Monday, 29 July 2013


My friend Dawn, who's a similar vintage to my mother, popped in briefly the other day to confirm details for the ballet. (we sawBallet Revolucion - and it did not disappoint! When you have modern ballet to everyone from Prince to Shakira, it's all good!)

While she was here and we were chatting about the big issues, we got onto the subject of gay marriage. I was surprised when Dawn, normally very liberally minded, said she couldn't understand why gays wanted the right to be married. As a campaigner for gay marriage, I was floored. Although Dawn is considerably older than me, I always thought it was our shared values and view of the world that was the basis of our friendship. (And ballet of course!)

I expressed my shock.

Dawn went on to clarify. Not only did she not think gays should marry, she didn't think anyone should be married. She wasn't discriminating, merely expressing her disquiet about the entire institution.

Have the party, she said, just skip the rest. It's all too hard to get out of and the only winners are the lawyers.

Like many families, Dawn's requires a white board, coloured pens and an afternoon of diagrams to even begin to fathom who is and was, related to who. It's very complicated.

And anyway, said Dawn, marriage was only invented to control women and money and gain power.

She has a point.

Geoff and I have been watching Borgia's - the TV series loosely based on the 15th century papal family. And even Game of Thrones has similar themes - marriage is a way of forming political alliances and gaining access to fortunes - romance has nothing to do with it.

De Beers marketed the idea of the diamond engagement ring and perpetuated the 'etiquette' of spending three month's salary on said ring. If there had been advertising effectiveness awards back then, they would have bagged a few!

I was reminded only this weekend, when a friend of Sass's, aged 8, said you couldn't have children unless you were married, of my own unmarried state. And yes, I was compelled to point out that her friend Sass was evidence to the contrary. (I posted about another lecture I had from one of the kid's friends on marriage.)

So gay marriage. I think while heterosexual couples have the choice, homosexual couples should as well, so I'm not standing down from that issue. But I do wonder if in decades to come, marriage will become a quaint and irrelevant status. What do you think?

Of course I usually like to illustrate a post with a relevant photo - but of course, I have none in my personal collection for this topic!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Oh Yeah Baby....

Seriously, the topic of lice goes on as long as... well, as long as we continue to be infested with lice. I hope you're not bored yet, but this is a ripper.

You might recall from earlier posts that I did some research and discovered heat is the enemy of the nit and its egg. It was subsequently discussed by all and sundry in the neighbourhood.

Next thing, Geoff is telling me he can buy a device on eBay that will kill all the lice in half an hour while Sass just watches TV (or I watch TV - depending who's infested I guess) - for just $50. What?

So after the usual back and forth of me saying we need more junk around here like a moose needs a hat rack and Geoff saying why don't we give it a go, I acquiesced and the devise was purchased.

And looked what turned up? I know retro is in and this is a very stylish carry case, but the hairdryer inside - hilarious!

My mum, who's not one to reveal her age (she's a couple of footy seasons off 80) had one of these when I was growing up in a small country town. People, this appliance personified sophistication, modern technology and city chic in a single, small(ish). white zip-up case. Wow. It was a sight to behold. I was actually quite proud when friends were over and mum was zipping around from power point to power point with her head stuck in that flowery cap and the blower slung casually over her shoulder, banging on her hip. Kind of like those cool bike couriers you see around the city with their Crumpler bags.... yeah, maybe not like that!

She stuck it on my head a couple of times, but it was hot and uncomfortable.

So - back from 1972  - and here we are in 2013. Geoff sent me this pic of Sass while I was in Thailand for work (that didn't happen in the 70s I can assure you - but neither were there 7 year-olds surfing the net on their laptops).

When I got back from 16-lice-free days in Thailand, I reckon it was barely hours before I was scratching again. Ahhhh! So desperate was I that I actually dragged out the Ronson and slapped it on my head for a good 45 minutes. (I used to laugh that my mother always said a good 45 minutes - surely 45 minutes is just 45 minutes? I am becoming my mother....) It was as hot and uncomfortable as I rememebered it way back in 1972. But guess what? It didn't work! That's right.... after all that discomfort, I was still scratching. I think the bugs probably just enjoyed the little steam room spa treament.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Price of Dodgy Oysters

It was a Saturday and we weren't going out. So while I was at the supermarket late that afternoon, I thought, what the heck, and bought a dozen oysters.

