Why reading and writing is the road to happiness...

This blog started years ago as a place to muse on the life projects keeping me entertained. It is no surprise then that it has morphed into a blog about my reading as that has been my lifelong project. Here I review lots of different types of books, with an added focus on Australian women writers. Hope you enjoy - feel free to contribute to the conversation!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's Elementary Dear Reader - Book Review 'Sherlock Holmes and the House of Silk'

I mentioned that I was reading the new Sherlock Holmes novel, and I now have to explain much to do with that statement. I noted that a new Holmes novel had been released last year when I saw a review in the Herald, but had not chased it up in the bookshop. Then last week I was in the library and saw it in the new releases, grabbed it with glee and compounded an irrefutable fact: I am a massive nerd, and the fact that my nerdom took place in the local library is just sweet serendipity. I love Sherlock Holmes novels - just the originals though. I haven't read every take off or satire, I haven't watched that tv show currently airing - in other words I'm a fan of the novels, but I'm not an obsessive Holmes fan. I did see the first Guy Ritchie film - and will get around to seeing the second one - and I liked it. I thought it was fun and captured the spirit of the novels well. And indeed this novel (which was the first to be commissioned and approved by the Conan Doyle Estate) was very well written. Andy Horowitz is a British writer who is well known for the teen Alex Rider series and the screenplays for Foyle's War, the Poirot tv show, and Midsomer Murders. His blog says that he recently had an explosion in his eye from presumably sitting at a computer writing all day - the man is prolific! His blurb says that he has committed more fictional murders than any other writer today.
Anyway, when did my Holmes nerdiness start? I do recall in 1998 that I made sure my itinerary in London included a trip to the real Baker St, to see a little plaque that alluded to Holmes so I must have liked the novels back then. I can't remember when I read the first Doyle novel - but let's just say that the clever Holmes appealed to an amatuer sleuth like myself. I've already mentioned my love for the Phryne Fisher series and it's clear that I'll never get over my regret at not becoming a real detective. I just didn't want to spend years training and working as a common cop first - I wanted to go straight to crouching down beside chalk outlines and taking swigs from my hip flask to counter the grim horror of my day job. You know, like how all the tv and novel detectives act at the scenes of the crime.
I've learnt all my sleuthing from books and tv so I could possibly become a detective without doing the training anyway - Holmes, Phryne, Poirot, Miss Marple, Tony and Carol from the Val McDermid series, all the crazy Swedes in the Nordic Noir, Jane Tennyson in Prime Suspect. I've taken notes from them all. Except... circa 2005 I embarked on a major investigation in my workplace as staff members pleaded with me to find out who was stealing yoghurts from the communal fridge. We were talking a staff of 60 or so, so tricky work. I undertook the case because I love a challenge but my major tactics of hovering around the fridge nonchalantly, and then inspecting tongues as I spoke to people to identify any yoghurt residue, did not deliver the goods. P.D James would not have been impressed: it remains a cold case.
Meanwhile... I recommend the new Holmes novel. It has some 'adult' content but I think that brings the Holmes tradition into the modern age. And as I read the novel I was reminded that I had read in Stepehn Fry's memoirs last year that he is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society. A quick scan of their website highlights their  eccentric activities and they are wonderfully nerdy: they dress up as Holmes and Watson and take pilgimmages to pertinent spots from the novels, glamorous places like Switzerland. They debate facts from the novels, read excerpts, and I would hazard a guess to say that they would probably drink a lot of whiskey and eat plentifully. Sounds divine. I'm thinking of joining...


The House of Silk book cover

Monday, 28 May 2012

Too Occupied To Pee...

