Wednesday, January 31, 2007


A melee of m-words.

I have finally got my head together enough to contribute to Fracas' Monday Melee. By Wednesday. Just. I'm sure she'll accept it late; given the time zone difference, I didn't see it till her Monday was my Tuesday anyway. And I was never much good at thinking on my feet.

Tracey's Melee Stew.. then...

1. The Misanthropic: Name something you absolutely hate.
Being misanthropic means hating humankind... which I don't.. but I hate the 'humankind' that are responsible for Guantanamo Bay and everything that it represents. I thought the "West" was all into Democracy, justice, and due process of law. And, you know.. human rights and that sort of stuff. (Don't start me on the war in Iraq...)

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.
Our Prime Minster and his cronies. Lies, lies, lies.

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.
My weight and my ability to sabotage myself with what I put in my mouth.

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.
My long suffering husband who, for over 20 years now (nearly 18 of them married), keeps making it possible for us to do things I'd never have the guts to attempt by myself.

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.
I don't look as old as I really am.

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.
"Imagine all the people.. living life in peace....... nothing to kill or die for.. and no religion too"

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I don't really want this excuse..

While it seems I am always looking for good excuses not to do housework, I could really do without this one... which I did forget to include when I talked about my skills in Avoidance.

It's my back. It could be a million times worse, but it's so bloody frustrating. It's been an issue since my early 20s, and I have no idea what I ever did to it. I clearly remember trying to wash up one time, and my back was giving me such grief, I stood there with tears streaming down my face. Small wonder I tend to put off the washing up. Once, when I worked as a doctor's receptionist, I was sitting in an office chair, and swivelled and bent forward to reach something, and was all but paralysed in that position.

After several years of trying physios and osteopaths, I found that chiropractic treatment - on a monthly maintenance basis - has been my saviour. It has kept me on a pretty even keel, and has allowed me to do most things. If I aggravate it at some point, the chiro can usually get me back on track. It might be costing a fortune, but if I have relatively pain free movement (and as a bonus, I rarely get migraine type headaches anymore), then it is worth it.

My first Trainer session last week aggravated it , and my theory was that trying the leg presses was enough to fire something up. We worked around it the next two sessions, and I was happy to get back to my chiro (who had been away on holidays) yesterday. It was gradually improving anyway, and after the adjustments I felt even better. And he confirmed that the training was a good thing (strengthening my muscles, particularly my abdomen, could only help.) He just outlined what I should avoid.

So yesterday arvo I was all 'yee ha', and I got out there and mowed the yard, as I have mentioned. (It did BADLY need doing - it wasn't just a convenient avoidance excuse. Marc was busy with all the bike mechanic-ish stuff last Friday (the public holiday), and then we did our 2 days of riding, so he didn't have time to do it, and it had gotten ridiculous. )

But I think maybe the mowing has done something to my back - perhaps just the starting of it (pulling the cord thingy...) Who knows. (Well actually maybe I do know. He said to avoid bending/curling where you put pressure on your lumbar region, and what else are you doing when you bend down to pull the starter cord on the mower, and snap it back...)

I woke up this morning ok.. but as I started moving around, it's playing up, dammit. Twingeing.. grabbing... worse than it was last week. It hurts all the time - not just in certain positions.

I've just cancelled out of the training session I was going to do at 1.00. I had planned to ride my bike there, but I don't even feel like doing that. It was an effort to collect the garbage and recycling and put the bins out. It's a pretty good reason not to vacuum or the like, but .. really... right now, I'd give anything to feel physically capable of shoving a vacuum cleaner or mop around. Really!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Avoidance tactics.

Well there's something I'm good at!

I spend most days avoiding housework. That's a given. I've perfected the art. Mostly I just manage to fritter the time away doing Really Important Stuff like blogging, and reading blogs. And checking my email. A hundred times a day. Or reading other websites. Or the newspapers online - so I try to tell myself it's intellectual stimulation ... By the way, have you ever tried to explain what a Blog is to someone who has no bloody idea whatsoever.. as well as the fact that you do a blog ("But what on earth do people write about?" I was asked the other night...)

I can't think what else it is I manage to do while I am avoiding doing things I don't want to do. Apart from the internet that is. Well .. ok... I haven't read a book in a while, but I am known for getting buried in a book. "Totally and utterly buried" is my usual modus operandi if the book is any good. Talking to the family? Pffft. Naturally the housework doesn't get done then either, and I've been known to stand stirring something on the stove reading the book in the other hand. A bit far-fetched that may be.. but I do justify that with the irrefutable logic that I am being a wonderful role model for my children. Read, read, read! That's the constant imperative in every school's newsletter isn't it?

Hell, I'd also rather sit and flick through a newspaper (I read the real ones occasionally too), than vacuum, or clean bathrooms, or iron clothes, or ring and make appointments for car maintenance, or clothes hoist repairmen. Again, I cite the 'role model' defence on that one. Hey, all three of my girls are avid readers... crap at keeping their bedrooms clean, but they Rock with a capital R when it comes to reading!

Go me.


I have a more sinister.. primal... avoidance issue thing happening as well. When it comes to social interaction, I have that fight/flight thing down pat. No sabre tooth tigers in my neck of the woods, but if someone crosses me.. (which isn't too hard with the thin skin I seem to have been born with)... then I tend to have one of two reactions.

Back me into a corner by harping and badgering on a point, and I will lash out verbally. That's the Fighting me. However that usually happens when I am unable to simply escape the situation. Most times, I just run. (Partly because I am lost for words, and partly because I am afraid of my potential Fight Response.) So.. cue Flight response. Like with the netball committee meeting the other night. And, remarkably, I have the endurance (or stupidity) to keep running.. and avoiding... like I am still doing right now with the perpetrator of the remark.

Meh, I am still so peeved, I am avoiding face to face/voice to voice contact. I am boycotting the twilight comp. (Because the build up to the situation was getting cheesed with the obligation thing about being there to 'help' because you are on the committee, and geez, talk about the bitching if it seems that one person always gets there earlier and has the rings and pads put up all the time.) I haven't returned her phone message from her today because she was all palsy walsy sounding, and I am so annoyed that she has no effing idea of what she said (or the fact that it came as a culmination of her erratic manner - one minute she's your mate, the next she's acting like she's pissed off with you for something.) Meantime I am still doing all the secretarial stuff - the frigging letters... the newsletter.. the website... And sending emails out (and it's not my fault her email really is stuffed and now she can't receive them...)

I am just. Avoiding. Her.

So while I haven't run away from the netball committee stuff completely.. I know that really I should move on.. But I can't. Yet. I do recognise that I am stuck in this avoidance thing that I do so well. Problem is once I've committed to it, it gets harder and harder to extricate myself. (Lately I also do the avoidance thing with ringing my mother because I'm really 'over' her 'comments' on whatever I/we do... so I am nothing if not well practised.)

It struck me this afternoon though, that I had taken my avoidance issues to new heights. I had a few things to avoid. The main thing was staying at the netball while Cait played. It had to be something good, though - whether or not they heard my 'excuse'. It had to sound good to me. Not something as mundane (and guilt inducing) as sitting here reading blogs (I'd exhausted my Favorited blogs anyway).

I had to have the Best Reason to not be at netball .. again. (Which would therefore mean I wasn't Avoiding.) And, naturally, I didn't feel like vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher, or unpacking the shopping - and that wouldn't sound important anyway.

Whatever would this 'maybe she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown because her husband works away a lot and [the netball president] wouldn't have a clue what it's like' fragile, thin-skinned Avoider do?

Mow the yard of course. That's what I'd rather do. More than housework. Or making a proper dinner (Made the kids do their own pizzas.) Or facing up to the netball situation I ran away from. Of course! I'd rather mow! And I did - till, at 7.15pm, with about a quarter of the backyard left to do the mower ran out of fuel, and I really felt that I should be getting the girls started on showers and dinner.

How's that for twisted avoidance tactics?

And now, at 12.48 am, I had better go and iron the school uniforms for tomorrow .. because I have avoided doing that little job all day too. Some things do catch you up in the end.


Monday, January 29, 2007


If only I looked the part...

I must sound so athletic when I describe our bike riding and other 'exploits'. Sometimes I am even lulled into believing the illusion myself. Until I see a photo of myself, that is! Heaven help me, why couldn't I look a bit more like I belong on a bike! It's ironic, really. I am the fittest I've been since having children.. but also the heaviest. And it's depressing.

OK, yes, I am taking steps - with this weight training thing with the personal trainer. Third private session today (out of seven private ones...), then I can go on to a group one (cheaper), as well as a private one if I want. I am not sure what I'll do yet. I just know that I need the one-on-one guidance at the moment, particularly with learning how to use the equipment so that I am 'kind' to my back. It got aggravated by attempting leg presses last week. Tomorrow I'll see my chiro and get some guidelines.

