Friday, September 28, 2007
A couple of days ago, Love Chunks and Sapphire went on an early morning kayaking trip which allowed me to saunter down to the hotel lobby and enjoy a resort-style buffet breakfast on my own.
I must be one of those unusual types that is rarely bothered by eating alone. Attempts early on in my adult life to look busy with a paper or book have long since been discarded: watching people is far more entertaining. Besides it's a more viable pastime for me, Miss Nigella-No-Friends, than for couples or families who shouldn't be staring at me but should be staring at each other.
During my frequent observations of human beings at feeding time, it becomes increasingly apparent that cliches are worth more than they're credited for. A cliche immediately brings a character, situation or feeling to mind and is readily identified with and understood. Having breakfast on my own presented me with a passing parade of clichés - albeit over a coffee that was doing its best to strip off my pesky tooth enamel.
Mr Love-Me-Do Lawyer. This Adrian Brody look-a-like determinedly walked past the long line of holidaymakers waiting for a breakfast table and waved away the waitress with an imperious, "I'm fine, I see a table over there that's free----" We, the great unwashed, mindless sheep, patiently queueing, were clearly beneath his attention. God bless the Nazi waitress who loudly called him back: "EXCUSE ME SIR, but the line is back here. You have to present your key; state your room number and let Angela mark you off the guest list before we can get you a table." Love-Me-Do sighed in that St Peters' College Old Boy 'the-things-I-have-to-endure-to-survive-amongst-the-plebs' manner and strode to the end of the line. He passed the time by making several loud mobile phone calls to someone named Harry in Melbourne. "Harry - it's me. I'm on Hamilton. Yeh, it's breakfast time, but I'd like an update from you on the financials...."
Munching Mother and SMS-ing Son - Fifty-something Mum waddled back from the buffet, her plate full of hash browns, bacon and toast and her plate-free hand gripping and squishing two large texan muffins. Having long since given up trying to hold a conversation with her son, she contents herself with eating instead. Fifteen year old son slumps in his chair with huge Nike feet sticking out beyond the table like an unanticipated gangplank, threatening to trip up other breakfasters. He only lifts up his head from SMSing to inhale Mum's hash browns and to search for as many midget packets of Coco Pops as his text-crippled mitts will pick up. I want to walk over to him and let him know that his current stage of growth – bum fluff, zits, large nose and Adam’s apple – will eventually pass and the females will look his way again when he’s eighteen. I don’t, of course – he would immediately put his ‘screen saver’ face on and categorise me as something as uncool as his Mum (which is sadly true).
Horny Honeymooners - As an Old Married myself, observing young couples holding hands and nuzzling each other in the breakfast line is curiously entertaining instead of sickening. (They were indeed considered vulgar and sickening when I was single and bitter, but now they’re amusing and bemusing). This young hubby strokes her neck and she leans in to him, no doubt whispering sweet nothings like, "I want a breakfast like our lovemaking - hot, salty and slides down easily", or maybe, "I take my coffee like your love truncheon - long, hot and strong."
Persistent Poms - "Ere Reg, do us a favour and fling our towels over the sun loungers over there and bring us another cup of tea on your way back love," a Pensioner Pub Tart calls in a voice created by a 40 year, 2-pack-a-day habit. Her ample bosom is barely kept in check by a lobby shop sarong and her lobes drag with the weight of three large gold hoops in each. Reg dutifully returns, his old navy tattoos a green blur on his beefy arms and his belly straining against his soccer team away strip. They are soon joined by their daughter, her husband and two toddlers who are passed around like stale danishes in an effort to soften their whines to less ear-bleeding levels. The daughter is fatter than Pensioner Pub Tart, but more willing to reveal her Michelen-Man flesh, namely a bikini top and denim shorts. Blubber Hubby is of a similar size and his tit-hanger singlet reveals some tattoos stretched beyond all recognition. All chatter flies over his head - he's there to inhale as much egg and bacon possible before testing out the weight loading of the sun loungers.
Desperate Dads, Miserable Mums – Dad number one was trying to persuade the waitress (yes, she who rightfully snuffed Love-Me-Do lawyer) to allow them to move three tables so that four adults and six children, equaling two families, could breakfast together. Nadine Nazi wasn’t having it, repeating over and over, “Yes, I understand, but our floor plan is structured to talk to the computer which takes down guest details—“
“But please, we’ll shift the tables back afterwards and---“
“I understand sir, but the tables must stay the way they currently are.”
