Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Of fish and strudel.

Just over a week ago, we had no fish in the house - except Frubert the unusually calm Siamese Fighting Fish.

Now we have my two boys from work as well as two baby koi, named Virgil and (O)baki.

My work boys, currently on their fourth set of names in five years, are known as Wartie and The Big One.
I had to fetch them home from the dispensary at work because we're moving and there is no-one there atm who knows about fish care.
Also, moving fish is a tricky business, and if it was attempted without me and it went wrong, I would be devastated.

So, for something different this year, they've spent the last few days watching me do the Xmas baking and such.
They're used to watching me, we've lived in pretty close quarters these past five years.
What these two don't know about natural health and the problems of the good people of Merrylands is nobody's guess.

It's OK though, they they're not blabbers.

Right next door to their South Sydney tank is the hatchery.

This was certainly an unplanned pregnancy.

I sent Hell Boy down to the corner store for cream, and he returned with koi.

Bill, the crazy Chinese guy who owns the store is a fellow koi enthusiast, and often pops in to visit our fish as well Hell Boy himself.

In fact, when the boys recently upgraded their pond, it meant that they suddenly had two 1500L ponds to spare.

Bill decided he would like to buy one from us, but within a matter of days, his tiny little wife came up and determined that he was not allowed.

Maybe two weeks later, Hell Boy came in laughing and told me he'd just struck the deal of the century with Bill.

"Get this," he said, "Bill's going to buy both ponds for $600. But, he's telling his wife he's only paying $250.Then, every few days, he's going to sneak up here and slip me $200 cash. I love that guy."

Being that each pond was worth that much, it didn't seem like such a hot deal to me, but we decided it was worth a few hundred just for the anecdote.

True to his word, Bill snuck up every few days when wifey wasn't looking, and slipped Jeff the blood money in an incredibly conspicous manner.

As Bill's shop is also a small garden centre, so he's using the ponds to grow and store water plants as well as baby koi.

He actually came to the last koi auction with us and bought around twenty white and blue baby koi.

Since Hell Boy's last trip to pick up cream, Bill now has only eighteen blue and white baby koi.

The other two are parked next to Wartie and The Big One.
Obaki is the Japanese word for ghost. He's the white fish.
But we quickly noticed that he has a habit of facing you and barking at you, so within a couple of days, his name was shortened to Baki.
Yoga Boy prefers to call him Baba-bow-bow-bow.

Virgil was my choice because it's just a super cool name, although I did consider Bela and Nosferatu, due to the fact that he has a rather pronounced widow's peak and his koi moustache looks like fangs.

So, our kitchen is standing room only.
Well, that's not true, there's plenty of space for them and they're welcome for as long as they'd like to stay.
Once the little boys are big enough not to be harrassed by the others, they'll be tossed into the pond anyway, and my fruit bowl can return to it's original position.

OK, to the strudel.

Fucking Apple Strudel, I hate it.

I decided to use Filo pastry this time instead of puff and I chose to include rum soaked raisins in the Viennese tradition.

During the course of the morning, I found I cannot tell you how many jobs required my urgent attention, just in a bid to dodge the inevitable.

I had the filling ready to go, the pastry defrosted and unrolled, the oven on, and I found myself outside, hanging over the balcony, chatting to Hell Boy as he sorted out the pond's filtration system.

He knew immediately what I was up to. Or not up to.
He surprised the absolute crap out of me by saying,

"I'll come up and help you."

This was his first encounter with Filo pastry.

You must peel two layers off, spray it with oil or butter and repeat until your pastry is as thick as you'd like.
He quickly diagnosed Filo pastry as having a "design fault".


Anyway, we got the layers sorted, with my agitation nearing 9/10, thus leaving me still functional.

Then came the dreaded stage of rolling the fucking thing up so that the filling doesn't spill out the sides, the pastry doesn't rip and the liquid from the apples doesn't seep out and wreck the pastry.

After three attempts, I was honestly crying tears of rage and I need not tell you that there was swearing.
A nasty mash of English, Yugo and Lebanese. This is what happens when I'm really frustrated - my language centre overloads and I speak in tongues.

At this very moment, Hell Boy says t me,

"Should I be filming this for your blog?"

I returned with, "Don't pick me! Not over strudel!"

Only really a handful of things that shit me as much as strudel.

The Roosters.
Repetitive unpleasant noise/breakfast radio.
The vacuum cleaner becoming unplugged while I'm using it.

Anyhow, four fish got to see the whole thing, and they still love me.

And you know the worst thing of all?

That fucking evil strudel turned out perfectly as if to annoy me further still.

Evil prick of a dessert.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I wondered lonely as a cloud?

Hooray, it's done!

Dad's Schimpf Quilt for his 7oth birthday is wrapped and under the tree.

Dad and Viv are going on a two week cruise before his birthday (31st December), so I'll be giving it to him on Xmas Eve.

woot woot

The quilter managed to quilt the first verse of William Wordsworth's daffodil poem into the yellow border for me, thus saving me months of agony.
I love that woman.

Sadly, she made a spelling error. She wrote wondered instead of wandered.

I wondered lonely as a cloud... I like it.

I dreamt that this would happen, but that I could fix the problem easily, so I wasn't too upset when it came to pass.
I was able to change the O to an A with a minimum of fuss.

In fact, when Dad used to read this poem to me, I often thought that wondered was as appropriate as wandered anyway.

So, here it is in all it's glory.

Do you think it looks like wandered?

I'm very proud of this one. Not for it's appearance, I would never intentionally design a quilt to look like that, but rather because of it's edge to edge significance.

I hope he likes it.

Oh and by the way, I was wrong, wrong, wrong, about Lynda's Shitmas gift for me.

She simply looked uncomfortable when I had my rant about the Tudor's because she's not used to passionate, cynical, opinionated people.


Pity for her, I say.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gift idea for Simone.

Anyone who may be looking for an ideal Xmas gift for me, please consider that I'm in desperate need of more cookie cutters, as evidenced by this pic.

How a girl is meant to survive with only 70 something is beyond me.

hmmm I believe I have discovered something else that I collect rather than just have plenty of.

Where is the line though?
That line is my holy grail - never seen it, never expect to see it, yet I always keep a lookout for it.

Today being so lovely and unseasonably cool, and being that Alice decided it was good to be alive and celebrated the fact by sitting on my chest and purring loudly at 6:30 this morning, I gave in, got up and started baking.

I couldn't use the hand mixer as Jeff was still sleeping, so I decided to make a double batch of shortbread, which is all done by hand.
Despite that fact that I genuinely hate rubbing butter into flour, they are easy and satisfying to bake.

By the time they were out of the oven, Yoga Boy was upstairs and introducing himself to the new fish I brought home from work yesterday.
Wartie spat a rock at him in acknowledgment.

Being on a roll, and having company (4 fish and Yoga Boy is a party in anyone's books), I pressed straight on and made a double batch of the dreaded flat Anise Bogen.
The cooler temperature meant that they were that much easier to bake that I got excited and began making not just one Stollen, but two as well.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them, I just like to make them.
Actually, although they are traditional throughout Europe at Xmas as they are shaped to represent to baby Jesus, I prefer to make them on Good Friday instead, in a bid to loosen the bible belt a little.

Well, I'd bought the ingredients a while ago so I could show Clair and that nutty German bird how to make it, but that play date never eventuated, so I thought it best to use the fruit up.

To help the yeast rise, I had to put the heater on and place it in front of it to stay nice and warm.

To my very great surprise and delight, Hell Boy offered to take over the stirring of the Stollen(s) as they are very dense and must be kneaded for 10 minutes before being left to rise a second time.
I think he enjoyed it.
It is a very lovely dough to knead - not sticky, but moist and elastic.

