Monday, August 31, 2009

September - Eat Less Meat challenge

I've taken the challenge issued by Dixiebelle from her Eat At Dixiebelle's blog (the mere sight of which will make you hungry, I promise) to make September an Eat Less Meat Month, as well as Fair Trade Chocolate Month.

I'll be honest, I hardly ever eat chocolate, so this part of the challenge won't be a problem at all, although I'll have to be vigilant on the occasional choccy treats the kids may have.

The Eating Less Meat will, however probably live up to the word "challenge". I happen to love legumes, pulses, vegetables and tofu, and would quite happily live on them. My children, however, are another story. The mere sight of anything green on their plates guarantees an instant whingy chorus of "Mu-u-u-u-u-u-m! Do we HAVE to eat the (insert name of offending green item here)!

It's still something I want to do for a huge range of reasons, most of which are already outlined perfectly on Dixiebelle's site, so I won't go into too much detail. Personally, though the main benefits for me and my family are as follows:

Health - I'm determined to put a bit more effort into coaxing my stubborn offspring gently along to a healthier diet, one that includes a much wider range of fruits, vegetables and legumes than they currently tolerate.

Cost - As a single mother who is fully expecting to be fired later today from her most recent part-time job, this one's fairly obvious. As I nearly only ever buy free range, organic meat anyway, it can get pretty costly. Lentils, by comparision, are nearly free!

Environmental issues - Many more of the planet's resources are required to raise livestock for meat than are required for vegetarian alternatives. More information available on Dixiebelle's blog.

Education and awareness of all the above points for my children. I hope they will learn something by this little challenge. They are going to be invited to assist with meal planning, shopping and food preparation, and I'm hoping they'll take a little interest in the "why" of the whole exercise as well. That may be a little hopeful on my part, but it's worth a shot! During the same month we will also be planting our home veggie garden, which will round out the experience for all, I hope. Details of what I'm planting to be found here.

My next step is to mealplan my first week, which I'm hoping to do after work today (unless I do actually get fired, in which case I'll be too busy drowning my sorrows in a vat of wine). Again, I'm counting on Dixiebelle to help me with this, as she's already put together a few weeks' worth of menu suggestions and hey, why re-invent the wheel, right?

Stay tuned for screams of horror from the mini-Tiaras as they realise what September holds for them!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

One Million Women can make a change

I was just reading Kebeni's lovely blog Looking out a broken window, and her most recent post is about a fantastic initiatiative of one million women committing to take action on climate change.

What a great idea! I've joined, and I hope some of you will as well. Here's a brief blurb taken directly from the organisation's website, and thanks again to Kebeni for sharing the concept!

The Campaign

1 Million Women - A campaign of daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers - Committed to protecting our climate, our communities and our future, leading change for the better.

Our goal is to inspire 1 million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by cutting 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse pollutant causing global warming.

Every woman who joins has a personal goal to cut 1 tonne of CO2 from their daily lives within a year of joining the campaign.

Here on our 1 Million Women website you'll be guided through ways to cut your 1 tonne, and to track your progress as you go along. You don't have to be an expert on climate change. Just join up and we'll guide you every step of the way.

1 Million Women - a million tonnes of CO2. It's a huge challenge.

With your help we will make it happen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

5 Years of Z and Me - Part 2

*Warning - if you're squeamish about poo and icky stuff, you may want to reconsider going any further*

The Birth

I had a plan. Although going with a hospital birth, I was going to be surrounded by essential oils, dimly lit lamps and gentle voices. My female ob/gyn together with my doula would be the elder wise-women helping me gently and safely usher a new little goddess into the world.

And yadda, yadda, fricken, yadda! Best laid plans and all that? Well, as it turns out, my senior elder wise-woman obstetrician had the audacity to fall down the stairs and break her collarbone a few days prior to my due date, and I was unceremoniously foisted off on her locum. He was very well-known male OB who fit into my little vision about as well as Benny Hill would have done.

I first met with him when I was several days overdue, and had been into the hospital for a routine stress-test, where they just hook me up and listen to baby's heartbeat for a while. Being a dab hand at this whole pregnancy gig I wasn't in the least bit stressed by the stress test, and was a little shocked to discover that my baby was. After consulting with both the midwife and my OB I very reluctantly agreed to book in for an induction the following morning.

To give a little more background, my first birth was absolutely godawful. I don't know if you've heard of the whole concept of the chain of intervention in labour, but basically it says that just one medical intervention can often lead to another, then another and so forth. And so it was with me. I started with induction, and ended up with a high forceps birth with no pain relief. Yeah, that sucked.

My 2nd birth was glorious. Spontaneous labour at a midwife-run birthing centre, huge tub to labour in (but unfortunately not to birth in), and the opportunity to write myself a note in the middle of it reminding me never EVER to attempt this without drugs again! Despite that, it remains without doubt, my best labour and birth.

Anyway, being the dutiful patient that I was, I showed up obediently at 6:30am the following day, all ready to get this all over with. The first stage of the induction was the insertion of some lovely prostaglandin gel to the cervix, in the vain hope that a few well-placed hormones would convince my stubborn baby that it was time to come out.

It was not to be. By lunchtime absolutely NOTHING had happened, except extreme regret on my part for also agreeing to let one of the midwives torture me with an enema. I do not use the word "torture" lightly, and was very reluctant to agree with it purely because "the doctor prefers it". Now, I can see the sense in that, I'm sure it's rather unpleasant to have ladies pooing on your hands all day long, however I respectfully point out that you are being paid upwards of $3000 for the privilege and suggest that you could suck it up, princess.

