Friday, November 30, 2007



If it's not one thing with me, it's another. Saw a physio on Tuesday. I'm not a big fan of physios - they never helped with my back, and in my experience tend to rely heavily on their little magic machines. But after the debacle with my knee on Sunday, just when it felt all but better, I was desperate for a quick fix after putting myself around 3 weeks (out of 5) back in the recovery stakes.

So, his esteemed opinion (after moving both knees around in more planes that I thought possible - and particularly in ways that my sub-conscious didn't want either knee to go) was that I had a small cartilage tear. (I am sure he said that because I mentioned that the chiro didn't think I'd torn any cartilage.) He gave me stretches to do - ones I'd been pretty much doing anyway - then when I told him that, he replied "Yes, you've done the right thing by coming to see me." Huh? .. did I have a sign on my head saying "Please patronise me" ?

$75 for that consult, and he wanted to see me again ($60) a few days later. He put me on the gym equipment doing leg raises that I could do for half that price with the trainer (and I thought that was an extravagance!) I didn't need to be a mental arithmetic guru to figure that this was going to be an expensive undertaking if I stuck with him. Just not enough value for money. When I asked what I could do (thinking strapping) to avoid hurting it again, he basically told me not to twist it. To stop and turn carefully.

Well duh.

I'm not going back there.

My trainer recommended a different physio who she thought would just teach me how to strap it, but I haven't made any more appointments. Yet. I'm a bit fed up and wary about throwing more money around for no reason.

Wed afternoon it hurt more again, but yesterday it had eased, and I hope I can swim tonight.

So, then last night my wrist and hand started throbbing - which is probably an indication of too much time spent on the computer. (Which doesn't do anything for my pie in the sky dreams of doing some kind of freelance computer work...)

So there you have it... Tracey and the Neverending Saga of the Dodgy Body Parts. (And there goes your theory that I ask for all these aches and pains because of all the crazy exercise-type stuff I do!)

That's the limit of my keyboarding stint for now. I've strapped my wrist (it's waaay better than last night, but I'm being cautious) and right-handed pecking at keys is just a a bit desperado and just total proof that I spend way too much time on here doing nothing much of merit.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


You can check out any time you like.

Days like this.

When you feel like nothing you do is right or ever has been.

Where everything you've tried to raise your kids to do is in vain.

Where you realise that you can't ask them to do something without putting it in writing, in triplicate, six weeks in advance, and stapled to their goddamned foreheads - and then they will still say "I forgot".. or "I didn't hear you".. or "I was just about to do it." ... or "I was waiting for HER to do it."... or... I don't know the hell what else other excuse - there are so many - but most likely it was actually MY FAULT because apparently I tend to ask them to do things without checking that they are giving me their full and undivided attention. [FFS - they are NOT autistic - they don't have aspergers, or ADHD any other condition where there are neurological issues with attention.]

Where you incorrectly assume that 'yeah, yeah.. we got it, stop nagging' means that they have heard and understood what they have been asked to do.

Where your judgement is so warped you thought your 14 yr old daughter was responsible and mature enough to do the right thing with a social netball team she was organising. Where you thought she was mature enough to leave at the courts, so that you didn't have to get stuck in the netball clubhouse anymore this year. To the point where you were prepared to defend her without question over members of their team forgetting to sign on - but you find she's actually, really, more stupid than you thought - so now you will have to BE THERE to make sure they are doing the right thing.

Where not only (the other week) did she "forget" (in the space of one hour) the directive to 'stay and supervise the other team member who wanted to do umpire duty' but then she "forgot" to tell me that NOBODY stayed to do that duty, and their team was consequently fined $5, AND so I walked into a netball meeting with suggestions about how to improve the running of the comp (particularly in regard to information distribution) and I don't know this little detail about where my own daughter has stuffed up.

Where she thinks that I am outrageous for saying that she should pay the $5 all herself (because the only thing she can manage to organise is getting the rest of the team to pay for her neglect.)

Where people just don't get you over simple ideas like the need to provide registered players with a summary of the competition rules before they start playing - because that might be SPOON FEEDING them.... and shouldn't they all just KNOW IT anyway - and because there are so few people HELPING that therefore we shouldn't HAVE to SPOON FEED all these players.

Where getting involved with the kids' netball club - because you have a conscience and want to do a bit to help is just like walking into the Hotel California.

Because you can check out anytime you like, but you can never f***ing leave.


Monday, November 26, 2007


Not tempted to join the outrigger canoe club.

You'd never believe it, but I. Am. SORE. Muscles in my back screaming 'WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?' sore.

What kind of deluded maniac would expect not to be after jumping in an outrigger canoe and paddling like the clappers around a buoy for around 600m?

Three times.

After about half an hour of "training" the day before.

I'll give you the tip: swimming does NOT prepare your body for that sort of fast and furious onslaught - not when you're my age and fitness level anyway.

On top of that I've buggered my knee again too. First race - standing thigh deep in water, as waves roll in - I go to "leap" into the canoe, propelling myself off my left leg, and the knee got buffetted at an angle or something - all I knew was excruciating pain as I fell into the boat clutching wildly at my leg. I fell back off the damn seat (looking like a complete goose) and had to haul myself back upright, with the knee still hurting like buggery. (And all I hear is the WTF?s coming from the Dearly Beloved two seats back.)

The canoe club person holding the boat offered to paddle, but I'm nothing if not a martyr - and I wasn't using my knee to paddle - so I stayed in..

We almost won that race, but placed third as two other contenders got a better ride on the wave back into the beach. My knee was still complaining bitterly as we walked back along the beach, and it was all I could do not break down and sob because my knee was so effing sore. I have probably set back its recovery a few weeks.

We got second in the next race - and then scraped through into a semi-final spot.