But meantime, I achieve things like bike riding 130 km over the weekend, and then feel shattered when I see the photos. Dork! Chunky! Fatty! I don't feel like that when I am riding.. (I was actually feeling pretty shit hot a few times there, when my stoker and I were cranking it out along the flats!) But I sure look like that from the other side of a lens. (Trust me - any photos that make it to the web are very carefully selected.)

I don't know how bad I look in reality. I hope it's not like the photos.

Needless to say, then, with this new fresh batch of 'evidence', I am fighting the old 'enemy within'. A dose of self loathing leading to inaction and procrastination. And sitting on my bum here most of the day (since getting back from the trainer at lunchtime - which was just weights - no energy burning stuff really.)

OK, I was doing the netball newsletter and website. But I could have gone for my walk. (So much for Objectives.) I could have mowed the grass. I could have taken the girls for a last-day-of-holidays swim at the beach.

I didn't even go out to buy food. No Marc (he's gone away till Friday now) so I just managed to scrape up enough leftovers to make up a batch of fried rice for dinner. (Poor children.. this tends to happen when the daddy goes away and the mummy does a slack-a-thon for dinner...)

Which brings me to another problem I have. This stay at home mother thing.. Yeah, well - if only I acted the part.



Flat out..

2 days. 130km. First day was around 40 degrees. Celsius. (Pushing 110 F) Lucky it was pretty much all flat riding. We call this "Training".

Well actually, despite the heat, and the sore muscles, and sometimes feeling like you're running out of fuel (!)... and the wondering at times why we were doing this (and indeed planning on doing the Big Ride ..... again) ... it was good. There is something to be said for experiencing the countryside at a slower pace than in a car. And of course the feeling that you've achieved something physical.

Slept well last night though!

More details later - on our bike blog. After I've attended to more mundane things around here. The kids are back at school tomorrow - well two out of three are. My tandem mate and I will have some more mother/teenage daughter bonding opportunities tomorrow. Somehow I don't think suggesting a tandem training ride will go down very well!


Thursday, January 25, 2007


It's not that I'm unpatriotic...

I love my country.. Well, I love so much about my country. I'm quite passionate about all things Aussie. It's mostly natural Australia, if I think about it. The bush.. native flowers... the landscape ... And that's why I just don't get off on contrived, patriotic symbols and celebrations.

Tomorrow is Australia Day. (Which seems to be rapidly becoming Australia Week or something; the kids and I were getting so confused about why there was an Australia Day concert on tonight, we had to check the date! - it's easy to get confused between Anzac Day on the 25th (April) and this!) But you know what? I couldn't give a stuff about it. Except that it's a public holiday, and I'll take any public holiday that I can get (on Marc's behalf, seeing he's the worker; it means he has a day at home! With us!)

So, our national day is January 26. It commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in 1788. And I just can't accept it as a date to be proud of the nation that we are. Yes, yes... it was English settlement.. white settlement.. which has led to Australia being who we are today. To the Aboriginal people it's Invasion Day... and I have to say I can't say I blame them. And no, I don't have a jot of Aboriginal blood in me.

But I'm not quite sure what is the quintessential Australian...

It would be more appropriate to have our National Day on the anniversary of Australia itself actually becoming a nation. Some 113 years later. Silly founders of Federation scheduling that for January 1. Didn't they know that would already be a public holiday for New Years Day?

And the flag thing... It's not like I'm original in wishing it was different. Yes, I know the diggers fought under it in WWI and WWII... but (as the article says).. that's a spurious claim. And now that Anglo-Aussie thugs claimed it as theirs during ugly race riots, it would make me cringe to be associated with it. (And that cringe factor was cemented at a recent BBQ when some local people said they were 'proud to be Australian' that day. That scared me. )

So, I think we're due for a new, all encompassing flag... that reflects our multi-cultural nation (or at least doesn't Anglicise it)... that acknowledges the Aboriginal people that were invaded on January 26 1788. And the green and gold that are our national colours!

Maybe when we become a republic, when we have had reconciliation with the aboriginal people, with a flag that is green and gold, with no Union Jack/British Ensign in the corner, I'll have a real reason to celebrate a real Australia Day. A day when this song - "I am Australian" is truly meaningful. When the current Australia Day commemorates more than the First Settlement.



Maybe, just.. rebel a bit...

Submitted to miscmum's Dear Me project... Couldn't resist the old Hindsight Gig - The 'if I knew then what I know now...' thing. Well, here it is...

Dear Me....Sydney, 1977

As if you are going to believe this is a letter from your future self, 30 years on. That's right. From 2007. How can I convince you it's you.. me? What do I say anyway? I mean, it simply cannot work to change the past. Can it? (All those time travelling stories have got holes in the logic a mile wide!) And if I did get this time travelling letter from a future middle aged me, I'd remember getting it. Wouldn't I? (I may now be "old", but I'm not that old!) So it can't happen - and it can't have happened. And if it did, I'm sure something really bad would happen with the time-space continuum. Or something like that!

But I can't help it! How can I resist the offer to be able to write a letter to my much younger self with the wisdom of hindsight. Maybe I could suggest doing a few things a bit differently. Nothing too great - because if I did anything too radically different, it might change things too much. And I wouldn't be here now with who I am with. I wouldn't have done the things I have done, and really, that would be a bummer. And, really, life has been pretty good. I've been very lucky. Compared to many.

If this letter is on target, it's exactly 30 years ago - January 1977 - I/you... you're still 14, going into Year 10, and it sucks being a late developer. Yes, I still remember! How could I forget? It's fresh in my mind again because I am watching a daughter (yes, a daughter!) going through the same thing. (And on her behalf I hate those other girls flaunting their stuff, believe me! - probably more than she does. ) By the time you're 40, you'll be relieved that you had all those years of not menstruating, believe me... and boobs.. meh.. well, they bounce when you run.

Convinced now it's you.. me?

What about Mum not letting you shave your legs? Pluck up the courage now, girl, and rebel a bit. (God knows, your sister is going to do far worse than shave her legs without Mum's permission.) You're really too much of a goody two shoes. Tell her now she is causing you ridiculous teenage angst - and that as you'll do it by the time you're 18 anyway, you may as well not be so damned self conscious all the way through high school. And tell her that waxing is the way to go - and her own legs wouldn't be so prickly if she did that. Funny how she only discovered that, oh, about 10 years ago! And she has no idea what she put me through.

Do you believe it's really me now? Who else could possibly know about this trivial stuff?

OK.. so what else can I warn you about. Sweet sixteen and never been kissed is the way it's going to be. I'm afraid. Yeah, that sucks a bit too. And you're going to get sucked in with the first one - it's a stupid dare, the bastard, and you'll feel humiliated. (And it wasn't even a french kiss! - so it was rather confusing.) He's going to turn up several years later at college, though, and take you out for dinner to apologise. (Even though he's married by then! - Thank god he didn't marry the stupid girl he was sort of with at the time he kissed you. And you accidentally suggest a restaurant that you couldn't afford as a student. Hah!)

And by god, you make up for it after that. Perhaps you could be a just bit more discerning... but I suppose, before you meet your handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads. Just, maybe, you could skip a couple of the dickheads along the way!

Don't worry, you'll think long and hard about the one you end up with (and it won't be the one at college you thought was the one, because that turned out to be a mistake too - and he ends up hurting you.) The 'right one' is the one you um and ahh about kissing because you don't want to ruin a friendship. It might be a ridiculous start to a relationship, poor guy, but you'll still be together 21 years later.. And, belatedly, you realise that you have found someone who is like you.. who doesn't need drink or drugs to get high. And who doesn't get off on smoky bars and pubs or the nightclub scene.

So, maybe, at college, you could have the guts to rebel against the peer pressure a bit. It doesn't get you anywhere. You will throw up all day if you drink too much cheap alcohol, so you could save yourself some misery there. (And enjoy decent alcohol years down the track when you can afford good stuff.) And the couple of times you try pot - god, it so isn't worth it. (You'll know from the time you get all paranoid, and have the sense to think it's all a bad idea anyway... )

Go with the gut feeling you have about the outdoors stuff - the abseiling and bushwalking and that. And working on those Sport and Rec camps is the way to go, because that's the important connection. (Just.. do ourselves a favour.. don't ever go out with that wanky guy who is quite a few years older. He was a dickhead.. really, even if he did pilot a plane and take you up in one!)

