Cleaning is educational

I have thrown the gauntlet at myself. A long standing item on my ‘To Do’ list has been the culling and reorganisation of my possessions. The plan is to only keep the items I love. Any items that don’t make the cut will be offered to others, with any rejects being donated to charity.

[Side note: Sure, I could skip the step of offering items to friends and family and just donate all of my cast offs to charity. If I can make someone I care about feel a little extra fabulous by giving them something I used to love, and if the items don’t end up in the garbage, surely it’s a positive outcome? I donate to many charities throughout the year. I don’t think I’m being too harsh by refraining from dumping things off at the local op shop immediately. If you think I am, then take the shirt off your back and donate it immediately!]

Hidden in the disarray was a bundle of forgotten currency. Surprise savings are always a welcome find. Nestled in amongst the treasure is a $100 note. A few years ago, R received a very generous gift from his grandmother. R kindly gave me one of the notes which (up until recently) I saved in secret, so that he could put it towards his first house deposit. It felt like a nice way of making sure that such a kind gesture from a remarkable lady would always be remembered. Now that R knows, he agrees.

Cleaning can also be educational. For instance, I have learned that on the 24th of October, 2008 at 5.20PM, I purchased powder room paper, peanut butter, orange juice (with pulp) and a free range chicken for a total of $26.77. I was served by Alex at register two, and paid 54 cents GST. R and I had arrived home from Paris a few days earlier and were craving rotisserie chicken. [Yes, more brackets – Little glass cased rotisseries are set up on the footpaths showcasing delicious smelling chickens and potatoes. I’m not an enthusiastic meat eater, however would gladly head back to Paris to sample the dancing poulet roti!]

I wonder what else I will stumble upon.

Degrees of freedom

Oh my. A statistics joke. I’m putting myself on notice.

Things I am looking forward to in the post-stats-exam world:
– Having the luxury of leisure time in place of bouts of procrastination intensive study
– Having the time to re-think my time management strategies
– De-cluttering and re-organising. The perpetual Lost and Found style of possession management is getting old.
– Using hyphens > subtraction symbols
– Catching up with friends
– Overcoming a personal hurdle. The thought of studying this subject was enough to send me into such a state of anxiety that I would feel physically ill. With the support of a passionate, empathetic and very patient teacher, I now have a confidence in my ability that I thought impossible. That said, the exam is still making me nervous, I just haven’t gone completely bat shit crazy yet. There’s still time.

This list will grow.

06.06.10:

– I am also looking forward to no longer dreaming about ANOVA summary tables, Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference test, multiple regression analysis and Eta-squared. Study on a Saturday night, followed by dreams of statistics is only a smidge up from heading to the infamous seedy night club near by on my list of preferred weekend activities.
– In addition, I’m looking forward to doing things I like. It will be nice to have a brief respite before the next onslaught of study. I miss first year! I was so foot loose and fancy free. It was so much easier.
– I’m looking forward to studying a subject which will allow me to use my writing skills.
– Reading! I will have time to read for enjoyment!

07.06.10:

– I’m also looking forward to a break from procrastinating. It can be such hard work.

The Glad Game – The polyester edition

*Cough, splutter, comedic cacophony*

<Didn’t work on the focus group either. Moving on…>

Ladies and gentlemen of the void of nothingness, let’s play the Glad Game!

*Deep breath*

* I am glad that I have socks, despite them being absent from my feet. They’re cute socks. They have little panda heads on them. Don’t tell PETA.

* I am glad that I have made some (I use the term VERY lightly) progress on my assignment.

* I am glad that I had a lovely afternoon.

* I am glad that R and I have a good balance of shared interests and unshared interests to keep things interesting. For example, we share an interest in photography and music. Conversely, I’m a shoe enthusiast and he is not. It’s a match made in myth.

* I am glad that I have a home, resources, fulfillment, people to care about and people to care about me.

* I am glad that (for the most part) I don’t take myself too seriously. I just need to stop talking to myself.

* I am glad that no one really reads this, or I’d probably be in a spot of bother by now.

* I am glad that the more I play this game, the better I feel. (Although, and I don’t mean to sound un-glad; I do still have cold feet)

* I am glad that I am not really a mutant sea wench.