It was hardly an evenly matched contest. The outrigger club supplied the 'steerers' in the back, and they weren't supposed to paddle, though we reckoned some did, and obviously some were better than others. The starting 'line' wasn't clear - so some teams appeared to have a few metres start - and nor was the finish line. Even the boats varied - some appeared sleeker and longer than others. And the crews were far from evenly matched - some had all blokes...some had very fit looking blokes.. although of course it's not all about strength - some of it is timing. And given all those variables, and the fact that is really a 'social' day, you still give it your all, paddling as if it's the world championship or something. The competitive spirit in all of us.. go figure.

... But here's one for my Queenslander friends.. We were talking about the unevenness of the crews, and Marc commented that one crew had 'bloody Mal Meninga' in it... I assumed at that point that he was making an analogy to some fit, burly bloke who looked like Mal Meninga - a former Australian rugby league star. Some time later I look over to where another crew was sitting and I thought "Gee, that guy really does look like Mal Meninga.. Um.. actually... that IS Mal Meninga." (Yeah, der, says Marc...)

Caitlin would not have recognised him from his Rugby playing days, but was aware of him from being the inspiration for the Chaser's Mal Award (which is explained further down the page in the above link) - and which was presented for this election campaign in last week's Chaser Decides. Very topical!

Later we were explaining to Zoe who he was, and she asked naively "So why was he here?" Cute. "Because, chook, even famous sports people have a real life, with family and friends - and so he obviously has friends or family around here, and they invited him to go in the day - just like we did."

Anyway, back on track... There we were in a semi-final, but outclassed, and rounding the buoy a good boat length behind the other boats. We'd handled every other turn with consummate ease, but not this time, though we still have no idea what went wrong. Three of us were paddling on the left (the side of the outrigger), so it's not like we all paddled on the right and tipped us over. But fall in we did. All in slow motion as the outrigger swung pendulum-like over head, and took us past the point of no return.

Well, we weren't going to win, so at least we did something spectacular, and it was quite warm enough for a swim. While the steerer was all very serious about it, all we could do was laugh. Never mind if all bodies were accounted for - did we still all have our company caps on?!! We got the boat upright and scrambled back in - and the club members sent out another crew, and for some reason we swapped into their boat while they finished bailing ours.

So we kind of finished on a high note of laughter and jokes. The idea of the corporate day was, apart from earning the club a bit of dosh, to hopefully attract new members. I think the organiser guy was a bit disappointed that none of us were converts. "So, you going to come to our beginner's day next Sunday?" Ahh.. no thanks... we said. And that was before my muscles really seized! I can think of more things I'd say to him today about bloody outrigger canoe corporate days.

Marc and I, for one, will stick to our kayaking - when we get around to getting our kayak out again that is. With many kilometres of double-bladed paddling under our belts, we think we prefer that sort of motion, and not having to quick-change the paddle over to the other hand every dozen or so strokes. We were never into sprints, and at our age, the smooth and easy, rhythmical longer distance is more up our alley - or waterway.


Saturday, November 24, 2007


Go ahead.. make my day...

We went out and bought a $20 bottle of bubbly in anticipation of the result we want in our country's federal election today. If we get to open it, it will top off a pretty good day.

We had a successful outrigger practice this morning, with the experienced outrigger canoe club guys giving us all praise. While I felt it in the arms and back at the time, I think my swimming must help just a bit with the upper body strength.

Alison and Zoe amused themselves by paddling their boogie boards out to the jetty, and lo and behold, Zoe even did the famous jetty jump [as pictured left when Alison did it at a surf camp in January - she is up to about jump #34!]. Zoe, being our Ms Cautious, would be the girl least likely to jump off a jetty a few metres down into deep water, and I'm just cheesed that I missed seeing it! Apparently it was scary enough that she's not planning on repeating it in a hurry - though perhaps I could shame her into it

Seeing we all did so well, we decided we'd earned brunch - or rather an 'all day brekkie' at a local cafe. Yum!

Later in the afternoon Marc, Alison and I got on our bikes, rode to the school to vote, and then across the highway to the next village down to buy the champagne from the bottle shop. What you call optimism, though we reserved the right to drown our sorrows.

Follow that up with a swim at the beach, which always leaves me with an inner warm fuzzy glow, totally chuffed with living in a wonderful spot.

We are cautiously optimistic here at 8.30pm, and Marc's just retrieved the bubbly from the fridge. Won't be game to drink it all tonight as I don't want to be paddling with a headache!! But if I wake up to the news that John Howard has also lost his seat - it's in the balance - I might just have some for breakfast as well.


Finally, the morally bankrupt Howard government is out!!


Friday, November 23, 2007


Just for something different

It seems that this weekend we'll be giving our cycling legs a rest and making our arms do some work for a change. We have been talked into participating in an Outrigger Canoe Corporate Day.

First I heard of it was Marc ringing me from work Monday or Tuesday this week. His office are putting a team in this event, and are desperate for people and do I want to paddle too?

Um.. ? Oh well, why not. After all, I've paddled a kayak many kilometres, and while that's a double-bladed paddle, the concept is .. well, similar. OK, so that was 20 years ago, but it's "just like riding a bike", isn't it?! Will I still have the muscle memory of balancing in a tippy boat?

So, how many paddle an outrigger canoe?

Um.. about 5. And we maybe need one more.

What about Cait - she's 'big' enough now?
[Cait later agrees with gusto.]

And do we need to have a bit of practice before this.. ah.. race?

Ah, yeah.. actually there had been practice on the last few Sundays but he kind of 'forgot' about it (besides which we were bike riding!)

So a practice was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, but that was canned by an afternoon downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning.

So, we have to go in early tomorrow morning. Practice to see if 3 blokes, 1 woman and a 14 year old girl can get coordinated enough to propel an outrigger canoe 600m out and around a jetty. In haste.

