Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Smelly Landlords and Nice Blog People

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You know, when the last thing you received in the mail was a letter from the Real Estate Agents informing you that your landlords are going to increase your rent by a whopping $75 a week, and there's really nothing you can do about it because according to the guidelines it is in line with market prices - however massively inflated those market prices are - and you lack the will to even to jump up and down about it, despite most of your friends thinking you'd be within your rights to do so, because the rules for tenants and landlords are not actually being breached here and thank you so much Jeff Kennett for  getting rid of any safeguards all those years ago, well then, it is really nice if the next thing you receive in the mail is a custom made Wonk from Sue at fiveandtwo, all because you tried your hand at a collective noun for said Wonks.

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Good on you and thank you Sue xx.  I really needed that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old Enough To Know Better Really

When we walked into our [semi-local] supermarket today, the boys asked me, as they always do when we shop there, Mummy can we please play our spying game?  And I answered, as I always do, All right then, just be careful of other people.

Immediately they disappeared from my sight and then, with extreme stealth,  proceeded to stalk me as I made my slightly erratic way round the aisles.  The purpose of this game is that they spy on me without me seeing them.  I think recently they upped their own ante, so now if I do see them they lose one of their three lives.  This whole game is one they made up, so my involvement is completely minimal, ie. I just shop as I normally would.  It's quite peaceful really, and a little bit funny to see the flash of their heels as they disappear up the other end of the aisle I've just entered.  They magically reappear when I need to pay, which is when they claim their Supermarket Good Behaviour Prize of a Freddo Frog apiece.  Harmless and fun.

Anyway, this afternoon, I don't know, the whole stealthy thing became infectious after I spotted them once or twice, and before you could say James Bond, I found myself lurking in an excellent position where they'd never be able to stalk me without being seen (I'm not revealing the location in case I need to use it again, it's no use nagging me Climber).  But the location was so good that of course they didn't find me at all, so I soon got bored and decided to resume shopping. Then I remembered I needed to go right back to the first aisle for a last minute item.  The upshot of all this was that I realised that I had very likely confounded the children, because they hadn't seen me for so long, which seemed to trigger an instant regression of thirty-odd years in my maturity.  Next thing I knew, I had dumped the basket of groceries and snuck down one end of the aisle where my excellent stealthiness was rewarded with a completely sprung Climber, giving me a very bad case of the giggles in the yoghurt aisle.  Then as I emerged up the other end of the dairy aisle I spotted Cherub, looking left and right by the fruit and veg, an absolute sitting duck.

And seeing as my intellectual and emotional age level was now approximately that of a 10-year-old, I immediately ditched the groceries and went sneaking up on him.

Quite fast.

In fact, in contradiction of my own sensibly issued previous advice, I ran in the supermarket.

Which is why, when I tripped over in the supermarket, I then went soaring past the Cherub's head in the supermarket, and landed, with a very undignified splat, sprawled all over the floor and up against the deli, in the busy, crowded supermarket.

The look on Cherub's face as his mother went sailing past him in mid-air was actually worth the pain though.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Yellow Wire and the New Car Stereo

Fig A: Old car stereo. 
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Our old car stereo was practically a dinosaur.  See the cassette deck there?  Some of you probably don't even know what a cassette tape is.  It has only been bearable for all these years because we got a plug-in Belkin ipod tuner thingo, that sent the ipod songs into the radio of the stereo unit.  This kept us mostly happy for quite a long time (Fixit's complaints about the alleged crap on my ipod notwithstanding), but then the plug that we used to connect the ipod to the car deteriorated.  When we bought it, you just squeezed the sides and pulled; within a year we started to have to poke a key in the sides to remove the ipod.  Eventually it took 5 minutes jiggling the key to remove the ipod, which we could have dealt with, had the exposed wiring not meant that the radio signal started dropping out every 90 seconds or so, which meant I had to drive one-handed in an effort to keep it in a good position if we wanted any music.  Quite infuriating.

So I went to Aldi and grabbed the $80 stereo special.  Then Fixit tackled installation.  Due to confusion about the wiring, this is how my car looked in the interim fortnight.

Fig B: There's a hole in your dashboard, dear Stomper dear Stomper
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We tried googling stereo wiring diagrams (we would have been fine if we lived in the US, but nobody posts diagrams for Australian Corollas.)  I even tried emailing the Toyota place we used to get the car serviced, but that was a waste of typing, they still haven't replied.  Then I asked our local mechanic and he said you don't need a diagram really and to ring him if we needed something explained.

So Fixit got as far as he could logically deduce, welding wires together or something, but the stereo still didn't work and he was starting to assert the unit was faulty and question the wisdom of buying electronic equipment from supermarkets. At which stage I got him to show me what he'd done, asked a few questions and then said it must be that yellow wire, what happens if you connect the yellow wire to the car?  Because the yellow wire clearly came out of an important hole/socket and yet it was dangling idly. Anyway, what happens, my friends, when you connect the yellow wire, is that the stereo works.
Edited to add: the yellow wire is the Constant 12 Volt Supply. It is used to keep constant power to your stereo so that the memory doesn't lose data such as radio presets and clock time. It has a fuse as a safeguard against stereo malfunctions that could cause fire.
Fig C: Whizzy new stereo.
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Unfortunately my technical savvy did not extend to realising the difference between a stereo that is mp3 compatible and one that likes ipods. Live and learn. Ipods, as I sort of knew, play mp4s. The new stereo rejects those mp4s and therefore my ipod, and now I have to figure out if I can be bothered converting all my mp4 files into mp3s and sticking them on a usb stick.  It sounds like a big job.  On the other hand, a cd only has 11 songs and that gets boring quite quickly.  My ipod, on the other hand, has well over a thousand songs and provided you are not Mister Fixit, is endlessly entertaining.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Frock

A woman called Lorna needed a great frock to wear to a party, so she went shopping.  She found a really cute dress.  It had polkadots, and a twirl-able skirt lined with black tulle to make it stick out.