As it turns out, my memories of the last birth when I didn't partake of the joys of enemas came flooding back (particularly of my midwife friend's description of "snapping off logs") and I decided to accommodate my OB in this one teeny weeny request. FAIL! If you haven't had one of these things before it's hard to explain. The actual, ahem, administering of it isn't quite so bad, apart from being totally and utterly demeaning. It's the effect they have. Imagine the worst case of Bali-belly you've ever and double it. And doubled over I was, half hobbling, half being carried by slightly amused midwives to the toilet.

Anyway, crashing on past the seedy side of labour, still nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing and a side order of absolutely sweet FA was going with my cervix. It remained sealed shut like an Egyptian canopic jar and no application of hormones was going to change that.

By early afternoon my OB stuck his jovial head into the room and announced that it was time for something more dramatic. I was once again the obedient (and somewhat bored) patient, and was happy for him to have a play. Little did I know that having a play would involve him unwrapping this Thing. It's a thing like those rubber thimbles bank tellers stick on their fingers when counting money, but with a sneaky little hook on the end. It's called an amnicot and looked innocuous enough when I first saw it.

I'm sure you can figure out how it works, but oh my sainted aunt, I wasn't ready for how it felt. I quite literally nearly hit the ceiling, which was rather amusing since it had been 2 months since I could get out of an armchair unaided, never mind fly through the air as if shot out of a cannon.

It did the trick, though, and I was soon lying uncomfortably in a warm puddle of amniotic fluid. One quick shower later I was clean, dry and ready for some serious baby action! I should state at this point that the only company I had so far was my mother, bless her, who had driven me to hospital and was planning to stick it out for the duration. Once the waters were broken, though, I started feeling little niggles very quickly, so we called the doula (T) and my best friend (J) and told them to head on in to join us.

T soon arrived, however J was nowhere to be seen. Eventually she came breathlessly into the room, announcing that she went to the wrong hospital first, and had to call my mother to find out where the hell her goddaughter was going to be born! Bless her.

Contractions were pretty slow to get going, but things were progressing nicely when Mr Jovial OB man came by for another visit. He had a bit of a squizz at my cervix (always a pleasure) and announced that he was going home for dinner and casually asked the midwife on the way out to just "chuck in a drip to get things going". I don't bloody think so! Why, in heaven's name, when things are progressing nicely would this man feel the need to stuff me full of labour-enhancing drugs? Fortunately my midwife seemed to agree with me and pretended not to hear him. Again, bless.

Soon thereafter we were getting to the business end of this whole ordeal, and as my contractions got stronger and closer together I decided it was time to evict Mum and J, as I felt like some freak show attraction moaning and trying not to swear while they stood around watching and occasionally applauding my efforts. Desperately trying not to show their relief, they headed off for dinner leaving me, T and the midwives to get on with it.

I really, really had planned to get through this without an epidural, but when the midwife examined me and announced that I was a whole 3 cm dilated I completely collapsed into a sobbing puddle of defeat and begged for drugs, any drugs, all the drugs and right this minute, please. An induced labour is very, very different from a spontaneous one, something I had been warned about, and was now realising to be absolutely true!

T was being fantastic - rubbing my back when I wanted to and getting-the-f%$@-away-from-me when that worked. She stepped in between me and the medical staff when she sensed I needed to be left alone, and asked questions on my behalf when I couldn't quite get the words out. Again, there really is something to be said for women supporting other women through childbirth. Don't get me wrong, I loved having my ex at my other births, and would have hated to go through it without him, but this was just, well, different.

To be honest, around this time it all goes a bit hazy, which I can only assume is the mind's way of ensuring that women have more than one child. I do remember the anaesthetist showing up, though. Even in my befuddled state I managed to take a photo of him:

OK, so some of that could have been the fact that he held in his hands the Power To Take Away The Pain, but he was actually one sexy Kiwi bloke to whom I shall remain grateful as long as I live!

Sadly I'd left it a bit late, as my daughter decided she'd had absolutely enough of this carry on, and was going to get out a bit faster. Within 45 minutes of the last examination I was now 10cm dilated and ready to push, and the bloody epidural had only just begun to take effect.

The pushing part is never fun. I really wish someone had told me before my first that it feels exactly and precisely like trying to shit a watermelon, which I'm sure you can imagine is not a pleasant sensation. Due to some abdominal muscle damage from my first birth, I was really struggling to push, and was turning into a bit of a soppy and cranky emotional wreck.

My OB had just returned, and was alternating in between keeping an eye on my pushing efforts (and being quite rudely dismissive of them too, might I add) and watching the TV, which was showing the dressage events of the 2004 Olympics. To this day I can't watch dancing horses without wanting to kick someone in the head.

At this point I felt something truly magical. My lovely little girl obviously sensed that I was really over this whole birth thing and decided to take over. I felt her do this full body turn, and in the same movement, somehow wriggle her whole self out in one go. I swear I had nothing to do with it. My daughter gave birth to herself, in a manner of speaking.

She was perfect. Absolutely, 100% totally and utterly perfect. As soon as she was out, the midwife took her and had a quick lookover and then placed her on my chest, pulling up a blanket over both of us. She also said something I found a bit odd at the time. She told me "Ah, here's another one." I must have looked puzzled, so she went on to explain, "I mean another one who's been here before - she has the eyes of an old soul." I looked into her eyes myself and melted. Anyone who has given birth will know this feeling.