Then back in to 'race' on Sunday morning, where the challenge will be to paddle, in co-ordination, fast, and amongst a pile of other outriggers.

If I can still operate my arms and hands enough to type I'll tell you all about it afterwards.

* Just for interest here's a link about beginners in outriggers..

I love this bit: (Noone has sought fit to mention this possibility to me!)

You are going to get wet, aren't you?
"Undoubtedly. It's certain that someone's going to flip one of these things over".

They go right over, do they?"
Yes...with the stabilizer being on the left side, if the weight shifts to the right then there's a chance of turning over".

I suppose at least if we go in we'll be in warmer waters than the Derwent River in Hobart.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Such a sensitive flower.

"So how did you go with labour?"

That was a loaded question from the doctor who had just cut a couple of tiny moles (or dark spots or whatever they were) out of my back. I had exclaimed and winced a few times because, frankly, the local anaesthetic bloody stung. Three times! (She did one area twice - probably after I jumped when I could actually feel stinging when she put a couple of stitches in the first one.)

"Well.. um... I had gas at the end for two of them... what? are you saying that I'm a wuss?"

"Oh.. you just seemed a bit... sensitive..."

Pain. It's such a subjective thing isn't it? And I had decided long ago that comparing birth stories in the context of pain control and heroics was totally inappropriate because everyone's pain experience and tolerance is so subjective.

With me, my pain tolerance is also an inconsistent thing. Yes I did last through three longish labours without epidurals or pethidine.. (But the one where I lost the baby at 19 weeks - and was induced - I was all for as much pethidine as they'd give me.) When I was stitched up one adrenalin-drained hour after the not-even-any-gas birth of #3 I was going through the roof and the bastard doctor that did it was extremely disparaging of my pain tolerance.

Who is he or anyone to gauge what pain level anyone is experiencing during labour (and the aftermath..) ?

I will push through a fair bit of muscular pain with the bike riding, yet I'm the first to throw back paracetemol - (plus codeine) - with headaches, and any pains that might threaten to nag indefinitely. And I'll sure as hell go *OUCH* and *OW* when someone sticks a needle in me somewhere and then squirts that wretched stingy stuff into me!

And let's not even talk about local anaesthetics in your gums.

Anyway - in the context of yesterday - well, I never knew it was all meant to be some sort of Stoicness contest.

But I spent the rest of yesterday (and today still!) a bit miffed at the insinuation that I was hyper-sensitive. Then I googled 'pain'and 'sensitive' and found one study had found that women with low estrogen were more susceptible to pain.


I'm 45. I'm heading into Menopause-Land, and I've actually been diagnosed with low estrogen levels. And when I checked the calendar this morning I realised that I could/should be premenstrual as well.

So all in all this doctor yesterday was lucky I didn't snap her head off as well. And given the two hacked bits on my back are nigglingly sore today, she's lucky she won't cross paths with me today.

Maybe I have to accept that at times I'm just a sensitive flower. But if you call me that this week I might just jump through your monitor and rip yer bloody arms off.


Monday, November 19, 2007


Alive and kicking

She's baaaack!

I can kick when I swim again! How good is that?! (Answer = "FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC".)It's been a bit tedious not being able to make the most of my adult swim squad classes over the last few weeks since stuffing my knee. While I could sense the knee was always improving slightly, the progress seemed snail-paced, and I was getting a bit frustrated having to hang back and just swim sedate laps up and back while everyone was doing the drills, getting the workout that is the whole reason for us doing the classes. (Classes I'd paid for - so, yes, there was a financial imperative in the mix!)

I'd never really thought about it before, but kicking yourself along in the water when you swim actually puts a pretty big stress on your knees - almost hyper-extending that joint - so while I've been able to ride a bike (a more controlled action), flinging my knee joint up and down wasn't the mildest kind of exercise I could have been doing.

Today, somehow, I finally reached the turning point, and, crazy as it might sound, I was over the moon when I found I could thrash up and down the pool doing the various drills, and laps of freestyle at a speed that gets your heart rate up.

I'm not sure what the difference was over the three days from Friday night's class, but 77km on the bike on Saturday (road tandem into town, community ride and back) and then 63km on the mountain bike yesterday, must have done something other than leave me with a bit of general muscle soreness over the rest of this creaky body...

Yes! We got a leave pass from the visiting grandparents, and so had the luxury of getting up and disappearing out of the house without having to organise children, and to enjoy an adults only day out. For some mad reason we agreed to join another couple riding an extra 15 km each way to the start of the BUG ride - 30 km that included a few ups along with the downs! Twice the distance we would have done otherwise!

The area we rode in was called the Promised Land. Perhaps that is significant! The promise of the 'better' knee, and the feeling that I am getting so much fitter from all the bike riding - aerobically I'm finding the swimming much easier you see!- has me feeling more alive and kicking than I have been for quite some time.

Now the challenge is to sustain that and turn it to other areas.

(Don't hold your breath!)

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Friday, November 16, 2007


With a rebel yell

More like a feeble whimper, really.

Ask me if I cleaned the fridge out yesterday.

Oh! Thanks for asking, but... actually.. ah... no. I didn't. Couldn't be ****ed, really. (Or as E. put it (comments, yesterday) more politely, it was Don't Feel Like It Day. No, I wasn't in the mood, and, really, these days I'm the person least likely to hop on the bandwagon of any promotional palava.

I'm a bit of a rebel like that - whether it be a global thing (like Christmas!)... or the local school exhorting us to be involved in some huggy-feely promotional thing ... I'm just becoming more and more of a grumpy old woman, in a passive-aggressive kind of way. By that I mean I generally approach these things with avoidance, spiced occasionally with the occasional rant and dummy spit.

