Friday, November 29, 2013

Grey hair

The decision to let your hair return to its natural colour is often a decision faced by most of us who have put the local salon's children through university and paid for their weddings.  Natural colour is of course the current state of affairs and not its youthful free flowing original self ie., in my case grey.  Grey hair is not flexible and won't be pummeled into submission like youthful hair.  It's stronger, wiry and doesn't take any crap from cheap foaming styling solutions.  Grey hair says I'm comfortable with who I am and no longer see the point of pasting agent orange or its equivalent onto my scalp so I can do it all again 6 weeks later.  Grey hair doesn't do playboy bunny curls and straightening wands are no match for the self determined frizz.  Yes folks, grey hair is not for the faint of heart.  But it will mean a little more colour in the purse.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's holiday time and don't they know it.  There is no answer good enough for 'why aren't I coming with you?'  As suitcases come out long faces appear and the standard household pet priority routine goes by the wayside.  The pet nanny will be summoned or worse, bags are packed for the pet motel.  Two deluxe presidential suites are booked with televisions in each room, private balcony and gourmet food.  Theirs not ours.  Theirs cost more than ours.  They complain all the way in the car, Max wails in his carry case and number one son starts whimpering because Max is wailing.  It's a long trip for a short distance.  Check-in requires more paperwork than immigration and proof of vaccinations are provided to cross the threshold.  The sound of friendly residents surrounds and the look of disgust on Max's face is predictable with not a designer Laura Ashley blanket in sight.  A few days pass and we return to undo all the bad that made us feel good.  We've had a few days of being parents without pets and come back refreshed for ever present smiling furry faces again. Once returned to the yard number one son is keen to tell us about all of his adventures and new friends.  Max doesn't speak to us until dinner time.  Back to normal.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And they still want more...

To say we've always provided for them, the very best we could is an understatement.   Knowing our four legged furry children have the best opportunities, schools, healthcare, nutrition and designer blankets there's been no expense spared.  Against our better judgement Max (pictured) was purchased from a pet store in a large shopping mall.  He was brought home on the day we moved into our new house and from that day forward, let's say he left his mark on more than one occasion! He was a sick cat.  He was underweight and unable to keep food from passing through him at a rapid rate and the carpet and bed covers took a beating so bad I'll spare you the soggy details.  He was lifeless and not capable of normal kitten playfulness. With the help of a good vet and the arrival of his cocker spaniel puppy brother he made a complete turnaround.  He started to eat more and began playing to such a degree his nightly empty bathtub ping pong game had him in line for national champion.  He had a real chance at gold if there was ever such an olympic event.  He grew out of the ball in the bathtub routine and soon took to destroying the furniture.  Arm chair by arm chair he would launch an attack when no one was paying him attention.  Where did we go wrong?  Did we give him too much too soon?  His three story scratching post, his own Laura Ashley blanket at the end of the bed and a daily selection of the world's finest tinned endangered ocean species.  And yet at 10:30 at night he is outside howling down the neighborhood calling to a mate - even though we thought we had that side of male entertainment snipped from him at an early age.  There are no mates for Max he lives in a compound where the only other resident is a disinterested possum that appears on the fence on a warm night long enough to send number one son into a barking frenzy.  He's not your friend Max.  We're your friends.  Remember us, the ones who have the highest loyalty points on our account at Pet's Warehouse?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The non traveling tomato

Number one son offers words of encouragement to the baby tomatoes.  Convinced I can achieve a better tomato than the plastic wrapped hydroponic tennis balls offered up in our every season supermarkets will remain to be seen.  The push to buy local produce with our reluctance to purchase fruit and vegies with a passport containing more stamps than our own, continues to grow.  With so many varieties of fruit gone the way of the Dodo bird because supply chain demands require a visit to only the one mass producer we can stick a spoke in the wheel of progress and go back to our roots just a little.  With patience and some doggy words of wisdom, we can have a little piece of farm even on the smallest of balconies and courtyards.  The joy of saying I grew it myself instead of I scanned it myself will be part of the warm fuzzy glow of suburban gardening.  Last year's miniature fruit trees did their best to bear fruit, a massive crop of effort that was appreciated alas not enough to require the hire of backpacking casual pickers for our two giving trees.  The lettuce leaves are netted and the herbs are ready for sun  - and none will be required to pack a (plastic) bag anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can bird and bike get along?

