Friday, March 30, 2007

Mastering the Mother Tongue

During high school, I realised that, unlike primary school, learning things and being a 'Smarty Pants' required a fair bit more effort than neat writing and creative title pages. English and the arts subjects (home economics being the glaring exception) were still easy and enjoyable for me, but maths and science were awful.

What was even more awfuller (if that isn't in the dictionary yet, it should be) was French. Notwithstanding I was introduced to the language of love and rude shop keepers half way during the first year, in Scotland. I was frightened, lonely and homesick and being six months behind the class and trying to understand Merci Beacoup being spoken by Mr Urquhart in a thick Aberdonian burr was a challenge my 12 year old mind decided to reject. Miraculously I earned a 'C' grade at the end of the year but most adamantly did not select it as a year nine subject when I returned back to South Australia.

Even as an adult, this total incapacity to grasp anything outside the realms of Australian English remains embarrassingly strong. At our beginner karate class, for example, seven year old Sapphire was able to count to ten in Japanese within fifteen minutes, but for me, three months later I'm on a roll if I manage to make it to three ('sun'). When they use basic Japanese to describe the next move, I have to quickly (but subtlely) rubberneck the rest of the class and copy what they're doing.

The same goes - quadrupled, unfortunately - for Finance at my work. Just when I felt vaguely comfortable with the unwieldy online reporting and accounting system, they changed it. Utterly. In fact, so complete is the change that even our designated finance staff struggle to comprehend the meanings of some reports or where some of our key funding has come from; where it needs to go to; or whether it has even arrived.

The confusion of others is a comfort I gladly take refuge in, but it doesn't make my job any easier. At one stage in a meeting yesterday, Queen B and Jo from Finance were chatting away with such enthusiasm about grants, shifting salaries, transferral of non-ARC grants and projected earnings I was wondering if they had suddenly morphed into Klingon and were instead talking about me instead of about finance, kind of like igpay latin. "MillyMoo be a Dumb Moron. Her brain is emptier than a student's lecture calendar during O-week"

'Finance Made Simpler'
Acrylic on masonite
MillyMoo 2007

Even English has its moments with me, and having Sapphire around to question everything from a seven year old's perspective highlights it even more. "Hey Mum why does the word sword have a 'W' in it?"
"Why does photo has 'ph' instead of 'F' at the start?"
"How come we say one sheep, two sheep, but we say one mouse, two mice?"

And what's my profound answer to those queries? Normally a shrug, a sigh and this:
"Well Sapphire, I reckon that English is sort of like the floor sweepings from the scraps of all the other languages of the world - a bit of French, a wedge of Latin, a splash of Spanish, a kick of German, a smattering of Danish and far too much drunken igpay and esperanto for my liking. Then, add in some words that some drunken or ignorant clowns have invented along the way plus a bit of bad or adventurous spelling and that equals the English language as we know it today. OK?"

She tends to give me her 'My Mum's a weirdo but she's my Mum so I won't say it out loud or she'll tell me off for being disrespectful, so I'll make a quick exit and go and ask Dad instead' kind of look and heads outside to the shed where Love Chunks is at his weights bench.

Finally, who decides what word is going to be overused at what times? I if hear the word 'bespoke' used one more time to describe fashion, house design, art or inventions I'll ram it up someone's 'bespoke and unique hand-woven muff cover made entirely by traditional Peruvian Llama wool spinners with dye made from an organic combination of yak spittle and ancient Mayan burro droppings'. Or I'll ask, "Why can't you say 'individual' or 'one of a kind' like the rest of us?

Then I'll pick up my papers, my bottle of water and my portable, hand-held graphite word processor (pencil) and huffily stomp out of the room.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Kitchen Nazi

My darling Love Chunks will probably choke on his FUIC, but I consider myself to be rather fussy when it comes to a clean and well-organised kitchen.

I'm almost the opposite of the average person (in so many ways, but they're blogs for many other occasions) in that I am more vulture-like and hyper-critical about kitchen hygiene and etiquette at the office than I am at home.

For instance at home I'll go for a run with Dogadoo, and, like yesterday it will be a muddy affair that result in my legs being spattered and me having to grab Dogadoo and wrap her up in a towel so that she resembles a rather disgruntled and hairy packet of fish and chips. She'll then get her slow-slung tummy, chest, legs and paws wiped clean before she's allowed to come inside for her breakfast.

Meanwhile Love Chunks will be firing up his beloved Gaggia for our delicious morning coffee and see me picking up Dogadoo's bowl and start tickling her on her belly; right where she loves it. As the hawk-and-gargle frothing sounds of the steaming milk start up, I'll make myself busy by unpacking the dishwasher. LC (clearly waiting for the right time) will then turn around and in his most pompous voice ask, "So, I'll assume that you've thoroughly washed your hands before touching our nice, clean dishes?" I used to mutter and slink off in embarrassment to the bathroom, but now I just look back at him with a smiling cheeky face and reply "Nup," or "Mayyyybe." Once I did a majestic nose pick and reached over to dramatically wipe it on his sleeve but he held me back with the olive oil spray and some hot tongs....