Anyway, in my house, today, it is Vacuum around the Sofa Bed and Clean the Bathroom before the Parents Arrive Day.

Which is to be followed by the Inability to Blog Because of Company Weekend. (As in Parental Company who don't know I have a blog and wouldn't be interested even if they did.)

I am hoping however that I may have been successful in my application for Sunday to be Leave the Kids with their Grandparents While We Go Bike Riding Day. The grandfather was all 'go for it', but it has yet to be rubber stamped by She Who Must Be Humoured. Last time the weekend was discussed SWMBH wanted to take the kids shopping, but on Saturday.

*sighs*... Best go 'celebrate' today.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


It's a sign.

A very creepy one - as if the world knows what I SHOULD be doing.

Today is National Clean out your Refrigerator Day.

So I could ignore it, given that I'm not in the US.






Tracey's top things to do instead of cleaning

  1. have a cup of coffee
  2. check emails (which also includes comments made on my blog)
  3. Read blogs
  4. Have another cup of coffee.
  5. put washing on
  6. hang washing out
  7. check emails again
  8. write a blog post so as to have some basis for #2
  9. mow the backyard.
  10. iron for half an hour (though I didn't get round to that yesterday - *bang* goes that pledge to self - and this morning he wonders where his ironed shirt is!!- a novelty as it was to find a pre-ironed shirt hanging there ready for him in the morning, he is pretty quick to accept it as something he'd like to find hanging there ready for him in the morning.) ***
  11. make blueberry muffins (a trial with frozen blueberries because fresh are so bloody expensive.) *
  12. make banana bread *
  13. check emails again **
  14. see if anyone has updated their blog**
  15. have another cup of coffee **
  16. reading chapters from Jeremy Clarkson 'Don't stop me now', which I bought 'for Marc' last week - because he likes Top Gear so much. (and, ok.. I find Clarkson's humour, irreverent as it sometimes is, very appealing. Wish I had such a way with words.)
  17. spend half an hour on after Miscmum recommends it. (I am ranging between level 37 and 42, though I hit 44 once! - highly recommended but ADDICTIVE - I got up to 2 thousand and something grains of rice donated, so at least I feel I've done something GOOD while I've been sitting here straining my brain over words I have never HEARD of before.)

* Making two lots of homebaked goodies in the one day is just about unheard of for me these days. Kids didn't know what had come over me when they got home from school.

** it would be more accurate to insert any of these into the list many more times in a day

*** he isn't as bad as I make out. He is 'up there' among the greatest 'stirrers' - it's just that some days I'm probably just not in the mood for it - not when I acknowledge that I have a severe procrastination problem and I am trying really hard to do something about it.

And now

17. I'm thinking of going right into town to the supermarkets for better quality and range of fruit and veg that I was unable to pick up closer to home yesterday. It's either that or clean the windows.

My parents arrive tomorrow - to stay for a few days - and I haven't done half of what I was aiming for cleaning-wise. So much for the 'new leaf' I was turning. I have made some inroads - this, after all is a long-term project to get my act together - but I have a long way to go. And when it comes down to it, do I really care what my mother thinks about the state of my house? It's the bigger picture that is more important in the long run.


Yesterday I went back to the personal trainer for a very light session with the weights. It's going to be baby-steps all the way with that - it's been more than 2 months since I was there. I reckon I aggravated my back at the last session I did - which was sometime late August or early September. Then there's the knee which is being very random about where and when exactly it wants to hurt, twinge, etc. Damn, though, it felt good to work my arms a bit - and I'm muscle-sore exactly where I should be - and it's a different sort of sore to the lower back soreness I've been waking up with lately - so at least I know that despite reducing some of the weights from what I had got up to, they have still actually worked. Surprisingly my very twingey and twitchey lower back felt good after some of the stretches - and doing hip-lifts designed to work on the hamstrings. If nothing else I was forced to tighten my abs, which have been lolling around on an extended resort-style holiday for the duration of these 'injuries'.

I need to include 'abs' and push ups into my 'new-me' daily routine - or even into the 'Things to do instead of Cleaning' list.

Coming soon: "The Makeover" - how Tracey changed from dysfunctional housewife into a cooking, cleaning super-organised dynamo.

Don't hold your breath.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So did you notice I cooked your dinner?

Yesterday afternoon Himself arrived home early (instead of going straight from work to his scheduled netball (yes, netball! - a mixed social comp) game at 6pm.) He was probably just as surprised to see me ironing as I was to see him home at that hour.

"I've decided to try and do half an hour of ironing each day to try and get through this ironing pile." I said, by way of explanation.

"Very noble."

Gee... thanks....


Me: "So did you see I mowed the front yard and footpath?"

Him: "Yep! Very good!... So did you do the back as well?"



Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Mother of the Year.

The primary school had a Bike Education day today - so it was a good impetus to ride to school with Zoe, who is still not the most confident 9 year old solo bike rider you've ever seen. (In fact she's probably one of the least confident - she can hang on for grim life on the back of a triplet bike going at 80 km/hr downhill and not scream "slow doooowwwwn" anymore, but put her on her own bike and she just doesn't have the bike handling skills that most kids years younger than her have. She never did, even before we got into the tandems; guess it's just one of those things that doesn't come naturally to her.)

We rode together to school and I kissed her goodbye at the school gate this morning , arranging to meet her up in the school grounds at the end of school - around 3.10 pm.

Guess who totally forgot?

Guess who was on the phone *yak, yak, yak* and at 3.30 suddenly realised where she should have been 20 minutes ago?

Guess who was crying when I met her half way to school, another mum/teacher's aide riding with her and suggesting all the possible reasons Mum might have been late. (Just plain FORGETTING wasn't one of them, incidentally.)