Cycling has become very popular in this neck of the woods.  The official term for the Sunday morning take over the road gig is called the Hell Ride. I've not participated and no doubt ever will.  My bicycle is firmly nailed to the gym floor to keep me out of trouble.  The Hell Riders are serious riders.  You can tell this because they wear serious ie., expensive cycling clothes, ones that have all the right sort of advertising, European mostly.  It just wouldn't do to be taking the road bend at warp speed with Jim's Meats or some local playgroup highlighted in lycra.  Then there are those less impressive riders ie., spend lots of time with other similar less impressives at the local cafe putting away the bacon and eggs, God bless stretchy lycra.  Now the local schools are on it.  School teachers with the entire class weaving all over the local streets like a scene from The Sound of Music but with less mountain scenery - and singing.  However when we need to share the path the gust of wind from the going too fast peddle power can just about steer you into the local canal.  This morning on my walk with number one son, I came across an owl in one of the old trees beside the canal sitting in a nest with two baby chicks.  They'd chosen a branch that was not that high up and quite visible which had developed into a small crowd gathered with mobile phone in hand trying to capture this little piece of nature in amongst an inner city suburb.  I suspect they will have little sleep if they remain there because it's a popular path with joggers, dog walkers and much in a hurry cyclists.  Sometimes it's nice when we coexist.  Nature and people that is.  I'm still not sure about cyclists. Although my mother was one (pictured) but only because Cockie insisted.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is it ever ok to be doing nothing?

We are so often defined by our jobs it has become a standard phrase for greeting a stranger.  Personally I preferred the how do you do as opposed to the what do you do because it makes the assumption that you can do very well thank you by not doing very much at all.  Not working, whether voluntary or not can leave you with a slight gap in the answer following the question.  And for me it's a guilt gap.  The "no I'm not working at the moment" answer feels like it should somehow be followed up with 'but I'm researching a new cancer drug', or 'am working on negotiations with feudal tribes that will one day end their poverty' because baking shortbread biscuits and doing the ironing just doesn't have that barbecue stopping effect.  No one asks you if you are happy because the importance is on being busy and sought after to be more commercial and assumed desirable.  The competition is fierce and very important people should be feeding off your every mobile word - even in the dairy cabinet of the supermarket.  Which, by the way annoys the buggery out of me.  Step away from the low fat lady I'm trying to get to the fridge.  We must appear to be constantly on the go and multitasking to the point where our quiet time no longer exists and our kids social life is scheduled in via a teleconference at the dry cleaners.  At a recent business conference I was the only person at the table not texting during the presentation which took less than half an hour.  Are we really that important?  I get tired just looking at them.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Number one son has been told to lose some weight.  This is terrible news for someone who becomes highly excitable at any sign of the toaster coming out of the cupboard.  Most of his education revolved around rewarding with toast crusts.  He was best in class but if we keep going, will also be the heaviest.  Like us all he is very fond of anything he likes.  My Sunday paper insert tells me that I should be dressing to suit my body shape with the only options available not going beyond my fruit bowl, and a limited one at that.  They show us photographic examples of women pears, apples, hour glass and straights - misshapen banana's I guess.  From the article I see that when reaching into my wardrobe I should first chose a younger body, preferably one in my twenties.  The clothing choices on the fruit platter of models chosen didn't go much beyond denim shorts (both pears wore these) and the apple wore a short dress and high heels to give her more...core?  Having failed to find any resemblance between me and the contents of my crisper I am now wondering if there is a male equivalent.  Surely it would be a meat variety "select items that reflect your natural T-bone structure" or "loin of lamb physiques are suited to single breasted jackets".  As for our friendly pictured carb loader, he's not interested in disguising his body shape, he's pretty happy how he is.  We just need to make sure he fits the shape he is meant to be.  Now there's a bit of diet advice!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The happy hen

