Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas loot

I got other stuff as well but these are my geekiest gifts :-)

My Christmas Loot

(I really need to get my good camera fixed - the shutter button fell off and I've been making do with my phone and occasionally pinching Tom's or Caitlin's camera.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Call for submissions

The eighth edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival is being hosted by Stephanie (stephiepenguin). Submissions are due before New Year, Stephanie is particularly interested in posts around feminism and intersectionality, particularly race and/or ethnicity.

All the guidelines are at the Carnival homepage, and the carnival submission form is at Blogcarnival. If you can’t access the form, you can use the Hoyden contact instead.

Hoyden About Town also has a call out for nominations for Femmostroppo retrospective 2008 - the most memorable feminist posts of 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Well, that was extraordinarily frustrating

Santa brought Guitar Hero World Tour for the kids this year. It was unpacked and set up with much excitement...and then nothing, the game wouldn't start up, we couldn't get the PS2 to read the disc. Great. We know it's not the player, all the other games still work just fine.

Rather naively, as it turns out, we assumed that we could simply take the disc back and have it swapped for one that worked. HA! Oh foolish ones!

We took the disc in to EB Games at Hornsby and explained the situation. We were told that no, they couldn't just swap the disc, we'd have to bring in the whole bundle and by the way we don't have any replacement bundles in stock and we won't have any for anywhere from 2 weeks to who knows when. With steam coming out our ears we went home, with 3 kids in tow, packed up the whole box full of tricks and took it back to the shops.

We were kind of hoping that when confronted by the ginormous box with the packaging all messed up that the staff would come to their senses and decide that maybe just swapping the disc wasn't such a bad idea after all. (Though I'm pretty sure they'd have been out of stock of the disc only versions of the game too, most places seem to be sold out.)

Nope, they couldn't possibly do that, there was no way to enter such an action into their system (um, so don't enter it into the system?). In the course of me trying to persuade the staff to think outside the box (and maybe act like they give a shit about the whole thing) one of them finally asks had we been in touch with Activision, because apparently if there's a problem with anything to do with Guitar Hero there's a slip of green paper in the box that says you're supposed to ring Activision up and they'll send you a replacement part (which they're doing because there's been lots of problems and they don't want the stores to have to deal with doing lots of replacements). Um, no. We hadn't seen any green paper, what with the kids unpacking the box and all.

I turn to the guy who told us to bring the whole box in and suggest that it might have been nice if he'd mentioned that in the first place. He says he assumed we'd have known. Bullshit, when I told him we had a faulty disc it should have been the first thing he asked me.

So we take the box back to the car. After finishing our other shopping we head home. Adam goes to the Activision website. Yep, we can ring them- at $2.50 A MINUTE. Fuck that. The links for Guitar Hero support in the Asia Pacific region lead to a dead end with a drop down list asking what country you are from but without Australia as an option. After a bit lot of surfing around the site he discovers the crowning glory of this whole saga.
If necessary, take the game back to the point of purchase and exchange it for another disc.
Eventually we do find the green slip of paper. It specifically says to contact Activision for problems with Guitar Hero peripherals. Not the games discs.

The only reason I was willing to go through the contacting Activision route in the first place was because we'd have to wait for the shop to re-stock to get a replacement through them and I hoped Activision might be a little quicker getting a new disc out to us. Right at the moment I feel like printing out a copy of the trade practices act and throwing it at somebody.

We'll be ringing EB Games in the morning.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 in review

At the beginning of the year I posted a list of things I wanted to do during the year. I kind of lost interest in keeping some of the more mundane things on the list updated but looking back I'd say I've managed to do almost half of what I planned.
1. Bushwalking.
2. Swimming 50m laps.
3. Bike riding at Western Plains Zoo.
4. Cooking new meals.
5. House extension planning.
6. Bowling.
7. Selling jewellery.
8. Join the archery club.
9. Go see a play - not Shakespeare.
10. Camping with the Huscarls.
11. Learn bead making.
12. Write book reviews.
1, 2 3 & 6. I've done bugger all bushwalking, swimming or bike riding and haven't been bowling very often at all (which is a shame because I really love bowling).

4. I've cooked lots of new meals, probably more often than once a month, and some of them have even been recipes of my own devising.

5. The house extension planning hasn't made much progress at all but I do have a couple of recommendations for builders so that's something at least - and we did put the ducted air-con in with allowance for the extension if/when it's built.

7. Jewellery sales have been slow but gratifying, I need to get more of my stuff posted online to sell.

8. We joined the archery club but have yet to be offered a spot in a beginner's course, that should happen some time in the new year.

9. Haven't seen any live theatre at all this year, but I asked Mum for tickets to Belvoir Street Theatre productions for my birthday and Christmas presents so we'll be going to a few different shows in the year to come.

10. This one we did with a vengeance! Fun times. And some not so fun. We're already talking about which events we'll attend next year, I'm looking forward to it.

11. I loved learning how to make glass beads, so much fun! I have a big bundle of glass rods waiting to be turned into pretty beads, hopefully I'll get a chance to do some while the kids are on holidays.

12. I have no idea why I ever thought I would write reviews of anything I read, let alone everything, I didn't even manage to keep my no frills list of books read up to date.

As for the things I didn't plan on:

We inherited a dog.


I was offered a job, but it turned out to be only 2 weeks work. Then I was offered another job - at my favourite bookshop. Then the first job wanted me back. And suddenly I went from not having been in paid work for 11 years to working 4 days a week. Still haven't quite adjusted to that (and probably won't for a couple of months yet because I'm lucky enough that when the kids are on holidays I don't have to go to work).

All in all it's been a pretty good year

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

I am in the very strange state of having nothing much on my to do list for today, all that needs to be done is a bit of tidying around the house, folding some laundry, buying some bread rolls and eggs...and taking myself off to the doctor :(

I woke up this morning with the beginnings of a bout of cystitis and there's no way I'm risking not getting some antibiotics for it now as we're heading into the Christmas break. So, feeling a little sorry for myself but AWFULLY thankful that everything else is done and I can sit on the lounge and fritter the day away.

Tonight, if the weather holds, we may head off to a Carols by Candlelight in a local park, or if that seems too much like hard work we'll break out a Christmas CD or two at home. Just before bed-time I'll light the candles in the lounge room and we'll have fruit mince pies and age appropriate drinkies for supper. I'll read the last bit of Dicken's A Christmas Carol to the kids along with a couple of other Christmas favourites, they'll put out a plate of supper for Santa and some carrots, apples and water for the reindeer and then be put to bed with the traditional threats of dire consequences should they be out of bed before...oh let's say 5:30am (I'm a realist, just so long as it's not 3:30am!).

I hope everyone is having a very wonderful solstice celebration of whatever flavour they prefer, I'm certainly enjoying my anachronism laden Yule appropriating winter solstice festival in summer! Whatever it's history and supposed "real" meaning, I love Christmas :)

May it be marvelously merry for you all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread House - Aussie style

Here it is, a definitively Australian gingerbread house, inspired by Megan, baked by me and decorated by my kids - with a little help from me and my Mum (ok, I confess, the kids got bored and Mum and I finished the job, the lolly encrusted sides are totally Grandma's fault).

Gum tree?

With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two,

Is that a sheep I see?

a kangaroo


A clothesline out the back

Clothesline out the back

Verandah out the front

Verandah out the front

And an old rocking chair

Old rocking chair

There's an outdoor dunny and a water tank (though it's a little on the small side).

