Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vernicious Knids

Oh what?
Is this thing on?
Testing testing...
I'm not really "posting" as such, I'm trying to de-nit my blog of a whole swag of horrible spambot type comments that seems to have colonised my legs. (So to speak.)

It's funny though. To weed out the comments you end up reading the posts. And you go "hey I remember that. That was fun."

But not at the moment. This moment is full. With moving house and moving city and getting TRICKY READY TO START SCHOOL.

Yes I did just shriek that.

I did.

I think I have turned off comments - not permanently but just while I get rid of all those fantastic global investment opportunities.

and then I'll be back...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tiger Tales

So it's Valentines Day and because C is away and I feel a little miserable about that, I decide I will take my little boy to a cafe so that Mummy can have a coffee and we can both have a special Valentine's treat. 

And we do this and it's a hidious drizzly, sweaty, humid kind of day and just as the rain starts to ooze down I get a call from Helen, aka OperasingingMummy. Helen is the mother of Tricky's little friend Sebastian and as we know small boys must be exercised/exorcised frequently. 

Otherwise they drive their mothers to drink.

I have an activity plan, she announces brightly. We can go to the Museum We Always Go To which is undercover, airconditioned, has coffee and snacks and comfy seating, free newspapers, an Hilarious 80's exhibition and loads of ramps for small boys to gallop up and down like wee, manic ponies.
OR... we can go to Chinese New Year! On the bus! In the sweaty humid rain! With the crowds! Carrying enormous umbrellas and pushing strollers!

And because it was Chinese New Year and because it is the Year Of The Tiger which calls for Courage and Energy and screwing up your face and making a small rahhh! noise, I said YES LET'S GO WITH THE SWEATY OPTION!
And lo we did.
And it was all those things but it was also fabulous and great fun. And full of adventure! 

Getting two small boys onto the bus with two strollers, three bags and two enormous umbrellas, one of which refused to close? ADVENTURE!

Pushing stroller downstream through crowds of CNY revelers and managing to stop at stalls to purchase armfuls of dingly dangly decorative thingys without losing child, purse or sense of humour? ADVENTURE!

Taking Tricky to a portaloo, leaving stroller in mud, attempting to clean seat, pull down pants, lift him to wee wee height, have him glimpse the dark terrors that lay within and shriek NO NO I WANT TO WEE ON A TREE at top of his voice? ADVENTURE!

Eating stuff that reminded me of living in Malaysia, including the coveted peanut pancakes (much sweeter than I remember)? GOURMET ADVENTURE!

And the day went on; chinese opera, chinese dancing, elderly chinese ladies giving the boys good luck charms, many photographs taken of little boys with unknown Chinese artists, many small sweet tidbits devoured with never a hand being washed. 

One of my favourite moments was seeing the two little boys running happily in the mud and drizzle. I wish I had taken photos but that would have necessitated growing at least one extra hand.

Helen and I sweated and pushed and sloshed through the mud and it was fifty sorts of jolly and we laughed and laughed. Because we were now addicted to our own adrenaline we upped the adventure quotient by entering a nearby MASSIVE SHOPPING CENTRE in Chinatown in search of a ventolin puffer and here too there was Chinese New Year and Tiger decorations akimbo and free red balloons which Tricky first accepted, and then felt worried that the balloon would burst and then handed to me to carry, along with all the rest of the cheap/free tat we had accumulated. Because god forbid I would say no to something that was FREE!

Finally we left the shopping centre of hell and since we were a hop and a skip and a run through another cloudburst away, we ended up at the Museum We Always Go To anyway. And after a brief educational glance at the exhibitions, we collapsed on comfy chairs in a quiet corner and our children, perhaps sensing even tigers need a cup of tea sometimes, played nicely until closing time and we, and all our Tiger stuff, were booted out.

Possibly the best Valentine's Day I have ever had. 

Gong Hee Fat Choy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Locked Out

Wow, I have just had the most intense 48 hours trying to get back into my blog. I was locked out! Rude or what? I was going to have a short but moving blurb on friends who receive awards and how proud it makes you feel but, ergh, I'm drained. Between you Blogger and Google you have seriously worked my last good nerve.

