Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Reboot

It’s been a long time between posts and I’m thinking that it’s time to officially come out and say it.

Out loud.

Even though it’s been what? 

Counting on fingers here…

HIT ME WITH A WET MACKEREL; 3 years and 10 months sans-spouse!?   

You’ve got to be kidding me?

I guess time also flies when you’re squabbling and bending the ears of very expensive lawyers.

Well it wasn’t all squabbling, but without getting into the nitty gritty, my life-re-balancing act has definitely taken more time than I would have imagined.  Then throw a full time job into the mix and everything tilts precariously sideways again.

<Standing up hand on heart> ‘My name is Suzy Mac and I’m a single parent.’

OK it’s not Alcoholics Anonymous, more like un-Married with Children anonymous.

Not that I’m complaining: no sireee. 

I know how to count my blessings.

This work gig was a long time coming and as flexible as full time employment can get. And let’s face it, financial independence is nothing to be sneezed at (especially after all those legal retainers) for a spasmodically working single mother.

Also, thankfully, now I have She-Who-Used-To-Worship Pink’s daddy back as my wingman; so there’s a backup plan to school drop-offs and pickups versus truly hideous traffic.

I also get time off for good behaviour which is as necessary as it is bittersweet. 
Our co-parenting arrangements meant that two nights out of each week Pinkster is at her dad’s place. As two of those nights, every fortnight, land on a weekend I can ‘go out’ on the town and reboot my social existence too.

But the first childless nights were awful.

Home Alone.

It’s kind of Empty Nest Syndrome come 10-12 years too early’.  I’ve never been separated from Pinkster before, bar one short hospital stay. 
But that empty bed, without the tiny sleeping face to stroke and kiss, was pretty hard to take. 
The first few weekends, Orange Dog and I were both despondent and lost, wandering around our home in deafening silence. 

I had to develop coping strategies that involved a lot of exercise, which agreed with both the dog and my waistline.

It’s better now; I’m in a better place, having managed to poke a proverbial paperclip into my factory reset, I’m practically back to the store version of myself.
Just 15 years older (shhhhh).

Reboot sanity – tick

Reboot career – tick

Reboot physical self – tick:  Thanks to this terrific weight-loss programme called ‘divorce’, great genes and a little botox.

Reboot social life – (post plethora of work Christmas parties) another tick

Reboot self – well that’s still a work in progress but certainly closer to the tick than the cross.

So henceforth, this blog will have more of a Perfectly Imperfect Single Parenting slant - now I’ve finally come out of the closet.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cry Babies

This is the reason why I actively discourage my child from taking up the Violin:

Last week she went to bed almost sobbing.
Was it a scary movie?
A 'no you can not eat an Oreo on the way to bed', tantrum?
None of the above.

We'd stumbled across a U-Tube Reef Conservation advertisement that used the romantic aria from the third act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca and she started to cry.

As the ad vanished, as only ads on U-Tube can, she begged me to find the beautiful music again; "it's Erik's from Happy Feet Two mummy." she sobbed

So I found Pavarotti singing E lucevan le stelle and the tears continued to roll. Such a sensitive little thing.  Wonder where she gets that from?

OK so she thinks Puccini is a penguin thing; That's not the point.  Village Roadshow Pictures are nurturing an appreciation for the beauty of opera in my eight year old. 
I cant see any harm in that at all.

But still she asks about violin lessons and we joke about the potential embarrassment during concerts where her mother is causing a scene sobbing loudly,  openly. Probably even beating my fists on the floor wailing; as I do when I watch sad movies or even TV commercials for the RSPCA.

She likes the imagery- it makes her laugh because I really am a sook over some seriously random things, but mostly violins, cellos and opera.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blythe Spirit

I finally got to use my beautiful antique coffee grinder.
But not in the way you might think.
Well I have a Nespresso machine so why would I grind beans?

No grinding.
Just covered in glue and clamps, trying to hold a small fragile body together while I found a safe place for her to reside for the next 48 hours.

Ironically the last post she starred in was called Let it Go but this time letting go was not an option since the poor thing was going to pieces. so that beautiful piece of antiquity was (a) the closest thing I could reach and (b) actually perfect.

Blythe was born in 1971 and she'd been in storage for long years. Until In the Tate Modern Gallery I found a photographic book by US photographer Gina Garan, filled with her images.

When I got back home, I trawled the attic until I found her and lifted her gently, proudly out of the suitcase.
Whereupon she fell apart.
Her bum broke in half, her legs fell off and her head too, though not in that order.
After pricing body parts online (on a Japanese collectors site), I took her to the Dolls Hospital.
She returned some months later with her head bogged up with epoxy resin and a metal shank, and a big ugly industrial staple in between her legs.
And the first time Pinkster tried playing with her, her left leg fell off.  Eventually her head fell off again too.
So poor Blythe went back in storage, in a too-hard basket, and every time Gina Garan's coffee table book came out Pinkster got sad all over again.