I also like using the Three Second Rule when it applies to food or cutlery falling on the floor at home. You know the one - it's most often used by parents who are way past the "Oh dear, our precious first born infant is at risk of catching a cold from the man with a runny nose we spotted from the safety of our car..." to the more lax, "Look, boys can wear pink," "Don't check on the kids unless you hear hysterical screaming or smell blood," and "Let's play hide and seek - you count to one thousand and Mummy will go hide (in her car)..."

The three second rule is this: You are allowed to reach down and pick up the dropped item within three seconds of contact with the floor/dog's back/toddler's mouth and do not have to worry about the ramifications of shoving it back into your mouth - the rule considers that the time taken to do this manouevre is considered far too quick for any opportunistic germs to have jumped on the item and rained on your parade (or pesky pineapple piece). Better still if you give the dropped fork or knife a quick wipe on your trouser leg in the same move from floor to gob.

In addition, any crumbs left on the counter are usually carelessly flicked by me directly onto the floor or anywhere within a 5m radius of the swipe, which is normally done with a Chux superwipe that has more holes than my knitting and which is older than our daughter.

What puzzles me is that I don't apply this slack-but-survival-minded attitude to our kitchen at work. Before any poor colleague's had a chance to even think about rinsing their teaspoon under the hot tap, I'm wiping the counter directly underneath their hands with the new sponge like an overly-caffeinated charwoman, before setting to the entire benchtop, stainless steel fridge door and microwave plate with the idea of "Hey, I'm already here, so why not give the whole area a wipe down?"

Any food that slips from my fingers is immediately scooped up and flung straight into the bin and cutlery is scrubbed until my fingers crack with detergent overload. Despite my inner-self saying, "Take a good hard look at yourself - you're like a blonde Paula Duncan advertising Spray and Wipe on Speed", I keep at it. Polishing the tea bag splat marks from the flip top bin lid, arranging the wicker tray at precise right angles to the edge of the wall and - yes - even keeping a tiny little shopping list next to our communal coffee supply tray.

I have just - but only just - managed to stop myself from writing or typing signs that say stuff like, "Please wash and clean up after yourself," or, "These are CWL property - all plates and cups must be returned to the kitchen by close of business" but I do recognise that I may not be able to repress the urge for much longer.

What's tough on my colleagues is that they're decent, kind, smart and thoughtful people: not ignorant slobs with the social skills of Sir Les Patterson. I have very little doubt that they would consider me an over-zealous Hygiene Hawk in kitchen matters and they have accepted my insanity as an endearing character trait and even kindly drawn up a kitchen roster.

The roster is working well and yet, even when I'm in there for a few seconds just chucking my lunch into the fridge, I can't help pick up the damn sponge and giving the counter a wipe ''just to make sure"...... I'm sure that my boss, Queen B, wishes I would give our proformas, mailing lists and files the same OCD attention.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

At My Desk....

What sort of lunatic's desk do
we have here?

For those of you in your frighteningly late thirties and beyond, you may remember seeing Ita Buttrose in her role as editor of the Australian Women's Weekly, sitting elegantly in her editorial office, looking serene, in-control and thoroughly capable of running the best-selling women's mag in the nation, raising two children and writing a weekly column.

My desk, on the other hand, is not quite up to Ida's level. You will see that I have four chocolate bars between my keyboard and the computer screen, whereas I'm sure that Ida had some TAB (only one calorie!), a couple of mandarins and that new-fangled healthy stuff called yoghurt. The chocolate bars are there for writing research, however I've had to buy them several times again since then due to my complete inability to have any kind of control over my appetite.

Whilst Ida no doubt had some beautifully framed and artfully arranged photographs of her (then) young children, I'm almost there - young Sapphire features in three aluminium frames but Love Chunks....? Well, he's stuck on the wall, in a joke picture he sent me years ago in which he stuck his head onto some steroidal muscle mutt's neck for a laugh. Even now people come in, have a chat for a while and then notice the photo and look startled. "Um, is that what your husband, LC, looks like...? He's a strong feller, isn't he?" Ida might have flung away her first or second hubby by then, because I don't recall too many mentions of her 'man' in those heady columns of 1976, but then again I was only scouring the mag for any mentions of Abba or the cute little chap who played Storm Boy.

Regrettably this photo is clear evidence that I strayed and betrayed my loved one. That's right folks: my Farmers Union Iced Coffee (FUIC) was temporarily put on the shelf for the day as I chose a 'Classic Cafe Latte - 99% fat free'. My face is flushing with shame just typing those words out. I can assure you that it was just a temporary case of insanity and won't happen again. There is also my 2-litre water jug that I usually get through in deference to the scads of articles about the importance of drinking eight glasses per day. I'm not sure what else it's supposed to do for me - clear cellulite, rejuvenate skin cells, add an extra 'glow' but my bladder sure gets a work-out. It's a good thing the ablutions are only a few steps away from my door....

Ita probably had her secretary on constant rotation to and from the Cafe Bar for her refreshments. Those funky pale brown machines with round, dark brown knobs were quite the rage then and you knew you were really in a cool dude's office or staff room if they were installed. However, I do recall once trying the 'chicken soup' dial and regretting it the instant the enamel on my teeth dissolved and my left leg developed a nervous tic. Canapes at the end of year Womens' Weekly do were very likely to involve cubes of coon cheese on toothpicks with mini-pickled onions, jatz crackers and bacon dip and - if the crowd were hedonistic enough - some Lolly Gobble Bliss bombs to wash away their Summer wines, Hock-lime-and-lemons or Claytons mixers ('the drink you have when you're not having a drink').

