Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It's a handy site to know about.
Here's a helpful instructional video on how to identify an emo.
I've noticed at work that there's more and more of our students evolving into these creatures, particularly in the upper levels. I find it helps to stay alert to the newfangled trends of the young folk.
Now I'm off to water my veggies.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I popped into Spotlight yesterday to buy a cushion insert for a silk cushion cover I bought in Thailand. (Incidentally, when I got home and took the cover out of the wrapping, I found that a seam had popped. I'm outraged. Do you think I should get on a plane and fly back to Phuket, go to the market and track the seller down and get a refund? It cost me all of $3..... or is that taking rationalisation to go on a new holiday too far?)
Anyway, while I was there I went to the wool section. I got wildly excited when I found some bamboo and cotton yarn. I love the idea of wearing something that would make me delicious to a panda. The question I have is... where would I find a pattern for yarn like this? I'm assuming that I couldn't adapt a pattern for wool, given that wool is stretchier and... well... woolier than a cottonish thread. I like the idea of knitting a simple jumper for summer days that get a little cool. For when the drought breaks. It has to soon, because I've planted my veggies. So I want to get cracking, while not forgetting the afghan (mmmm, the afghan.) So does anyone in internetland have any ideas? Spotlight didn't seem to have patterns for this type of yarn, though admittedly I only scanned the shelves briefly. I had a couple of cakes in the oven, and I knew I had to get back. I sound so domestic, don't I?
Yesterday turned into a bit of a baking day. Usually I bake about 4 cakes on the weekends, and the kids have one a day when they come home from school. It's easy to divide a cake into quarters. I also bake huge amounts of biscuits every fortnight or so, and freeze them for the kids lunches. But since coming home from Thailand (land of inadequately sewn cushion covers and elephants.... I still love the elephants) I've been knackered, to use an elegant phrase. The kids have been eating toast, popcorn and uncooked spaghetti (pasta) after school, and using shop bought (gasp!) biscuits in their lunchboxes. Obviously this shocking state of affairs cannot continue.
4 cakes, and 120 biscuits with wheatgerm and chocolate chips made. Wheatgerm for inner health because I am now a Good Mother again, and chocolate to get them to eat the darned things to get the wheatgerm in their colons. Especially Connor, the eat-no-vegetables-except-chips kid. I feel in control again. What a legend. Brennan has to take 60 of those biscuits (cookies to our American mates) to school for a project he's doing about healthy food, so I'll have to make more on the weekend, but now the snack situation is organised. I also made an impossible pie at the same time as making dinner, and now that's cut into portions and frozen for my lunches for the next week. It's amazing how much better I feel now that I've done this. I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with everything, but now I'm back on an even keel.
Ma Ingalls has nothing on me!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
After I uploaded this I realised that I should've made this a LAAAAARRGE photo. The afghan (look, the afghan!) would look far more impressive. I've been knitting feverishly, and according to the pattern I'm a quarter of the way there. Yes, gentle readers, I've done four rows of squares. With very few mistakes, considering I've been knitting in front of the tv and blogs on the computer screen. But here's the thing.... how come in all of the knitting blogs I've wandered through, the people start a major project and then five minutes later post a picture saying "oh look. I've finished. And by the way, here's some shots of the forty-seven hats and scarves I completed while I was doing this major project. Just so I didn't get bored." How do they do it??? Do they have an extra pair of arms, so they can casually keep knitting while they're cooking dinner or driving to music lessons or working in the garden? Are they insomniacs, knitting quietly away in the dead of night by the dim glow of a night light? I wish I knew their secret. They're making me feel very inadequate.
Speaking of works in progress, look at this life sized portrait of a cauliflower I grew. I'm so excited. I bought a punnet each of cauliflower and brussels sprouts plants, and bunged them in at the end of winter. It was supposed to be too late to get anything from them, but I thought I'd do an experiment and just see. I was planning to pull them up this weekend, but when I was watering on Wednesday I saw two golf-ball sized caulies. I squealed and jumped for joy. Brennan came out (he's the other cauliflower and brussels sprouts lover in the family), and he said that he found them a couple of days ago, but decided not to tell me because he didn't want to spoil the surprise. What a sweetie. So we squealed and jumped up and down together. Nothing's happening with the brussels sprouts as far as I can tell, so they're living on borrowed time.