So this is how these school holidays I came to use an antique coffee grinder as makeshift hospital equipment. 
This is also how I came to the realization that specialized plastics glues are NOT useful for mending dolls.
all plastics? yeah right.

I was also surprised at the Dolls Hospital approach of stuffing a metal pin up Blythe's neck then bogging it up with with glue, when there are two screws at the back of her head so her head can be taken apart.  Incidentally her little broken neck was rattling round inside her head and this was the easiest part to reattach, admittedly using their metal pin down the hollow center of her neck.

So with Selly's Liquid Nails, some modifications to her leg joints and around 52 hours in two clamps produced this result:

To think I used to create a craft post every week.. where did I find the time?

Since it's been a while since I hit the sewing machine and Pinkster has suffered the loss of her Blythe twice now, I used the Simplicity pattern below and made her a new outfit to celebrate her rebirth.

Friday, June 24, 2016

UFO: Unidentified Fetid Object

As we drag our weary arses towards the end of another term...

How was it that at the beginning of this term Pinkster and I were walking to school every day and we were not just on time, but early most days?

And now we're just making it before the bell, and sometimes not and that's with me driving the whole 980 meters?

Why are we so disorganized with homework all of a sudden? why do I have to lever her fingers off the iPad with growing frequency?

Why is it I cannot leave my child watching Horrible Histories so I can get some work done in my office, without coming down to the living room 30 minutes later to find it's been hit by a craft tornado?
Scissors, paper, string and googly eyes are sticky taped to everything. The living room rug has become a storage facility.


Phyllis Diller once said: "cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing"

Truer words were never spoken.
In my usual post-child's-bedtime-clear-up,  that would be the one completed around two hours after the craft tsunami clear-up, I was digging the remote control and some playing cards out from where they had been sat-squashed behind the sofa cushions.

I not only found my long missing nail clippers, the ones that actually cut, rather than chew off fingernails, and I found this UFO (Unidentified Fetid Object) pictured above (and in part below).

I couldn't tell what is was, without my reading glasses and I couldn't identify it by touch. It was just a mass of black stringy crispiness.

See if you can guess from this next picture:

Unidentified Fetid Object
I always thought I was quite a good housekeeper.
I'm fairly fussy; or so I thought.
And I swear I only had all the seat cushions off the sofa to wash their covers a couple of weeks ago.

Still there it was, with a number of other delights, most of them teeny tiny toys - the sort that get Hoovered up when someone smaller than myself mistakes the living room rug for a storage receptacle.

I'm now blaming everything on End of School Term:

The melt-downs  (her's and mine),
the tardiness,  (lets not name and shame on this one)
the inability to get out of bed  (I only wish it were her's),
the growing addiction to mind-numbing distractions  (her's with that bloody iPad)
the increasing desire for alcohol   (definitely mine - she's going heavier on the milk though)
the nagging (me mostly, but she'll put in a good effort the minute I answer the phone)
the short fuses unleashed upon the pets  (her's more than mine - except when I'm trying to work and the cat insists on taking a stroll across my keyboard- why cant she just curl up on the printer?)

So a week off end of term I feel as always like the wheels are coming loose on our family cart.
However, considering we drive past so many parents walking their children, and only halfway up the hill, to school on those very late morning's - I know its not just me pushing the pain barrier.

How is end of term working out for you?  
Leave me some comments to let me know I'm not the only one going mad - please?

leaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing
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Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
Read more at:
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. Phyllis Diller
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Heimlich Anyone?

Two weeks back I almost died.

First let me pre-empt this sorry tale with a run down on my preoccupation with health & longevity.

For years I've read all I can about health. I'm a big fan of healthy diets, which don't include KFC or Mackers, but somehow I manage to make excuses. 

I'm heavily into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and I have the impossible offspring to prove its efficiency. I take lots of Chinese herbs and other supplements.

I see a Doctor who specializes in Integrated Medicine: which means he sends out for blood tests every six months and prescribes supplements and tailor made pills from a compounding pharmacy.

The result is that I stay young(ish), slim and healthy despite my love of a glass or two of wine and the, probably too frequent, indulgences from Colonel Sander's kitchen and the Golden Arches.

TCM takes care of my liver, digestive and immune systems and Dr Integrated gives me sips from the fountain of youth.