Guess who promised to blog it (seeing she tells enough tales out of school about her children's misdemeanours?).. and at least raised a bit of a wry smile.

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Monday, November 12, 2007


What a pleasure.

You know how you might hear an expression used by other people, then adopt it for yourself? Oh well, we do it a bit - Marc even moreso - but when he does he uses it part tongue in cheek, knowing that I know why he is using it. Bit of a PJ*, really. (*Private Joke).

A recent favourite is "What a pleasure." - a line his boss uses a lot. The context is always along the lines of either something working again properly, or being back in one's comfort zone after having to deal with something uncomfortable or annoying for a time. So, for example, if he has been away, sleeping in a range of uncomfortable motel beds... he'll lay back on his own bed and announce "What a pleasure!" Back driving in the saneness of Australian traffic after a period in Asia - "What a pleasure." The noise of a jack hammer stops after going for sometime - "What a pleasure." Spoken with the emphasis a bit like so: "What a pleasure."

The other week he finally figured out what was making a *creak, creak* noise on the triplet bike. All through the 8 days of the Big Ride he hadn't solved it.. you could hear them coming behind you *creak, creak, creak*... and he'd spent time since trying different fixes (like greasing the seat post), to no avail. One morning on the community ride (the day I fell off my bike) they solved it. The next 30km he kept saying "What a pleasure." - along with the other family PJ where he kept saying every 5 minutes "Have I mentioned how great it is not to hear that creaking anymore?"

So he fixed both toilet cisterns yesterday. For at least six months -no, more like 12 - we've had to make a point of holding the flush button down until the cisterns had emptied, otherwise they would continue to leak into the bowl. It was a work-a-round that you just got used to. (I'd find myself doing it when I was out!). Inconvenient, yes, but most of us managed it - even Zoe - except of course Ms 14, who is too goddamned lazy to do anything that might be slightly inconvenient - that might take up an extra 15 seconds of her precious time. Every morning after they'd leave for school I'd find an unflushed toilet - and given she is usually the last one up, I'd know it was her. We'd take her to task on it, and she'd get uppity about the sheer inconvenience of it all. Like 'god, I can't believe they expect me to put up with such Third World standards..." (To say that this bit of Attitude, among others, has been the cause for some Issues between us would be an understatement.)

So yesterday - two rubber washer thingies (@ $2.80 each) later - and the cistern innards pulled apart and reassembled - we have two normally working loos!

As Her Highness went up to bed last night, she came back down the stairs after visiting the bathroom. This time it wasn't to dream up a dozen other things she needed to do before bed. Marc missed it, but, through the TV program I was watching I thought I heard her say something intended to be heard by both of us.

I think it was .. "What a pleasure."


Sunday, November 11, 2007


Action stations.

Have I ever mentioned that my husband is a pretty handy bloke to have around? Probably. It's the main reason I married him. (Kidding... mostly...) It's not just bike repairs and maintenance that he's good at. He'll turn his hand to most things if he has the time for it (it's not rocket science, apparently..) and more often than not he'll come up trumps.

So he pulled apart the non-working vacuum cleaner yesterday (look, I even got a picture of it for you). Apparently he didn't do much to it other than clean some brushes in the motor or some damn thing. He put it back together again, and she works like a bought one.

[He's also pulled apart the toilet cistern (which is leaking) and is, at this minute, off to the hardware store to buy new bits. A man on a mission this weekend - the first we've had at home with nothing on for what feels like all year.]

Me - I have no excuse now not to vacuum... other than my stupid niggly back and general dislike for that job. (But truly, is there anyone out there who actually likes vacuuming? - I suppose pushing it around the open spaces isn't so bad. What really gets to me is having to bend down to get behind and under furniture, and to pick things up to vacuum underneath them. (House needs decluttering? Oh yes.) Then my back starts aching, and combined right now with a left knee that doesn't quite want to bend completely, and you'll understand why I'm sitting here writing about hating vacuuming - and cleaning in general - instead of getting stuck into it...)

However. It's time for Action. This week has to be Official Spring Cleaning/Job Finishing week. Spurred on by my parents arriving to stay a few nights next weekend (though heaven knows, they must be used to me by now..).. and a general self-loathing about my ongoing procrastination in regard to cleaning and the few 'jobs' that I have to do - it's a kick up the backside delivered to self. A call to arms.

Apart from the general overall need to clean the whole house from top to bottom, Mr Fixit keeps badgering me about the curtains I need to hem. They have only been up for a few... years... ... I don't know why he keeps going on about them.

* Note to self and advice to anyone contemplating curtain-making: Never ever hang unhemmed curtains with the idea that you are going to 'let them drop'.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


One of those meme things.

Rootie is throwing meme-themed gauntlets around (Rootie, do I link to you or not?!!)... she seems to have put my name on one in a roundabout way, and given she's pretty persuasive, and still carrying a cane since her hip operation, I guess I better make this one of the ones I do.

"List me 8 of your finest accomplishments. Don’t be shy, or modest, You know you’ve done some cool things in your life, now list them."

OK, so this sort of thing is hard for me, because I tend to qualify things as not being as good as they could be, or as good as someone else does them.

1. My HSC (Higher School Certificate -ie. secondary school leaving certificate) score was 432/500. In that era with the way they marked the HSC, anything over 400 was considered a damn good mark. I think it put me in the top 10% in the state.. and top 10 in my school year. The marks were scaled, and I got 100/100 for French Z (two years of French - a new unit introduced that year), which meant I must have got top in the State. Voilà. C'est bon, non?