After lunch I'm popping on a sunhat and planting the seedlings I bought last weekend. They've been sitting in the laundry trough all week. Heaps of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and lettuce. Mum noticed two of the tomato plants were optimistically putting out flowers, blissfully unaware of the bee-less state of the great indoors, so before school yesterday I raced out and put them next to the pigface so they could live it up. Yummy little yellow cherry tomatoes.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I wonder who was the twit who saw this pretty plant and said, "Let's call it Pigface." I've planted some along the side of the main veggie patch with the thought of pollination in mind, and I was appalled when Mum said that's what it was called. I suppose if you squint, stand on your head and look sideways at it then the flowers might appear to be pigs' snouts, but honestly I think there'd also have to be a major amount of chemicals running through your system at the same time. I really likes this plant, but now I've gone off it a bit. Maybe this proves that a rose by any other name DOESN"T smell as sweet.
I'll be writing more about books, after a fabulous comment I received on the last post. She reminded me about Jean Plaidy. Every Saturday morning I used to walk up to Highett library with one of those old lady wheely shopping carts filled with books and spend a halcyon hour or so browsing the shelves for my fix for the next week. Jean Plaidy was one of my favourite authors. Prolific! My God the woman could churn them out. She also wrote gothic romantic fiction under the name Victoria Holt and I sampled a few of them, but my true love was for her historical 'faction'. I learned so much history from reading her work, and I'm sure that she's coloured how I regard historical figures even today. Catherine de Medici, for example. The woman was a queen of France and poisoned people left right and centre. Towards the end of her life people got nervous if she looked at them for too long. Yet I regard her with a tinge of fondness. She had it tough when she was a girl....
Am I the only one who learned history through reading fiction? At school the only interesting year of history we did was in Year 7. Egypt, Rome, etc. Then for the next 5 years it was set down that we had to do Australian history. For the first couple of years it wasn't so bad. There's Ned Kelly, the Eureka stockade, explorers trudging off into the deserts and carking it, the gold rushes....
But we've only got about 200 years of history. There's only so much sensational things you can learn about before the mundane and dreary take over. (And yes I know the Aborigines have about 40,000 more, but they didn't write any of it down, and so we poor school kids were forced to learn about squatters and Federation year after year.) In my last year of high school I rebelled and ended up learning European history by correspondence. Yes, that was probably the extent of my teenage rebellion that year. I lived life on the edge, baby...
European history, even by correspondence was more interesting than sheep farmers and explorers dying in the desert (again). It was this subject that introduced me to Renaissance art. I still remember being blown away by the sculpture, the paintings and the absolute attention to detail. But the lesson content was still a bit dry, full of legislation for this and negotiations for that. I wanted Henry the eighth striding down a hallway in Hampton Court with his retinue around him. I wanted colour, movement and passion. In short... I wanted my historical novels.
I'm still a sucker for them.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Hopefully this link will work. It's my first try. Scott showed me how to use HTML ten minutes ago.
Basically, all you have to do is read 12 Young Adult novels over 2008. I really like this genre, and not because I'm an English teacher of Young Adults. (At least, that's what they say they are, but sometimes I take the liberty of doubting it.) I enjoy that these books tend to deal with some challenging themes, and they stick to the point, which can't be said for other genres. The plot has to grab, otherwise kids won't persevere, so it forces the author to be less self indulgent. I realise I'm speaking in massive generalisations here, so don't leave comments saying I'm an idiot. (But feel free to leave comments about anything else!!) Also, next year I'll be looking for new texts for our ESL kids, so doing this challenge will be like a tax deduction for the mind. Work + Fun = a happy me.
Another reason I'm happy to take part in this is that these books are going to be a part of our kids' lives. They'll be shaping their literary memories and forming part of their view of the world. I still have incredibly clear memories of the books I loved as a child.
The 'Little House' books still stay with me today. I even named one of my dogs Laura. When I'm being frugal I channel Ma Ingalls.... what would she do?
And what about 'Go Ask Alice'? My cousin and I read that book together over the summer holiday I spent at her house while Mum and Dad were in Europe. I read a page aloud, then she'd read a page.... I'm sure that book is one of the reasons why I steered clear of drugs. (Scared the bejeebers out of me!)
