Monday, September 19, 2016

Read All About It.

Headline Stories at Sparkly Street, since the last post:

• MISTER FIXIT QUITS ANNOYING JOB TO RETURN TO HIS TRADE •

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This is definitely a good news story.  The Warehouse Manager job that he left was driving Fixit crazy. It was stressful, badly paid, physically tiring and gave him no job satisfaction.  It was the job he got after he was retrenched from his Airline Mechanic job, and he took it so we could pay our rent. At first it seemed okay; they realised he was a good worker and they appreciated him, which was good for his self-esteem after retrenchment. But it gradually became quite toxic, and he was hating the job and his employers (family business, high staff turnover, no actual systems to run things properly, you get the idea...). He started looking for work back in the industry for which he had qualifications, and despite there not being a great deal on offer, he came very close to getting an airline job. At the last minute they said they had to give precedence to mechanics working for the company in casual positions. The logical step at that point was to apply for a casual job so that he could be back in the system again, and hope for the best when permanent jobs came up again. He's been a casual employee since June, working 4 night-shifts in a row with 4-day rests in between. It's not perfect (no sick leave, no holiday pay, no job security) but it's better. 

• FIXIT FAMILY ADJUSTS TO HAVING DAD WORK NIGHT-SHIFT •

 Left his tail inside

The cat thinks the new arrangement is pretty good. On night-shift blocks there is nearly always a human in the big bed to cuddle up with. I'm enjoying seeing more of Fixit - we get to hang out and go for coffee dates during daylight hours. Also, he is contributing more to daily life.  The kids, particularly Climber, have had to step up on the evenings that Fixit and I are both working (I teach 2 nights a week) so that we can manage getting them to and from their sporting/work commitments, (Climber has a job, he's a gymnastics coach!  Also: he has started shaving OMG.) but they're older now so we felt confident that they could do this. I've been very proud of them. They catch public transport or ride their bikes, and then they get themselves off to bed. They're good boys. None of it is unmanageable, it just calls for forethought and organisation.  It's good that we now live so much closer to everything, certainly makes a difference. Fixit is coping remarkably well with staying awake all night. I don't think I'd cope nearly as well at all. Still. It would be good to win the lottery so he could give up work and spend his time pottering round the shed and likely being a neighbourhood handyman.

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• STOMPER GIRL GOES TO CRAFT CAMP (AGAIN) •

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Mid-winter craft camps are best.

Frost! Pah

A whole 4 days away from the daily grind. Comfort food, woodfires. No insects. This year I got to meet Tracy in person after years of blog friendship; we found each other to be just as we'd imagined. I suspect that means we have our online voices right. I was awarded the Princess Room, which is the one where you don't share with anyone and you get a queensize bed all to yourself. I made a rhubarb and apple pie for my turn at the cooking.

As for my crafting, I had two successes and one failure. Success #1 was an Orphan Annie frock (adapted from the Clothkits Tea-Dress) for a fancydress party (We put a baldcap and a suit on Fixit and he was Daddy Warbucks).

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The failure was a bias cut top with under-bust darts, the Curlew tank from the Merchant & Mills workbook.  The under-bust darts turned into weird side air pockets around my rib cage.  We think it's meant to be worn by women with a more ample bust. But then I made a Ruby top out of a tablecloth and all was well.

Trying a #curlewtop from the #merchantandmillsworkbook and this is what my chestal area looks like. Am now going through the process of trying to fix up the darts, but as a public service announcement I need to say: don't try this top if you are B-cup or Ruby top

I love going away with my Crafty Friends.  More photos here.

First night at Craft Camp 😀

• STOMPER GIRL BUYS THE BEST PAIR OF TAP SHOES EVER •

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All the way from New York. Miller & Ben SporTaps. So good in every way.

• STOMPER GIRL IS EMPLOYED AS A PROFESSIONAL WUTHERING HEIGHTS INSTRUCTRESS •

The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever

This may need it's own post, but in precis I can tell you it was slightly bonkers but enormous fun, several thousand people on a perfect Melbourne day clad in red dresses and re-creating the dance from Kate Bush's song Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy, I've come home and I'm so co-o-o-old.

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• CHERUB BREAKS HAND IN FINAL GAME OF SOCCER SEASON •

Cherub's team was playing the top team in the league, and when one of the opposition players couldn't stop Cherub making one of his excellent runs with the ball, they resorted to a foul push which sent my poor lad hurtling to the ground.  The Ref said as he helped Cherub up they seem to be targeting you. Cherub landed on his fist with all his body weight on top.  He was awarded a free kick, but soon afterwards asked to come off and didn't play for the rest of the game.

