Saturday, December 20, 2008

The power of advertising....

There's a new ad on the radio. A small child is complaining that he's only getting coal for Christmas because he put bubble bath in the toilet. Guess who was in the car and tried it when we got home?

Tis the season to be merry...

Or as I prefer to refer to it "The season to stay in", or the "How much for potatoes?" season.

My local supermarket has taken full advantage of the season to run out of potatoes, and up the price of the few scabby looking remnants they do stock. It annoys me because nearby farmers are ploughing potatoes in because they lost a big supermarket contract......say what??? Bring them down the range and sell them next to the road!!!!!!!

We pay for potatoes to be trucked from here to Sydney and back again. The local "farmers market" sells at prices approaching the prices in the supermarket to tourists enamoured of how quaint it is. Don't the tourists realise there is nowhere up here that grows apples and so those cannot be local produce????

I read back my post and see "Tis the season to be grumpy."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's not just the wildlife....

Day two : Man versus banana leaf. That's right man hospitalised after coming off second best to a banana leaf. (To be fair it was a deep cut and it got infected.) He's in the bed next to the guy with the spider bite....Oh and a few people were hospitalised over the weekend from irukandji (jelly fish) stings.

Tell me again about living in paradise.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My first day....

My first day in my new job, and very exciting it was too. I have got a lot to learn to catch up but I am excited by the prospect.

I have come to the conclusion that I live in the right part of the world to get health care for #4. The doctors are trained in just the right sort of trauma. In the first group I saw today there was,

1. Man on Motorbike V man on Motorbike. (Man A 2: Man B 1) They'd hit each other. In my line of work bike v car is common but bike v bike?

2. Man V bull. (Bull 1: Man 0)

3. Woman V Tree. (Tree 1 : woman 0)

3. Man on bike V pig. ( Pig 1 : man 0) The pig was last seen running off into the bush. Apparently the pig is known in the area for jumping out at traffic, and this time it got some-one. They move problem crocs to new rivers, I'm not sure what they do with problem pigs. ( For the uninitiated when I say pig think huge wild boar type thing that only an Aussie would call a pig. Definitely not Pinky and Perky.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A challenge

Number one is finally going to get an apprenticeship. I kept asking him when he was getting an apprenticeship and he kept muttering and humphing, so I asked his boss.

"When are you giving him an apprenticeship?"

"We offered him one, he just has to say yes."

"?" accompanied by meaningful look at #1.

Shuffling of boots.

His first challenge now he's an apprentice was to make his own toolbox. This resulted in a heap of smashed metal and a hinge he can 'use again'.

His boss said he can make a barbecue for the works do of Friday night as well. This upset him as he was worried it would mean there would be no barbecue and he would get very hungry. His boss showed an understanding of the teenage boys mind by asking him to complete this task. After an evenings worry about the design, and whether his welds would hold, and cool in time. After an evening trying out reasons for other people to make the said barbecue he set off to work this morning and has returned, barbecue built.

"it's got wheels"

"Do they move?"

"yes, in different directions, but they move"

I hope to get a photo of said barbecue tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Madge the trainer

We got a new personal trainer at the gym today. Hannah retired with heat stroke back to the UK. (Here's a woman who went for a run at midday in Cairns...of course she got heat stroke....sheesh, they had to medevac her to the airport.)

The new one's called Madonna, she really is. She was probably born when Madonna first made it big, which makes me feel old. I remember some friends going to see the real Madonna at the Hacienda when I was a student in Manchester, she was still pudgy and wore a lot of layers and lace and stuff. I never really got all that.(They said she was c@@p, and couldn't sing a note. Like a virgin was going to be a one hit wonder, shows what they knew).

My Madge takes all the gym stuff just as seriously as her namesake though. I cannot convince her that I don't use my triceps for anything, she keeps coming up with exercises to stop bingo wings. She has me doing some weird exercises on a step to get as I term them Buns of steel. (Don't laugh, every-one in the gym already did when I told Homer I was doing the "buns of steel" exercise, I didn't know they were listening until I heard the snickering).

I'll give her points for optimism though. She says that soon I'll be running. "What is this strange thing of which you speak?" I ask, "run-ning?" She explains to me that it is something that is faster than walking. "Ahh" I say, "You mean riding, riding in car."

(I know that as long as I am going faster than at least one other person I will survive the crocodile/ lion/ snake/ hippo attack. The wild beast will get them and I will get away.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Deadliest catch

I'm quite a fan of the deadliest catch TV show, it's probably the swearing that I like , and also I'm a big fan of the sea and we only have pretend sea here (warm with no waves).

I thought I'd treat myself to a T-shirt. Not the sort of thing I'd normally do but what the heck. My choices were,

Northwestern...big fan of the Hansen brothers but never trust a man with a centre parting so that was out.

Wizard....is it me or is there some sort of dodgy deal going on there?

Time Bandit....reminds me far too much of all my boys, particularly #4, also there's a mullet involved.

That leaves the Cornelia Marie. Again shades of my boys, and I notice Cap'n Phil is smoking again (and I'm not). Not to be discounted is the fact that their website posted overseas but Time Bandits didn't.

I don't count the Early Dawn. There's a certain amount of smugness there that I'm not fond of, or earnestness, I'm not sure which.

Anyroad my T-shirt arrived. Now I'm not a small girl, not at all. I was very popular in my youth and I didn't need Pammy's surgery to get there, but foolishly and at the risk of annoying my American friends I assumed a large T-shirt would be , well, large. Mmmm the t-shirt rather emphasises my assets, but I'm a grumpy old woman in no make-up, so that means I now have a very nice gardening t-shirt that reads "F------/////vvvv Coooooooornelia Marrrrrrrieeeeeee". Next time I'll get the mug.

BTW. #4 will NOT be getting a chainsaw for christmas. Ha ha very funny. I'm still untangling the chickens from the rope and the big vinyl hand put them off laying for a week, imagine the damage he could do with a chain saw.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A potato?

Number four has been threatened (many times) with many punishments. He shrugs these threats off with a nonchalance (yes, nonchalance from an eight year old) that is amazing. I only wish I had his sang froid, his coolness, his ability to completely ignore the opinions of all who surround him when they don't match his own.

I chipped the facade today though.

"If you don't behave Father Christmas will leave you a potato."

"So?"

"?"

"He can put the potato on top of my other presents, my motorbike, chainsaw, and snake." (Yes, he still has that ideal gift list.)

"No, you get the potato instead of your other presents."

"?"

"and you don't get to steal #3's presents."

"Nooooooooo. I'll be good, I promise, I'll be good allll the rest of today."

Well it's a start.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More good news.....

Woo hoo I got a new job.

I don't have to work late nights any more, or week-ends and I get more money, woo hoo. I am especially pleased as the shop was involved in an armed robbery last week so I'm well out of it.

My boss is less pleased, I went and told him some-one would be ringing him for a reference. "Huh, thanks for telling me!"

Two hours later I got an e-mail saying that further to our conversation asking for a reference he considered that my notice, last shift to be 10th December (and don't let the door hit you on the butt.......)

Next day my new boss rungs and says my reference isn't all that awesome....after a bit of to and froing she offered me the job. Woo hoo but thanks for nothing old boss.

My present boss then has the gall to not speak to me for five days and then demand my resignation, as I hadn't offered it. I pointed out to him that he'd already told me when my last shift was. All went quiet and then today he asks me to work on a few days to help out.

Ok so what would you do?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Air conditioning

I'm being a bit slack on here as there have been momentous happenings.

We got air conditioning in the living room. I've done seven years here with no good air conditioning and now I have it. I ran in from work just as the men finished fixing it up on Saturday. I turned it straight on. on super-freeze-me and stood with the air blowing my hair back like some sort of Tyra wannabe (only a plump old one...make me a super-grumpy-old-bag any one?).

The electrician commented that the air conditioner was big enough to blow out the far wall of the house, I don't care. The air conditioner installer commented that we should warn the neighbours that the hot air from the outside unit stands a chance of blistering the paint work on their house, I don't care. He also commented that the chickens were likely to be part roasted by the same air as the unit is over their pen, I shall have to install a pool for them with small beach umbrellas.

I showed the machine my left cheek (face) and my right cheek, and lifted my skirt and showed it my other cheeks (after the workmen left). The children were very upset by this but I am old and have air conditioning and I don't care. Of course at this point the workmen returned for the tools that #4 had appropriated, to the sight of me showing my bum to the air conditioner. Cheeks reddened (all four) I returned the bemused gentleman his spanner and screwdriver. We both carefully didn't mention the position he had found me in, that is bent over with my skirt over my head.

Approximately thirty minutes after the air conditioner started working the power went off, and stayed off for three hours. That's the third power outage this week, and I can only attribute that to the ever increasing number of houses in our suburb, all with air conditioners going full blast.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good news day...