As OB took care of things at the other end of the bed I found myself utterly mesmerised by this little person, who was all purple, and squished up and covered in icky gooey stuff. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life (at least, not since her brother was born 5 years previously).

Mr. OB rudely broke into my dream state to rudely ask me who the hell was responsible for my post-partum stitching last time round. It seems he thought it was fairly shoddy work, and he felt obliged to fix the whole thing. Whatever, I had my baby, the epidural had kicked in and I knew there was a platter of soft cheeses waiting for me in the fridge. The midwives were most impressed, and one of them whispered conspiratorially in my ear that I was a very lucky girl, as Mr OB is renowned for his stitching.

OK, if you say so. Like I cared, anyway. No one was ever EVER going to see or go near that part of me again for the rest of my life, but if he felt the need to realign my nether-regions, who was I to deny him the experience.

Shortly thereafter my mother and J were brought in, and with admiring ooooh's and aaaaah's met the newest member of my family. I had a first name all picked out, but hadn't finalised the middle name. As soon as my mother walked in it was clear that the middle name had to be my mother's name. She was the one who had supported me throughout this entire pregnancy, and it seemed fitting that her granddaughter carry her name.

Well, I'm sorry that turned out to be a bit of an epic post. When I started this I thought it would be quite short, as I didn't think I actually remembered many details of the labour and birth, but it seems it was hidden under there, just waiting to escape!

If you actually made it all the way through, then thanks :-)


Thursday, August 27, 2009

5 Years of Z and Me - Part 1

My beautiful daughter turned 5 last week, so I've been reminiscing about the special 5 years we've had together, and thought I'd write some of it down before my remaining brain cells finally melt into a puddle of goo.

Brief background: This was an entirely unplanned pregnancy (but in no way unwanted) and I split up with the SD (that would be sperm donor, as that's the only credit he gets) when I was 12 weeks pregnant, and have raised her solo ever since. He has no contact with us, has only seen her a handful of times and provides no financial assistance.

The Pregnancy

I didn't find it too bad being pregnant and single. This is my 3rd child, so I had been around this block before, and was lucky enough not to suffer too many pregnancy-related unpleasantries (yes, I made up that word and am sticking by it).

I worked mostly from home throughout my pregnancy organising social events for singles. Anyone who has worked from home knows that it's a balance of the joys of working in pyjamas if you feel like it, on your own schedule versus the trials of keeping yourself motivated and organised.

I also attended all the events I organised, and had many regular attendees. It was so lovely to have them comment on my progressing pregnancy, make sure I had a comfy seat at the door, and bring me lovely "mocktails" throughout the evenings. Many of them were older ladies, and I think they took pity on poor-single-and-pregnant me and took me on as a surrogate daughter in a way. This was to be a bit of a recurring theme throughout the next 5 years, as it turns out - the amazing power of women supporting other women.

Financially this job was quite rewarding, so I was fortunate enough to be able to use a private obstetrician, and could easily afford the required baby gear (as well as much that wasn't required at all but I Simply Had To Have!).

Emotionally my best friend and my mother were my rocks for those 9 months. Without their love and support, as well as that of other friends, I doubt it would have been so painless. I was going to have my best friend as a birthing partner, however as the pregnancy progressed I realised that this was possibly not the best option, as, well, let's just say that's not her bag, baby!

My mother, who I thank my lucky stars for every single day, attended many appointments with me, including the all-important gender exposing ultrasound. I made no secret of the fact that I always wanted a daughter one day, and my parents were desperately after a granddaughter to add to the 2 fabulous grandsons I had already generously provided for them. To share that moment of revelation that this new arrival was, indeed, of the pink variety with my mother, and to shed tears of joy together that the little alien on the screen looked perfect in all ways, was immeasurably special.

I decided to go with a doula as a birth support person. Doulas are trained birth support partners. I found the most amazing doula who I clicked with immediately, and she agreed to share Z's birth experience with me. T (my doula) started weekly visits with me around 8 weeks prior to the due date, in which we got to know each other and came up with a rough sort of birth plan together. In keeping with the women supporting women theme, she also inspired me to do a little more work on my own "divine feminine", introducing me to the concept of the Goddess, and basically setting me on a more pagan and earthy path in life, one I have continued to explore.

The biggest negative of my entire pregnancy was fear. The fear was basically not knowing what SD was thinking / doing / planning to do regarding this baby. Not knowing is the worst of all fears, and I had a lot of not knowing. It even drove me to counselling towards the end of my pregnancy, as it was causing extreme insomnia, which I struggle with to this day.

I don't know how best to describe it. I was carrying this child. He could not answer the simple question I asked over and over again - "Are you planning to be a part of this child's life?". There were other issues as well, including a history of, well, basically abducting his own child and moving countries. I think it's pretty obvious where the fear comes in.

That said, I still look back at the pregnancy as a positive time. Going through something like that on your own is definitely good for one's inner strength. You find that you can do things you never thought you could.

Like put on 20 kilos in 7 months...

Next instalment: The Birth


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Order has been placed!

I've spent the last hour perusing the Select Organic website and finally got the order sent in after much umm-ing and ahhh-ing over the zillions of varieties of tomatoes available! Who knew??

