28 February, 2010

Little Bag of Horrors

I've been thrown a life line. I have been devoid of blogging inspiration for almost a week and today wasn't shaping up to be any better. I'm sitting at my computer today thinking I'd like to blog, but I got nuffin. Zip. Zilch. Zero. What a joy (and relief) it was to be tagged by Caz at The Truth About Mummy to reveal the contents of my handbag.

I have two handbags

Classy stylish hand-crafted handbag
I use when I'm looking to impress.

Grubby brown sloppy thing covered in beer stains that has seen me at my worst and may have carried me home more than once.

Logic (and dignity) screamed “use the nice bag!” but when I looked at the contents I realised that I wasn't going to get far with lipstick and a squashed Mintie.

My brown handbag … oooo … things go into this handbag and never come out. It's like a black hole sucking matter in with it's gravitational pull. If I dig into it's contents am I going to find the Starship Enterprise or a herd of bison which may have wandered to close? Only one way to find out …

Here goes....

Broken purse well past it's use by date. Clip and zip both broken. Hints given at Christmas about it's advance state of deterioration were ignored. (What have I got to do??? Draw a map?)

Copy of Clockwork Orange. Always handy to read this book on a train. Nobody wants to sit next to someone who is reading something as messed-up as this book.

Cricket Australia Official Fixtures Guide 2009-2010. (stolen) (never used) (seemed like a good idea at the time)

A lens from a pair of broken sunglasses. Ah ha! I've been looking for that.

Keys to the convertible. Ok, it's a Holden Astra convertible but it still rocks!

Lip Balm. The really serious stuff that you have to use when you have wind burnt lips.  Ouchie!

iPhone. How did I become so addicted to this little baby?? I once hated phones and resented having to carry one with me for my work. Now I get withdrawal symptoms if I leave it at home.

Head phones. Doomed, as I seem to break a set of these every few weeks.

Mints, because we can't go around with onion breath. (truth is I don't care about onion breath, I just like the taste of them).

Hairbrush. I'm not sure why I bother as I have disobedient hair that ignores any attempt to make it respectable.

Two Golf Tees. No idea why. One should be enough.

Memory stick. You never know when you need to copy international secrets you can sell the Russians

Lipstick. 24k Pink. Sparkly and pretty.

Various Stationary:
           Three and a half pens (two purchased, one stolen and the half … dunno)
           Highlighter (stolen)
           Two Pencils (both stolen)
           An eraser (stolen)

15c Would this have fallen out of the broken zip on the broken purse? I think so.

I'm a little surprised it's not worse. No spaceships and only a few small bison that didn't rate a mention. What does this say about me? It tells the world that I nick stationary. Oh well, gotta have a vice so it might as well be practical.

The joy doesn't end here folks!  There's more!

Caz has really made my day by flicking a Sunshine Award my way. WooHoo!

I'm passing these two gems onto my newest friend in the blogo-universe:

Mr TransAM 76 at Reef Adventures.

Mr TransAm 76 (AKA the delightful Robert) has bought much sunshine into my life this week by assisting me in extracting a chunk of money from the Government.  Yay for the good guys!

Come on Robert, I want to know what you have hidden away in your handbag.

22 February, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Have you heard of the film “The Hurt Locker”?  No?  Me neither. So it came as a bit of a surprise yesterday when I found myself watching the opening scenes. How did I get here?

Good question. It was one of the more painful trips to the cinema. Off to a bad start, we were late leaving and it was always going to be a rush to get there. Five minutes to go before show time we were in sight of the cinema and only one thing stood in our way: The Mardi Gras Fair. D'oh! Traffic ground to a standstill and there wasn't a parking space for miles. Bugger. There was an upside: - anything to do with Mardi Gras is great for people-watching while being stuck in the largest traffic snarl this side of the moon.

Switch to Plan B. With no way of being able to make the 4:50pm session we decided to try a later session at a cinema in the city. There was always parking available in the city on a Sunday. What could possible go wrong? Chinese New Year Parade. D'oh! After several laps around the city we found a parking station with spaces available. They, however, failed to mention that the last remaining spaces were actual barricaded off and were part of a construction area. D'oh!  It was about now I had a spectacular sense of humour failure. There was no construction occurring at 5pm on a Sunday, so to the delight of the line of cars behind me who were equally screwed, I got out of the car and removed the barriers. Viva la revolution!