That I should collapse to the floor gasping for breath with a multi vitamin pill lodged firmly over my windpipe; well surely that defines the term Irony.  You might look Irony up in the dictionary and find a picture of me on all fours in my dining room hands at my throat turning blue. Child at the table playing with an iPad..

OK maybe not.

But they were the longest 60 seconds of my life, there on the floor literally gasping to draw breath.

I was making some really odd noises too trying to suck air past the obstruction. That continual squeaking, sound you can make with an inflated balloon when you pinch the open end between your fingers to let the air out slowly? Yeah like that.

She-who-worships-pink, didn't look up from her iPad until The Orange Dog leaped to his feet whining in a panic and began dancing around me wall eyed with his tail planted between his butt cheeks.  "the food pourer is dying!! the food pourer is dying!!"

The second irony of this story is that Pinkster and I make jokes about the Heimlich maneuver all the time. We are forever pretending to perform it on inanimate objects, on each other, sometimes the pets too.  It's one of our  weird private joke things, like when we put our faces together so close that we can only see a single eye on each others face and we shout in unison: 'Mike Wazowski!'

But in reality, we don't really have a clue when it comes to performing an effective Heimlich Maneuver and I don't think for one minute that, a smallish eight year old would have the strength or stature to make that work even with a full grasp of the proper technique.  

These were some of my panicked thoughts during that long sixty seconds.

With the Orange Dog having a conniption, Pinkster finally reacted: she rushed about the room with her arms waving and yelling "Get the puffer! Get the puffer!" to no one in particular. 

Not asthma honey, mummy's choking on a vitamin pill.

I can laugh about it now, because I'm alive (obviously) to tell the tale.  I managed to drag just a little air past the obstruction, enough to cough and dislodge the pill  which was roughly the size of suppository.

Bravely I took some water and swallowed it again, down the right pipe. 
Hey, waste not want not: after all vitamins are good for you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Flat-Pack Assembly Hell

It is summer in Sydney, it's hot and humid and everyone is wearing shorts.
Except for me.
I'm wearing jeans to cover the bruises and scratches from my latest extreme makeover...

Here's a snippet of related bedtime conversation last week;

"Mummy can you read me a bed-time story?"
"Sorry Darling, Not tonight;  I have to go on U-Tube to find out how to lay floorboards."
"Oh yeah. OK mummy, goodnight."
"Goodnight sweetie; Love you"
"Love you to the moon."

It was time for Pinkster to go into a bigger bed and she wanted a loft bed, but I just couldn't bring myself to build something that permanent over, God knows how old and how dust mite infested, carpet.  I think the carpet is probably 20 years old. It's wearing OK but it's wool and she's allergic to that (or maybe its dust mite population).

So I pulled up a corner of the carpet and checked out the boards- they looked quite alright and I decided- it's time for bare boards.

But you never know do you until all the carpet is up, just what sort of mess you're getting yourself into. I'd trawled U-Tube for video tutorials of sanding floor boards one evening when I'd gotten just half the carpet up.

Later I discover there appears to be a lack of U-Tube tutorials dealing with holes, huge gaps and badly patched areas using boards that don't come close to resembling the originals.

And that, my friends, is how I came to lay my first floating laminate floor.
I wont go into the grim details, but after two days my legs were not pretty. Big yellow and purple bruises, nail scratches, and my hands didn't fare any better.  And this was all before I could get down to the nitty gritty of the bed building project.

The seven boxes of bed had resided for two weeks in my guest room where myself, a dear friend and a trolley with flat tires, had wrestled them in.

The journey home from the bed store was interesting; just because the Toyota can fit what feels like 200 kilos of flat-packed furniture in it, doesn't mean it should. I don't know if the suspension will forgive me but I know the auto-transmission wont.

The next fun part in Project New Bedroom was getting all the contents of these boxes, a couple of them bigger than me and most of them heavier, upstairs.
My narrow staircase.
My very steep, narrow staircase.
The very stairs that thwarted all attempts, a few weeks ago, at moving any of my armchairs to the second floor.

The day I broke my back
So I broke my back again and added some more rainbow colors to my legs.

The instructions; when I found them (was that in box five or six?) said this flat pack assembly will take 60 minutes and two people. 

I was at it all day. I'm used to IKEA flat-pack instructions, so I thought; I'll manage this, I'm no stranger to building stuff - I can follow instructions.." and there I was in Flat Pack assembly hell for two days.

IKEA instructions identify all the pieces involved. These were not IKEA instructions.
Pieces were not marked.

Diagrams of pieces often didn't show them entirely, severely limiting the possibility of telling them apart from the many similar pieces.

Diagrams of fully assembled items didn't come close to showing what you were building.