"According to researchers, hens kept indoors in cages lead happier lives", as published in today's online newspaper, the Herald Sun.  Researchers you say?  Said researcher would have interviewed exactly how many chickens?  And out of the total chickens sampled, how many completed all of the questions on the engagement survey?  I'm going to go out on a perch here and suggest that this story has something to do with the decline in sales of non free range eggs.  It goes on to tell us "Professor Christine Nicol, who led the research at the University of Bristol, said although free-range farms had the potential to offer birds a better quality of life than their caged counterparts, many had poor welfare standards."  What, no access to counseling, no peer support and not even an employee assistance program in place?  What kind of establishment are these farms running?  Ms Nicol whom I will now refer to as Chicken Lady would be well advised to visit some of the free range chickens now located in suburban backyards and sometimes front yards (pictured), schools and small hobby farms scratching their way through worm blessed contentment.  Yes, I suspect this report is to persuade consumers to change their spending habits.  But consumers weren't hatched yesterday and will continue to purchase chicken and eggs with a conscience.  Perhaps Ms Chicken should stick to the rubber variety.  They're always happy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunshine on a rainy day

Number one son is not very happy (pictured).  On this wet November morning in a week of cold and damp spring weather Bennie had been promised a walk come rain, hail or shine.  But today as the rain starts pelting heavy on the pavers in the yard I hear a whimper from the corner of the room.  They lied.  There will be no walk today.  He will forgive us, he always does.  Bennie's day always starts with sunshine.  I wish I could wake up the way he does.  The excitement of a new day, it can only be good. Smiles and a wagging tail with hope of new adventure.  Someone asked me once about motivation, what makes me get up each day.  Truthfully, my pets.  Not because they inspire me with their unending devotion, loyalty and sunny disposition - they just want breakfast.  Actually, come to think of it maybe we are more alike than I realise.  Pass the muesli. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

He who watches the clock...

Two minutes is a long time on the treadmill.  I try to imagine the two minutes are the same two minutes in the kitchen when you take your eyes off the pan and two minutes means charred remains of a once tender vegetable.  Myself, no longer a once tender vegetable am wanting to slow the aging hands of time - like us all.  Living long and well they tell us is achievable with  good diet and regular exercise.  The man on the television last night tried to convince me that eating a plant based diet and restricting calories will get me to an even older age whilst still retaining a pulse.  Could be true but I'm struggling to come up with a meal for dinner let alone a lifestyle change to herbivore.  My husband's enthusiasm for salad is as limp as the leaves that come out of the bag and when I play word association with carrot, I get cake.  I usually take most diet advice with a grain of salt  - literally, and before I put it on my fish and chips, and stick with what I know to be right.  That one saying that has stood the test of time, all things in moderation because living on leaves is going to make old age seem a hellish long time indeed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Call the decorator, it's Christmas.

Six weeks until Christmas she says on the early morning telly.  Six weeks.  I drop my concentration whilst attending to my cereal.  Six weeks seems awfully short.  Is she sure?  Did we miss a week or two?  Come November the pace seems to quicken as we slide into another season of merry. There's a list.  Of food, and presents, and wrapping and more lists of ingredients and invites that are popping into my head at the far too early hours.  Do they all have to be at the same time?  The supermarket car park starts to fill a little earlier than usual and the boxes of nothing much get loaded into the trolley in case whatserface turns up with a box of nothing special too.  Something happens from October to November that puts people into a spending spin.  The stores are shamelessly displaying the must haves like the gingerbread house kit that supplies you with not much more than a cutting tool for the frame and a piping bag for the cement leaving you to project manage your own grand design of baked biscuit building.  The magazines gives us styling guidance on interior decorating with eclectic here and strategically placed over there.  Your mantle piece should be overflowing with your own crafted antique doily bunting and tiny reindeer made of twigs from your acres of land, your tree adorned with hand made angels made from wooden pegs and French linen.  All very rustic but costs more than a full trolley at Santa's Kingdom warehouse down the road.  Six weeks they say, six weeks.