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You can tell its a break because the edges of the index knuckle, on the lift side, are not smooth and rounded, but slightly jagged. There was a also a wavy line -not visible here- in the middle of the bone where it had bowed at the point of impact.

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We took him and his poor swollen hand to the Childrens' Hospital next day where they found a small break just below the knuckle, and he ended up with a splint and 6 weeks of showering with a plastic bag on his arm, no writing, no playing clarinet, and no gymnastics or swimming. He also had to miss playing with his school soccer team in the state finals. And then he came down with a virus/flu and was as miserable as I've ever seen him for 3 solid days, we assume because his immune system was concentrating on bone repair and couldn't fight the other nasties or because he'd been to a hospital and picked up something awful from there. Or both those things.

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Good on you Fawkner, you dirty thugs.

At the End of Year presentations Cherub was awarded Best and Fairest for the season and I give you this picture to represent the highs and lows of sporting life: I call it Sling and Trophy

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• FIXIT FAMILY FIND & RESTORE MISSING CAT •

This mini adventure felt like therapy for all of us, after the trauma of our own cat who went missing but never came home.

On a Sunday night Cherub heard cats meowing outside and we went to investigate, in case Basil was getting involved in a territory dispute.  A silver tabby saw us and ran off into the street, but at the time I did think his meows were strange, more hello can you help me than I hates your poncy cat.  The next day Fixit and I saw the Missing Cat sign, so I immediately rang and reported the sighting. We all felt really hopeful about re-uniting a lost cat with the worried owner, and were disappointed when the owners texted back saying they'd searched but hadn't found him. They also asked if we would catch him if we saw him again but as the days went by we thought we'd missed our chance.


Then on the Thursday night, Cherub ran down from the bedroom to say he'd heard the cat again. This time we grabbed some dried catfood and our cat-cage before we went out. Basil was looking mildly defensive (he was safely tucked between the wheelie bins, but he wasn't fluffed up and snarling) and the tabbycat looked at us warily. I could see he didn't want us to touch him but when we put some food on the ground he immediately came over to eat, and after many soft words and plenty of food and a bit of sneaking quietly round the back of him, I eventually got the cage lid on top of the kitty. Cherub sat on it to stop him getting out while Climber and I spent some time wrangling him into the cage with towels and trays and Cherub's one good hand.

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The owner wasn't able to get to our house til late so the boys sat for a while keeping Juan company and we all hoped we had the right cat, and hadn't falsely kidnapped a non-lost feline.

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At 11.30pm a very grateful young man arrived at our gate and confirmed that we'd captured the lost Juan. He was extremely apologetic about keeping me up so late and offered me money, but I explained that we didn't need rewarding because we'd lost a cat once and finding one for someone else had made us all very, very happy.  (He probably thought I was mad, but I'm just a good neighbour!) So he transferred Juan into his own cage and went on his way, texting me afterwards to thank us yet again.

We recently watched a documentary about cat behaviour and this experience did make we wonder about cat dynamics. Juan came to our house twice, so did he know that a house where another cat lives is a good option for a lost cat? And did Basil, who never behaved in a hostile way, recognise a fellow feline in distress?

PS. Last night the owners dropped round a very fancy looking bottle of wine as a thank you.

You know how we caught the Lost Cat and returned him to his owners? They dropped some fancy wine round as a thank you: Penfolds Bin 407, 2013. My wine expert tells me this is a very good wine and should be saved for a special occasion. I said at the time

• WE FAREWELL THE FAITHFUL COROLLA •

My Dad has given us his old car which is in much better nick than my poor old beloved Corolla, and it's a stationwagon, which will be so handy for lugging stuff around, so I keep reminding myself that it's great news. But the truth is I'm a bit sad because I really loved my girly hatchback. I could park it anywhere, it was an automatic with aircon and four doors, which were my 3 prerequisites when I purchased a car in the lead-up to starting a family, the heater worked, the petrol economy was great, and the mechanic used to give it a fond slap after working on it and say Corollas, best cars in the world. What more do you really need? Sure, it didn't have cup-holders or button-click doors, and the driver window wouldn't wind up properly unless Fixit did it, and the stereo volume was stuck on full, and the rear windscreen wiper didn't work, but I was used to living with those things.  I must admit too, to a sneaking Luddite preference for car features that are mechanical rather than electrical or computer-chipped. They're easier to fix, especially if you have Mister Fixit in your life, and you'll never get trapped without air in a car that has an actual winding-stick for the window operation is what I'm saying.