On my desk is an apple, as an ever-so-slight nod to the importance that health and well being play in my life. And now, several weeks later, it looks even more artistic as it has slowly withered and shrunken inside itself and left a sticky brown puddle near my mouse pad. On better days, I tend to apply the One Piece Of Fruit + One Chocolate Bar = Nothing was Eaten Rule. That is, the goodness of the fruit completely obliterates the evil of the chocolate, restoring the equilibrium. Sadly, no diet magazine or nutritionist yet subscribes to this theory and nor do my thighs.

Naturally Ms Buttrose wouldn't have had a computer and her secretary was probably on an electric typewriter and post-it-notes were not invented yet; so they will excuse the mess I have under, on, beside and around my computer. If those sticky squares were ever displaced by an unexpected gust from the air-conditioning duct, my life would fall into complete disarray. I'd forget everyone's phone number, all my various log-ons for the intranet, home email addresses, internet sites, blog forums, online banking and finance requests. Ita might have had a flip top address book with neat, hand-written address cards inside. My writing is indecpherable at best and a good imitation of sanskrit at worst.

Ita was always pictured perfectly coiffed, wearing chunky gold earrings and fully lipsticked, with floaty scarves, perfectly matched clothing and sky high heels. A far cry from my make-up free face dotted with pimply land-mines amongst the plowed wrinkled furrows. Sensible flat shoes, K-Mart trousers and any top that's clean complete my ensemble with maybe a home-made necklace thrown on if I'm feeling adventurous. My preferred look is black - for slimming and invisibility effects - if only I could paint my nose that colour as well......

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Older, but maturity still eludes me

Sometimes I pity my daughter, Sapphire, I really do. Take this recent conversation (the term is used loosely) we had on the way to school, for instance.

Me, singing gaily: "What do you do if you want to do a poo in an English country garden..."
Sapphire, tugging my hand and whispering: "Shoosh Mum, we're nearly there."
Instead of stopping, the immature little kid inside just got the encouragement to behave even more badly: "Pull down your pants and fertilise the plants in an English country gar-"
"MUM!", she whispered as fiercely as she could.
"Go find a leaf and wipe your underneath in an English----"

Sapphire, gritting her teeth and hissing out of the side of her mouth, said those words that a parent doesn't expect to hear until they're teenagers. "Mum, you're embarassing me."
Inside I was mortified, but my immature evil twin took that feeling and gave it a really good wedgie as I continued to sing, "Then get a spade and bury what you made in an English Country Garrrrrr-den!"

With a frustration and anger that was entirely justified, a red-faced and fed-up Sapphire flung my hand away from hers and stalked angrily towards the zebra crossing, her blonde hair bobbing up and down in time with her huffy strides. The gesture would have been so much more powerful if she didn't - as per her upbringing and daily conditioning - pause at the side of the road and wait for me to say - which I did out of habit - "Wait there Sapphire, hold my hand while we cross the road."

Luckily, she has a very open and forgiving nature and most of her cards, stories or drawings about me tend to have me dressed as a clown with 'Your (sic) a Funny Mum' emblazoned across them. Her father, Love Chunks, on the other hand, is always depicted as a strong, smart man, complete with weights and/or laptop keyboard, but hey, he's another story entirely...

If only sweet Sapphire knew how immature I am when she's not around..... A few weeks ago, my boss, Queen B, decided to shout us, her fabulous team, to a Labor Women in Politics breakfast at which Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU, was the special guest. We all listened intently to her speech, ate breakfast at a leisurely pace and dutifully bought a few raffle fund-raising tickets each. Then the Secretary of SA Unions announced that there was going to be a prize awarded for Best Bra at the Breakfast.

A few old gals shyly pulled out a strap and muttered things like, "Oh, it's black because our union colours are black" and so forth and we all clapped politely. My evil twin suddenly had the stand. I grabbed the shoebox sized, 'Your Rights at Work, Worth Fighting For' bumper sticker, stuck it on my rack, grabbed the uneaten bunch of grapes left on the fruit platter in the centre of the table, rammed them down my cleavage and announced my entry. "THE FRUITS OF OUR LABOURS" I yelled, flashing the audience of perfumed, stilettoed and stunned ladies.

Naturally I got the prize - no chocolate or wine unfortunately. Three kid sized union t-shirts, a Ronald McDonald sized pair of black thongs with 'Don't walk all over me' printed on them in orange and a hat that I'd only ever be caught wearing on a drunken dare. Oh well, I did it, no-one held a gun (or melted chocolate wrapper) to my head and I will hopefully use this pointless piece of show offyness as a lesson in being able to restrain my inner child from doing anything that doesn't get me at least ten grand, a luxury holiday in Queensland or a re-saleable family car.

At least, that's what thoughts were occupying me as I stood waiting for the pedestrian lights to turn green at the corner of Magill and Glynburn Roads. My right hand was clutching a green enviro bag full of groceries and my left had my over-loaded backpack. A huge gust of wind swept down from the gully and expertly blew my layered peasant-inspired skirt right up over my head. Sure, my evil twin wasn't responsible for that act, but I didn't have to wave and curtsey to the laughing jackal in the white minivan when the breeze died away and my skirt revealed my face again.....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Feeding, Seating and Sleeping Twenty Two

My mother is a superwoman. Not the 1980s stereotype of a shoulder-padded business woman juggling a briefcase, brick-sized mobile phone and four babies; but a woman who never, ever stops moving whilst she is conscious.