Unfortunatley, he'd left to interview someone from a band called the Eastern Dark by the time I was ready to knead the dry fruit and nuts into the dough, which is a absolute killer.
My arms will be sore for days after that.
My forearms look like Popeye's.

While the dough was minding it's own business in front of the heater for two hours, I made a double batch of lebkuchen/gingerbread - a different recipe to the one we'd used at Clair's last week.
Far more honey and golden syrup.

That had to be left standing for a couple of hours too, so the timing worked out rather nicely.

So, I've just taken all that out of the oven and washed my collection of cookie cutters, shaking my head all the while.
You know I have a giraffe cutter? LOL

The boys both being out, and with the cats taking advantage of the cool by stretching out on our bed, there was nothing left to do, but to put on the Elvis Xmas album as company for me and the fish.

We had a good day.

In so far as the rest of the Xmas baking, I've already done a double batch of Vanilla Kipferl and Fruit Mince Pies, so next week I just need to make Yoga Boy a lemon cheesecake, Hell Boy a Pavlova and Dad some fucking Apple Strudel.


Fucking strudel, I hate it.

Hate it.



Fuck them, those green appley bastards!


But I'll do it for Dad with smile in my heart because he just loves it so much.
Crazy person.

BTW, the last pic of gingerbread would have been for you, Gretchen had we lived closer. ;O)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Local Third World Butcher.

We've been searching for a good middle eastern butcher who does nice kafta in our area.
Shouldn't be too hard.

We dropped in to Harris Park a few times recently for Lebanese sweets and coffee...mmmmmmm shortbread and Date Mammoul.


Do you know how much I enjoy it when they look at Jeff to place the order and instead I ask for things in Arabic?

Well, I like it a lot.

My Arabic has been learned chiefly from Jeff's family, although I have always had Lebanese friends,so by the time I met Jeff, I could already say,

Kes Emek sharmoutah ... meaning your mother has the cunt of a prostitute. And wasn't he impressed the first time I let that fly!

Pretty good start.

Well, since then, I can also say:
  • moon
  • grape
  • chicken
  • saucepan
  • underpants
  • bong
  • wheel
  • sun
  • coffee pot
  • water
  • yoghurt
  • broad beans
  • green beans
  • hello
  • fourteen
  • five
  • handbag
  • meat cigar (not explaining)
  • poofter
  • lesbian
  • my dick in your eye, referee (picked this up at a Bulldogs game)
  • arse
  • fart
  • ladies
  • pine nut
  • thinga-me-jig
  • fetch me
  • flea
  • pooh
  • breakfast
  • I want to vomit
  • lemonade/fizzy drink
  • donkey
  • cock
  • kiss my arse
  • fuck your mother
  • beans
  • piss/priest - they sound so similar that when I asked Jeff what was the difference, he simply said, "..hhhhhucccccccccchhhhhhhhhh."
  • follow the breeze
  • fish
  • drink
  • all night (I bust this out at the footy as soon as the opposition attract their first penalty)
  • eggs/balls
  • thirteen
  • you're very strong
  • cat
  • bread
  • old man in the drawer (not explaining that either)
Another day, another blog, I may make it my business to construct a dialogue out of my Arabic vocabulary.
Last year, for Round One vs the Roosters, I deliberately learned how to yell out,

"The Roosters are 13 homosexual chickens in ugly old ladies underpants!"

This statement was highly critically acclaimed.

Notable absences in my vocabulary are :

  • goodbye
  • how are you
  • my name is
  • thank you
  • please
  • yes
  • no
  • still hate the Roosters
Of course these are the basics in life and Jeff doesn't often bother with them enough to teach them to me.

While he can understand Arabic if it's informal, he always answers in English.
He does teach me random words that he thinks are important.

Additionally my friend, Maheb teaches me my requests. I find I learn better this way.

I noticed a couple of years ago that when people speak Arabic in front of me, I no longer notice that I don't understand.
At work and even with my in-laws, it takes me a few sentences before I realise that I didn't catch what they've said.

If it's broken Arabic/English and they're the kind of person I can wave my hands around with, I can sort almost anything out.

Every now and again, I can suddenly pick out a single word from a conversation, so I now stop the orator and demand to know what the word is.
Last time it happened, the word I latched onto was snoo-bor - pine nuts. LOL

I heard, blah blah, chicken, blah blah saucepan, blah blah snoo-bor.

Regardless of all this, my 20 year cultural familiarity did precious little to prepare me for the Kurdish butcher.

First up is the smell.
Made my eyes water and my stomach turn.

I accept that lamb and goat have a more pungent quality than chicken and beef, but I'm also quite certain that you can make the least of that issue through cleanliness if you choose to.

This butcher shop totally rejects the approach of western butchers, in so far as presentation and arrangement of their goods.

A typical Aussie/western butcher will be as clean as possible, or will at least go to the trouble of seeming as clean as possible.

They keep the really scary stuff out the back and the fatty offcuts in Go-Lo plastic tubs under the counter.
The Kurds pretty much reversed all of this.

My friends who are Aussie butchers, kindly showed me one day the buckets that were destined to become either sausages or lipstick.
I couldn't really tell the different at a glance.

The Kurds are unconcerned with such nonsense as presentation and display.

As I stood with my hand over my nose (I figured this was less impolite than vomitting), I noticed that their front window trays, usually reserved for the best sellers or specials, were as follows:

Back left:

Big dappled meaty, ripped outta their heads, tongues.
And lots of them
No attention whatsoever paid to restricting them to their alloted space.

Front left:

Yep, testicles.
Delicate blue veiny, oval treasures.
And lots of them.

Back right:

Not terribly well cleaned either.
I'm not so silly as to suppose that the green stuff was seasoning.

Front right:

Par-boiled penises.
Sheep's I think.
That is, I'm not too cluey in this area, but if they were beef, they were surely not from prize stock, and if they were from a chicken, then I suspect the hormonal component of their feed must be in excess of 85%.

Now, all this was enough to dazzle even the most carnivorous among us, and when I tell you that there were tongues lolling around all over the testicles and penises, you will guess that I was glad I was covering my mouth so that my revolted grin was camouflaged.

It was all very XXXX in there.
Is there Z grade XXXX?
It reminded me of Flesh For Frankenstein a bit too.

You may imagine that I was not looking forward to making any sort of purchase there by the time I noticed the testicle blood pooling around the kafta tray.

And nor did I have to.

They selectively and deliberatley served the darkest people first, even those who came in some 10 minutes after us.

Having experienced this before, I didn't really care too much, so I was taken aback when Hell Boy really got his back up about this.
We left.

On our second attempt a week later to buy said kafta, I waited outside due to the smell and my fear of what may be lurking in those trays this week, but Hell Boy persisted.
After almost 10 minutes again, 2 more people had entered the store and been served ahead of him, he sparked into action.
He told them he was there first, that they were rude, ran a bad business and as they were saying, "Come back, come back", he told them rather clearly to get fucked.

I couldn't agree more.

Particularly seeing as they had all their overdue bills and debt collection notices untidily bulldog clipped right up against the window, clearly for the purpose of my entertainment.

Nasty little business that one.

So, looks like I'll have to bust out the mincer and make my own kafta.

God knows I'll have to do better than them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The things I come home with.

....are many and varied.

And considering that today I left the house with just my leopard skin handbag (well, it was Wendy's leopard skin handbag until last week), I think that the following list is pretty stunning.


