Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bullshit filter maintenance

I have worked out a fatal flaw in blogging about the contents of your skull.  You can inadvertently tell your husband more than he needs to know about your thought processes.

For example, the other night I was persistently questioning him about printer head cleaning.  I was not just being annoying - I was testing to see how far he would go before his manly pride collapsed and he admitted he had no idea how to clean them.  At the time he just thought I was tired and overly dogmatic.  In fact I exercising my bullshit filter to keep it in form and to see how long he would string along with nonsensical crap before he squeezed his ignorance out between gritted teeth.

If I hadn't blogged about it he would not have known that I approach his techno-babble with a touch of scepticism.  He just assumed he was getting away with it, or that I cared so little about things that go beep, I could not be arsed even considering whether he was talking rubbish.

I suspect that part of the problem is that I am at home with the children.  I used to work in public policy, a line of work where your whole day could be spent playing round upon round of "spot the bullshit" with triple points when you caught your Minister at it.  (Though you lose a point if you could reasonably attribute the rubbish to the narcissistic self-delusion so common in politicians.)

This is not to say that the girls don't give me a workout.  They are liable to lie their little bottoms off on a range of topics, a number of which involve hygiene or lack thereof.  You can, for example, reasonably entertain suspicions of a lack of stock rotation when you do two days worth of washing and it involves no socks from one girl an no underpants from the other.  This is a sure sign the grotty little monsters are in three day old pants and socks and several rounds of fibbing have taken place. Though missing items from the wash can also mean that there are manky heaps of washing lying under beds or in the bookshelves, neatly interleaved between the books because that was quicker by at least 3 seconds than taking it to the laundry basket during the last you-can-watch-TV-when-your-room-is-clean clean.

But this is just casual, everyday, I-prefer-a-stinky-bottom lying.  The other sort of lie that children specialise in is where they make an initial statement they know is false, but then after 10 minutes screaming about it, they have rewritten events in their mind and they are now sure it is entirely true.  This one commonly emerges while one girl is doing a time-out for whacking her sister.

I think the problem is that neither my husband's lies of manly delusion, or the girl's lies of convenience or lies of the heart really tax my capacities to any extent.  Tedious, yes.  Tricky, no.

I suspect I need to get back to a job that involves considering the extent of lies as part of the work.   After all, as long as they keep their smelly bits away from me, the girls probably will survive their disgusting habits.

And it will certainly help my marriage if my husband doesn't realise the range of topics I switch on the bullshit filter for when we talk about things.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The obliteration of the mending mountain

I like to think there are some people who have a canny understanding of their own desires and the sheckles and self control to ditch items of clothing that need alteration or repair. Sadly I suspect 99.9% of the pop. has a mending mountain that eventually gets so immense it  begins to swallow the entire wardrobe.  Those lucky enough to have a spare room probably open the door one day only to be flattened by an avalanche of too-long pants and button-less shirt.  Dogs have to be sent into the fields of debris to find the near-expiring bodies and excavation is required to dig them out before life ceases.

Today, after removing 2/3 cup of grease from assorted surfaces in the kitchen, I decided to tackle the MM.  Now those newbies can be tricked by thinking this involves everything in the stack.  "Hah", I say.  Certain categories can be safely ignored - items completely out of season, items for which the chances of your fitting them any time soon is a mere twinkle in the eye, and new bits of fabric that may turn into a piece of clothing should a miracle and some cutting and sewing occur.

No, just the things that, if they were the right length or the straps were reattached or were less holey or button-less, would be worn right now.  This reduces the problem down to 9 or 10 items.

Sadly, they were almost all sewing machine jobbies.  Even worst, every single one was a completely different colour, requiring me to dig through the hardly-used-thread tin and winding a new bobbin for every item.  What are the odds of that? 

The hand sewing ones tend to move through the queue faster.  There is nothing more satisfying than going for a loooonnnnngggg coffee on a Monday morning after disposing thoughtfully of the monsters at school.  I like to sit for several hours, casually disposing of a hand-sewing repairs in between bits of a newspaper and more caffeine than is good for me.

So, out comes the crappo sewing machine and off we go.  Several hours pass.  Swearing occurs.  Monster 2 is required to strip several times as she is acting as the model for her own repairs and her sister's.

I am now sitting here a model of hausfrauly excellence.  New items are ready for service.  Oldies return to battle for another bruising encounter.  Barbie's bridal gown and a fairy dress have their straps reestablished.

What can I say.  Boring as cow dung but done.

Duck, sadly departed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You shouldn't paint the cat.

You shouldn't paint the cat.  There is just so much to that sentence.

