Wednesday, June 13, 2012


 there was this Aussie Sheila living in Switzerland who was Skyping with Lars from Norway about writing his press release for the United States market and as they were chatting she heard her email alert go 'ping' and surreptitiously read in the lower corner of the screen that the Texan bloke she'd sent an application to earlier has decided that yes, he wants her to edit his chapters on China

which is far more exciting than wasting any energy trying to think up something socially acceptable and exciting to eat when her husband brings home some overseas guests who are working with him in Geneva for the week and how she's already used up her 'go to' mid-week dishes of fondue, chicken salad and home made pizza which these guys have eaten at least twice before but maybe she can dazzle them with a cheese platter and chocolate-oriented dessert and get Love Chunks to magic up something in between. Yep, that'll do

and she's also wondering about how on earth she'll leave instructions for the English people who'll be staying in her house for a few weeks looking after the Jack Russell - Corgi cross and will most definitely need clear, written-down instructions on

1) the intricacies involved in operating the German washing machine that has a leaflet printed only in French and Italian and a tendency to leak (the machine, not the brochure) water from the detergent compartment in the lid all over the just-spun clothes in the sideways barrel; and

2) some further advice on why the Japanese-made TV, DVD player and Naxoo cable box need a trio of remotes and seem to take longer to warm up than a 1970s oil heater; as well as

3) a map and compass to the mysteriously-hidden rubbish room for all items that can not be compacted into a shoebox-sized lump to squash into the litter chute

but it's time to farewell the Norwegian and respond to the Texan before clicking over to the Australian embassy to figure out how to renew Sapphire's 'minor' passport when one page says it can be done via mail and the other says that an appointment must be made but only by telephoning between 9am and midday and of course it's now 1pm

and as she sighs and realise this, the door bell buzzes which causes Milly to leap up out of her bed and bark wildly in the vague direction of the lobby. Why she reacts this way when other sounds such as the neighbour's Persian cat meowing or the sirens of the ambulances all-too-regularly ferrying fat foreign blokes with heart attacks to hospital is a mystery but Anne the New Zealander has come in with some reasonably fresh tabloid magazines from her friend and so the DeLonghi is switched on so that they can sip Brazilian coffee overlooking the high school next door who are running a Sports Day that is featuring loudly amplified Indian techno music to spur the athletes on in their rather short races along the basketball courts and back

after the Kiwi leaves she takes the dog downstairs for a sniff and a wee amongst the forest set aside for just this purpose but Milly spies two squirrels up the oak tree and circles it continuously, ignoring her owner's please to "do a whizz Mills, come on girl, it's POURING out here," remaining utterly fascinated by these quickly scurrying furry creatures that were not even dreamt of back in Melbourne as they leap so gracefully from branch to branch, taunting the excited dog many metres below

fifteen minutes later the dog leaves a big part of herself under the pine tree and has her stomach, legs and back wiped of rainwater and mud with a towel before travelling the eight floors upstairs and back inside the apartment, trotting obediently (now) towards the large blue pillow set up in the study specifically for her to snooze and fart while her owner sits, stretches and taps and (often) mutters or (occasionally) bursts into song

the piece she's writing for the asbestos removal expert in Arizona is going surprisingly well and can be interspersed with clicks on internet tabs to check on Japanese Shiba Inu pups on live cam, a Facebook conversation with a friend on holiday in Sardinia and thoughts on how to politely and successfully ask the family currently travelling through Tuscany if they'd like to look after a dog for two weeks

keyboard a clackin' which means she's on a roll which is therefore the perfect time to crack the foil of some chocolate, wind up the article and spend several hours searching and booking accommodation for her upcoming Germany trip that somehow also seems to have leaked into Austria and a smidge into France and is producing prices and hotel ratings so wildly varied that its best just to click 'book', close her eyes and hope that it all somehow gels together when the time comes to step off the train with wheelie case in hand, so

to stop worrying about how she might have potentially stuffed up a holiday that will see her visiting parents disappointed and her husband heart broken and daughter horrified, she writes a tentative email to a Scottish lady who currently lives in a 500 year old farmhouse just over the border and runs a Brocante featuring antique finds mostly from Denmark and Sweden to see if she knows of anyone who collects French cooking magazines from the 1950s because she found several in the recycle bin downstairs a few weeks ago and thought that surely they'd be worth something

Sapphire won't be happy about it though because she's into all things retro and as they walked through the bomb shelter on the way to their underground car park, commenting yet again on how funny it was to have the famously neutral Swiss leaders still decide that that these were mandatory in all residential buildings she saw their concierge Monsieur Frattiani in the distance, ready to climb aboard his mini tractor.