There's even an outdoor dunny

We've even left the front door open for Santa, can't get much more Aussie than that!

Front door open for Santa

Tom has it all worked out

This morning as Caitlin was rummaging through the presents under the tree (as you do when you are 10 years old) she asked me "Why are there no presents here for us from you and Dad?"

Me: "Santa brings you presents. You can pick, do you want presents from Santa or presents from us?"

Tom: "SANTA!" then with a sly grin "But presents from Santa are really from you and Dad."

Me: "I don't know about that. Are you sure?"

Tom: "Yeah, 'cause the real Santa wouldn't come to our house."

Me: "Oh? Why not?"

Tom: "Because we're not nice!"

Construction Phase 1 complete

Tomorrow afternoon we will be making a Gingerbread House, but before that can happen the pre-fabrication of building materials must take place. So that's what I've been doing tonight. Because sleep is so over-rated.

I could have simply re-used the pattern from previous years but I was getting kind of bored with doing the same thing year after year. About a month ago Megan was musing on the question of how to do an Aussie gingerbread house and I got all inspired and stuff. So tonight I made a new pattern, this time of a house with a verandah out the front (at least I hope that's what I've made! I was kind of tired.)

Here's the pattern being cut out in the dough.

Gingerbread in the raw

And here are all the bits, baked and ready for Construction Phase 2 tomorrow afternoon.

Cooling gingerbread house pieces

Damn my house smells good just now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

New furniture

Where we used to have this:

The Tree and this: The Dalek is jealous of R2's hat

We now have this:

New furniture

We have our coffee table back YAY!

(But we need to find a new home for the Roomba.)

Cuddle deprived dog

This morning, when I went to sit down on the lounge with my laptop, Tom was ensconced in my usual spot so I took up residence on the other end of the lounge in Clara's usual spot. Tom and I were both sprawled across the lounge leaving no room for the poor puppy. I mockingly patted my knee as I would to invite one of the cats up for a snuggle and the next thing I know my lap is full of a great big gangly dog.

She settled herself down with her head on my shoulder, had a good squiz outside in case there were any cats to stare at and then tried to lick my ear. Which is when Adam took this photo.

Clara thinks she's a lapdog

Daft dog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Absolutely Fabulous

Break out the Bolly folks, I have it on good authority that this blog is just fabulous darling. (Sorry, can't read the word "fabulous" without hearing it in my mind à la Ab Fab) Anyhoo, thank you so much Liz, I'm very flattered :-)

There are rules associated with this blog award: Name 5 other fabulous blogs and share 5 things that you find fabulous.

So, first up, 5 Fabulous Blogs.
(This having to choose thing? It is hard!)
  1. Hoyden About Town - Down to earth Down Under feminism from Tigtog and Lauredhel, and a fabulous commenting community.
  2. In a Strange Land - Deborah is a Kiwi transplanted to South Australia blogging about feminism, parenting and politics.
  3. Sophie in the Moonlight - Heart wrenching, courageous and full of hope, Sophie shares her experiences of being bipolar.
  4. A Room of Mama's Own - MPJ's writing is full of her fierce love for her family as she blogs about autism, addiction and self-discovery.
  5. Grab Your Fork - Whenever I read one of Helen's delectable posts I end up ravenous, quite apart form anything else there's all these gorgeous photos of food.
And now, 5 things I find fabulous.
  1. Misty mornings, or any time of the day really. Especially when camping. When we went to Beorg-wic back in October there was one afternoon when the clouds rolled down into the valley, settled over the campsite and turned the whole forest into a magical misty realm.

  2. Hot chocolate milk with butterscotch schnapps.

  3. Ocean waves breaking against the rocks. I could spend ages just sitting and looking down from the cliff tops on North Head.

  4. Hugs from my kids. Every afternoon when I pick the kids up from school each of them comes straight up to me in the playground for a big hug and kiss, even my gorgeous 11 year old boy. I reckon that's pretty special. Every night at bed-time they all still want mummy hugs in bed. I hope we will always have hugs for each other. (I still get and give hugs with my mum and dad.)

  5. Stanton and Killeen Grand Muscat. OMG so good. The first time Adam and I tried this, a few years ago, we'd just bought a mixed case of their wines at the cellar door and were offered a free tasting (usually you'd pay to taste this one). We looked at the price and regretfully chose to be sensible, leaving without buying a bottle. Half an hour later we were driving along the Hume Highway still savouring the aftertaste and saying to each other "we SO should have bought some!" So I got him a bottle for Christmas a few weeks later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

If you tag me, I will write

Apparently I feel compelled to respond when tagged.

A. People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blog and replace any question that they dislike with a new, original question.
B. Tag eight people. Don't refuse to do that. Don't tag who tagged you.

01. What are your nicknames?
Mim, mimbles, Mims, sex kitten (sorry, way TMI, and besides, I HATE him saying that)

02. How do you style your hair?
Hair is supposed to have style?

03. What's your favorite or least favorite Christmas song?
Well, I've developed a violent aversion to the Chipmunks Christmas Don't Be Late since my kids took to singing it in chorus over and over and over and over....

04. How many colours are you wearing now?
I don't know, I'm wearing a floral print shirt with multiple shades of blues, greens, yellows and white. And dark blue pin-striped 3/4 pants.

05. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I'm slightly more introverted than extroverted, it takes quite an effort for me to do stuff that puts me in the spotlight.

06. What was the last book you read?
M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. I bought it for David but he of course won't have anything to do with it because I suggested it. I'd read some of the stories before in Smoke and Mirrors but the rest were new to me.

07. What's one piece of fiction that changed your life?
It's trite but true, Firefly brought me into the on-line world of fandom and forums and from there I found my way to the blogosphere. There's a huge part of my life now that is totally all Joss Whedon's fault.

08. If the person you secretly like is already taken, what would you do? What pets, if any, do you have and what are their names? Two cats - Samantha Tinúviel and Jack Sparrow, one dog - Clara, and one fish - nameless.

09. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?
Unhappiness seems to me an all pervading type of emotion. I'm not unhappy about anything really. I get frustrated by some things and I get distressed or sad about things sometimes but those things are transitory.

10. What's your favorite dessert?

11. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
30 minutes from getting up to being ready to walk out the door. Getting the kids ready on the other hand....

12. What websites do you visit daily?
SOz, Hoyden About Town, Shapely Prose, Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, Mom to the Screaming Masses, Two Women Blogging, A Room of Mama's Own, Whatever, Eternal Lizdom.

13. What classes are you taking right now? And if you're not in school any more, what's your job?
I'm a mum 24/7, and I'm also an admin assistant at a magazine publishing company 2 days a week and I work at a bookshop/gift shop 2 days a week.

14. Do you like to clean?
HA! No.

15. What was the last song to get stuck in your head?
Castle on a Cloud from Les Mis

16. What's the last movie you saw?
The World's Fastest Indian on DVD, Wall*E at the movies.

17. Pirates or Ninjas?

What? I'm supposed to justify my choice you say? Tough :P

18. What is your least favorite thing to do that you have to do everyday?
Getting out of bed. And going to bed. Sleeping seems like such a waste of time.

