Monthly Archives: August 2009

Timewasters

I’m an champion Procrastinator, and the internet, of course, has elevated me to Olympic level. Never mind all the blogs I visit, lately I’ve got myself hooked on a range of sites. To LOLCATS and beyond, these are some of the sites that steal my time:

Failblog. Just as LOLCAT speak has infiltrated the language around our house – and forged a common bond of understanding with the teenagers, even – I’m still on my L-plates. I only found out about the whole FAIL terminology thing from my kids recently, but I very quickly caught up on the whole concept with a quick trip to fail blog land.  Some of the contributions are nothing more than a glorified Funniest Home Videos, but you can’t help laughing at most of them.

As you can imagine, anything cycling related usually makes me laugh:

But wait, there’s more. A favourite for a while has been notalwaysright.com – Seeing I once worked in retail, I find many of these shared anecdotes about stupid customers pretty amusing. Mind you, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind starting up one about some stupid or frustrating customer service I’ve been on the receiving end of…

There’s awkwardfamilyphotos.com – which is kind of reassuring, in that, despite everything I think is weird and abnormal about my extended family, I don’t think there’s actually a photo anywhere in the archives that would qualify for inclusion on that site. (Maybe we’re more normal than I think.)

Then there’s the overheardeverywhere group. Read one page, you get the gist. But you can’t help but check out the next one. And the next one…

So, by the time I’ve addictively and systematically checked out all the pages in the archives of all those sites, little wonder I’ve not achieved much else around here lately.

And most of those sites have links to other funny but dreadfully timewasting sites.

Please don’t tell me any others you know of…

.. well.. maybe.. oh, ok.. go on then, just quickly….

And if you didn’t know about any of these before now… I’m sorry! I hope you have more willpower than me.

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Filed under lost in procrastination

Tact, white lies and videotape.

[Actually, scrap the ‘videotape’ bit – I’m actually talking about photos… but it just didn’t sound as good in the title.]

I’m essentially a pathetically honest person, and nothing will bring me to boiling point like catching the kids lying. Usually to avoid an anticipated negative reaction from us. Frustratingly they don’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact that being caught lying will carry a far worse consequence. (I wonder if that’s because we aren’t catching them enough, and they are getting away with it far more than we realise?)

But then life is more complicated than that. We all lie from time to time. Even honest old me. Or we don’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Because if we did, we’d have no friends. You know what I’m talking about – white lies.  Lies we tell because they are easier than even being assertive; because we don’t want to hurt feelings of others.

There’s no need to point out the hypocrisy factor there. I’m well aware of it – particularly as Ms 10 negotiates some tricky situations with friends – and I have even lied for her (invented “subsequent engagements” for her shall we say). I do try and help her with all I have learnt about ‘assertiveness’ – how you can rephrase something so that you ‘own’ the feeling, rather than being blatantly criticising the other person.  eg. “I feel *this way* when you do *such & such*, and we’ve discussed the whole “white lie” thing as not being.. ideal.

Heaven knows, assertiveness is still a work in progress for me. Sometimes I can make it work, sometimes I fail.  But at least I try.

And I do try really hard not to offend people – and I also really really thought that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything” was a given.  Unless you are asked directly for your opinion, you don’t go out of your way to say something negative to someone about themselves.

I really, really thought that was a fairly standard M.O.

So, lately, why is it I keep seeing the opposite?  I could list numerous examples of verbal “behaviour” I’ve seen recently (specifically around children’s sport), but more and more I’m seeing it on the internet.  I’m not even talking ‘flaming’ by random d***heads – I quickly learnt that that comes with the territory. I’m seeing it with supposed friends. And family!