Oh yeah, it's Valentines Day today. I shall celebrate this by feeding small amounts of processed sugar to my tiny brown Valentine with the long curly hair. Also kisses. There shall be kisses.

Friday, January 29, 2010


In actual fact I am meant to be hard at work on a scene breakdown (and I am, people connected to the tv show, I AM) but I pause (briefly) because the mail came in today (as indeed it does everyday, rain hail blah blah) and I discovered that amongst the bills and bank statements was an envelope from a notable face cream company containing a handful of product samples.

Ignoring the fact that the majority appeared to be skewed towards Wrinkly Skinned Old Mothers I felt pleased and rather special, as indeed I always do when I score free stuff. 

When I Mrs Merino-ed for the Sydney Royal Easter Show way back in those carefree, childfree, jobfree days, both myself and Mr Merino, (My writerpal "George", not C who hated the Show and was only donning a full body sheep costume *gasp* for the money) lived for the opportunity to receive all manner of brightly coloured plastic crap purely because we were 'Show Royalty' and we were special. 

In fact, not satisfied with being simply handed cheap gewgaws and useless brikabrack, "George" and I took to combing the empty seats at the free outdoor concerts in the hopes of finding showbag goodies that had either been forcibly discarded by sensible young people or simply left, by the lazy teens of today (a decade ago). Ah, the good old days. I still have, somewhere, a plastic ruler snatched up from the ground in the aftermath of a Silverchair concert. It's probably stained with vomit or at the very least illicit alchohol, but who cares, IT WAS FREE.

I'm glad to say this very very attractive attribute has not left me, even as the mother of a three and a half year old with an obvious need for heavy duty face creams. Towards the end of last year I even started entering online competitions with the full expectation of winning my entire stock of Christmas gift needs. Nephews, husband, child, parents in law, stepsister's boyfriend...all would be delighted with their unusual, handpicked presents, many of which would be emblazoned with advertising and probably still in envelopes still addressed to me, if I ran out of time to actually buy wrapping paper.

Ho ho ho. I'm afraid to say I did not win a single item. Very disappointing. Is it me, I wondered. Is it the fact that I'm a mature woman entering all these kids competitions and I include my real age? Perhaps, or perhaps I was not the only cheap bastard on the internet.

I did, however, enjoy the whole 25 words or less thing. It was a bit like Twitter but shorter and you might get rewarded for your creative efforts.  Also, you could do it drunk.

Thus it was when I received my humble batch of hand and neck creams I assumed it was some sort of consolation prize for a long ago entry. I realised after a moment that it was not. It was the result of a complaint. 

Some time back in December I had lashed out and bought one of this company's deodorants - not my usual choice (brand, not deodorant, of course I use deodorant, I may be lazy with actual showering but at least I try and disguise the evidence) and it had turned out to be utter crap. Usually I just bitch about this to my husband and friends until they're bored, but this time I decided that I would NOT let them get away with failing to cover my lack of personal hygiene and I fired off a complaint letter.

Obviously I was polite (I am a passive aggressive after all and we are known for our polite tones and sharpened knives) and I even included the line "Imagine my disappointment" which is my perennial fave line for official letters of complaint. (In fact I may try and work it into the script...I'm JOKING). This, impressively, led to a supermarket discount voucher of roughly twice the price of the original offensive item which I could choose to spend on, say, chocolate (and I did) and also a form letter where I could write more in detail. And so I did, and now I was witnessing the fruits of my labour. It was a grand grand moment.

Not all letters of complaint have been so wildly successful. 

The one to the confectionery company outlining my disdain at the lack of sour worms in the so called 'Party Mix' ("imagine my disappointment!") was met with a polite note back thanking me for my suggestion and promising to pass said suggestion onto Marketing (!) 

The long email composed by an after dinner group regarding the dubious quality of a box of chocolates ("imagine OUR disappointment!") was answered with a phone call from a company representative next morning. Note to readers: do not compose email of complaint and then send, when drunk. In the case of phone call you will be horribly hungover and have no idea what the problem was in the first place and since you were all drunk you ate all the chocolates anyway, dubious or not.

People often whinge about the decrease in letter writing in today's txt message age. Possibly they are referring to the quality of letter writing but I prefer to think that I, with my quaint little missives of disappointment and dismay, am heroically adding to the quantity.