  • Woody Guthrie biography - returned from Bonnie
  • Toilets of the World picture book - returned from Mark with his fave dunny bookmarked with a gingerbread brochure
  • Free Aussie calendar from the very nice lady in the tobacconist (hang on a tick and I'll explain). I might pop that in Jeff's Shitmas stocking.
  • 1 bar of soap with FACE written on one side and ARSE written on the other for Adrian's boss David for their Kris Kringle draw next week (I bought this in the tobacconist)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - book from Bonnie (I love that free A&R bookstore, it's great)
  • 1 tin for holding Vietnamese Moon Cakes from Wendy
  • 1 sexy pink satin nightie from Wendy
  • 1 bottle of Tamburlaine red wine from Nutrition Care
  • 1 huge box of chocolates that I'm allergic to from Mediherb/Phyto Medicine
  • 1 vanilla lip balm Xmas gift from Bonnie
  • 1 match your key chain to your outfit Xmas gift from Bonnie
  • 2 gorgeous charms for my Pandora bracelet that I don't actually own yet from Kathryn that I'd left in my pocket from last night
  • 1 box of 40 rolls of ribbons from Clair that I'd left in the car last night
Plus my handbag, a cardigan, my pale green blouse that I had taken off because Sue and I just got a massage on the way home from work.
That sounded bad.
I'm still wearing a black singlet, don't panic.

Sue and I went to the new massage place (it's in the mall, Gretchen) after work together, sorta like a family outing.
I'm pretty sure I looked worse than she did afterward, but they have no mirrors up, so I'm just guessing.
If I had to put money on it though...

Anyway, that's a fairly typical haul.
Obviously I don't receive Xmas gifts every day, but it's not common for me to come home with just the bare essentials.
Sometimes it's food from customers, shoes from Wendy, weird books from Bonnie, out of date stock, road rage megaphones....the sky's the limit.

I'll probably bring that home too one day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yazzie's dance concert.

My niece is ten.

Last night was her first ever dance recital.
And ours.

I made well sure not to sit next to Hell Boy.

As the first of perhaps forty dances began, I heard him turn to his brother, Duke, the child's father, and say,

"This is no place for the cynical."

Moments before that, I had been alarmed to see Duke glaring at the programme with furrowed brow, as his wife pointed out to him which of the dances Yasmin would be appearing in.
That's not a good sign.

I enjoyed it.

OK, listening to that music was like rubbing a cat the wrong way and false eyelashes and red lipstick on small girls give me the creeps, but I enjoyed watching Yazzie dance so enthusiastically (and well) and looking so deliriously happy as she did it.

Such a little woman now.
A tween.

But Disney music is always sure to bring on an attack of the bile for me, and the attack lasted for 3 hours, plus intermission.
This attack was possibly not helped any by the fact that we were so pushed for time, that I had to eat service station packaged cheese and crackers, a protein ball, chips and a large Freddo frog for dinner.

Anyway, I digress. The music was worse than your average mainstream wedding.

A whole new worrrrld...

Ahhh fuck, just kill me.

In fact, I would have to say that the music selection was, for the most part, more commonplace, predictable and boring than mainstream radio ever could ever strive to be.

Themed mainstream, of course, being a particularly virulent form of mental torture, still promoted and rewarded worldwide.

And if I was doing it tough, God knows how Hell Boy came through.

Commercial music is above all things, abhorrent to him.
He twitches, grows pale, starts muttering, and then comes out swinging.

I've never troubled myself to discourage this, as I know it stems from something wonderful and righteous.
Let's call it good taste.

I can't help but believe that commercial music enjoys it's success due to the fact that most people are so lazy minded as to confuse familiarity with appreciation.

This theory also explains the success of the concept of celebrity, free to air television, and organised religion.

Thank God for Yazzie, I say. She saved the day.

I must make mention of the Dad's Dance, because Jeff leant across his mother to tell me it should make it into my blog.

Half a dozen men in tutus and footy socks doing ballet.

Aussie men, mate, they simply cannot resist a chance to don women's clothing or to expose their arses to one another at the slightest provocation.

Why, just this afternoon, on our way out to pick up Dad's quilt, there was a guy in a G-string running around outside a pub to impress all his beer sodden mates in a bachelor party mini van.

Jeff believes this behaviour is a throw back to convict/colonial days when they'd all started looking mighty good to one another, and that their DNA somehow warped to accommodate this.

With this in mind, I wonder what Charles Darwin would have made of The Footy Show.
My guess is that it would have thrown a greater spanner into his survival of the fittest theory than the humble peacock ever did.

Of course, I much prefer peacocks to drunken men.

But then, who doesn't?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shitmas Experiment.

I'm going to conduct an experiment.


To assess the accuracy of my paranoia and suspicion.


By voicing my concerns and fears on my blog, dated 2 full weeks before Shitmas, I will be able to determine the accuracy of my suspicions based on comparison after the event.

That is, I suspect my brother is up to not only no good, but full blown evil and being someone who prides herself on being switched on, suspicious even, I am prepared to stick my neck out and be judged on my cynical prowess.

Yoga Boy of course, got me in the Shitmas draw - (That's what she said.... LOLOLOL)
He has told me he will be making my gift.

Just the other night, he spent a good deal more time than usual online and I could hear stifled giggles and worse.
When asked, "What's so funny?", there was no response.


Not too long later, I heard Hell Boy go into the study, the scene of the crime while I was showering, and then I heard this alarming comment from him,

"Nahhh, I wouldn't do that."

Now, there's not much Hell Boy wouldn't do if he thought it was funny, so I'm taking this very seriously indeed.

Then I heard the printer.

And no more since.

So, sitting up in bed, I had a little think about it.

And this is what I came up with.

If I was in Yoga Boy's position, and had to make me something truly God awful for Shitmas, these are the options I would consider:

  • Photo Shopping a pic of me into a Rorter's jersey
  • joining me as a Rorter's member
Well, that's about it.
I cannot think of too many other things that would shit me to tears.
Perhaps a Southern Cross decal on the car.

My money's on the first option, and it's a good thing because if I'm right, I'll need these two weeks at least, to mentally adjust sufficiently to be able to accept such an abomination with good grace.


TBA December 24th, 2008 EST.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jeff's sacrifice.

Well I can't include photos as I didn't bother to take any.

A few weeks ago, Hell Boy and Yoga Boy went along to the KSA Xmas Party.

Now, our chapter of the Koi Society of Australia meets once a month.

Adrian likes to go so that he can talk koi and pick the brains of people who are nutty enough to have 7 ponds in their suburban yard.
We briefly had 2 ponds, but have settled down OK with 1 huge one - 4,500L.

From what I've overheard, they chat about such things as ammonia, pH, sewer worms, fungus, filters, the rip-off German prick who owns the Koi Farm, his belligerent cow of a wife, salt baths, parasites and from time to time, bottom feeders (!).

When the boys go to these meetings together (I always seem to have other things to do), they look like they're going to these meetings together.

Really, really together.

I dared them to go along in matching kimonos, but no go.
Jeff would, he doesn't care a straw for what people think and he's such a fan of the uncomfortable flat line that he's often willing to suffer for his art.

I noticed at a koi auction a few months ago, that Yoga Boy in particular, seemed more than usually keen to introduce me to the fellow KSA members present as Jeff's partner.

I can't imagine why.

Anyhow, be that as it may, I bailed on the KSA Xmas do, pleading good taste as my only excuse.

So you may imagine my surprise when Jeff arrived home, toting a red and green (joy) shopping bag full of odd but interesting food stuffs.


Well, it seems he won the door prize.

He was given a choice of a koi flag (which he really fancied) or a Xmas Hamper.

Being a gentleman and a sticky beak, he chose the hamper, his reasoning being that it would make a fine blog for me, and I think he hoped the contents would be entertaining.