* I am glad to live on this land mass. The inhabitants are far from perfect, but they’re alright.

* I am glad that to date, I have not met JJ at the pit toilet along the Golden Highway. AHHHH! Head on a stick!

* I am glad that I have this game to play.

& so she bored them to tears.

In lieu of a proper post, the following sentences document the life and times of a non-event.

* I desperately want a non-USB record player.

* I should not have eaten fish for lunch.

* K-2CommonNames hasn’t been online all day. Should I be concerned?

* The probability of statistics lectures putting me into a boredom induced coma and/or an anxiety spin is significant to the level of p <.001.

* I love that R is into photography, too (as long as I am not the subject).

* Avoiding gluten seems to have “cured what ails” me. In addition to settling digestion, a life-long skin irritation also seems to be improving. Interesting.

* While I am glad that I seem to have determined the cause of some health problems, it is unfortunate that I now want to eat a loaf of bread covered in flaky pastry, dusted with flour, served with lasagna and a side of pie.

* It frustrates me that some chefs use ‘wheaten corn flour’ instead of ‘corn flour’. I wanted a toffee apple! (Healthy? No. Possible impulse buy? Yes. Did I actually buy it, though? No.)

* I occasionally worry that people may think that I am trying to be a trendoid by avoiding gluten.

* It’s crap that over the last few years, doctors have told me to avoid gluten, then that gluten isn’t an issue, then to avoid gluten, then that gluten isn’t an issue, then to avoid gluten. ARGH! That said, this current attempt has been the most successful. I think the symptom phase played a part in the success or failure of each trial.

* Stationery stores are fun. The blank pages have so much potential.

* I keep dreaming about Stargate. Yeah, I know. LAME! A dear friend who shall remain anonymous – KENBOX – abused his mystical powers as a Therapist to MAKE me watch it. Ten seasons and two spin offs later, I am now re-watching it. As a result, I have found myself dreaming of ridiculous things, such as:

– RDA and the dude who plays Dr Lee impersonating R and T respectively (a friend who could be mistaken for a style of food, not Teal’c. Don’t take that in a cannibalistic way). Faux’Neill walks into a bar, to find “Dr Lee” drinking copious amounts of beer alone. Concerned, Faux’Neill enquires about the reason for said drinking. Dr Lee replies that he is drinking for “research”. Faux’Neill asks “If this is for research, shouldn’t the beer be free?”

– After watching the two part season 8 finale (the episode in which Daniel Jackson wears the bad Hugh-Grant wig), I dreamt that Daniel Jackson had potentially world-ending dandruff.

– Last night Samantha Carter helped me wire a calculator up to a car battery.

* My rather fluffy cat fell asleep on a solid chocolate Easter egg. Said egg melted, and Orange Mocha Frappuccino is now chocolate coated.

* I’ve had the song ‘Caligulove’ by Them Crooked Vultures stuck in my head for four days. Now it’s being sung by Bowie.

* RDA is kind of pretty, and I can say that, because there are moments when R reminds me a little of RDA. Don’t think about that too much. The mullet wig is safe on the hat rack.

* Speaking of racks, might I ask why old women seem to be fascinated by my non-moobs? Even other people have noticed the stares. Sorry ladies, I’m taken.

* It all comes down to gravity.

* My live-in Tim Gunn-wannabe style commentator thinks that my cute hat is a bit too Michael Jackson.

* Children scare me.

* Monkeys are cool and all, but I don’t think the cats would welcome one into the home.

* I hope you didn’t think that this would be a meaningful or carefully constructed offering. My brain is mush.

* Sometimes I day dream about taking photos and writing stories. Ebay sells everything but talent.

* Other times I day dream about sleeping.

* Sometimes I also night dream about sleeping, which is frustrating.

* A lady in the kitchen at the office told me that eating bread results in her becoming flatulent… while buttering toast. EVACUATE.

* I really like sparkling apple juice.

* Jacques le Couteau is cute.

* My laptop charger seems to have failed. This is the second one to do so. It just doesn’t!

* During my first (and to date, only) pedicure, I almost kicked the pedicurist in the face. Sophistican’t.