No.. it's the guy who is actually a couple of years younger! The first time you meet him he is just out of school, and such a "boy". But the next time.. well.. it's worth accidentally finding yourself trotting out that pathetic line "Don't I know you".. He teaches you how to get high on adrenalin, and how to challenge yourself in a way you never even dreamed of through your childhood. And, go you (go me?!) .. you will take up that challenge.

There are a couple of other things I wish I'd done differently around high school age. Meh.. I'm probably a bit late to say 'get Mum and Dad to let you try a team sport'. I should be going back to primary school age for that one - but what primary school age kid can dictate to parents who make you cut back from two activities (ballet and tennis) to just the one once you hit high school - because 'now you're in high school you have to study hard.' But if you could try something else other than just tennis before you get much older, then it will give you more social sport options later in life. Trust me. (And resist the golf idea, just because they play. Golf sucks.) Neither tennis or golf is a team sport.

And the other thing? Let me tell you now, that while doing well academically at school is good, (and it's what is expected of you, as you seem to be doing so well at school) that it's not the only thing in life. The HSC isn't the be all and end all. Really, truly. There's no point if you don't know what you want to do, and end up not doing something you want to do, and then not being anything.

Noone suggested it at the time, and you probably won't listen anyway, but it's not a bad idea to consider what might be a good career to have if you have a family. Of course you can't imagine having a family when you're 14, or even 17.... You won't want to admit that one of your life goals is to be a mum. How uncool would that be? But let's face it, most people do end up marrying and having kids, and having a job that fits in with school hours... and school holidays.. isn't such a bad idea. Hint hint.

Don't do anything too radical. Because there's one path in your life you don't want to change. You won't believe me when I tell you that will raft rivers, do canoe marathons, cross country skiing.. canyoning.. and then, years later again, you'll be riding tandem bikes on 500km bike rides with your husband and kids.

Who'da thunk it.



PS. I remember doing the calculations for how old I was going to be when it was the year 2000, and I couldn't imagine being that old. Guess what kid... you get that old.. and more!!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Dear Me

Just giving a bit of publicity to an interesting blog project. Karen at MiscMum has come up with the Dear Me Project . While today, in particular, I'm not in the brain space for coming up with something myself, it must be made for procrastinators like me, because she's keeping it open for an indefinite period. But don't let that stop you! Just because there's no closing date!! (I might come up with something, Karen, you never know...)
I have actually been meaning to introduce fracas to miscmum on the topic of anorexia - which miscmum has touched on in her own Dear Me post (but which I hadn't wanted to presume upon bringing up before.) Seems like the opportune time. fracas, meet miscmum. Miscmum.. this is fracas. Not that the Dear Me project is about that.
And now I must go and do much more boring stuff, like getting the garbage out, and taking the girls shopping for back to school stuff.


Monday, January 22, 2007


Not as strong as I look.

Apparently. So said the Personal Trainer at my introductory session today. (And so agreed my Dearly Beloved when I told him what she'd said.) "That's ok, we can change that," she said. I will hold on to that thought, as I try to stay positive. I don't think she realises how on the mark she is - not just physically, but psychologically as well.. (and in fact how being told that doesn't make you feel terribly good psychologically, but I guess she's not to know that...)

But maybe I am just having 'one of those days'.

My lower back is also more of an issue than she thought. (It was a bit iffy before I went, and tonight it is a bit worse.. ) It's a chicken/egg thing with the strength issue.

Earlier in the day one of the kids knocked a half full jar of mayonnaise out of the fridge onto the slate floor. *Smash*. Glass and mayonnaise to clean up.

The clothesline 'broke' again.

I raced to the supermarket after the training session to buy some frozen pies for the girls to "cook" and serve themselves while I was at a netball committee meeting. Lining up at the express register to pay for it, I discover my purse is not in my bag! Serendipity smiled upon me this time - I just happened to queue up next to Zoe's friend's mum. She paid for me - so I owe her $4.80! (And thankfully my purse was on the computer desk at home.)

But then I walked out of the netball committee meeting, with the shits. (And the shakes.)

This is where I am 'not strong' psychologically. I am fragile.. I am thin-skinned.

But when I prefaced the meeting with an email to other committee members apologising for not having sent some correspondence over Christmas, citing my extended unwellness, plus some confusion with what was required, and that I wanted to clarify at the meeting exactly what we had to say (and why and whether we really needed 5 separate letters to the same person.) And that I would welcome some assistance with some phrases, and the 'bullshitting' re expected growth of the membership... (And I had actually written a couple of drafts, and they were being discussed, and changed...)

And then I get 'If you're not capable of doing the job, give it to me'....


Maybe find yourself another Secretary then? (And someone else to do the website. And all the other publicity that I actually introduced to help disseminate information within the club.)

No, I'm not as strong as I look.


Friday, January 19, 2007


Action stations...

Shifting up a gear or two for the weekend. Up (insanely) early tomorrow morning to go on the Community Bike Ride. Home. Then we are going to nonchalantly pack the tent, sleeping gear.. meh.. maybe a bit of food.. and head off as if it's the sort of thing we do all the time. It's the sort of thing we've been planning on doing.. working up to doing.. and now that we're going to do it.. I'm vacillating between stress, and, well.. nonchalance.

We're going to camp at a State Forest campsite we've read about in various guides. Then go check out the hill that is causing such angst and decide what our strategy is going to be with the Big Ride people. It might turn out that we think it was a stupid idea to ride it in the first place.

And then head to the coast, and take a 4WD detour up a particular bit of coast. Check out another camping area Marc has heard about. And home.

We perhaps should be riding bikes on Sunday as well. (Training!) Oh well... there's another weekend after this one, and amazingly enough He won't be away. AND it's a long weekend (thankyou Australia Day for falling on a Friday) so we're cooking up an overnight bike trip, just for something different.

Right now I should be heading for bed. Mr Good At Diffusing My Wrath* is out getting the bikes ready for the morning. (*I was unimpressed at him getting home from work at 9.30... when we had all this roof racks to put on, bikes to get ready - him to eat dinner... but he's managed to diffuse it with a well timed thank you for putting one rack on... *shakes head...* )

Sleep! I have to be up again in 6 hours. Must be crazy. See you Sunday!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007


Skin cancer, anyone?

Not that I saw that many people on my walk up the beach this morning (yes, I did walk, go me!) but I was kind of gobsmacked by a goodly percentage out there frying themselves! It wasn't a huge sample. Our beach is wonderfully unique in that, due to lack of holiday accommodation in our seaside 'village', we don't even get crowded out in the summer holidays. But it was very noticeable nonetheless.

Back when I was a child in the 60s and 70s, that was just what you did. But now we all know to slip, slop, slap. Don't we? (And cringe about how naively burnt we used to get?) If you must be out in the midday sun, wear a rash shirt at the very least. Surely? It was around 11am (with daylight saving I guess that's only 10am, but the sun was high, and had some bite in it.)

But, nup. Not many were covering up at all. There were girls and older women lying sprawled on towels in bikinis worshipping the sun. Kids frolicking in the shallows with no rashies. (Couldn't believe one family - Dad had the rashie, and the kids didn't!) The one that really had me shaking my (obviously middle-aged, 'countrified' and paranoid of sunburn) head, though, was the girl walking with her guy up the far end of the beach. He had the long boardies on, and a loose fitting short sleeved shirt. And cap I think. She was a contrast to say the least. She... wore... an.... incy wincy teeny weeny ... bikini. (Black, though, not yellow polka dot). It was so brief, I couldn't help but glance back as I passed them. G-string. I wonder if they heard me snort. And snort again: when you're strutting up the beach in pretty much your birthday suit, the point of the cap is what?

I suppose if you frequent trendy city or tourist beaches, you wouldn't think twice about it. Not that it was ever my thing, being always self-conscious about my less than sylph-like body. Maybe I've also gone all conservative living up here. Maybe I've gone prudish in my old age. There's a conservative 'not-real-keen-on-the-g-string-look' streak in me too. (Not real keen? I think it's an appalling look!) Yes, maybe I'm just jealous! (hah). But with the current spate of skin cancer TV ads echoing in my head as I noticed all these people out there burning themselves up, it did make me do a double take, and all I could imagine was the red raw buttocks she was going to end up with sooner than she'd realise.

And while I had my conservative specs on, I did humour myself with the wry observation that the briefness of the front part of her bikini bottoms - which could only be carried off with a Brazilian - from a distance (and because they were black) it looked exactly like she was going 'bottomless' with pubic hair intact.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Communication breakdown.

(or "Struggling for Content" - to quote 'someone' reading over my shoulder.)

I've always thought the English language could be pretty ambiguous, but I didn't realise that two people (who were married!) could have such a vastly different understanding over a general term used to estimate quantity. (And only discover this after more than 20 years together!)