2. I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student the year after I left school. I spent 11 months in Central Java, Indonesia. Having done Indonesian for 5 years at high school I had a bit of a head start with the language, but conversational Indonesian was very different to classroom Indo. Still, when I visited other students in Jakarta, an Indonesian there told me I spoke Indonesian with a Javanese accent. I took that as a big compliment. When having a go at Javanese, the regional language that everyone spoke around me, my school friends and their mother once laughed. I wondered what I'd done wrong. "No, no", they assured me.. "It was perfect. It just sounds so incongruous coming from a white person."

3. I've done numerous canyons (what we call 'canyoning'), abseiling down waterfalls and slippery cliffs; wading, swimming or liloing through deep pools. Some of that involves a bit of adrenalin.

4. I've rafted the Franklin River - on a 10 day private rafting trip with Marc and friends. (Couple of photos). ie. no tour guide.. just us. Fantastic experience. (I couldn't find a link that really encapsulates the significance of being able to raft this river - this summarises it a bit...)

5. I've paddled a few canoe marathons - The (404 km Murray Marathon four times, and the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (111km) four times. Both in a double kayak, mostly with Marc, but once (the Hawkesbury) with another girl. I wouldn't mind doing them again some day.

6. We owner-built a house, from the ground up ; yep, the whole blood, sweat and tears thing. OK, so Marc was the boss, but I was his sidekick - mortar mixer, circular saw operator, 'gofer', holder of gyprock, lifter of heavy things, painter/stainer... and for a year before we moved in, new mum to baby #1.

7. Mother of three very attractive, sporty and smart girls who are a credit to us when they are out.

8. OK, so yes, recently we've ridden a few biggish bike rides on tandems with the kids. Two eight-day rides of around 500km, plus various smaller ones. Marc and I have also ridden 100 MILES in one day on our tandem.

OK.. so consider the gauntlet thrown down, and double-dared, etc etc...


Friday, November 09, 2007


Well that takes care of the housework

I was so going to vacuum today. The house needs vacuuming like you wouldn't believe. Oh boy.

So what setback might you throw up for a procrastinating, dysfunctional housewife (still recovering from a sore knee - still can't bend it completely, so crouching down low is.. inconvenient...) when she has finally located the vacuum cleaner floor brush attachment she's been looking for all week, and she finally gets her arse into gear and off the computer, and sets it all up and starts to vacuum?

You make the vacuum cleaner go PFFFFTT that's what.

As in.. (5 seconds into using it) *labouring sound, funny smell, turn off quickly.. can't turn back on again* kind of PFFFFTT.

I swear we've only had this vacuum cleaner a few years. Four at the most. How long should vacuum cleaners last? And what am I going to do now? Try and get it fixed? Buy a new one? (Visitors next weekend... don't have long to do anything about it either...)

Not to mention we've just bought a new washing machine and all.

The great gods of electrical appliances are up there havin' a larf.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


'Don't bring me down'

Conventional wisdom tells you that surrounding yourself with upbeat people is a good thing to do for your self esteem. Like.. "Seek to surround yourself with encouraging upbeat people who will inspire and motivate you rather than bring you down. Enthusiasm is contagious..."

Bla bla bla.

Why then do I find the opposite to be true? My self confidence and mood tends to plummet in inverse proportion to how optimistic and upbeat someone is about themselves.

The more a bouncy and enthusiastic friend/acquaintance talked themselves up yesterday (new job, going well, everyone loves her...) the more inadequate and useless I felt about myself. I came home in a funk, and that funk continues today.

Not that I want to surround myself with pessimists just so I can feel comparatively better about myself, but 'glass half full' would do - it doesn't need to be overflowing... all over others.

I wonder if eternally optimistic, self-confident people realise how they might affect those of us who struggle with glass half emptiness... and feeling... different.

Anyway... after getting that off my chest, I'll just make a note to self not to hang around people who make me feel inadequate.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Fortune favours those willing to brave a bit of rain.

If there was ever a demonstration for why not to wuss out of something because of the weather, this was it. Gong Ride 2007.

It was raining. But then the clouds cleared, the sun shone - and the forecast as of the day before ("rain clearing") turned out to be spot on. It must be a tough gig to be a long range weather forecaster when the weather is so unsettled.

We arrived in Sydney late Saturday night slap bang in the middle of a thunderstorm. The last 20km stretch of the Pacific Hwy into the city is a narrow-laned shocker at the best of times - but in lashing rain it is a challenge to say the least. (And I'm glad that was one challenge Marc was dealing with and not me. I couldn't decide whether to shut my eyes, or keep them open to warn him about other crazies on the road who were incapable of picking out the lane markings in the wet.) Hey kids, look, we're on the Harbour Bridge in thunder and lightning and lashing rain. There's an experience for you.

It was still raining on and off in the morning, so spirits were a bit dampened as we parked the car, unloaded the bikes, donned rain gear, and splattered our way to the start. I was also feeling a bit anxious as I realised that I'd forgotten to pack our issued registration patches. While the organisers didn't have new brains on hand for dopes like me, they just brought up our details on their laptop and issued us new numbers to pin on our shirts. One minor crisis averted at any rate. I wondered what they could do with the weather. The guy on the PA system was telling us it was like this all the way down to Wollongong - we hoped he'd be proved wrong.

And so he was...

We went from this:

to this:

with this in between:

(And we knew of someone - a girl Alison met on the 2006 Big Ride - whose Dad pulled them out in the morning because of the rain! Got the text from them while we were standing in sunshine, 30km into the ride at morning tea!)

So the girls said they enjoyed it. - and yes - I enjoyed it. We all love the downhills the most - they can be handled at greater speed on a tandem because the long wheel base makes them a bit more stable. With the weight of two riders tandems coast faster downhills as well, so there were a few yee-ha moments. Marc is naturally less cautious than me (go figure) and with a new drum brake installed on the triplet he had fewer concerns than me. They hooned off in front of us most of the time - but Cait and I still managed a 70 kph max speed! And we do love overtaking people when we get up pace along the flats!