I was inspired this morning to finally write about this because of an interesting Facebook experience that Rootietoot has just written about. You can read it for yourself (and then the amusing way she dealt with it)   But seriously?  Who, totally unprompted, writes something like that?!  Do you?  It wouldn’t enter my head to get on Facebook, and even if I saw that an ‘old friend’ had an ‘interest’ that didn’t appeal to me, I wouldn’t just boldly tell them I disagreed.  Obviously some people do think that’s ok. Go figure.  (And then people like me then get their knickers in a knot and hope that their subsequent comment isn’t taken the wrong way! My point is that while cigars (in this case) don’t do anything for me, (hence, in this situation, I wasn’t going to even white lie for Rootie!!!) – I would no more up and write that on his Facebook than fly in the air!  Unless they’d put up a poll asking for my opinion!

Meanwhile I’ve been pondering the whole issue of when it is ok to say something unsolicited. Is it ok for family to say they don’t like something? Where is the line crossed?  My daughters don’t like it if I say I’m not that keen on something they are wearing.  Is it still ok for me to say that to them – as the parent trying to guide them through the minefield of childhood and adolescence? Or is there some magical age they reach at which it’s time for me to shut up ? (unless they ask me directly.)

Certainly, at 40-something, I don’t appreciate unsolicited opinions from my parents! I won’t even go into the litany of issues I have had over the years over comments made about different parenting decisions and rules we have. Or what they said before we first took our kids on those first tandem holidays.

I pretty much grit my teeth every time I talk to my mother – it almost goes without saying that she will profer some unwanted opinion any time I talk to her.  But a couple of things, recently, in emails, from both my father and my sister, have left me pretty much wishing I was adopted!  They seem really trivial in the retelling, but I guess they are the proverbial straws on this camel’s back.

A few weeks back I emailed my family a link to the photo of our new dining room table, and also the link to the album of photos from our recent bike touring.

My Dad responds about the table:  “The table looks good ..just what we need down here.  was it made locally?   can’t say the chairs turn me on..sorry…”

OK. So, why say anything about the chairs?  Doesn’t a normal person just say  “I really like the table!” ?  By not commenting on the chairs, the message is clear enough that you’re not waxing lyrical about them. And if they didn’t like the table either, just say “nice table”…  Because it’s not as if we were showing them the catalogue and asking for their input before we bought it. We’ve already bought the damn furniture!  Find something positive to say, can’t you?

For some reason it really pissed me off. Finally, the only way I was able to deal with it was, in an eventual email back, to treat it as a joke, and tell him that next time he comes to visit he can sit on the bloody floor then.

But then there is the whole email protocol thing, which neither of my parents, nor sister, seem to get.  They just don’t embrace the convenience factor of being able to check out photos from distant family, at their leisure. (And that, isn’t it amazing that, despite the fact that the grandkids live 600km away, Tracey puts photos on the web so we can see them before another 6 months have passed?  –  No! Instead we complain that we prefer to look at normal photo prints. Even though Tracey has said ‘tell me which ones you like and I’ll send you copies..’)

They don’t seem to get that the beauty of email is that you can deal with it at your leisure, and the sender isn’t actually standing there, tapping their feet. I haven’t dragged them in and sat them in front a slide projector.  Or shoved an envelope of photos under their nose while they’re standing in the kitchen preparing dinner.  So, you know, you don’t actually need to whiz back an email informing the sender just where their photos fit on your priority list that day. That you’d rather do housework first, for example!!

Both my father and my sister have now done that to me. Ok, with Dad it wasn’t housework, it was more a “I don’t have time to look at all those photos right now” implying that there are just so many of them”  – Hey, guess what Dad! I’m not actually there timing how long you look at each photo, you know! It would take you, what.. 2 minutes? To click through 50 photos? You don’t have 2 minutes in your life over the next couple of days to have a quick squiz at your daughter’s holiday photos?

It’s got up my nose so much that I’m not going to bother sending them any more.  I just ponder why it is that random strangers throughout the world are more interested in what I do than my own family!

And I sit here and wonder what is going wrong with my world, that my extended family think it’s ok to actually tell me they hate my new dining room chairs, and that I’m actually really not that important in their lives.

So, rightly or wrongly, I’m more than ever convinced that there is actually a place –  even with family and friends –  for manners, tact, and the odd white lie. And for knowing when to just shut the hell up.