Friday, November 8, 2013


My kitchen doesn't look like Nigella Lawson's.  Her pantry would probably be closer in size.  Size matters aside, I believe I've become so accustomed to television cooking programs I feel somewhat obliged to provide a running commentary on my methods and ingredients to my audience of one (pictured).  I like to explain the history of my dishes, cooking dishes that are so old they're expecting me to chop wood to heat up the oven.  I take questions from my audience..."Can I substitute a ping pong ball if I don't have an egg?  No, pay attention". Audience lost I continue on with my unlabelled containers of suspect use-by dates, rusting tins and saucepans that look like they've survived Chernobyl.  But the joy of cooking is more about producing something made with love - even if the audience has a short attention span.  Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Career change

You often read about people who have decided to make a major career change and take on something completely different.  I think this used to be called retirement.  As we go through the many phases of our lives our interests change as do our motivations.  The desire to be a rock star hopefully fades as the years pass by as the thought of staying up until the wee hours only makes us feel like a bit of a lie down.  Forging a new career is difficult enough but knowing what you really want to do is even harder.  After years of dedicating yourself to a sort of chosen career path you begin to notice your list of applicable skills disappearing faster than plate a chocolate royals.  Your 70 words per minute error less typing is no longer listed in the job criteria let alone the opportunity to brag about your perfected Pitman's (shorthand).  Having myself been turfed out of the typing pool only to wade into a word processing position the redundancy axe was soon on my proficient Word Perfect tail.  Another skill gone along with attention to detail, mature approach and personal presentation skills - and yes I still wear hosiery.  So as mature age workers we look at the new careers that have evolved.  I'm just not sure exactly what it is that some of them actually do...or why.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Melbourne Cup run and staggered home

If I ever felt like saying to my husband, let's go somewhere and judge people there would be no better place than Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day.  A public holiday for those in the state and some cabana and cheese crackers, and at least three minutes away from the desk for the rest of the country.  With over 100,000 people in attendance the opportunity to watch - no make that stare is plentiful.  Judgements are easy as tight dresses and squashed in cleavage still make an appearance like an unpopular tuna and prune canape that keeps circulating the party alongside beautifully tailored outfits, some with heels on shoes so high it appeared the wearer was learning to walk for the first time.  Head pieces were unique, artfully constructed and perfect in matching.  Some, particularly on the tall girls could pick up digital radio stations in certain sections of the course.  But at the end of the day, assuming some actually got there, the worst sight is those who let themselves get a little too untidy.  And the older the participant, the untidier it looks for some reason.  Not a case of, you're old enough to know better but yes, well that's it actually. Although one shouldn't judge others....but geez Louise it sure is a hoot sometimes.  Happy post Cup Day all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Australian of the Year 2013 and national president of Alzheimer's Australia, Ita Buttrose wrote recently "When computers first came into the publishing business, we were all retrained on the job and it was no big deal."  Now as far as on the job training goes you'd be lucky if they showed you where the toilets were.  On the job training has pretty much disappeared from today's workplace.  They want the painfully described ability to 'hit the ground running' ie.,running not shuffling or are recruiting for the right cultural fit - again, what's with the fitness?  All sufficiently grey criteria sometimes used to weed out the older and wiser.  Recruitment agents will tell you it's the client's request which proves even more difficult to know exactly whom is tipping weed killer on resumes showing a career history of more than 2 pages.  Matching like for like is a common habit of hiring managers who know no more than putting square peg into square hole.  They read articles on social media that say hire the personality first.  So much more difficult for the manager when the perfect personality didn't work out, sorry mate.  We see hiring organisations sprouting claims of equal opportunity compliance but this doesn't go far enough.  Perhaps if we saw 'Mature Age Workers are encouraged to apply' placed on job advertisements we might begin to see some change.  Until then perhaps our resumes should read, able to hit the ground when running but would prefer not to.

Friday, November 1, 2013

You're Sensational

Max (pictured) caught a mouse.  A baby rat we think.  We've had a few around lately.  We just hope angry momma bear don't come looking for him! This was a major achievement for Max.  You could tell he was dead proud.  So proud in fact he brought it in to prove it.  We still don't have any real evidence that he was the sole perpetrator in the killing of this creature, it's just, shall we say, not high on his capability list.  Not as much as his ever so clever Cocker Spaniel brother Bennie.  Bennie was best in class and tells everyone he meets.  "Hi I'm Bennie, best in class, want to see me drop, sit, hi I'm Bennie".  Max not so much.  He was home schooled.  And we weren't home much.  Not that he worries.  He's big on bugs, fast on spiders, public enemy number one to flies, he shares his dinner with the pigeons  - and he likes Grace Kelly.  He knows he's sensational. I don't need to tell him.