I fret over the little things in life. It’s the small domestic matters that consume my thoughts and I often wonder how the rest of the world is negotiating the day to day trivialities that are universal to us all. This is an issue that has concerned me before and has butted its way into my conscience again recently: when is everybody weeing? Like I said: its the small domestic matters...
As you know, I’ve had a considerable group of tradesmen through my house in recent weeks with the major renovations we’ve undertaken. These guys have been at the house from morning til late afternoon, and I’ve been mostly at home in order to let them into the house and I'm trying to save money so I'm avoiding the lure of the shops....
Anyway, when are the guys going to the toilet?!? When I was working in the office before I went on leave, I probably went to the toilet once an hour - okay, that's partly in order to do 'my rounds', as everyone would say. This was a quick flit around the cubicles, to check in on how everyone was doing, what the gossip was - I am the social butterfly of the office, after all. But in all seriousness, I did have to go to the toilet anyway... and then when I was pregnant? Well, I was constantly up and down the well trodden path to the powder room.
But where are people going when  they are on the work site like my house, or in other jobs where the loo isn't always so easy to access? Are the chippies in my yard holding on all day, or are they ducking behind the garden shed??
I wondered, even as a child, what happened to the people that used to sit in the toll booths, when there was people in toll booths. How did they go to the toilet? Did they ring a buzzer to be relieved by a co-worker? Or did they.... pee in a bottle??? I know that the men who work in the gigantic cranes on work sites pee in a bottle - I heard it straight from the horse's mouth. They can't be coming down every five minutes to powder their nose. Time is money!
And what about surgeons who perform surgery for hours on end? Complex operations that take hours? It has been suggested to me that they take a break half way through. But then they'd have to lather up again... who's holding open the patient's brain while this long wee break is happening??
And ballet dancers? Opera singers? The first violin in the symphony? These guys are sitting for hours on end. They can't just hold up their hand and stop the performance because they drank too many coffees that afternoon.
So many questions - so little contacts to ask. Anyone know a brain surgeon? I need to find out what the go is - I won't sleep til then...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Project Updates!

Here's an update an all the projects - some trundling along happily, others stalled. Learning that a renovation site means continuous cleaning and, add a baby to the mix, my body is permanently attached to a vacuum and a mop. That's not happiness - BUT, the house is starting to come along. We attacked the nursery this week - it was altready a nursery on purchase, apple green with an animal freize. It wasn't bad but we preferred to put our own stamp on it. First stop Bunnings and the paint colour chart. How many shades of pink exist in this universe?!? I went with a lolly pink, and threw all caution to the wind - I hate deliberating over small decisions like colour. You can always paint over it can't you?Anyway, it was veeeerryy pink once on the wall...
Now I have to let you know that I have champagne taste on a beer budget so everything I buy is very nice, and in my referred style of vintage or chic retro. So I had a lot of lovely things for the nursery but I had them stuffed in drawers, boxes, thrown on the chair. My mother is the real designer of the family - in fact my whole family are artistic, everyone except me. Not an artistic bone in the body. So while I bought all the lovely things, and picked the fabulously garish pink walls, my mother sorted out the styling and made it look pretty in pink chic!

Prints from http://www.gelatiart.com.au Frames from two dollar shop! Style on a budget...

Bunting and letters made by my crafty mum

And a flurry of activity happened with the other rooms with timber shutters replacing hideous blinds

Looks much fresher and contemporary doesn't it?

And the timber decking is going down on the back deck, with Tallow wood wide planks courtesy of SE Timber Caringbah Flooring.

So busy times here which meant the running project has fallen by the wayside - only 2 four km runs this week, but I did manage to eat half a wheel of brie yesterday and several rows of Cadbury chocolate, so my priorities are clearly straight.
Haven't watched any films but currently reading a Sherlock Holmes novel but more on that later.....
Baking some scones tomorrow - tremble in fear, the dreaded scones. Let's hope these rise a bit more, I will triumph over them yet!
And gardening update - the cat from (I'm assuming) next door has sat on one of my brocolli, crushing it completely, and left a lovely present in the soil next to it. Uuuggh, cats! Hate them!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Along Came A Spider...