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Filed under what the???

And I will ride one hundred miles ..

[Hmm, maybe I should leave parodies to the expert – but if you’re in the mood you could read that title to the tune of a certain Proclaimers song ….  hmm.. *cough*… yeah….]

Anyway!  Yes, well, I – we –  rode 100 miles last Sunday.  In one day. 160.934km or some such.  Yeah, crazy, I know.

Why do we do it? Why do we do anything?  Because it’s there?  Because it’s a challenge?  To prove that the first two times we did it weren’t a fluke? I’m still not sure really. (It’s retrospective enjoyment thing I think.)

It’s not the longest ride we’ve ever done in a day either. Last year in September we went down to Melbourne and rode in the Around The Bay in a Day ride – on the 210km loop.  And a couple of weeks before that we rode round and round a velodrome for 20 something hours straight – to raise money for ROMAC (a Rotary charity to bring kids to Australia for operations) Never again, that one.)

This is the third year that our local BUG (Bicycle User Group) has done this ride, and we’ve  done all three,  along with one other rider.  [ This is a blog piece I wrote about last year’s ride.]

So, really, doing another 100 mile-in-a-day ride isn’t anything too untoward for us. We know we can do it, so there is not the ‘unknown’ factor to add to the ‘appeal’. This year I toyed with the idea of doing it on my single – to prove that I could – but in the end we kept with the tandem. We feel more like we are doing something together when we ride that, and it’s just more fun.  Possibly it is easier. (Certainly it is faster). But I do know that Himself as captain makes me push harder than I would on my own.  Swings and roundabouts, really.

This year the numbers were much smaller – only 7 riders, and four support crew.

100milergroupTwo tandems this year – which was fun.  (We are slowly but surely spreading the word about tandems – the other couple bought theirs earlier this year just to join us on a tandem tour down the east coast of  Tasmania.)

This year was the first for a recumbent!  So the ‘out of the ordinary’ outnumbered the ‘ordinary’ with  the other two being  just two half bikes…  I mean  “singles”.

We start at a seaside village an hour or so’s drive north of here, so we drive up the day before. The first year the guy that organised it had pretty much all of us camping.  Pitching a tent for us and the kids for one night, and packing it all up before setting off to ride a long way at 6.30 am, didn’t rate that highly for us – so last year, with kids in tow still – we got a holiday unit (which was better than camping at least.)

This year we got to share a house with the other tandem couple, and two others, AND for the first time, left the kids at home, overnight,  with Ms 16 in charge.

The house was great, the bed was comfortable, I took spaghetti bol to share for dinner, and it was all wonderfully civilised.  The beachside camping spot, still the accommodation of choice for a few stalwarts, was all very nice, but, with the ‘breeze’ coming right off the water, very *fresh*.  August is still winter, even on the north coast!!

With a 6.30 meeting time, we still got to savour the sunrise over the water.

tandemsunrise

recumbentsunrise

We break the ride up into ‘manageable’ sections – and the support crew drive ahead and meet us (wth provisions.)   This year the first section of 27km, initially through coastal scrub (and then rural villages) provided the ‘story’ of the ride.  We were tailing C. on his recumbent when all of a sudden a kangaroo leapt out from the right, on a collision course for C.  The roo realised at the last second and attempted a 180 bailout turn – and slipped and fell!  But was still sliding!  As it scrabbled around on the road, trying to get purchase to get up, C, and then us, just managed to weave around it.   (Boy did that get the adrenalin pumping!) Had it not propped when it did, or had it slid further, I hate to think what the outcome might have been. For C. – in only his fourth year of living in this country – it was certainly as Aussie a cycling experience as he might ever have!  Signs along that part of the road warn of the wild emus (and we did see some roaming the paddocks), but I suppose to be wary of kangaroos on country roads should always be a given.

