Sunday, 24 May 2015

Cool (Cold?) Cats

My friend Georgie was telling me about her cat last week. It had been hit by a car and sustained some pretty horrific injuries. Against her better judgement, she allowed the vet to talk her into treating rather than euthanising. And here she is, some weeks and more than three and half grand later, with one very sad cat. In spite of her 'investment', she's not convinced that putting the poor thing down might not still be the best option. I'm sure she'll make the right decision.

It reminded me of when our old cat Koshka expired his nine lives. He'd become so fragile and senile we'd had to contain him to the back garden as he'd twice wandered off and couldn't find his way home. On both occasions, some good Samaritans delivered him to the local vet and being micro chipped, they called for me to go and collect him. He was 17 or 18 and pretty much on his last paws.

The end was pretty painless - for us. We'd been holidaying and came home to a note on the door from a vet asking to call. To cut a long story short, our elderly neighbour had been feeding him and noticed something wasn't right so asked another neighbour to help. Having their own menagerie, they whipped Koshka up to the 24/7 vet where a seizure was diagnosed. They admitted him, made him comfortable but he died before we were back in the country. Which turned out to be kind of lucky.... the vet said as we hadn't been there to gain permission, they'd treated him as a stray and there was no charge. I did offer, but they wouldn't take it.

The vet said I could come and collect him if I wanted to bury him in the garden. I did. I took some flowers for the vet, one of the kids and Koshka's basket. The vet took the basket and brought it back, loaded with one cold dead cat, straight from the freezer in a calico bag. I wanted to offer again to pay, but at that exact moment, a small, distressed child with a parent and a cardboard box burst into the room. 'Excuse me one moment please,' said the vet. The child looked my way and in a moment of panic, I slammed the dead cat, in its basket, against my chest lest she notice. I stood there for a good ten minutes with the very cold cat sucking the warmth from my body before I had the opportunity to offer the vet money -  which was again declined.

I was fond of Koshka. He was as a loyal as a dog to me. But at the end of the day, and perhaps because I was dealing with bigger kid issues, I realised he was just the cat.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Nocturnal Comfort

I'm obsessed.

I don't know whether it's an age thing but really, it's reaching frenzy point.

Which is odd really because these days, there is a good chance I will actually have a full night sleep.

I had nearly 20 years of babies that didn't sleep, including when George and Jaz both lost their natural sleep patterns that not even hard drugs could fix. They required all sorts of attention throughout the night. At one point, it was so dire, we were given an overnight nurse twice a week just so we could recuperate enough to keep doing it.

Maybe then I was just so sleep deprived and exhausted it just didn't matter. I probably could have slept standing up. But now I have the time, energy and inclination to pursue this ridiculous obsession. Either that or it's menopause!

My nook.

Many of you will be aware of the linen store that has a Linen Lovers loyalty program - and naturally yes, I'm a member. I do buy plenty from them but it doesn't keep me loyal. If I see something that looks like it'll add to the perfect night's sleep - especially online around 11pm as I'm finishing up some work - I'm sold.

My sheet collection (white only!) includes:
  • 1000 thread-count Egyptian cotton (a bit over rated - apparently 'thread-count' and 'Egyptian' aren't fool-proof measures)
  • 'hotel quality' (these are good - heavier and a bit 'crisp' - I think I prefer crisp over soft)
  • bamboo (which are even better as they are quite heavy and I like that) 
  • and most recently, 100% pure linen
I don't think I'd slept in linen sheets since I was the hired help at Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire back in the 1980s. The housekeeper told me they were used so infrequently they were well over 100 years old. The family I worked for were peers no less, so etiquette dictated I call them Sir H and Lady H but unlike the other hired help, and being Australian, I just couldn't come at m'lord or m'lady without sounding so insincere it was insulting. They hosted their friends for hunting parties at the lodge at the Abbey and had game keepers, guns, dogs - and hired help! Seems like a dream now - but it did happen. It was their private holiday residence and after a quick Google search, I think it might now be a hotel. The one I found has 40 bedrooms - so that's probably about right!

Anyway, I don't think I noticed the linen so much then - but I've certainly noticed now - they're lovely!!!