I write this post happy in the knowledge that I woke up this morning and will live to see another beautiful Autumn day. Why? Because yesterday I CONSULTED GOOGLE DOCTOR AND PREPARED TO DIE! And prepared to die a slow and painful death according to the no doubt highly accurate information I sourced. Last month there was a repeated message in the media by the Australian Medical Association warning punters NOT to source their medical information off the net, but that oft advertised warning will not deter seasoned hypochondiacs like myself! Don't relieve us of our self inflicted Internet panic attacks - its what we live for, thank you. I love it when I regale my very cynical doctor with stories from my Google research about the tape worm I may or may not have picked up in Fiji, and how I had most certainly contracted Ross River Fever in Townsville. He doesn't even check me. He actually tells me to shut up and just deals with the real issue at hand - ie writing out my script for my Pill repeat. He's the best doctor a hypochondriac can have...that's why I stay with him.
So that being the case I refrained from ringing him with this story -
Yesterday I was folding the washing from the laundry basket and felt a sharp sting on my bare leg. I yelped in pain - it was seriously painful! - and looked down to see a vicious looking spider taking a hunk out of my calf. I yelled out an expletive - of course, true to form - and whipped it off with the back of my hand, noting it was white and furry. Immediately, my life flashed before my eyes and I bid adieu to my daughter happily playing on the bed - I had been struck by the lethal white tailed spider and I had hours to live. This was no hypochondria for once - I had the living proof of the angry looking spider eyeballing me from the carpet, and two bloodied fang marks within a rising welt on my stinging calf. This was the real deal. So what did I do? Consulted Google of course, which provided my with a very handy Spider Identification Chart. My daughter was now bored and grizzling and I attempted to appease her with 'Sshhh, Mummy is dying from venom, she needs to find the anti venom on the Internet'. She was not appeased. A ring to the old boy resulted in even less sympathy - he told me to call in half an hour if I had gone into a fit. Helpful.
The chart offered two conclusions - it was either the comon Garden orb or the lethal White Tail. Hhmm. The White Tail is apparently known to hide in laundry and clothes or towels lying on the floor. Quelle horror. It must have been a White Tail! I noted the sting as I put weight on my leg, and started to mentally locate the box where I kept all my death benefits paperwork and Will. But like any real hypochondriac, I didn't ring any hotline, or go to Emergency (uggh, there is no worse horror than the Public Hospital Emergency waiting room). I just went about my evening, making dinner, and periodically checking the receding red welt on my leg.
And just as life is rarely like the movies, this domestic drama gradually fizzled - no vomitting, no fainting, no dying. It was just the common Garden orb - I'll live to see another day.

To prove my true character as a hypochondriac, here was my going away present from a job a few years back - great reference tool....

I've used it often.

Anyone else self diagnosed something awesome?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Honestly, I'm Not Kathy Bates in Misery....

I've always thought of 'fandom' as a pursuit of the adolescent. When I was around 13 or 14, I was obsessed with U2 and I dreamed of marrying Bono. I knew everything about him, knew all the lyrics to all the songs, used to lie on my bed with headphones on listening to Bono sing and imagining myself living in Ireland with him, being his muse. Sort of like how girls feel about One Direction these days, I guess. This all culminated in me seeing U2 in concert, circa 1990 (?), and it was one of the happiest events of my life to that date. I was hysterical with happiness. And then I went off U2 - in my jaded, cynical teenage angst, I felt they had sold out with their move to electronic style music - and I seemed to become less obsessive about celebrity and more about taking a nonchalant interest in alternative movements. This carried through to adulthood and I've been known to cock my brow in condescension towards adults who I've felt have been a litttle bit immature in their obsessions with people who they will never know, and who certainly wouldn't want a bar of them anyway if they were to ever cross paths. In fact, I'm so nonchalant about celebrity that I've stood next to Nicole Kidman in a book shop and exchanged a wry look with her, jutted my chin at Russell Crowe as we stood side by side at a bar, and chatted to Pete Murray as if I didn't know who he was at an ARIA after party (where my friends and I told the door bitch that we were the make up artists for Australian Idol, in order to get through to the free drinks that the after party promised). Yes, I take note of who the person is, but no, I don't get giggly or excited, and I am firmly of the belief that they are just normal people like you and I. No reason to fuss over them.
So - after all that, it was funny today when I went to the Sydney Writers Festival to see my favourite author and I realised to my amused horror that I was a FAN again, and a nerdy one at that!!! I displayed all the characteristics of a teenage fan, and I loved it!! I've regressed.
I have to out myself here - I absolutely love the Phryne Fisher series of crime novels by the wonderful Kerry Greenwood. I stumbled across one of the novels about ten years ago when I picked one up because of its beautiful cover art. And I've read every Greenwood novel since - me, and about another million middle aged women it would seem from the audience today. They are very old fashioned books in a way in that they seem like an Agatha Christie but in fact they are very racy little pieces and a lot of fun to read. I once bought one at Angus and Riobertson and the young sales girl said 'Oh, my mum loves these!' and I said 'Oh yes, this is for my mum as well'. Why was I so worried about looking like a Nanna? Now I say, rejoice Nanna and spread the word on the fab Phryne! The interviewer today described the Phryne novels as 'subvertive crime' and they certainly are as Phryne is the most audacious female detective; she flouts all convention of cosy domestic crime thrillers. The ABC just finished its run with the 13 part series based on the novels and we learnt today that each episode cost one million to make (does the ABC have that sort of cash!?!) and happily, the series was so successful it made all the money back and more, so a new series will be commissioned. This was where I leapt of my seat with glee, with all the other fans there, and then pretended not to care as I sheepishly slid back down in my chair, grimacing at the slow shake of my friend Julie's head. 'You are such a nerd' she said and she was right. I tsked with the other Phryne fans when the inconsistencies between the books and the tv show were discussed and I whispered to Julie that I was unhappy with the way one of the characters was interpreted - so were the other ladies in the row, and we all nodded knowingly at each other. All of us as one, the Phryne Fisher fan club.
Anyway, Kerry Greenwood was just as fun as I had imagined her and I wanted to run up to the stage and give her a hug and a kiss and invite her to tea to chat more. But instead, unlike a raving fool leaping on the stage, I lined up, clutching the first Phryne Fisher book I bought a decade ago, and waited in the long line to get Kerry's autograph (like any true fan would). Julie insisted on taking a photo of us but I drew the line - too geeky - so instead we stood chatting to Kerry and swoon! She asked about the clothes I was wearing and we chatted for like - 5 seconds! She must have really liked me. I'm sure she did.
Here's the nerdy fan with her book:

And the treasured autograph:

We also saw Benjamin Law, Paul Capsis and Wendy Harmer talking about childhood bullying and its effect on their formation as people and artists. Great talk. Love, love, love Benjamin Law but didn't go to get his signature, because I was too shy, and let's face it - I haven't read 19 of his books like I have Kerry's. That's the sort of commitment a true fan makes - and a true fan I realise I have become.

Anyone else part of a nerdy fan base???

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Sydney Writers' Festival - Does Jennifer Byrne Sleep?

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.  
Dr Seuss

Went to the live taping of the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club yesterday, as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival. It was a double taping with the first hour focusing on 'Books That Changed The World' with Geoff Dyer, Danielle Clode, Christine Wallace and Mark Carnegie. I won't spoil the discussion for anyone who will be watching but it was an interesting look at non-fiction that has changed the world and a quick discussion of fiction - Carnegie had cheek to say 'Well the Bible of course - that's a work of fiction' and it was a good point made. Fiction or non-fiction, it's a piece of writing that has certainly had a far reaching impact...
The second taping had regulars Jason and Marieke (in a gorgeous vintage dress!), and Jeffrey Eugenides, whose 'Marriage Plot' I blogged on here, and Stella Rimington, author of M15 inspired crime novels. I've read one of the Rimington novels - meh... it was ok. Not gripping enough for me though. But she was lovely as a panelist. Eugenides, as I had expected, was very funny, and very personable - not at all arrogant (which would be easy to become after winning the Pulitzer). The discussion was on Erskine Childers and Phillip Roth. One day I may read a Roth - but God, he does sound very high brow... I'll put it off for a while but leave it on my 'to do' list.
This is all very well, but what I wanted to comment on is the divine Ms Jennifer Byrne. She is just sooooo charming. What a tough job it would be to be a host of a television show like this - you have to be well researched, relaxed enough to lead the discussion, put your generally non-television savvy guests at ease, and allow four people to have their say in a free flowing discussion on quite complex material at times. She is a consummate professional. She told us before the taping that she had never met Stella Rimmington before - so I watched as she introduced herself on the set, put Rimmington at ease with the other panelists, ran the show for an hour with no blunders, no re-takes, and laughed and joked with such good humour that you couldn't help but love her. And she knows every book that is mentioned! My God. Does Jennifer Byrne sleep???? I know that reading is fundamenatal to all the jobs she does in the media, so she would put some effort in - BUT, she has a family, is on tv, radio, writes during the day - she simply must be a night owl to get that reading into her daily schedule. At the end of the taping Jennifer asked the group I was standing in if we enjoyed the show and I told her I did; then a question stuck in my throat and I was too shy to ask - 'Jennifer, how do you get time to read all these books??' I was just to shy.
So I did the cowardly thing, and Googled it at home. Is there nothing that one can't Google?! I found an interview from a few years back where Jennifer stated that she read about 4 books a month (which is less than I would have thought - I could possibly do a book a week, I suppose...). She thinks The English Patient is the best film adapted from a novel - yep, agree. And thrill of thrill for this fan, we believe the same thing - never re-read a book. There are too many other books out there to read, why re-read???
So, yes - I loved seeing Eugenides, and I adore Marieke Hardy - but my greatest adulation goes to Ms Jennifer Byrne, hardest reading woman in Australia.