Here's what this spring holds for me in the way of growing some food:

- Bean, Bush - Provider
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Capsicum - Californian Wonder
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Carrot - Chantenay Red-cored
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Chilli - Habanero
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Cucumber - Muncher Burpless
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Eggplant - Rosa Bianca
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Herbs - Basil - Sweet
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Herbs - Coriander - Cilantro - Slow Bolting
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Herbs - Dill - Bouquet
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Herbs - Oregano - Greek
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Lettuce - Freckles
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Silverbeet - Rainbow Chard
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Tomato - Cherry Cocktail - Red
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Tomato - Roma
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20
- Zucchini - Fordhook
Packets: 1@$3.20 $3.20

Plus I'm sharing the above seeds with at least one other person, as I don't have enough space myself to grow that much, which makes it an even cheaper food option!

*Small Happy Dance*


Monday, August 24, 2009

People are evil, aka WTF is wrong with some people

*LANGUAGE WARNING - This blog post will contain multiple profanities and possibly some spelling mistakes and almost definitely overuse of commas, exclamation marks and ellipses*

So I watched the news tonight. It's not something I do often, but it happened to be on. Usually I read my news online and selectively click on stories my sensitive psyche can handle. Obviously I should keep on doing just that. Here are a few gems that got my blood absolutely fucking boiling:

Elderly Man Gets Hit With Tomahawk Helping Bleeding Mother and Child

Elderly dude is in laundromat, waiting for clothes to be clean and/or dry. Bleeding woman staggers in, clutching 2 year old child. Elderly man (well up and current on his first aid) begins to administer aid. No sooner does he commence his Good Samaritanship but drunken partner of bleeding woman staggers in and attacks him. With a tomahawk. At his eye.

Elderly man tries in vain to get away, fortunately drunken partner dude sees sense and stops. At this point drunken partner dude starts apologising profusely. This whole story is as told by elderly good dude in hospital bed with unspeakably horribly facial trauma. Elderly dude has no animosity, says his faith in the Lord enables him to see the best in drunken partner dude, and says that "he's probably quite a good bloke under different circumstances".

My awe is split between the fucktardiness of drunken partner dude and the amazing forgiveness and largess of elderly dude. Elderly dude has shattered eye socket, may never regain sight in that eye, and was about to take a test to be a driving instructor.
WTF is wrong with some people?

2 year old girl mauled by pitbull

Dad of 2 year old girl takes said girl to a mate's house. Mate's pitbull attacks her, toddler barely recognisable with horrible contusions and swelling to left side of face, both hands (put up to defend herself, can hardly contain tears here) wrapped in bandages. Camera goes to (sorry, my take on it) teenaged bogan-looking mother weeping about the state of her daughter with equally teenaged bogan-looking father at her side. Goes on about scars for life and therapy for daughter to ever get control of facial muscles again. Reporter states that owner of pitbull says it supposedly escaped after the incident.

My queries. Dad gets my wrath first. Why take your daughter to the home of someone who owns an unrestrained pitbull? Why allow your child in a ROOM with said dog? Owner of pitbull gets more. These dogs are genetic mutants. They have been specifically bred for viciousness and attack qualities. Why own one? WHY FUCKING OWN ONE? Don't anyone try and tell me that there is such a thing as a family-friendly pitbull. As I said. Genetic fucking mutants. It's not their fault, bless them. It's the fucking wankers that have gone out of their way to put the most vicious dog they can find with the most vicious bitch they can find and sell the offspring to total fuckwit idiots who think they are some sort of cool and tuff status symbols.


Ben Cousins

Total up-his-own-arse sports brat. Got busted for drugs, got the right PR, faked the whole rehabilitation thing and somehow ended up back on an AFL team. Wanker. Fuckwit arrogant idiot wanker. Did the whole "Don't do drugs, kids, it's way bad!" spiel to try and get some street cred back. Wanker.

Tonight on the news I see a wee snippet how he got whacked hard in the head in some tackle at the weekend (not-so-secretly cheering here). Describes how it felt to the reporter. (Forgive paraphrasing, was too angry to remember verbatim quote) "Yeah, like, I felt all woozy and heady. Hey man, I used to pay $5000 to get a head that felt like that."

Unforgiveably glib, total utter fuckwit wanker from hell who should be shot.


Rant over. I feel better now.


Itching to play in the dirt!

The weather here in Perth is still 100% winter. It's raining constantly, usual winter temperature, wind howling as only WA can, and yet some part of me has picked up a case of spring-time itchy fingers.

In addition to the biological welcoming of spring, doing some blogsurfing around some amazing home veggie gardening, sustainability and generally all-round-greenie blogs such as Down To Earth , The Crone at Wits End and Scarecrow's Garden really got me motivated.

Yup, spring's a-comin' and I'm feeling the need to grow my own food.

I gave it a bloody good go last year. I grew a lot, I failed at a lot and, sadly, threw out a lot. I went a bit mad on planting seeds with little thought of timing, storing and the all important will-my-kids-eat-it factor.

One of my most resounding successes last year was coriander, some of which bolted to seed, dried out completely and is still in its styrofoam container hidden round the side of the house. My excuse for this is that I can obviously use the seeds this year. Lessons to be learned this time round, though, to time my plantings so I don't have 30 kilos of coriander all ready to use at the same time. I must also get a more heat resistant one than last year. Bugger. There goes my idea of using the seeds up!

I also had some impressive cos lettuce, which ended up getting thrown away, because in my excitement of carefully cultivating the Most Amazing Cos Lettuce Ever Grown in Toy Boxes, I forgot that I don't like it, and neither do any of my kids.