Kung Hei Fat Choy to
all the tigers out there

Having secured a car park, we were left with one small hurdle: we were on one side of the road, the cinema was on the other side of the road and the Chinese New Year Parade was in the middle. D'oh! One of the great things about Sydney is, in an attempt to squeeze as much real estate value out of a single piece of land, there is always an underground shopping mall that can be used if you need to dodge the traffic.

While the journey to the cinema was very exciting, this blog posting is actually a film review. The Hurt Locker is a war film set in Iraq. I've seen a number of these types of films lately but this one was different. It refreshingly didn't take sides or push the anti-American “you really screwed this one up” stance. The focus of the film is on a team of bomb disposal unit technicians. They are nearing the end of their tour in Iraq when a new team leader joins the unit. The new leader, Staff Sergeant William James, has a different approach to bomb disposal which leaves him at odds with the rest of his crew. This creates tension in an already impossibly tense working environment.

Is James a bomb disposal genius or is he a reckless red-neck who is endangering his team? As the film shows you more of his character you begin to see the complexities of the situation and you begin to wonder how these men can ever return home to live a normal life.

At times this is difficult film to watch, but like many difficult tasks, the rewards are great. I felt I was watching a modern-day game of Russian Roulette as these men daily face death while clearing bombs. The suspense makes it impossible to look away. The screen writer is a journalist who spent time embedded in a bomb unit while in Iraq and there is an authentic look and feel to the film. It's one of those films that you find yourself thinking about a week later. The Hurt Locker made an enormous impact on me and, if you are looking for a film to make you think, I recommend it.

If I had to compare this film to a food it would be Wild Salmon – top shelf brain food.

Check out the film website if you want to know more.

21 February, 2010

So Slow...

Ahhh Sunday. Sunday is the day when I indulge myself with relaxation and coffee. Everything is peaceful (except one of the cats which having a bunny chasing dream and is making a weird howling noise. I can ignore this.) As I sit of my deck, I'm surrounded by bird song and the sound of boats traveling along a nearby river (and weird cat howls. Maybe I can't ignore this).

There are so many things I want to get done today:
  • Finish the garden watering system I was mid way through installing when I was interrupted by the best rain we have had in four years.
  • There is a mountain of ironing that has finally grown so high that I can't continue to look above it and pretend it's not here without putting my neck out of joint.
  • I have paperwork strewn all over this office, all of which is well past the due date.
  • My car needs washing. (i.e. I need to pay someone to wash my car)

Let's get realistic, none of this is going to happen. It's Sunday and I really can't be bothered. I think I'll just catch up on what is happening in blog-land and then have a little lay down.

I love Sundays.
The cat howls are starting to freak me out.  

18 February, 2010

Sand in My Shoes

I've just taken my mother to the airport for her latest adventure and I'm suffering from a case of wanderlust. My mother is on her way to India. I'm so impressed she is going.  She knows it will push her out of her comfort zone and she can't wait. I'm left thinking that I have been sitting in my comfort zone for a while now. It's been two years since my last big holiday and, since I'm no longer working, right now seems like a really good time for another trip.

Two years ago I wanted a tropical holiday. Hot weather, palm trees, coral reefs and friendly locals. Maldives seemed like the perfect place. As I did some research, however, I began to realise that it wasn't the holiday I was after. I didn't want to go to a resort where you spend all day by the pool sipping cocktails. I know it sounds wonderful but I would last five minutes before I would be bored witless. I like adventure holidays and I like mixing with the locals.

I abandoned the luxury part of the tropical holiday and went for hardcore adventure: Scuba Diving in Papua New Guinea. PNG is one of the best diving locations in the world and the plan was to spend ten days diving from an island followed by ten days sailing around on a boat. Living on a boat for ten days was going to be a challenge as I get horribly sea sick so we decided to travel to the island of New Britain which was a little more sheltered and the sea was less likely to be rough.

First night was in Port Moresby where we were told not to leave the hotel because it was too dangerous. Good start! The following morning we landed in New Britain in an aircraft that I think was actually a flying lawnmower. We were met by a guide who seemed excited that our flight had made it to the island. Some goose (American Army in WWII) thought it was a good idea to build the runway at the base of a dormant volcano. Sixty years later the volcano is no longer dormant and flights get turned away if there is too much smoke and ash coming out of it. Strangely this was not mentioned in any of the brochures.