Not once does she ever lay in bed, too sick to get up and "do her bit" for her family, mates and work. I don't even remember her visiting a doctor: we had a friend who was a doctor who, on social occasions would occasionally give her the latest hayfever medication to try out but that's as far as any active search for healing that my mother had time for.

She managed to successfully raise three children (I rather hopefully include myself as one of her successes), stay married, stay sane and develop a lot of her own interests, social networks and activities whilst also showing her love through many acts of kindness.

When Dad decided to get into bee-keeping as a hobby, she remained relatively calm, despite being so badly allergic to their stings that she risked going into anaphylactic shock and dying within 30 minutes if not rushed to hospital. We all considered it rather decent of Dad to choose to leave his hives several kilometres away in farmer's paddocks so that they'd gorge themselves on Salvation Jane/Patterson's curse. This meant that the only bees seen near Mum were the dead ones swimming in the brimming icecream carton full of honeycomb we'd chew over that night.

We weren't exactly rolling in money during my childhood but didn't starve either. Dad was a high school senior teacher and Mum stayed at home. They are the four most inappropriate words, aren't they: Mum Stayed At Home. They unfairly insinuate that the mother lazes about on the lounge, eating food and plonking the baby in front of the TV. My mum, on the other more reasonable hand, was never seen blobbed on the couch, nor immersed in her own rather naturally gorgeous appearance or spending the household budget unnecessarily.

Instead, she designed and sewed costumes for the local stage and musical group; helped out in the school canteen; had a weekly Meals On Wheels run; played tennis; umpired netball; sang in the church choir; read and recorded news articles for blind people and somehow made a garden thrive in a town whose sky was more often orange with dust than grey with rain.

She'd be the first to admit that house cleaning and cooking weren't exactly her strong points, but we had plenty to eat and lots of choice - just as long as we chose fried lamb chops or 'stew'. This necessary chore was counter-balanced by her obvious enjoyment of baking - even these days her little cakes are legendary, especially the ones with white icing and red raspberry lollies on top, also known as her 'Little Nipples.' Her chocolate bar cakes were fantastic and as my brothers got older, lankier and hungrier, she would no sooner put the cake on the rack to cool than it would be inhaled with gusto by the two goons as soon as she had her back turned. "Can't you at least - oh I don't know - admire it for a second?" The funny thing is, she was never caught eating a slice herself.

Manners were very important. Every single day, she'd farewell us off to school, sport or a sleepover with, "Remember your manners!", which was then followed by, "Don't forget to take a hanky!"

In the evenings when we were all bathed and in our pyjamas, she would find the time to do some mending, ironing, sewing and to produce some apples and oranges that she would peel in long, unbroken curls. To me the fruit just tasted so much nicer after she had done that, and I'd enthusiastically get my vitamin C in front of 'The Sonny and Cher' show via her clever method.

In 1973, Mum was the leading lady in the musical, Show Boat. The Bridge Players and Singers were staging the event in the high school hall, and rows of plastic chairs were set out on the wooden floor in front of the stage. In one scene, mum was being dragged away by her on-stage father. At the age of four-and-a-half, this proved far too scary for me and I protectively rushed to the edge of the stage, yelling "Don't you do that to MY MUM!" There is no memory of how the story ended, so it's a fair assumption that my embarrassed Dad had to hustle me out of the hall and get me home to bed.

A wartime birth meant that Mum wasn't expected to do any more study than year ten, despite attending Adelaide's secondary school for gifted students. Somehow, in 1976, she managed to do night time adult matriculation classes in between all of her other activities: many times after school I'd see her rapidly banging away on the manual typewriter before we barged in and demanded to be fed, entertained, bathed and scolded. She didn't need to prove anything to us about her intelligence, but it must have given her a great deal of personal satisfaction when she found that she'd come second in the state.

Nowadays, in her 67th year, Mum is still busier than a blow fly on a barbecue plate. Probus club, Country Women's Association, Fellowship, musicals and costume-making, working in the local Lifeline second-hand shop, writing and performing comedy scripts at fundraising shows, gardening and trying to learn how to slow down long enough to learn how to play lawn bowls. Oh and get the brand new caravan 'Pauline Ready' for travelling in style and comfort.

She and Dad have set up their comfortable beachfront home as the ideal place for them, us children and their grandchildren to set up camp and stay. With our own 'wing' - three bedrooms, a playroom and bathroom to ourselves, she always ensures that each bed is always freshly made, towels are behind the doors and there are enough 2-litre bottles of Farmers Union Iced Coffee to keep the local tradesmen in her council district happy at morning tea time. We are always welcome to drive over and stay for a day, a weekend or a fortnight, and we have on many occasions.

Of course making it all look so easy and welcoming means that Mum is never off her feet, no matter how hard we try to make her sit down, relax and let us look after her for a change. "Don't worry Robert, I'll get that...", "Dave, you go and have a surf before tea and I'll pop over to the shops for the meat for tonight's BBQ," or "MillyMoo, didn't you say that you had some shorts of Sapphires that are too big in the waist? Why don't we get them out and I'll take the seams in?"