We had a BIG debate in this household tonight. I have to add here that it ran along gender lines, (which means that he was outvoted by 4 to 1!), although that probably wouldn't be relevant in a larger scale sample. It does make me wonder (as I do occasionally) what planet he is from! ( I thought it was only Mars!)

It started when he took exception to my "under-valuation'"of our triplet bike with a post I made on a tandem bikes discussion forum. We are concerned about a change of plans on this Big Ride we are going on in March; an almost surreptitious change we picked up on their website in the past week suddenly has all bikes being put on trucks to be transported over a particular unsealed, and steep, section of road which was previously advertised as a choice to ride. Our beef with it is that there is no way we want to chuck our (new) triplet on a truck where it might get scratched and damaged. Despite getting a bit of a bargain with it, replacement cost would probably hit around 10K (aussie dollars). Not wanting to be specific I just said that the bike was worth 'several thousand dollars'. It got the message across that it was valuable. I thought.

"It's worth way more than that!!" he said.

"Yeah, yeah.. so, let's not split hairs, I was generalising... to give the picture that it's an expensive bike we don't want scratched."

"But get real, we paid more than $3,000 for it!"

"Three thousand?... I said several."

"Yeah, well, several is around three."

"No, no, no", the rest of us chorused. "It's more like six.. seven... eight... "

And we kept arguing back and forth, and will probably never agree! The girls and I reckon a couple is 2, a few is 3 or 4, some is around 4... and several is more than that.. say 5 - 10."

Of course I jumped onto Google, and discovered that many have been 'here' before, and the same disagreements ensue. A dictionary doesn't really help - "More than two, but fewer than many". (Now define many!)

My conclusion from my browsing is that those general words we use for quantity do depend on context and the spin you are trying to impart.. (I don't know what other non-specific quantitative word I could have used! The next one up is 'many'!)

Still, even with that in mind, this ambiguity in our language could conceivably lead to some greater misunderstandings (and even let downs!) than we had here tonight. If not with interpretation of quantity, then over what constitutes worthy blogging material. (Like he's an expert!)

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007


And, oh no! - she's tripped at the first hurdle!

The Ponstan isn't working as well as I'd like. I'm crampy, and sooking. No walk. Yet. Running out of day - have to pick #2 up from surf 'camp' (a week long 9-3 learn to surf holiday program which she's having a ball at).. in an hour. Buy something for dinner that can be prepared before going to 'hang' at Twilight netball for nearly 2 hours because #1 plays and I am obligated, as a committee member, to be there.

She's a barrel of laughs and enthusiasm today...

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Your laugh for the day...

Well, that's an assumption I probably shouldn't make. Decide for yourself:

Warning. This link can cause dizziness, along with sadistic tendencies you probably didn't realise you had. (And there I was about to do a post against capital punishment... no, no, no.. this isn't capital punishment... just go look, ok, you'll see what I mean...)


Monday, January 15, 2007


Report #1

Today I have spent too much time just writing about How to Achieve my Goal for 2007, but I am a bit pumped, so I am reporting back in.

I rang the Personal Trainer whose card I've had for a while, and I have decided to invest $240 in about 7 one-on-one sessions, and then most likely join a group of 3 class that would only cost $10 a time (probably once a week.)

Marc won't think it's value for money, but I do. I need the discipline of reporting in to someone, and if I achieve, by the end of the year, my goal weight of 10kg less, with a fitness programme to suit me, then I think it will be money well spent. (She will also cover nutrition and food choices so that's another area covered.)

I'm booked in for my first session next Monday (gives me some time to get over this chest infection), but already we've agreed that I will walk every day as a build up to it.

Already the commitment is helping me make more sensible food choices today, so I am optimistic.

Now for the rest of the stuff I should have been doing today!



The first day of the rest of my (life) year

I'm not sure where this post is going. It could end up being a list of resolutions I swore I wasn't going to make. Or it could end up being worthy of submitting to the Write Away Contest that I noticed Misc Mum had made a contribution to today. Or quite possibly neither. Let's see what happens. (Note to self: bad start in the setting of goals department!)

I had determined that today was to be the First Day of the rest of my ... year (well der!) Our 'goals' for the first two weeks of January - with The Breadwinner being on leave for two weeks - came undone. Thank you respiratory infection (mine), crummy beach weather, and dislocated shoulder (his). Back to work for him today. As we lay in bed last night, contemplating sadly what we hadn't achieved during his leave, I opined "Well, it wasn't action-packed like we planned, but at least it was Restful." Silver lining? Or moving the goalposts retrospectively? As we can't turn back time, all we can do is look to the future.

I am almost better (despite starting a repeat course of antibiotics yesterday) and so today seemed like the obvious day to start again. To revise the goals for the year, and start work on achieving them. NOW.

Goals, goals, goals. What are they? Short-term aims? Long term aims? They are just pie in the sky ideas, or virtuous but vague resolutions of the kind made over a champagne or three, without a realistic plan of attack. As I strode up the beach this morning (ticking off in my mind one thing off my 'to-do' list, and mulling over "Goals") I recalled the theory from my Recreation Programming units at college. Teachers will know what I am talking about. Project Managers surely will too.

If I recall the theory correctly, you need Aims and Objectives. Aims (or Goals - for the purposes of this post) are the general things you are aiming for at the end of your lesson/project/unit... But then you need Objectives, which specify various steps/actions which in the end will lead you to fulfilling your goal.

Goals have more vague time frames - short term/long term.

Objectives are more specific with time, but as our first 2 weeks of this year have demonstrated, they need to be flexible. To work around interruptions like kids, accidents, health, weather, etc.

OK. There's the theory. But can I make it work? Or will I get bogged down in the detail, and subplots? I swore I was making but one Resolution/goal this year, and that was to lose weight (I lied. There are a range of other things I want to change or get on top of, but I am going to try very hard to focus on this one, and hope there is worthy spinoff. Don't ask me if that's a goal or objective, I don't really know).

Here we go:

Tracey's Goal for 2007:


Objectives (or how I am going to make that work; wishful thinking is not allowed):

Ah there.. I am finding goals within objectives, and objectives within goals, and potential sub-objectives (like how the hell to drink less alcohol) and I am basically tying myself in knots. I knew this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought, and I also have to keep pushing away the other goals and resolutions crowding into my conscience (ok, ok, it's getting on top of the brothel that is my house.. now shut up!) It's a start though, and it is open to revision, and further detail.

I have one other objective to list, and it's a one-size fits all variety. It's not new. It's something I already know. It's something you already know. And unless your primary goal is to spend all day blogging or reading blogs, you know what it is.

Wish me luck. And good luck to you. We probably all need it.

(And look! Without even trying I have written a post about 'Goals'. )

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Photo time. Daughter's actually - she's taken to wandering around, camera in hand, trying to be artistic. She's pretty happy with this one. I'm pretty happy that we are in the digital photography era - expense wise!

For those not familiar with Australian native plants, it's a grevillea. The link is to a 1600x1200 pixel size, for the benefit of a particular friend who sometimes likes Aussie photos as wallpaper!!


Sunday, January 14, 2007


The problem with war today...

I'm not very good at explaining why I believe or feel the things I do. I'm the type that reads or hears an argument for (or against) something, and says either 'Bullshit!' or 'YES! Exactly!' when the author (a more intelligent, learned and succinct individual than myself) manages to identify and put into words something that is churning around as a gut feeling with me.

I read something like this the other day. Submitted to a usually humorous reader contribution column of the Sydney Morning Herald ("Heckler: Apply wit to something that makes your blood boil") I was disappointed the editors didn't hand this one over to a more important opinion page. Why haven't I heard this before? It adds yet another reason for why I think there is something very wrong with the whole Iraq invasion. On top of the many others. One of those "YES! Exactly!" moments.

THE problem with war today is no one wants to win. Once upon a time it was simple: invade, rape, murder and pillage until you subjugate the inhabitants or there are none left. Call the combined nations an empire and move on to the next country.

Then events after World War II gave rise to the absurd concept of "peacekeeping". A paradigm of meaningless marketing jargon. Where on Earth is there any peace to keep?

The trouble is, we're trying to have civilised wars. It's not very nice to take people's land off them, so we'll just drop in for a while, like Super Nanny, and try to sort
everything out. But protecting people and resolving conflicts are the civilised
traits of a highly developed species. War isn't. War is anathema to civilisation. If all's fair in war, then by definition, war, like love, can't be fair.

Today's armies are asked to fight with one hand tied behind their back. They're not invading or all-conquering or even allowed to kill anyone, unless they're being shot at. It's little more than target practice, with them as the target.

Once you decide to have a war, you can't pussyfoot around. You've got to identify the territory you'd like to occupy. And then you have to annihilate anything that stands in your way and seize it.