My knee held up really well - the only mechanical problems we had were one puncture on the triplet (discovered just after we left morning tea), and the chain coming off our bike once. (We had just picked it up from the bike shop on Saturday, a new derailleur installed because of the problems we had with it the previous Sunday after several chain issues.)

We also met up with quite a few people that we knew, either on the ride or at the Finish. We rode with our tandem training buddies from Coffs for a bit, and met others we knew at various rest stops and at the Finish.

While our riding time was only about 4 hours 15 minutes, we'd been pretty leisurely during the rest stops, so we couldn't hang around too long at the end. - there were even more people we could have caught up with. We had to get back on the bikes, after collecting a couple of backpacks we'd sent down in the luggage lift, and trundle up a couple of unwelcome hills a few blocks to the motel we'd booked. Then Marc and I rode my tandem to the railway station so he could catch one of the last Ride specials that were running back to the Start, collect the car, and drive back down to Wollongong. (We weren't game to try to fit the triplet onto the train, though I confess it was tempting.)

Naturally as soon as my personal Bike Mechanic was out of the picture, I had troubles. I rode 50 metres and the chain came off, and I had immense fun (not) trying to get it back on the front chain ring. A bleeding knuckle, and greasy black hands later, I managed to get it working again, albeit with a rattle, so I could ride solo the few kms back to the motel. (God, imagine walking that distance, in bike shoes, pushing a bloody tandem! - after having ridden 90km!) I was then ultra-paranoid about getting a puncture - and of course I've never seen so much glass on the road as I did in those few blocks!

If stokers (the ones on the back) get sick of hearing "The one on the back's not pedalling!" (and trust me, that gets called out numerous times each time we ride, much to the kids' disgust), it's nothing on the shouts I received about losing someone off the back during that short ride. I just nodded in agreement - "Yep. Very observant of you. I know!" I suppose I could have turned around and acted surprised, but I'm not cut out for the theatre.

To cap off a good day, we got lucky with the motel. It had a great view over the boat harbour, two connecting rooms, so two TVs for the kids to use! - and room to swing a cat or two.) Marc got back by 7pm, and we had a short stroll down to a cafe/restaurant overlooking the water before wandering back up to the motel and falling gratefully into bed. Believe it or not we didn't have too many problems getting the kids to bed that night!

All in all? A grand day out.


Saturday, November 03, 2007


Packing with children is a health hazard.

[No, we haven't left yet.]

And it's a miracle I haven't strangled anyone (particularly Ms 12 with the "I can't find it, I've looked everywhere" thermal top.)

Or opened something stronger than a can of coke.

Marc and Cait left early this morning for their Touch tournament, leaving the rest of us heaps of time to pack. Silly me, I thought it was going to be stress free, what with several hours till we have to leave.

Alison and Zoe have been at each other all morning. That's hard enough at the best of times. [ie. Must.. resist... urge.. to... bang.. heads... together....]

But intermingled with the tears and tantrums, and the tearing up of packing lists.. there were missing items of clothing - and then pigsty that is their bedroom ... and well, if I had a stash of valium, I'd be popping it like House and his vicodin.

I was more mad about the missing stuff because it is "specialised" clothing - polypropolene top and pants to keep you warm when you're wet - not just a favourite t-shirt. (We just refer to them as our 'thermals'.) If you're going to take kids on "adventures", then appropriate clothing is a must, and thermals are a good basic item to take wherever, because they keep you warmer when you're wet. (I still have bitter memories of the only snow trip I went on as a kid, which I hated because I was so damn cold... the problem being I didn't have appropriate clothing.)

They've had them for several years now - and we've already gone through at least one 'hand-me-down' stage with them. Some are lurid rainbow stripes, some just navy. I don't know, I've lost track of who owns what. It just shouldn't be that hard to put clothes away.. should it? But, given the weather forecast, it wasn't something I would feel good about saying 'too bad' about if it couldn't be found. (There are consequences, and there are consequences..)

Eventually, after much storming around and yelling by me, (and sobbing on Alison's part) it turned out that Zoe had packed Alison's pants. I found Zoe's pants in the 'putting away' basket that Alison had "already looked through".

I was putting various bags back on top of the wardrobe (after looking through them all AGAIN), and I stepped back down off the chair onto my bung knee, which buckled and sent a shooting pain through me.

Amidst the tears (mine this time) I then found Alison's top scrunched up in a wooden box on the bottom of the shelves, despite the fact that she had "already looked EVERYWHERE".

It was all I could do not to tie it round her neck and pull it tight!

S'ok... I am ok now, and it all seems rather trivial... and it is. Funny what stirs you up, isn't it?

Just about ready to go, and not before time, because if I hear another 'Muuuum... she's got something of miiiine', I still might just scream!

Of course, then we'll have the 'three across the back seat' fun all the way to Sydney.

What FUN!

I'm really off now!



You better watch out, or...

[Scene: In car. Mum is driving. Ms 14 is in passenger seat. Ms 14 reaches over and changes the radio station - a typical move on her part. Mum frowns as music she doesn't like blares.]

"You know, when you are an adult, and have your own car, and you drive me somewhere.. I am going to just reach over and change your radio to whatever I want to listen to."

"No way! This is different! I'm your daughter!"

"And I'm your mum. What's the difference?"

"Oh well, when I get old, I'll probably end up being boring and listening to the ABC like you."

[A few kilometres down the road, Mum changes the station back to intelligent 'talk' and the odd bit of music. A slight smile plays on her face as she notes that Ms 14 doesn't change it back as she normally would.]


Friday, November 02, 2007


Follow me, where I go...

