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....


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.)

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?"



"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?"



"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.