I could mean that I can but you can't.  My cat, my colour choice.  Blue could be nice - we could pretend she is British and much pricier than her actual moggie-ness.

Secondly, I could mean "you shouldn't paint the cat".  Outrageous suggestion.  Right out of the question.  The RSPCA will be informed.  Charges laid.  Bad bad cat painter.

Alternately, "you shouldn't paint the cat".  A spot of stencilling, say, would be fine, maybe a leaf motif or butterflies to represent her favourite snack.  Light shaving would also be acceptable, as long as you don't shave swear word into her back.  Piercing, yes, painting, no, a little too far.

Lastly, and this is the meaning I intend.  If you are painting some doors and door frames, including the front door, try to maximise the application of paint on the doors and frames.  Hungry creatures who take advantage of an open door to nip in and snack should be discouraged just after you have painted the door step.  Also, rubbing against newly painted surfaces is a bad thing no matter how appealing it may seem to a young cat.

This can be a bit tricky when you have the front door ajar to let it dry so you can paint the other side, meanwhile you have your back turned working on another door.  It is not as though you can set up a cat containment zone in the front garden.  The screen door would work but that is in the shed having a dusty holi while you paint the door frame. 

Further, curious little noses and paws should should be gently shooed from the paint tray, especially a tray balanced somewhat precariously on top of a plastic box.  The problems with a painty cat are manifold and various.  Nobody wants painty cat prints on the carpet.  Sofas are also bad places.  Further, cats are somewhat reluctant to be cleaned.  "Just a little rub with a wet flannel, dear, it is water-based so it should come off in a jiffy."  Ha ha hahahaha!

I do wonder if paint is toxic to cats.  I will let you know.

Does she look ill?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time to wonder (mostly about tanning but with some giant squid)

The problem with this whole stay-at-home lurk (aside from being responsible for grot-removal), is the time you have to wonder, as opposed to limited time to wander, because how far can you get before 3pm monster retrieval?  Not anywhere tropical, that's for sure.

I tend to spend whole acres of time considering the most ridiculous collection of crap.  It is like there is a random thought generator in there spitting out wildebeest and red dwarves (the suns, not people with small shoes and a tanning accident) all the time.

I tease the husband when he loses focus halfway through a conversation when his libido switch accidentally shuts off brain function.  I try not to mention when my brain zoops off somewhere obscure.  Much as I love to hear about the corporate policies of the big three IT companies on the planet, there are times when I might be considering the bait you would use to catch giant squid and how far down the water column you would need to set your bait.  Not that I am considering running away to sea to go giant squid-hunting, mind, just wondering.

Then there is the question of what would happen if you were to cross breed a high end psephologist (someone who studies elections - a variety of pointy-headed nerdiness I am particularly attracted to) with, say, some pop culture princess who is famous for a sex tape and the assiduous application of make-up.

Which genetic traits do you think would dominate?  Would the resulting offspring speak fluent Hare-Clark and operate a strict Robson Rotation on the kindergarten crayons, or would the capacity to keep the spaces between their toes a golden shade of brown dominate?

You see my problem?  I have now blown a ridiculous amount of time researching the tan between toes question (37 seconds I will never see again), and it turns out that should I ever swap my funereal pallor for a fake bronzing, I will probably continue to be pale-toed, between-wise.

Let's face it, Anthony Green is never going to marry me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The problem with pedometers

The husband's work is having a spring fitness binge and is encouraging teams to get pedometers and compete for weekly aggregates.  At various times I have attempted to use pedometers as a way of measuring and promoting exercise. 

I have never had much luck with the little devices.  I have dropped them on tiles and concrete, had accuracy problems (possibly I have defective hips), and lastly, I have assassinated several by forgetting about them while visiting the loo and giving them unexpected swims.  They turn out not to be trauma-proof, much less water resistant to a depth of 4 inches.  It could be the corrosive effects of a weak urine solution but it seems an obscure topic for further investigation so we shall leave that thought there.

Many of the folks at the husband's work have intersected with a pedometer app for their fancy phones.  This would work very well as there are managers who are permanently attached to their phones, and the young folk the husband supervises, who are also permanently attached to their phones.  Different reason of course.  The fledglings prefer to be in touch with their little cadres at all times of the day or night, in case a friend's Facebook entry needs to be collectively analysed.  Maybe it is not that different from the middle-aged, middle managers, who are prone to strange outbreaks of collectivism themselves (new VW, anyone)?

Sadly, husb. has a work-issued phone that is so old and juvenile it does little more that make phone calls.  When I have to leave a message I am somewhat flummoxed by the fact I appear to be leaving a message for a strange "Mike", who is probably retired and dead by now.   Definitely pre-app.  In fact he has a whole drawer full of these fossils should anyone be writing a thesis on the history of phones and the old messages found buried deep within them. 