How kind is that?

And yet in a way it was disappointing.

The old koi biddies had chosen very well.

Not the usual low-brow hamper, full of K-Mart lollies, shitty looking pretzels and marmalade.
Sadly, it contained no marmalade at all - the first hamper in recorded history ever to do so.

  • a scrunched up sandwich bag of shitty K-Mart lollies
  • pretzels LOL
  • chocolate shortbreads
  • Twinings tea - hardly a luxury, but still
  • Home Brand fruit cake
  • a huge block of Dairy Milk chocolate
  • fruit mince pies - mine are way better, but at least they were allergy free
  • something else I've forgotten about- wasn't marmalade though
Well, I'm rather sorry now that I didn't take a pic, especially of the lolly bag- that was special.

The boys reported that the food at the function was great - a right British nosh up with a bit of help from the Asian members now as well.

And I know I can't avoid participating in the KSA functions forever, and that it won't be long before it's me wearing my slippers, taking my knitting along to the meetings and making the cupcakes and tea for the men folk.

But I think it's a good thing to put it off as long as I can though, don't you?
I think propriety demands as much.

When it happens, I think I'll do with smoked salmon blinis, mini quiches or mushroom palmiers.
Or maybe mini gluten free dark chocolate and walnut fudge cakes.


And now I just cannot look at packaged festive food without assessing their suitability for an Xmas hamper.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Great Harry's tree.

Last year, whilst hyperventilating in the gift shop at Westminster, I noticed that they sold Xmas decorations of Henry VIII and his six wives, plus one of his daughter's, Elizabeth.

I almost peed my pants.

I almost peed them again very recently when I went looking for said decorations at home and couldn't find them.

Distracted, I think is the term.
Jeff solved the problem by saying,

"Well, it doesn't matter, we'll be there again next year and we'll buy more."

But they came all around the world with us.
They're the only ones I want.
They're special.

And so they are now that I've found them, tucked safely in the Westminster Gift Shop bag in the study cupboard, pretending to be a bag full of printer ink refills.


I took the greatest of care as I trimmed the tree, to place the girls in order of consequence (as I saw it), and in the event of a tie, I placed them in strict chronological order.

I considered hanging Great Harry at the bottom of the tree to teach him a lesson, but being such a ranga, he looks good right next to the South Sydney decorations, so what can you do?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

As I was fumbling with my keys, trying to get in the front door the other day, laden with all manner of shopping that I was far too stubborn to put down, I grabbed a key (one handed) and barked at myself,

"No, dammit, that's my work key."

My fucking work key.

Work key.








Thursday, December 4, 2008

My doll of Me.

Jeff's sister Lila makes dolls too.

This year, instead of buying each other a gift, I had the brilliant idea of exchanging dolls.

But the dolls we each make will be of ourselves.

My doll sewing is very unorthodox.
This stems from the fact that I just make it up as I go ala Vicki.

Vicki is a sewing friend we met through Bronwyn.
She is what I would term a free-baller and I will ever be delighted that she taught me how to make dolls this way.

I dig.

Just grab some fabric and slap it on and around, just roll it up and twist it, stick a ribbon on it if it doesn't work out, despair of the whole thing and wonder if it's too late to throw it in the bin, swear, have some tea, sew one more stitch before realising that it looks fucking awesome and that you couldn't be happier with the result.

Once she's done, you need to assess her and give her an appropriate name, although, in my experience they name themselves.

I often think that I must experience each and every emotion when I make something before I can actually begin to like it.

No pattern, no understanding of how to make clothes, no control or real clue as to the outcome.

Except that this time, I did need to control the outcome.

It's taken me some months to work up the courage to decide whether to represent myself accurately, take the piss or to make the doll of my essence.

But what is accurate, what is piss, and can they live together in harmony?
Won't my essence put them out?

I originally thought it would prove to be an easy task.
It was quite daunting in many ways.

And to be truthful, I'm still not sure which approach I took, but it kinda felt like a little of each.

After buying a metre of delicious lime green lace, thinking it would team up nicely with my lime green leopard skin fabric, I panicked, backed out and dressed her in a sassy black and leopard skin number with black lace, silver butterflies and emerald green detail.

Yes! That's me.
I would soooooooooooo wear that.
I probably have too.

Even as I dressed her, I got that powerfully feminine feeling that you get when you're pulling on an outfit that truly makes you feel totally together and sexy - although I do get that feeling in my Souths jersey too.

You feel like the ant's pants as Viv would say.

Like it.

For me that's vampy black lace, ribbons and boots with just a splash of colour.
And something silver.


Well this doll has my mojo in her.

And you know, trying to sew a face is really, really, really difficult.

Trying to sew your own face and capture an expression is fair nigh impossible.

And maybe because I'm no good at it, I pulled it off.
Or maybe the sewing God herself heard the all commotion and dropped in.

Who knows.

Well, I'm not quite done with Ms. Simone.

She has no pubes yet, poor thing.

No good at all.

I did warn Lila that my doll would be anatomically correct, so I fully intend to go ahead and sew myself some red and green stripey pubes.

And maybe add a seed pearl or two.

Ahhhh, hang the expense, I'll add three.

Now that I've added the photos, you may care to notice the 4 kitties crawling all over her, the skull necklace from Sophally and the gingerbread in her hand.

I also made her a lime green lace and black gift bag, tied with a hot pink ribbon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Intermittently traditional.

That's what it's going to say on my headstone.

And here's why.

As much as I like to follow tradition (should it appeal to me), I'm equally as fond of starting traditions.

This year I decided to break with family tradition by having Xmas Eve out - shock, horror, sound of multitudes of Oma's spinning in pretty European graves.

But I have been responsible enough to counter-balance by initiating the tradition of Shitmas also.

Shitmas works as a Kris Kringle draw for dreadful/inappropriate presents.
The gifts are to be opened on Xmas Eve, with the sensible gift giving having to wait until Xmas Day - not standard in European households.

I tried to make the budget $2 per gift, but was cried down by Yoga Boy on the basis that a restrictive budget would force him to think about it too much.
And this is a pity because that was my cruel objective all along.

I don't know what all the complaining was about, I could manage to buy something ghastly for each and every person I know for $2 and still have each gift be relevant, annoying and endearing, for that has clearly been the superpower allocated to me during this fleshly existence.

I've used it well without becoming conceited, I believe.

So, all the money, time and trouble caused by Christmas, and I'm really only concerned now with the giving of Shitmas gifts.

The names came out like this:

Sim --> Jeff
Jeff --> Adrian
Adrian --> Sim

I bore witness to Jeff's purchase for Adrian of a giant tin of Croatian sausages that appear to have foreskins.
I also took the time and trouble to add into Adrian's stocking of horror, a light up Pooh pen - he hates novelty items - a Rolf Harris 3CD boxset which I'd bought just so I could burn Six White Boomers onto the Xmas CD that I made for Gretchen.
So, I guess Gretchen is kind of a proxy member also.

Adrian tells me that he's making my gift and yes, I'm very, very concerned as making things really isn't his thang.

As another ring-in member (that's what she said), Adrian's girlfriend, Lynda, although not a formal participant of our inaugural Shitmas, seems to have jumped in, courtesy of what I suspect has been a poorly informed purchase.

Recently, they were sitting on the lounge with me, and Lynda asked if I'd seen a mini-series called The Tudors.
I've been excited and focused on Tudor history since childhood and have read any number of dry history books with glee.
I went to London specifically to visit Elizabeth I's underpants...

And yes, I have seen The Tudors.
I hated it.
What a chronic load of crap.