Therein lies the rub. The reason no one wants to win is not just because too many people, such as arms manufacturers (US) and arms dealers (eastern Europe) and organised criminals (Northern Ireland) and politicians (Sri Lanka) and religious leaders (Middle East) have a vested interest in wars continuing indefinitely; it's that no one has a clear objective of what to do if they win. No one has the master plan essential for true, lasting victory.

The wars of yesteryear were usually driven by the clearly stated goals of a megalomaniac: something focused, like world domination. Today's wars are so wishy-washy. How did America possibly expect to win the Vietnam War without invading, occupying and subjugating North Vietnam? And what then? Even if President George Bush had on the war in Iraq, as he erroneously claimed three years ago, did he have the slightest idea what he wanted to do with it? Give it straight back to the locals? That is not what war is about. And as for most of the world's terrorist groups, the England cricket team has a better understanding of the consequences of victory.

In future the question our esteemed leaders should be asking, before they sacrifice a few more thousand innocent lives, is not whether this war is right or wrong, but: "Do we really want to win it, and what the hell do we do if we do?"

Mark Silcocks. Heckler Column. Sydney Morning Herald. 11/1/07


Saturday, January 13, 2007


How to be a sloth.

This is getting ridiculous. Getting to bed after midnight (blame the tennis on the telly, as well as this compulsive blog reading) then we listen to a quiz on the radio. So it's after 1 am and I'm still awake, even if he has fallen asleep with the radio on. Then we sleep in till after 10am! It's appalling really.

We're in this rut, and we can't get out. Well, I can't. Marc will probably bounce back tomorrow with a burst of energy to put me to shame. His shoulder is gradually feeling better (thanks partly I'm sure to a bit of a massage I gave him in the worst bit in the back of his shoulder! He can touch is face now, without lowering his face to his hand. There's improvement for you.)

It's warm outside, in that soporific way that humidity tends to bring.. so it doesn't inspire you to do much when you're in sloth mode already. (I was drenched from sweat after my little gallavant on the bike yesterday, so I'm not inspired to even hang a load of wet washing out. ) I guess the kids would like to go to the beach, but Dad won't be able to take them out the back.

I still feel funny in the chest. On my HUGE (not!) bike ride of 6.5 km, I felt like an asthmatic. (Well, I felt like I imagine an asthmatic feels).. and I still feel that way a bit. I guess I should get me to a chemist and fill the repeat script - presumably what the doctor wrote it for. Maybe it will bring me back to normal completely. (I just don't want another dose of thrush!) In the past few days I have also experienced my first ever sinus headaches, I think. (I've had my share of other headaches, but not this pressure type one emanating from the area around the bridge of my nose.) They aren't crashingly bad, but they are not helping me feel that terrific.

It's a bit pointless leaving the decision to get medicine till 4pm on a Saturday. There won't be any pharmacies open for miles.

And when you get up that late, breakfasts happen closer to lunch time. And then you pick at whatever you feel like for lunch. Poor deprived children. If there was ever an incentive to sit back and do absolutely nothing, though, it's the 13 year old:

Her: Is there any cold meat?
Me: Just the truckload of pastrami your father bought (that the rest of us don't like.)
Her: *grunts*. Isn't there any bread in the freezer?
Me: Only what's left of that multigrain on the bench. There's lots of tomatoes.
Her: *Pffft. Hmmmph. Sheesh*.. Well what IS there for lunch?
Me: Well, you could go to the shop and pick up some bread. [shop is 5 mins walk/2 mins bike ride]
Her: *snorts and stomps off, rolling her eyes and muttering*
Me and her dad: Geez, it's hard to find good staff these days isn't it.

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Friday, January 12, 2007


A dedication.

To my two net friends who have just recently started going to the gym in a bid to lose some weight and get fitter.(The two Elizabeths! - in different continents too I might add...and I don't think they will be offended if I add that they are more mature aged than me, so I think what they are doing is terrific!)

I've seen this quite a bit - on other blogs, and, courtesy of having children who record video hits, on the telly - so apologies to those who are probably quite bored with it by now.

I'm just posting it as inspiration. To give Libby and E. something to aim for with the gym, and use of all that equipment!!

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Soberly in perspective

The next day. Did #2's hair, and she too was riddled. What can you do. Just spend a few hours of your day combing, combing, combing. Naturally by the end of that spree I was scratching my own head, but thank god I have the sense to have short hair. Did a comb through on myself and I am FREEEEE! And now that I've rinsed the conditioner out in tepid water, I actually feel slightly uplifted. Well.. things could be worse - imagine if I had them too! I will have to attack #1 when she gets home from a friend's this afternoon. She will think that now she is a teenager she is immune, but I am thinking that is unlikely. I can always hope.

What is of more concern is Marc's shoulder. He is in pain, but, being a man, won't take anything for it. Just sits there looking pained. And depressed about another hitch to our bike riding training - we were going to go into this Saturday morning community bike ride tomorrow morning. (As if Tracey having a cough for 6 damn weeks wasn't enough... he had 3 weeks off work, and we haven't ridden once, and the Big Ride is in 2 months.) If the roles were reversed he'd be nagging me to see someone, TODAY, but he is adamant that he needs to wait a couple of days. *[Edit: as if he sensed me writing that, he just capitulated and asked for painkillers - so it can't be good.]

He first dislocated his shoulder around 14 years ago - playing volleyball. He had a 10km trip to the hospital (along a bumpy road) with it still dislocated. So it must have been 'out' for nearly an hour. I wasn't with him at the time (I think I was home either very pregnant or with the baby) but it must have been excruciating. He took note of how the dr did it, and every other time it has happened he enlists whoever is closest to pull on his arm, in a sort of horizontal position, while he sort of manouvres his shoulder till it clunks back in. Strangely enough, his shoulder then HURTS for a while - the ligaments and muscles protesting at being jolted out of place like that.

[Yesterday he only had the two older girls with him, and so it was a Giant Turnip style tug-of-war scenario, with Cait pulling on his arm with both arms, and Alison with her arms around Cait's waist. "And they pulled, and they pulled... and they pulled...." ]

And, though he wasn't to know it back that first time, it does happen on a semi-regular basis, which is a tad inconvenient. He should probably have a shoulder reconstruction, but as he would have to be out of commission from everything for the recuperation period required, it's never made the 'things to do this year' list. Too much to do. It used to happen a fair bit, until he figured out what 'moves' he should avoid. He learnt that he could no longer spike in volleyball.. or sleep with his arm on the pillow 'above' his head. (Try being woken up out of a dead sleep to help him put his shoulder back in.) Or do silly things like reaching across the car to unlock a door (less likely to happen these days now that we have cars with central locking). No more diving to touch someone at Touch.. and be careful body surfing. When he does it, it makes him much more cautious for a while.. until he forgets. In the surf it's the dumpers that catch him, and that's what happened yesterday. And he really did get dumped yesterday - after it got thrown out on the downward dump, he was unceremoniously dumped, and rolled over and over. With. His. Shoulder. Out. (Yeah, it makes me shudder just thinking about it.) So given what he endured while it was out, it probably rates as one of the worst on his list of dislocation experiences, and thus it is likely that it will give him grief for longer.

So, not the most ideal start to our year, particularly with regard to our bike riding plans - and making the most of his time off work. In the scheme of things, it puts the nits in perspective. I guess. (Lucky he has some more cricket to watch on the telly this afternoon. I will hang out some more sheets, and then take myself for a bike ride to test the lungs. Just me getting on a bike might make him a bit happier.)


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Confessions of a bad mother..

Oh god, it's nits. And it's my fault it got this bad. She was scratching her head before christmas, and I have just felt too crap for the last few weeks to deal with it - to do the tedious conditioner comb through. This afternoon I have just spent a couple of hours on Zoe's hair, to the point that she was crying, and I was just about crying, and I know I will have to do another treatment tomorrow.. and then every few days to get rid of the bastards.

Notes on nits:

If you live in a cooler climate that doesn't support head lice, then think yourself bloody lucky. These days, around where I live, where it is virtually sub-tropical, they are all too common, and they, in fact, like clean hair, so although there still feels to be a stigma attached to them (believe me!), it does not mean you are dirty.

If your child is a boy (and has short hair as is most usual) think yourself bloody lucky.

If your girl child has thin hair (long or short) think yourself bloody lucky.

If your girl child has short hair, think yourself bloody sensible.

Saying for a couple of weeks "Stop bloody scratching your head" is not an adequate way of dealing with the bastards.

Just because it's Christmas .. New Year... holidays... doesn't mean the bastards won't lay eggs and multiply.