19. Best time of your life?

20. What are you most looking forward to in the coming month?
School holidays. And the leg of ham - yum!

Interestingly, despite my helplessness in the face of being tagged, my disdain for authority still manages to resist the exhortation to tag others. Once again, if you want it, it's all yours.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Adam missed seeing Santa - AGAIN!

Every single year it happens, just when Adam has had to duck out to run an errand or fix a problem, there's the call of "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!" and this big guy in a silly red suit turns up at our Christmas party with a sack full of gifts for all the kids. Saturday afternoon was no different....

Santa arrives

This year our Christmas party doubled as Adam's 40th birthday party but slack buggers that we are there was no cake and we never actually sang Happy Birthday to him. Poor Adam, no Santa and no birthday song either.

What we did have was perfect weather, an over-abundance of yummy food (I keep telling people they don't need to bring anything but do they listen? Thank you all for ignoring me!), beer champagne, mango daiquiris, moscow mules (thanks Jen!), terrific company, happy and beautifully well behaved kids, a well used trampoline, some awesomely bad (and some surprisingly good) drunken Singstar performances and very little sleep.

Many thanks to everyone who came along, it was a wonderful start to the Christmas festivities. Celebrating with my "found family" is the best part of the season for me, you're all good people and I feel very privileged to have such wonderful friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Someone should do something

Let me paint a picture for you.

Your child is starting kindergarten next year. Perhaps this is your first child to be heading off to school, perhaps it's your last, either way the kid is looking forward to it.

You and your partner have got the school holiday child care juggling act all figured out and you've managed to arrange things so that you'll be able to have the day off for the first day of term and one of you will be available to pick your child up each afternoon after school for at least the first week. After that though, you'll have used up all your leave and every bit of flexibility your workplace can offer.

Then this week you receive in the mail a letter laying out the arrangements for the start of the 2009 school year. For the first week there will be no normal classes for kindergarten children, instead, during that week, each child has an appointment for a single 45 minute, one-on-one, assessment session with their kindergarten teacher. Suddenly there's an entire extra week of care needed for your child.

What are you going to do? Perhaps you're lucky enough to have grandparents or friends who can step in and help out, but that's not true for everyone.

Whatever I might think of the new "Best Start" assessment program that is being introduced in schools (that's a whole 'nother rant), the implementation of it at our school SUCKS. I'm furious and I'm not even affected by it. I'm not sure if this is being done the same way in all the 400 (I think that's the right figure) schools that are part of the first phase for introducing this new assessment program, but, if it is, there's going to be an awful lot of unhappy parents. I know at least one parent for whom this represents actual loss of earnings because she will have to take leave without pay and her partner can't step in and help out because he's a teacher and there's no way he can take time off in the first week back. I'm sure they won't be the only family in a similar position.

I feel like I ought to be doing something, at very least I think I'll be pointing out at the next P&C meeting the assumptions being made about there being a parent or other carer (who am I kidding, it's mum we're talking about here isn't it?) readily available to cover the extra week and asking that those concerns be addressed in the implementation of Best Start testing for 2010.

Update: An email has been sent (not be me) and responded to by someone from the DET who rang back pretty much straight away. In part, here's what I was told about that phone call:
Their recommendation is that the assessments occur after the kids have settled in, with time for the teachers to work out the "early birds" and "late birds" as she put it - ie, assess the ones who have settled in well first and give the others more time so that the assessments are realistic and useful, and not carried out when the kids are nervous and overwhelmed.

The expectation of the department was that kinder would begin at the same time as the rest of the school...and that the assessments were to take place during normal school hours.
So it looks like there might be some interesting conversations at the P&C meeting next week!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Speechifying done. I survived. Several people came up to me afterwards to tell me I'd spoken well, apparently my nausea, shaking hands and racing heart don't come through in my voice (or not much anyway :P)

Thanks everyone for all the encouraging comments, they helped :)

Now, I need a massage. I think Adam may be persuadable.

I do not like public speaking

It's not that I'm particularly bad at it, in fact people have been known to tell me I'm quite good at it. Unfortunately my body doesn't seem to know that. I get incredibly tense, heart racing, can't focus on things properly, really stressed and all the time I know I'm going to be perfectly fine but I feel like I'm about to do something hugely dangerous. It really sucks. (It's also why I understand David's anxiety issues, I don't have the same degree of anxiety as him but I sure as hell know what it feels like.)

So, of course, what am I doing tomorrow night? I'm going to be standing up in front of about 350 kids, all their teachers, most of their parents and some of their grandparents, and giving a speech.

Must remember to breathe.


Monday, December 08, 2008

John Scalzi offers "A Story For a Donation"

From John's blog:
Hey kids! I’m doing a holiday fundraiser!
Short Explanation: Science fiction writer and publisher Vera Nazarian is about to lose her home due to various medical and legal expenses. Various folks are fund raising to help her make the payment on her home. My contribution is to offer you a free short story behind the cut below. If you like it, consider donating a small sum via PayPal, which I will send to Vera next Saturday. For the first $1000 sent to the PayPal via the address provided in this entry, Subterranean Press will match the contribution 1-for-1, effectively doubling your donation.
To read the story, and find out more about the fundraiser, click here:
Subterranean Press Presents:
The State of Super Villainy
By John Scalzi

Btw, the latest report on the LJ community running this fundraiser is that the amount for the overdue mortgage repayment has already been raised and they are working towards dealing with some of the other problems Vera is facing.

How Australian am I?

via lauredhel

1. Heard a kookaburra in person (and, like lauredhel, have also had them steal food from the bbq, and have hand fed them.)

2. Slept under the stars

3. Seen a koala.

4. Visited Melbourne

5. Watched a summer thunderstorm (best one was when we were camping by the beach and the storm was up the coast, down the coast and out to sea but not actually where we were. Spectacular! )

6. Worn a pair of thongs

7. Been to Uluru (Ayer's Rock).

8. Visited Cape York

9. Held a snake (not yet)

10. Sang along with Khe Sanh (try and stop me!)

11. Drank VB (but not twice! I was young and didn't know better)

12. Visited Sydney (can you call it visiting when you live there?)

13. Have seen a shark (found a bunch of shark eggs on the beach with embryos still inside and alive after a big storm once)