I hated the casting, the script, the glaring inaccuracies, charcterisation - Lord, I could go on forever.
Whatever they did, I hated it.

And naturally I saw no reason not to make mention of this when she asked me.

I was mildly surprised when she seemed a little put out by the violence of my response, and when Yoga boy went somewhat quiet, but gave it no more thought than I should have.

That is, until Yoga boy informed me that Lynda will be with us on Xmas Eve and that she has a Shitmas gift for me.

"That's odd," I thought, "she's not the type to be jumping in the deep end."

"Oh well, good," I added mentally.

But later it dawned on me that my Shitmas gift from Lynda may very well be a DVD of The Tudors.

And whether she purchased it before or after that conversation, shall determine how I view her sense of humour for the rest of my days.
I hope she goes for gold, because I like her.

But I'm not sleeping under the same roof as that thing.
So there.

Today, I took myself to Hot Dollar, home to the best Shitmas gifts in the world, and picked her up a bottle of evil perfume oil called Australian Bush (teeheehee) and another called Poison.
That ought to do it.

I did Jeff's Shitmas shopping almost in one go.
He's so easy.
He wears his hate on his sleeve, that boy.

I'll come back tomorrow and insert a description of the items and photos after he's read this through.

OK, he's gone now.

Knowing how much Jeff loathes the Australian flag, due to not only the British bully boy colours and Union Jack, but also it's tendency to be worn by drunken, shirtless, racist cricket yobs under the pretense of being Australian.

I'm with him on that.
We need a new flag something savage.

Bearing all this in mind, I cannot tell you how delighted I was to happen upon a range of Aussie flag merchandise at Hot Dollar.

Jeff's Shitmas stocking is loitering with intent, filled to the brim with Aussie flag toothpicks, pens, sun visor, a giant flag with sleeves so that he may wear it in proudly public and of all things, an Aussie flag whirlie-gig wind catcher thing for the zen area near the koi pond.

Won't that look lovely?

Streuth! The cricket yobs would be proud.

But not as proud as me on Xmas Eve when I unleash Hell and perhaps end my 19 year relationship due to a lame sight gag.

Maybe I've gone too far?


If anyone knows where I can purchase Southern Cross (the new swastika) fake tattoos, please let me know, cause that'd be grouse and that.

I found a Jesus bracelet on the counter of Hot Dollar and they gave me a free pen, so he's getting that as well.
Merry Shitmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

National pride.

Never really had much.
Probably due to the fact that I find white Australian history shameful and I would likewise rate it's "culture" right up there with all the intense flavour of a boiled potato.

The first time I felt any sort of stirring in the national pride arena was last year in Hong Kong, a place I chose to stop only because our carrier didn't actually go to Singapore and because my back wasn't up to the two 12 hour flights in a row.

We were walking through God knows what sort of furious back alley in this incredible China town that never, never ends.
I swear the China Town there actually has a China town.

I remember looking back up this neon jungle of a street, crammed as it is with signs and thing hanging in windows that have no English definition, and I was struck by the fact that I felt so completely at home there.

Whilst jet lagged and in the middle of Kowloon?


"You gotta be kidding," I thought to myself.

I had never realised how very Asian (Sydney) Australian culture had become.

And I had never given a second thought as to how entirely comfortable I was in it.

And at the same moment, I first felt proud of the way Australia was developing.

More tolerant, more open, more likely to embrace differences.
More interesting.
Possibly also related to the then recent dismissal of John Howard and his nasty, racist little conservative government.

What a pleasant feeling it is not to be contemptuous of your own country.
Since then, I have remained hopeful that the extravagant mix of people and culture that is Australia will eventually cough up something truly remarkable and soon dilute the plain freckly convict stock beyond recognition.

On the same note, I must mention a similar experience of national pride that I had just this week, this time courtesy of dear little Slovenia.

I have been spending a lot of time and energy on arranging and now booking the next Euro trip.

As it happens, Jeff and I will be spending 8 nights in Slovenia, the country of my father's birth.

The Tischler's themselves were of Austrian/Viennese descent apparently (makes a great deal sense- I feel totally at home there), and Mum's family were German (Prussian in fact, so look out), but Oma's -my paternal grandmother's family were full Yugo.

Having had a reasonably unpleasant time in Czech Republic when we visited, because of the "communist hangover" as Jeff calls it, and even having been mildly uncomfortable in Hungary due to the social and economic climate being so dire, I have been feeling a little anxious that Slovenia may be disappointing.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that I've been feeling down right freaked out.

Seriously - committing to 8 days in a country that may not even hold a candle to it's rich cousins across the border just because Dad was born there, is sticking my neck way out.

OK, so those rich cousins moved the borders quite a few times in order to absorb Slovenia's richest cities whenever no-one was looking, but still, if it has anything like the feel of Prague, I'll be devastated.

Last Sunday I had emailed a few hotels to find out about availability and whether we could possibly get a non-smoking room so that at least for a few hours each day, we would be able to breathe freely.

Just this year, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary were so hard core with the chain smoking that I all but sprinted into Germany- perhaps the first person ever to flee in that direction for sanctuary.
Germany of course, went smoke free January 1st, they just never told them in the north, that's all.

Naturally I assumed that Slovenia would be worse again, smoking being couple in my mind to poverty, and I had already started with the mental preparations necessary to resign myself to being descended from chain smoking hillbillies.

You may imagine my surprise then, when I received the following email from Lake Bled.


I would like to confirm your reservation, Slovenia is nonsmoking (country) all rooms restaurants bars...is nonsmoking,

Train station is 5 km from Bled so taxi or i will pick up you for free but send me 1 more e mail to me a few days before your arriving

best regards Di etmar

So there you have it.

Another burst of national pride for Simone.

Not only does my country of origin have the balls and common sense to thumb it's nose at the backwards social customs of it's rich relos across the borders, it has people friendly enough to arrange a play date with a total stranger almost 11 months in advance.

Friendly, organised, healthy, ballsy.

Hmmm hooray for Dietmar, I say.

I have a travel book about Slovenia that describes her people.
Allow me to illuminate, courtesy of Lonely Planet.

Slovenes are a sophisticated and well-educated people. They have a reputation for being sober- minded, hard working, dependable and honest - a Germanic bent that is the result of 600 years plus in the orbit of the H

But they retain
something of their Slavic character, even if their spontaneity is a little more planned and their expressions of passion a little more muted than that of their Slavic neighbours to the south.

Think quietly conservative, deeply self-confident, broadminded and tolerant.

If you really want to understand the Slovenes and Sloventsvo (Slovene-ness), then there are two Slovenian words that you should know.

The first is the adjective priden, variously defined as 'diligent', 'industrious', hard-working' and - tellingly - 'well-behaved'.

The second word is the noun hrepenenje, which expresses a more complicated concept. The dictionary says it means 'longing' or 'yearning' but that's only half the story.

In truth it's the desire for something seemingly unattainable and the sorrow that accompanies it.

'Hrepenenje is the exclusive property of the dispossessed, the country's agonising history of border changes, emigration, alienation and powerlessness within a larger unit.'

Somewhere else in the book, it goes on to explain how important language and literature are to Slovenes, poetry in particular.

Goodness gracious, that nailed my family fairly accurately.
And Dietmar too I should think.
And I like it.

Doesn't really cover the swearing though, does it?
Or does that fall under the category of poetry?

That's perhaps the first time I've enjoyed being pigeon-holed.
That's what she said. LOL

Pics = Kowloon & Dietmar's hotel in Bled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No idea what to call this- bum wad maybe?

*** I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but have given up waiting for Jeff to download the footage from my phone, so I'm posting it without such trimmings.

Hands up who's been to Merrylands.