Thanks to the wonders of internety map thingies, here's an interactive type map of the bike ride we're doing on Sunday. Which will mean absolutely nothing to anyone who isn't at least vaguely familiar with Sydney! Think upon it as an education as you zoom in and imagine us (and nearly 10,000 other crazies) cruising along this route.

Most likely in the rain.

Daughter on the back of the tandem is the official photographer. "StokerCam" we call it... It's good that we might get some photos, but bad when she decides to do that when we are riding even slightly uphill. (Or downhill!)

The notable features that we'll pass are Botany Bay, the Royal National Park (which we ride through), and the scenic coastline north of Wollongong - including the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge.

Back Monday!



Circle of life...

When we brought home our first little bundle of joy, we realised pretty quickly, as expected, that the accustomed 'us' time of an evening was going to be disrupted. For some years at least - especially when we had another two babies after that one!

We are pretty fortunate to have had reasonably good sleepers... compared to many horror stories I've heard. We had occasional 'issues', but nothing like ongoing reflux or the like to deal with.

Our first child, in particular, seemed to have inherited our 'night owl' genes - it was difficult to put her to bed at night, but once she was asleep we'd get a good 10 hours out of her, and consequently the luxury of sleeping in. Swings and roundabouts, as they say. We could cope with that. Even if , when she hit toddler age, we went through a period of having to lock her in her bedroom listening to her scream till she fell asleep. She used to climb out of her cot.. and later the bed... and then fall asleep on the floor - on one occasion right up against the door! (I promise there were no scratch marks on the door!) The 'tough love' worked and we gradually got our evenings back again.

Being the disorganised person that I am, even as the kids were older, I was never capable of getting them to bed as early as 6 or 7pm like some people, so I probably did myself out of a fair bit of 'potential 'no kids' time. The flipside was that they have never woken us at the crack of dawn, so we were ok with that. And once they were old enough, we were always guaranteed some 'us' time for a few hours. Probably we started going to bed later and later just to get that 'no kids' time in the evening after they'd finally gone to bed, but still.

Wind on the years. I always feared that #1's sleeping habits would come back to bite us, and so they have. Even before she was a teenager she was a shocker to get out of bed in the morning. Payback time for all those times we smugly slept in on weekend mornings - people who rang at 8 am and woke us could not believe it was possible! - "But you have a baby!" they cried in disbelief.)

Now we have to all but drag her out of bed by 7.45 - in time for her to catch the school bus at 8.15. She resents any attempts to wake her any earlier than that, and we've had a few ding dong arguments over that. (Along the lines of "I am not your maid. If it suits me to wake you at 7.30 so I can get on with what I need to do, then I will wake you at 7.30.")

We are coping with that. An uneasy truce, you'd call it. (And hilariously she's just taken on a paper run two days a fortnight, and so has to get herself up before 6.30! - Love it.)

The worst bit is the inclination for them to stay up later and later. Both the 14 and 12 year old are shockers to get to bed. They dilly dally, and, inexplicably, often manage to take an hour between being sent to bed, and actually getting between the sheets. They sneak down the stairs and watch tv shows from behind our backs. (Then the reading addiction kicks in, which is another problem, but at least they aren't downstairs with me.) Why they do this constantly amazes me, because all they get is one cranky mother. They even joke about me turning into The Woodpecker - which is the type of kiss they get when they finally manage to say their goodnights. A hard peck born of the frustration of umpteen "GO TO BED"s. Get the picture?

Last night Ms 14 was dragging her heels on a school assignment.. She was still working on it at 10.30, and as I got stroppier and stroppier I realised that it was more than just annoyance that she'd wasted time in the afternoon when she should have been doing her homework. THIS was intruding into my downtime with Marc. Again. It's slightly more precious downtime too, given the years he worked away so much and I only had myself for company every night.

Having to share this evening time with one's offspring is going to become even more commonplace - particularly when we have the computers in the loungeroom. (I am loathe, however, to succumb to allowing her computer/internet access in her room - though how we are going to manage that when she is in senior high school I'm not sure.)

And so we come full circle, and I am going to have to get used to a phase of parenting where we lose our ''us' time again. Either that or build a bigger house, give them unfettered internet access in their rooms.. or start counting down till they move out.

Am I awful that I want and need that 'no kids' time with the Daddy of my children?

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Thursday, November 01, 2007


Rain rain go away...

Oh no, I don't like this forecast. Not for the Gong Ride this Sunday. See that word under Sun Nov 4? Rain. It's hardly appealing.. driving 1200km (return) so we can ride tandems - with our kids - 90km in the rain.

The only consolation is that the forecast is for North Westerly winds. If we have to ride in the rain, better to do so with a tail wind. (Rather than the southerly we rode into last year.)

Are we going to have to do it again next year to get third time lucky with the weather?

I will put my faith and hope in that word "easing" in that forecast. And the bit that says "periods". And the 'north' bit of the winds direction. And make sure we pack the wet weather and thermal gear.

Thank goodness my mother won't be involved this year. I can imagine The Look we would be getting. The Look that questions our sanity and parental responsibility, and expects us to fail. Because only bad parents would ride 90km in the rain with their children. Heavens. They might get wet!

The forecast is for rain locally over the next few days too. This will impact on Marc and Cait playing in a Touch tournament tomorrow afternoon and Saturday morning. (The two of them will be waterlogged by the end of the weekend if they have to play in the rain one day, then ride in it the next!)

Rain rain, go away. Come again another day.

Like.. preferably tonight. So that Marc doesn't have to go to an 8pm Touch training session. 8pm?!! The night before the tournament? Wouldn't it be more sensible to get home at a reasonable hour? Have dinner. Get to bed at a reasonable time? Particularly when one's wife is making Moussaka for dinner after being asked (by text msg) during the week "When are we having Moussaka again?"

Speaking of which, I had better get up and continue with the making thereof.


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