14. Have used Aussie slang naturally in a conversation

15. Had an actual conversation with an indigenous Australian

16. Eaten hot chips from the bag at the beach (Butcher's paper is better)

17. Walked/climbed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

18. Used an outside dunny, and checked under the seat before sitting down

19. Seen Chloe in Young & Jackson's.

20. Slept on an overnight train or bus (train, Sydney to Melbourne)

21. Been to Sydney's Mardi Gras

22. Have gone bush-bashing

23. Taken a sickie

24. Been to see a game of Aussie Rules football

25. Have seen wild camels

26. Gone skinny dipping. (I don't think it counts if you were only a little kid though)

27. Had a Tim Tam Slam

28. Ridden in a tram in Melbourne

29. Been at an ANZAC day Dawn Service.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Held a wombat

32. Been on a roadtrip of 800km or more

33. Seen the Great Australian Bight in person

34. Had a really bad sunburn

35. Visited an aboriginal community

36. Seen a redback spider

37. Have watched Paul Hogan

38. Seen Blue Poles in person

39. Wandered barefoot in the bush/outback

40. Eaten Vegemite

41. Thrown a boomerang (badly)

42. Seen the Kimberlies

43. Given a hitch-hiker a lift

44. Been to Perth

45. Have tried Lemon, Lime and Bitters

46. Tried playing a didgeridoo

47. Seen dinosaur footprints (I'll echo lauredhel here too: In the USA, though. Does that count?)

48. Eaten Tim Tams

49. Been to Darwin

50. Touched a kangaroo

51. Visted the Great Barrier Reef

52. Listened to Kevin Bloody Wilson

53. Killed a Cane Toad

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre

55. Have read and own books by Australian authors

56. Visited Adelaide

57. Know the story behind "Eternity"

58. Been camping

59. Visited Brisbane

60. Been in an outback pub

61. Know what the term "Waltzing Matilda" actually means

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Listened to Slim Dusty

64. Own five or more Australian movies or TV series

65. Sang along to Down Under

66. Have stopped specifically to look at an historic marker by the side of the road.

67. Eaten a 4'n'20 pie

68. Surfed at Bondi (why would you when there are so many other, much nicer beaches in/near Sydney?)

69. Watched the cricket on Boxing Day

70. Visited Hobart

71. Eaten kangaroo

72. Seen a quokka

73. Visited Canberra

74. Visited rainforests

75. Used a Victa lawnmower

76. Travelled on a tram in Adelaide

There's no 77. Why is there no 77?

78. Used a Hills hoist

79. Visited the Olgas

80. Used native Australian plants in cooking

81. Visited the snow

82. Chosen a side in Holden VS Ford (couldn't care less :P)

83. Visited the desert

84. Been water skiing

85. Read The Phantom

86. Visited Parliament House

87. Gone spotlighting or pig-shooting

88. Crossed the Nullarbor

89. Avoided swimming in areas because of crocodiles (and jellyfish.)

90. Listened to AC/DC.

91. Called someone a dag

92. Voted in a Federal Election

93. Have been swimming and stayed between the flags

94. Had a possum in your roof

95. Visited the outback

96. Travelled over corrugated roads.

97. Hit a kangaroo while driving

98. Been well outside any mobile phone coverage

99. Seen an emu.

100. Have woken to the smell of bushfires .

Hmmm, 69% apparently.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

This weekend

We have:

Demolished most of the kitchenette downstairs in the rumpus room (L-shaped bench and the cupboards underneath) to make room for the old entertainment unit.

The old entertainment unit

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the crap that came out of the demolished cupboards.

Moved the old entertainment unit (yeah, that bloody great thing ^) from the lounge room, out along the front path, down the precipitous driveway, through the garage into the backyard and then back in to the rumpus room.

Moved two huge bookshelves to make space for a clothes rack in our bedroom.


Shifted another bookshelf from one end of the lounge room to the other.

Kid's books (mostly)

Worn out hubby

It used to be down in that other corner where the lamp is now.

Taken a car full of rubbish to the tip.

Put up the Christmas tree and laid out all the other decorations.

The Tree

The tree was entirely assembled and decorated by the kids, I haven't touched it at all.

The Dalek is jealous of R2's hat

I suspect the Dalek may be jealous of R2's hat, must find another one, can't be having robot wars in the lounge room.

Noise making stuffed toys go up high

I'm in the habit of putting the noise making stuffed toys up high, unfortunately the kids went and grew so that no longer stops them being set off ad nauseum.

Found the missing Advent Calendar that I made when Dave and Cait were tiny.

I found the advent calendar

The kids were gratifyingly excited when I produced it, apparently it competes quite well with the Lego one.

And then went out for dinner at Lowenbrau.

It's OK, he's laughing

Surprisingly, this did not end in tears.

Adam and I both ache all over from the books and furniture moving, but ye gods it feels good to have that wretched entertainment unit out of the way. It had been sitting where the tree is now, across in front of the window, for most of this year. Suddenly my lounge room feels twice as big as it did.

I'm eccentric and interesting

At my 20 year school reunion a few weeks back I was told by a friend, whom I hadn't seen in all those 20 years, that she remembered me as an eccentric and interesting person. Then she asked how I was.

So I answered "Still eccentric and interesting!" because I am witty and original like that.

No, really, I am (eccentric and interesting that is, not witty and original, that was a lie). I shall prove it to you. Liz has tagged me with the seven random or weird facts meme which seems the perfect way to make my case.

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven others and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each of the other people know by commenting on their blogs.

Right, here goes:
  1. When I was little I had a teddy bear (as one does) that started life as a properly fuzzy and fluffy beast. He eventually ended up stark nekkid with every bit of fluff removed. I was a fluff picker, blankets, woollen jumpers, stuffed toys, nothing was safe. I would pick the fluff off and then play with it rolling it in my fingers and pulling it apart over and over. Actually, I still do. I'm pretty sure it's a coping mechanism for anxiety, if I don't have fluff to play with I get noticeably tense. These days, in order to save my blankets and clothes from destruction I buy bags of the stuffing you put in stuffed toys and play with that. I figure it's not such a terrible bad habit to have, beats fingernail biting or smoking.

  2. My favourite insect is the praying mantis. I love the way they look at you with their head tilted to one side, and how they like to be at the highest point and so will walk up your arm and sit on your head if you let them, and their lovely green colouring, and! and! and! Look, they're just awesome, ok? I was so excited one year when a whole bunch of them hatched in our garage, there were hundreds of teeny tiny mantises all making their way along the wall and out the garage door.

  3. I have expended a significant amount of effort in avoiding knowing my kids astrological signs. The mere mention of the word astrology raises my hackles and triggers attacks of severe sarcasm. It drove me NUTS that often, when the kids were tiny, one of the first questions people would ask on being introduced to them was "what star sign is s/he?"

  4. I don't like babies. Not even my own. I loved them as babies of course, insanely, deeply, completely, but I couldn't wait for them to grow up and become walking, talking, rational beings. I have never in my life felt "clucky" and I'm yet to feel the "they're growing up so fast" sadness that seems almost ubiquitous amongst my friends and relatives.

  5. Almost all babies think I'm hysterically funny. They look at me and grin, or even giggle. I think it's because I'm prone to making silly faces almost constantly.

  6. I like snakes. I'm hoping Tom will let me organise a reptile party for his birthday next year because I have never held a snake and I figure if I'm paying for the gig I ought to get a cuddle with one of the stars. I've touched plenty of snakes, but always with someone else holding them. The only reason I wouldn't get a pet snake is that unless a pet is able to ask for attention I'm quite likely to forget they exist. (There's a reason there's only one fish in our enormous fish tank.

  7. I'm an unapologetically fat, hairy legged (though this is subject to change without notice), left-wing, sceptical, atheist, feminist, sci-fi reading, Whedon obsessive, twittering blogger. And, although that that makes me perfectly normal here amongst other equally interesting and eccentric folks, out there in the much narrower world of so called real life it makes me positively weird.
(Quirk no. 8: I don't do the tagging thing with memes because I am too lazy don't want to leave anyone out, so if you're feeling like sharing, consider yourself tagged.)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

via Shakesville.

Dear member of the shopping public

When you are talking to people who are working or shopping in a sci-fi/fantasy bookshop it might be wise to keep to yourself opinions such as this:

"Anyone who buys a sonic screwdriver or a lightsabre, without the excuse of a 3 year old to give it to, is someone who is in desperate need of serious therapy."

I couldn't let it pass so I joined in the conversation with "My husband owns a sonic screwdriver that the kids are most definitely not allowed to touch and which lives in the pocket of the jacket he wears to work."