Gardening Update - The beans have broken through...

 Tomorrow I'm off to another Sydney Writer's Festival event - I shall report back tomorrow.

How long does it take everyone else to read a book? Anyone else up to Ms Byrne's cracking pace of one a week?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Book - 50 Shades Of Grey

I enjoy jumping on a bandwagon just as much as the next person and that’s what led me to downloading the very reasonably priced Fifty Shades Of Grey – I needed a light read, and why not make it an erotic exploration of a dominant and submissive relationship? Why not indeed? (cough)
Now, I’d seen a few reviews so I knew I wasn’t in for Dostoyevsky or Dickens. And I’m not a book snob – I love a trashy read!
But... I pulled the plug at page 165. Threw in the towel.  Downed tools.
Why? Because of two little words - “Oh my”.
What’s with this hideous phrase? E.L. James uses it constantly throughout the novel.  Every time young Anastasia sees the grey tracksuit-clad Christian leaning against a door frame, ready to pounce on her, she excitedly gasps “Oh my”. “Oh my”?!? Who says that? Only people from 1952 say “Oh my”. It’s like Beryl from the Bega chapter of the CWA has ghost written the novel.  Has she? I can just imagine Beryl at her PC -‘Now, if I was presented with a huge schlong and a whip, what would I say to myself?  Let me see...I guess it’s like when I see the perfect sponge in a comp...hhmm, oh my?...yep that’s what I would say. Now moving on, do I have him drip the hot wax over her bottom or...’
The old fashioned phrase and its constant use – from a twenty one year old???? – tipped me over the edge. I hate unrealistic dialogue. Let’s think about what people would actually say in this situation. You see a hot dude or chick with a ridiculously cut body, whacking a paddle in his or her hand, giving you a come- hither look – I would suggest that the more innocent of us might say something along the lines of a breathy ‘whoa’, but the rest of us would probably say “F$^&*”. Wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t we? Or am I just a potty mouth?
Many years ago, in my share-house days, we were lounging in front of the television and I was reading one of the boys’ Mens Health magazines. The Sex Section had grabbed my attention and I was summarising the content for the others in the ads between Survivor. The article was about grooming your partner for foreplay (washing her hair, shaving her legs in the bath blah blah blah) – nice. Until I read the magazine’s recommendation on what to say when the lady in question appeared in the boudoir, quaffed and defuzzed, presumably in sexy lingerie – Men’s Health suggested saying “My God.” We all dissolved into fits of laughter. “My God”. There was no clarification on how to say this phrase (and we all know tone is so hard to get across in print), so we each had a shot at interpreting this little piece of sex talk coaching.
·         In the style of George Clooney  (yes please!) “My....(pause 1, 2, 3)....God”
· Murmured in the style of say, someone like Seal (ugh, a bit sleazy???) “Myyyyyyyyy...Goooooddddd”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Quick, clipped British tone, a la Hugh Grant (in his good years) “My. God.”
·         In the style of Jerry Seinfeld (comic horror) “MY GOD!”
·         How it will really sound from a typical Australian man “My gaaaawd” (followed by “You look better than an ice cold beer love!”)
Just kidding.                                                                                                    
But really, are people hearing corny stuff in the bedroom? What’s the worst thing people have heard? I’d love to know.
Meanwhile, don’t tell me how 50 Shades Of Grey finishes. I can only imagine with Beryl / E.L James composing the drama, a wedding with the bride led in on a leather leash must be the finale. Oh. My.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Timber Town - Renovations