Goodness, what an interesting place.

I know that I have previously described it as being home to the world's hillbillies.
But I believe that today's display gives me leave to pretty much whatever I please without feeling even slightly remorseful.

So here goes.

Bear in mind that I arrived 20 minutes early to work this morning.

And that I was ushered into the newish car park by 2 security staff.

And that as soon as it was too late to avoid it, I found myself stuck in horrific traffic within the car park itself.

Can't go forwards, can't go backwards.


Took me 15 minutes to get back out, only to see the same staff still waving people in.


Then I get back onto the street and stop to let 87 people cross very s-l-o-w-l-y.
Each of them has a shopping trolley containing a minimum of 3 microwaves, each in a pale blue box.
Plus half a dozen packs of 18 rolls of toilet paper.

I have never seen so many microwave ovens. I hope I never do again.

Having worked as a geriatric nurse, seeing masses of toilet paper did not alarm me.

Except for that African family who purchased 180 rolls of the stuff in one go.
Clearly they have a big weekend planned.

After waiting another 10 minutes for the semi-trailer to stop reversing across the main road during peak hour, I eventually made in to work at9:30.

Just then I discovered for the first time in almost 40 years that I had lost a key.

My $300 work key had come off my keyring and was gone.



So I had to find poor, stressed Jim in the other shop and borrow his keys to open, which I finally did at 9:40.

Not bad.

But I'd had to battle I cannot tell you how many trolleys full of...microwaves and toilet paper along the way.

People were fighting in the car park.
It was glorious. A rare display of the best humanity has to offer.

I could have allowed it all to prompt me into having a bad day, but I just smiled to myself and thought,

"...hey, what a great blog!"

Anyway, as I later found out, K-Mart was selling microwaves for $29.
I chose not to enquire as to the price of the bum wad, or anal serviettes, as Jeff calls them.

I did take the time and trouble to film the bum wad/microwave procession though.

I thought no-one would believe me else.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Delete Zagreb (boohoo) and add the extra time onto the lovely Lake Bled in Slovenia.

Why did my family leave this place again?

Oh yes, fascists.

Crossing everything that we have good weather on October 7th so we can get plenty of killer pics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nailed it.

Well if'n that wasn't the week from the lowest plane of Hell.

Moving at work under Jim's approach of, "I'm Sicilian, we don't make plans."

And coupled with the fact that we went along to the Euro Expo run by Flight Centre last week and in order to obtain their discount, we had to lock in and pay for flights by last Friday.

Well the money wasn't a problem, we knew that would happen, but the flight dates had to be sorted out for not only the two of us, but for 4 other people whose itinerary I hadn't finished working out.

Further complicated by the alteration of our initial destination from London/Berlin to Frankfurt/Vienna and I found myself with not a spare second to unwind.

But, hours of online detective work paid off and perhaps the 6th route I plotted has now become final.

I only ripped out 3 clumps of hair too, so that's pretty good going.

I had to give up Venice as getting there from Ljubljana may have required a parachute. The train goes there but first goes full north across the border into Austria before turning around and making about 20 stops for Italian and Slovenian Nannas to get on.
If it went direct it would be a 2 hour trip. It can take up to 8.5 hours.

Yet another fine example of good old fashioned Italian organisation.

Anyway, the point is, it would have allowed us only two nights and one day in Venice for almost two full days of travel to get in and out of the damned place.

I would have found it very frustrating to go to Venice and not have time to see the galleries and such properly.

So we diced Venice and have elected to spend one of the extra nights in London so that the boys can do an overnight trip to Amsterdam, plus the other night will be spent in Zagreb in a bid to make the journey from Berlin/Dresden to Celje somewhat easier.
Really looking forward to the passive smoking.

The final route will be:

Frankfurt/Vienna -5 nights - day trips to Budapest and Prague
Berlin -at Tone's 4 nights
Dresden - 1 night
Zagreb - 1 night
Celje/Vitanje - 3 nights (meet relatives/Dad's home town)
Ljubljana - 4 nights - day trips to Lake Bled, Piran, Predjama
Salzburg - 3 nights - day trip to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
Munich - 5 nights - day trips to Schloss Linderhof & Neuschwanstein/Oberammergau, Rothenburg/Harburg,Ingolstadt
London -5 nights - maybe a day trip to Bath
Hong Kong - incl Disneyland

And the best thing is that because I made a mistake , we will now be spending our 20th unniversary in London instead of on some God awful long haul flight.

We plan to do Beatles walk and cross Abbey Road again on that day. woot woot

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Done and done.

Well we booked our airfares today.

My only request regarding airlines was NOT GARUDA, NOT BRITISH AIRWAYS, NOT QANTAS.

Because I truly believe that Qantas are trading on a very old and very outdated safety reputation.
I understand they now out source a great deal of their mechanical work and I think we can all see that it's really starting to show.

With all their little problems of late, I suspect they're hedging up for something rather spectacular.

I do hope I'm wrong.

Especially since we just booked return flights with them.

Strange, but I heard quite a few people saying they'd prefer not to fly Qantas at the travel expo today.
Even Vivien, my step-mother has decided to dodge Qantas when they travel to Europe.

Just a few short years ago, they were in the position of charging almost what they pleased...

The biggest queue by far today was around the Emirates stall.
Couldn't get near them, which is a pity, because I've heard nothing but good of them.

Anyway, Qantas!

Bloody Hell.

Apart from safety concerns, I would prefer anyone else (not British Airways - too many whingeing Poms) because the last thing I want to do on an international trip is talk to Aussies.

And here's why.

I have included translation for Gretchen's benefit.
Mostly, these are things I have actually heard.

"Yeah Love, give us some more free beers and that, I'm gunna get pissed and stuff on the plane, eh!" = I am so stupid, cultureless and boring that my farts are more interesting than my conversation.

"Errrrrrrrr, brown bread.And what's this green shit? Can I get more mayo?" = I eat like I'm at a 3 year old's birthday party and never try anything new. I'm an idiot.

"I'm not eating none of this wog shit!" = May I have a dish with a little less flavour please? I'm afraid my First Fleet ancestors have eaten nought but damper, beer and swill for 200 years and this has caused DNA damage and resultant brain shrinkage, yet an increased sperm count.

"I hope the pilot's not Asian." = I'm a cunt.

When I go away, I like to go away.
And I like the adventure and change of culture to start immediately.

I adored being the minority and immersing myself in another culture.
There's nothing like it.
You can just feel it doing you good.

So, on this flight, my MP3 player will be turned UP (to 11), and for the second leg, I will be swallowing enough Temaze to deaden the pain caused by the proximity of the damper sodden twits who will also be representing our magnificent country.

If white Australian culture were a biscuit, it would be a Milk Arrowroot...extra plain. Unremarkable.
And it would stay in it's own packet, criticising the other chocolate coated, caramel, nutty biscuits for not being as plain as themselves, and for encroaching on their shelf of the pantry which they stole from all the other more interesting biscuits in the first place.

And if we fall from the sky during this flight, rest assured that bits of white bread and processed cheese will be washing up on foreign shores, wreaking havoc on flora and fauna alike.

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Oi Oi Oi!

By the way, did you know that that chant was originally derived from a racist skinhead chant?
They don't eat brown bread either.


After spending last Christmas in a hotel room in Vienna watching Jeff argue with a doctor about having a lumbar puncture, I thought I'd take the opportunity to fracture a few family habits.

Like the habit of putting in 6-8 weeks of work, just for one meal.

Fair enough it's a spectacular meal, but seriously.

The people 2 doors down from us are German, and I first figured this out when I saw them washing their windows with extreme prejudice exactly 6 weeks before Christmas.