"He must be a geek then" she says.

"Well, yes, very much so." (Hang on, she thinks that's a bad thing doesn't she?)

"He'll be one of those people who are just on the right side of the line of high functioning Aspergers." She seems pleased to have proved her point, I'm thinking she's just lucky I didn't have any suitable projectiles ready to hand.

I was unpacking all this in my head as I drove home today and I have a list of questions I wish I could ask this woman.

Why is it necessary to sneer at people whose interests do not match your own?
In what way is being a geek bad?
Are you seriously equating being Asperger's with being in need of "serious therapy"?
Are you seriously equating being a geek who happens to enjoy having a cool toy from a favourite TV show with being Asperger's?
What's the wrong side of the line of high functioning Asperger's? What's that supposed to mean anyway? Do you have the faintest idea what you're talking about?
Don't you know proper sonic screwdrivers and lightsabres are utterly inappropriate toys for 3 year olds!?!


It was like an "I know big words" version of a high school kid saying "Dr Who toys? That's so lame!"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The seventh Down Under Feminist Carnival is up

This month's carnival is hosted by Queen of Thorns at Ideologically Impure. Once again we are offered a fantastic collection of links to peruse, new blogs to discover and thought provoking writing to wrestle with. Enjoy!

I'm going to read to you whether you like it or not!

Today I spent the whole day feeling like nothing was working out quite the way it was supposed to.

I had planned to give myself the morning off, once I'd dropped the kids at school I was going to come home and spend an hour and a half doing whatever I bloody well wanted to and then pop up to the school 30 minutes before my Canteen shift began to partake of the Helper's Morning Tea - a thank you from the staff to all the parent who have helped out at the school throughout the year (I've never been available to attend before this year).

But the dog looked at me with big brown eyes, full of hope and pathos. So I let her come with us to drop the kids off and then on to the dog park for a play. On my way to the school I remembered that I really needed to sort out some jewellery stuff for Craft Group's Christmas stall next week and came to the realisation that my morning was pretty much a gonner.

Clara got a short but satisfactory play with a lovely labrador who's favourite game was tug-o'-war, Clara was no match for his mass but made up for it with tenacity, and then it was home to tally up bracelet and earring sales and sort out stock for the stall.

I made it to the school with 2 minutes to spare before Canteen duty, just enough time to hand over my stuff to one of the other Craft Group members and observe that I was, once again, missing the Helper's Morning Tea.

Canteen duty was pretty much par for the course, the highlight being when I was cutting the top off a not quite frozen jelly stick (small plastic tube filled with jelly) and it spurted pineapple jelly straight into my left eye. Ow. Actually, doing canteen is kind of fun but we all agreed today that by this time of the year we are a bit over the whole thing and found ourselves a bit short on the endless patience needed to cope with every second child spreading their coin collection on the counter and asking "What can I buy with this?"

As usual, by the time I was done in the canteen there was no point in going home, so I sat in the playground and looked at trees for 10 minutes before other mums began to arrive to pick up kids.

One thing that did go right was that the kids did not fight, burst into tears or demand to know what was for afternoon tea before we'd even made it out the school gate. Most days I get at least one of those, if not the full trifecta.

At home with the kids and it was on to fielding queries about "if/when/why not?" they could play games on the PS2. I stood firm on my "no/not today/because you overdosed yesterday and I need you to help around the house" stance and made them do homework and help clean up the lounge room. Then we pulled out some of the Christmas ornaments (couldn't find most of them, I presume they're downstairs somewhere, hopefully they'll turn up on the weekend) and candles and made the top of the fish-tank and the sideboard look all pretty. Caitlin and David scoured the bookshelf for Christmas books and all the kids sat around reading while I got the dinner ready.

My dad and Adam's mum came for dinner. We had fridge frittata, mostly because I hadn't managed to go shopping so I was making do with what was on hand. I made 2, both with potatoes, onion, red capsicum, broccoli, eggs, cream and a smidgen of grated cheese and smoked chicken in one and left-over lamb and rosemary sausage in the other. I cooked them in stoneware dishes in the oven rather than in pans on the stove and they were yum. Happily, there are left-overs, sadly I have no access to a microwave at either of my workplaces.

After dinner I was determined to get the kids to bed early, they've been having fairly late nights and boy can I tell. I told Caitlin and Tom to shower. Caitlin did, Tom just went and put his pjs on. Eventually they were all ready for bed and we gathered in the lounge room.

"Can we put the Aussie Twelve Days of Christmas CD on?"


"Why not?"

"Because I'm going to read to you."

"Can I read it?" (asks Tom)

"No, it is MY book!" (I hug it to my chest and stroke the cover)


"What's it called?"

"A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens."

"Can we watch the Muppets one?"


"But I like the Muppets one!" (Adam, you're not helping.)

"You can watch the movie later, tonight we're reading."

"Marley was dead: to begin with..."

I'm reading from the most gorgeous edition of the book, it's illustrated by Quentin Blake and the text is large and clear enough that Tom was following along with my reading and turning the pages for me as we went. Caitlin continued to read other books as I read but the boys, Adam and the grandparents were all listening and I even got a couple of laughs for my Scrooge impersonations.

I was a page and a half short of the end of Stave 1 when we put it aside because there was a new Wallace and Gromit about to air on the ABC. It was supposed to start at 8:30pm but it was more like 8:40pm and, of course, the kids weren't settled into bed until after 9:30pm. Again. They really need to be in bed with lights out by 9:00 at the latest, especially now as David is getting up at the crack of dawn and hauling the others out of bed so he can see what's in the next section of the Lego advent calendar I rather indulgently bought them.
Hmmm, reading back over all that it doesn't sound like too bad a day at all does it?

Adam just pointed out that I have a Christmas beetle on my arm. And so I do.

Must be December.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Flickr mosaic meme

The Rules:
1. Answer each of the questions below using Flickr
2. Choose a photo from the first three pages.
3. Copy the URL of your favorite photo into this site.
4. Then share with the world.

01. First Name - Miriam
02. Favorite Food - Mangoes
03. Hometown - Sydney
04. Favorite Colour - Green
05. Celebrity Crush - Michael Shanks
06. Favorite Drink - Margarita
07. Dream Holiday - Horse riding
08. Favorite Dessert - Tiramasu
09. What I Want To Be When I Grow Up - Contented
10. What I Love Most In The World - Family
11. One Word That Describes Me - Reliable
12. My Blogging Name - mimbles

Mosaic meme
1. for Miriam Makeba R.I.P., 2. Mango, 3. Sydney on the harbour, 4. c’mon, get me if you can…♫ a praying mantis from bali ♫, 5. Michael & Ben Re: Daniel & Cameron, 6. Margarita cocktails closeup, 7. Horse riding, Glenorchy, 8. Whole Foods Market : Phillips Crossing Grand Opening, 9. Know Content Always Happy, 10. Raccoon Family, 11. Old Reliable Wall, 12. Shepherds Pie Surprise

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Never do anything by halves

Or even just plain old wholes apparently.