Considering that I'd seen these same two families have the same debate with the same waitress for the past week, I rather admired the fathers for trying. As per all of the other mornings, the parents stand in a quick huddle and verbally draw straws for who is going to supervise the children (currently walking around the edge of the pool trailing muffin crumbs behind them) at the two far tables, and which lucky three adults would breakfast together child-free further away. Father number two lost the draw, and is seen trying to get the youngest child to stop throwing toast on the floor, dry the tears of a sobbing seven year old and persuade them all to select something a bit worthier to eat than coco-pops and hash browns.
Mutton dressed as Slutton – Resorts invariably host a (regrettably) visible and populous group of women for whom Dyan Cannon, Courtney Love and Priscilla Presley are role models for natural and graceful ageing. These old girls clearly feel that a red raw, muddy tan – or freckles so numerous they join together to form a cohesive brown appearance – allow them to wear plunging strappy dresses best suited to teenagers or shorty shorts that reveal their roadmapped varicose veins and knees of papyrus. They also tend to go by the rule ‘Greasepaint is good’ when it comes to make-up, appearing at breakfast in clumpy mascara, undercoat foundation and red lippie. Add armfuls of gold charm bracelets, bangles, numerous stone-filled rings and wrist fat bulging above and below their tiny watches. To be fair, these Slutton varieties are usually accompanied by attentive partners who are often a head shorter than them and have legs whiter and spindlier than their gals’ bra straps.
As I sip my second cup of gut-grinding coffee, Sapphire bursts in, hair still wet and a smudge of sunscreen and sand around her nose. “Hey Mum! Mum! It was great! Dad and I had a canoe with two seats in it and we paddled to that island over there and back!” I notice out of the corner of my eye that an old couple at a nearby table is smiling at her enthusiasm.
Sapphire dramatically groans when I tell her to get a glass of orange juice “to keep your fluids up”, and does her best walk of reluctance to the serving table: slumped shoulders, shuffling feet and her bottom lip sticking comically out. She can only keep up this pose for a few seconds before meeting my eyes and laughing.
After nearly a week in the sun, her skin is lightly tanned, her hair almost white blonde and her eyes bluer, larger, brighter. I sit and listen to her happy chatter, smiling and nodding and asking questions at the right moments to keep her talking.
All the while I keep thinking to myself, “How did we make this beautiful creature? How come I’m lucky enough to be her mother? Will there ever be a day that I’m not utterly dazzled at my first sight of her?”
Monday, September 17, 2007
It's been one hell of a creaking, wooden and condemned roller-coaster ride (hello Mad Mouse) health-wise for me this past week.
- Three dinky-di South Aussie carpenters - Kym, Paul and Brendan being forced to 'find something else to do on the other side of the house' whilst I completely assaulted their aural, visual and olfactory senses while using the only toilet in the house
- Poor Kym was trying to replace our old toilet door with our new one that ironically was designed to more fully fit the top of the frame and bottom of the floor and thus give the 'user' more privacy - in the aural, visual and olfactory senses -and had to repeatedly step outside to let me desecrate the area.
- Anthony the floating floor guy inadvertently roused me from a loo visit and was trying to show me his briefcase full of sample woods and to initiate a discussion on the pros and cons of each one whilst I was bent double, waving him away with, "Yeah yeah, pale beech whatnot wood-chop sounds OK, it's an executive decision. Just measure up as you need to and I'll-----------Bwarrrrfph ugh ugh bwarrrrffph!" I was the easiest sale and he did the quickest measuring up in South Aussie history.
- Murray the builder/project manager turned up three times during the day. Normally he's used to my general state of writer-at-home dagginess: grey marle trakkie daks, crocs, sloppy t-shirt and polar fleece, but it was clear from the ill-disguised revulsion on his face that my appearance had slipped even further. Sticky hair, a white bathrobe rapidly browning due to the endless travels along the dust and wood shaving-strewn floor between my bed and our one only doorless (at that stage) toilet and a face like a busted sandshoe.