I was dead chuffed to get this off Mud, not least because she helpfully gave directions on how to upload it.

I'd mainly like to thank #4 for his contribution to the award.

Today, in a moment of sheer terror, I was informed that the green wire is the saftey wire to stop you getting electrocuted......oh and you mustn't play with the wires in the big green box at the end of the street. We have had a long conversation about not playing with any wires and removed the remains of his electric toothbrush from the bedroom.

BTW 36C and 88% humidity is very uncomfortable. It feels like being in a tepid shower with a towel wrapped around your face. It also poaches eggs inside the shells if you don't collect them from the hen house pretty quick smart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things you can do with rope and a vinyl hand.

1. When mum's at the gym you can tie the garage door shut, from the inside. When she gets home she goes ape at you and wakes the whole street up.

2. When you get the rope out of the (now)locked garage you can tie the gate to the back garden shut, while mum is moving the bin down the drive. (Mum still doesn't know how I got in the garage.)

3. You can tie your brothers bike to the back gate so when mum's trying to climb over the gate she falls on it.

4. You can tie the back door shut by tying the handle to mummy and daddy's bedroom door. (Remember to leave the front door on the latch for a quick getaway.)

5. When mum puts you in the car because you ARE D***N WELL GOING TO SCHOOL you can wave the orange vinyl hand at the back window until mum screams at you again. (Lucky the policeman in the car behind just waved back aye?)

6. The next day you can get the vinyl hand out of the bin and smuggle it into school. Stand at the back of assembly and wave at your mates who are doing a recital on stage until your teacher spots you.

UPDATE: I was woken by loud boinging noises. On exploring I find large orange rubber hand tied to tree and being used as a target. Eggs break on contact with the ground or hand or bounce, leaving eggy stains, sometimes on the neighbours fence. Lemons always bounce,hard, and next doors dog has taken cover in their garage. Note to all you "better" mothers out there, I have put the hand and the rope in the bin, again, and he hasn't found his padlock again.

I feel unable to relate some of the other rope incidents until I'm feeling better and the other parents have stopped talking to me gain. (Really it's better when they're talking about me, not to me, there's a lot less pressure and unwanted advice.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

the rains here...

We cry and beg for rain and then it arrives, no gentle showers warning us this time. One meteorological site says it got 500mm in ten minutes. (I think that's a flash flood anywhere else, here it's the wet.) Sort of like the powers that be suddenly remembering they forgot to give us October's rain and throwing it all out of a bucket at us. The joy of the smell of wet earth is amazing though, and the crackle as the soil absorbs the water after the long drys spell. The grass has nearly turned green again from that one rain shower.

Of course now we get to complain about the humidity as all the rain sits round in the air undecided whether to fall or rise ( see picture).


Of course we lost power, this time for an hour or two only, and the the phone lines got wet so the phones stopped working. (This isn't a third world country, just a rather neglected corner of somewhere....we hope to have solar power soon, as soon as we can save the exorbitant amount of money the companies charge to set it up.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

This week in the garden

The eggplants are fruiting like mad so now I have to find a heap of recipes to use them up. Tonight its eggplant and chick pea curry, cheap and nutritious and most of the veggies are from the garden which is a bonus. There's gonna be a lot more of them over the next few weeks judging by the number of flowers on the plants.
We've planted a banana tree as well so that should be giving us fruit in a few months time (about four I think) as long as we give the plant plenty of food and water. It's supposed to be the wet season here, and the daily temps are well over 30C every day and humidity is around 100% but no rain. I'm going to buy a water tank to save the rain so we can water the veggies with that water when it goes dry again, but first it has to rain.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A days work...

We cleaned out the garage.

Not big news, except for the fact that it is a double garage that we can just about, with a following wind, and the correct car selection, fit one car in.

The day we moved into our new house (five years ago) was the day that Homer decided to get ill, severely ill, with kidney stones. On that memorable day I packed up an entire household of belongings, including taking down five beds, and transferred them into a panel van. Homer drove the van to the new house, moaning and vomiting all the way, while I encouraged him with comments such as " You're not ill, " and "Shut Up" and "Typical, you'll do anything to get out of work."

At the other end I unpacked the van into the garage, Homer drove back to the old house, and I repeated the process. All this whilst caring for four children aged between 12 and 3.

I then unpacked the garage, including setting up five beds, the first of which Homer promptly collapsed into. I would have called an ambulance, if I could have mustered up even a small iota of caring. All this leads to a round about way of telling you that the garage is still full of the things I didn't unpack on that memorable day five years ago.

We found,

1. My first aid box. Having #4 I had in fact replaced most of the contents, but I was quite pleased to find three pairs of scissors that I had hidden in there from #4 along with my eyebrow tweezers and some sticky tape that has lost all its sticky.

2. A fossilized pie, really, I don't know why it hadn't gone off or mouldy but I'm using it as a doorstop as it is now solid rock. (Maybe it was a McDonald's pie for those who watched the "smoking fry" section of supersize me.)

3. The cremated remains of the air conditioner from the bedroom that 4 set on fire, along with the ceiling fan (with head shaped dent from 3) and the light fitting from the same room.

4. The dining table, I knew we had one.

5. Three car loads of junk.

6. My pushbike, now I'll have to start using it again. I really thought I'd sold it, d**n, oh and a stationary exercise back, double d**n.

7. Another three car loads full of junk. (If we didn't miss it for five years we don't need it.)

8. Several smaller pushbikes.

9. At least three old computers, or at least various parts of computers that must be enough to make three new computers.

10. Several boxes of fairy lights. Actually if you live in a small town and need Christmas lights we probably have enough to loan you some, and still do our house. Homer is a big fan of fairy lights, and of buying them; apparently he is less of a fan of putting them away in a manner which enables us to find them and use them again the following year.

I still can't get my car in the garage, but we don't need a sherpa to reach the far side now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Was the game good?

I took #4 to the basketball tonight. He really enjoys the night out, the atmosphere, the screaming and shouting....

Tonight

1. He needed hot fries, (needed mind you), which he got as I was feeling generous. I caved too easily and ended up eating them myself when he changed his mind. No hardship you think? He had coated them in tomato sauce, I threw them in the bin.

2. He used his pocket money to buy a big blow up hand. When he blew it up it poked the man in front of us in the back of the head. Woops, he pulled it up out of the fellows head and smacked the man who sits on the other side of us in the face. The smell of the vinyl on top of the smell of the tomato ketchup was beginning to make me feel sick.

3. He wanted a drink so I gave him a can of ginger beer. He never (NEVER) gets coke. The man next to him felt sorry for him and gave him his coke. (Yes this is the man that just got poked up the nose by a two foot orange vinyl finger). I got a head-ache. This man should know better, he has sat next to us for four years.

4. The half-time entertainment was really bad, but really bad. The cheer leading squad was pretty good, but they weren't dancing to the tune the marching band was trying to play. (Actually each member of the band was playing a different tune at a different speed, one of the tunes might have been the one the cheerleaders were dancing to, I'll never know.) My head ache was getting worse.

5. Number four was hungry after all. He bought a bag of potato chips. He put them on the seat and then something exciting happened. He jumped up in the air and landed on them. They burst.

The game? We lost.

So, I paid good money to end up feeling nauseous, with a head-ache and a small child that probably isn't going to sleep for three days. The car smells of new vinyl, ginger beer and tomato ketchup and is full of potato chip crumbs.

Do it again next week? You betcha.

P.S. No sign of the rope. I don't want to ask where it is in case he tells me, and I don't like the answer.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Driving in far North Queensland

For those planning a holiday in Far North Queensland I thought I better post some road rules. The rules for driving here are very simple, but very different from anywhere else on the planet. You might think drivers where you live are bad, but we here in FNQ can give you a run for your money.

The rules are,

1. The biggest vehicle has right of way, always. If you have the biggest vehicle just get in a go where you want. Do not stop at traffic lights, roundabouts or to let old ladies cross the road, just go from A to B at whatever speed you choose.

2. The smaller vehicles must try and get in front of the biggest vehicles, if they're lucky they will do this with only minimal paint swapping activities.

3. Never look in your rear view or wing mirrors. The people behind you are behind you, why do you care where they are? Wing mirrors are parking aids in much the same way that a cat's whiskers operate (touch) and the rear view mirror is for putting on make up and checking for stray bits of food in your teeth.

4. Hang something shiny off the rear view mirror. In our sunny climate crystals work really well. If by chance some foreigner glances in their rear view mirror you stand a good chance of blinding them leading to less damn foreigners that don't know the road rules being on the road.