I read the 'Anne of Green Gables' books over and over again in my early teen years. Who wasn't captivated by the little red haired orphan and her imagination? Remember her walk through the haunted woods? Remember the reenactment of 'The Lady of Shallott'? The puffed sleeves she coveted?
Later on when I was 16 or so I graduated to Georgette Heyer. I own the complete set of her works. I have them parked on the bottom bookshelf in my lounge room, partially hidden behind a chair. (Well.... they're not exactly literary boasting material. But I love them nonetheless.) 'These Old Shades'... top read. I just loved Leonie. Sophie, Hero, Ancilla and all of the others were just fabulous. Heyer was also funny. Every now and then there's a dry line that's hysterical. And the interesting thing is that even though my literary tastes have moved on over the past twenty years, I find that if I'm particularly stressed, then I'll gravitate to reading one. I know what's going to happen after reading each one hundreds of times in my youth, so it must be somehow soothing to switch off and just let my eyes run over the pages full of muslin clad, high-spirited heroines and their cleft-chinned men who can control a team of highly strung horses with one flick of their wrists. (sigh! They don't make them like that anymore...)
The 'Silver Brumby' books by Elyne Mitchell are also fantastic. Following these horses through the bush, watching the generations grow and move on, watching Thowra become more and more of a legend the longer time went on... fabulous stuff. Although they are about horses, these are no Pony Club books with spoilt little missies whingeing about missing a jump at the last gymkhana. These horses are wild brumbies....
When I was a SAHM in the depths of nappies, poverty and a bad marriage, the kid next door introduced me to the 'Tomorrow When the War Began' series by John Marsden. Hands down one of the best series I've ever read, either for Young Adults or for those of us more Geriatrically Challenged. I gobbled down the books that were written, and then haunted the bookshops waiting for the next one to come out. By this stage I didn't classify as a 'Young Adult' type of reader. I was 33 and had three-and-a-half kids. These books have a wonderful plotline (what if Australia was invaded? What would happen? A group of teenagers from the bush escape the initial round-up of Aussies. What do they do now??) I love them. Even Jack has started reading them, and he's no reader.
So bring on the challenge!! I'm looking forward to it. It's taking my mind of the looming pressure of having to start my NaNoWriMo novel. Scott's upped the ante by bringing genre into it. (I'd be happy to have a singlecharacter, let alone a whole genre.)
Maybe I'll make mine a Young Adult one.....
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
(This photo was taken during the Christmas holidays, before I shaved my head. I look much more aerodynamic now.)
Woke up at 5am AGAIN this morning. I don't know why. Mum says that it's because we're all waiting for daylight savings to start. I wouldn't mind so much if an early start was all I got. It's lovely to quietly paddle around, read the computer, have breakfast, feed the animals in deathly peace and quiet. I talk to myself, and I don't mind saying to you all that I'm damned good company.
But it's the early night you need to have at the end of the day. By 8pm last night I was yawning my head off. I retreated to bed with my knitting (just how old am I again??) and The Simpsons. Soon all the kids were in there with me, lolling all over the place and watching the show with me. When it finished Connor brought his book and snuggled in beside me, then Jordan went and did his piano practise in the room next door. Jack and Brennan were doing homework and coming in and out to talk about it with me. Meanwhile my eyes were rolling around like a crazy woman's. I was looking at the inside of my skull more than looking at the kids, and my opinions about their homework had more vowel sounds in them than actual words.
Nobody seemed to notice. They continued on with blithe indifference to my pain. I tried to do the right thing and be A Good Mother and an engaged listener to my four favourite people, nodding and showing that I was awake by grimly knitting row after everlasting row (oh, the afghan!). This went on for a while, until I blearily checked my knitting. I'd made a mistake three rows back. Only one stitch, but in a basket weave pattern it's noticeable. And with 252 stitches in each row, I'm not about to unstitch. I may be a perfectionist Virgo, but there are limits.
"Alright, everyone out! I've hit the wall." (Not literally... you know what I mean).