The next leg of the ride took us onto an island in a river. With sugar cane on one side, and the river on the other, but flat as a tack, the 10km around to the car ferry is always enjoyable, and perfect riding for tandems. It was kind of eerie this year, with fog still heavily shrouding the river and riverbanks – we pretty soon took the lead and ‘towed’ everyone round to the ferry.  From the middle of the river on the ferry, you couldn’t see either bank – so while we’ve ridden this bit of road on several occasions, we’d never seen it this way before!

Another quick stop, and then a flat (but bumpy) 30km to our lunch spot by the river in the big town, and the knowledge that we were pretty much half way. At this point I was starting to think that 80km is really more of a sensible total for one day’s ride. (So heaven knew why I was riding twice that!) Unfortunately the hardest was still to come – with the rest of the ride involving more… shall we say .. “undulating” countryside.

That said, while the uphills are more of a grind for tandems, we enjoy the momentum gained from the downhill runs.  We had three stops in this next 80km section – and by this stage you don’t really know what you feel like eating – you just want to finish the damn thing, but you know you need to keeping stoking up the ‘engine’ at least until you reach the top of Red Hill.  From there you can see the ocean again;  the end is in sight, and once you’re there, you know you’ve made it. A hoot of a downhill run, then just a few more kilometres till you pull up at the finishing point near the harbour.

Then it’s high fives, handshakes and hugs all round, as we share pride in our achievement, and appreciation to the support crew .

I’ve struggled to feel elated about it this week though. I should feel more positive about the whole thing, but there has been this niggly irritation with it all, and I feel resentful that much of the joy of riding it was taken away by the goals and objectives of the guy that started it all.

We have participated in quite a few long rides now – the sort that are organised by Cycling organisations (and which often raise money for some cause or another.)  They have ranged from 50km through to 210km (as well as the multi-day Big Rides), and basically all of them expect you to ride  at your own pace. They provide a sag wagon for any casualties, but other than that, don’t expect faster riders to ‘help’ slower riders – or to ‘stay together’. (Well, if you do enter such a ride with slower friends, then it’s up to you what arrangements you come to.)

This one – well – it’s different. Supposedly.  It’s been organised as a social BUG ride – albeit a long one – and the organiser is hung up on everyone riding “together” and the idea of the faster riders helping the slower riders.  He likes the faster riders to let the slower riders set out ahead after each checkpoint so that we don’t get too strung out. He likes the faster bikes to help the slower bikes by riding with, or just in front of them so they can ride in the draft, and thus get a tow. He doesn’t like us to get more than about five minutes apart!

Which is all very fine and noble. BUT.  It doesn’t always work.  From our point of view, a  tandem can provide a great tow, but you have to be a strong enough rider to stay on the back for any length of time. A tandem builds up a huge momentum going downhill, and so you have to be extra good to hang on the back. And tandem riders do not appreciate having to brake going downhills because you need as much momentum as you can get to ride up the next hill. And part of the joy of riding the tandem is the speed you can go, so you don’t really feel like having to slow down. Or having to stop every few kilometres.

And, you know, I  think anyone attempting to ride 160km in a day should be stoic enough not to need babysitting all the way. Certainly not for sections of 30km and under, as is the case here. But this, apparently is not quite how the organiser sees it – and this year, as support crew, he was in fully fledged ‘teacher’ mode – exhorting us, like primary school kids on a school excursion –  to “stay together” – even sofaras insisting on the first 27km leg that we stop and regroup at the 20km mark. He even gave out a sheet where he’d done calculations on average speed/distance disparities, and how easy it was to stop and wait.

He also went so far, at one point, as to holding my seat (before I went to get on it) as if to prevent us from taking off till he’d deemed the others had got a long enough headstart. (Had I not noticed I would have ended up with his hand up my bum, so I was not amused!)

And the slowest rider, at one checkpoint, had a bit of a whine about wishing that he was riding this year, because he would have ridden with her…

But she was only about 5 minutes behind us getting into the checkpoints.  I tussled in my head with the whole issue all day (because I was being made to feel guilty all day) and decided that if it was me, it would be no big deal. I would accept that I was slower, and I’d be quite happy with the idea that we were regrouping at the six checkpoints along the way.  In fact, I would quite simply hate being patronised every few kilometres en route. (Frankly I’d rather the applause each time I bravely pedalled into each stop!)