But also, it was the car that I chose, a style that I'd admired when I'd seen others driving around, and one that I duly researched in the Trading Post before finding the model-I-wanted at the price-I-could-afford at a mansion in Toorak of all places. This was me on the day I bought him, sometime in 1998. He was extra awesome because the number-plate said FBI. That fact always made me happy.

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And this was me yesterday, taking a last pic to remember him by. Eighteen years together. Sniff. I also re-read this post when I was looking for pictures and it made me smile. My Corolla was cool. It was probably the coolest car I'll ever own.

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 Thank you for joining us for today's bulletin. Here is the Weather Report.

• WEATHER •

It's spring!  There is some sunshine coming into our house again.

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* BONUS FEEL-GOOD STORY FEATURING CUTENESS •

It's a meerkat from the Childrens Hospital. Nnaww.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sparkly Street Family Update.

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Last night I made a roast pork dinner for the family; Fixit and I loved it, Climber quite liked it, Cherub ate it but didn't enjoy it. Kids. Cherub eats a wider range than he used to but is still basically a fussbudget, or, as we say, maintains constant vigilance against our pathetic attempts to poison him.  He insists, despite my persistent cajoling, that he doesn't like gravy.  Obviously he's crazy, how can anyone not like gravy?  Mind you, Fixit insists he doesn't like pork crackling, we don't even bother telling him he's crazy, we are too busy fighting over it.

After we ate, we played card games together, even Fixit who says he doesn't like card games. (We were going to play Jenga but we couldn't find our Jenga set. Maybe I gave it away when we moved, but that sounds crazy.)  We played Billionaire and Uno, and it was really fun.

While we were playing, Basil ran through the house with a smallish rat in his mouth. Fixit charged up to our bedroom to deal with it, the rest of us followed bringing the plastic container needed to remove the rat. When we got up to the bedroom (it's quite a long hallway) Fixit and Basil were both hunting around near the window, trying to find the rat which the stupid cat had let go. Suddenly I saw something moving on the lace curtains, and there was the rat, scaling the lace. I may have shrieked, it was so perfectly a reminder of how rats could totally run up your leg if you didn't stand on a chair when one was loose.  The rat got right to the top of the curtains very quickly indeed, so Fixit did the only sensible thing he could, and picked the cat up overhead and said there it is you idiot, whereupon Basil launched himself up and across, like a top soccer goalie making an amazing save, and snaffled it. We all cheered like mad. Then we took the rat away from him, for humane disposal. He hates it when we do that, but based on his prior record, we really can't trust him not to lose a rodent. Although about a month ago I witnessed him eating a mouse whole, it was disgusting. PS this is a cat who only eats THE most expensive catfood.

Afterwards we noticed that our lace curtains got torn during the kerfuffle. I don't know if I should try and patch the tears or keep a look-out in op-shops for a replacement set.

Torn curtains and culprit sleeping in the foreground

In other news, Cherub's voice is breaking. He's very croaky, much more so than Climber ever was.  It's keeping us entertained. He can't reach any high notes any more, but his attempts to do so are very funny. He is still not as tall as me but his man-nose is coming in. He says his nostrils are as wide as his face and is not impressed, but we think he'll grow into his new nose.  He is liking high school.

Watching the Socceroos.

The soccer season has started. We're crossing our fingers that both boys' teams get re-graded down a level so we don't have to suffer watching them get flogged every week like last year.

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Last night I was woken up by a thunderstorm. I'm much braver about thunderstorms than I used to be. I just rolled over and went back to sleep

Today we went grocery shopping as a family and as we packed the car I banged by head really hard on the edge of the boot.  Pretty sure I'll be having a Lump from that.

Cherub made chocolate chip cookies today, the only thing he ever bakes. He was galvanised after seeing white chocolate chips at the supermarket so we bought them for him.

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Climber helped him for a bit. Climber is a very accomplished baker and recently made croissants from scratch with this best mate

Croissants from scratch by Climber and his bestie. Delish. Talk about flexing your baking muscles, this process took two days.

Climber has been growing some sunflowers from seed, and they've just bloomed. I think he was inspired after his girlfriend (they've been together 6 months, she goes to a different school and she's very nice but rather shy with us) expressed a desire to punch a sunflower. For him to grow them for her so she could realise her dream of punching a sunflower is so sweet, and very like the sort of thing Mister Fixit would also do. But I hope she doesn't actually punch the sunflowers.

Sunflowers on a grey day

Just thought I should actually start writing some stuff down again. The days whizz past so quickly.