I got up, put the cats away, got ready for bed, then snuggled back in under the doona with the electric blanket. At the very late time of 9.20pm. Even the eleven year old was still vertical. This is the life of the single woman in the suburbs. Woo Hoo baby!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
It was a quiet weekend in the Frogdancer household. The children were at their fathers, and I used the time for some gentle pottering around and some mild housecleaning. I threw out some raw pet meat that the animals weren't eating, knitted some more of the afghan (ahhh, the afghan), did the vacuuming and ate lollies. It was during this domesticity that I noticed to my annoyance that Connor had left his dental plate out of the case. I had an empty case, but no $350 plate. I tutt-tutted, and resolved to ask him to locate it when he arrived home.
My annoyance expressed itself in rather high decibels when he confessed that he had no idea where it could be. He searched high and low, somewhat more thoroughly when I told him that he'd be the one paying for the next one. Still nothing. I heard him say to Brennan, "I remember wrapping it in tissues...."
When he said that, I remembered that during my domesticity day I threw out a pile of tissues that were left on the bureau, while muttering about the slovenly, lazy kids I owned. I went up to him, and said, "If you think you might've wrapped it up, you've got to let me know now. The rubbish bin is out the front, and tomorrow it'll be too late."
The kid had no idea. He's not very bright.
So there we were, three of us out on the front lawn with a wheely bin, a torch and a dream. When I mention that it was over 30 degrees Celsius today, and there was raw meat in a garbage bag.... I don't think I have to elaborate on the smell. I ripped open two garbage bags. Nothing. It wasn't looking good. But underneath the pile of weeds I'd pulled from the veggie patch I could see another bag. Dry retching, I pulled it free, ripped it open with a flourish to reveal..... maggots. Hundreds of 'em. Writhing in maggotty delight in the torchlight, all over the pet meat. Brennan was nearly sick.
But I was not to be deterred. (I did think about it though.) I gingerly poked and prodded bits of rubbish that looked to be maggot free, and there it was! A lump of tissues. I picked it out, shook off anything that needed to be shaken off, and felt the outside. There was definitely something in there. "Oh no," said Connor. "Not from this bag..."
Saturday, October 20, 2007
3. What turns you on? (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)
but in good news on the pet front, we took Molly back to the canine eye doctor and her eyes are SO much better. No operation needed, the ulcer is nearly gone. Yay. So there's different pills to shove down her neck, and the saga continues, but it's looking good.
This weekend is earmarked for the usual pursuits. Veggie gardening, ( a trip to the local market for seedlings is happening tomorrow. Can't wait!), biscuit and cake making for lunches and after school, veggie soup making for lunches for me, mowing the lawn so the cat doesn't have an unfair advantage when stalking the pigeons, (I should've said cats. But I'm a bit pessimistic about Daph...), knitting, reading AND vacuuming. Some of the dust bunnies are bigger than Molly.
On a slightly different tangent... why are some house keeping jobs appealing, and others are blah? It's different for everyone. For instance; I could hang washing on the line till the cows come home. But as for folding it, yuck. You've heard of dumpster diving? We do jocks diving, otherwise known as Lucky Dip In The Clean Clothes Basket. It's no way to live, but I do it to us nearly every week. It's got to the stage where the spot in the walkway where I park the basket looks strangely empty if I've been organised and done the folding. The crazy thing is that it's not a big job. I fold the clothes into piles, and then each kid puts his clothes away.
Does anyone like vacuuming? I hate it. And yet, when it's finished I love the way the house looks. All dust free and shiny. (I have wooden floors.) Without fail I say to myself, "That wasn't so bad. The house looks great. I'm never going to leave it so long between vacuums again." Then I empty the bag into the bin, put it away in the hall cupboard and avoid it like the plague until we either
a) have guests or
b) we start giving names to the dust bunnies. We're at this stage now.
My bookshelves are organised. I can lay my hand on any book I own at a moments notice. I actually love ironing. It just takes so long to get it all done, but I find it a pleasurable job to do around the house. Mowing the lawn is also good. I can go into the happy place inside my head and mechanically mow away.
OH MY GOD!!!!! Daphne has just walked through the door!!!!! Seriously!!!! Right now.
I've plonked a bowl of food in front of her for a reward and shut her in the laundry so she can eat it without Maris's help. I can't believe it. She just strolled in the lounge room behind Maris, nonchalantly miaowing "Hello, where's breakfast?"