The tomatoes, as always, did famously, and, in related news so did fruit fly. Fruit fly was the bane of my last summer. Bastard, buggery little evil bugs, they are. My garden is completely organic, so all I could do to compete with the evil ones was a homemade garlic, chili and pyrethum (never could spell that word) spray which, when sprayed on the tomatoes offended every dog and cat within a 2 km radius. It failed to deter the fruit flies much, though.

My leeks were fab, the spring onions are still growing since last summer. I could say that I left them in there as a botanical experiment to see what would happen, but that would be an outright lie. I just couldn't be bothered moving them.

My more epic fails included items from the cucumber / squash / zucchini sort of families. They grew, oh yes they grew. But they were, um, odd. Their very shapes made my boys giggle and my mother avert her eyes at the sight of them. I have burned all photographic evidence, but take my word for it, cucumbers were not meant to look like these.

Anyway, I plan to look at last summer as a bit of a learning experience. A Very Expensive Learning Experience! Ah well, if I've got a few things learned, a well-established compost heap on the go, lots of containers already full of potting mixture and had oodles of fun with dirt under my nails, then I consider it worth it.

This year? Well, the biggest difference is that I'm flat out refusing to buy punnets of seedlings from commercial nurseries. A little bit of research has proven that the DNA in these little things has been manipulated to within an inch of its life, and that's not what I'm after at all. I've discovered the heady joys of Select Organic Seeds and will be ordering some lovely heirloom varieties of seeds from there.

And I'm excited! Dirty fingernails, here we come!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

These pretzels are making me silly

Wednesday night was silly night. It would appear that if you take 2 women and add several bottles of wine and a bag of pretzels that anything can happen. And did.

It all started with the BatPrezel.

We swiftly moved on to a human sort of figure, however as this ended up verging on pornographic, I will refrain from posting a picture of Man Prezel!

Next came Cat Prezel. We had a spot of trouble controlling Cat Prezel, as he immediately started stalking Bat Pretzel, with intent to consume.

As things get a little fuzzy around the edges in the Post Cat Prezel art phase, I cannot be absolutely positive as to the order of the next few works of Pretzel Art, but here they are.

I'd like you to meet Camel Pretzel. He doesn't make you thirsty.

Then we progressed on to Duck Pretzel and Mousephant Pretzel, the latter being a sort of genetically modified inter-species hybrid. Sounds dodgy, I know, but he was a charming fellow despite his less-than-traditional genetic roots.

I think we may have run out of wine shortly after Duck Pretzel, as the final photo on my phone was as follows:

And that was my Wednesday night!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A conversation with Z (aged 5)

Z: What else is in the tacos except meat?

Me: Well, there's some crushed tomatoes and kidney beans

Z: EEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!! Tomatoes!!! I'm not eating that!!!!

Me: Well.... it's more like tomato sauce.

Z: *looks hopeful* Tomato sauce?

Me: Yes, it's like tomato sauce, but with little pieces of tomato in it

Z: Phew, I thought you meant tomato like the food, not tomato sauce.

Me: !!!!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I have lost the ability to count.

When did this happen? I'm sure it's something I've been doing from a very early age, and probably doing it on a daily basis since then, yes, then, back in the Stone Age. Once, in July of 1975, I was even told that I was pretty darn good at this counting gig, and was terribly proud (as were my accountant parents).

This new job (which I mocked as being not terribly intellectually challenging, oh how I shall eat those words) involves A. Lot. Of. Counting. Like, lots, like oodles and oodles of cold hard cash. And divvying it up, and writing about it in little boxes and sweating profusely when the little boxes disagree with each other. And let me tell you, these are some fucking disagreeable little boxes we're talking about. If you don't put stuff in it ju-u-u-u-st right, it changes colour on you. And bells start clanging and people with guns... ok, possible exaggeration there.

So, I'm learning about how all these little boxes have to get along and agree with each other, and I do appreciate that all bean counters have their own system of boxes and agreements and so forth, and I admit that it's early days for me to feel superconfident blah, blah, blah. Having said that, I have always prized myself on being a quick learner, and it's a bit of an ego-shatterer to find out that, where anything accounts-related is involved, this is not actually the case!

Anyway, my failure to learn a new accounts system is a topic for another day, and one on which I have consumed several large wines. Today's topic involves the simple act of counting and adding. Not difficult, really. I even have a handy-dandy machine that counts it for me! Seriously! You lob in buckets of coins, then stack up sticky, gooey notes and it weighs them, adds them and all that jazz. It's terribly cool!

There are, however, also rolls and rolls and rolls of coins, bundles of packaged and wrapped notes and soforth, which have to be actually counted. The coins are neatly stacked in rows, with the value of each roll considerately stamped on each one (apart from the 50c coins, for some mysterious reason, which one has to remember come in lots of $10). It's quite simple, really.

Here's an example. $2 coins in $50 rolls, stacked 4 across. Come on, even I can do this one! You've got $200 in each row, dontcha? So why do I have to actually get my calculator out to work this out? I sit and stare blankly at the fucking obvious, and totally fail to grasp it without the help of technology.

I struggled today mentally calculating the worth of an envelope containing $65 in notes and $2.45 in coins. STRUGGLED!

So, does this mean I am too dependent on technology, lost more braincells in pregnancy and motherhood than the average person, was actually not terribly bright to start with, or *shudder* are the threatened aftereffects of a misspent youth finally coming back to haunt me?