5. In other parts of the world the three second rule refers to the gap you leave between you and the vehicle in front. In FNQ we have the one second rule. This is the gap that you pull into when changing lanes (don't indicate). If there is any chance of leaving a gap larger than one second between you and the car in front you must accelerate and catch the car in front.(A simple way to test this is to see if you can see the whites of the driver in front's eyes in their rear view mirror. You should be able to at all times.)

6. You can pull straight out into a moving lane of traffic if you indicate (not necessarily in the direction you wish to go, just indicate.)

7. Never indicate unless you are going to leave the indicator on for at least six miles.

8. The younger you are the faster you must go. If you are under twenty at no time should you be travelling at less than thirty mph above the speed limit.

9. If you are towing a caravan, house or bridge (we get a lot of the last two) then always travel between eight and nine in the morning and between two-thirty and five thirty in the afternoon. (The video below is a house Homer caught crossing onto a main road at 6.30 am in the morning, just starting its journey to the town centre in time for the rush hour, you can just see the house on the left. It was taken with mobile phone at 6:30am so cut him a break on the quality.)
video

10. Make sure your headlights are adjusted to shine directly into the car in front's rear mirror. It is preferable to drive at all times on full beam, with fog lamps. (I know we don't get fog up here but you must swallow your pride and have them on, all the time.)

(P.S. We have roundabouts up here, but don't be fooled, we don't use them the same way as the rest of the world. See rule 1 and rules 6 and 7.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More children?

People keep asking me if I'm having any more children. I don't know if they're asking from a "Gosh, you're a good mother, have some more." standpoint, or from a "J****** ******t, why doesn't some one stop this family breeding." point of view.

I think it depends on who's asking. People who've only met number three think I should have more. People who've met number four want to immediately fix both myself and my husband to stop that ever happening again.

My OBGYN doctor tied my tubes twice and cut them after he had told me four times I couldn't POSSIBLY have any more children and out popped #4. Even then he told me to come back if my period was even one nanosecond late.

The school, having had all of them to deal with, have commented that they are all "different" (but in a good way, they add quickly) and have asked if there are any more at home (nervous laughter). I think the vice principal was seriously contemplating early retirement when he saw me with a toddler the other week, but he was reassured when I told him the said child belonged to a friend, it wasn't mine.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Be careful what you ask for....

We make candles, palm wax and soy candles, as a hobby at home. They're actually pretty cool. Don't worry I'm not trying to get you to buy them but you need to know that before we go any further.

Homer went to the DIY store today to get some plastic drain pipe stuff ( mmm, that was probably not the technical description.) He rooted about (that means had a grope about), on second thoughts he "looked" in a big old bin full of off cuts they have out the back. ("Rooted about" and "groped" mean so many different things depending on the country you are in, but I digress.)

"So what you after mate?"

"Oh, I need about a meter of this stuff here," Homer emerged red-faced from the bin waving his trophy. "Can you cut it into about four pieces?"

"Sure, hand it over."

"Oh, have you got end caps that will fit over the ends? Really tightly. They've got to be tight."

"Sure mate, they're over there." The helpful assistant pointed to the plumbing area. "The cans of diesel and the fertiliser are out the back."

"? How did you know I needed ammonia for the sensitive weeds?'

The asssistant starts edging slowly towards the phone whilst keeping an eye on Homer. Light dawns, "Oh, no, I um.......oh dear. Just the pipe today please, and these um ends. I'm making candles."

The assistant looks at the large and very rough looking lump of flesh that is my husband and says " Candles?" (pull the other one.)

Homer paid and left. We're waiting to see if a van with darkened windows parks outside in the street. If it does we might give #4 his padlock back.

A lady came into the shop today. She says it shocking and shouldn't be allowed. One of the children at her son's school padlocked the library doors shut yesterday, whilst her son was inside. It's about time they did something. I remained quiet, but thought to myself that I better find out what he did with the rope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The padlock.....

Ring Ring

"Good afternoon XXXXX chemist, can I help you?"

"Hello, YYYYY school here, is #4's mother there?" (the voice sounded like some-one on the edge)

My blood froze, in a split second my viable responses went through my mind,
1. Hang up.
2. Make static noises and hang up.
3. Say " No speaky Ingliss, pliz to call again."
4. Say #4's mother is out of the shop.

I paused too long, "That's you isn't it?" ( She definitely sounded annoyed, and a little hysterical. One part of my brain is saying that if she knows my voice well enough to recognise it on the phone then she knows #4, so WTF has he done?) "Your husband says he can't come, that is you isn't it?"

"B*****d."

"Pardon?"

"I said, yes I'm #4's mum, can I help you?" ( Please say no, please say no.)

"Did you know he brought a padlock to school today?"

This time I managed to just think "b****d" about Homer, he knows we have to search #4s school bag.

"Er, um, no I didn't actually."

"He padlocked the library doors shut."

"??" I really have no answer for that.

"He has reading after lunch and he didn't want to do it, so he padlocked the doors shut."

"Um, did he have the key with him?"

"Yes, but that's not the point. The chess club are very cross, they were still inside."

(Can't see that bothering #4 really.)

"I'm terribly sorry, I'll make sure he doesn't bring it again."

"Yes, quite, could you come and get him please, we've had enough for today."

Health advice in action

My last post brought a flurry of agreement and anecdotes from health care colleagues, mainly by email. Some of these stories did show a certain lack of understanding on the part of other health professionals.....but as my DCS says " They probably pretend to be stupid and unhelpful to stop me coming back and asking for more help that will be difficult to provide."

I shall now share my favorite tale, with no names because if anyone reads the blog this came from it will be clear who they are talking about, perhaps too clear, and we have to maintain professional standards in front of our clients. (At least until they can't hear us laugh/scream/cry/ swear in the tea room.)

The patient attended her doctor and was told she had temporal arteritis, she didn't know what this was. In lieu of asking she went for an in depth consult with an elderly friend over a cup of tea and a biscuit. The elderly friend told her the doctor had probably meant temporary arthritis. (He probably hadn't.) This conversation was carried out at a very loud volume, both ladies are deaf. The neighbours could probably hear the conversation, and it would not have surprised me if some-one in the street had shouted some helpful advice through the window on their way past. ( Which if you read the previous post you now know both ladies would have had to follow.)

The doctor had prescribed massive doses of steroids for the patient (correct), which the pharmacist had explained had to be taken in a reducing course. This sounded difficult. The tablets also had to be taken in the morning, all ten of them, to her and her friend this sounded wrong as well.

Between them they worked out,

1. Doctor had meant to say temporary arthritis.
2. Doctor had written the wrong dose on the prescription, they knew steroids worked for arthritis, but Betsy-down-the-road takes a smaller dose every day so she'll take that dose.... he must have meant one a day for ten days not ten a day...that young girl down the chemists was clearly an idiot.
3. The doctor had not prescribed any pain killers, which was clearly wrong. The friend gave her some of her pain-killers until the patient could see the doctor and "put him right" about his mistake.
4. The friend agreed to ring her daughter and ask her to ask her friend (who once did a one day course in aromatherapy), what she would suggest for temporary arthritis.
5. They agreed not to tell their other friends, especially Betsy-down-the road, that the arthritis was temporary as that doesn't sound serious enough. Rather she would tell Betsy-down-the-road that she had been prescribed the massive dose of steroids because her arthritis was worse than Betsy's, but she would take the smaller dose.

This tale was received as a tale about the terrible service that the doctor and pharmacist gave her. Her temporary arthritis has proved to be anything but temporary and the pills the doctor gave her are not working.

Because the steroids kept her awake (she took them at night as she has too many other pills to take in the morning) she stopped taking them. She admits she didn't take the number the doctor and pharmacist told her to, because they were wrong. Yes, they did make her head-aches a little better, but they kept her awake and might make her fat. She is still taking her friend's pain-killers, but they aren't working, she'll stick with them because they worked for her friend. She won't go back to the doctor because he is an idiot and the chemist should have spotted that. She will not be going back to either, but is telling EVERYONE how bad they were.

(Quick summary: She's taking drugs she wasn't prescribed for a condition she hasn't got, they're not working, and it's the doctor's fault.)

On a brighter note the patient is getting some stuff off the Internet that worked for Betsy-down-the-road's cousin's chest, it's coming all the way from China so it must be good. She got her brothers grand-daughter's boyfriend to order it from the name she wrote down when Betsy told her it over the phone. It's called "Vigara", no definitely "Vigara", she wrote it down when Betsy told her. (You got me, I added the drug name, but the rest is true.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Research into health advice....

After years of research into the subject I can reveal where people take their health advice from, and which advice they trust more. In reverse order, that's least important perceived source first.

1. Any health care professional that spends more than half an hour in discussion with the patient with in depth history taking and careful questioning.