Now I know she's safe, I want to kill her. I've got to go and text the boys to let them know she's back. They're at their Dad's this weekend. (Hence the chicken chips and farnarkling with Phil and Oprah.) Hooray! My family is all safe and accounted for again.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I'm worried. Daphne, pictured with Brennan and Molly on the couch, didn't come home last night. I hate it when cats do this.
Maris was at home waiting for dinner when I got home at 6.30 after Jordan's piano lesson, but no Daph. This, of course, brings up everything that happened with poor little Daisy. She's the cat we had before the two girls we have now. I don't have a picture of her I can post. She was pre our digital camera.
She disappeared for a couple of days. In the end, Connor, who was 8 at the time, went looking for her next door in the empty house. He thought she might've got locked in the garage or something. He found her under the house. She'd been attacked by another cat or a car had hit her. The vet wasn't sure which. But the bones inside her hind leg weren't hidden anymore, and there were maggots writhing around on her. She was so glad to see us. I knew how to move her, because when I was a child I'd seen the neighbours move my dog Bonnie into a car after she'd been run over. I sent Connor racing back home for an old towel, and eased her across to it. Then we held it as rigid as we could underneath her and everyone jumped in the car.We had to have the windows down on the way to the vet. The smell was truly awful.
The first thing the vet did was give her a pain killer. She was so cold. We agreed that if she survived she'd have her leg amputated. She was only twelve months old. As I left the vets I could hear her calling for me. She died at ten that night. At least she was warm and comfortable.
So now, of course, I get antsy if the girls aren't home in time for dinner. When we first got them I said they'd be indoor cats, to avoid another Daisy episode, but they wanted to be outside. When I saw Maris trying to climb the curtains that was it! I don't want to live in a wrecked house, so they had their way. They sleep in the laundry at night, and everyone is happy.
Except me this morning. Yesterday, after a late night at the year 12 Valedictory dinner, I woke at 5.30. Sleepily I opened my eyes, only to be eyeball to eyeball with Daphne. Scared the bejeebers out of me. The kids had forgotten to put the cats away before they went to bed. I woke this morning wishing I could wake that way again today.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Put down that calculator and pick up a book. It'll save you from losing your personality." (That was for a kid who wants to be an engineer.)
"English = Good.
Maths = Evil."
"A book a day keeps nerdiness at bay."
I'll miss my year 12 ESL class. It's ironic, because when I was given my teaching allotment at the end of last year I wasn't all that enthused about having to teach them. But fortunately, a lot of these kids are absolute idiots, which is always entertaining. ESL (English as a Second Language) kids are usually very good at Maths and Science, because numbers go across language boundaries and so they can understand what's going on more easily than in a more language based class. They catch up after a couple of years of being surrounded by English, but Maths is always their first love.
They caught on quickly that I'm allergic to all forms of Maths, (maybe because I told them so... see? I told you they were smart), and every now and then they'd co-ordinate themselves. I'd be writing something educational on the board, turn around and they'd all be waving calculators in the air. Of course I'd immediately put my index fingers together in the sign of the cross warding off evil and say "Back! Back! Put down those Devil's machines!!"
Or I'd be raving on about a novel we're studying, and I'd use a word like "estimate" or predict". Someone, usually Ali or Ilan, would point out that I'd used a Maths term, so obviously Maths was good for something.... I'd reply that they must've stolen it from English.
Or the time that I was waiting for some of the kids to arrive, and I was whingeing about having to wait for them. Where were they? Ilan replied that they were walking to class. "But you should see them RUN when it's spesh!!!" (Specialist maths... the hardest maths ever.)
It was a very small class, only 10 guys and 2 girls. There were three from Israel, one from India, one from Italy and the rest were from China. I don't know why I'm using the past tense. They're not dead. But they are now pretty much in the past, and they were a funny, very likeable group. They'll be in my list of the list teachers keep in their heads of memorable classes.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Growing a veggie garden in the middle of a drought is a pain. I wish I'd started years ago, when you could water every day if you wanted... hell, you could switch a sprinkler on, get into your bathers and run giggling through the water.... how easy would that have been? (By the way, the picture is not an exotic vegetable I'm growing. It's just a random one from the holiday.)