"Bonjour Monsieur Frattiani," she called out, always keen to keep her amicable relationship with him - hard earned as it was - extremely cordial.

"Bonjour Madame. Comment ca va?" How are you.

"Merci," she replied. Thank you.

He shook his head and laughed at the ignorant Australian and her daughter shook her head in disgust.

All the Aussie sheila can say in her defence is that her brain was full.


Christin said...

If the rest of my family wouldn't object, I would watch Milly. The crazy windings of your day sound like mine...which are of course strongly influenced by a 4 year old! I can't wait to hear about the Germany trip. We haven't been there yet and I'm hoping to pump you for information after you return. I have some good recipes that could help with the work dinners. Interested?

MedicatedMoo said...

Sounds like a plan.

Are you dinner ideas One Pots? :P

Shiba cam -

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Love the last photo :-)

One question - where does this Aussie notion of "Bruce" and "Sheila" really come from?

I have a friend called "Shelagh" - I think she would kill me if I referred to her as "Sheila".




Windsmoke. said...

Interesting day. Fun photo to :-).

Elisabeth said...

Full alright, Kath. What a life you lead these days - so cosmopolitan, compared with how your blog stories ran back in the old days when you lived in inner city Melbourne.

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drb said...

What were you supposed to reply to Fratman?

Don't worry about disappointing J&P, they are there to see and catch up with you. They do NOT expect you to be their personal professional tour guard.

Any effort you put in will mean the world to them.

Jayne said...

Tres bien, Kath, tres tres bien :P
Love the 'diary' entry for yours and Mz Milly's day ;)

MedicatedMoo said...

Actually, PlasMan, I don't know and we too have a friend called Sheelagh who lives in Australia (but she's a pom). I"ll venture a guess that 'Bruce' features a lot because it seems like every second boy who was born in the years between 1945 and 1960 were called that. Perhaps it means 'Baby Boomer Boy' in another language?

Thanks Windsmoke. Trouble is, that was only part of the day - I'm not yet sure how to write about how I find these writing jobs and the ones that rip me off and succeed (which is more than once, unfortunately).

Elisabeth, it seems cosmopolitan, yet I'm still driving a computer and picking up after a cute little dog. The clientele has changed a bit.

Andrew, I didn't know that. I'm just addicted to the web cam to see the mother and her rather adorable puppies. Better than porn or online gambling methinks.

drb, I was supposed to say, "Tres bein. Et vous?" Or 'very good, and you?' to his 'how are you' question, NOT 'thank you.' Yesterday I said 'Bonjour' to the sour check out lady at Migros as I was leaving!

Jayne, squirrels feature very largely in Milly's activities these days and her excitement gives the guys working on the lifts in our buildings (six lifts in all, so they've been here for ages) lots of amusement.

Fen said...

Your telly set up sounds complicated like mine. I left instructions last time and my poor friend still had no clue!!

Unknown said...

And with all that going on, how could your brain NOT be full. You're amazing Kath. And with getting that Arizona gig, you should have said "Super Sheila!" or at least "Tres bien, merci!"

(Don't worry, I'm practising my french on you. Otherwise, how will I ever learn French properly and come and visit?)


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nuttynoton said...

I must admit your life is so varied and interesting, I am off to France in two weeks with a couple of Friendds on a "Road Trip" we are going in the pub tomorrow to work out how and where!! Talk about 3 men in a boat?? Keep those geneva stories coming you multinational you!"

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Wally The Walrus said...

Heh. Sounds like a day in paradise!

(ok, ok, its ok to burst into song at this point... you know the one)

MedicatedMoo said...

Fernstar, I'm dreading how to explain the workings of the telly. "Now you press this button really hard at least three times - no, the battery isn't flat - and then you have to wait anywhere between five and ten seconds for the little black box thingy to turn red, then blue..."

Kymmie, my French still seems to get me by, especially in my continuing role as Direction Magnet. A few 'tout droit' (straight ahead) and 'gauche' (left) and my customary thumbs up sign seems to leave most confused punters/cyclists/drivers with the ability to find their way.

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