Just because you can't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there. In fact, by the time you can see the bastards, her head is riddled with them. RIDDLED.

Drinking wine to 'get you through' the conditioner combing treatment could be dangerous. Two hours later, and I'm a candidate for Northern Girl and Rootie Toots NaDruBloDa or whatever it was (and I'm too heady to even work out how to link to it/them right now but I will when I'm sober, I promise.)

Getting drunk and depressed while dealing with the mother of all nit infestations can also cause extreme facetiousness when rung up at 7 pm by some call centre letting you know that your local exchange is now broadband enabled (when you have already been on broadband for two years and have already received numerous calls in this vein..)

Getting drunk and depressed while dealing with the mother of all nit infestations, while still recovering from 6 weeks of a bloody respiratory infection, can also cause you to cry when your husband and two elder children (just now) return from a late afternoon bodysurf and you see that he has dislocated his shoulder AGAIN.... It is back in - the girls helped him - but he will be sore and sorry and not totally able for a while, and oh F-U-C-K, I/we just do not need this right now. (Sorry, that was swearing, but I am drunk and disorderly - and distressed.)




I think I was waiting for a defining moment when I could say "Eureka! I am completely better". But it's not going to happen that way, and if I wait till there is not one ounce of snot or phlegm left, and I don't cough at all then I might be waiting forever- or go insane in the meantime. This
"Rest" tactic is all very well, but I now feel like a blob. Which is not unsurprising, seeing I have been acting like a blob. And now, having been a blob for a few days, it feels harder than normal to get going again. (And that's saying something - you know I'm the master of procrastination...) And I have more work to do to get back to normal because I feel fat, look fat - and I really wonder whether I would have been better off to have kept up some sort of exercise.

It would help if I didn't have to fight through everyone else's lethargy as well.. It's nearly midday and Caitlin is still in bed. We slept in till 10ish (we're in this stupid cycle of going to bed after midnight, then sleeping in big time.) And now it's midday and I've had breakfast, sat here, and not done another thing.

Marc keeps sitting at his laptop doing work stuff - which is fairly normal for holidays - but it feels I have to fight for his attention even more than usual because he is disappointed or cheesed or something because we haven't been able to bike ride. He is at the goddamn laptop the minute he comes downstairs in the morning... (At least I have the good grace to eat my cereal before I get on the computer!) He is there now.

It's not like we don't have other Stuff! to do other than bike rides. Yesterday I finally got him to talk about our extension plans - after glaring at him when he said he had to ring someone at work. Just now I've reminded him that I have a chiropractor appointment at 2.30, and I reminded him that I'd suggested we all go into town. (We'd told the girls we'd buy new boogie boards after christmas..) He denied all knowledge of that suggestion!!

So I am sitting here in a bit of a "NOBODY EFFING LISTENS TO ME" funk. The kids are bad enough.. but when I know I've spoken to him about something and it's gone in through one ear and out the other, then I wonder why I bother saying anything at all.

Enough! Time for some action. A bomb under me, and a bomb under each and every other person in this family...

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Armed and dangerous..

For heaven's sakes.. what is wrong with me? Twice in two days I've cut my finger with a knife, and both times just because I was handling it stupidly.

The first was when I was wielding Marc's pocket knife to cut old rubber stoppers off the legs of a stool. He had been nagging me to buy replacement ones (but I'd put them on the 'non-essential' list before Christmas - something he didn't seem to quite 'get' for some reason.) So, Monday, I bought the stoppers.. and by hook or by crook, they were going on the damn stool NOW. I asked him to do it, but when he hadn't moved to do it within 5 minutes, I figured I'd have to. (Patience woman!) You wouldn't cut in a downward motion when your left hand was underneath, would you? Nup. You wouldn't. I would. Ouch. Middle finger, near the nail.

Last night I was cutting a nectarine with one of those wiltshire knives that live in a scabbard. It had some bruised spots, so I was hacking them off, then decided to cut off the rest of the flesh in pieces. Around the stone. Downwards cut again. Hand underneath? Yes. Why? Don't know. *Owww.* For god's sake, how stupid was that?! Pad of thumb this time.

Nothing drastic. Just inconvenient. I'm just a bit worried about what where I'm headed with this stupidity.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Achieving inner peace...

Every now and then a gem turns up in your email inbox that resonates with you. I don't know about inner peace, but I'm constantly berating myself for not finishing things. (Btw, this is either Australian in origin, or Australianised, because she mentions 'Tim Tams") :

"I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me and we all could use more calm in our lives.

By following the simple advice I heard on a Dr.Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

Dr. Phil proclaimed the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started.

So I looked around my house to see things I started and hadn't finished; and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Cardonay , a bole of Baileys, a butle of Kehuha, a pockage of Tim Toms , tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the Chesescke, some saltins an a baxa cholates.

Yu haf no idr who gud I fel.

*Peas sen dis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov inr pece

Yes. This all resonates with me.. just a bit! On top of my *fine print conditions dictating when I will be ready to begin my 2007 Resolution I am using the sheer injustice of having family members give me chocolates I don't like! as a damn good reason to acquire then finish off 2 blocks of chocolate all by myself. I have also not stinted in my sociable consumption of wine with dinner each night.. to the point where we now have about half a bottle left!

I am sure by the time the wine and chocolate are finished I will have "reached a very special place... spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically..."** I will have finished off all these unfinished things, I will be BETTER!, and I will be ready to exercise again, and I promise I won't start on anything scrumptious and delicious and full of feel-good endorphins [*sob*] that I will need to finish off!

Am I better yet? Hard to say, without jinxing myself, and I am not sure now when to test my luck lung capacity. Marc is getting antsy about how we all need to go bike riding. I am crawling my own personal walls of frustration with it all. I loathe not being active, yet all those weeks of trying to push through this bloody coughing didn't work. Last night I announced (thought) to myself "By gosh, I think I am feeling better..".. then within minutes proceeded to have the worst coughing fits of this whole bloody drawn out saga. To say I am cautious would be an understatement. To say that I can all but feel myself stacking on more kilos, and busting out of my clothes, would also be an understatement.

While I ponder this dilemma.. pass me the Caramello will you please... I need to finish it off.
** Captain Jack Sparrow in PotC.

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Monday, January 08, 2007


How could I resist?

Supermarket. Today. About $6.00. Continuing the trend of having to buy my own "Christmas" presents. Bugger the Lindt. Being given this would have made me very happy.
Buying this, though, has sort of thwarted the implementation of my theory about the positives of not being tempted to eat chocolate. As usual, self sabotage rules.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007


How to torment a "chocoholic".

I know I claim to be a chocoholic.. but the truth is that I'm more accurately a plebian Cadbury milk chocolate-a-holic. Pfft, I hear you say... Sorry. It's just how I am. Caramel is ok.. but basically, I can leave a box of centred chocolates sitting on my bench all year (after I picked out the caramel centred ones) .. but I'd demolish a block of Cadbury Dairy Milk or Caramello, solo, in a night, given half a chance.

I thought most people close to me knew this. And that, yes, yes, I know that real chocolate connoisseurs like Lindt, or whatever other Swiss brands, and ra, ra, ra, yeah.. shut up!

So, last week when my mum AND sister gave me (well, us.. Marc and me) the token pressie that we erratically exchange at Christmas.. and BOTH of them gave us a box of Lindt Lindor chocolate balls.. I was.. well.. nonplussed. I don't like the damn things... the softish centre makes me a bit squeamish, almost. And Marc isn't really into chocolate at all.

In the spirit of resolutions made to not end up like my mother, I didn't say anything (except to ask if they had shares in Lindt.) I did grumble to Marc and the girls when we were alone - a "grumble" along the lines of 'FFS, you'd think my own mother and sister would know by now that I don't like those sort of chocolates!'

A bit sad. It's really a case, with my mother at least, that she thinks I should like Lindt, so it doesn't matter what I really like. Thou shalt be given Lindt. Or maybe she just never takes much notice of me and doesn't have a clue despite all evidence to the contrary.

I decided to turn it on its head, and figured that, seeing I'm whingeing about wanting to lose weight, then if you MUST get given chocolates, then maybe chocolates that you don't actually want to eat are the best sort to get. Yep. Right.

The girls think it's pretty funny. They like them - they're not fussy - so, hey, all the more for them.

But wait. There's more.

Today, the visiting sister in law gave us "our" christmas presents. (They live about 4 hours away, and as I wasn't planning on seeing them (!) I had sent theirs to them before Christmas. - a book shop voucher each for the boys, and some home made (by the girls) chocolate truffles and shortbread.)

Guess what she gave Marc and me. Go on. Guess. .. Ah.. It was a bottle of wine. ('Huzzah!' I thought, ' at least I like wine!'). And then. A box. Of. Lindt. Lindor. Chocolate. Balls.