Water restrictions where I live (Melbourne, Australia) are the biggest pain. I live in an odd numbered house, so I can only water my garden on two days a week, those being Wednesday and Sunday. The evens have a different two days. You can only water in the morning up until 10am (I think), and the hose has to be one of those trigger nozzle ones, so not a drop is wasted. Our dams are only about 30% full (give or take a couple of percentage points), and this is in the middle of Spring, when usually we get LOTS of rain. So the situation looks pretty dire. In the country they're even worse off.... in some places they can't water outside AT ALL, so the choice is either shower with buckets, trudge out and hand water, or let the garden die.
We've been doing the bucketing off and on, but do you know how heavy a bucket of water is? And I don't have time in the mornings when we have our showers to get everyone organised AND trundle in and out to the garden with ten buckets of water. But if the drought gets worse I'm going to have to. My front garden has been left to the elements.... whatever survives survives. It's looking surprisingly good. By good luck, most of the plants I put in seem to be drought tolerant. They weren't selected for that seven or eight years ago... but it's worked out pretty well so far. It's the veggies in the back I worry about.
At the moment I'm growing potatoes, pumpkin, leeks, onions, lettuce, silver beet, spinach, rainbow chard, and a few brussels sprouts and cauliflowers that were put in too late and are probably going to go straight to seed. This is the second year I've tackled growing our own food. It's fantastic... the taste! the crunchiness! the unchemicalliness! There's nothing like seeing your son devour a home grown cucumber in one sitting that is as big as your arm. But the drought is a big fat pain.
Global warming? I don't know. What I do know is I want some rain water tanks and some bloody big storms to fill them....
Now that my bloggish civic duty is done.... (hopefully a few photos of Thai plants and a whinge about water counts),
we finally did the big Aldi shop yesterday. Whoopee! I'm stating here for the record that I adore Aldi. I like to take the whole family, because if the boys help we get in and out of there in a little over an hour. If I'm by myself it takes forever. We went in yesterday, and got two trolleys. Brennan drove one, and Jordan had the other. We filled those suckers to the brim. I bought 18 packets of bacon/ham bits, 20 tubs of margarine, a case of spaghetti (Only 49c a tin, so I don't mind if the boys use this sometimes as an after school snack), 20 packs of pasta, enough mince to make 16 meals @ 500g a meal, 8 kgs of rice, 8 tubes of toothpaste, 3 packets of dishwasher tablets, 10 packets of skim milk powder.... etc etc. You get the picture. When I go to Aldi I buy BULK!
I save a lot of money on my food bills by doing this. Two massive trolley loads, with things piled under the trolley as well as in it so high that Brennan could barely see over the top cost me $618.
The first time I shopped like this it took 8 weeks before I had to go back to Aldi again. In the meantime I had to pop into my local supermarket a few times to top up on fresh items and things Aldi don't sell, but my visits there dramatically decreased and so did my spending. The next time was twelve weeks between shops, and for interest's sake I kept a record of everything I spent on food. My weekly food bill (including wine, pet food, toiletries.... everything) averaged out to $118/week. Before I did this my food bills were anywhere from $160 - $240, depending on whether I bought meat. I was flabbergasted. (Never has my flabber been more gasted!!)
This time around, what with the holiday and all, I've pushed it back to 15 weeks. I haven't done the figures yet, but in any case I know that I'm saving heaps. I love having my pantry, fridge and freezer full. I feel like Ma Ingalls with all my preparations done for winter. (Actually, she would've had to bucket to water her veggie garden, so I should stop complaining....)
The kids are pleased. Now that there's 10 kilos of self raising flour in the house, they'll get cakes to eat after school again. Just got to make them first....
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Every family needs to start the morning with bright green pancakes! Yum Yum.
On the weekends the boys are with me we have a tradition that we have pancakes for breakfast. At first I was the only cook, but over the past year they've all learned how to mix up the ingredients and wield the spatula. This morning Jordan decided he'd get things started. We'd run out of maple syrup, so while I made some more he made the batter and quietly tipped in the food colouring.
What a twit. Luckily it doesn't affect the taste.