I've only been eating oysters for a few years, having been patiently talked through the process on a small specimen, doused in fresh lime at the races one year. I wouldn't say I'm hooked, but I do enjoy one or three and Geoff and the kids are also quite fond of them so I lashed out.

It was about wine o'clock and I retrieved said oysters from the fridge and took off the plastic wrap and.... ewwww!! The smell was disgusting. And they were slimy. YUK!!

I'd only bought them less an hour ago, so I headed straight back. To dispose of the little blighters as much as anything - but also to let them know their oysters were less than fresh and to get my money back. The experience had left all our nasal passages emotionally scarred, so oysters were definitely off the menu for the night.

I arrived at the service desk, oysters in hand, and explained the situation to the lady in charge. She was extremely empathetic and we consumers LOVE it when people agree with us when we're complaining.

Oh that's terrible! she gasped. And whisked the nasty molluscs away - I assume to march them down to the fresh seafood counter for a word.... actually, they could probably have marched down there and spoken for themselves they were so ripe!

Anyway, customer service lady is still apologising profusely, and of course she'll refund my money. I had handed her the receipt, indicating the time of purchase being a mere 57 minutes prior. In fact, she says, it's so bad, she's also going to give me a store voucher.

Now that, I wasn't expecting.

That's very kind of you, I said, politely. (In fact, I was polite the whole time just FYI! Except that I was probably wearing ugg boots....) She went over to her register area and prepared the voucher. I waited in anticipation. She handed it over suggesting I use it next time I was there shopping. I thanked her again and glanced down.... $2. That's right, two bucks.

Now I know in a pinch, 7 Eleven does $1 coffee, but around these parts $2 is half a large latte. 

So, the price of a dozen dodgy oysters? Half a latte.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Is it just me or is your local shopping centre squeezing out those of us who have no special parking needs??

Of course we used to have a Disability Parking Permit. And I did do my best not to abuse it - but there were times, I confess, I was guilty.

There was one memorable occasion a few years back when we had braved Chadstone in the lead up to Christmas. (I'm now much older and wiser and wouldn't be so foolish to tackle that expedition again. And I think my local retailers are in greater need of my hard-earned dollars than Chaddy.) Having driven around for just a small while - given the circumstances - I spotted a free disabled park, pulled in and jumped out.

A toot from behind.

A gentleman in a old Falcon was waving me over. I jogged over to the window he was winding down with considerable effort.

Yes? I enquired, cheerfully.
Excuse me, do you have a disability? He asked gruffly, not impolitely, but not exactly friendly either.
What, me? I looked aghast and clasped my hand to my chest in dramatic disbelief. No! I don't have a disability, I repeated, unnecessarily.
You do realise that's a disabled spot you've just pulled into?
I glanced in the direction of my car for effect..
Actually, yes, I did notice that. I replied, still upbeat and cheerful. My daughter has a disability. I was just about to get her wheelchair out.
That shut him up. And in fact, I did have Jaz, her wheel chair, George, Elle and Sass all on board. So that time, thankfully, I was not guilty!

But back to the shopping centre.

Elle and I popped up there last week, during the day and there were parks for people with a disability, parks for seniors and parks for mothers with prams - but none for us.
This is ridiculous! I said to Elle, swinging around for a second lap. Okay - there seems to be about four of the pram ones, I'm pulling in. I might just have to duck around and unbuckle you  - just for effect - you can be the baby, even though we have no pram.
As most of you know, Elle is 14, rising in the front seat and taller than me.

We pulled into the forbidden park and I got out. I grabbed the green bags out of the back.
Elle? What are you doing?
Waiting for you to come and unbuckle me.
Like that was actually going to happen.... Get out!!!

Tonight, Sass and I popped up to the centre. Same issue. This time I elected to be Senior!! Perhaps more appropriate?! Or is the large van with sliding doors, tinted windows and My Family stickers on the back a bit of a give away?