2. A reputable Internet site or other scientific reference source.

3. An advertisement ripped out of a magazine, preferably containing the words "miracle", "amazing" and "new." If there is a picture of a B-list celebrity on the advertisement that is better still.

4. A web-site containing the words "amazing", "new" or "miracle". The site gets more kudos still if it refers to lost Amazonian tribesmen or ancient eastern wisdom.

5. The recommendation of a friend or relative, unless they are a health professional. In that case the advice falls to position 1.

6. The recommendation of a vague friend or relative, e.g. your sister's son-in-law's mother's uncle's brother's friend from high schools sister.

7. A piece of paper with the name of the product written on it, usually incorrectly spelled. The holder of the paper will maintain that the name is spelled correctly, even when they can't remember where they heard the name, or who told them the name.

8. Something overheard on a bus or train, or possibly in the hairdressers.

So the leading source of health advice that people listen to is an overheard conversation between complete strangers. This advice will override anything any health professional ever tells them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A lighter moment

Each week I try to take number 4 to the Bunnings kids craft each Saturday or Sunday morning. It's brilliant. It's free and they get to make really cool stuff. He's made a tool box, a peg board, a mosaic wall plaque, loads of stuff, and he loves it. No normal parent could provide the materials to make everything he's made there.

This week when he had finished he was crouched down washing his hands in the provided bucket of water. I glanced down and thought, " That's two waist bands under those jeans."

"Number four, do you have two pairs of boxers on?"

"No, I wear jockses."

"Do you have two pairs of jockses on?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"There was a hole in one pair so I put another pair over the top." (Doh! mum, how thick are you?)

He returned to washing his hands whilst parents fell about in fits of giggles. We then went and spent his saved pocket money. He bought ten yards of nylon rope and a super secure padlock. I don't know what for, and I probably don't want to, but I will probably find out fairly soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A surprise delivery..

"Do you think the cats pregnant?"

"Either that or it's got the biggest worm in history."

"How longs a cats gestation anyway?"

"Dunno."

However long it is it just ended. I just found the cat with attitude with four very new kittens under number four's bed. This may not be the best place to raise your babies, what with the hidden power tools and smelly socks, so I've moved her to #2's bedroom. She is lurking protective of her brood under the chest of drawers.

Number three keeps going and staring at the chest of drawers and I keep telling him to leave the cat alone. I'm worried that she will make off with the kittens and hide them some where I can't find them.


I immediately rang the vet to make an appointment to get her fixed, as I have been meaning to do for about six months. Allowing a cat to breed in oz is a hanging offence. The veterinary assistant (snotty fifteen year old on work experience) sniffed loudly and told me I had to wait at least six weeks to get her fixed.

"Do you know how irresponsible it is to allow a cat to breed?" she sniffs again.

"Yes, that's why I'm ringing to make the appointment."

"Bit late now." Louder sniff from her.

"Have you got a cold?" I ask

"No, why?"

"Never mind, I'll make the appointment elsewhere."

Growing a pomegranate

I read that pomegranates would grow in my climate. I bought a pomegranate tree. It died. I bought another one. The first one reappeared. When it said in the books "dies back" it wasn't kidding. It disappeared. For three years I watched the area where the pomegranate was supposed to grow. Each year a few feeble leaves appeared and disappeared, leaving a dead twig like object poking forlornly from the ground.

I complained to Homer that my pomegranate wasn't doing anything and realised he had pulled the second plant up. It looked like a dead twig and acted like a dead twig, he assumed it was a dead twig. I went back to watching my original dead twig.


This year the dead twig has flowered. Pomegranate flowers are supposed to be carnation-like and spectacular, well it's neither of those. It stayed in the bud stage for a long long time but finally it has opened. I won't get a pomegranate from it as I think there should be male and female flowers, and this is it in flower terms, but it has made me smile. Gardening needs patience apparently, even in the tropics.


The eggplants are also in flower, it always surprises me how attractive the flowers are on some vegetables, and this is one of my favourites. Probably because of the colour.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The price of paradise


The price of living in paradise is clearly illustrated by this photo. It may indeed be a fake, but then I have seen one of these spiders up close, and it was as big as my husbands hand, and these birds are very small. Click here for more on this story. Of course there's always this gem as shown on the right. From this story.




I challenged Homer on the likelihood of the spider eating the bird thing. He insists that it is very likely.

"Don't you remember?" he asks, "We saw a spider as big as your head at Milla Milla?'

"No," I say. " If, and it is a very big if, I saw a spider that big I would remember running screaming from the area, and I don't."

"Oh," he replies helpfully, " Maybe you have repressed the memory."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can't blog...

Can't blog, arms tied to sides with invisible iron bands.

I blame the personal trainer. Sorry, personal dominatrix. My last session was at 6am on Wednesday (Did you know there is a six in the morning? I'd quite forgotten about it since the children learnt to turn the cartoon network on by themselves.)

I paid, yes paid, this woman to push me just past my limits. It was a clever ploy on her part. I felt great when I left , bouncing and full of the joys of the newly energised. Of course by the time I'd worked until eight Wednesday night and then got up again this morning I couldn't move my arms from my sides. Washing my hair hurt this morning. I've heard people say that following a gym session and thought, Pshaw, or something like that. But I have sunk that low, I am so unfit that the lateral raise jobbies or whatever have left my chest muscles so sore that my arms are effectively clamped to my sides. ( I looked like some sort of muppet as I hunched about at work, typing without moving my arms.)

Homer's stomach hurts, I thank my lucky stars that she hasn't started on my abs yet. I promise faithfully to myself to do some cardio before I see her again on Monday. I hope to bargain for a less tiring session by being able to say that I have done my cardio. I'll point at Homer meaningfully and say, "But he hasn't", thereby deflecting her attention to him and allowing me to skulk about at the back of our class of two. All's fair in love and avoiding punishment in an exercise class.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Self improvement

I went and did it, I went a joined a gym. It was the assessment today which I thought was great fun. I'd made Homer join with me because he's, well , very large and we did the assessment together.

I loved it and was ready to rock after half an hour. Homer was ready for someone to come and poke his lungs back up his nose with a stick. He is slightly, no actually he is a lot, more unfit than I am.

It is now six hours later and I'm feeling, I have to admit it a little stiff. I have told Homer so he can laugh at me, as I laughed at him before.


We mulched the entire garden at the week-end so we can't be that unfit! I also planted a fig tree in my jungle area and the pomegranate is flowering. We are doing quite well from the garden at the moment, eating beans, bok choy, silver beet and spinach from it. The problem is the quantities are not up there so I need to put more work in and plant more stuff.

Number four sends his love to his fans. He is at present building a racing car in the back yard from pieces of old timber and some chain he found. He was inspired by Scrap Heap Challenge. Number three disparagingly commented that there is no motor. Number four replied that the car was for going down hills, fast, very fast. Would number three like to be test pilot? Number three walked off in a huff, but now he's back and they are both building it together in the dark in the back-yard. I'm just nipping out to check that it's not my car wheels that they're using.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's this?

I have no idea what this growth on my rambutan is. Those are normal leaves growing out of it. I've posted this picture here in the hope that some-one out there does! Do I need to cut it off? leave it alone?

It looks like a part of the tree but what the?

Going on my experiences so far in this part of the world it is something that can bite you, actually my theory is that it is a form of scar tissue on the trunk, but I am unable to find anything like it elsewhere on the web, so here's hoping.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Accent trouble....again

This is a long-standing Philippino customer that I have known for a while.

Me : "Here's your prescription Mrs G. Is there anything else?"

Cust: " Yes. Have you got sink?"

M; "Yes, um , why , um, do you need to wash your hands, or a drink?"

C: " I want buy sink." (She looks at me as if I've lost my marbles.)

M: "You want to buy a sink?" (Thinking to myself, oh its sad when their marbles start to go.)

C: "Yes, want buy sink. Get here before, buy more sink. You sell sink, I buy sink." (Looking at me now as if I am a bit slow.)

M: " Ah, yes. Do you usually buy the zinc tablets or the zinc powder?" (Thinking to myself that it is indeed sad that my mind has started to go.)

.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My first tropical fruit tree

One of the first things we planted in our back yard when we finally moved into our house was a coconut palm. Well, what actually happened was that we were visiting a friend who has a friend who is a de-nutter.

He goes around the palm trees in the tourist areas a couple of times a year and de-nuts them. This leads to a pile of coconuts outside various peoples houses. We helped ourselves to a couple, ate a few and threw one into the garden "to grow", more in hope than expectation.


After all coconuts are seeds, right? They are, this is what we have four years later. I think our own de-nutting operation is a few years off though. I hope our tree will avoid the fate of a neighbours palm tree shown in the other picture, damaged in Cyclone Larry. The stake through the heart didn't kill the palm tree, but the council coming and cutting it down to make a display with sure slowed it down.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Strange but true...