I can't see my backyard for all the timber that has arrived. It looks like a mini construction site and I have chippies everywhere, climbing ladders, sawing, hammering and intermittently peeking over the fence at the twenty something year old girls who live next door, who have been inexplicably sunbaking around their pool in May. Hhmmm.
We have completely taken down the old metal balcony, and scored some hardwood posts cut down from a friend's farm in Coffs Harbour which we are using for a new verandah. We'll deck straight out from the new glass doors, and will roof the verandah like decking with in laid lighting a la the latest trend.
The patch of concrete that we found in one corner of the garden will become an outdoor room, and the boys have created built in seating for us to retire to for afternoon Pims cocktails and canapes on lazy Summer days... well that's the plan anyway.
What I've learnt so far about carpentry - there is too much maths involved for my liking, but you do get a nice tan. And you get to do what you enjoy while listening to Triple J. Not a bad way to make a living.
Here are the before and afters:

And gardening update: look how healthy this broccoli is looking!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Swedes, Crime and Buns

Like seven billion other people, I read the Stig Larsson trilogy and enjoyed them, although in the last book I gave up trying to follow who was who - how many Olegs can there be in that country? With the trend towards reading Scandinavian crime, I turned to Camilla Lackberg, on my friend Julie's recommendation. She is a Swedish crime writer, and I really enjoy her books. The crimes are just as violent as the Larsson books, and are actually quite creepy at times, but the protagonists are a married couple and their relationship sweetens the harshness of the content. You really begin to care about the couple and the other characters as you read through the series. I read some review somewhere that says Lackberg mixes violence with the comfort of domesticity. I highly recommend the books. But something that has captured my imagination in the Lackberg and the Larsson books is the Swedish obsession with coffee, sandwiches and buns! Lisbeth and Mickael are constantly packing themselves a thermos of coffee and a pack of sandwiches. And I would think - damn, I'd like some coffee and a sandwich right now while I'm reading. And it's even worse in the Lackberg novels because they are constantly - and I mean like every 5 pages! - having a cup of coffee and a hot bun out of the oven. The protagonist Erika is constantly baking buns. It makes me drool. I start looking around frantically. Where can I get Swedish buns near my house? Where? Where?!
Enter Jamie Oliver. On his Jamie Does... series I watched an episode where he is doing Swedish food - and there were the buns!!!! I bought the book, and made them straight away. Jamie's looked crusty, gooey with fruit, oozing with flavour, delicious looking. Mine looked...crap. True to form then. But they tasted okay, if not a bit doughy. I've tried them again today since I'm reading another Northern European writer - Jo Nesbo. A lot of hype about his books last month when he visited Sydney and the film of his novel premiered- 'Headhunter'. I'm reading 'Nemesis'. I'm not overwhelmed by it - not as good as Lackberg or Larsson.
Here are the buns - they look a bit better this time, but they spread! The dough is very wet and hard to work with. Can I give you the red hot tip though - they're delicious! Blueberry, with orange zest and demerara sugar on top. What a treat with a coffee and a Swedish crime thriller!

Anyone else addicted to Scandinavian crime??

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's Day Classic 2012 - Running!

Another Mother's Day Classic running in my friend Chris' team - Hostplus - one of the sponsors of the day. Last year I was 5 months pregnant and shambled along the 8km walk with my mum but this year I was back to running. When I call it running, I really mean shuffling - J literally pushed me up the small incline at the Domain past the Art Gallery, so that I finished the 4km without stopping. It felt good to be running again, even if it was only for the short race - and even if we had to dodge and weave between all the kids doing the 4km. It was like human Tetris. But as usual the day struck me as a good reminder of what's important in life - family, friends and good health - as we read the messages on the back of other runners / walkers who have lost a family member or have survived breast cancer. Such an insidious disease, but days like this raise a lot of mmoney for research so my family and friends are more than happy to support it. So - we did the 4km in 22, 23 minutes? Something like that. Not bad for two tired parents who haven't been running much lately...

Thanks Hostplus for having us again!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

I'm an IT idiot...

I'm such an idiot - I didn't have the comment user device activated so that people could comment without having to log in. I've rectified it now - leave a comment and then I won't feel like I'm just talking into the ether

Mamamia Post - May 2012

My latest post on Mamamia - The ice breaker that used to be my never fail pick up line...


Monday, 7 May 2012

Renovation - IKEA Giveth and IKEA Taketh Away...