Exactly 6 weeks.

I like to do Christmas Eve though, mostly for Dad's sake.

I bake all the traditional things his mother used to bake and prepare pretty much everything my 2 aunts and my mother used to do altogether.
But that's because I'm an idiot rather than because anyone expects it of me.

It is so much work that I have a standard work schedule prepared.
I won't be posting that, I'm too ashamed.

The last Xmas Eve I did, the menu was as follows.
Bear in mind that everything is home made except the pate and the drinks..

On Arrival:

Champagne, beer, soft drinks.
Baked thyme fetta with crisped Lebanese bread
Olives and semi-dried tomatoes

Main Buffet:

Schnitzel - veal, pork (and chicken for those with the boring palate ie Adrian)
Baked leg of ham with fresh cranberries, garnished with oranges and cloves
Garlic marinated octopus (Vivien)
Fresh Tiger prawns
Sydney Rock Oysters
Smoked salmon
Watermelon, fetta and hazelnut salad
German potato salad
Slovenian cucumber salad
Roma tomato, bocconcini and basil salad
Fresh rocket lettuce salad with pomegranate.


Apple strudel (fucking hate making this shit)
Vanilla Kipferl
Anise Bogen (extra flat for irritation purposes)
Brandied chocolate cherries
Fruit platter
Fruit Mince Pies
Christmas Nut Wreath (as the centre piece)
White Xmas (for Clair)

Tea and coffee.

So between the cooking, which takes me weeks, the general preparations, the shopping, the cleaning, the biggest time sponge is actually the table decorating.

I get bored and change my colour scheme each year, even though I promise myself I won't.

This year is lime green and gold to make the most of my new Henry VIII and his wives decorations Jeff bought me at Westminster Abbey last year.

Polishing the silver, checking the glassware, setting up trestles, finding exactly the right candles and centre piece, trying to fit everything in the fridge, making the perfect tablecloths - I lose the plot each and every year.

So, after last year's experience, I find myself comparatively relaxed about Xmas this year.
So far anyway.

We decided to take advantage of this and make the decision to go out for Xmas Eve instead.

To a German restaurant that does goose and pretzels. And has oom pah-pah bands.

You know that slapping dance that Chevvy Chase does in European Vacation?
Yoga boy can do it properly- learnt during his Munich days - they take it very seriously indeed.

woot woot

And then back to ours for presents and my very ridiculous dessert menu.
Dad calls it zuker bakerei.

If I don't bake Xmas goodies 2 years in a row, I think something in me will break.

Oh fuck, that means I have to make strudel, doesn't it?


Anyway, that will all start in the next 2 weeks.
I have already amassed most of the ingredients - need more glace fruit though. And brazil nuts. And brandy.

Naturally I need to make double or triple batches of everything so that I can take it with me to Jeff's family the next day for Xmas as well as down to Aunty Kit's beach house when we visit the next week.

Anyway, today I finished the last of the fiddly Xmas shopping - every stocking is stuffed to the point that they cannot take so much as even one more Mintie.

I spent today making an advent calenar for Bronte and Laura, my unGodchildren.

It awesome.
It's out of 24 large matchboxes, which you cover with nice paper, and then stick them together to look like a tree.
Then you fill the drawers with lollies and little toys, and they open one drawer each day for the month of December as a countdown to Xmas.
I changed the colour scheme to pink, green and brown so that they can use it for occasions other than Xmas too.
The girls are at just 5 and 6, so the perfect age to enjoy this I think.

So, I have less to do than usual, but still a great deal to get through.

Oh, and I'm not making a gingerbread house this year either.

So there.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It was nineteen years ago today...

...that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play.

And what a year that was.

19-fucking-89 hey?

Watching my mother's body fail and die, learning to cross stitch and meeting my life partner - and all within the space of just a few weeks.
How did I do it?

Add to that, the sudden accumulation of a large Lebanese family, seeing the Ramones live twice in one week and a return to geriatric nursing, and you will be able to appreciate what a big year that was for Simone.

Just a few ups and downs.
Often at the same time too, which was nice. (TWSS)

I don't believe I've ever been called upon to change gears mentally and emotionally as often and as violently as I was in 1989.

Oh that reminds me. I think I also learnt to drive that year.

I vividly remember visiting Mum in the hospital on a Sunday morning just days before she fell unconscious for the last time and telling her with the utmost certainty that I'd seen him the night before.

She smiled, patted my hand and told me, "You know what you're doing."

It's a wonderful feeling to know that an esteemed parent can have such faith in your judgement, even at that age.
It's an even better one to have it proven right day after day, week after week, year after year.

Knowing full well that she only had days left to her, and having a fair idea of the gut wrenching, irrevocable grief that we were all about to experience as a result, I'm pretty sure I asked her,

"But now?!"

She answered me in a way that quietly confirmed to me the wisdom of the Universe's timing and the good sense of trusting in that.
She really was switched on.

I still miss Mum in a way I cannot understand.
I contort my mind sometimes and try to assess how much I've missed out on all these years, but it's like trying to look at the back of your own head in the mirror - you get a glimpse of a glimpse but no more.
But you always look again, don't you?

Anyway, not too long after that, our family lost it's axis.
So much change.

But I don't look back at it all now without choosing to focus on the wonderful things that happened that year as well.
Otherwise, what's the point?

Apart from Jeff, I was provided with a new family.

One I even liked! And still like!

How often does that happen?

Another of those 1989 moments that are frozen in time for me was when I met Jeff's mother, Yvonne for the first time, maybe only 6-8 weeks after losing my own mum.

As I stepped inside the house, all I could see was her silhouette.

We met half way between the front and back doors, and for some reason, we were alone there.

Applying logic, I guess Jeff had ducked into the bathroom with incredibly poor timing, which is his want, even today.

So here I was, perhaps trespassing in a hostile Lebanese house, staring down the barrel of either my potential mother-in-law or my worst nightmare.

Disaster or success?
Really, I don't even know what it all hinged on.

The silhouette was dead still and with no facial expression cues to work with, I just had to rely on my intuition, hope and expectation.

Surely the kind of woman who would bring up this person to be so friendly and relaxed must be cut from the same cloth.

We both paused for what seemed like eternity and then simultaneously threw our arms open and shrieked,


It's been that way ever since.

Never had a cross word from that woman.
Actually, I've never heard a cross word form her full stop.

I have seen her play practical jokes on people and take the piss though.
Hey, I've even heard her call her husband a hairy grey donkey's arse.
Sure it loses a little something in translation, but it will ever be one of my faves.

She's a lot like Jeffrey. In looks as well as in nature.

When Jeff and I met - not straight away, as our first date was more or less a double date with both our brothers.
No, no, that came out all wrong (TWSS). I'll explain that presently, don't panic.

What I meant to say was that when Jeff and I eventually enjoyed time alone without our brothers hanging around, I peppered him with a few questions, carefully designed to expose any major foible.
What a crafty 20 year old.
Maybe all that Trixie Belden paid off.

Firstly, I asked him about his mother.
My theory being that men who have a poor opinion of their mothers, will extend that to their partner by and by.
His response was,

"You'll have to meet her, she's unreal!"

And she is too.

Then I asked if he could cook, while pretending that I could not.
He told me about some incredible chicken dish he'd made recently and that it was OK if I didn't know how to cook- he could do all that.

Then I sussed out addictions.



But yes, to clarify...our first date...

We were accompanied by both our brothers.
That's probably tradition on some planets, but we must have looked somewhat odd that night.

They hit it off in such grandiose fashion that the real reason for the outing kinda got washed away.
At one stage, I vaguely remember jogging along behind them, waving and saying,

"Hellooooooooooo, remember me?"