I was reading an article about the little known MI8, the signals intelligence branch of MI5 during the war. One of their luminaries, Lord Tredegar, oversaw the monitoring of carrier pigeons. Really, he monitored the flights of carrier pigeons, to prevent their illicit use by the enemy. (It was also a Lord Tredegar that led the Charge of the Light Brigade.)

In order to do this he had a squadron of Peregrine Falcons which hunted down "suspect" pigeons. (I don't know if the falcons asked for ID first.)

Lord Tredegar came up with a plan to bewilder Abwher pigeons by dropping British pigeons from aircraft over Germany. ( Yes, yes, when I read it the obvious problem sprang immediately to mind, but wait.)


The first load of pigeons were unfortunately sucked into the plane's slipstream and "defeathered". For the second attempt the pigeons were dropped inside paper bags. Really. I didn't make this up, only Terry Pratchett could come up with this as fiction.

These pigeons apparently survived their rough treatment and invaded the German pigeon lofts. Of course after a few days R&R they returned to their home lofts in the UK, being homing pigeons and all. (Personally, having been dropped from a plane in a paper bag I think I'd have set up home where-ever I landed.) My source doesn't reveal how many of the returning pigeons were taken out by the friendly fire of the falcons.

Lord Tredegar complained about the failure of his plan to Lady Baden-Powell, who promptly had MI5 lock him up in the Tower of London for revealing top secret government business.

Don't believe me? This link has more information, including the fact that two enemy pigeons were captured and interned for the duration of the war.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More gardening

All this blogging about my garden must be getting a bit boring by now, but I couldn't resist these pictures. This is a Dainty Green Tree Frog, otherwise known as a Graceful Green Tree Frog, that I found while I was weeding. It took me about seventy shots with my camera to work out how to take a clear up close piccie because the camera kept focusing on the leaves the frog was sat on.


It really was very beautiful with a creamy white underbelly. It was also a bit of a poser it must be said, maintaining this position for a very long time until I managed to get a few good shots in. I hope this means I'm building an ecosystem in my garden, it does mean I need to get the water feature sorted out pronto with some anti-cane toad devices built in.

I live on the site where the first cane toads were released in Australia, the worlds first effort at biological pest control on a big scale. They proved an unmitigated disaster and have displaced much of the indigenous wild life, including tree frogs in many places. (Rabbits are illegal here as well, for similar reasons.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Red flowers in the garden


I was a little down this morning. My garden is a never ending task of monumental proportions that never seems to get anywhere. Then I stopped and smelt the coffee as they say. I considered what the site of our house looked like a bare four years ago.

In addition to it appearing like a barren wasteland it actually was a barren wasteland. There was not a single earthworm on the property, and the first cucumbers I planted all flowered and I got not a single cucumber due to the amazing lack of insects. Actually there were biting insects, just not pollinating ones

The first task was to introduce organic matter, which was easy , we just kept mowing. After the great famine of 2004, I realised that I had no insects and introduced some flowers. I have no idea what the top picture shows, except that it is a bulb.




The exotic hibiscus were the next to survive. Laurence Llewlyn-Bowen (get a shorter name) maintains that if you pour champagne over hibiscus flowers the flowers open for virgins. I maintain they look pretty and grow with no need for any maintenance whatsoever of any kind, except the occasional bout of homicidal pruning. Water poured over the fresh flowers make a sweet hibiscus tea that is very refreshing, hot or cold and apparently reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You can make the tea from fresh or dried flowers, and I am lucky enough to have a totally organic fresh source in my back garden.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The mojo returns....embarrassing moments...

I reboiled my jam and it set. The relief.

I had made six jars of jam, that ended up as syrup. By the time I went to reboil the jam there were four and a half jars left, so the syrup was all right then? I could have just left it alone, but I had something to prove, to myself at least.

Self worth as measured in ability to set jam? I am getting sad in my old age.

On a lighter note, I was showing the girls at work the picture of Dave Thomas on the previous post this morning when a very attractive lady came in. I served her, and it was obvious she had some sort of North American accent. She saw my computer screen and made some passing comment about the picture. " Oh, that's Dave Thomas ," I said, " We were discussing how hot he is."

The consult continued and then I needed to label something. "Your surname please?"

"Thomas."

Yup that's right.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Basketball

Tonight saw the Taipans (my team) soundly beaten by the Tigers. (Actually I don't think the score line reflected just how hard the Tigers had to work for the win.) The night brought a couple of good one liners from the commentary team as always, including, "The ref is checking to see if his balls are soft." And I thought I had some unpleasant tasks in my job!

We also got to see the Chris Anstey death stare. His is a face that can only be described as , well, rugged. He is 213cm tall (7 feet). He got called for his fourth foul in the first half and gave the referee what can only be called a laser death stare. I, a ninja master of the laser death stare, (also known as the Paddington hard stare after Paddington Bear) was impressed. This was a laser death stare with knobs on.

The referee, of course, has special anti-death-stare armour. The crowd behind the referee were not so fortunate and great swathes of them fell back in horror as Anstey glared at the ref. Frail old ladies had to be removed and smelling salts administered .


Of course one of the joys of watching the Tapians this year is Dave Thomas, who proves that good looking men do come from Canada. (I, of course, go for the sport.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cardiac consultant day

Today was the day of the cardiac consultant appointment, so predictably I was tense and irritable all day. Homer said he'd pick me up from work at 12:30 to take me to the appointment, because I don't drive anywhere I haven't been before, and I hadn't been there before. Plus I would have panicked I was going to be late, and panicked that I wouldn't find a parking place, and panicked that I couldn't find the place, all in all probably inducing another heart attack.

He didn't pick me up until 12:45 and then went for petrol, by which time I was screaming at him, OK so I was reacting badly to the whole stress thing.

We did get there, only slightly late, and the doctor of course was running even later, so all in all I wasn't late, and it gave me time to calm down to a background level of hysteria rather than outright homicidal rage.

I get into the doctor and he looks at me, sprightly young thing that I am and asks why I am there. Uh? because I was sent, because apparently I had a heart attack, and my blood pressure is really high. He looks at my ECG and says , ooh yes, lets do another one, to compare.

"Are you active?"
"No."
"Do you smoke?"
"No, not for three weeks, one day and two hours, not that I'm counting."


He got me to lie on the bed, "Strip off to the waist, everything including the bra." Off everything comes, and I'm a little uncomfortable lying half naked on a bed without so much as a sheet to cover my modesty whilst he attaches electrodes here, there and everywhere. " MM MM , uh uh ..ooh, "

"What, what, is it beating ? what?"

"Oh sorry, yes oh, um yes, oh see, yes you did have small heart attack. Only a small one though."
I'm thinking, " What? before or just now whilst you were putting the fear of god into me tutting over my ECG?"
" I'll just check your BP." He does this as I'm lying on the bed, still naked. "OOH, that's high." No s**t Sherlock a complete stranger has me lying semi naked on a bed.

"When was the last time you had a mammogram?"
"I haven't, I am too young for the regular program."
"Oh. I'll just do an exam then."
??? " Go for it, knock yourself out." He missed my sarcasm and copped a feel. "Very good." I have got a good rack on me but puleese you're a cardiologist. That was just a free grope because I'm twenty-five years younger than your normal patients. (Homer says actually I'm only fifteen years younger than his normal patients and therefore I qualify as old, and the doctor is a different sort of pervert, so that's OK then!)

He rechecked my blood pressure, which surprisingly enough was still high. "Would you like to put some clothes on?"
"Well actually, if you let me put some clothes on and give me a minute my BP may come down." It didn't though.

"Do you snore?"
"I don't know, I'm asleep."
"I think you have sleep apnoea, maybe you should have a test for that."
"Actually in the last two weeks I have found out that I have had a heart attack, have very high blood pressure and may be a diabetic. I am also becoming psychotic, if you don't believe me ask my family. Do you think we could hold off on yet another diagnosis?"

So upshot of the day,
Yes I had a heart attack, but it was only a small one.
Yes my blood pressure is very high, here are some tablets.
My cholesterol is fine, but that doesn't mean I can start eating lard butties again.
My breast exam was good. (who for?)
I have to have the diabetes test as that is the only reason someone as young as me has a heart attack.
No, I can't start smoking again, and yes I did ask him, you never know, he might have said yes!!!!

I went to a friends gym and enquired about personal training on the basis that losing weight and getting fit will lower my blood pressure, relieve my stress, remove my borderline diabetes and probably cure any sleep apnoea that I have.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Three weeks


So its officially three weeks that I've stopped smoking, actually its two weeks, six days, twenty-two hours and forty minutes, not that I'm counting or anything. At the moment the picture to left is my porn and fantasy still.

