Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the Fence

Two-weeks-shy of a year ago, they knocked down the house next door to us. Since that time, we've been putting up with living beside a building site, as the great brick McMansion went up. It has been pretty annoying, all the noise from heavy machinery, all the banging and swearing, all the commercial radio blaring away from the tradies' cars or ghetto blasters, the stench when they periodically empty the portaloo (worse than decaying rat but not as long-lasting, and they never warned us they'd be doing it so we could close windows, not ever). Most annoying of all has been the fact that we have not had a proper fence on that side of the property for nearly a year.

Yesterday I came home to find men in our yard, putting up a new fence. Hurrah!

I am slightly grumpy that no-one saw fit to inform us it was happening. I know we're only renters but it would have been polite, you know?


(Check out how big this house is! You can see where our by-no-means tiny house ends on the right of the picture)

I'm a little bit cranky that the fencing clodhoppers trampled over the only nice flowers in our pathetic garden, the just about to bloom erlicheer jonquils. We might have squashed some onions, he said to me. Grr.


And I had to spend half an hour stopping up the many under-fence holes so as to make it Basil-proof, risking death by spider as I cast around for bricks and wood and such.

But, on the whole, Hurrah For The New Fence!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some stuff..

Basil went for a little illicit wander out into the neighbourhood yesterday. He returned safe and sound, but the family stress when we can't find him is high. As you'd imagine.


Climber's soccer team is in the bottom 3 of the league. This means that they are getting thrashed most weeks, which is a little dispiriting, but at the same time we are enjoying getting to know the other families, cracking jokes on the sidelines on those cold early mornings, and generally feeling heartened by the way that the team is actually improving even though the results don't show that. Climber continues to do an excellent job, it's hard to pick whether he's better as central defender or goalie really. Just don't put the kid in attack, he doesn't like it. Apparently he's genetically programmed to be a defender, both his father and uncle played in back.


Cherub is, like his little mates in Grade 2, pretty obsessed with AFL (that's Melbourne footy to you international readers) swap cards. They take their little albums to school and haggle. Despite coming from a non-footy-following family, Cherub knows a surprising amount about the game. He accepts as gospel what the other kids tell him, which is pretty funny when he starts sounding off about a game he's never watched: apparently The Empire (umpire) didn't like one of the teams and was really unfair. He was having quite the footy chat with Grandma and Pa Fixit yesterday, and his Grandma when she heard about the swap cards was quick to hand over $3 for a new pack, something which I, as an anti-football in particular and swap cards in general, am far less likely to do. But I do think it is nice to have spoiling grandparents.


Fixit is putting different handlebars on the motorbike so he can sit up straight and ride rather than leaning forward uncomfortably. I suppose there's less chance of him falling asleep like that, but the tinkering required to do this job seems excessive and never-ending to me. (I am very supportive like that.)


I've knitted a square for an orphan's blanket. Perfect television-watching activity as I've sat glued to the screen for the SBS show Go Back To Where You Came From (emotionally wrecked after each episode of that show) and the final of Ashes to Ashes on dvd. (I love you Gene Hunt).

And the house still smells, I hate you stinky rat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rattus bloody Rattus

Remember I saw a great big rat in our backyard? Well, Fixit took apart the compost bin and discovered a rat's nest with 6 baby rats in it. I was a big help while this was going on, coming as close as I dared (ie. not very) to watch and then running away half-screaming half-laughing if I saw a single bit of movement. When the mother rat suddenly poked her head out of the ground and ran towards the house I freaked. Eeeek! Fixit and Nell were laughing and shaking their heads at me. Anyway. The next generation of vermin are no more, they are deceased, they are ex-rats. The mother heartlessly abandoned her babies to their fate and hid under the house. We didn't get her. But we found an old rat bait in the shed, and chucked it under the house at her.

Within days we started hearing her in our kitchen, somewhere behind the microwave. This led to a bit more of me standing nervously on a chair at a safe distance watching Fixit take all the wine glasses and crap from around that area, thinking a rat would suddenly shoot across our kitchen. But the bloody thing was safe inside the walls, and it scrabbled and gnawed away untouchably at odd times of day. Even if you banged the wall with the end of the broom, really hard, right where you thought it was, it didn't care, it just kept gnawing and scrabbling. We really hated that rat by now.

But worse was to come. Because the bastard rat must have eaten the old rat bait and decided to die inside our wall, smack in between our laundry and kitchen. Which means two rooms now stink of decaying rodent. Fixit had a good go at trying to get into the wall to locate the carcass but it was impossible.


All we can do is mask the smell. (Apparently there is a bag you can get for this problem which solves the odour problem but they are expensive and the smell will eventually go away on its own...)


In the meantime, DON'T COME TO OUR HOUSE. It is not nice.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Curlypops' Hottie Challenge - Los 33

For me, the Chilean Mine Rescue began and ended with notes: a tiny crumpled piece of paper that emerged from deep beneath the ground, telling us that the 33 miners were alive and in the shelter...


