Monthly Archives: December 2012

The bite to end all wars

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The look of guilt was written all over her hairy face. As she stood quaking at my feet, I knew something was up.

A moment later, the howling began.

Red-faced, blotchy and in a state of shock, my youngest daughter arrived on the scene, offering up her shaking hand amidst a sea of tears. She had just had a close encounter of the snapping, toothy kind. And she couldn’t believe it.

Someone she had trusted all of her life, someone with whom she had shared so many good times and someone who now stood between her and me had just bared her teeth in anger.

In a fit of pique, during a stoush over bedding, our 15-year-old Maltese had nipped her two-legged sister by mistake. And she knew she’d done wrong. Her tail was tucked between her legs and she couldn’t look me in the eye.

In the doggy’s defence, I must tell you she was defending her territory from the older dog who, from all accounts, was throwing her weight around. Add to that the unrelenting argument between our son and daughter which, no doubt, had her worried. After all, how was an innocent pup meant to know that the angry words were not directed at her?

Once the tears had subsided and all parties had acknowledged their role in the caper, we headed inside. On closer inspection, any hint of the bite had disappeared.

But the effect was evident for the remainder of the night – no more fighting.

It wasn’t enough that I kept telling them to stop. When the dog got sick of it – that’s when they finally listened.

Books, books, books!

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Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves

Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mountain of books beside my bed has been growing all year. But I’m ready to clear the decks and make way for my holiday reading selections.

My first choice is the current novel by the fabulous Matthew Reilly. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves already has me hooked with all that talk of M249s, MREs, AFDVs and, of course, impending doom.

The loveable Captain Shane Schofield is back, along with his indestructible offsider, Mother, for a page turning, heart racing, action packed adventure on ice. But this is no Disney heart-warmer. I’ve heard that there’s a scene involving rat torture that will make my stomach turn.

Can’t wait!

Next on the list is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Now this one might qualify for the Disney treatment. It’s Water for Elephants meets Project X – the story of a captive gorilla who vows to free a young elephant from the life behind glass that he himself has been forced to endure.

This one was recommended by my gorgeous sister who assures me that tears will be shed.

I’m looking forward to it (tissue box in hand).

And last, but by no means least, I’ll be throwing myself into Miranda Hart’s autobiography called Is It Just Me?

I love her sitcom and her stand-up so I’m quietly confident that her book will deliver. I’ve sneakily read a few of her checklists (complete with quirky triangular boxes so you can tick them off yourself) and am somewhat concerned that she may have been stalking me. She knows too much!

Anyway, laughs are guaranteed. It should be fun.

Now, I just need to find a few quiet hours to get stuck in. Happy holiday reading!

It’s never too late . . .

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No bills, no worries, no doubts – kids really do have it good!

Do you remember the days when you could skip down the street just because you were happy? No-one looked twice and if they did, it was only because you’d reminded them what it was like to be a care-free kid.

Library fees didn’t exist. The school library was just happy to see the books returned even if they were a few months late.

And the thought of guilt being attached to dessert was simply unheard of. I mean, really, the only reason we ate our dinner was to get dessert.

So, in honour of my unappreciated youth, I have compiled a list of things I haven’t done in a while. If you think of some others, feel free to add your own.

  1. I haven’t left the house in my pyjamas.
  2. I haven’t eaten a whole bag of lollies just because it was there and without fear of a sugar high.
  3. I haven’t been brave enough to return an old law handbook that I borrowed back in 1997. I’m concerned they may have some legal comeback if I remind them about it now.
  4. I haven’t cleaned under the couch in recent memory. If the kids didn’t dump their rubbish there, it wouldn’t be an issue.
  5. I haven’t ordered dessert instead of dinner when I’ve been out to a restaurant.
  6. I haven’t asked for the haircut I actually want. This is a whole can of self-esteem worms we don’t want to open.
  7. I haven’t paid the phone bill on time for the longest time. An extra day won’t spark a worldwide economic collapse. Or will it?
  8. I haven’t ignored Facebook for any more than a week since I signed up. I am a teeny tiny bit addicted.
  9. I haven’t sung out loud for fear of someone hearing for a very long time.
  10. And I haven’t climbed a tree just for the heck of it.

But the day is young . . .

Old ballerinas never die . . .

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ballet shoes line

ballet shoes line (Photo credit: jeff medaugh)

. . . they just learn to gesticulate.

I am not the most cultured person on the planet, so a trip to the ballet was always going to be an eye-opener.

We knew enough to don our Sunday best (even though it was a Tuesday) and off we went – two ballet-mad girls and their mum.

Turns out, we had front row seats. Excellent, I thought. The kids will have a great view.

The lights dimmed and the music began.

Now, I’m not sure what I expected at this point. Words, probably. Perhaps a narrator. (Yes, this is how worldly I am). Instead we spent the next five minutes watching a rather gaunt man gesticulating his way around the stage.

I’m sure it was meaningful. It may even have been poignant. Unfortunately, I was so busy suppressing the giggle that came from nowhere, that the significance of the moment was lost.

Eventually, he was joined on stage by actual dancing dancers. But I was in no fit state to simply sit back and enjoy. I bit the inside of my cheek. I hid my face behind my hands. I tried to point out something interesting for the sake of the ballet-mad girls sitting beside me.