On the plus side my health is better. Actually it isn't in any visible way. I wasn't coughing before so I haven't stopped coughing. My blood pressure was too high before and still is, although I am willing to believe the suggestion that it still too high due to the temporary stress of quitting smoking.

I probably smell better, but then I couldn't smell me before.

I have saved a lot of money, which I have spent mainly on chips and chocolate, thus removing the money, and adding to my weight problem.

The garden is looking better as I have been attacking the weeds each time I felt like attacking a family member. After some consideration I have decided that I should have started digging a hole and continued each time I felt like attacking a family member. Now I'd have a swimming pool, or at least a hole big enough for whichever family member had annoyed me the most. (That's probably why the shovel was hidden along with the knives and spoons.)


It would appear that my sense of humour is returning, although at the moment it is a distant speck on the horizon, laughing at me , not with me.

I did however have a breakthrough this morning. I was at the checkout behind someone who smelt of stale cigarettes. It smelt horrible. I tapped them on the shoulder and said, " You stink, thank-you." Well, no I didn't. I have always hated the smell of stale cigarettes, except for the past three weeks, for which time they have smelt like some strange exotic food dish enticing me onwards. Now I just have to conquer the smell of fresh smoke.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My jam mojo

My jam mojo may indeed have deserted me DCS. In fact I may have to remove from you the crown of most domestically challenged of the sisters if I cannot make my jam set, but what to replace my crown with? I lack the shoe and fashion gene which our father passed only to you. ( Our mother lacking this gene as well).

I have read stories about women who can't make jam, or pastry, or grow veggies or knit and sew, and I have shaken my head in disbelief and horror. I make cakes without recipe books or scales and gaily chutnify and jam any spare fruit and veg from the garden and then this. This has never happened to me before (except once, with peach marmalade, and I put that down to the vast quantities of brandy I addded to it "for flavour").

The failure of this jam to set has left me bewildered and bemused. I haven't even gone to the help pages of cookery sites, I cannot face it until an alternative view of reality manages to assert itself.

I have to believe at that point I will "come up with something", I just have to.

Note to DCS: I have put an onion marmalade recipe on the other blog, just in case I can never recover. It is very easy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Strawberry picking


Today we made the journey to the strawberry fields to pick large quantities of strawberries. We left #2 at work and #1 in bed and set off up the long and winding road to the tablelands. The road is known for making vomiters out of even the most stalwart of children so I did pack a change of clothes for #3 and #4.

Sure enough #4 started immediately. " #3 were you sick last time you came up here?".
" No." says #3.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes."
Retching and heaving noises from #4. " Do you feel sick now?"
"No."
More retching noises, "now?"
"No"
More heaving noises (and a smacking noise, but that was me with my shoe).
"No"
More retching and heaving noises from #4 followed by the real thing from #3. Ha ha ha from #4 and he settles down to watch the tops of the trees pass by below us. (It's a very steep and windy road.)

I distract #3 by telling him that we are going to pick strawberries. Possibly his most favourite thing in the whole world, next to chocolate. Dip a strawberry in chocolate and there is very little he won't do for you. #3 announces sadly that he won't be able to pick or eat any strawberries, what with being sick and all, removes his pants, and lies down on the floor of the car.

Number four asks number three to put his pants back on. "I throw up if I sit down when I'm wearing pants." announces #3. Nonplussed silence from the other three members of the party.

We arrived at the strawberry picking place and #3 was out of the car like a bullet out of a gun (thankfully pausing to put on clean pants and t-shirt) and onto the fields madly eating and picking. Not sick any more then?

We picked vast quantities of strawberries and returned home. (Thankfully #3 restrained himself from vomiting on the way back down, what with all the strawberries and everything.) He did however remove his pants, due to the whole can't wear pants and sit down without vomiting thing. I must check with the school about that next week.....

I have now made batch one of what will probably be several batches of strawberry jam. Number 2 has returned from work, and #1 is still in bed. #4 was going to help with the jam but went off the idea when he realised that they all needed hulling and went off for a swim instead. Number three helped by eating some of the strawberries.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not a happy cat

This is a cat with a problem, her servants. (Cats don't have owners, they have servants who look after the houses they live in and feed them.) Her servants have fixed a large bell to her collar to replace the small one that previously warned birds of her approach. She didn't really mind small birds flying away. What is bothering her is that the larger bell can be heard clearly by the blind shitzu from next door. Today she had an "incident" with the shitzu when she went to tap it on the butt and it heard her coming.

It has heard her coming before but been a little confused about what was going on. Finally the dog has worked out that the tinkling noise of the bell is associated with the claws in the butt, and the provision of a larger bell gives it more warning. One of the cat's main sources of amusement has been removed, for now.

This is a cat with attitude, and the attitude at the moment is a bad one. She will have to add this to the long list of grievances she has against her servants, and come the revolution they will be the first against the wall.

She may let the butler off. Now hold on every one this is a bit sickening, but true. This cat comes and pokes her ear onto my husband's toe. She keeps doing this until he wriggles his toe in her ear. She presses her ear against his foot as he wriggles his toe. I feel sick.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Still not smoking

I'm still not smoking. Smoking is still looking very attractive to me, very attractive indeed.

I was talking to a lady in the shop today about how I had just given up. (I've not turned into an anti smoking bore, she asked me, and therefore asked for it....) I was relating the sniffing story and the way I had disconcerted my fellow shopper in the supermarket by inhaling so deeply next to her.

A stifled giggle later I look over at the next customer in line. He was nodding wisely. " I nearly got arrested," he said. Unthinkingly, he had followed some poor woman out of a shop as she lit up. He followed her almost to her car, veering off with only nanoseconds between him and a stalking charge.

" So, how long until it smells bad to me again?" I asked imploringly.

" Ooh, twenty, thirty years."

Pleeeeeeeeeeeese someone tell me this will get better. Also my family would like to know it gets better, as would the cat, the chickens, and the neighbours. I am grumpy, very grumpy. Actually, I am grumpy, but I was a homicidal maniac so maybe its getting better? ( Any-one want to argue with me about that? uh? uh? come on then.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back-yard Camping

My frangipani...it's actually a far richer, deeper red than this, a deep blood red, so I've got to master photoshop or some such program now. Who knew blogging could be such hard work? My husband buys me a cheap digital camera and I start posting photos, now I want to make them good photos, whatever next. Probably a picture where #4 looks angelic....beyond my skills.

Number three and four wanted to camp in the garden last night. Against all my instincts ( silently screaming, NO NO NO NOT EVER EVER NO NO), I agreed.

I told Homer he had to sit up all night by the back door in case he was needed.

Anyway off go #3 and #4 to the tent, complete with sleeping bags, torches, pillows, spare shoes,(a kitchen sink) and yes, I did say spare shoes. My whole family is dysfunctional, including the cat. I blame my sister for the need for two pairs of shoes on a camping trip across the garden that will last at the most eight hours. Before leaving them for the night I did a quick check that there were no lighters, candles or home made rocket launchers in the tent.

Number three fell into a deep and cherubic sleep until the early hours when he came in all warm and toasty and got in his own bed just to finish off the night. Number four lasted about one hour. I asked Homer, " How come #3, who is known as a bit of a wuss, can sleep all night in a tent, but #4, who is the complete rufty-tufty lasts all of an hour?"

" That's easy, number three knows the worst that is out there, it's number four. He's seen his fear and faced it. Number four can only imagine."

Dear DCS: I still maintain that you couldn't decide between your pictures and your jewellery in a house fire as you'd be far to busy deciding which shoes were most appropriate to wear whilst being rescued by a fireman.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More fruit trees



I just put my avocado tree in the garden from its hiding place under the shade cloth at the side of the house. Now we wait to see if the burning sun kills it, or it decides to thrive.

It seems strange to matter of factly talk about planting an avocado tree when I hadn't even tasted real avocado until seven years ago. Avocados don't ripen until you pick them from the tree so the tree acts as a kind of larder. If you don't pick the fruit it stops producing more fruit, so you get a supply and demand situation going on, hopefully.

I have also ripped out the tomato tree, I am enjoying eating the tomatos but I can't preserve the excess in any useful way because it is all cherry tomatoes. I make lots of chutney etc, but really, life's too short to skin and de seed cherry tomatoes, and the yield is way too small per tomato. Never fear, I have back up bushes of Roma and yellow tomatoes just coming on.

The chickens are a little put out at the vast quantities of ripe and semi-ripe tomatoes they have just been presented with. (The neighbours have long since started slamming doors in my face as they see me approach with my tomato bucket.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Am I bad?

I just clicked on one of my own AdSense adds offering free Vaseline products.....I wanted the free gift and I like the product. Will AdSense hunt me down and fire me over a tube of Vaseline, hope not

Saturday, September 20, 2008

lemon tree issues

My lemon tree and I have issues. I want lemons, it wants, well that's the problem, I don't know what it wants so that it will give me lemons.