Maybe (this is my one shining ray of hope) it's a bit of a lost talent, mental arithmetic, and maybe it just gets rusty from lack of use. Perhaps 3 weeks from now I shall be a mental arithmetic genius, who will cast one lazy eye over the entire shelf and immediately realise that it contains $2764.50.

Or not. Today I counted one bunch of cash 4 times and got 4 different results. I think I need to face it. I'm doomed.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The Dress"

We all have one. It may be a classic LBD, or a floor-sweeping gown, or a patent-leather micro-mini-dress, but we've all got that dress we wore back in the day that made us feel SEXY!

When you put on The Dress, you transform. You are no longer Mild Mannered Student/Bartender/SkipDiver - you are SuperStudent/Bartender/SkipDiver! You have Powers. Real Magical Powers. Men are putty in your hands, and women all either hate you or want to be you.

My own "The Dress" as shown here was a cheeky black and white number with Madonna-inspired cone boobs and pop snaps all the way up the front. The fact that my first boyfriend bought it for me in the spring of 1990 in Paris is just wanky and cliched enough to add to its power. Holy shit, that's nearly 20 years ago, and I still have this dress. Other dresses have come and gone, and I haven't even worn this one in at least 14 years, but I won't part with it. It's a bit faded, cobwebby and far, far too small for me now, but it's still with me.

I can remember quite clearly each and every time I wore The Dress. Nightclubbing in Paris, a corporate do somewhere in Texas where I was the youngest one there by a good 10 years, and one memorable drunken session where I felt compelled to drag my sister and her boyfriend out the back of a local bar and flash them. This dress was made for flashing, by the way, and it's a bloody miracle I only did it once (that I can remember, anyway).

Another thing about The Dress in general is that we don't lend it. That's a hard and fast rule with The Dress. It is ours, all ours, and we like it that way. My sister was so impressed with the flashing incident that she asked to borrow it so that she could also flash people when intoxicated and I very rudely refused. I think she's over it now. Hopefully.

I even remember my mother's The Dress in the early 70's. It was truly hideous by today's standards, but she loved it. It consisted of a large-collared acid yellow blouse with a quilted floor-length multicoloured skirt and matching quilted handbag. I remember being about 4 years old, watching Mum get ready to go out. She rarely wore makeup, so watching her pile on the frosty blue eyeshadow and pink lippie was a real treat. I still get flashbacks when I smell Madame Rochet (or something like that).

My god, how did fashion survive the 70's? I must see if she's got a photo of this memorable outfit - it truly is one in a million. Actually, her mother made it for her, so it's an haute-couture original!

Right, enough waffling; I am overcome with an urge to try on my dress again...


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mini Rant

School. Specifically primary school. Kiss and Drive.

It serves a purpose, people, don't mess with it. Don't be selfish bastards who block up the entire suburb because you are too fucking pathetically lazy to get out of your car, or park further away, or... or... arrive later?

Oh, that brings me to stupid. Don't be stupid. The siren goes off at 2:50pm. Why do at least 10 massive 4WD-driving parents have to show up 10 minutes early and block off the entire kiss and drive area. And not move until 3:10 if that's when your kidlet shows up?

Society is selfish. Very, very, very selfish. People simply don't give a fuck about other people, and it breaks my heart (and does wonders for my pedestal). How do you spell "pedestal", by the way, that looks right, and yet so wrong, all in one word.

It's quite simple, the whole concept of the whole kiss and drive. You pull into one of the 6 designated bays, you have approximately 1 minute to attempt to identify your child (and I admit this can be tough, given they are all dressed identically), and if you don't see your child, you pull out, drive around the block and get back in line.

This is fair. This is democratic. This is first-in-best-dressed. This is the only way it can work without causing gridlock for 3km in either direction. DON'T be the wanker who decides to sit there for 10 minutes and wait because you are too fucking lazy to put your automatic Lexus 4WD into D and spend 45 seconds driving around the teeny-tiny block. Have a heart for those of us who are racing from work at top speed attempting to collect our Small People before school admin call DOCS on us. If your child is not there, MOVE FUCKING ON!

And while I'm at it, a word to the parents of younger children who park, then wait outside the classroom. I used to be you. I get it. It's annoying that for a school of 600 Small People there are only 50 parallel streetside parking spots. But please, do you REALLY need to leave 3 metres in front and back of your car so you can easily pull out? Once again I beg you to have a heart. If you leave a space in front and back just large enough that another car can't quite squeeze in, you really don't have the right to object when I encourage my children to throw mud at your car on our way to the parking space I found in the next suburb. No, you don't.

It's actually possible to parallel park in a manner that will allow the maximum possible number of parents to fit in a limited space. It's possible to park in a manner that actually takes into consideration the amount of space you are taking up versus the needs of other parents.

Oh, and while I'm still ranting, you total and utter morons who park across the entire footpath? I hope you rot in hell. Do you not realise that kids ride bikes to school, and some parents have to push baby-siblings in prams to get to the classroom? Are you so fucking lazy that your only option was to park somewhere you blocked the entire footpath thus denying children and pram-pushing parents their divine-given right to move safely?

I realise, obviously, that there are families with special needs. I was one of them, FFS. I tore all the ligaments in my ankle, and still had to deliver kidlets to classrooms and so forth. I quite simply went to the office and explained my need and got special permission to use the disabled spot for X weeks as needed.

It's not rocket science, people; it's quite simply common courtesy.