In February I am planning to give up alcohol for the month, ("why does it have to be February Free," one Aquarian friend complained. "Why not Dry July, or Octsober?") and I plan to use any spare brain cells left over from scene breakdowns, first drafts, revisions and whiny emails begging for extensions to really get to grips with the products that fail to come up to my exacting standards.

I note that I have never received an envelope of hand cream sachets from the producers. Imagine my disappointment. Still, it's not impossible to foresee a time when, show being done and dusted and writers asked for feedback for next series I may, possibly, sit down with pen and paper and write a suggestion for perhaps a nice scented facial spray or maybe a really effective foot cream. Writers need all the help they can get.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blood and shit and earwax.

Erk, every time I leave it too long between posts there's always a scary moment of...lord just what was that password again? Also is trying to open up my blog using my gmail account which is just wrong. Wrong! I think. I'm pretty sure. Actually I've got just enough internet knowledge to be dangerous I've realised. 
Of course I could always PAY for the joys of blogging, there's a mad thought. 

What's driven me to the keyboard is my discussion with my dad yesterday about dear old grumpy grandad. The last times I saw GG (still in the nursing home, still with one leg, still grumpy) I cleaned the suspicious grunge out from under his fingernails and trimmed them and I also scraped the wax out of his hearing aids.


This would lead again to the story of Grandad running after me on the beach with a bucket of water and me shouting "You're a naughty girl Dan Dan." Not a recent story.

SHE CALLED ME A NAUGHTY GIRL, Grandad remarked jovially to C who nodded and smiled back having heard the story many times and being currently occupied with preventing Tricky from lying on the floor and licking the linoleum.

We took Tricky to see him, it was just post Christmas, and an elaborate story was told about how A BIG FAT MAN (pot?Kettle?) IN A RED SUIT POPPED IN TO SAY HELLO AND TELL ME THAT YOU HAD BEEN A VERY GOOD BOY AND HE GAVE ME SOME MONEY TO GIVE TO YOU TO BUY SOME TRAINS.

Dutifully we popped down to Kmart and purchased some trains, two as it turned out. Tricky chose them and let me just insist that I tried to move him towards the more flashy, showy types but he was insistent on these two, identical except for some facial variation and the names printed underneath. We brought them back to show Grumpy Grandis and he was, I could see, a little disappointed.


Yes, I said, but look they're mischievous twins see, Bill and Ben, it's written underneath, and they go with all his other trains...


No, that's right, but did I mention they're twins? Bill and Ben? Mischievous? Very cute...


Around this point I realised that I had screwed myself. Last time Grandad gave Tricky money was for his birthday. It was half the amount of the Christmas money and because TRAINS were the requested present on that occasion I had to 'top up' Grandad's contribution and ended up buying two carriages, the very popular CHICKEN carriage (which squawks when you slide open the door) and EGGS carriage (removeable via fingers or better yet, helicopter). 

This time, I didn't top up. No wonder he saw the twin engine offering as a bit, well, crap.

I realised I had created in my grandfather's head an unreal expectation of the value of TRAINS; his lovely gesture, his intricate story, all rendered just that bit crap because he thought there was enough money for carriages too.

He's very happy with his engines, I pointed out to Grandad. It's a lovely present. 

He seemed unconvinced so I cunningly brought up the one topic of conversation I knew he would get excited about. 

How's your blood sugar levels?


I felt sad about all this of course, but the intricacies of scraping out the hearing aid soon had me focused. Having no suitable tools at hand, I used the wire ring on his bedside locker key, prying it off and then bending it straight and jabbing it down the little plastic tube till blobs of brown started oozing out the end.

I don't know about you but I always find it reassuring to handle someone else's earwax. Even after washing your hands your fingertips retain that greasy feeling. 

And because nothing is simple, when I tried to wash my hands in the bathroom sink I found it was blocked with...dear god in heaven I have no idea. Matter. I tried to pick that out too but it was too disgustingly hopeless, it would be a Tell Nurse Job.