It was only 11am but it was time to call Love Chunks and beg him to come home from work. He did, unhesitatingly, and spent his time oscillating between emptying my sick bucket, chatting to the various tradies on site and working on his laptop between the whines of the buzz saw and the whines of his wife.
Saturday saw me walking and wincing like an over-worked cowboy and grasping anything within reach to keep my balance steady. My stomach felt like a hung jury: everything I tried to eat was very ferociously debated, discussed and argued over. Should they fling it back up where it came from, or let it go through and cannon-ball it out in an even more dramatic exit at the other end? Whatever their decision, it seemed to take them hours, with my belly developing a queasy, uneasy heartbeat of its own.
By that night, I was feeling a tad better. Food (salty potato chips) had stayed down and Sunday dawned as the only day without various carpenters, tilers, renderers, plasterers, sparkies and plumbers dusting up the place. However on Sunday, I awoke to a migraine.
*Sigh*. Mr Migraine is an evil, destructively satanic little sadist who visits me far too regularly. Kind of like a Foxtel door-to-door salesman but with a lot more pain and harder to get rid of. Again, the blue bucket was out in full force and through the hazy distance of head pounding agony I could hear the birdlike voice of Sapphire and the low hum of Love Chunks getting on with life, enjoying themselves, being active. Lucky buggers.
No matter, Mr Migraine's visits tend to range from 8 to 12 hours and by evening I felt weak but triumphant. He'd vacated my head and gone in search of another poor sucker's. And then - atchoo! Atchoo! ATCHOO!! - what the------?? It felt as though every single particle of cement, wood, plaster and ceiling dust had invaded my - admittedly very laccommodating - nostrils. That evening I had to prop my noggin up on four pillows to try and breathe a little quieter than a bogged rhinoceros.
A sleepless night was spent trying to honk into tissues without disturbing Love Chunks who, I feared, would be fed up to the back teeth with hearing me moan about ailment number three in as many days. At least the bucket was back under the laundry trough where it belonged.Monday did eventually dawn however, and Love Chunks reminded me that today was officially the first day of our family holiday. The skin around my nose may have been rougher than a laundry lady's knuckles and eating a bowl of muesli with a permanently open mouth wasn't an option if I wished to enjoy the company of my family but the news cheered me up a lot. Sapphire had the day off from school, Love Chunks didn't have to walk to the Nerd Centre in Kent Town.
We welcomed Reno and Tony the plasterers into our bathroom, greeted Murray who had arrived with the tapware and left details for Peter the glass door guy and then got the hell out of there. Browsing in Freedom and IKEA on a Monday is remarkably enjoyable - no weekend worker crowds trying to elbow each other out of the way for a Bjornfartsen recliner or Notsencracker coffee table. I become a human percussionist by honking into a tissue every couple of minutes or so, punctuated by a couple of juicy sneezes and a long, drawn out sigh of self pity.
When we returned in the afternoon, the bathroom was looking much more like a room instead of an archaelogical dig; the French doors had glass in them and a skylight was on its way. Packing my bags was not a drag but a pleasant respite between the sneezes.
It's hard to believe but tomorrow we three will be flying on the big silver bird to Hamilton Island. Warmth. No dust; No builders a foot away from my puking and pooing; No outdoor shower; and some accommodation where a dining, bathroom and living room will be available. Yee hah!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
..... of the wallet and stomach ache kind.
Here in Adders it's Royal Show time. In my day (pre-Boer War, when there were only three terms, holidays were in September and Fat Cat was the authority of when it was time to go to bed) the show was something we did the long car-sick drive to in our own good time, but nowadays the kiddies get a designated day off from school to attend.
Sapphire is now eight and we've been lucky enough to divert her from going to the show for the past two years. When she was six I just took her to the movies and maccas and last year Love Chunks took her to the Beach House in Glenelg.* He's not sure that the Beach House was any cheaper than the Show but it was much easier to find a car park.
My older bruvva, Rob, once had a temp job as a show car-parking attendant. He had to charge each car five bucks to park in the grasslands opposite the Russian Church. It was mindless work but paid his rent and his uni fees. One morning a twin-exhaust Valiant full of bogans drove straight through, ignoring the commanding authority of his orange fluoro vest and requests to stop. Bogan One shoved his beard out of the passenger window, yelling, "Up yer arse, Uni Fag - try and find us for your money!"