...and an unfurled sheet for the underground camera held up by the 6 rescuers who’d gone down to help the miners back to the surface: Mision Cumplida Chile.


And in between was the rescue shuttle, painted in the Chilean colours, bringing the men up to safety, one by one.


Crafty blogger extraordinaire Camille (aka Curlypops) recently organised the Hottie Challenge, a group entry by bloggers to an Open Drawer fundraiser for the Margaret Pratt Foundation, which funds research on Heart & Lung Transplants. This is my hot water bottle cover for the Challenge The entries will all be displayed in Opendrawer's Gallery (1158 Toorak Road, Camberwell) from Friday July 1 to Sunday July 24


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grade 2 Concert - Flat Stanley


Despite having had a broken night's sleep due to a very bad nightmare, the first thing Cherub said on Wednesday morning, in a high-pitched blend of excitement and nervousness was: Concert tonight! And once we got through the normal daily routine; breakfast, school, home again and dinner [early], the Hour arrived and it was time to head out to the theatre. We were the second to arrive, Cherub insisting we needed to leave now, let's go now! but before long the queue at the stage door was swarming with bouncing & shrill Grade 2 kids. A noisy, seething, squirming mass of 7 and 8 year-olds, ready after the weeks of rehearsal to bring their performance of The Adventures of Flat Stanley to life, on the big stage, in front of their friends and family.

The basic premise of the show was that each class had 2 songs, based on a locale where Flat Stanley had travelled. One song was was for dancing, one was for singing. Cherub's class had an island theme, so they danced to the Hawaiian Rollercoaster song ... here you see Cherub with his surfer dude stylings ...

...and sang Day-O (six foot, seven foot, eight foot, BUNCH!) which was just gorgeous.

I thought - of course I did - that Cherub did a fantastic job. He knew what to do, he did it very well and he looked like he was having fun. Interestingly, I could really see that although he has good use of his arm now, he'd learned the steps while it was still broken, so it was as if there was a trace of the plastercast in the quality of his movement. I was also very proud and slightly gratified to see how well my tap-dancing students who were in the show performed.

At the end of the show, all the children sang My Island Home, a song that makes me cry anyway (I suspect for vaguely patriotic reasons, how weird, but there it is), and never more so than when an adorable bunch of Grade 2 kids sing it with purity and gusto. I bawled happily.

Afterwards, we went for the traditional post-show gelati with Cherub's best friend. And then it was home. As I helped Cherub get ready for bed, he said now tonight just feels like every night with bathtime and bedtime. It's like the concert was in brackets. I really like that thought; that our life chugs along in routine and ritual and then every so often we squash in a special event, a colourful parenthetic interlude before bedtime.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Basil Update


The anti-inflammatories are working a treat. I think every day he tripods less. The limp is less pronounced too. His fur is growing back, which considering how cold Melbourne has been lately must be much nicer for him. I don't think any cat enjoys the cold and wet, but with his bare back I think he was really feeling it.


When he first came home he was completely sooky, but he has regained some of his feisty ways, such as flying into our bedroom at about 11pm wanting to have a fight with Fixit. He's not fully bolshie yet, but I can see it on the horizon. When he rugby-taps our legs at feedin' time (if we walk the wrong way) then I'll know he's really well again.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011


So I said to Fixit and don't forget the boys will want to give me something for my birthday.

And Fixit got a pained look on his face and said but I never know what to get you.

So I took pity on him and rattled off a few suggestions, so that he'd have some options, both for the boys' present to me and his own.

I said: maybe some hair accessories, or some purple socks, or some nice pens/stationery. What about some purple cosmetics, like eyeshadow. My perfume. (I knew Nell had bagsed getting me perfume too, but after the great perfume drought, I figured too much perfume is barely enough. Which is just as well because Dad also gave me some.) I also mentioned that my friend had said the Converse outlet in Smith St had some pretty sparkly purple sneakers on sale.

Anyway. Bless his heart. He went out and bought me ALL OF THE ABOVE, plus a bonus Keep Calm And Carry On eraser (to match my teatowel) and some London Underground wrapping paper that he thought was too nice to use and gave me as a print, because he knows I love the Underground Map.


He's so ace.

PS. There was also a pair of purple K-mart sneakers that he thought he'd get in case the Converse outlet came up blank but they're not shown here, because the one thing he didn't do was check my shoe size - so much so that the the K-mart shoes were size 6.5 and the Converse pair were a size 7. I'm a 9.) So I had to take both pairs back and I ended up swapping the K-mart shoes for some for Climber as he has holes in the toes of his current pair.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cast off

He's been counting down the sleeps, and today was the day. He told me that when the roll is called at school in the morning he's been answering with [x] more days till my plaster comes off! instead of here or present. Today he told me he said it's today! when his name was called.


