ride I'm that desperate at this point for it all to be over.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into life in coastal Australia, and for one last treat, I will leave you with a photo I took last year from the vantage point of a whale playing out in the ocean – I had my zoom camera with me, sadly I cant get anything decent with the iphone.

Love.

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Dear Father.

My father is by nature a fun-loving person.

He was the one who short-sheeted my bed as a kid – so when I got in I couldn’t get my feet down to the bottom – the one who filled his left had with axle grease, hiding it as he put out his other hand offering a handshake. When I responded in kind, he grabbed me, pulled me close and rubbed the axle grease in my hair.

He would on occasion start a food fight at the table, flicking peas at us with his fork, much to my mothers exasperation.

I remember the time when we were traveling Europe on vacation and he spent a whole day with me in a pinball parlor – spending an exorbitant amount of money – for a day that by most mothers standards (including mine), would be considered a complete and utter waste of family time and finances.

Still, these are the moments kids remember, so perhaps they weren’t so wasteful after all.

These days he’s much more serious, he owns stores in the Sydney area and is always pouring over the books and dealing with some crisis or another and when he comes to visit it’s inevitably a whirlwind trip, because he has to get back to put out another theoretical fire back at base camp.

Until recently.

He and my mother recently left on a trip to Canada for 5 weeks. Australians get a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation leave every year, so its pretty standard that if you accrue some leave, people will go overseas and stay for 4, 5 or even 6 weeks.

They’ve traveled the east coast of Canada visiting Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, over the border into Buffalo? (am I right here?), and by all accounts are having a ball. I have deduced that they are also very relaxed as I see signs of the man who once was.

I worked this out, primarily by this little stream of text messages my dad sent me. His messages are in white, mine in green (note the time he sent the first message).

This is what old people do when they relax, they go insane.

My question re: ‘The funny weed’ refers to what my parents call marijuana.

My husband finds it mildly amusing that my parents wont actually use the word marijuana (as though by using it, they may give it credence), so they call it ‘the funny weed.’

My sister and I just find it hugely irritating and tell ourselves that that’s what old people do, so we don’t think any less of them.

Here, the absurdity continues:

As you can see, I have a 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mentality.

I gave up in the end and decided to fight fire with fire, and it all pretty much went downhill from there.

And here is where it becomes painfully obvious whose child I am.


He never responded after that, I guess that one had him stumped.
After about a week I called my sister to see if she had heard anything from them – she hadn’t. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Have you heard from the olds?”

Her: “No, you?”

Me: “Not after those insane text messages, do you think they went crazy and performed some kind of suicide pact?”

Her: Nah, dad wouldn’t want to miss out on the Holiday business at the stores, they’d do it after the new year if they were going to.”

Me: “Do you think they’ve been eaten by a bear? Do they have bears in Canada or is it just moose? I think its moose – and they can be very violent – so can the beavers. Maybe they were attacked by a pack of rabid beavers?”

Her: “I’m headed to their house now, if I take (boyfriends) car I can beat you there and clean the place our before you arrive. There’s all that artwork and jewelry and stuff. Though mum wore all her most expensive jewelry and dad had on his nice watch too.”

Me: “Well if you clean out the house I’ll be going to collect the bodies, and I’ll pry it all from their cold, dead hands if I have to.”

Her: “We’ll flip for the jewels, OK?”

Me: “Seems fair.”

They called later that day. They’re fine.
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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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