Is this a lost art? I fear it is.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mum's got a boyfriend...

... or so I was informed by Madame Z the other day, over and over in a whiny singsong voice.

Factually, this is, indeed, totally accurate. D and I met over a year ago, and have been together ever since. We are "dating", I am reliably informed. We do not live together, however we are looking at possibly addressing that at some point in the future, if only he lived in an area that had better high schools, grumble, grumble. But that's another issue.

I was on Twitter a little while ago and made reference to D as my 'boyfriend', however my fingers nearly refused to type the word, as it reeks of high school, giggling and airy-fairy 1960's pop songs. We are both in our 40's (although, obviously, he's been there MUCH longer than I have and is much better at it all round) and the use of the terms 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' sound wildly inappropriate to my aging ears. I mean, I have grey hair, damnit, I'm way too old to have a 'boyfriend', aren't I?

But what alternatives are there? The preferred modern term seems to be 'partner', but I always associate that with couples who are actually cohabitating, not ones living separately and seeing each other whenever family and work commitments permit.

Significant Other, Better Half, Other Half. How wanky are those? Oh, but yes, I've used them all at one time or another in a desperate effort to avoid use of the boyfriend word.

And why is it that it sounds ok when he refers to me as his girlfriend, but it sounds absurd for me to call him my boyfriend? Perhaps it's because I still consider myself a giggly teenager and am happy to wear the expression, who knows?

I think 'partner' is probably most accurate. It's a bit sterile and generic, though. I think 'partner in crime' is much more exciting (if somewhat inaccurate), or 'managing partner' or 'partners in pissups'?

None are quite right, though. Perhaps this is all just divine retribution for failing at the hallowed institute of marriage and finding myself in this position in the first place.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh, how I have missed it!

The hospitality game, that is!

I just got back from my staff induction for my new and groovy, mummy-friendly job. It's not exactly the most intellectually demanding role I've ever undertaken, but it's a step back into my beloved hospitality industry, at a venue of the sort in which I actually like to socialise!

For an industry renowned for late nights, weekends and sore feet, I've landed a 4 - 5 hour a day, Monday to Friday, mostly school hours, mostly not on my feet position, dealing with bookings, function enquiries and a spot of cash handling. Just walking around the venue this morning, with the scent of stale beer wafting up my nostrils, seeing front of house staff working away like busy little bees was absolute bliss! Wow. I'm tragic, aren't I?

It's so hard to explain how this industry just gets in your blood, unless you're similarly inflicted. There's just a buzz and a vibe that you can't get anywhere else.

Signing off all happy now, looking forward to starting on Monday!!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bridezilla or Mamazilla?

On a parenting forum I regularly frequent a common issue has reared its contraversial head yet again today; Kids At Weddings, yay or nay? Views on this issue seem to be quite equally divided into 2 camps:

It's their day, so bride and groom can impose any rules they want; and

I don't leave my kids with sitters if I can help it, so I should be able to take them with me.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I think any bride and groom with half a heart would accommodate the needs of guests with a very young, possibly exclusively breastfed baby. As for older kids, especially once they get to the age where the reception venue will be charging for them, then I suppose it's totally reasonable (and often preferable) to exclude kids.

There are, of course, exceptions. If, for example, a family flies interstate to attend a wedding, is it reasonable to expect them to hire an unknown babysitter for the event? I say no, but that's just my opinion, of course! I guess my take on it is, if you are close enough to a family to want them to share such a special day with you, then you take them warts (or kids) and all.

This is only one raging wedding issue. How about wishing wells? I hate them passionately, and if there's one thing I hate more than wishing wells then it would be the cutesy poems people include with invitations explaining why they have chosen this gift option. Example:

We hope that you will not be miffed
If we ask you not to buy a gift
You see we have already filled our home
We even have a garden gnome!

But there is one thing that we would like
To tell the landlord to take a hike
We’ve been saving hard to buy a house
But if you could help it would be grouse.

There is no need to rob the banks
Any amount will be greeted with thanks
So help us grow our money tree
And spare yourself the shopping spree!

Now, don't get me wrong. I get the concept. It's definitely practical. Most couples have lived together and have all the necessary household gadgets, but I quite simply can't get my head around asking for cash, no matter how quaintly worded.

I have attended many weddings (and planned many more) which have gone with wishing wells, and I know the vast majority of people aren't offended at all. I have no problem with donating to a wishing well myself, if that's what the bride and groom prefer, but it's just so generic and impersonal, in my opinion. I miss the pleasure of picking out a gift personally, and thinking of the bride and groom possibly using that gift 20 years in the future and thinking of me.

Even though I'm now divorced, I still have wedding gifts around the house, and I truly do fondly remember who gave me what, and wonder what they're up to these days if we're not in touch.

Maybe I'm just too much of a sentimental old-fashioned gal at heart, I don't know.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

RIP SG Atlantis

That's it. Stargate Atlantis Season 5 bought and watched.

Last. Season. Ever.

In my desperate search for new and untapped sources of sci-fi joy (and taking advantage of local retailer's desperate need to offload extra copies of pure shit) I purchased the Entire Series Collection of a little something called "Surface" last night. I also watched it last night. All of it. All 15 episodes of some of the worst acting I've ever seen in my life. I couldn't stop. OK, so I had extreme insomnia brought on by unwise use of antihystamines before bed, but that's just no excuse.