Yesterday didn't end up anything like I had planned. At 9am, while I was happily blogging away, the phone rang. It was the lady from U3A reminding me that I said I'd do the cleaning for their hall that morning. Shit. I grabbed something to eat (no pancakes for anyone yesterday!), showered, dressed and I was out the door. Didn't get home till 12. It's an easy job, and well paid. $200 for a little over 2 hours work. It's just.... you know. Cleaning... I always feel glad I've done it when I'm driving home, but I whinge and complain all the way there. Still, it paid for Molly's eye appointment with the high-powered opthamologist, so that's a good thing.
Molly seems happier today. Her eyes are still looking like they're massively uncomfortable, but at least she's opening them more. Fingers crossed.
Anyway, back to yesterday. When I get home Jordan reminds me that he's arranged to meet a few mates at Southland to see a movie. Daniel's mum drops them off, and I'm down to pick them up when he texts me. I wave him off, then decide I'm up for a Nanna nap. Just then Mum and Dad drop in. Dad's bringing back some woodcarvings that got damaged in transit from Phukhet that he's glued together. He's done a fantastic job.... say what you like, the man is meticulous.
When I see Mum, I realise that although I've come back from Thailand with Christmas presents galore, I forgot to buy her a birthday present. Idiot! (Sorry Mum, if you read this.... I mean I'm the idiot, not you.) We had a big pineapple sitting on the bench, so guess what she got. She loved it. She's either a big pineapple freak or a magnificent actress.
After they left I didn't need to sleep anymore, so the boys hassled me to go to Southland as well. Connor had some birthday money from his Dad and he wanted to buy a Wii game. What is it with small boys and video games??? This child is delighted to spend $85 on yet ANOTHER game.
("But Mum, it's reduced from $99. It's a bargain!"
Maybe I should be proud that my canny shopping habits are rubbing off, instead of being horrified by the wanton waste of money. Still, it's Tony's money, not mine, so it's none of my business. The kids know by now never to ask me to finance their dirty little addiction.)
Naturally, being in a shopping centre means that I see things that I wouldn't otherwise know about, so I bought stuff. Well ok, the 3 fitted sheets were needed. Connor put his foot through two of them in a week, and there were no more spares. He's been sleeping on the other side of my bed for four nights, and I want my space back. Besides, he likes Molly to sleep with him and she snores like a drunken sailor. I thought I moved that out of my life when I got rid of the husband...
We were in Big W when I saw some wool. And patterns. And yes I know I said I had to use up the wool I had here before I began anything new, but the wool was so reasonably priced, and the throw that I'll knit is needed (I'm a reptile and I get cold...... ok I KNOW summer's nearly here, but .... um.... it'll go away again and I need it for next winter.... surely the drought will have broken by then.....), so I bought a book of patterns for throws, and 8 big balls of non-cat-hair-showing-wool that were only $3 each.
We had some time to kill while we waited for Jordan to ring, so we went into a bookshop. I was looking for the book that Jane from Yarnstorm has written, but it's not out in Australia till Dec 1. BUT I saw the new Barefoot Investor book. Those of you who know me know that I got interested in investing last year, after I realised that the $3.50c that I had in superannuation meant that the only travelling I'd be doing when I retired was from the kitchen to the lounge room. Last summer holidays I read 36 books on investing, started my portfolio and also started the kids portfolios. (Gotta love a bull market.... go BHP!!)
The barefoot investor: 5 steps to financial freedom. by Scott Pape (publisher: Pluto Press, Australia 2007.)
I paid $25.95. (Yes, I know. Shut up, oh voice of my frugality kick. This is an investment in my future. And Jack's. Truly!!!)
Apparently this is a revised edition, just out now. I really want Jack to read it. This guy is only young, and he writes in such an accessible way that I hope if Jack reads it he'll have a lightbulb moment. God knows it's a little boring when good old Mum talks to him about it. (Though maybe I'm being a bit harsh. He DID keep asking my advice on the stock market when his Business Studies class was doing the stock market game.) The other three kids have taken to saving and investing like ducks to water, but Jack still spends money as soon as he gets it.
By the time we got home it was 6pm, so dinner didn't get served till 7. How much productive work got done?
Did I go to Aldi? No.
Any housework get done? No.
Did I weed the veggie patches and put compost around the potatoes? No.
Any knitting get started. ..................no.....
The weeks clothes folding that is piled up almost to my waist in the kitchen.... still there? ....yes...
But I did finish the Stephen King book I began when I was away...............
(Jordan sampling his handiwork. Another successful breakfast.)