So, the dear husband purchased a pedometer - the cheapest he could find.  The Monsters had some fun adding hundreds of steps by running laps around the house just before bedtime.

Eventually the device went to work for the commencement of competition.  He dropped it in the first week.  Since then it has been reluctant to act as a measuring instrument.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pointless conversation seeking outcome with MWM

The time is fast approaching when I am will send one of those awful Christmas letters in a card so that distant relatives can find out what we have been up to in 2012.

I only started producing them a couple of years ago after disliking the genre all my life.  "Tiffany is excelling at gymnastics and came 4th in the State Champs."  You know the stuff - it makes you want to vomit.

Nevertheless, it is a sadly efficient way to let people know what we are up to as the Monsters rip through the development stages, so I started writing them.

I have been having a little trouble this year.  You see nothing happened.  Lots of nothing.  A whole year of it, it transpired.  We are living on one income so our "holiday" this year was 2 nights in a 70s vintage caravan in the mountains about 3 hours away.  We saw cows.  We had flu.  It was crappy in so many special ways.
Can you believe the excitement?  We saw a hydro-electric power station on our holiday.  Better even than cows.

We haven't been anywhere or done anything on a fairly comprehensive scale.  I find myself writing that we have had picnics (very reasonably priced) and are painting the hall.  This is a dreadful letter.

To try and zazz things up, rather then printing a couple of photos and shoving them in the card, I thought I would include little pics in the letter this year.  Sophisticated, yes I know.  Consider me a newly-minted expert on the crop function.

The draft is written and the first version printed on our nasty printer.  The pictures have red lines through them.

So I said to the husband, "Why have the pictures got red lines through them?"

"Ah yes" he said, "That is an indicator the heads need cleaning."

"Can you clean them?"

"I believe so."

Can you smell the bullshit, people?  I take a calming breath and continue: "Do you actually know how to clean them?"

Several more iterations of clarity avoidance occur at this point, til finally, via my UN-unsanctioned interrogation technique he spits out, along with small particles of teeth and the last of his manly techno-pride: "I know they can be cleaned but I don't know how you actually do it."

So there you have it.  Crappy letter, zero content and red liney pictures.  Should be a collectors item.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Migration time is near

There are so many reasons to love my husband but a biggie relates to the seasonal migration that occurs in our bed.

During winter the husb. manfully sleeps on the window side - braving not just the radiating cold but also the blasts of ice that come from the heating vent before the hot air flows. 

This latter effect tends to give me an asthma attack every time the heating goes on.

I enjoy the winter side of the bed.  It has a bookcase nearby so the teetering stack of books on my bedside table has a place to rest when it is picked up off the floor.

Mind you, when I say he sleeps on the window side, he does have a propensity to scrooch over to borrow some heat on cold nights.  Thus, he spends winter much closer to the middle of the bed than on his side.

In spring we swap sides.  I get hot in summer and like the night zephrs.  He stays resolutely bequilted and lies in my lee to get away from the breeze. 

It is almost swap time again.  I am readying for the migration by reducing the number of books I am half way through.  I am hoping to be down to less than 5 when the call comes.   It will be nice to be mistress of the window (especially as I have cleaned it), but I will miss the extra shelves.

I suppose it also has some effect on the sleeping flexibility of us both.  After many years of sleeping on one side, I suppose some couples could find swapping a bit much.  It is not nearly as kinky as it sounds.  You should try it people.  I am not suggesting swapping him indoors for a drooling rugby player, you know.

Lastly, the bed would probably die if we tried to move it around the room so it is a bit like a holiday every time the swap happens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Husband and daughter missing, believed exhasted

Some time ago my dear husband took the oldest monster on a bike ride.  Little monster and I stayed home on the grounds that LM has the lung capacity of a hamster at this time. 

The plan was to ride towards the lake.  A return trip of less than an hour.  A lot less.

Several hours have now gone by.  There is a suspicious lack of girl and husband.  Did he take his mobile?  No.

Did they take water to drink?  No.

I can not even go on a rescue mission as the car is off looking at other cars.  This is not an automotive lust thing but a car shopping expedition undertaken by a friend.

Ahh, they have returned.  They went all around the lake (miss-estimation of distance already ridden when you hit the playground), then got lost on the final run through the (admitably cryptic) neighbouring suburb.  I have also misplaced myself there.

The girl only fell off once, apparently.

The last 500 metres was at a push.

The monster is quite grumpy - possibly exhaustion is a contributing factor.  The husband is only marginally better.  Lucky it is my turn to make tea tonight.