All these years later it still stuns me at how much these three adore each other.

That very night, after Adrian solved the riddle inscribed onto the rim of their latest single (they were in a band, no I'm not going to discus that now), they made him an honourary member.

Anyway, that was nineteen years ago today.

Nineteen fucking eighty nine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aggressive Beret Wearing 101. Part 6. FIN

Reading back over my diary entries for that week, I find it funny to see how I tried to adjust to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as they were offered to me.

It's good to know that I tried.
I did.
I really did.

I'm pleased to see that I didn't become narky straight away.

Fairly typically, I gave it a go and then when it all became too much, I made the decision to flatten my ears, sharpen my focus and participate in day to day Parisian tourism with a level of disdain that left them all well in the shade and in no way my equal.
I out Frenched the French.

Seriously, I hated this place by the end of the first day, but I was fair minded enough not to grumble until the second or to state it unequivocally until after breakfast on the third.

That's pretty good of me. Don't you think so?
Considering the amount of coffee I was drinking, I think it was nothing short of a heroic act of charity.
Good on me.

Even as we were standing at Charles De Gaulle airport (about as big and exciting as Melbourne airport - I was shocked) with the boarding pass in my hand, I was experimenting with my brain - trying to focus on what I had enjoyed about Paris rather that what I hadn't.
An attitude of gratitude and all that.

But you know what I found to think about as I stood impatiently at the boarding gate, the keenest person in history to get on a long haul flight?

I thought back to all those devastating moments throughout my life when people have pronounced my name the French way.
Simone - rhymes with scone. *shudder*

It has always offended and sickened me.
You may as well call me a pretentious twat and be done with it.

There were a few years there too, when my mother tried to enforce this rather nasty pronunciation of the name.

You may imagine my surprise and horror to arrive at school the day after parent and teacher night, only to have a teacher apologise to me in front of the class for not pronouncing my name correctly...
Even at the tender age of 12, I was able to put a stop to it with such vehemence that it was rarely heard of again.
Not even Mum dared.

Serial offenders will be prosecuted.
And certainly have been.

Zero tolerance.

After issuing instant and savage corrections, I have occasionally felt the need to sweeten the repudiation by saying something semi good natured like,

"If ever we should happen to meet in France, you may call me Simone."

But not often.
By and large I felt it wiser to leave them swinging in the breeze.

So, as I stood at that boarding gate, desperately trying to stack up a few positives against the tower of Parisian negatives, I smiled pompously to myself and thought,

"Ha! I've been in Paris for 5 full days and no-one's called me Simone!"

Joke's on them!

When I realised that, I felt happy for the first time since leaving Dusseldorf - like I'd gotten away with something even.
Of course, just moments later, as I handed over my boarding pass, the evil witch smiled sweetly at me and said, "Ahh... Simone, oui!"

P.S. Pffffffffffffffft to the French, their mother's smell of elder berries.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aggressive Beret Wearing 101 . Part 5.

Well, one way or another, I made it to those damned toilets.

Of course there were but 3 or 4 cubicles to service the busiest tourist attraction in the country, but I have to say that I was not surprised.

As I stood in the queue, I began thinking about all the different types of toilets and taps that I'd seen so far on this journey.

All sorts.

I also thought that of all the incredible things we'd seen and done, the world's toilets would be what I remembered in detail.

...and I was dead right.

There were maybe 4 women in front of me and the door to the ladies was propped open so that the cleaner could bang the dirty mop into your feet even as you stood patiently in line.

There was clearly no ventilation in this facility whatsoever, and once again, I'm fairly certain that she had undiluted urine in the bucket rather than Domestos.
At no stage did I get even the faintest whiff of anything resembling disinfectant.
Disgusting, oui oui?

I also noticed that the tiles chosen for this bathroom were the meanest, nastiest little tiles the 1970's could muster.
You know the ones - they're about 2cm square with half a centimetre of filthy grout between each.

And what colour do you think you'd choose for such tiles if you were planning the decor of the busiest bathroom in France?


Festy, festy little dive.

This is what my head was full of as I stood there.
So, you'll understand why
my mentally occupied sign read engaged as I stood staring intently into the next door washroom, craning my neck to see what kind of strange basin the man was using.

It seemed very low and I was confused as to what it was all about.

So interested was I, that I was all but in there with him, when he turned around and zipped up.

Zipped up!

Who chocks the door to the men's toilet open in such a public place?

The fucking French, that's who.

Happily pissing in front of women and children on the first floor of the fucking Eiffel Tower with a nutty Australian bird trying to cop a good look.
I'd like to read his blog.

He didn't even wash his hands by the way. Think about that next time you eat a baguette.

When I eventually returned to our very dirty table, I said to Jeff, "Well that's it, they've broken my spirit."

Jeff, nonplussed, returned volley by drawing my attention to the old Italian lady sitting next to us who looked exactly like Paulie Walnuts from the Sopranos.

This was our cue to get up and face to next 359 steps to the second level and a more distant view of the same things.

Took plenty of pics.
I had the Sopranos theme stuck in my head for the next 2 days, which is better than the Plastic Bertrand song that saw me through the first 2.

Then there is another level...the very top which may only be accessed by another lift.

A lift you cannot buy a ticket for at the same time you buy your ticket to get to the first and second level.
A lift whose special ticket box is intermittently closed without explanation.
A lift you must queue up for an hour to get onto, leaving many people stranded without a ticket because the information about tickets is at the front of the line.
Did Joseph Heller design this place?

We figured this out before we made it to the lift and Jeff did a rather heroic commando roll to get under the barricade to the ticket box which was now open.
The old Asian couple in front of us didn't and got sent back.

The Nazis were French?
Disorganised and bossy is a woeful combination, it really is.

January 20th - Paris

Same breakfast.
Why don't they use plates here? Yuk, cutting and buttering baguettes on the paper table cloth

We went for a walk to St. Gervais church this morning so that Jeff could pay his respects to his God of comedy, Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office.
Blundered in to a Mass there and blundered back out at no leisurely speed.
It was interesting to note that Mass still sounds like absolute bollocks even when you can't understand a word.

Took the train to Mont Martre and hoofed it up the hill to Sacre Coeur, which is a nice church with plenty of gargoyles and an adequate view.
Nothing much green to look at in Paris though.
As a result, I have discovered that I much prefer natural views or at least semi natural views.

We walked through the Mont Martre markets where we were beset upon by artists of all description who wanted to draw our portraits.
Actually, they insisted.
They were so aggressive that Jeff got pretty cranky with them.

We had a look in one of the cemeteries not far from there, which was awesome.

Their graves look just like my perfect house.

We hoped it was the cemetery that has Oscar Wilde's grave and Jim Morrison's so we could pay our respects to both and have a good solid belly laugh at the Emo kids trying to out art school each other.

Instead we got to see the grave of the deGas family (LMAO) and where they had disintered Dumas from.
Pretty cool.

On the way back, Jeff was questing for the BBQ chicken he had sniffed out earlier and went a little nuts when we couldn't find it.
Poor thing.

We did stumble upon Moulin Rouge though, and may I just say, whoop-di -doo.

Returned to our hotel armed with enough chocolate croissants as are necessary for the task of packing for a long haul flight after 6 weeks of gift shopping.

Soooo looking forward to Hong Kong and the familiarity of Asian culture again. I've really missed that.

Oh, and I did utter a syllable of French after all.
But only because an old lady walking her dog stopped and offered to help us find something on the map.
The word I used was was escalates, which I correctly figured meant stairs.
Damn her and her unsolicited kindness which made me break my vow.

Bloody people.