Friday, August 31, 2012

Gas Meter, Gas Heater

First, some hoodlum stole the whole gas meter from my Tap Hall.

I know, right? Who steals a gas meter? Our theory is the thieves put it on their own pipes for everyday gas use, and when it's meter reading day, they swap back their old one and save a fortune. What could possibly go wrong with that plan? The meter-stealing-hoodlums, in true socially irresponsible form, left the gas pipe open and exposed - although they had turned the lever to the off position  - so I had to call the Office of Housing Emergency Hotline and ask them to send someone immediately to seal it off, citing the presence of lots of little children using the premises. No-one arrived till after we'd left, mind! I rang at 9ish and we were out of there at 1pm; thank you Emergency Hotline for protecting the children...

In the Hall itself, we had no heating (poor cold waiting parents), no oven (poor hungry tap teacher) and no hot water (had to boil kettles for mopping and dishes).  I was very outraged. All that discomfort and inconvenience for some bill evasion.  Anyway, without going into the nitty-gritty details, the process for replacing a Gas Meter at an Office of Housing-owned property is r-e-a-l-l-y slow, and involves an incredible amount of back-and-forth; the upshot of which is that 2 weeks later there is still no meter, or gas.  Before I had the Emergency Hotline people seal the pipe off, some rain got into the pipe and now they need a licensed plumber to pump the water out before the Gas Company can come and replace the meter.  I have suggested they put a cage over the new one.

Four days after the gas saga started at tap, I walked into my house from an evening at work and said to our babysitter I can smell gas.  Our loungeroom gas heater was leaking, and the smell took an awfully long time to go so I ended up calling my Gas Company Emergency Hotline, and their Emergency Dude (who arrived within the hour, I said there were kids on the premises) agreed there was a leak somewhere and shut off all our gas at the source.  Once more, no heating, no hot water!  However, real estate agents can move a lot faster than the Office of Housing, so we at least had a licensed plumber out the next day who confirmed that our loungeroom heater was the culprit and furthermore it was too old to be safe so he had to condemn it.  Things slowed down after that, because the Real Estate Agents then had to deal with our landlords who hate spending money on stuff, and at one point inferred that winter was pretty much over and there was no rush to replace the heater. Sigh.  But they went out and bought us a new one, and made Fixit help them pull out the condemned one, so that the plumber wouldn't charge them for that part of the job.  Then the plumber came by to make a quote, at which point we discovered quelle surprise that the original heater had not been safely installed  (I hope you didn't sit in here with the door closed, said the plumber) and the installation was going to be a bigger job than a mere gas connection, and in the ensuing communications between plumber/ real estate agents/landlords, we missed the plumber's free morning and now have to go another weekend without a loungeroom heater.  So that's been 2 weeks too.


Meanwhile, there is fierce competition for the warm spot in front of the kitchen heater.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Loony Scientist

It was Dress Up As A Mad Scientist to celebrate Science Week at school today.  I'd had a previous half-discussion with the Cherub about this, and he'd said he wanted to do the Lab Coat Look, but then when I went rummaging for my white shirt for him, he suddenly said I don't want to dress up, I'm not a dressing up type of boy any more Mummy.

Thankfully that particular phase of his life only lasted 5 minutes, up until the moment that the idea of dressing up as our favourite loony scientist, aka Graeme Garden from The Goodies, was floated.  (We're going through a bit of a Goodies stage at the moment, via my boxed set of Goodies dvds.)

Not only did Cherub enthusiastically help with costume assembly, he woke us this morning already dressed in full GG attire.


I'm very relieved.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Bronze and Gold


Gymnastics Competition!!!

Both boys were excited, and a little bit nervous, seeing as it was their first time.  In fact, Cherub, whose competition ran first, looked a little bit ill as he sat with his Level 2 team-mates waiting to start, although allegedly this was partly caused by Fixit's neck-or-nothing get-me-to-the-gym-on-time driving.


Cherub has been doing gymnastics for less time than Climber, and whilst he enjoys it, he has not perhaps found it as easy or approached it with the same passion as his older brother.  I was therefore very proud of his efforts on all the equipment.  He was actually pretty competent, and I suspect if he had a bit more competition nous, he would have scored better for those things they look at: sticking when you land a jump, pointing toes, straightening legs, extending through the whole body, remembering to 'present' at the beginning and end of every routine. It's a bit like watching him at tap-dancing - he's perfectly capable of doing the steps really well but he often goes the low-key casual approach and doesn't cross ts or dot is.

He was awarded the basic participation medal - a bronze - and looked a bit crestfallen.  He had been dreaming of some silver or gold.  However, he was feeling okay about his performance, as well he should. I was very impressed with him, and with how much he's improved since I last watched him.


We went home for a couple of hours and then returned to the venue for Climber and the Level 3 competition.


Climber also complained of feeling sick before the comp started, despite my excellent chauffeuring. Butterflies.  However, he was extremely composed as he went about his various routines, and seemed to my untrained eye to be doing a very good job, both in abilities and composure.  He did what he had to do neatly, and was meticulous in sticking and presenting.  There was a slightly older boy on his team who was also very impressive in his abilities and composure, and I think set a very good example to Climber and the rest of his team-mates.