Somehow NaBloPoMo's 30 posts in 30 days turned into 41 posts in 30 days. What can I say? Once you're floundering for something of interest to post pretty much anything starts to look post-worthy! It's been fun, I've found new blogs to read and I've spent way too much time sitting on the lounge with my laptop on my knee and the dog cuddled up against my leg and there's been a whole heap of new traffic here in my little corner of the net. It's been lovely to "meet" those of you who have left comments, thank you for dropping by :)

Now, I suppose I'd better get on with the stuff on my to do list for today, first up - wash the dog!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adam has terrible taste in movies

I've been sitting here trying to read blogs while Adam watches 10,000 BC. My god it's awful. Actually I'm not sure why he's watching at all given that every so often I'm hearing him exclaim about the variously stupid things happening on screen. I suppose I should be grateful that at least it's a DVD so I'm not also being subjected to ad breaks.

He's just offered the criticism "they've got very good teeth..."

Dr Horrible DVD available for pre-order!

Do I really need to say anything else?

It's here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Submissions for the next Down Under Feminist Carnival must be in this weekend

December's edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival is being hosted at Ideologically Impure. You've got till the end of the weekend to submit posts for the carnival, so if there's something you've read or written this month that you think needs to be included, send it in. If you can’t access the form, you can use the Hoyden contact instead.

Getting ready

I've spent the last few weeks responding to every hint of Christmas - decorations in shops, carol singing kids at the breakfast table, request from Adam for fruit mince pies (he ended up cooking his own) - by growling "it's not December yet!" in true bah humbug fashion. But come Monday it will be December and that means there's a whole bunch of Stuff To Do this weekend.

As I mentioned, we've done barely any Christmas shopping, so tonight is list writing time and the plan is to be up and out bright and early tomorrow morning for a bit of a marathon effort at the shops. I'm going to do as much as I can on-line and there are some people I can shop for at work but not every member of my extended family fits into the sci-fi geek category (more's the pity). I'm also hoping to do some major tidying up around the house and shifting of furniture so we can move our old entertainment unit out of the lounge room and take it downstairs. This will reclaim the huge chunk of space it's uselessly taking up given that the new TV doesn't fit in it (instead the TV is sitting on the coffee table, we're waiting on new TV and storage units which are being custom made). Saturday night we have a Christmas party to go to which will be nice, we won't stay too late though, I don't want us or the kids too tired for Sunday.

Sunday is decorating day. We'll be putting up the tree, festooning the lounge room with figurines and musical stuffed toys, wondering where the heck that Advent calendar is (I'd forgotten it was missing till I went back and read that post. Damn.), wrestling with mysteriously tangled strings of outdoor lights (doesn't matter how carefully you put them away the year before, tangled they will be) and putting Santa hats on the Dalek and R2-D2 robots.

David suggested this afternoon that we find all the Christmas books and put them in a special box to read in the lead up to Christmas, I was already intending to do just that so it was nice to know it'll be worth doing. Not sure when I'll tackle that one though. Sometime before Monday night I guess.

Sunday afternoon we'll be going to see Carnival of the Animals and possibly going out for pizza and gelato afterwards.

Then I will die of exhaustion.

But it will be a happy death, I will be able to turn on all my pretty lights, light the vanilla, cranberry and spice scented candles, put some music on and bask in the indulgent, silly, over the top Christmassy wonderfulness of it all.

Because I'm not really a bah humbug person at all, I love every bit of it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Because clearly I have too much free time

Caitlin sang Abba's Thank You For the Music in the school talent quest this afternoon, she was first up on stage, the microphone wasn't working properly (again) and the audience started clapping just as she was about to start the 3rd verse. She took it all in her stride and sang beautifully.

I was thrilled to see several other very talented kids up there singing this year, a couple of year 6 girls with very good voices, one of whom accompanied herself on the electric guitar, and a boy in Caitlin's year who sang Little People from Les Misérables. I get all stupid grinning happy when I see kids doing this stuff whether they're my own kids or not, I'm the same with the dance concert each year too.

Afterwards when we were out in the playground having congratulatory hugs one of the teachers came up to us and instructed me to book Caitlin in for an audition with the Berowra Musical Society for their production of Les Miz.

So I did.

(I harbour a secret desire to be in a musical myself one day, perhaps I ought to audition too....)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Garlic prawn and spinach risotto

I went shopping this afternoon knowing that I wanted to make a prawn risotto but without having looked up a recipe. So I put on my recipe inventing hat and chucked in the trolley whatever seemed like a good idea at the time. I reckon it turned out ok.

Garlic prawn and spinach risotto

2 tbspn olive oil
500g garlic prawns (I got the De Costi ones)
2 onions, diced
50g butter
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (nicked from the bottle my dad brought to have with the meal)
1 L chicken stock (made with salt reduced Massel cubes)
400g can diced tomatoes with oregano and basil
1 bunch English spinach, coarsely shredded
freshly ground black pepper
2 tspn lemon juice

  1. Heat the stock and wine in a saucepan and keep it at a low simmer.

  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil and cook the prawns until just changed in colour, remove from pan and set aside.

  3. Add onions and butter to pan and cook until transparent. Stir in the rice until well coated.

  4. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time stirring constantly over a medium heat, each time waiting until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. About half-way through add the tin of diced tomatoes and season with pepper. Once all the stock has been added taste test the rice, if it's still a little on the firm side add hot water in small amounts and continue stirring until the rice is cooked through.

  5. Add the spinach and, once the spinach has wilted, add the cooked prawns and lemon juice and stir until heated through.
Of course, the kids thought I was poisoning them. Tom picked out the prawns and ate them and then tried to eat the rice without consuming any vegetables, David took 2 bites and announced he wasn't hungry and Caitlin ate, hmmm, let's see, maybe 3 grains of rice? Dad and I both had seconds and Clara thought all her Christmases had come at once when the kids gave her their left-overs.

Teaspoon update

Caitlin talked to her teacher and the group was asked to change their name.

They're now called the Gummi Bears :)

No-one was difficult about it. The girl who had originally chosen the name and given the explanation of its meaning protested that she didn't mean anything by it, which I take to mean she was a bit embarrassed to be called out on the matter. I'm also pretty sure she's never given any serious thought to the issue, she's just following along with the mob. I wonder how many teaspoon nudges it takes to get a mob to change direction?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wielding her teaspoon*

Caitlin's class has recently re-arranged their seating and each table group gave themselves a name. Caitlin is sitting with the "Gaybo" group. I asked what the hell that was supposed to mean. Apparently, according to the kid who suggest the name, it means "we're not gay."


I was glad to hear Caitlin had no part in choosing the name. David tells me that "gaybo" is used as an insult by kids at the school, so how it also means "not gay" isn't quite clear to me, but either way it's problematic.

Thing is, if my "that's dodgy" radar went off, why didn't the teacher's?

When I pointed out the problem with the name, Caitlin instantly said she should go to her teacher and tell her "that it's homophobic". It's pretty cool that she wants to do that but I can't help but feel apprehensive about the possible fall-out for her. Guess that's what letting your kids grow up is about, at some point you have to step back and let them take risks and I do think it's better coming from her than from me.

This'll follow on nicely from the class discussion that was had last week when the scripture teacher was away. They all took turns talking about their beliefs about religion so Caitlin found herself proclaiming her atheism to the whole class (I think there were a couple of others who also said they didn't believe in god, so about 10% of the class, which I found interesting).

*the teaspoon reference comes from here.

Status report

Lego pistol - retrieved, the friend admitted his mistake without any need to produce the evidence.

Laundry - Mostly folded but not ironed and at least 3 loads waiting to be done.