Around this point I begin to realise that I'm not in Kansas any more. This is going to a wild trip and maybe I need to take some care. This feeling of caution lasted about 30 seconds. The guide stopped outside a local market to buy himself some cigarettes. The safe option was to stay in the van. Yeah, right, I was going to do that. Ha! With my very expensive camera draped around my neck and a “mug me” sign pinned to my forehead, the blond chick decide she was not going to miss a chance to visit a local market. In minutes every set of eyes was following me and I was thinking this may have been a mistake. At the centre of the market I saw a very seedy looking guy selling tobacco. Hidden under the tobacco leaves I could see he was also the local dope supplier. I figured if I was going to get mugged I might as well get a good photo of this before. I pulled out my camera and the strangest thing happened.

Hooch Dude and his stoner mates
A hundred sets of eyes which has been following me with suspicion suddenly lit up with joy. A camera! Take my photo! Take my photo! The guide books failed to mention that if you want to make instant friends with the locals all you have to do is ask if you can take their picture. I was swamped by welcoming people with beaming smiles. It took me forty five minutes to take everybody's photo and I only managed to leave when I told everybody I had run out of film. It is fortunate for me the locals were not too familiar with the working of a digital camera.

From this point on I never had the slightest reason to be concerned for my safety. For three weeks I saw some breathtaking scenery, met generous and welcoming locals and dived on some of the most specular reefs that can be found on this planet. And I only got sea sick once*.

I have so many memories about this holiday, it is hard to stop here. I will save the stories about how I corrupted an entire village of kids with stickers or how a Green Turtle became amorous with my partner at 20 meters below the surface of the water for another blog.

So where to next? I'm feeling an itch in my feet and a need to explore. I'm thinking Cambodia and Vietnam. I also have a longing to travel to Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Give me some ideas and let me know about any amazing places you have visited or would love to visit.

* it's remotely possible that I was actually hung-over not sea sick.
After writing this I revisited the photos my photos from PNG and thought I would share some of my favorites with you.  Sorry if they are a bit slow to load.

15 February, 2010

End of The Quest

I've been on a quest. I have previously posted about my search for the perfect hairdresser. It has been a long and arduous search littered with traumatic experiences and very dodgy hair styles.

Today I believe I have reached the end of my quest. I walked out of a hair salon this morning without the feeling of frustration and annoyance. It was wonderful. Finally I was happy with the end result.

So many ticks of approval:

I was straight into the chair as soon as I arrived. No double booking or sitting around waiting to be squeezed in between someone else's colour and cut. I was on time and so was my hairdresser. Ok, I admit I had the first appointment of the morning, but hey, some of the hairdressers I have been to during the search have still managed to screw this up.

My hairdresser understood me. I don't speak the same language as hairdressers and have enormous difficulties explaining what I want. When asked what I would like to have done, I froze-up as usual and mumbled
                         “It's kinda flat. Can you make it un-flat”.
                  She responded with “Yep, I can do that. Would you like flicky bits and well as un-flat”
"Flicky bits" is a term I understand.  As promised, I now have flicky bits on my un-flat parts.

Decent coffee is a simple but effective way to make me love you forever. Bring me a second cup (with extra biscuits) and I'm your slave for life.

It took me a while to realise why I was feeling incredibly calm: No gossipy chatter. My hairdresser didn't feel the need to engage me in a conversation about size of Beyonce's bum or how Brad is better off without that skanky ho (something I have no opinion on). It was bliss.

The pièce de résistance: a massage chair. Oh happiness!! I was so relaxed I could have wet myself with joy. But wait, it gets better: a head massage that was just right. Too often the head massage is a wimpy little pat. Come on, don't be afraid to do a bit of damage. Dig your fingers in and see of you can get me beg for mercy. Make it feel really good when you stop.

Only one little negative:
The choice of radio station leaves much to be desired. Tuning in to the commercial radio stations can be a little dangerous when the host is a true bottom feeder. This guy (I will not sully my blog with his name) is lower than pond scum. The only reason I didn't put my fist through the radio was I was drooling uncontrollably in the massage chair and couldn't get my legs to function properly.

I'm now sitting at home with my marvellous flicky, un-flat hair. What a waste! This hair needs to be taken out on the town. I have party hair with nowhere to go. Can I go out tonight? No. I have to go to a committee meeting with a bunch of old crusties. Tragedy! I think I'll wear a short skirt and see if I can cause a heart-attack or two.

13 February, 2010

Honest Scrap (or Ten Things You Really Need to Know)

Two blogs in one day ... blogging frenzy!

A while ago Jacinta at Live Life Now sent me an Honest Scrap Award. Since then I have been drafting my list of 10 little known things about myself. Kinda tough since I tend to tell everybody everything about myself (regardless of their level of interest). It's taken me a while to finally decide on ten fascinating things about me that I know you have all be dying to know.