She wore it to the party, but then the next time she looked at it she realised that she didn't want to wear that party dress again.


The thing was, it wasn't her dress.


So she gave the dress to its true spiritual owner...


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It was, as she said it would be, perfect for tapping in; I tested it today with the kids classes!
Thanks Lorna x

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last Day of TAFE

Today was Fixit's last day of schooling for his apprenticeship.  He still has a bit over a year to go of his crap pay indenture, which will consist chiefly of completing his SOE, (pronounced so-eee, or Schedule Of Experience, a logbook of every possible maintenance job to ever do on an aircraft) but he no longer has to cope with the stresses of That Course: the disruptive classmates, the instructors who know about aircrafty stuff but lack teaching skills, the having to buy his coffee from the Broadmeadows Shopping Centre, and the sheer slog of trying to get through the enormous and poorly structured workload.  He capped off his last day of his last subject by scoring 98% on his last exam.

His excellent brains and study habits meant that he was once again awarded Outstanding Apprentice for his results in Second Year.  You may remember that when he won this award last year, he received an invitation to a slap-up dinner for both of us at the TAFE award ceremony in a posh-ish reception centre, plus a cash prize of $200 and a further $100 voucher from his own employers in recognition of his achievement.  This year the Award Ceremony was a daytime event with tea and biscuits (we decided to give it a miss), the prize had lost its sponsorship, making it just a certificate in the mail, and his work gave him 2 movie tickets.  And no, they weren't gold class tickets.

When she heard about this, Fixit's Aunty Judith was disgusted, and this is what she sent him.  I think it is totally awesome of her.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Busking

We had our school fete today, always a fun, if quite intense, day.  As well as the regular jaffa smashing, bouncy castles, gourmet sausages, books, clothing and toy stalls, the fete organisers introduced a new one this year: The Busking Stall, where kids with a bent for performing could do their busking act and the money in the hat would go to the school.  When they announced this,  I - thinking a brothers routine would be awesome - asked my kids if they wanted to do a tapdance, but received a very emphatic NO in response. So, a little bit sadly, I let it go.  (Except maybe I whined about how emphatic the no had been.)

But then Climber got very inspired by the tap workshop with Jason and announced he did want to do something.  And a classmate of Cherub's, who also does with tap with us, mooted that he really wanted to perform, and next thing you know, my boys were the Busking Stall's opening act.

So this is them, doing it for the school! Cherub and friend are performing, with aplomb, one of their dances from tap class.  Climber, in consultation with me but really, chiefly on his own, choreographed this a'capella routine.   There's a lovely moment as he gets on stage where you see him take a huge deep breath to steady his nerves.

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It's actually pretty relaxing having a family tap performance when I don't have to perform.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

When Basil Met Bunny

Next door's boy-bunny escaped into our yard and decided to sample our grass/weeds.
Basil, being a cat, was pretty sure he needed to hunt the furry mammal.

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But seeing as the largest prey he'd tackled previously was a blowfly, he was a little bit daunted by the rabbit's size.

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Not to mention the superb confidence of Mister Bunny who calmly munched grass and completely ignored the disgruntled crouching tiger.

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This is Basil doing the world's longest build-up to a pounce.  Ages, the arse-wiggling went for. And then of course, the pounce itself was more like a half-hearted sproing in the air, a good metre and a half away from the alleged victim.

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What you looking at, purple kitteh?  You can't handle dis brown bunneh.

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Mind you,  Mister Bunny wasn't so relaxed about the humans in the backyard, so if any of us got too close he'd lope off, sometimes straight towards Basil which caused the confused kitty to pirouette in mid-air in an effort to get out of the bunny's way.

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Eventually the bunny hopped out to the construction site and headed for home (we trust). Meanwhile Basil decided to sit up in the cubby-house, and keep a look-out for blowflies.

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Stoopid bunnehs.
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Photos by my sister, Fixit and I were too busy falling about laughing to record the action.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Padawan Tapsters

Tap guru and star Jason Samuels Smith was in Melbourne over the weekend, running his wonderful tap masterclasses.  I thought the kids in the Tapster Class were (a) ready to handle one of these classes and (b) would really benefit from one, so I booked Climber in and encouraged the other parents to send along their kids.

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You may recognise Squeaky, Pea  and C from this post....

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Jason taught them about some famous tap dancers, he taught them some moves and he tried to teach them to count aloud while they tapped. (But that last proved too much for them!  Well, you try learning a new unfamiliar step and talking aloud at the same time, it's actually a whole new skill)

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I thought all four of my students did really wonderfully well, which made me feel immensely proud of them and ever-so-slightly relieved for myself.  Climber is most inspired after the class, and you couldn't ask for more than that.