I'm a sucker for an edge-of-your-seat action type flick, but really, how many times in a row can these dudes face total and utter DEATH and DOOM and survive, only to do it again 2 and a half scenes later?

And how intensely annoying were the young bloke's non-involved parents? And how god-awful were the intense stares into the horizon as camera pans across... anything? Harsh, possibly, and the fact that I did sit through 15 episodes in one sitting says volumes about my poor taste anyway.

I found myself feeling sorry for the entire-fishing-boat-gobbling-in-one-big-gulp, human-engineered, ocean-going monsters and kind of hoping they'd come out the winners in the end.

Which they did.

YAY MONSTERS! Sadly, most of the actors guilty of worst acting in the history of acting also survived, and there isn't even going to be a season 2 in which they can get picked off one by one sneakily by sea monsters posing as... well, anything and it doesn't matter anyway.

These monsters lived in magma (must be said a la Dr. Evil for maximum effect), FFS. And then the ocean. And some teenaged boy's bed. Surely there's something wrong with this picture.

Who does that? Scary thing is, as I googled madly for a little image to go with this post, I found links to page after page claiming this is the Best SciFi Series Ever Made. Go figure. Maybe I'm the one with the problem.

So bring on the next reeeeeeeeeeeee-ally badly done sci-fi series which never made it past one season. I'm ready!

Oh, and if you don't hurry up making that rumoured Stargate Atlantis follow-up movie, then I will be most sad.


Recipe - Easiest pizza dough ever

... as long as you have the Marvel That Is The Kitchen-Aid Artisan Mixer lurking in your kitchen somewhere.

500g bread/pizza dough flour
2 X sachets yeast
50 g olive oil
320g tepid to lukewarm water
1 tsp salt

Chuck all the dry stuff in the mixer bowl, give it a quick spin, then with kneading hook going at speed 2, gradually add in the olive oil and water until dough forms a ball on the hook and goes round and round in a satisfying manner.

Continue this for about a 1 - 2 minutes until it looks lovely and smooth and stretchy. Squoosh into a sort of ball-like blob in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until it's roughly doubled in size.

Punch down the centre of the ball-like blob to get all the nasty CO2 out, then scrape out onto lightly floured surface and give a quick hand kneading - just a minute will do.

Divide into pizza-sized bits and leave to rise for another 15 minutes or so.

Flatten out onto pizza pans and put all the stuff on top.



Be Merry!

Recipe - Less Than Sober Lamb Shanks

6 X lamb shanks (although I could only get 2 today, so added 4 forequarter chops to bulk it out)
2 X brown onions
1 X shitload of garlic (somewhere between 3 and 8 cloves according to taste)
4 X sticks celery
4 X shiny orange carrots
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp Moroccan seasoning
1/2 cup pearl barley, washed (if you can be bothered)
2 X tins crushed tomatoes (or homemade equivalent if you can also be bothered)
2 cups red wine (yes, you must spare it, it's vital)
Wee tad of olive oil
Water as needed
S+P to taste

1. Don't preheat oven at all. Locate slowcooker from back corner of garage, wipe out spider and mouse poo and plug in, all ready to use.

2. Roughly chop onion, garlic, shiny carrots and celery.

3. Drink a large glass of red wine (not from the 2 cups allocated for this recipe)

4. Mix flour in a bowl or equivalent holding vessel with moroccan seasoning.

5. Heat wee tad of olive oil in pan

6. Coat lamb bits very well in flour mixture - like pressing it in and making sure the gooby ends are all floured up and stuff.

7. Chuck chopped veggies in slow cooker and turn it on. High is good to start with.

8. Oil should be hot in pan now, so chuck flour-coated lamby bits in there to brown. Depending on your pan this may or may not have to be done in batches.

9. Drink another large glass of wine. Wash hands several times and tell your children to be quiet.

10. When meat is browned, remove it (not with fingers, that will hurt) and chuck on top of veggies in slow cooker.

11. Check that your wine glass is still reasonably full, you'll find out why in a minute.

12. Empty both tins of tomatoes into the pan you had the lamb browning in. Stir it around and scrape up all those scrumptious brown burny bits. Chuck in as much red wine as you can spare from your glass. Keep stirring and scraping. Keep drinking red wine. Once it comes to the boil, lob it on top of the other stuff in the slow cooker.

13. Refill your wine glass and take the sharp knives away from your children and tell them to go to bed.

14. Call your significant other, if (s)he's not already there, and tell him/her what a Domestic Goddess you are.

15. Your glass is probably empty by now, and you could probably do with a toilet run, so take care of these and then go back and make sure the slow cooker is actually plugged in and all that stuff is bubbling.

16. Do something else for an hour or so.

17. Ensure that your neighbours haven't snuck in and nicked off with the remainder of your red wine. You can't spare any more for cooking now, obviously, so throw a bit of water in the slow cooker if it's looking dry. It shouldn't, though.

18. Time for the pearl barley. If you didn't wash it earlier, then bully your children into washing it. Then carefully put it in the slow cooker and stir, thinking only about peace, love and harmony as you mix it in with the rest of the stuff.

19. By this time you're probably out of wine, so nip out to the neighbour's house and beg half a bottle of claret off them for coooking purposes only.

20. Re-enter your own house, marvelling at the culinary odours eminating from your front door.

21. Wait a while and post rude photos of your friends on Facebook.

22. When the barley seems less crunchy, then it's all done. Leave it to burn to a crisp, forget the mash, go to bed and regret the entire endeavour the next morning.