* I bared my arms in public for approximately three minutes in the name of fashion (or rather fashion acquisition).

* Apparently my top with frilly cap sleeves makes me look “odd” when I wear a cardigan over it. I have scoliosis. I’m defective. I can’t help it!

* I’ve been summoned to the kitchen. Oh, the bliss of domestic duties.

Happy Saturday.

Agnes S.

Oh, and P.S. the above was a mid-stream of consciousness creation. Don’t critique it too harshly.

A dinner with a twist

After recovering from Psychosmas for another year, we were onto the next phase of celebration in December: The Annual Aging Ceremony of Agnes Stone

The night before, we met with the Stones. Unfortunately Mick and Keith couldn’t make it, so I had to make do with my relatives (I love you, too. Honestly. No, seriously, I do. Maybe even more than I love Mick and Keith. Probably not though). We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the restaurant pays homage to Italian food a few nights a week, and that we would be lucky enough to sample their attempts at pasta and pizza for less than $10 each. Party time. Excellent.

We shared laughs, food and stories of Christmas: The Aftermath (the follow up to Christmas by Calendar, and Christmas by Arrangement). I received generous gifts of money (for shopping in Melbourne) and some very cool shoes that do not look like they are made out of checker plate. I put them on at the restaurant, and managed to walk from the table to the bar… On the second trip, I mistreated my ankle. It wasn’t quite the twist my cocktail called for.

We wished each other pre-emptive Happy New Years, and said good bye with bloated bellies and smiles on our faces.

I said good bye to a wrinkle-free face when I got home.

Christmas by Arrangement

After a relaxing Boxing Day, we woke early to get ready to celebrate Christmas – The Sequel. This time, we only had one destination to get to, and it was an exciting day: It would be the first Christmas with the newest addition to the family.

We had loaded the car with presents and were on our way. We arrived later than planned. It’s a ‘Christmas tradition’, not a social flaw!

We were greeted with well wishes and coffee. We excitedly waited for the eldest son to arrive after retrieving forgotten gifts. In the meantime, we shared stories of Christmas – By Calendar and ate shortbread.

The gift giving commenced – The pile of discarded paper quickly turning into a mass rivaling Mount Everest. Beautiful books, a shiny new camera, some thoughtfully selected ballerinas and delicious home made fudge. The Gift du Jour was definitely an inflatable, remote controlled, “moo”-ing reindeer moose.

Exhausted from exchanging presents and thanks, we sat down to eat. For hours. Having skipped breakfast, the glasses of bubbly earlier on had left me feeling light headed. After a few mouthfuls, we sampled the Redman 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon. Delicious. This was followed by more food, and a glass of 12 year old Peterson’s champagne. This was one of the most sublime luncheons I’ve attended in some time! Pavlova and pudding rounded off the indulgent meal.

Feeling fizzy from the champagne and sugar high, we went outside to watch the newly acquired remote controlled helicopter (sadly not inflatable) meet it’s inevitable doom. I watched some spectacular frisbee moves.

We went back inside to play the Spicks and Specks board game. We laughed, looked confused and encouraged those brave enough to sing.

Feeling worn out after such a fun day, we wished everyone well and made the trip home.

Flashback

 

If it’s okay for the day time soaps to do it, then surely a pseudonym can too.

Prior to Real Christmas, we celebrated Flipmas in our household. Flipmas is a celebration balancing alternative sensibilities with good hygiene. It shuns the commerical notions of Christmas and is an opportunity to catch up with friends and relax prior to diving head first into Psychosmas (Christmas craziness – It’s a real psychological term. I read it in one of my text books… it’s written in hand writing suspiciously similar to my own).

‘Flip’ of course is an exclamation, adding the required festivity to the event. It is one of those multi-purpose words – For example: “Flip! I’m so excited about Christmas”, or “FLIP! I’m going to FLIPPING FLIP the next FLIP I see FLIPPING FLIPPING”. Given that ‘Flip’ is such a versatile word, Flipmas embraces people of all cultures, beliefs, shoe sizes and genres.