 Grandad was happy when we left. His multi purpose remote control was working properly on his enormous flat screen tv, his hearing aid (freshly scraped and with a new battery inserted) was working 100 PERCENT BETTER NOW and he had the anticipation of next week's optometrist visit. 

This is why, a week or so later, when asking Dad how Grandad was faring, I was unsurprised to hear that the bifocals had been created and were USELESS and the hearing aids similarly so, due to wax build up in his ears. 

And I'm not scraping those out, I told Dad. 

I couldn't bear asking about the sink. It seemed unfair that having got himself into a reasonable state of balance, not happiness exactly, just balance, Grumpy Grandad couldn't enjoy that for longer. 

But perhaps it's relative and that is how everyone's life teeters and totters along. Find the balance. Struggle to keep it.

Life for my Grandad; once wife and house and son and plumbing business and caravan on weekends and galah in a cage and lolloping boxer dog running up and down the hallway. 
Once running, laughing, in dapper hat and shorts, with a blue bucket of water after a little brown skinned granddaughter on a far away beach, is reduced to this; a bed, a leg, a huge flatscreen tv, whisky at night, coffee in the day. 

Blood and shit and earwax.

Friday, January 15, 2010


So that's it then. 
That's Christmas done and New Year too and the last of the summer holidays uncurling before us. The weather is by turns spitefully hot and indifferently cold and we sneeze and sweat and fumble our way through the days and wonder when the work and the yoga classes and the preschool starts again, and there's all that gathering tax receipts and marking of new drinkbottles and delousing of still-long-curly-hair. 

Tricky had a completely wonderful Christmas. 
Two completely wonderful Christmases actually because C's parents were staying with us so he had a Big Boy Cousins/Gramma and Papa/uncleK/ auntyN type Christmas and then we went to my parents place and had a teeny girl cousin/many many aunts and uncles/aphwa and poppy type Christmas. 

At the age of 3 and 5 months this was actually Tricky's 4th Christmas but for the other three he was asleep, screaming or perplexed. 

Last year, to be fair, he did learn that the package wasn't just the exciting thing, you could actually remove the pretty coloured paper and discover something else inside. Like a large wooden structure and several bright metal cars. Last year some of his aunties and uncles got together to give him Uncle Paul's Garage Experience. This involved a plywood garage previously owned by, ahem, Uncle Paul, made for him many years ago by his dad, and now, repainted and fitted out with teeny tiny slightly suspicious looking garage attendants, and frequented by a great and impressive range of vehicles. As I type I can look out and see Uncle Paul's Garage, just by the farm and on the right side of the railway tracks. Cars and what appears to be a tiger are lined up for the superior handlings they know they will get from Slightly Suspicious Garage Attendant. This is a toy that gives and gives.

This year Tricky was given a great and wonderful array of items, some were things he asked for (cottoning on from his cousins that a time of bountiful goodness was on its way - depending on whether he was naughty or nice) and some were not. 

I could bag on here about his favourites, the things that made his head spin and his eyeballs bulge (toy computer-like mummy and daddy, scooter and helmet - like Little Friend Sebastian) but why bother, Christmas is really for grownups since it's their money being spent and their livers being pounded by all that mulled wine and plum pudding vodka. 

Here's what I loved best: the wooden chocolate set (because it's so cute when he takes the box around and chooses one for you) the wooden sushi set(because I think I have a thing for toy food and maybe I wanted all that when I was that age and didn't get it, not that sushi had been invented in Werribee at that time but come on what about a wooden smoked cod and mash potato set or a wooden devon and tomato sauce sandwich?), the button accordian - I love it! (Yes it was given to Tricky but I have hidden it from him while I try and work out how to play the theme from Amelie.) This funny wooden car that you pull apart and fit back together in different ways (it feels goooood), the Bugs Life special edition on dvd (those extras, wow! Comes with storyboard!) and on the cornucopia goes, a great swirling, gorging, mass of stuff.