The first year I got one small hard as rock scabby looking lemon. The second I had two hundred percent increase in yield, three scabby looking lemons.

Finally this year we appear to have come to some sort of accommodation and it is fairly loaded with baby lemons. The only thing I have done differently is hurl coffee grounds at it in a fit of pique.

To avoid the scabby scaly lemon thing I have been advised to use white oil,( a mixture of vegetable oil and washing up liquid). Of course I went and bought more expensive washing up liquid than I would normally use in the house and special oil for the purpose, I hope the tree appreciates it, because I had seen nothing wrong with buying more expensive stuff to spray on the tree than I use for the kitchen until my husband pointed out the total lack of logic.



Here's #3 and 4 "helping". This mainly involves climbing on the fence and arguing over the spray bottle until one pushes the other off.




We found a huge grasshopper, which #4 wants as a pet, here's a shot of him going off up the garden to catch it, before I stopped him. I don't really fancy finding a huge dead grasshopper in a jar under his bed in a week when he's forgotten about it.


When Homer realised I was using a tiny little spray bottle he grandly got out his master blaster model and loaded it up. Of course I just have to hope he washed it well from his poisoning spree. He (of course) didn't read the dilution instructions for the white oil. A fact he didn't admit to when questioned, but it became obvious as he sidled off to the tap to add some water to his spray gun after I casually mentioned the dilution rate to #3, so as he could overhear it it doncha know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Outer Mongolia

I have been having a crash course on Mongolia via Not enough Mud. Very educational and amusing.

Her revelations have left me with a few problems that I hope that she may be able to answer for me. Helping the people of Outer Mongolia has long been a local industry in a charity sense. Every so often we have huge, and I mean huge, bags of beanies ( you know, the hats) delivered to the shop , "for Mongolia". These sacks take at least four people to move and are full to overflowing with small woollen beanies. Apparently a local organisation makes deliveries to Mongolia once or twice a year. These deliveries consist mainly of beanies and toothpaste.

Following on from Mud's blog,

1. They don't need the toothpaste. Their natural diet is possibly the lowest in sugar in the world, and their teeth are the whitest in the world.( Actually this year we were asked not to send toothpaste, they have enough, could we donate toothbrushes? the picture in my mind of vast piles of tubes of toothpaste, carefully being studied by camel and yak herders...)

2. They don't need the beanies, at least not in the quantities I am seeing being delivered. I personally have seen enough beanies for every man woman and child to have at least ten each (and we are just one collection point.) I am sure the Mongolians had ways of keeping warm before the local missionaries decided to hold the annual beanie-a-thon drive. Mud did you see a lot of Mongolians wearing beanies? Particularly small beanies. Most of the beanies are "for the children", i.e. very small.

I have a hypothesis on what the beanies are being used for,

1. As fuel for the fires.
2. Sewn together to make gers.
3. Sewn together to make clothes to sell to tourists.
4. As hats for the yaks
5. As padding in the camel saddles and UAZ seats, or possibly as large landing pads at the bottom of random mountain slopes where the rapidly aging fleet of UAZ's are likely to crash.

Enquiring minds want to know...where are all the beanies going? They must cost a fortune to transport there. I've always had this thought in the back of my mind that they arrive to be immediately dumped at the end of the runway accompanied by Mongolian mutterings along the lines of " Who keeps sending us all this c**p?" Maybe something has been lost in the translation and they are not asking for beanies, they are asking for vodka, or cigarettes, or petrol, or anything but beanies.

Why does everybody like olives?

Not an incredibly important question I know but it bugs me. I live in an area with a huge Greek/ Italian population. In the local supermarket they don't have a salad bar, but they do have an olive bar with, I kid you not, twenty different varieties of olives of different colours, stuffings, etc etc. The oil section of the supermarket has at least three bays of different olive oils.

I hate olives. I can taste even the smallest amount of anything olive-like in my food, even if olive oil was used to fry something.

In this I am unique, it seems, in the world. I watch Jamie Oliver prepare a meal and think, " That looks nice, I might try that," and then he pours olive oil on it, and I shudder. (I do have a theory that if his Olive oil was taken off him he would run around in circles, unable to cook, gibbering until he just collapsed in an exhausted heap of anxiety, he puts it on everything. My challenge to you, Jamie...cook a meal without even touching the bottle of olive oil, ah ah, not even as a dressing afterwards.)

I have decided that my hatred of olives in genetic. I think there is possibly not one single molecule of Mediterranean DNA in my being. I am Celtic through and through and olives, as we all know, are not known for growing well in Scotland or Cornwall.

Why does everybody love olive oil? Or is it just one of those taboos that no-one has told me about, a sort of political correctness, and you're just not allowed to admit that you can't stand them.

You know it's a good day when.....

Well, apparently when you wake up...

We have an elderly doctor practising in our health centre, very elderly, he must be pushing eighty, if not pulling it from the other side. He is mentally very alert and attends lots of conferences and educational seminars. He keeps his patient list limited and generally is considered a very good doctor.

He was in the shop today and one of our girls was telling him about a radio event we have going on outside the shop tomorrow morning, complete with free breakfast barbecue and live (horribly loud) music.

"So," she says, " Will you be here tomorrow?"

"Oh I hope so dear, I really do. We'll just wait and see shall we?" And with a twinkling smile he was off through the door waving his walking stick.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seriously?

There is a news item about some wild life rescue people being really chuffed as they have raised some baby sharks and are releasing them back into the wild. Good for them. Excellent work.

They are releasing them off the beaches of Sydney, one assumes because of the ready availability of a food source, surfers and swimmers. Obviously having been raised in an aquarium they will be familiar with this food soure and unafraid to approach it!

Another diagnosis?

I would first like to thank every-one for their support in my endeavours to give up smoking, nearly a week now. I can even say " I don't smoke" with barely a tear welling up and only a slight quaver in my voice. I would only severely injure one person for a cigarette, a definite improvement on a few days ago.

I returned to the doctors today for what I thought was going to be the " give up pork dripping and lard butties" talk.

His opening line was " I know why you had a heart attack...." Now, I thought I had that covered by being an overweight unfit smoke stack who enjoys any food that heavily features fat and sugar. Apparently that is not enough. Apparently I am also a borderline diabetic.

" Listen," I said, " Listen very carefully (I shall say this only once), I am not going to have any more blood tests for at least a month, maybe two. In that time I will have given up smoking, given up caffeine, started exercising and reduced the fat intake of my family and myself by roughly three hundred per cent.(Probably putting a small lard factory out of business in the process.) My blood pressure will have fallen, as will my cholesterol. My enjoyment of life may, just may, be starting to return. At that point you can do another blood test and tell me I am not diabetic. OK?"

"Well some people do have success with weight loss and exercise in treating pre-diabetes and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, in fact that is the recommended approach, but I should really......" He looked me straight in the eye.... and he blinked first. He slowly moved his hand away from his prescription pad, but triumphantly whipped out a pre-prepared blood sugar test form and handed it to me. "I shall do this after I have remade the blood you took during the last blood tests" I said, " At the moment I am probably anaemic."

I am quite willing to listen to my doctors advice, but if he could perhaps make just one earth shattering revelation a month?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Still not smoking, but scaring passers-by ....

I'm still not smoking, other people are being very brave and not telling me that they wish I'd start again. They are bravely avoiding disagreeing with me in any way, and hiding the knives, and strangely enough the spoons. I wonder what I threatened to do with a spoon that brought that on?

I found my self following a stranger around the supermarket today, one who smokes. I know they smoke, I can smell it and the smell of cigarette smoke is not yet disgusting to me. It was purely chance that I was behind her, because as you know you have to follow a prescribed pattern once you enter the supermarket. You have to walk the aisles in a set order at a set speed or create chaos.

I was perhaps following her a little too closely, and inhaling a little too deeply, however. She was becoming quite twitchy about me. In retrospect, and looking back on the incident with, as it were, hindsight, I can see that maybe having a strange, plump, middle aged woman edging ever closer to you in the cheese aisle, deeply inhaling as she approaches, may have been, just for an instant, at least, a little disturbing for her, maybe, from her point of view, ah hem.

Well, at least if the police had been called they would have known me!

Oh I had to attend the police station today about something, and who should I bump into but the MBEB (Murdering B***d ex boyfriend) of #2 doing his daily bail sign in. I manfully avoided eye contact but tackled the policeman after he had gone on the subject of why wasn't he yet in jail FOR LIFE for trying to kill my daughter. "BY THE WAY "I added," I JUST GAVE UP SMOKING, MAYBE I CAN SOLVE THE PROBLEM." I think I may have thrown a comment towards his mother regarding faulty genetics as well. (That's the MBEB's mother not the policeman's.)