Kitchen - pantry and tupperware cupboard exploded several weeks ago, it's been a losing battle ever since.

Groceries - I am so not adjusting to not being able to do the shopping when the kids are at school, we are out of most of the basics and used up the last of the frozen left-overs last night. Looks like I'll be shopping this evening.

Kid's homework - I'm conflicted about this, they're all outside playing happily and being energetic, I so don't want to to drag them in and have them switch to irritating each other while I end up yelling at them to "sit down, pick up a pen and bloody well do your homework!"

Christmas shopping - I've done nigh on bugger all, this has me a little concerned as by this time I have usually pretty much finished.

Sleep - in deficit by at least 6 hours. Must go to bed before 11:00pm tonight.

Work - I'm enjoying it, so far so good.

Friends - fabulous.

Husband - awesome.

Life - despite the inevitable frustrations of being a parent and the whole adjusting to the new way things are around here, is pretty bloody good.

NaBloPoMo - taxing my creativity :P

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Great Lego Pistol dispute

Just when I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon. Ha! No, we must have drama instead! David came out of class this afternoon in a right state. The story emerged slowly, interspersed with sobs and sniffles.

A piece of Lego is being held hostage in the teacher's staff room this afternoon after a major dispute over ownership broke out in class today. Why the hell are the kids playing with Lego in class? Well may you ask! It's all to do with the project they're doing - a personal interest project - they have to produce a presentation of some sort about something they like. So, for David and a few of his friends, that means Lego. They've been taking models they've made to school and photographing them to use in animations or comics or whatever.

Actually, David takes Lego to school most days to play with at recess and lunchtime. I'm not happy about this for several reasons, it's expensive, easy to lose, he's prone to sneaking it out in class and fiddling with it when he should be working and it's vulnerable to being pinched. But short of bag searches and pat downs each morning I can't stop him, so instead we've established some rules. It's not to come out during class, he has to accept that in taking it to school he risks losing it and that if that happens he will get no sympathy from me and he's not allowed to make it my, or the teachers' problem in any way.

Unfortunately it all came unstuck today when he lent some of his Lego to a friend to use in their project. A tiny Lego pistol became separated from the rest of the model and was claimed by another friend (and here's the odd bit) and promptly gifted to the first friend. Shortly afterwards David realised he was missing the pistol (and let me assure you, he's obsessive enough to be damn sure about what he does or doesn't own or have with him at any particular time). David indicated that the pistol was in fact his and within moments the discussion had degenerated into 2 of them yelling "No, it's mine!" at each other. They ended up in front of the deputy principal (here's where I cringe in humiliation) who has confiscated the disputed property and requires proof of ownership before it will be returned. What I don't get is that the friend who is contesting ownership is the one who gave it away when he thought it was his, why does he even care?

So when Dave tells me he's supposed to come up with proof of ownership I'm all "What? How the hell are you supposed to do that?" I need not have worried, he had it all figured out. It seems the key is which set the pistol is supposed to have come from, Dave identified it as part of the Batman range, the friend said it came from an Indiana Jones set and that the 2 sets have the same piece in them. Dave assured the teachers that the 2 pistols are different but they would not take him at his word (this was the source of most of the distress, to not be believed about a question of Lego, of all things, was devastating).

I read the riot act on the subject of reasonable responses to situations and the inappropriateness of losing your shit over a tiny piece of plastic, said that of course I believe him, laid down the law about not taking your bad mood out on the rest of us after he snarled at Tom for asking what was wrong and then assured him it will all be ok.

All of which goes to explain why we had to come home and raid the Lego.com site for pictures of pistols.

Evidence gatherer, trauma counsellor, behaviour critic and giver of hugs. That's me.

You'd think there'd be enough real problems to wrestle with without this sort of mountain out of molehill stuff as well.

David is right, of course.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I feel a little less safe from storms after today.

Living, as we do, at the bottom of a gully, sheltered from the worst of the winds in the storms that come through this part of Sydney, I've always felt pretty safe even though we are surrounded by tress that, if they fell, would do some serious damage to the house. Earlier today we had a very brief storm hit, it wasn't particularly windy but there was some fairly heavy rain. And now we have slightly less tree than we used to.

Fallen branches

Fallen branches

Two fairly decent sized branches have come down off the Liquid Amber that dominates our front yard. I'm so glad they didn't take out the power and phone cables on the way down, or leave us with a damaged roof or deck.

You can't even tell that the tree is missing anything what with it being so big and leafy.

Liquid Amber

The only problem is that now my occasional visions of what it would be like if the whole bloody thing came down seem just that little bit more likely.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blog quiz warning, content free post ahead

It's scientifically proven, my cats are out to get me!

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Well, this was much better for the ego than that other periodic table quiz.

Name That Element

Can't do rat dog breeds at all, except for chihuahua, I'd know those evil buggers anywhere.

Name That Dog Breed

I cheated on this one and made Adam help me, I'm notoriously useless when it comes to movie trivia.

Name That Movie Villain

With 11 seconds to spare! (shhh, don't tell them about Pluto)

I named 9 planets in 30 seconds Can you name all the planets in our solar system? (in 30 seconds)

I used to be able to do all of them thanks to a bit over a years worth of schooling in the US, but it always took longer than 10 minutes.

I named 38 US states in 10 minutes How many US states can you name in 10 minutes?

And on that note, I think I'll go to bed.

Happy (belated) 98th birthday Grandma

On Friday I had lunch with my mum and my grandma.

I was one day late seeing Grandma for her birthday and missed out on being part of the larger family gathering the night before but there were advantages to being there just with my mum and the birthday girl. Grandma finds it very difficult to hear people when there's a lot of background noise (though her new hearing aides are helping) so it's much easier to carry on a conversation with her with no-one else around.

We talked about curries and Chinese food - Grandma is a fan of both and is disappointed by the curry served at the nursing home, it lacks flavour. She asked how I was getting my housework done now that I'm in paid work - I joked that it wasn't getting done (except it's not a joke but that's not a new situation, I'm not much of a clean freak and besides Adam does at least as much as me round the house). We discussed the trickier clues in today's Sydney Morning Herald crossword - Grandma does it every day. When asked what I was doing with the rest of my day I said nothing exciting, maybe some laundry, Grandma told me that when her kids were young she swore to herself that once they were out of nappies she was only ever going to wash once a week because she hated it and besides it was more efficient not to wash every day - well it would be if you had to fire up the copper to get it done! It's no wonder Grandma hated the laundry so much, hand washing and line drying nappies for twins born in mid-winter would traumatise anyone.

Happy 98th birthday Grandma!

After lunch we took our cups of tea out to the verandah and sat in the sun for a while, when we went back in Grandma's glasses (they're the ones that change tint depending on light levels) were so dark she couldn't see a thing, had to take them off, it's a good thing she moves slowly with that walker of hers, a half-blind wheely-frame driver moving at speed would be a right menace.

I didn't have a particularly close relationship with Grandma until I started to spend time with her on my own as an adult. I'm very glad she's been around for me to get to know properly, and for my kids to have the chance to know her.

Happy 98th birthday Grandma.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A plethora of Python

Monty Python have gone the "can't beat 'em? Join 'em!" route and are launching their very own official high definition YouTube channel.

via Hoyden About Town

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Damn, I found out about this one day too late

Following links from this post at Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony I discovered that last night I missed watching the Australian TV premiere of the documentary A Well Founded Fear.