1.  Somehow I managed to be in Berlin when the Berlin Wall came down. Accident. I was backpacking around Europe and hadn't read a newspaper for months. I didn't have enough money to pay for a bed for that night so I caught the first overnight train to anywhere which I could sleep on. It just happened to be going to Berlin and it was November 1989.

2.  I fell in the fish pond at my Aunt's wedding. I was little and the fish pond was so interesting. My sister and I were flower girls at the wedding being held at the German Embassy in Canberra. All very posh. I was all frocked up in some glorious pink number and was happily milking the “awww, isn't she cute” routine. Not so cute after being fished out of the pond looking like a drowned rat.

3.  I represented Australia at the Eurovision song contest. Hang on, this one isn't true. Do they have to be true things? Probably. I better change it to: I always wanted to be a professional singer. This was always going to be a challenge considering my complete lack of talent in the vocal department. I can still do a kick-arse air guitar.

4.  I dislike brussel sprouts. Nasty little things have no reason being on this earth.

5. At nine months old I started walking. I have been running into things ever since. I have been told my clumsiness can be attributed to me not bothering with the crawling phase. Personally I think it has more to do with me not watching where I am going.

6.  There are tigers in my back yard. Well, I think there might be but it is such a goddamn mess back there that I really can't be sure. My backyard has gone feral and I'm not brave enough to clean it up. I'm thinking of getting the Air Force to drop some napalm in there.

7.  I was the backstroke champion at my junior high school. I was also the only person at my school who could swim backstroke. (It was a very small school).

8.  I would like to work at the United Nations. It drives me nuts that an organisation that has the potential to be an amazing global unifying force is run by a bunch of bureaucrats. If I could just get in there and crack a few skulls together it would be running like clockwork by lunch time. Maybe I'm being a little naive?

9.  I was the Tamworth Connect Four champion some time in the early eighties. Connect Four is a game where you try to be the first player to line up four coloured disks. I had the game at home and was a bit of a legend at it. A shop in Tamworth was holding a Connect Four competition and I only entered because I had nothing better to do. I left a trail of kids crying for their mummy as I swept all other competitors away. My prize for this amazing feat … I won a Connect Four game. So worth the effort. Not.

10.  After all this time I still have the biggest crush on Harrison Ford. Oh Harrison, you can fly my space ship any time.

I'm going to cheat a little and hold on to this award for a while.  I'm going to wait until it goes all quiet on the award front before I surprise a worthy recipient.  So everybody has to be super-nice to me until then.

Circle of Friends

I've not been able to get to my blog very often in the last few weeks. Too much has been happening in the non-cyber world. The few times I have been online I have spent the entire time catching up with everybody else's blogs. Wow, you guys can write! I don't want to miss any of the witty, inspired and heart-felt blogs I follow. I often read posts that cause me to stop and think about life in a different way. I love the belly-laughs and the things that make me go “awww, isn't that sweet”. I have been astounded by the connection I feel with people in the blog-sphere and it is a good time for me to respond to an award sent my way by glorious bride-to-be Kelly at Kellyansapansa.

The Circle of Friends Award is a way I can recognise a small handful of the blogs that always manage to make my day. Normally I don't like to duplicate award recipients but I think this one is a little different as I see it as a thank you and you can never receive too many of them.

Jacinta the fishing widow at Live Life Now who introduced me to blogging. This is all your fault!

Leanne at Deep Fried Fruit. I'm living the “Recently Turned 40 Dream” with you.

MadMother at Meaningless Meandering from a Madmother who used the most gorgeous picture in history on a recent blog.

Mrs P at A Study in Contradictions.  I love a book review and we seem to have similar taste in books. Keep 'em coming

It's sad that there are not enough bytes in my computer to recognise all the blogs that rock my world. When talking to fleshy people about the things I read in your blogs I often find myself saying “a friend was telling me the other day ….”
Thanks everybody.

08 February, 2010

Out with the Old.

I'm sure I wasn't nagging but I did lay down the law. The Boy wanted to buy a spiffy new toy for his golf. It's not just a spiffy new toy, it is a spiffy expensive toy. He can have his new toy if he sells his some of his old toys on eBay. There was a little tantrum but we had a deal.

After disappearing into man-land (the garage) for a while he finally emerged with the sacrificial toys: five golf clubs and two amplifiers. He gave them one last hug, shed a tear and listed them all for a seven day auction.

It's been a long week. The eBay summary screen has been constantly monitored for the last seven days and we have been riding an emotional roller-coaster while waiting to see if somebody else can love his crap toys as much as he does.