After spending weeks painting, building, cleaning, mowing, sweating, wishing for air conditioning, organising and consulting Martha; the day finally arrived.

A hostage managed to use the festive mood to his advantage, and briefly escaped. His commitment to freedom was most clearly demonstrated when he rejected a food bribe. After gracefully tackling him while uttering unmentionables, he was returned to captivity his sanctuary.

We exchanged gifts, then sat outside, laughed, ate and drank the night away. It was a great night of eventual relaxation and helped replenish the sanity required to deal with the imminent craziness.

Thank you to all in attendance.

Christmas by Calendar

It was an early start. After only a few hours of fitful rest, we woke up to finish organising the last minute things. We exchanged gifts. I received the key to the Paris of champagne induced day dreams.

We were ready to commence Phase One of Five on our itinerary.

Our first stop was a visit to a group of favourite people who, coincidentally, are related to R. The car was packed with parcels and Plan B. We pressed ‘Play’ on the stereo, and rode away from the curb. We only made it around the corner when a loud tapping convinced us to stop the car and adjust the contents. No, we weren’t acting out any human trafficking scenarios. On we went. There was little traffic. We were discussing the merits of drummers when we were stopped at an intersection. We were following a little red car. The car turned left, into the cemetery. I couldn’t breathe. I was covered in goose bumps and I burst into silent, uncontrollable tears. All I could think about was loneliness, sorrow, longing – emotions amplified at such a time of year. I hope he had some where else to go, other people to care for him. Hugs to share and laughter to chuckle. At the very least, while you’ll never know it, my thoughts are with you.

I composed myself. We were twenty minutes late. We shared our outrage at money-hungry property developers and their penchant for stealing The Serenity.

It was Christmas Day on the calendar, but Christmas would not come here for another two days. ‘Next year, I’ll buy you a bigger foyer for Christmas’. We shared toast, banana anecdotes and good wishes. We would be back again soon.

Now forty minutes late, we were onto Phase Two. My Family – Part One. We wished each other a ‘Merry Christmas’ and sat in the sun, enjoying the cooler air. Despite its uncertain future, the pudding eventuated and arrived safely. We took turns giving gifts. The inflatable guitar may have been Gift of the Day. We listened to the Disney Christmas record – A long standing Christmas tradition, one of the few remaining unchanged.

The pride I feel for my family is at times overwhelming. The new addition to the drive way, a symbol of hard work and good things to come. A kind hearted, hand made gift tickled my eyes with tears. We’d all turned out okay. Even the aging rock star with the yellow mohawk.

We said hurried good byes – We were overdue for Phase Three. Back in the car. My Family – Part Two. The thought of our arrival was stress inducing – Last time we saw my Grandfather, he had been in the best health he had been for a long time. This year, things would be different. He had only recently convinced the doctors to let him out of the hospital for Christmas. A renowned joker and talented teller of tales, he is growing ever softer. I stopped myself from crying for a third round when he started upon our entrance to the room. For many reasons, our visits are infrequent. Tears have become part of the new greeting. And the farewell. And are often part of the interlude. He looks different. He still makes us laugh. The sense of simultaneous familiarity and confusion continue during this Phase – It would prove to be a theme throughout the day. Together, they finished each others’ sentences, rolled their eyes at each other and told us stories. We said good bye. I refuse to believe that it will be the last time.

Phase Four. Now well over an hour behind schedule, Phase Four was proceeded by Phase Oh-no-we-forgot-stuff. After quickly returning home, we were on our way again. A late night made sleep involuntary. Waking with a start, I realised we had gone too far! A new tradition – Finding elaborate ways to arrive at a known location. After a panicked phone call, we were back on track. Thank you, Inventor of GPS-like devices.

Finally we arrived. Nearly two hours late. Tradition haunted us with the youngest of the family engaging in a water fight. A few years ago, this was part of the plan. This year, it resulted in the confiscation of a much loved toy and many tears. Time, and dirty water, change things.