Apparently we have to wait for the whole shooting match to go thorough the court system again now that he isn't threatening to kill himself as well as her. They are unsure with what to charge him....I have a few suggestions, after all he tried to kill my child three times in one day, and escaped from the mental ward to try twice more. Before I could enumerate my views too clearly, along with the punishments I was willing to provide a nice man came and gave me a cup of tea, but not a cigarette.

Black box it

On the right ( I think, right and left always been a bit of a mystery to me quite frankly,) is a widget...black box/ make a choice. By clicking on it you get choices which eventually lead you to a point where you put in your own question....black or white? Fish or chips? ak47 or oozi?, actually the last one probably isn't in there, yet. ( It is now, I put it in.) Then you go to a mystery blog to read it, after inputting your own url.

I know that one of the worst things about reading blogs is some of the dross you have to read to find a good one so this seemed like a fun way of searching. I'll still find dross but I'm having a lot of fun with the whole asking questions thing, and finding some fun blogs too.

To add the widget yourself the code is here

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When you don't think you can sink any further...

This isn't about me, I just read a very moving piece on the Menopausal Old Bag's blog, along the lines of "Life gets you down, and then gives you a good kicking just to be sure you stay there."

It reminded me of one of the more recent examples of this principle that I have come across personally.

A gentleman came in with a prescription for a testosterone injection. Quite a popular item in our shop as one of the doctors next door "does" male hormones. The customer is a little younger than usual for this, but not a huge amount. He wants a fair bit of information as he has used the patches before. I oblige, and tell him about the capsules as well, and the reasons we tend to use injections here.

Customer tells me in course of conversation

1. He's from Sydney.
2. He left Sydney because he caught his wife in bed with some one else.
3. Some one else was his best friend
4. He misses his two year old twins
5. His twins aren't his, he has just found out he cannot father children, hence the injection.
6. His best friend isn't the father either, his wife took great delight in telling him that he knows the father, but it's not his best friend, it's one of his other "friends"...ha ha....(Ladies some of us do rather let the side down don't we?)
7. His family know where he is but not why, as one of his brothers may be the said father.

I really really hope the guy is all right as I haven't seen him since.

Still not smoking, attempting to make rest of families life miserable so they can share my suffering.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Self improvement becomes more important..

I have been a bit patchy in my blog recently. The reason will become clear. Apparently I have a hard a heart attack (or two) without noticing. I went to the doctor with a shoulder pain that has been bugging me on and off for a while. While I was there they decided to do an ecg, for completeness. It was all very casual and friendly and then all of a sudden doors were shut and whispering behind curtains was happening. OOh I thought...

Serious face from nurse and doctor....."Just how often have you had this pain". After a short discussion I find I have had a heart attack, or two, and just didn't bother to tell anyone. So they took about two armfuls of blood and gave me a list.

I wish I could express surprise at this turn of events but when you've used a body as hard as I've used this one you really have to expect consequences.

1. Stop smoking.....well I'm on day four and if you need anyone assassinating I'll do it for a cigarette, actually I'll kill three people of your choice for a quick drag.
2. Stop with the caffeine...So no nicotine and no caffeine, I have now been asleep for three days.
2. Get less stress......anyone want a child? Numbers 1-4 are up for a good home. I will also have to get a new life, any-one got a spare one, stress free, up for grabs. I also got a yoga book from the library. The yoga won't relax me but imagining that I could ever get into some of those positions will be funny and that will be relaxing.
3. Stop eating pork dripping sandwiches....not a big loss, but the whole get my lunch ready in the morning thing is already a bit wearing, and eat breakfast. I already have a good diet, its just that I was enjoying the bad diet I was eating in addition to it.
4. Exercise...pah....I'll wait until I see the specialist and hope he tells me I can start smoking and start eating pork dripping again, I know it's not likely, but I have to have some hope of something.
One of the receptionists in the doctors has had a similar experience and just joined a gym. They did the flexibilty test and asked her to touch her toes whilst sitting down. Her response.." My toes, but I haven't seen them for three years, how could I possibly touch them?" (I can smugly say I could touch my toes from that position, but getting back out of the position proved a greater challenge.)
5. Start drinking....MMM....I honestly can't remember the last time I had alcohol and I'm told a few glasses of red wine here and there will be good for me.

Family reactions so far:

1. Husband: If he ignores it it will go away. A standard reaction but unfortunately not one available to me, but he has given up smoking in support.
2. Child #1: Stopped smoking in the house and now takes a torch to the bottom of the garden to sneak the occasional one. I can smell the next door neighbour smoking but not him. (There is of course the stress of wondering if a snake will get him in the dark.)
3. Child #2: Left home to live with boyfriend if can't smoke here.
4. Child #3 and 4: Too young to be told. Husband trying to deal with #4, and quitting smoking, which leads to loud shouting. This too shall pass.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's not funny when it's me...

Knock, Knock,

"Oh Hi PC X, just calling in for a cuppa while you're in the neighbourhood?"

"Er, no, I'm, mm," cough, barely stifled laugh, " I'm here on official business."

"Really, number 4 has been with me all weekend? Are you sure?"

"Umm, " very unmanly giggle, " it's about the cat."

"?"

"One of your neighbours says that your cat is bullying their dog."

It was too much for him, he just burst out laughing. I looked behind him to see his partner barely standing upright such was the effort he was putting in to not laughing. He was literally holding his stomach in pain.

"I don't know you do I?" I responded trying to maintain my dignity.

" Oh er yes" he said, " I came when the little tucker set the house on fire."

Swift deflation. Apparently the cat's teasing of the blind shitzu next door has been noticed, and complained about. I was just about to get right up there on my high horse about police matters and non-police matters, and the fact that the dog is allowed to wander the neighbourhood, putting it right in the cats way, when I heard a strange strangled noise from the fence. Glancing over I see the next door neighbour turning purple in an effort not to laugh.

Hurrumph. Slow day obviously.

Basketball tickets

Woo hoo , we got to collect our basketball tickets for the season yesterday. Me and #4 go along to every home match.

Yesterday was the big opening gig with all the players present to sign posters and chat with the fans. Number four had a go at the free throw line, and of course got four out of four shots. He's never to my knowledge picked up a basketball before, but all that practice aiming at the green ants, the ceiling fan and his brother has obviously paid off. I had the coaches card pressed into my hand to ring him regarding the juniors. This might be a good option since reading is still very low on his list of priorities, with the added benefit that it should tire him out. (I crack myself up, four hours sleep last night...)

We got the same seats as last year on the basis that anyone #4 had really annoyed would move, and it would be unfair to move with them. Can you imagine moving your season ticket seats to get a way from an annoying child, only to find the annoying child has moved too, to right next to you.

Most of the people around me are used to him and sort of do a tag team of answering the endless questions. We've been going for four years now, and still he has questions...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

School fete

It was the school fete last night. Every year we have attended up until now it has consisted of a few sad looking cake stalls and a tombola table full of junk. Ah well, its for a good cause we grumbled and bundled #3 and #4 into the car and off we set.

It was amazing, a fully fledged fun fair with rides and popcorn and hot dogs and candy floss and good stuff on the stalls. It was better than this years town show.

One of the rides was a bouncy slide (free) which we tipped them onto for the first half hour in an effort to get them tired. (ha ha) Then it was off to the quad bike ride.

The gentleman running the stall was clearly not aware of the reputation of #4. Other parents backed away their precious darling babies as we approached. They pointed and muttered, " Maybe you can go on the next turn" to their little darlings. "Roll up roll up " He had no takers , #4 was at the front of the queue (which consisted of only #3 and #4), a few brave souls sent there larger and tougher boys over to join in.

The poor deluded fool running the stall leant over to show #4 how to drive the bike, and nearly lost his nose as #4 took off, hotly pursued by #3. They ducked and dived, overtook each other and the rest of the riders (including one who I think does scrambling on a semi professional basis...whoops).

Number four thought it was excellent, surprisingly number three was very good at it too. He kept up with #4, but always in a very upright position with a slightly amused look on his face.

The head teacher came over and watched. " Ah, another of his many talents," he commented, " hooning." (I am so glad all four of my children attended the school and he knows that it's not us, it's #4, he's made that way.)

Ride over and #4 saw some of his mates .( The paramedic that came to the spider bite last week, the fireman that had to rescue his friend from the school roof after #4 told him about high places, the last nurse to stitch him up, the doctor that xrayed #3 after the fan/golf ball incident..) It's nice that we live in a small community. I did notice that the policeman kept his hand on his holster all the time he was talking to us, I think this was to stop #4 exploring more than for a quick draw though.

Number four is getting pretty famous now.