There were other gifts too, things I also loved, probably even more than the wooden sushi set and they didn't come in a box. 
I love that C for the first time in the history of our relationship wanted to get a Christmas tree and then bought one, one blazing hot afternoon, from KMart (a plastic tree being hallmark of both our childhoods) I loved that this would be our family tradition.
I loved that finally I could get out all the decorations I had been hoarding for years and put them on.
I loved that Tricky loved the Christmas tree. 
I loved that he talked to it and he gently examined the decorations and was excited about the bells. 
I loved that he called it a Kissmess Tree and he wished people a Huppy Kissmess.
I loved that he loved the lights and recognised that this was a special time where people come together and are 'huppy'.
And I loved that this was all enough, the tree and the lights and the stories - about Santa and about Baby Jesus and about the people who love him- and this was already enough Kissmess. 

He was very happy and very excited and this was in the weeks before, he had no real idea about the morning, the Santa sack and the presents and the chocolates and the presents and the fizzy drinks and the presents... 

That first present he actually opened (a wooden stiryfry set, yes alright, not nearly as successful)took ages, he savoured the paper and the way it felt beneath his fingertips and then he stared at the box and talked about the pictures and wanted to open it and play with it STRAIGHT AWAY and his father and I, beside him, in our pj's, hopping up and down in excitement saying "oh but what about that one, what about this one?"  

"Christmas is NOT about the package," we try to tell him. "The paper, while pretty, is simply the exterior and it's what's on the inside that counts...oooh! Is that an accordian?!"

It's well into January now but there is still a weeny teeny touch of Christmas left in the house.

 C in his frenzy of post yule cleanliness packed away, up under the roof, along with the plastic Kissmess Tree, the box that houses my collection of Baby Jesi. This year I had put them all out, all 23 of my Baby Jesus collection. Lining them up, seeing their chubby cheeks and rough looking robes, sorting the very ugly against the very pretty was a meditation of gratitude, a reminder that once, nearly four years ago, I had this collection out permanently, and the only baby I was likely to get would have to be nicked from a nativity set.

"Why did you pack that box away," I shouted at C. "IT WAS EMPTY."
"IT WAS NOT EMPTY," C countered, "I looked in it and there was stuff in there."
"Yes. Yes there was stuff, there was stuff to pack away the BABY JESI! Because they're fragile!" 
I shriek this with the grace of a banshee and, oddly, C declines to get the box.

Cue much huffing and sulking and C feeling hard done by and me determined not to be the one to get into the roof and find that damn box. 
Yes I can get tissue paper and yes I could use another box but that's the box I always used for the baby Jesi, the strikingly ugly red and gold present with garishly fake ribbon on top. 

It's a box that says FESTIVE! and CELEBRATE! and FREAKY! but more than that it's a box I have used for over four years and in this day and age that's a tradition.

The contents may well be precious and meaningful, but in my heart I know, the package counts.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A very Christmas Christmas.

The lady behind the camera at the Santa photo stop has it all sussed out.

“I don’t tell the kids to say cheese,” she explains, “it looks too fake and try-hard. Also, it’s not very Christmas.”

I’m impressed even though I always tell Tricky to say ‘cheese’ for the camera. It’s my way of signaling that I’ve had enough and I want it all to be finished. I have lots of try-hard pictures of my three and a half year old. The camera lady points out the range of photo packages I can choose from.

“So how do you get them to smile?” I ask, hoping for a useful tip.

“I tell them to say “presents”.

I have taken Tricky into the local shopping centre to have his photo taken with Santa. There is a very small window of opportunity for this. This window must coincide with afternoon tea so as to provide maximum bribe potential, yet prior to any need for toilet. While we, his parents, appear to have successfully toilet trained Tricky we have failed in basic Public Toilet Negotiation. He is terrified of the air dryer. As in, just the sight of one perched near a sink is enough to make him scream. Very very loudly. In vain do we point out the paper towels or agree that he need not wash his hands this once. He clings, and digs in his nails and attempts to climb our bodies, much like a cat ascending a tree at speed.

And the screaming. Very loud. Very unpleasant. 

Not very Christmas.

 “I don’t like the other Santa, the woman waiting in line beside me says. “He’s got a very unfriendly face. “

I know the Santa she means. We’ve already been given the Word that the general shopping centre Santa isn’t very Christmas. He sits on a full sized sleigh in a winter wonderland setting. His sleigh comes complete with silver reindeer and a built in fan to keep his beard fresh. This was where we had Tricky’s photo taken last year. Tricky didn’t cry or scream last year but he was deeply suspicious.