Caitlin managed to hold herself together while they were still here, but has since just about wet herself laughing each time she thinks about it.

Me.. I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

The only good thing is that at least I won't be getting fat on all... that... chocolate....

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Define "rest".

"But you've been resting since we got home." said he. *Clonk* [That's the sound of me hitting him]... Because I didn't mow the lawn yesterday perhaps?.... Or paint the house... or run a marathon.. ? The clothes got themselves to the washing machine, hung themselves out, and the dinners have just happened. (Oh that's right, he bbq'ed the meat, so there was nothing else to do!!)

Ok, so I've been endeavouring to take it easy. Easier. Helps, as I said, with a Dishwasher Unloading fairy. The visit went off ok, and the other Sister in Law (the one coming just for lunch) managed not to say anything that left me (or Marc) grinding our teeth like she usually does. And I feel sort of better, but sort of blah still. The most annoying thing is that my ears are sort of blocked, but popping... And different to each other. All in all I'd rather not have to speak because of the hollow echoey sound my voice makes in my head. Which leaves a toss up over which is preferable - giving instructions, or just bloody doing it myself.

Pretty stupid for someone supposed to be "resting".. but for lunch, for something a bit more interesting than the BBQ sausages we did for the kids, I decided to try out a recipe out of a bunch of food magazine recipe pages that I'd torn out and kept. (From a picnic lunch section I think.)

It worked, and I highly recommend it:

Asian-style chicken salad rolls

Serves 6

1 bbq or roast chicken (I bought a bbq chook with no stuffing.)
3 green onions/shallots (thinly sliced) (The long green ones, not the ones with the bulb.)
1 carrot, cut into small thin strips (I grated long thin strips with this grater I have)
1/2 cup salted cashews, roughly chopped
bread rolls, to serve

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed

1. Bone and skin chicken, shred meat. Place into bowl.
2. Make dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jub. Whisk with fork till well combined.
3. Pour dressing over chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Place into airtight container. Place onions, carrot and nuts into separate airtight containers.
4. When ready to serve, add onions, carrot and nuts to chicken. Toss. Spoon into bread rolls or serve as a salad.

It was pretty easy, really. Served it up with those par baked dinner rolls (baked of course), the sausages, and a tossed garden salad, and it was pretty good.

And then I let them all go off to the beach, while I lazed off the 2 or 3 white wines I'd drunk over lunch (probably shouldn't have been drinking with antibiotics, but they didn't warn me not to!)

And I've all very restfully made up skinned and crumbed chicken drumsticks for dinner... and chucked on some brown rice to cook.

Someone else can make the salad. I'm done.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007


Permission to Rest.

After telling all and sundry that at least I wasn't coughing while I was asleep, I woke up coughing yesterday morning. Typical. Marc did his frustrated "You should go back to the Doctor" admonishment (which tends to mask his presumable genuine concern).. so, being just bloody slightly frustrated myself, I rang. No appointments available. I felt like saying "Just as well I'm not dying isn't it."

So I decided to be a complete sloth yesterday, in an "I'm just so effing depressed" kind of way. I didn't move much from the computer, and even left the dinner decision making and shopping to Marc. (Even then I had to supply a list and inspiration.) Then this morning I was able to score a Saturday morning surgery appointment by ringing bang on 8.30am. This morning I felt ok while I was still lying down, but the thrush hadn't gone, and as soon as I got up to go to the bathroom I could feel that feeling in my chest again. I'm just so sick of it.

So I now have a different kind of antiobiotic (supposedly good for the chest region), and more Canesten... And the advice to "rest". Which is fine in theory, but hard to do, despite the fact that Aunty N. (Marc's younger sister) is staying, and amusing the children, and doing wonderful stuff like emptying the dishwasher for me!

Tomorrow we have the older sister-in-law (plus husband plus 3 kids) calling in (Classification: Duty). It is hard not to get stressed about the state of the house because she is a fastidious, obsessive compulsive housekeeper/person - and previous visits usually are the catalyst for a mad clean up, cleaning of windows, etc. This time I really couldn't give a flying you know what, because I am rather over her (for many reasons). And I am supposed to Rest. I figure SO WHAT if she finds our house appalling - maybe she won't want to visit anymore!

But the post-holiday detritus really did need clearing... (and the yard needs mowing - already again).. so we are in the 'Marc getting shitty' zone over what should have been thrown out or put away previously (when I wasn't unwell).. which is making for a hard day to play Lady Muck.

After a second trip to the local shops today (to buy stuff for tomorrow's lunch), I am sitting. Here. Because, frankly, when I'm not moving around, I don't feel as breathless and I cough less. (Unless I laugh.. so don't make me laugh, ok.) Aunty N has taken the girls to the beach, and I'm undecided whether to wander down for a saltwater treatment myself. Today has been sunny and warm.. a first for us (and here) since the day we tried to go canyoning. It seems a shame not to make the most of it. I'm sure I could Rest while doing so.

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Friday, January 05, 2007


A diversion

I've been meaning to hunt this one down on YouTube for a while.

Enjoy if you haven't seen it before:

It's David Armand of the English comedy sketch group The Hollow Men performing, in character as 'Johann Lippowitz - Austrian Interpretive Dance Artist' with his interpretation of Natalie Imbruglia's Torn.



Blue Mtns Christmas (5) - one more walk

By Saturday lethargy was setting in.. thanks to this persistent cough, I wasn't feeling much like going anywhere.. and the book I bought and wrapped myself for christmas (yes, I succumbed to the depths this year) was getting exciting. Breakfast.. read.. coffee.. read... Marc getting twitchy... let's go for a walk... read... lunch... nearly finished...finished!

Ok.. now we can go for a walk. C'mon girls... up and at 'em... Do we have to? (Oh.. and here we were thinking you guys kind of liked the bushwalks)... Well, if you don't want to go you can bloody go round to Nana's... OK. Ok. They did. And, we dumped them and set off.. just as another storm announced its presence with a thundery rumble.

Mr Optimist said we should still give it a go.. it was just over the other side of the railway line at Blackheath.. not actually in National Park.. but there was this walk which went down Porters Pass (overlooking the Megalong Valley).. along under the cliff line, and back up again.

Seemed like we were pushing our luck setting out on foot while a storm loomed.. but we kept going, and it provided a brooding atmosphere to our descent. Then, as if we'd descended into fantasy land, the sun came out, and stayed out as we ambled along under the cliffline. As the tracknotes predicted the eastern end of the pass was popular with rockclimbers.. (in fact many of the cliff faces were studded with bolts - something I'm not sure sits well with me, except that I guess this wasn't national park ) and we were entertained by a few as we rounded the bend and started heading up again through a very canyonesque Centennial Glen.

As we reached the top (me wheezing and coughing as if I was running on 3 cylinders - which was probably literally the case).. the clouds rolled in again. Although it is a bit blurry, I like the photo of me (below) on Fort Rock, with the 'weather' in the background. I'm not usually that clagged out after a 2 hour walk (which is down as 3 hours in the guides) - but there is just a hint of drama queen in my genes.

It was a bit of a hike through the streets back to the car, but I was happy that we'd managed to fit in a bushwalk, especially as we'd missed the canyoning. The kids would have enjoyed it.. though I have to say it was less stressful doing it without having to worry about where they were putting their feet. We don't get much time to 'go out' together, and this is more our style than dinner and movies, weird little people that we are.

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Blue Mtns Christmas (4) - "Snow" and "stars"

(It's a desperate Christmas analogy, ok! )

We spent yet another morning slothing (I suppose that is what holidays are all about..).. Marc and the girls went into Katoomba to return the hired lilo (which we tried to do twice the day before). He had suggested that he, Cait and I could get up and do Wollongambe canyon (an easier one) - but the weather forecast was a tad dubious (and I think it was raining in the morning), and frankly, I didn't have the energy left with this damned cough to get psyched up for it.

On his return from the shops he said "I've got a great idea! - let's go to the Glow Worm Tunnel" Ah, nostalgia. We went there once before with a group of friends.. about 21 years ago.. and it was in fact on the weekend we 'got together'. However I am not allowed to go all mushy and nostalgic, so I'll say no more about it in those terms!

It was actually a good idea. Something 'safe' Alison could do with an injured hand, and not too long a walk to risk weather-wise. We had lunch, then as we trundled out to the car we heard an ominous rumble. Bugger... thunder. Oh well.. you never know.. storms can be a bit hit and miss. We set off.