From the film's web-site:
The Australian Government sends back asylum seekers it doesn't think are refugees. International law says people shouldn't be sent to unsafe locations. But the Australian Government never finds out what happens to the asylum seekers they don't want. So a determined Australian with a passion for justice has made it his mission.

A Well-Founded Fear is a moving documentary film about Phil Glendenning's search for the asylum seekers Australia rejected. The film follows him as he travels through Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Canada.
I really wish I'd known it was on, I must make sure I keep an eye out for other opportunities to watch it.

Back when my kids were little some of my mum's friends, and when she could my mum too, were involved with visiting refugees who were being detained. Hearing the stories of those people and knowing how completely and horrifically wrong the Howard government's treatment of asylum seekers was, would leave me consumed with anger and sorrow for our failings as a nation. When we finally got rid of Howard, a change in Australia's treatment of refugees was very high on my list of things to be hopeful for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Car parks are not always concrete jungles

My new workplace is in a fairly recent development hacked out of the edge of a quite extensive area of bushland. The views from the office are rather nice and they've done a pretty good job with the landscaping, the car parks have plenty of garden beds strewn about the place.

Apparently the local wildlife have lost no time in making themselves at home, Jen tells me she often sees a couple of reptilian residents making use of the warm bitumen in the car parks.

As I was leaving this afternoon, this fellow popped out from under a car as I walked past and headed off into the garden. He seemed quite happy to hang around and have his photo taken.

Another dragon

I wanted to get a shot that showed just how big he was but of course there's nothing in shot to give a sense of scale, suffice to say he was big for a water dragon!

This was a lot of lizard

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions people ask

Every now and then, when I'm futzing around doing nothing much I pull up the keyword searches that bring visitors to my blog. I'm sometimes disappointed that it's really not that interesting but then perhaps it's better not to be regarded as an expert on the matter of ugly underarms.

BBQs. Quite a number of people end up here looking for the Beefmaster bmh4cs BBQ. What they get is one of my menu plans. For the record, it's a good BBQ, we're pretty happy with it.

There's a whole bunch of folks who want to know how to fix a flyscreen, don't look at me, that one's still broken a whole year later!

My roast pumpkin and couscous salad is getting quite a few hits, I wonder if anyone ever uses the recipe. Traffic to the fruit mince pies recipe is picking up again, 'tis the season and all. For those of you looking for vegan fruit mince pies, I'll get ZB on the case and we'll get back to you ok?

Speaking of the season, my Firefly Christmas poem is still finding new readers on occasion.

The Evil League of Evil and its high achieving leader Bad Horse send an awful lot of people my way, I hope they enjoy the screen caps.

This I have no clue about: "middle age indulgences tinsel". The mind boggles.

Oh, and folks, 3 hours sleep is definitely not enough. Do you really need to ask?

Monday, November 17, 2008


I got nothing, have some giant microbes:


Last November I got to day 22 before hitting the wall and fobbing you off with my shoe collection, I hate to think what depths I'll be driven to in another week from now.

I think what this collection has over the shoes is its undeniable cuteness, geek value and the therapeutic benefits of being able to throw small stuffed toys at one's children while yelling "Plague! Mad Cow Disease! Flesh Eating Bacteria!"

The kids have devised a complex game with specific rules for the use of each critter. Various diseases can only be launched at your opponent under certain conditions, possession of the white blood cell is hotly contested, and should you have the misfortune to find yourself with custody of both the egg and sperm cell you are required to imitate the gait of a heavily pregnant woman for a set period of time (yep, even if you're a boy). It's all very educational.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shakespeare for the modern age

This I had to share.

Hamlet, the Facebook news feed edition.

via Penni at eglantine's cake

Daiquiris at 1 am not recommended

I had fun last night, chatted to a whole bunch of people I hadn't seen in 15 or more years, drank too much champagne, danced way more than my feet liked and, in exchanging tales of what we're all doing with ourselves lately, realised that I probably have a few more projects and activities on the go than average.

I called Adam to come and get me at about 12:45 am, we got home and he asked me "Tea or coffee?" Apparently I replied "Mango daiquiri" (I confess I vaguely remember this) and the next thing I know he's out in the kitchen digging out the blender and making a whole jug of boozy mango deliciousness.

Oh man, it was difficult getting up this morning and I don't think I was much use helping out at the BBQ for the school Christmas Markets this afternoon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mum's taxi

7:30 am - Get up, shower, dress and do Caitlin's hair and make-up.

8:25 am -Take Caitlin to dance dress rehearsal for Ballet.

8:40 am - Come home, have breakfast (egg and bacon roll cooked by Adam, because he is awesome), wrap birthday present for party Tom is going to, frantically search for invite which isn't on the cork board where it's supposed to be, make card on computer.

9:40 am - Go back to pick up Caitlin.

9:55 am - Drop Caitlin home so she can get changed and take Tom to party.

10:05 am - Decide to write blog post now because...

10:40 am - Take Caitlin to dance dress rehearsal for Hip Hop.

10:50 am - Go do grocery shopping hopefully managing to get it home and put away before...

11:55 am - Back to pick Caitlin up.

12:05 pm - Lunch is looking like a good idea about now.

1:40 pm - Go pick up Tom from party.

2:00 pm - Re-do Caitlin's hair and make-up.

2:30 pm - Take Caitlin to dance dress rehearsal for Song and Dance.

2:40 pm - Oh, I don't know, maybe do some laundry?

3:25 pm - Back to pick up Caitlin.

And then, at 5:00 pm I'm going out to my 20 year School Reunion which I feel kind of weird about.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Waiting for the southerly

Memories of childhood.

Hot summer days. Playing under the sprinkler. Lying on a towel in the sun (but not for too long!). Sprawling on the lounge, curtains drawn, fending off the heat outside. A wet face washer cooled in front of the fan and laid on face and arms for momentary ease.

Lying in bed in the evening with the window wide opening, stifling heat keeping sleep at bay. Waiting for that first breath of moving air. The sheer curtain finally lifting, billowing, and falling back against the glass, but just the once. A cool breeze creeping through the window, not quite strong enough to push aside the curtain. Looping the curtain up out of the way. The breeze picks up, there's a smell of rain in the air. The first fat drops begin to fall. The sound of wind in the trees heralds its arrival.

The southerly finally hits. I can breathe again and sleep in the welcome coolness.

The air-con problem yesterday was not just operator error. Something ain't right, there's someone coming to look at it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Things I'd like to know.

Why do my forearms and fingers ache today? Did I manage to sleep on both arms all night or something?

Why are embedded YouTube videos in blogs, including my own, not showing up for me today? They worked just fine yesterday.*

Why did it take me at least 2 hot and grumpy hours this afternoon to figure out that the reason the brand new ducted air-conditioning wasn't cooling the house was that if you leave the door to downstairs wide open then it'll do a sterling job of cooling the rooms you aren't inhabiting but bugger all for the part of the house you're in?

Why does my son think that if he half-hears what someone is saying in the next room he can interrupt and demand to have the conversation repeated for his benefit?

Why do some people find it necessary to sneer at the interests of others as though only their own preferences and interests are valid?

And finally, what are we having for dinner? (Don't say toasted sandwiches - we're almost out of bread!)

My day has been a little on the frustrating side. Did you guess?

*Never mind, I did the turn everything off and start again thing and they came back.