Rob seethed and took note of their licence plate and where they parked. A few minutes later they strolled past, lumberjack shirts flapping about their waists, littering brain cells here and there along with their cigarette ends, jeering at the lone car parking attendant. Rob stood there patiently, reminding himself that Karma wins in the end. And it did. In a free moment he simply walked over to their vehicle, let down all four tyres and used a stick to squish a fresh dog turd into the grille of the bonnet near the windscreen. By the time the boneheads returned, he'd long finished up and gone home.
Back to now. Yesterday dawned sunny and bright and Sapphire was revved up and ready to go by 7am. After a bit of stalling ("Look sweetie, it might help things to get out of your PJs, have a shower and some breakfast first love, so put your $39 of savings in twenty cent pieces down and remember that the gates don't open until 9am....") we took the bus (still exciting for Sapph) to Wayville.
Lordy me, the smells of already over-Baine-Marie'd donuts and dimmies assailed my nostrils. As did the wino who sat in the seats next to us and the over-flowing skip, full of last night's trodden on burger patties and Sling Shot vomits. At precisely 9:03am, a seemingly responsible-looking father bought himself and his daughter a Dagwood dog (see picture) for - I don't know what - breakfast? brunch? A guaranteed technicolour yawn on the Gravitron?? All it took was my raised right hand and a firm shake of the head for Sapphire to stop her "Aw Mum they look nice can we please get...." request and instead focus on her biggest agenda item - BEANIE KIDS.
"M-u-u-u-u-um, Selene went to the show on Saturday and she said if you buy two you get one free and---"
"I know Sapph, we'll visit the showbag hall after we check out the animals---"
"But Mum they might run out and apparently you get to choose a hand puppet or a drink bottle and Niamh said that she----"
"Yes love but it's only Wednesday and they'll make sure that they have enough for everyone. How about we line up for the ferris wheel before the line get too--"
"Awww M-u-u-u-u-u-m-m-m-m-m, but what if we can't find the Beanie Kids stall or you lose my pocket money or we go on a ride and I get sick and have to go home before we get to visit--"
(Counting to three, taking deep breaths): "O-k-a-y. How about we find the bloody beanie kid coven now and get it over with....". It was the first stall we saw in the Jubilee pavilion and full of very child in Sapph's class who hadn't been on the weekend. Sixty bucks and a 'cuddly kid', three Beanie Kids and a so-called freebie hand puppet and the butt-ugliest 'Adelaide Show Kid 2007' later, Sapphire relaxed. Her mission was complete: everything else now was just icing on her kiddie cake.
Yoghurt, cheese and choccy samples at the Dairy Hall, a ride on the Ferris Wheel, making a DVD reading the weather in the ABC caravan and one piss-poor fishing game in the Sideshow area swallowed up our morning. I tried my best to skirt around the scarier rides and even scarier owner-operators of the rides.
Sideshow areas are like clowns to me - they both give me the heebie geebies. Sideshow operators always look as though they're on parole or on the witness protection program and, if my Grandma were still alive, she'd as likely chime in with, "And they could also use a good scrub with a flannel and some good old velvet soap if you ask me." Throw in some thudding techno music at each ride in direct competition with their neighbours and it all got a bit much for Sapphire. Thank god.
"I HATE this Mum! It's too loud, it's for teenagers!" Bless her sweet heart, she'd been listening to me after all.
Oooh-eerrrk, it was eventually time for lunch. The choices at the show had not changed in the three decades I'd been attending, despite the recent steps towards addressing obesity, embracing fresh produce and healthy eating. My backpack contained a small, ice-brick lined cold pack full of fresh strawberries, blue berries, water and Farmers Union Feel Good, but the main course was yet to be bought. The lingering odour of old cooking oil, fairy floss and Sideshow BO wasn't making any of the selections any more appealing. Gee, do we approach the guy with the tattoos above his eyebrows for his finest Y2K-era Yiros; visit the Video Ho Reject Chick for her luke-warm 'hot' dogs or the chicken-n-chips vendor who was so fat even his forehead had stomach rolls?