How's the parking where you shop?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Poverty and George's Charity

Did you see Four Corner's last Monday night? Here's the link to iView - if you can handle it. It made me cry.

You might recall I once posted about unethical consumption - the $10.5 billion a year Australia spends on food we don't eat, clothes we don't wear, books we don't read, downloads we don't listen to - it might be a timely reminder for us all to think about that as we watch these people on Four Corners struggle to feed their kids, find accommodation and just make ends meet.

Another thing that struck me in this program was how two of the three spokespeople who work with this disadvantaged group are women. I'm sure the actual split in the sector is even more strongly skewed. Had the story been on financial success instead of financial failure, I wonder what that gender split would be?

Anyway, enough of my left-wing, feminist ranting.

Also this weekend, other than upsetting myself with social injustice, I also packed up all George's clothes. It was bound to happen. Elle is home for the holidays and she and Sass decided they wanted their own rooms and for the first time of course, that's possible. But to make space, ten months after George died, I was compelled to finally make a decision about what to do with his clothes that have sat, unworn, in the wardrobe ever since.

When Jaz died, as the oldest of the three girls, her wardrobe and possessions simply merged in with the rest of the stuff the girls had and used, so we hadn't had to face this milestone. We agreed to pack up his clothes - but the actual doing fell to me.

It was a heartbreaking task. One I wept my way through. Folding each of his Ts, hoodies and jeans, boardies and PJs, shirts and chinos, runners and boots. Each item reminding me that he is no longer here to wear them. I put his footy jumpers, baseball cap collection, his electric blue loafers and a few other favourite things into a tub to store in the attic.

I knew there was no need to get rid of anything. It could all go into the attic and I could deal with it later - weeks, months or years later. But somehow I realised that it didn't matter when this day was - it was going to be just as difficult.

So Geoff and I decided today was the day - spurred on by Four Corners and the reality that so many have so little. A warm parker might just be the ticket. We could have passed his things on to family and friends, but in truth, I don't want to see them wearing it - it's just a reminder that George should be here. Geoff and Sass took a special trip to the St Kilda Mission to drop it off. And now it's done.

There is much consolation knowing that George was very charitable and thoughtful and would have been pleased with the decision.

I still miss him - and Jaz - every day.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Key

Key. Such a small word and in most cases, a small object too but with so much history, meaning and  metaphoric innuendo.

When I was at boarding school, the request to the senior girls "Do you have the key to my heart?" referred to the key for the food cupboard that our oft over-refreshed matron hadn't noticed had been removed, copied and returned. The legacy of 'the key' was legendary and we all vied for custody in our final year.

Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, et al have all been searching for a key - or have the key and are searching for what it opens. It's a familiar theme in stories old and new.

We give a symbol of a key to someone turning 21 (or used to!) as a symbol of being adult enough to have a key to the family home's front door.

Tiffany have done a gorgeous range of keys as pendants over the last few years.

It represents the solution to a problem, the pointy bit of an argument, the critical part of an arch's construction is the keystone and a keynote speaker is particularly expert (yes, you Penny Burke!)

And yet, the humble key can cause so much consternation.

You may recall Eleanor's initial departure to boarding school earlier this year that involved a key.

And today....

I'm in a meeting and Eleanor has kindly taken Sass to the movies. I get a call.
Mum, where are you?
I'm in a meeting.
We're locked out of the house.
Use the rock key.  (You know, the outdoor spare key holder disguised as a rock in the garden.)
It's not there. And you can't blame me, I've been away and haven't used it.
Well, I'm not far away, best you walk down to my meeting and get it.

Lucky the production company is literally down the road. And no, I don't mind sharing that we have a rock key - no security issue there because it's NEVER there!!!!!

Down they trot and I hand them my key.

Forty minutes later and I'm rushing to my nail appointment.
Elle, where's my key??
I don't know. (Vague, pretend attempt on her behalf to look.... I'm in a hurry so I leave.)

An hour later and I arrive home. Geoff is at the supermarket, Sass is at a sleep over and Elle is at McDonald's with her mates - and I'm locked out of the house.

For f*&k's sake!!! How hard is a key???

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...