At the end of the comp came the presentation.  Each team coach grabs the appropriate medals for their team, so ours walked over with 2 gold, 2 silvers and a bronze.  Of course all the kids were watching with eagle eyes and trying to work out which of the medals belonged to whom.  Both Climber and the older boy received gold medals, much to their delight.


Then came the individual presentation for the top three scorers.  The older boy from our team took first place, then a girl from another club received silver and then blow-me-down-with-a feather, they called Climber's name for third!  We were so surprised and proud and happy that I forgot to photograph that part of the presentation, but it soon dawned on us that with 2 of the highest scorers on our team there was a good chance our team might have done well in the team placings .... Yes indeed! First place!  Another gold for Climber, and the older boy was dubbed the Usain Bolt of the night with his three golds! Climber was shining with pride and happiness and success beyond his wildest dreams.

We were feeling incredibly proud and happy for Climber, but by that stage poor Cherub had begun to feel more and more let down about his bronze medal and became inconsolable.  Luckily both Fixit and I were there so we took it in turns to congratulate one son and comfort the other.  And their coaches came over and told Cherub how well he'd done too.   In the end, after all the celebrations, I drove Cherub home in my car while Fixit and Climber went off to get fish and chips, and I used that reliable assuager of broken hearts, a bar of chocolate, to restore some equanimity.

The next morning, the despair and the glory were still very much apparent. Fixit and I were awoken by a sad Cherub at our bedside saying tearfully I'm still really sad about my medal. Half an hour later, we heard Climber before we saw him, as he entered the kitchen, wearing his pyjamas and his three medals, which clanked proudly and splendidly round his neck.  We talked more comfort and sense into Cherub and he took his medal to show-and-tell at school where it was much admired. I think we're all good now.  And there's always next time.  Meanwhile, my Climber is having the best week of his life. Soccer star one weekend, gym star the next, and his long-standing obsession with the monkeybars paid off in full!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Super Saver

Climber's soccer team were up against the Number One team on the weekend, the team who had won every game this season, the team that trounced us 9-1 last time we met. Climber's coach, a man with greyhound-like fitness and a single focus in his life (soccer), had been talking up this rematch for weeks. I don't care what youse do as long as you beat Forknah. At training on Thursday night he declared he'd give the boys fifty bucks each if they won. The man has no money, so this is how desperately he felt about it; Forknah is his arch-rival from long ago. The boys' faces lit up with dreams of untold wealth. He also told them they all had to pay him $10 if they lost. The boys looked uneasy.  The parents looked sceptical.

With all this build-up, the emotional stakes were high when we arrived at the ground on Sunday morning. The boys were fired up, and chattering like mad in the change-rooms.  The parents were all  extra tense too, as we gathered on the sidelines, coffees in hand, to cheer the boys on.

The whistle blew, the game began.  Forknah went on the attack immediately, fast and sure. They fired their first shot at goal and my-son-the-Goalie gathered it up safely and sent it back up the field with a great big kick.  And our team took off with ball, passing, looking up, and going into determined counter-attack.  And that was pretty much how the whole game played out.  Time and again, Forknah came thundering down into our half, only to be thwarted by another, often spectacular save from Climber, and to be rattled again by the way our team was playing.  It wasn't that we were better than them exactly, but they hadn't expected this, and they couldn't break through.  At half-time the score was nil-all, and Forknah's coach roared at his team to come in for the briefing.  Our coach was calm, this was the game he'd planned.  Keep at it boys, you hear that? You've got them rattled!

In the second half we scored a goal and there was cheering and jubilation from our little band of parents, as a welcome antidote to the nail-biting that had been going on for most of the match.  Forknah couldn't believe it.  They equalised about 10 minutes later, of course they did, they are a very good  team. Both goals scored were good goals, not disappointing goals scored because of a mistake in defense but honest, well-played goals.  We groaned on our side; for a minute, victory had seemed possible, but then we remembered our sportspersonship and politely applauded the goal. And then we waited out the remaining 10 hours minutes of the game. But Climber kept on saving, the defense kept on defending with everything they had, and miraculously the final whistle blew.  A one-all draw, Forknah's winning streak over, and praise from left, right and centre for the amazing work done by Climber.  Man of the Match! shouted several of the parents and one particularly passionate parent whose own son had done a fantastic job in defense and kept a last-minute shot from going in, said to me give Climber biscuits tonight, all that he wants, anything he wants!  I'll pay! The coach from the other team came over and shook Climber's hand and said to him You killed us! Players from Forknah told him he should be playing goalie for the state team.  Our coach, grinning from ear to ear, rubbed Climber affectionately on the head and said Man of the Match! too, although we don't actually officially make any awards post-game.  Everyone took the time to congratulate Climber on the way he'd played. He was beaming with happiness.

It was very nice for Climber to have his moment in the sun, to receive well-earned praise for his performance that day.  He looked so happy, and carried his pride round with him all day like a warm bundle of happiness in his chest.  Fixit and I were unstinting in our praise, and incredibly proud too. Climber is a bit of a quiet achiever in most of his life, doing well but not flamboyantly so. A day of glory for him like this was just wonderful to behold.