When she's not ensuring that we have all slept well, found our towels and noted that the bathroom is stocked with enough loo paper for a Curry Convention; she ensures that the kitchen bench has at least seven different packets of cereal to choose from, plus the jams, peanut butter, vegemite, honey and marmalade for the 4 kinds of breads available to toast and the dozen varieties of tea bags next to the kettle for the next day's breakfast. Aside from that, she's gone for her power walk, watered the garden, done the children's talk at church and closely noted the goings-on in the park directly across the road.

She is often heard to mutter, "I hope there's enough cake/cherries/buns/coffee cups/chairs/napkins/bubble bath/pillows/extra blankets/sun hats for everyone..." I always respond with, "So Mum, when is this mythical gang of twenty two guests going to turn up without notice, expecting a bed, somewhere to sit, a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits?"

For someone born in 1940 to strict Methodists, she loves a good fart joke and can be reduced to uncontrolled squeaks of laughter if they are observed, talked about or audibly demonstrated. She's always up for a game of Rummy-O (accompanied by several flavours of Cadbury chocolate of course) and knows more about what kids of today enjoy than any of us thanks to her toy-sorting work at the local LifeLine second hand store.

Never seen without a good application of lippie, she's a fascinating mixture of the old ways and the new ways, and her handbag is like Dr Who's tardis - much bigger on the inside. With this leather receptable alone she's been known to supply stingose, provide sugars for takeaway coffees, pencils and pads for weary children, new pantyhose, a toothbrush and assorted snacks with varying use-by dates.

She's the mistress of organisation, a whirling dervish of road-runner-like speed and boundless energy that she is just dying to use to help out someone. She embodies the concept of showing her love by doing. And she has 'done' so many wonderful things for me, my family, my friends and her friends.

I love you, Mum.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Terrible Tooth-treatment Trifecta

Why can't I just have some of these every day instead?

Regular blurbs readers who, like faithful ugg boots worn long ago before they were declared fashionable, may recall an early article I wrote on my crazy crown crackin' capers:

Well, last week I was again back at Dr T's dental surgery for cracking my back crown tooth for the third time.
"Well well well MillyMoo so you've done it again, have you? These teeth are made upstairs by Bill, the best in the business, using the latest in materials that are so strong they'll be the only thing left of you after cremation. What the hell are you doing?"
"Errm, I don't know," I mumbled. "I wear my triple-strength mouthguard every night and, after I fall asleep, I'm unconscious, so it's a bit hard to tell you what kind of grinding or clenching is happening. Love Chunks doesn't reckon he hears anything when I'm asleep other than making him suffer through an occasional dutch oven, but that's a completely non-dental issue..."
Dr T sighed and pushed his glasses further along his nose. "You know now, that as a third time cracker, that you'll have the dubious honour of making it into the annual Dental Surgery christmas party problem patient list, don't you?"

Before I could think of any kind of witty response, he peered into my mouth and decided, "Actually I'm going to have to yank this baby out and make you a new one. This is too far gone to repair or save. Brace yourself - we'll need three injections today."

Several minutes later, tears of pain were slowly rolling down the edges of my cheeks and plopping insultingly into my ears. The ceiling tiles up above were compiled of twenty seven rows of twenty seven tiny little holes and my main goal in life was to avoid seeing the reflection of my gaping wounded mouth in Dr T's goggles. The building and construction noises occurring outside in Waymouth Street just served as

Despite being anaesthetised enough to elicit empathy from a stroke victim, I could most definitely feel the drill going down into the root canal. Coupled with the heavy pressure of having Dr T practically kneel on my shoulders for ballast as he yanked the crown out with some depraved dental pliers wasn't helping matters any. With all of the self-control I could muster, my face and shoulders remained still, but my feet were jerking like Jack Nicholson in the 'Cuckoo's Nest' lobotomy scene.
Today, five days later, the right side of my jaw and my skull is throbbing away like a neighbourhood dance party and I'm looking forward to my Friday morning new tooth installation with about as much excitement as a pap-smear patient being viewed by a class of med students. Come to think of it, maybe the pap smear wouldn't be so bad after all - at least they wouldn't see my face.....

Monday, March 19, 2007

In the dog house?

Darling husband, Love Chunks, and a journalist I really respect have both expressed concerns about the photos I've been using on this blog.

Y'see when this little creature was first born a couple of years ago, it was with the simple intention of keeping my 'writing fitness' up in a format that allowed me to rant, mock, rave and prattle on at will, pretty much without fear or favour.

Soon, my other sordid love came to the forefront - trashy tabloid photographs of the rich and the clueless wearing catastrophic clothing choices. These pictures were eagerly 'saved as' by me from the following websites: - funny celebrity faux pas that frequently make me grateful that my budget only extends to a frenzied five minute sprint around K-Mart on a Saturday morning; - I've only used one picture from his site (Kylie Minogue, post surgical face stretch) because he scribbles all over his photos and can tend to be more nasty than amusing;,,,00.html - the US 'mother' of our inferior 'Who' magazine and a good source of celebrity pictures; - hilariously funny and scathing attacks on starlets with stylists who are even more stupid than they are; - funny captions to photos, but their standards have slipped of late; and - like People, they are a huge source of tabloidy photos without the bitchiness.