A couple of kms down the road the rain started and we jumped at a few spectacular forks of lightning; we reached the Zig Zag Railway turnoff, and decided to keep going anyway. This particular forestry road is doable in a 2-wheel drive (and we've been along it many other times to some of the other canyons that we do..) It mostly follows the former railway line, so the gradient is pretty mild.

But then as the rain got harder, we realised it had in fact turned to hail! (Marc: "I was just thinking I didn't remember this road having white pebbles") The picture below is blurry, but it's to prove it was there. It was quite deep in parts.. hence my White Christmas analogy. The hail stones got bigger, and we tried to shelter a bit under some trees, thinking it would be a bloody pain to get hail damage just as we have acquired this 4WD that we have spent more on than any other car. They were going 'splat' on the windscreen, so we figured they were reasonably soft... and so we continued, with me muttering "I'm bloody glad we are doing this in a 4WD." It did look a bit like it had snowed. Seriously!

This was an accidental photo when I was sort of attempting to take an mpeg on Marc's camera!... hmmm.

Anyway, lucky for Marc's insistence that we continue, because by the time we got to the parking spot for the tunnel, it was dry.. And it was an easy stroll to the entrance of the tunnel.

The last time we did it we didn't have a torch! - but fumbled our way through with our hands on the wall. Marc produced a 2 x AAA torchlight out of his first aid kit, and that proved to be more than sufficient to illuminate our way as we shuffled through the tunnel.. With the light off, several times, we were treated to the magical sight of glowworms twinkling. Like stars indeed, as glow worms tend to be.

A dry drive back.. and the hail had all but melted. There were still a few patches; proof that we hadn't dreamt it all.

And the glow worm tunnel, as we predicted, was worth a visit. The kids enjoyed it. Pretty cool.

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Blue Mtns Christmas (3) So much for the canyoning

THIS is where we were headed.. Bells Creek Canyon. One Marc and I have done before (once at night! - because of the glowworms! - that was the best Valentines day ever, that!), and we felt that it was doable by the girls. No abseiling required, just some climb downs (and Marc bought some new hand line). Wetsuits and lilos, and most importantly Dunlop volleys were the other prerequisites. (Another volleys link.) No way would we take the girls canyoning without a pair of volleys. Because of my ineptitude in pre-buying one more lilo before we left Coffs - and you want the rubberised cotton ones which are harder to come by these days, what with the luxury camping demand for the velour coated variety- we spent the day before trailing up and down the shops in Katoomba looking for one, and ended up having to hire one from an adventure tour company.

Marc had been keeping a close eye on the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) website, and the predictions were looking good for Thursday.

We left Zoe with Nana and Aunty the night before, and were up and at 'em in the morning.. borrowing said Aunty's car (as the route involves a car shuffle.) I was still coughing.. but had been dosing up with antibiotics, cough medicine, and sinus/hayfever tabs. I wasn't going to miss this if it killed me. And the weather was P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

Off we went. We had to drive into Mt Wilson to leave one car, then retrace our steps to our starting point. While this canyon is one of the ones probably closest to a main road, the last times we had done it there was still no track to it, so a bit of navigation and bush-bashing was always required. (In hindsight I wish this was still the case.) Marc thought he'd be clever and see if a fire trail on the map was one we used to meet up with.. but we ended up on the wrong ridge, and so had to backtrack up (I knew it was up because going up brought on the coughing.)

We sidled around to follow the right ridge, and came across a narrow track that had obviously been created by the various adventure tour companies that now take a lot of groups on canyons in the Blue Mountains area. Oh well, easier walking we thought, so we were making pretty good time. Up and down a couple of knolls.. then suddenly Alison trips over, and then we hear the wail as she holds her right hand in her left hand. Initial reaction (as typical parents) was the rolled eyes, an impatient 'let me see', ready to dust her off and keep going. Marc took one look, gasped, and immediately used his shirt to stop the bleeding. She had a gash in the 'webbing' between her pinkie and ring finger, and it continued down maybe 2 cm onto the pad of her palm. She had landed with her hand on a sapling that had been macheted off roughly at ground level, leaving, basically, a sharp stake.

We took another look, and exchanged a look of despair. We couldn't tell how deep it was, but it wasn't the sort of injury you could take canyoning.. in the water, or scrambling down rocks and handlines. We weren't going any further on this canyon. We found a pad in the first aid kit, and bandaged her hand up, and turned back to the car. And cursed the fools that had to hack these tracks in.. Seriously, if we'd been bush bashing, I don't think it would have happened.

Another car shuffle back into Mt Wilson that we wouldn't have had to do.. then back to Blackheath (dump Caitlin) then onto Accident & Emergency at Katoomba Hospital.

By the time she was seen, the gash/slice/cut (whatever you want to call it) didn't look quite as bad.. The Dr did um and ah over what to do... particularly between the fingers. Not deep enough for stitches.. in the end he used glue for the bit on the palm of her hand, and gave her the instructions she'd been dreading - don't get it wet for a week. When you're an 11 yr old water baby, and it's summer, and there's a pool near your Nana's holiday house, and a beach back home, that's not what you want to hear. I had to talk to her about perspective - I mean.. what if she'd broken a leg or something? And as it's turned out, the weather gods have smiled upon her, and treated us all to cool and/or rainy weather even up till today when she could be swimming again! Now we just have to stop her catching balls and the like for another week.

And the canyoning? I guess it'll keep. Next year maybe? Another Blue Mountains Christmas, perhaps? Or at least get down there in January.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Blue Mtns Christmas (2) - The bushfire damage.

Boxing Day afternoon we finally got our bones moving and decided to go for a drive to check out where exactly the recent bushfires had been.


A Blue Mountains Christmas holiday (part 1)

Let's see if I can summarise the week in a few posts with a few piccies. Ok, so it's for my benefit, rather than being of any great interest to the blogosphere.. but I suppose it's an insight into one particular Australian christmas. We weren't particularly excited to be going away, if you hadn't guessed from my previous entries, but had resolved to make the most of our time in the Blue Mountains. Potentially cooler weather (well, it could hit 30 degrees, but it could drop to around 10!).. and the chance to get in some bushwalking, and, most importantly a canyon. This was to be Alison's first ever canyon, and we were preparing to do one with her and Caitlin that involved liloing through narrow gorges...

We got away around 9.15 on the Saturday morning.. not a bad effort for us, especially considering Marc just got back from OS and then a work xmas lunch the afternoon before, and I was stressed out with packing and coughing. Glad we were heading south, against the flow of holiday traffic. Any towns on the Pacific Hwy not yet bypassed (and with lights) caused bottlenecks.. We shook our heads in sympathy at a couple of jams of a few kilometres. It seemed that so many Sydneyites had left early (it must have been like 4 or 5 am) to 'beat the traffic' that they all ended up leaving together and causing the jams.

The traffic heading our way was heavy, but moving, so we made good time - and even somehow timed our lunch stop in a lull. The newish M7 motorway on the western outskirts of Sydney made the last stretch through to the lower Blue Mountains a dream. I complain bitterly about having to register for a visitor's e-pass, but in terms of driving time saved, it is probably worth every cent. So all in all the drive was fairly painless. Arrived at our friends' place around 5.00 and the kids had time for a swim in their dam before dinner. It was good to catch up with them - these days it happens all too infrequently, living so far away from each other.

With only about half an hour to drive the next day, we took our time in the morning, and mosied on up to Blackheath. Found the holiday house.. dumped our stuff.. then dumped the kids with Nana, aunty and friend, and headed back to Katoomba for the supermarket stock up. We even managed to miss the christmas eve rush despite predictions, so, all in all, that was painless too.

Santa found the holiday house, despite the lack of a christmas tree; the wrapping paper and glitzy gold and silver gift bags/sacks had to do for festive spirit. A very civilised sleep in possible because of the age of the kids.. the two younger ones woke at 7.00, and waited till 7.30 to wake Her Highness up. She protested till I suggested that she was obviously moving from kid to grown up status, and thus Santa would probably not come to her next year!

Round to Nana's holiday house for lunch.. and that was the view from our table; the vase had a bunch of Christmas bush in lieu of a tree. (Yes a very low-key christmas this year..but I'm tempted to continue that tradition in the future, actually...) We managed to keep lunch sensible with just some chicken and ham, a couple of salads. The family christmas challenge this year was to recreate Papa's famous mayonnaise for the potato salad - the absent sister knew how to make it, but the rest of us were novices. A bit of a team effort, Marc doing the beating, and me drizzling the oil in, and success! And a toast to Papa's mayonnaise.

Oh, and Zoe got a (painted) recorder for xmas (what was I thinking?!) With some sisterly tuition, by lunchtime on xmas day she could already play three tunes (and can still only play three tunes!) Naturally they were sent outside to play, so the neighbours must have been cursing the holiday house tenants.

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