  • Monday: Rejection - “Nobody has bid on anything”
  • Tuesday: Excitement - “I have a bid!!”
  • Wednesday: Joy - “Both amplifiers have bids and there is someone there who looks like he really wants them”
  • Thursday: Dejection: “Nobody is bidding on the golf clubs”
  • Friday Morning: Elation - “People have started bidding on the golf clubs!!!”
  • Friday Afternoon: Anger - “Some dude has only bid 99c for one of my clubs and it is worth heaps more than that.”
    “Did you put a reserve price on it?”
  • Saturday: Greed - “Everything has bids and I think I'm going to get more money than I expected”
  • Sunday Afternoon: Disinterest: “My auctions all finished sometime this afternoon. I might go and check them later.”
  • Sunday Night: Panic - “People have started to pay me. How am I going to mail a golf club?”
The Boy has managed to raise almost $500. Add this to all the coins he had stuffed in his top draw as well as some Christmas money and he is now flushed with funds. He is strutting around the house and is feeling pretty damn pleased with himself. There was a real smugness in his voice when he informed me that now he has enough money to buy himself a really good GPS for his golf and he can afford to buy another cheap one for me. I'm awash with gratitude.

Maybe it's time for me to sell some of my precious collectors items? The experience has bought out a mercenary streak in me and I've been digging around the back of cupboards looking for anything covered in dust that could use a new home.

Is it wrong to sell the cats on eBay?
I'd probably have to pay someone to take them and they would still manage to find their way home.

Late Note:-
Not long after I published this blog I received a series of emails:
    eBay:  Bidding Closing Soon on Graphite Driver
  ebay:  Congratulations on Winning Graphite Driver
  ebay:  Payment Instructions for Graphite Driver.

After selling five golf clubs he never used it would appear that the Boy has gone and bought another one on eBay. 
The gloves come off.

01 February, 2010

I'm Too Old for Homework

One of the joys of a mid life crisis is you get to do things you always wanted to do when you were a kid but never got the opportunity. Everybody is so scared of you that nobody will be honest and tell you it's a dumb idea and you are too old. This is a good thing as their opinions don't matter.

My mid life crisis has been a long and drawn out affair and I'm nowhere near finished yet. So far I have quit my job, bought a convertible car, attended art classes, starting wearing Converse shoes and I am learning how to play the guitar.

Learning the guitar had been something I have wanted to do since I was a kid. I was given a guitar for my seventh birthday. I made several attempts to teach myself from badly photocopied books and failed miserably. Finally my guitar was given away to a younger cousin and I moved on with my life.

Fast forward many, many years to the present time. I decide to give it another go. Armed with a new three quarter sized classical guitar I start to take group lessons. I probably should warn you before we go any further that I'm not musically inclined. Not even slightly. Since I have started learning to play my neighbours have put their house on the market twice, the cats now leave the room when I practice and I've stop bothering to tune the guitar as it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of difference to the noise I create. In short, my playing will make your ears bleed.

Group lessons are great. Ten raw beginners making a hideous cacophony of sound. I'm sure if you look carefully you will be able to see the paint on the walls trying to peel itself off so it can leave the room. It was easy for me to hide my lack of talent and ability when there are nine other people who suck as much as me.

I was able to learn some basics but if I wanted to make any real progress then I needed one-on-one lessons. I found a lovely young lady who gives lessons near my home and have been getting tuition from her since late last year.

Today was my first lesson after the Christmas break. In the final lesson last year I was given homework which I ignored until yesterday. This is standard operating procedure for me: leave things to the last minute only to realise I have completely underestimated the amount of time needed. I was screwed. There was no way I was going to be able to learn the new song in time. I was getting flashbacks of having to write lines in school detention.
Homework in not an optional extracurricular activity.
Homework in not an optional extracurricular activity.
Homework in not an optional extracurricular activity.
Homework in not an optional extracurricular activity.
100 times in my neatest handwriting.

There was no way out of it. I was just going to have to admit I'd done bugger all in the last month. I braced myself for the look of disappointment and the stern lecture telling me that I will never amount to anything if I'm not going to try.

The strangest thing happened.

During the Christmas break my tutor had thought it would be a good idea to shave off most of her hair and dye whatever was left white with occasional patches of pink. I was craving approval from a kid who looked like a plucked chicken. She probably couldn't care less if I did my homework or not. I'm an adult and I don't have to do my homework if I don't want to!!

No, I was wrong. My tutor gave me a disapproving look and gave me a much harder song to learn for next week.

I need to go and practice now.