Did the obligatory renovator's IKEA trip on Saturday. I've always called IKEA the divorce maker, for reasons I shouldn't have to explain to anyone that has felt the misery of arguing at every twist and turn of the never ending maaazzzeeeee..... I don't know how many times I had to explain to J that you have to walk all the way around as that is their selling trap - you will buy some drinking glasses as well, and you do need some more throw rugs don't you? So go with it, stop fighting it.
Well, IKEA always seems to start well for me and I'm pretty skilled at putting the blinkers on and targetting only the items I have to buy. But this is where I always come undone - we saw a perfect mid 20th century coffee table that could serve as a tv lowboy (and it was from a new "special" IKEA range, designed by Inga Van de Van de Sweden or something). Where do we come unstuck?? "Uh, yeah" IKEA girl twirling hair and looking completely disinterested, "we're out of stock" "No I don't know when they'll be back in". "No, we don't do orders".
And then I always come unstuck again at the checkout. Five million people with five million items. 2 cashiers on. And the two groups before us both separately questioned the price of their items, and one forgot to put on a pick up invoice so we had to let her back in to pay for it.
Why? Why do we go there?
Is it for the meatballs? Is it for the $4.95 felt throw rugs? Is it for the basket of 99c Swedish milk chocolate at the cash point?
It's the affordable price for a few key items. And that's how they get us all in.
This was our original 80s faux leadlight lamps:

What were the previous owners thinking?

And now the IKEA pendant light: $139

Much better. Worth the arguments and misery at the checkout? Hhmm, maybe.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

And So The Work Begins...And Sushi Rolls Have Been The Revelation

We've had an industrious week. The back verandah and back wall have been knocked down and sliding doors have let the light in to what was a very dark back room. The construction boys have been great - and have been a real revelation through their culinary interests and daily topics of conversation. Instead of pies and sausage rolls for lunch - what I thought would have been de rigour for chippies and brickies - the boys have been driving to a nearby suburb for takeaway platters of sushi. They tell me they watch their weight and like to be healthy?!? They're putting me to shame. Definitely a generational thing - I think this generation of twenty somethings are very body focussed and keep very fit.
Similarly, their conversations that filter past me as they wheel the rubble up our side path have been a revelation - history, politics. I've come to the conclusion that I'd like to pack in my office job and retrain as a chippie - it looks like a lovely day, working outside with mates, and accompolishing something concrete every day. Shame I'm too long in the tooth to become an apprentice now...and I don't think I could rock the tool belt well enough.
Meanwhile, the raised veggie bed has been built and the veggies are in - beans, carrots, broccoli, leeks and silverbeet. And some Sweetpea flowers to decorate the trellis. Can't wait for them to start seriously growing! It will be leek and chicken pies, and spinach and feta filos for us very soon...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Is The Reality Too Grim?

I would love to be a contestant on The Block. I reckon my husband and I could have a real crack at it, and we'd have a ball doing those challenges. Meanwhile, I'm sure Scotty Cam and Shelly Croft would lap up the little rays of sunshine our personalities would bring. Wouldn't they?.
But I just know that we could never really apply for the show - apart from the fact that I'd have to find someone to offload the baby to for however many months...yeah sure.
1. I would have to rise at 4am to wash my hair, and layer on makeup with one of the trowels lying around before the 6am shoot start - just in order not to terrify the poor fools who tune in every night for a bit of escapaism from the bitter reality of how we all look at 6am. Who am I to remind them?
2. I fear that the editing would inevitably showcase my harpy like badgering of my partner. Insert high pitched whine - 'Do this, do that, hurry up, stop wasting time' blah blah blah blah. I'd hate myself after the series.
3. The producers would be bitterly disappointed in our disinterest in bitching about the other contestants. 'So what do you guys think of the way the brothers are keeping their floor plan secret?' 'Well, good for them. We'll just run our own race' Crickets....producers exchanging looks, re-asking question to get a "better" response...
4. I don't look good in cargo shorts. And certainly not teamed with bludstone boots. So that's final.
5. Call me crazy but I can't imagine that I would cope well with death threats on a Facebook page, designed by complete strangers, specifically to criticise every tiny detail about me. Because that's what seems to happen to these poor reality tv contestants. Death threats?!? What is wrong with people...

So, my dream of winning a couple of hundred thou, and a fashion shoot in Woman's Day will remain on the pause button. That fifteen minutes of fame just doesn't seem worth it.