So there you go. I swear, from this day forward, that if I use any image from the above websites or any others (my daily addiction - non-chocolate, I mean - is, destined to win over even the most avid animal hater), will be to seek permission and/or write and acknowledge who owns the picture.

Truly. And I mean that from the heart of my bottom.

PS - both these photos are mine, unfortunately. The first one I took of Dogadoo, sulking in her kennel after being caught laying a Chum Cable in Sapphire's bedroom, and the second one Sapph took of me - feel free to use this one as a 'before' picture before advertising whatever improvement / face welding / fat blasting technique you like.

So if you live in Adelaide, be prepared for a slightly plumpish and slightly more than insane woman in her late thirties brandishing a camera taking photographs of everything from hoons' rubber skid marks on the local roundabout to close ups of fruchocs......

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lyndsay Lohan's Real Father is Revealed!

How could we not have seen it before - the resemblance between one of our favourite Rehab Rejectees and Iggy Pop is nothing short of uncanny - let alone their behaviour and preferences for pharmaceuticals, firewaters and unflattering hairstyles.

Oh Shaz....if you could only see this photo, you'd think twice about getting more botox in your forehead and get it pumped by the gallon into your neck instead.

Perhaps too you could 'lose' the Avril Lavigne 'so three years' ago teeny angst look too, love. You're old enough to be her white trash grandmother for the love of unrealistically perky boobies!

It's so refreshing to see a celebrity such as Kirsten Dumpst embracing literature and the quest for knowledge in such an eager fashion.

If only she'd now learn how to take a bath, stop smoking, lose the gum-ball machine glasses and reacquaint herself with food, we'd be getting somewhere.

I think this was taken in Noo Yawark, where Jude Whore must be filming, or nanny shagging or ..... popping an anorak on over his pajamas to nip out and get the paper before breakfast.

Liz Burly has finally got married to, um some rather fetching looking bloke who can almost carry off a hotel bedspread as a going away outfit. His wife, on the other hand, seems content to stick to her perennial favourite choice of some Versace Slutty Undergarment. *Sigh* I'd be more surprised to see her in a matching valance or even a pair of trakkie daks....

Does Christina Agmalaria put her make up on in the dark? What kind of look is she going for with white ropey hair, orange skin and eyeshadow that looks as though it was applied by Mimi from the Drew Carey Show?

Or is she really Christopher Aguilera??

We must put a stop to it, because she's already influencing Lyndsey Lowdown far too much on the face paint front.

Aw here I was, ready to get down and groove to Feargal Sharkey on my way to the 1985 Murray Bridge High School Senior Ball...

"Take on me....."
Oh, wait. It's Chloe Sauvignon, and it's 2007 ~shudder~

How this tattoed midget guy called Dave Bizarro with the elephantine earth-shaped head manages to land the ladies is as big a mystery to me as to where all the pens, single socks and hair ties go...

Like onion chutney, furry toilet seat covers and Adam Sandler 'comedies', he somehow manages to exist but without any single compelling reason.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Livin' the life, baby
Darling Pommy writer Dom, owner of the fabulous blog has very generously allowed me to send in some blogs on Aussie chocolates.

This is rather like asking Oliver Reed to sip a few ales or getting Paris Hilton to scrawl out a list of last week's one-night-stands on a mirror with lipstick. I love it! Finally, an actual excuse - apart from sheer, naked greed - to buy and try chocolates. That's right, it is now purely for educational and informative purposes only. My only selfless aim is to enlighten other souls from the other side of the globe as to the wide variety of chocolates we South Aussies enjoy.

Now, if only someone running a cheesecake, bacon, Yum Cha or Hollywood gossip site would also ask me to contribute.....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

From the Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia - 8th March 2007

Good news for chocolate lovers

Eating dark chocolate or tomatoes daily may rescue people from the brink of high blood pressure, according to scientists testing the theory.

The two popular foods have proven benefits for patients who already have high blood pressure, or hypertension. University of Adelaide researchers are investigating whether the chemicals in cocoa and tomatoes could also help lower blood pressure in people at the high end of the normal range.

"There's a lot of people in this group who will go on to develop hypertension in the next five to 10 years," said researcher Dr Karin Ried. "We want to be able to give them a lifestyle choice to help them avoid it and the heart risk, and the medication that goes with that."

The team will give their pre-hypertensive participants either 50mg (fifty MILLIGRAMS?? Is that all??? That's just being cruel to the pateints - MillyMoo) of extra-strength dark chocolate, a tomato extract pill or a placebo capsule every day for two months.

A recent chocolate study showed that plant phenols found in cocoa beans, as well as tea and wine, can lower blood pressure in people who are already hypertensive.
An antioxidant called flavanol was responsible for the effect because it neutralised potentially cell-damaging substances known as oxygen free radicals.

"We're hoping they'll have a similar effect on people who are heading towards a blood pressure problem," Dr Ried said.

Other studies have found that potent antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin E found in tomatoes could also be beneficial. Patients will consume an extra-strength pill which Dr Ried says is the equivalent of eating about 15 ripe garden-grown tomatoes every day.

The university will take 60 volunteers with systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89.