The list of hardware had all those items depicted and numbered in the glossary, but the part numbers changed throughout the instructions.

The pages of the instruction booklet didn't even run consecutively ie: 1,2,3,4,5,7,6,10,9,8
Each box, sometimes two boxes, were supposed to contain all parts of a particular section, but it's as though some smaller bits got left out so they were hidden at the bottom of the packaging of other non-related components.

So yes it took two full days with many calls, hand-holding and advice given by my local friendly experts and all round nice guys at Creative Space Constructions. I also made a couple of trips to the hardware store for extra random screws, bolts and more advice (I try to share the wear).

If you can build this - you can build absolutely anything!
And after I put my girl to bed for her first night in her new Sigma Midi Loft bed, I dragged my weary arse downstairs to clear the guest room of a mountain of cardboard and I filled five extra large garden bags with the Styrofoam packing I broke up into little pieces. When it came to dealing with the teeny tiny balls of Styrofoam I discovered my Dyson vacuum had died an untimely death.

The next morning, She-Who-Used-To-Worship-Pink&Now-Worships-Animal-Prints, asked me when I would make her leopard print doona and pillowcase.

I would blitz this IKEA interview
Thanks to IKEA flat pack assembly service for the awesome photos - you feel my pain clearly!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


High roller

Dogs, like children, can really take you out of yourself, show you a lighter side of any situation. On the other hand they can drag you out of peaceful Zen moments so abruptly, leaving you pissed off, drenched in shampoo and baking soda, wondering what you did to deserve the affront....

We were on the waterfront Orange Dog and I, taking a moment in the park on a rare Child-free Saturday afternoon. 

I was walking back to the stairs when I realised my shadow was no longer attached to my leg. I looked around and there he was by the water, on his back, those long orange legs kicking joyfully into the air, his body flipping from side to side.   

I forget how much he loves a good roll in the grass. We don’t have grass in our garden.
As we came up to the street a cute guy smiled at us, Orange Dog smiled back and promptly attached himself to his new friend.   
The guy’s smile sort of tumbled off his face and he began walking faster. 
Meanwhile, I was wondering, what’s that smell?   
I stopped and checked under my runners. 
Nope, nothing there.
But there it was again, pwarrrh!   
What was that?! 
Smelled like a corpse. 
A very old corpse.

By the time we got home, I had him leashed - to quarantine him from humans. 
I tied his leash to the car port pillar and grabbed the hose.   
I cursed him and I blasted him with cold water, and the smell of rancid fish guts (could have been rat too I guess) began to fill the front garden.

After half a bottle of shampoo, and a couple of cups of baking soda, blasted him again withthee hose before I rubbing the monster down with a towel. 
Still the rancid smell of rotting flesh still hit my nostrils. 
I pulled off his leather collar,sniffed, almost fainted, and threw that in the washer with the towels for a thorough fumigating.
I sniffed his neck, my nostrils protested again so I raided the bathroom cabinet.

Issey Miyake did the trick. I know I had a big bottle of CK One in there somewhere.
He was one miserable individual as was I when I went to the front garden only to be overwhelmed by Rancid fish guts again. No way was I going to empty a bottle of L’eau D’Issey onto my pavers, so I shut the door and prayed for more rain (there’s a first).   
Meanwhile the Orange stinker was trying, for all he was worth, to bury his snout in his bed .    
‘Serves you right, you creep’ I told him.

White vinegar was always my de-stink go to, but this situation, this level of utterly devastating and hair curling stench was way beyond vinegar. 

Later on an emergency food run to the pet store I thought, I wonder…. And there, to my utter amazement, (or maybe not) I found a Pet Perfume aisle. (!!!!) OK I wasn’t all that shocked. What was shocking were the prices… the first one I picked up was just under $20 for 100ml of something that smelled like Brut33!

Pet perfume can cost more than humans'

I did the math. That’s the price Chemist Warehouse sells Calvin Klein’s CK One/ per 100ml for and to say that smells way better is a gross understatement. I didn’t need to open the bottle; my frightened furperson was backingup as soon as I pulled it off the shelf.
‘I wouldn’t do that to you, big boy,even humans shouldnt smell like that.’

Most of the Canine Cologne’s smelled like the stuff middle-aged letches marinated in;  the kind of aftershaves that send you into coughing fits in post office queues, or just leave you with a spectacular headache from minimal exposure.

I chose one with a subtle fragrance with coat conditioner in it. It was mid-range at $15 per 100ml.  If it doesn’t live up to its promises of deodorising, non-irritant and coat conditioning, I will buy CK One next time. 

At least this one gives some of its profits to the RSPCA. I like that.

Doggy Day Spa...