Sapphire of course, saw none of the grit and only the glamour. Two cups of chips and chicken strips later, we sat in front of an empty stage and people-watched. It was not unlike being at the Tea Tree Plaza Food Court but times eleven. More examples of boob-shelves** over patterned leggings, fat boys with rat tails and 'If it's got tits or wheels, it's trouble' t-shirts and toddlers swilling coke - don't good looking people go to the show - can't they stop shopping in Unley or sipping chai at Cibo for one day at least?
We eventually left for home, stomachs hurting from being forced to eat stuff referred to as 'food' but not officially recognised by our own intenal organs as such. We were $200 poorer and lugging armfuls of bags full of stuff we didn't need, wouldn't use and will never see again. Our fellow passengers on the Currie Street bus were similarly laden. Mega Bargain Bags, Yellow Brick Road goodies, bright yellow Bart Simpsons and 'life-like' sleeping puppies and kittens that breathed with the aid of 2 double A batteries..... What the 'lucky winners' of 5 foot tall boogie-green styrofoam-filled frogs were going to do with the buggers was just too much for my exhausted brain to contemplate.
* The Beach House has replaced Magic Mountain, a poo-brown homage to fibreglass and polypropelene that was built in 1983 and bashed down about twenty years later. Sadly, the Beach House looks just as appealing as the Mountain of Manure and blocks the seascape just as boldly.
** Boob Shelves - when a woman is so overweight that her breasts become almost horizontal, as in pretty much being able to rest a cup of tea on the top of them. Said women then try to counter-balance this by wearing huge tshirts that drape over their chests, down past their stomachs towards their thighs, creating a generous 'tent' space between their boobs and the ground. It is surely a criminal waste of space that could be best used as bus shelters during Adelaide's increasingly rare rainy days.
Monday, September 10, 2007
....with my arse cheeks catching up thirty seconds later....
You do know what the Family Block Rule is, don't you? It is sacred law in MillyMoo Land. Flouting this law results in immediate Death-By-Sugarless-Carob or severe shaming*. If you reach to break off a row of, say, Nestle Cappuccino dark or Cadbury anything and three rows come off instead, you must never, ever put the additional rows back in the foil and eat only the first row. No, instead you must eat whatever amount is snapped off with that delightful 'thok' sound that only snapped-off chocolate makes.
Fast forward three months and a couple of days ago I decided it was a definite 'Book Fat Day' and therefore OK to dig out out and wear my 1999 maternity undies with the forgiving elastic, generous butt covering and tummy-flattening panel. As I did so, feeling rather uncomfortable at how comfortable they felt, Kylie Minogue's song 'Spinning Around' had just finished on 'Fogey FM' or whatever Sapphire's clock radio had devilishly set itself to.
Realising that it was time to stop wondering about how my celebrity 68-er sisters were pulling up and start thinking about putting on a load of whites and feeding Dogadoo Sapphire's leftover Weetbix, I struck gold:
* Severe Shaming is, as the name suggests, very severe. The reprobate may be forced to streak down Rundle Mall during peak Harris Scarfe knitwear sales; send suggestive emails and pictures to Alexander Downer; be investigated by 'Today/Tonight' or appear on 'Bert's Family Feud.' These are merely examples - MillyMoo Land has capacity for much greater evil (such as providing parenting tips to Britney, holding a conversation with Courtney Love or taking Elton John seriously).
Thursday, September 06, 2007
It's been three long months of hiding out in my spare room hunched over the laptop like a Victorian-era factory slave frantically bashing out 150,000 words for a 'self help' style of book due out in Jan-Feb next year.
The irony of it all hasn't been lost on me. Writing up successful case studies, the secrets behind happy people, life-changing decisions and statistics that backed up my claims were all typed up whilst I was clad in ever-expanding elasticated tracksuit pants and ugg boots. Sections on healthy living, eating well and exercising properly emerged from yours truly, who was inhaling chocolate like Ventolin at a Star Trek party.
Despite this, my tight three month deadline was achieved and I have the arse of a SUV and the complexion of a decidedly chunky Goth to prove it. What I don't have is anything 'real' to hold or show for my gorilla-at-the-keyboard efforts. Every time a chapter was completed, I'd print out a single - and only - copy of it via my bubble jet, using up black ink that seemed to be expensive than a fistful of saffron threads. My blood, sweat and words were then emailed to the editor and all communication done via phone or cyberspace. It is hard to believe that what I've written in my coffee and choccy stained third bedroom with Dogadoo at my feet is going to equate to a published book in a few months....