Now here's the sort of blood pressure pills I want to be taking!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Life - you'll never get out of it alive

Here's a view of the gorgeous gum trees on the grounds at Uni. Oh all right, so I had to literally hang over our outside balcony area to avoid getting the Seventies' style arse-ugly buildings in the frame but you can imagine the happy tweetings of the birds who like to live and gather there to twitter on about their exciting day spent mostly crapping on the bonnets of Uni staff members' cars.

My work mate, aka 'Auntie Jude' for the sake of artistic licence, installed a lovely pottery birdbath just outside hers and my office windows and we've enjoyed seeing minah birds, willie wagtails, magpies and the occasional brave pigeon venture into the water. Patronage had increased significantly over the summer due to our drought which doesn't show any sign of ending. (Our garden is now a bowl of dust punctuated by a few dried up dollops of doggie doo-doos to add that extra visual feature we so desperately need).

Sadly, one day we arrived to this poor bird, in rigor-mortis only one metre away from the lusciously liquid tweety playground. There were no signs of cat, fox or even angry koala scuffles - not even a feather was out of place.

It seemed like such an anonymous and insulting way to die - left rigid on the green-painted asphalt in a university campus in line with the forgotton wheelie bin and ancient ash tray being ignored by all and sundry.

I sighed deeply, dramatically and, well - to no reaction at all because I was the first one in that morning. Looking under the rabble of paper cups, extension cords and gluten-free biscuits that is currently functioning as our kitchen cupboard, a couple of plastic shopping bags were found.

Birdy was subjected to even more humiliation - he was treated exactly like a dog turd. Yes - I covered my right hand with one bag as a glove, lifted him in, reversed the bag and tied it up into a knot.

Only a vague stain showed where he had finally gasped his last breath, which added to his shameful demise because it made me wrap him in another bag to make sure the pong fumes were going to be sealed in for the hundred years or so it would take for the evil, ecologically-unsound petrochemical-soaked bag to break down and decompose, releasing its toxins into the earth and then no doubt killing off a rare andeluvian earth worm or something....

Then it was 'Bye Bye Birdie' as he was ever so casually flung into the bin and almost immediately forgotten. That is, until I snuck upstairs to get the camera.... Believe it or not these special snaps weren't selected for our team's annual report, miserable gits!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Repeat Offenders

1986 just phoned, Matthew McConaughey.

They want their board shorts back for 'Weekend at Bernies - the grandchild', Bongo boy....

It's amazing what Naomi can do with some macrame string, the lips of a Barrier reef clam and recycled green garbags - at least it keeps her hands busy enough to cease throwing phones at the help and macrame might be what her psych recommends as anger management therapy.

How Victoria Beckam manages to stop her head from snapping off and rolling into a donut shop is beyond my comprehension. How David finds the surgical nose, inflated lips, pointy alien head, famine figure and silicone grapefruit fun bags is even more beyond me. She would most definitely have cob webs up her arse (what remains of it)

EAT something Vic - and not just your lipgloss!!

Kate Moss obviously likes her blokes dazed and confused - does Pete Doherty even know who she is, let alone what he's doing there with her or why he's become a human handbag on permanent pharmaceutical vacation?

I know that Kate's not overly endowed in the brain cell or body fat department but what on earth does she see in him? It's sure as hell not money, looks or a passable urine sample...?

In Bizarro Parallel Universe World, Lindsay Lohan - nipples, nightclubs and retarded trannie makeup - is actually revered and admired as the Rehab Poster Girl for folks such as vita-Brit and Pete Druggerty, as mentioned above.

Nice to see too that she favours the natural look in make up as well, making her look 45 instead of 20...

I don't get the hype over Beyonce, I really don't. I can't stand her whiney singing voice or the type of non-music shite she so regularly whimpers along with. She makes Madonna look like Dame Kiri TeKanewa.

Sure she's pretty enough, but she doesn't look any better than any one of about a zillion other RnB writhers wearing sedate sequins.

This outfit, however does set her apart. We can only hope that she's praying for forgiveness for being stupid enough to wear it in the first place.

Strewth !!!

This photo of 'our' Kylie has been copied from but he does ask a valid question - has she, um, had some facial landscaping done?

In her post-Olivier life has she succumbed to more than a bust of botox, had her face stretched further than Beyonce's briefs and got a slug squatting inside both lips?

How come so many late-thirties-early forties celebs are all looking like pointy-faced aliens these days???

We end this week with David Hasselhoff, apparently scoring a role of some kind in some off-off-off like a bucket of prawns in the hot sun - off Broadway - off Brooklyn stage production of 'The Producers.'

It's lovely to see that he can play along with mocking himself but he has really become the new Anna Nicole Smith, albeit with testicles. He now fits in the infamous 'Will Work For Food and a Photo Opp' category.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Butt Ugly Babies

It is every pregnant woman's greatest fear - no, not that she'll never be able to see her feet again but that her baby will be *~~gasp~~* ugly.

There is a reason why the old phrase, "S/He has a face only a mother could love" is still so often used and that is because there are so very many nightmarishly offensive looking babies out there. Just wander down to your local Coles on a Monday morning if you don't believe me - it's almost enough to put you off wandering down the chocolate aisle to check out what brand is on special that week.