I'm also obsessed with having the window open so I can snuggle in under the possum fur throw (from New Zealand where such products are not only acceptable, they're applauded give the damage those guys do to the native vegetation.) We also have a woollen underlay and a bamboo mattress topper that promises 'cloud-like' qualities. It's a wonder I ever leave my bed.

And unlike some people who swear that a TV in the bedroom is sacrilege, we have a TV, I often watch catch up TV on the iPad, I always have my phone by my bed for a few quick moves in Words With Friends and to check my emails before I get out of bed, and I have whatever book I'm reading as well as the next couple in the pile. It's my relaxation zone.

How's your bedroom? A haven from electronics? Does that work?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sharp As

One of the essential ingredients for a great Gravlax (you can find my recipe on that link) is a sharp knife.

I realised this when discussing my project with the guy at the fish shop so asked where he has his knives sharpened or if he uses a visiting service I could jump on to. He scoffed. He sharpens his own knives and said he'd be happy to do one of mine for the gravlax.

On my next visit, I took my knife of choice, wrapped in a tea towel in my hand bag. Can I tell you how weird it is to walk into a shopping centre with a large kitchen knife concealed on one's 'person'?

He was pretty underwhelmed by the quality but said he'd do his best. I knew they were crap (Geoff bought them) but good to have it confirmed. I still have my old knives from cooking school days, which are Sabatier, but they're carbon steel so worn and a pain to keep clean. I asked what he'd recommend and he said Global are great.

After doing my shopping, I popped back to collect the knife. He demonstrated its edge by shaving his arm (I wasn't sure if I was dazzled or slightly horrified) and kindly refused any payment. I held open my tea towel and he dropped it in before I tucked it back into my bag.
Don't go committing any crimes with that, he said.
I just laughed because it was so ridiculous, but still asked why.
It's got my fingerprints all over it.
Good point!

So, here we are, a few weeks later, and I'm the proud owner of new knives and goodness what a difference! Before now I may as well have been tearing up meat and vegetables with my bare hands.

Can they go in the dishwasher? Geoff asked.
I don't think we're that far along yet, quipped Elle quietly.
No! They cannot go in the dishwasher!! I yelled, as if they'd suggest the treatment for a new kitten.
Told you, said Elle quietly to Geoff.

Anyway, if you've been battling away with substandard knives, let me evangelise the joy of proper sharp knives!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Formal Business

I tell you what, these school formals are big business. Elle is currently having her hair blow waved for her Year 11 formal and it's got me thinking about what an event like this generates.

Here's my estimation per 'couple':
  • Ticket for student and date   $190
  • Frock  $130 (I've just picked an average - hopefully some are wearing something they had or borrowed, some are very expensive!!)
  • Shoes $150
  • Accessories/bag/Hollywood tape/special bra to fit dress - $80 (I'm not kidding - I'm guessing every one has had a heap of 'extras')
  • Nails  $40 (toes and fingers - again averaging shellacs, manis and pedis that could have that over $100)
  • Make up $90 (yes you get it back in product, but product you'd not otherwise have bought so that doesn't mitigate the damage)
  • Spray Tan (most girls now look like come from a different ethnicity than that to which they were born) $40
  • Hair $30
  • Transport from pres to event, from event to after party $40
  • Corsage $30
  • Button hole flower $12
  • Some extremely kind and generous parents are hosting pres and the after party - so I have no idea what that adds - let's have a stab at $60 for both (including parents at the pres) so $120
  • I'm assuming the boys had a suit and, if necessary, can wear their school shoes!
So about $952 per student, including date. What the heck - let's call it a grand! I had no allowance for eyebrow waxing or eye lash extensions or the essential hair cut and colour two weeks ago -  so I think that's not unreasonable! In fact, it's probably a tad light on.

So if there's 100 of the year level going, there's $100k!!

Not to mention the time running around and organising and appointments and emails of consent because they're all under age.....

You'd think they were getting married!

The school doesn't endorse a Year 11 formal - and I don't blame them. Again, some incredibly fabulous mothers have pulled it all together.

It's on tonight and the excitement reached frenzy point about.... let's think.... a week ago? So much so that in fact, they're all a bit over it already. Some have gone off their dresses, their shoes, their dates - the whole idea. Which might be just as well as I was worried that their expectations were such that they could only be disappointed.

Anyway, they will have fun and create some great shared memories with what will turn out to be some life-long friends - even if it does cost a small fortune.

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. ...