In the photo Santa is empty-lapped, and hunched at the far end of the sleigh seat. He is unsmiling, his face devoid of expression or indeed any inference of normal muscle tone. Perhaps he’s bitter, or relieved, or on medication.

On my lap, Tricky is glowering at the camera, also unsmiling, also slightly glassy-eyed. He was still in nappies at that stage so perhaps he was working something out. 

The only person who looks like they’re actually enjoying themselves in the photo is me, grinning for all of us because I love Christmas so much and we’re making a precious precious memory here, goddamit.  

I feel slightly disloyal to winter wonderland Santa, even though I can see at a glance that it’s an entirely different Santa. Last year’s Santa was very old, this year’s is very young. Too young perhaps.  I think this is why the woman in the queue beside me perceives him as unfriendly. I wouldn’t call him unfriendly as such. Just bored shitless.

“He is quite slim,” I finally admit, which is probably one of the deadliest insults one could fling at a Santa. “His face is too thin and he doesn’t smile,” the woman hisses at me. I nod, and somewhere another elf falls down dead.

Later, we will pass by Winter Wonderland Santa again and I will try and hide our distinctive other Santa showbag. This will be totally unnecessary as a bevy of lean brown teenage girls will be waiting to have their picture taken with Winter Wonderland Santa and I will note that, with a teenager hooked closely under each arm, this year’s Santa actually seems very happy indeed.

The other day, Tricky asked me if Santa was a boy. 

I knew where this was going. Gender is very much on the Tricky mind just now. Followed very closely by genitals. I’m hoping this is a phase but I suspect it may simply be the beginning of the rest of his life. As night follows day so too must the fact that if Santa is a boy, Santa must have a penis.

Yes, I hear myself saying, you’re right. Santa does have a penis.

There are actually three Santas in this shopping centre – Winter Wonderland Santa, Absent Santa who is never on his Santa chair when I pass by, instead purportedly out “feeding his reindeer,” and the Santa who my son and I are now queuing up to see.

This Santa, inside one of the big department stores, is seated on a throne in what might be described as Santa’s Hidden Toy Grotto or alternatively, Santa’s Secret Bondage Dungeon. It gives the whole picture a cosier, more ‘Christmas’ look.

The woman next to me has obviously come to the same conclusion.

“This Santa,” she says approvingly, “is more real.”

Secret Bondage Santa looks fat and old and wears spectacles. Also there is only a very tiny queue. This makes him very real indeed and ideal for our 2009 Christmas photo.

It’s our turn and I push Tricky forward into the arms of a costumed stranger, exhorting him to sit on his lap and musing to myself what a strange and creepy thing this is to do to a child. I see that I have hastily dressed Tricky in his brown plaid shorts with the cowboy on the pocket and a long sleeved green shirt printed with giraffes.

Against the uniform red of Santa’s trousers and with a group of red, white and green children waiting patiently behind us I can see how my son clashes rather horribly. I have no real excuse for this except that I was hurrying to make the toilet window and we hadn’t done the washing for a while. I dug in a drawer, I saw green, I saw “shirt bought by grandmother”, I even checked with Tricky’s father as we flew down the stairs: “Does your son look ok in this? Look at him, look at him please, we’re having a photo with Santa, tell me Does Your Your Son Look Ok In This?”

His father hesitated and then said: “He looks great!"

Now, having had a moment to collect my thoughts in the photo line, I can see that Tricky does not look great. He looks like a homeless person let loose in a handcraft market I think to myself as I straighten his shirt. I make a mental note to shout at his father when we get home.

I wonder again if it's time for a haircut. We have not been able to bring ourselves to cut Tricky’s hair yet and so it hangs in dark curls around his shoulders. Several curls fall rakishly over his eyes. Sitting on Santa’s lap he looks through his hair at me now. He is not scared but I can see he’s a little confused. He turns to stare at the strange man holding him firmly across one thigh.

“Is Santa a boy?” Tricky asks suddenly.

"Yes," I say. 

“What a good little girl,” says Santa.

“It’s our photo with Santa, darling” I say encouragingly, “Say cheese!”

The camera lady waves a stuffed reindeer and gives me a look.

“Say presents!”