Unfortunately, a small scale guffaw managed to escape from my lips.

I would like to think that no-one heard or saw a thing. Unfortunately, we were in the front row. So, the entire cast of Don Quixote was my audience.

I can only apologise.

I assure you, the ballet was memorable. It was entertaining. I’m just not sure that I’m any more cultured for the experience.

A year of passion . . . fruit

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By design or necessity, my Grandma was an excellent cook.

Her kitchen was the place where guests were received, important decisions made and the very best of food was created.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit a selection of her cookbooks. Amongst the titles was a 1964 edition of The Commonsense Cookery Book, a much-loved and weathered copy of Elizabeth Craig’s Economical Cookery (circa 1948) and a rather pristine copy of Roz Denny’s Family Suet Cooking.

But buried beneath them all, was a cookbook of the home-made variety, labelled ‘Passionfruit 1991’.

It must have been a good year for passionfruit. The book began with a raft of recipes designed to use up all the available fruit. There was one for passionfruit foam (to be served with custard); another for passionfruit lemon butter; vanilla slice with – you guessed it – passionfruit; and, of course, meringue which wouldn’t be complete without . . . passionfruit.

After a dozen or so pages, the inspiration – and perhaps the fruit – ran out. That’s where Grandpa took over ownership of the book. In 1991 he listed every piece of fruit and vegetable harvested from their garden.

At this point, you should know, they didn’t do things by halves. Grandpa logged 172 lbs of tomatoes, 126 capsicums, 31 ¼ lbs of beans, 12 pumpkins and 223 cucumbers.

But passionfruit won the day with 489 pieces of fruit harvested from their vine.

The fruit was delivered into the kitchen where Grandma turned that produce into culinary delights to last the year through.

It’s puts into perspective my own gardening successes – the carrot that’s actually straight, the watermelon that’s actually edible and the eggplant that looks gorgeous even if it will never see the inside of my kitchen.

I take solace in the thought that perhaps 2013 will be my year for passionfruit.

Parenting . . . like you mean it

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I’m trialling a new – and shocking – parenting technique.

When I say ‘new’, I’m fairly certain that I used to do it. But somewhere along the line my patience grew thin, my staying power packed it in and my parenting perspective got lost in the everyday quest for survival.

So, in a bid to set things straight and put an end to the combative afternoons, brain rattling door-slamming (not mine, I hasten to add) and sense of dread when I wake in the morning, I’m attempting some . . . empathy.

So, kids, watch out!

Next time you:

a)      start an argument based on events that occurred months previously;

b)      overreact because you want someone else to get into trouble;

c)       burst into tears after only a minor skirmish;

d)      slam a door because the referee’s decision has gone against you;

e)      start protesting in front of the TV because someone else has control of the remote;

f)       drag your feet when the schedule doesn’t allow for it; or

g)      do ANYTHING that makes me question my sanity at the time of your conception;

I promise to:

a)      Demonstrate my understanding of your feelings using kid-friendly words;

b)      Sit down with you and talk through your feelings of frustration;

c)       Use a tone of voice which conveys my understanding and compassion;

d)      Praise your efforts to rein in those wayward feelings;

e)      Avoid blaming any party which may or may not be involved;

f)       Encourage you to think about the feelings of others; and

g)      Model the behaviour I would like to see in you.

And here’s the clincher – the best part of all – so long as I sound like I mean it, I should see results! I will report back . . .

Return to sender . . .

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The letterbox at our place is like a window into the lives of all the people who have lived here before us.

Almost every week, without fail, a letter arrives for someone who used to call our house ‘home’.

There’s the high end shopping catalogue that I forward with a sigh of regret. (If only I had the money to spare I’d treat myself to one of those ridiculously simple yet perfectly fitted outfits with a price tag to make you gasp.)

Then there’s the seniors ‘special offer’ guide. Every time this one appears in the box I am forced to gaze into the future and wonder what life will be like when I join the grey brigade. (That said, man, they get some good deals! There are perks to getting older.)

But my particular favourite is the regular Christmas letter from a girl we shall call Sue. Sue must suffer from a) very poor memory when it comes to sticking her envelopes closed; b) extreme laziness when it comes to sticking her envelopes closed; or c) dry mouth (this is a new one I just heard about on the telly).

Now, in defence of my own voyeurism, I opened the first letter without looking to see who it was addressed to . . . then nosiness got the better of me. It was so lovely to hear that Sue’s house hunting had gone well, the holiday in Fiji had gone off without a hitch and there was a new man in Sue’s life – she was as surprised as anyone!

Sadly for Sue, there was no return address so I hung onto her letter just in case the writer or intended recipient ever came knocking at our door.

When a second letter arrived some months later, I thought it might provide the information I was hoping for. As it turns out, it was a thank you note for a wedding gift. It seems Sue and her new man had tied the knot. But somehow, the addressee’s change of abode had still not registered with Sue.

So, what to do?

Firstly, to Sue, I say: ‘No trouble at all, I can’t think of a person more deserving of happiness and I just hope the salad servers come in handy’. And to all the others who have forgotten to change their addresses – I will continue to forward anything I can and return-to-sender all those I am sick of receiving. Cheers.

Footnote: Opening of any mail was unintentional or with the purest of motives. Please forgive 🙂