Anyhow, Love Chunks could obviously sense this feeling of relief/anti-climax/impending exhaustion/disappointment/exhilaration swirling around me more maniacally than a fart in karate class. He hugged me and said, "I've put some champagne in the fridge - the good stuff. Until we get to take a holiday later in September, let's have a drink to celebrate your achievement."
I was all for it. He made us a hearty dinner of rosemary baked potato wedges (with generous dollops of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt), pan fried scotch filled steak with a peppercorn crust, steamed fresh sweetcorn and greens. Heaven on a plate; especially when eaten wearing pyjamas in the kitchen and not dolled up in a noisy glass/chrome/cement/wooden ponce cafe where the waiters are too cool to serve and it is always too loud to speak.
The champagne slid down like fresh mountain air, my body greedily clamouring for more. It was only 7pm but I was singing, floating, laughing..... Sapphire cocked her head at me sideways in puzzlement, noting, "Hey Mum, you're really red in the face."
More more more, my taste buds and fizzed-out brain chanted. Soon, after indulging myself further, I found that packing the dishwasher was a hilarious experience: as was burping out entire phrases from 'Black Adder' and dancing around the bench with Dogadoo up on her hind legs. Sapphire decided to retreat to her room for further Harry Potter reading and respite from an increasingly erratic mother.
Suddenly I remembed my promise to Sapphire to invite her friend Ellie over the following night for a sleepover. I was humming along the alchohol highway quite nicely, wondering just why I no longer hit the sauce as hard any more these days. I felt younger, funnier, stronger, cleverer and up for a B-I-G night. It seemed the perfect time to phone Ellie's father before my brain cells called it a night.
Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring: "Yooge! Yooge, baby! YOOGE! How the hell are you? .........No, it'shh me, Sapphire'sh mum. Sapph wantsh to know if Ellie wantsh to come and shtay at our plashe tomorrow night....... What? Oh yeah, Love Chunkshs and I are reshponshible parentsh..... - whoopshy, hang on, the dogsh's jusht barfed up a bonio in the pantry - where wassh I? Oh yeah, we'll be able to handle anything ashoshiated with her shpeshial needsh...."
Eugene seemed surprisingly cautious, but then his need for a child-free night obviously got the better of him so he agreed to let Ellie join us.
Clang! Clash!! For some reason, I couldn't hold two dinner plates together without them bashing together like ceramic cymbals. The sound appealed to me, so I did it several more times on purpose and decided that the effort of bending down to load the dishwasher was more than I was prepared to make. Why not fling them in from several feet away instead? The drawer was eventually kicked shut with a clatter and my champagne-soaked synapses turned to other housework duties...... I found out later that the dirty paper napkins were shoved unceremoniously into the spice rack and the pot holder was put in the rubbish bin. It was all very funny. I bent down to pat Dogadoo and scratch her ears and found myself poking the holes of my turquoise Crocs instead.
Love Chunks was watching a football game in the bedroom, and as I put Sapphire to bed (or should I say 'as I found her cowering in her bedroom and her head wedged under the doona'), I kissed her good night to hear, "Geez Mum, your breath smells like Fin MacCool's pub when the door's open."
It was at that moment that the euphoria of the previous couple of hours began to sour. Sapphire's blue and purple-coloured room started to spin and the clanging of the dishes was now transferred to the inside of my head. Staggering to Love Chunks - whilst wearing loose-fitting Crocs - only served to remind me that my body was not functioning as gracefully as I'd like. Peter Garrett had more coordination than I did. The clothes racks in our hallway were at least a metre away from me and yet I fell into them all (they're out there because of our renovations which I'll post about later). I managed to make it to the bedroom before falling onto the bed. Luckily my nose is roughly the size of a U-storage facility and it reached the edge of the quilt long enough to keep me suspended like a sozzled hammock until my knees cracked the floor.
In the far distance, Love Chunks was saying something like, "One sniff of the barmaid's apron..... need to go slower ....... stop snoring ......... didn't you see the doctor about your farting problem....." before patting my face and leaving me to it. Out like a light by 9pm. My last thought was, "Getting pissshed washn't like it usshed to be...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"