Apparently I - yes me - was considered an ugly baby myself, as were my two brothers. Rob and Dave yes, but me....? My mother might have loved us (still does, I hope) but she has never been one to gild the lily (another old saying but of unknown origin to me). "Oh yes, you all looked funny. You know, funny peculiar, funny strange, funny weird..." Er yes thanks Mum, we get your point. "Weren't we even the tiniest bit - uhm, you know - cute at any stage?"

"Oh no," she replied immediately without a nanosecond's hesitation. "Oh no, we definitely couldn't call any of you that." After a few more moments of introspection, she added, "Although we felt a lot more fonder towards you when you were nearly two, and gave us at least an hours' peace every night when you rode your tractor around the house with a bucket on your head."

Now I would like to console myself with the thought that my own mother might have been what would be patronisingly described as 'refreshingly honest', but that she doesn't symbolise the average mother.

Not in my experience at least. Since my teens I have had babies thrust into my arms or revealed to me by lifting up the top of their prams and at least half of them have been speechlessly ugly. What does one say to a beaming parent who is clearly waiting for you to share her enthusiasm and awe for her dribbling mini-Michelen man? My response tends to be along the safe-for-a-boy remark "Oh he looks so strong and sturdy, doesn't he? No doubt he's going to be a rugby player..." (of the kind with a neck fatter than his own head and likely to contain most of his brain cells).

Butt ugly baby girls are a lot more challenging. Very few mothers want their darling baby daughters described as 'sturdy' or 'jolly' despite what efforts feminism has made to neutralise gender stereotyping from birth. An insipid, 'Oh, she looks so very healthy' seems to be acceptable, as does, 'Oh I can see her Daddy in that face'.

However these socially acceptable utterances can lead you into more trouble - the butt ugley's owner can then insist on giving you the creature to hold as if bestowing you with an armful of valuable treasure. Granted, holding the baby means that you can avoid having to stare it directly in the face but any respite this offers is immediately negated by the additional pongs you have to endure in close-up.

If it's not the very obviously full nappy, bottom burps or wet dribble attaching itself to your neck like a spider web, it is the milky vomity smell that rises up like a sour old spinster during the wedding waltz. "Oooh yes, she's so soft and warm," you coo, handing her straight back.

But it gets worse. "Oh go on - at least give her/him a kiss goodbye." You may want to yell out, 'I'd rather chew my own leg off' but you restrain the impulse and bend down, down, down into the pram, towards the dribble whimple, towards the noxious puke fumes and aim your nervously quivering lips hopefully for towards the top of the head where presumably a little less of the dribble, snot snail trails and breast milk regurgitations are to be located.

Thank god, you think to yourself...until you find some cradle cap crumbs in your mouth.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thinking about Uranus

Sapphire and I have just returned from a weekend in Melbourne as Love Chunks's official 'escorts.' He has to work there this coming week, so we three thought we'd spent the preceding weekend there, catching up with family and friends and eating our luggage weight in Yum Cha, chilli mud crab, Chinatown's bakery goods and brunch from the State Library's 'Mr Tulk' cafe.

Tears were shed by Sapphire when her Dad waved her goodbye. More flowed when the X-ray Security lady told her that the child-friendly craft scissors and plastic knitting needles in her carry-on 'Toy Story 2 - Jessie the Cowgirl' back pack would either have to be thrown away or checked in.

Any imminent water works were immediately dispelled by my offer to let her choose where we were going to have our dinner (at an airport, sadly, 'cos Scumbag Airlines gives its passengers nothing other than a chuck-up bag and tired hostesses telling us to prepare for our flight to "Perth, sorry, Brisbane....(giggle)....Oh, I'm really sorry...... - it's Adelaide..." Maccas it was - crummy little pink dog toy and happy meal for her, slimy old diet options tandoori roll for me.

She was amused when I accidentally pulled the dogs' eyes out of it's head (they were attached to a cord that activated its internal vibrator thingy that made it shake nervously or some such) but her eyes welled up again when we were informed over the almost-unintelligible but extremely loud speaker system that our flight was going to be delayed an hour. Calming her with threats of a) pulling her dacks down in front of Gate No 4 passengers; b) throwing her just-purchased 'Mania' magazine in the bin; and c) threatening to sing out loud in order to embarrass her, she did me proud by involving herself in people watching. She is, after a weekend in the centre of Melbourne, most attuned to spotting the weirdos, men-dressed-as-women, anyone morbidly obese or squeezed into jeans that are too tight. Bless her.

Eventually, we boarded the plane, both ignoring the safety demonstration as we buried ourselves in our respective magazines. Sapphire was squeezing her fake rubber brain (which seems a lot more 'fun' the the freebie tote bags that mags for women of my insert to attract our custom) and read out her favourite joke: "What's a footy?" "I dunno," was my absent answer. "It's the thingy that hangs off your leggie," which caused us both to strain against our seatbelts in peals of laughter. Eventually my tired eyes fell on my Scorpio prediction in 'Who' for the coming week: 'Uranus is about to open you up to all sorts of possibilities.'

I immediately turned to my daughter to have a chortle and then realised that I didn't have the energy to set about explaining the humour of it. However she had the energy to release a killer fart, which had all passengers around us immediately reaching above their heads for their air conditioner controls (and no doubt wishing that the air masks would automatically drop down). Such is life.