This tree fell down in a storm several years ago.  Terribly handy as it was on the death list, the suckery devil.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cat plus moths equals chaos

With the arrival of the spring a new horror has entered our lives. The warmer weather has bought little brown moths - slender flutterers that can work their way past the fly screen to adore the light in the bathroom.  This is driving Toast, our adolescent cat, into a frenzy.  She is climbing the screens and the curtains, pushing things off ledges and shelves, falling into the toilet, all in a desperate attempt to get them rascally moths.

We never had this problem with her predecessor, Mouse.  Now in her day Mouse did like to leap for a Bogong, but this is quite a different kettle of moth.  If you are unaware, a Bogong is a big, fat, slow moth, also brown and hopelessly attracted to lights.  The Bogongs will pass here in their millions soon on their migration.  Mouse wasn't averse to catching them in the air above the back door mat but that was a few years ago now, before she lost her leap. In any case Bogongs weren't a problem.  They rarely came inside mainly because you could catch them with a tennis racket.

You can see the attraction of a Bogong to a cat.  They are slow, vague, and there is good eating on them.

The sad little things Toast is chasing are not legitimate prey.  Mouse never bothered with things that tasted like dust.

It is just that Toast is such a keen participant.  The husband caught her rolling a snail around on the cement, tossing it in the air, batting it off into the lawn only to pounce again.  You can't be too carefully with your common garden snail, though.  They can be very tricky buggers if you don't watch them like a hawk.  A mere 20 minutes of inattention and they will have found a fence to walk up.

On the up side, when the Bogongs do arrive we can probably skip feeding the cat.  Damn!  That won't work; we don't let her out after dark.   Maybe we could take the screen off the bathroom window, leave the door shut, the light on, and Toast in there to feast.  Mind you, I don't fancy stepping over leftover wings and other less tasty morsels on my way to the morning wee.

This may take some further thought.  In the mean time, she is making daytime hay with the cabbage moths so that should take some of the stress off the husbands brassicas (it is not dirty - look it up).

Case of the stinkypants trickster

Yesterday the 5 year old monster wore her underpants with love hearts on them  - boy legs that tend to disappear up flanges and grommits.  Things were slow this morning around here, what with cleaning, drawing and general stuffing about.

When the time came when we were close to actually leaving the house, I suggested she got dressed, remembering to change her UPs.

Several minutes went by, I mopped another disgusting surface but no action on the getting dressed front.  I assume you are familiar with the next part of the plot - further suggestions for getting dressed, further reminders to change her UPs.

Finally, we are ready to leave - the monster is dressed but I can see little love hearts peeping over the top of her trousers.  "Go and change your underpants", repeated three or four times, blah, blah, blah.  I think at this point she tucked them in.  She said she had changed them.

During the flurry of the next few hours the UP problem is forgotten.  Later in the afternoon, I notice she is deflanging in the bottom region and the hearts are on view again.  I accuse her of lying to me and she swears she changed them.  So I say, "Go and get me yesterday's stinky pants".  Quick as a flash she comes back with a clean pair and her soft petal eyes and earnest little voice are absolutely sure these are yesterday's pants.  White with pink elastic.  Crisp and clean.

Well, it is pyjama time and threats of death by misadventure are uttered.  The girl is pjed, and she is wearing pink UPs with green elastic. I checked.  Thank the lord, or whomever.  I thought I was going to have to hold her down and peel her like an orange.

Sadly, I will have to remember the colour and we will probably have the same conversation tomorrow.

The SPT herself

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 2 of school holis - situation under control

After a long weekend of playing with the husband, the school holidays have started in earnest.

Part way through day 2, we have:
  • been to an organised event at the National Portrait Gallery
  • gone out to lunch - salty but good
  • bought sneakers for the skinny-footed monster
  • bought a package of barbie shoes to arrive from Hong Kong in several weeks time
  • taken delivery of a tardis teapot - as the resident Dr Who fan said, due to its dimensional paradox, in theory you would only ever need to make one pot of tea and it should never run out - might get cold though
  • gazed at further pink dollery
  • made a slightly dodgy lemon cheesecake - faintly reminiscent of a full fat extravaganza at best
  • went to a playground and gazed at cygnets, climbed a web, played on rocks and played on a playground
  • done some colouring-in
  • done the weekly supermarket shopping, pausing for a moment outside to redraft the list from memory because it was sitting unhelpfully on the kitchen table, and finally
  • completed the monster's haircut that was incomplete due to discovery of lice several weeks ago.
No wonder we are pooped.  If only we could have some chill-out time at home without it degenerating into world war three due to boredom.