Everything about Christmas has changed. A familiar figure from times long gone was in attendance. I’m not sure if he remembered me. We discussed the cockatoo. In 1968 or ’69, he was 30. An artifact. Imagine the things he must have witnessed, the people he met, the times he saw change. We laughed as we were regaled with stories of his misbehaving ways – When the owner prior to us picked Joe (the cockatoo) up, they had used a trailer to transport him in a cage. While stopped at traffic lights, Joe looked over at a young lady walking on the foot path, and said “Hello darlin” – A feathered Lothario. Worried and embarrassed, the occupants of the car ducked down in fear of being slapped/accused of being so forward!

We had lunch, played Petanque along the water front and many attendees engaged in a family tradition of hiding beer bottles in unlikely places – Much to the ‘delight’ of our kind hosts. One in the fish pond, another on the barbecue. One on the roof, one in a tree. After promises of pay back were exchanged, we bode fond farewell to my extended family.

With a new passenger and a scrapped time table, we were off. Phase Five: My Family – Again. By now the rain was constant. We were going to have dinner with my siblings and their partners, my mother, my mother’s partner and his daughter. It would be the first Christmas celebration of this kind. Soon enough, we were swapping more gifts, eating more food and sharing more laughs. We were all tired. Despite this, games of roulette and pool were played. Gin does not taste like refresher wipes. Wimps. Another tradition appeared – Trifle! We had fun. Long into the night, we departed. The trip home was more eventful than we would have liked. Finally arriving safely, we hugged and fed two hungry kittens and went to bed.

Before falling asleep, I again thought of the man in the red car. I hope that he smiled as he reminisced, and that laughter fell from his lips throughout his day.

Regardless of spiritual belief (something sacred and in my opinion, something that should not be mocked, especially on such a day), Christmas is a day to be shared. Christmas has many meanings, but it is my view that the people we share it with help us define it. Some people aren’t lucky enough to have their family to love them, frustrate and annoy them. I am thankful for seeing the man in the red car.

Every year, I will remember you.

A peppermint Santa Claus

As the red car turned left, I burst into tears.

It was a wry smile I’d never know. The stiff upper lip type with a cheeky sense of humour. An image of soft edges, indistinct background and familiar eyes. I feel as though we’ve met through some impossible encounter.

A cloud of flowers. I could hear her walking to the telephone before she answered my call. Months of work for a day with family. There was temptation to feel envious of those sitting at the long table, though the room filled with sunlight was a perfect place to be.

It started with a belly of excitement. Quietly making good on promises to wake the others, we snuck to the lounge room – ‘Wait! No, they’re still sleeping. Phew.’ The carpet was replaced with a sea of paper, shielding surprises we were so eager to reveal. After much debate, one of us woke them. Taking turns we discovered new toys and were reassured that we had been good children – This was the most important part. After covertly skipping breakfast to spend as much time playing as possible and to look for evidence that Santa had been, we were dressed and ready for the drive to more fun: More people to play with – More presents, too. How did Santa know where my Grandma lived? After a big lunch, several handfuls from the lolly jar and getting drenched during the traditional water fight, we said our farewells and went on our way.

We were almost home. The others we had picked up on our journey were enough to distract us from the thought of our new toys only a paddock away. We sat in the special room, only used on special occasions. My favourite places to sit were the rocking chair and the organ bench. We sat on the floor in a circle, each unwrapping gifts, expressing thanks and sharing laughter.

Around the circle and a right turn. ‘Just a few more minutes’ – It had been a long day, and we were finally back in our lounge room. Wearing new pyjamas, we shared our toys and discussed the fun we could have. With smiles on our faces, we fell asleep.

Most of the characters are still there. The configuration is different. The sequencing, the locations; they’ve changed. We’ve changed. We’re searching for a new meaning.

Currently

Liking: New music, reading, sunshine, sushi with ginger, Chai lattes and sparkly shoes

Reading: ‘The Future of an Illusion’ – Sigmund Freud

Listening to: ‘Mind Eraser (No Chaser)’ – Them Crooked Vultures

Looking forward to: Seeing Arj Barker, making Christmas gifts for treasured family and friends, Melbourne, Them Crooked Vultures, Tim Minchin

Day dreaming about: Travelling the world

Wishing for: acceptance

Wanting: A boom box, a Spirograph, 10.2cm x 15.2cm things to hang in the sun room and 100-speed 35mm film