Saturday, October 13, 2007
After dinner we went out to find our friends amongst the crowd. While we were looking for them, we wandered into the 'Luxury Goods Shop' to have a gander. Again, lots of glitz and sparkle (why wasn't that a surprise by now??) but there were some lovely bags, shawls and pearls. As I came through the door I noticed the most delicious pearl necklace - just 3 small pearls in different colours. Simple, and beautiful. I assumed they were too expensive and left. However, once we caught up with our friends, I dared Pitsa to go in there and buy something. She's laughing and saying "No. I'm not buying!!" but we all went in and yes... when I found out the pearls were only 1000 baht (about $40) I laid down the cash. I was so rapt. I've already got a silver chain from Bali, so I'm set. That was going to be my major present to myself. (Little did I know that the emerald and diamond ring was lurking in my future. )
We hung around together for about an hour before the show began. My family were up near the back, which was good because we got to see everything without craning our necks every which way. The show opened with a row of elephants parading through the theatre. Have to say that I've never seen this before. And they held the tail of the one in front of them with their trunks, just like in Dumbo. I was enchanted.
On our last full day we went shopping in O-Top market. The boys had pretty much run out of money, so I gave them 1500 baht each and told them that they were doing Christmas shopping. That's around $60 to buy presents for me, their Dad and Vivienne, Gran and Grandpa, and the other three brothers. They could club together to buy things, or go it alone... it was up to them.
We went home via a 7-11 where we bought noodle cups for the boys' dinner. I was happy just to eat steamed rice after the big lunch we had at the market. Actually, it was funny watching the guys eat the noodles. Obviously the Asian people like a touch of chili in their flavourings, which was a tad unexpected for my namby-pamby skips. A few mouthfuls downed, and then they were scoffing steamed rice and gulping water as if it was an Olympic sport. We then watched the last Harry Potter movie all curled up in the lounge room together, and then it was off to bed.
All in all, I think it's been a good holiday. Obviously, the hotel's location spoiled it in a few different ways, (and when I wrote this, I had no idea that my credit card had been skimmed), but once we got away from that then everything came together.We all loved the shopping and the tours were fantastic. Especially the elephants. Those big feet! Those flappy ears and twinkly little eyes! I want one.
It's been the time with the kids that has been the best thing, though. I'm so lucky to have such fun, mature and loving kids who are such good company. At least most of the time...They've been so agreeable, enthusiastic, co-operative and appreciative of the whole experience. The younger three haven't put a foot wrong, and Jack comes into his own when haggling is involved. He has a mind like a calculator, so he's our resource when it comes to converting how much things cost. He loves doing it for anyone, not just himself, so that's come in very handy.
Getting away from the day to day routine has been wonderful for reconnecting to them as people. It's also been wonderful watching them interact amongst themselves. They'd disappear off to the pool for ages and play together and just hang out. They like each other, and that makes me feel hopeful for the future. I'd love them to have a tight bond with their brothers that lasts.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I'm sitting on the balcony outside my room. I'm in my very shabby pjs and look hideous, but who cares? I can hear birds twittering, the wind gently moving the palm trees, and low... so low that it's barely there... I can hear the sound of the sea.
Wherever Brennan goes he's getting called 'Harry Potter' by the Thais. It amused, then annoyed him, and now he's resigned to it and has started counting. I think he's up to 29 or so. (When I showed photos of the elephant ride to my classes, without fail at least one person in each class made the same remark. Looks like this might be something the poor child has to live with.) He's still bemused by it... "I don't look anything like Harry Potter..."
I'll have to continue with this in another post. It's time to wake the boys and officially start another day.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
We first saw a show with three baby elephants, where they played mouth organs (harmonicas to any Americans out there), wore hats, kissed the audience, and gave one person a massage. Naturally my hand was up like a shot. I had to lie down, and the elephant raised one leg and repeatedly pressed quite firmly on my behind and back. I was lying there, and it occurred to me that it was possibly quite stupid to do this... if the elephant was so inclined, he could keep pressing until his foot met the ground.... right through my middle. Actually, it felt ok, and I was glad I'd done it. Another experience. I cuddled the little one after she massaged me, and her trunk curled around and nuzzled my face. The skin is thick and ridged. It was a special moment.