He said the saw they used to take the cast off was not so much tickly as buzzy. During the sawing he made a sort of ahh noise so that he could hear the vibrations through his voice. He also kept chatting away to the technician forgetting that there was a loud saw and they both had headphones on so no-one could hear anything. Then he sat up slowly and you could see he felt most peculiar. His arm felt light and weird. We had to go from the plaster room to the x-ray ward, and he insisted he had to walk at snail's pace because of his funny feeling arm.


Then we saw the orthopaedic doctor who was training a student doctor, so I think we got to hear a lot more information that normal. Like for instance that if he'd been ordering the cast he would have moved the plate at the end of the bone over a bit, via manipulation. Hmm. But he says the banana shaped wrist will straighten itself out anyway over the next six months. When he asked Cherub to move his wrist Cherub said I can't. The doctor said, in a voice that brooked no argument, Try. So Cherub did. It's all good.


We kept the cast as a souvenir, but we be scrubbed off the scurfy dead skin at bathtime.


The inside of his hand was filthy! He's off sport for another 4 weeks, but he's allowed to swim.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

29 again.

There's been a planning error: my birthday is scheduled for a Monday this year. Frankly, I'm not quite sure how the schedulers thought we were going to manage any celebrating at all, what with the kids and Fixit being off at school/work all day, and then the after-school tennis and me teaching 2 classes in the evening. I mean, I'm sure it won't be all drear. I assume the boys have taken my subtle [x] shopping days left till my birthday! hints so I can expect a present. And I always tell my tap students that they have to dance extra well on my birthday, and by & large they are very obliging about this. And let's not forget lovely Nell, who is on holiday and taking me to lunch. But if I wanted to have a birthday dinner with my three favourite males, then what we needed to do was to bypass the schedule and bring my birthday dinner forward by one day.

Which is the long way of saying that tonight (Sunday) the four of us went to a nice Vietnamese restaurant for garlic prawns and wonton noodle soup and spring rolls and rice paper rolls and in Cherub's case a bowl of steamed rice. (Don't worry I also made him have a smidgen of broccoli, he foolishly left this right to the end in the hope he'd wriggle out of having to eat it and then had no lemonade to wash it down with: live and learn Cherub, live and learn.)

And then we went to the icecream shop for dessert. And if you are thinking that no-one would want icecream on a freezing cold rainy night, you would be wrong. But we were pretty cold by the time we got into the car.


Home and in my pyjama pants by 7.30pm! Now that's a good night out. I think I'm pretty well set up for a nice birthday now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

The Good...

• Cherub won the Caught Being Good Award this week, serendipitously on one of the few Mondays of the year that Fixit was also there at Assembly. The award commended Cherub's positive attitude in always doing his best even with a broken arm. I must say that I think kids are ace. If I had a cast on my arm I reckon I'd whinge about what a pain in the neck the cast was, how much I hated being one-handed etc. Cherub just puts a bag on his arm for bath-time and writes with his right hand instead. I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned there, but I'd still put money on me being a whinger if I was afflicted.

• Basil was put on a course of anti-inflammatory tablets after we told the vet about the tripod-edness. Since then he has gradually started to put more weight on the bad leg. Fixit and I can't stop pointing it out to each other. Did you see that? He's definitely putting some weight on that bad leg. We're still waiting for his fur to fully grow back but on the whole, Mister Basil is looking very good, he's put on weight and is a cheerful, smoochy well cat once more.

• The quilt block I sewed for the WhipUp 65 Roses Quilt was not rejected (as I worried it might be) and is now looking like it belongs in the middle of a really fabulous looking quilt which will help raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis.

• New purple tap shoes. Same as the old purple tap shoes but not trashed.

The Bad...

• Tooth trouble. The tooth where I had a filling, then a chipped bit, then another filling has now chipped off more and it's very uncomfortable and I have to put up with it for 3 weeks til my ace dentist can see me. Tooth trouble is deeply unsettling I think, it makes me feel as if my inner core is disintegrating.

• A blister from the new purple tap shoes. Not their fault. Should have worn socks instead of stockings if I wanted to break them in for the energetic 2 and a half hours that are the childrens classes. Decision to wear stockings that day based on fashion sense not common sense.

The Ugly...

• There is a Rodent Of Unusual Size (thank you Shula for that Princess Bride reference) scuttling brazenly between the underneath of our house and our compost bin. I saw it in broad daylight and it was so shockingly large (and also, I think, rather fat) that I didn't even scream or jump, I just said out loud, to myself -and I quote- : Holy Moley that's a big rat. Fixit is scheduling a rodent cleansing. I believe the cleansing implement of choice will be a spade. We also have mice running around, (oh my god you should see the hole under the sink in the kitchen where they've been getting in, enormous! I bet the ROUS has been inside oh god I don't want to think about it.) but in a little silver lining I must tell you that Basil caught a (regular sized) mouse the other night and that I think that is all kinds of good.