More and more I realise that I am a ridiculously hyper-sensitive soul, but with an outer layer of indignation – so I don’t handle these sort of situations very well. Others will be either oblivious to all the nuances and innuendos, and the way other people speak to them (the ‘water off a duck’s back’  gift)  – while I flounder around in a sea of guilt, indecision, and frustration. (And here I am nearly a week later still stewing about it!)

Right now I don’t feel like doing this ride again – unless it is on a single where I would volubly announce to all and sundry that I DO NOT want to be babysat the whole way, thankyouverymuch.

Otherwise, I’m feeling that having ticked that box three times now, maybe next year should be the year for finding another cycling challenge to add to our collection.   One without any guilt. And one where I can be an adult, not a child.

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Filed under on yer bike, what the???

Renovation rescue

ourhouse
Finally, after too many years of talking about it, we’re going to get extensions – renovations – done.

We’ve got a building design company working on the plans, have already handed over a pile of money to them, and back in July they got the unofficial nod from council to go ahead with the concept plan that involves putting a double garage in the front yard. You have to get special approval to put a building closer to the boundary than the required 6m – but we look like we’ll get away with it because we will improve the street view of the house – something that well and truly needs doing.

Whoever built the place plonked a kit home on the block, and decided to flip it around and face the front towards the east- the ocean – but into the backyard, which backs onto another block between us and the ocean view. (Noone has built on it yet – but it will probably happen one day.)

So the front of the house was really supposed to be the back, thus the laundry is right next to the ‘front’ door, the first floor bathroom window faces the street, and the top floor has tiny windows facing the street. Truly, it doesn’t look that good. (When we were house shopping, I was disinclined to even inspect it, and it was only the unique insides that sold me on the house (despite the fact that it had 3 bedrooms and a carport when we were looking for 4 bedrooms and a garage!)

As well as indiscriminately rotating the house on the block, they didn’t consider making use of the northerly aspect, so we have no windows facing north. (Why would you put the carport on the north side, and kitchen/dining, with windows, and a wider passageway on the south side? (If they’d thought about it for 5 minutes they might have come up with the idea of flipping the plans – mirror style!)  So, anyway, we have a light issue – with the kitchen plonked on the south side, and you currently need the lights on in it all day.)  Skylights, and high windows on the north side are figuring greatly on our plans.

OK, so we are also going to add a fourth bedroom (so two out of three kids don’t have to share), a study, a new laundry (with loo – so one can go to the loo on the ground floor),  a new bathroom on the middle floor,  and a big new living area out the back. We are solving (we hope) a lot of storage problems, and we are going to do some major changes – like rip up the godawful black slate on the ground floor (and be rid of it in the two upstairs bathrooms.)

reno

And we’re now at the stage where we’re pretty happy with the plans. Next BIG step is to find out how much it is going to cost – ie. getting some sort of ballpark quote from some builders.  And hope that we don’t have to make too many compromises.

It is exciting, yet so daunting I am starting to feel a bit freaked out.  At times we wondered if it would have been cheaper and easier to move – but we like our location, and we didn’t like our chances of finding a 4 bedroom house with a double garage that wasn’t also going to need work.

We also contemplated knocking it down and starting again – but decided that it would cost more again (money that we’d rather spend on something else). And we would lose some of the unique characteristics of this house – namely the third storey with exposed rafters, and the sensation of living space that isn’t hemmed in by other houses.  The three storeys give more floor space all up, and we would never get the three storeys through council again.

So. Decision made. Scary, scary!  When I start contemplating the cost of new kitchen, flooring, bathroom stuff (never mind all the actual building work) my eye starts twitching. When I contemplate the fact that we’ll need to find somewhere to rent, and to move out for the duration – hence forcing me to deal with a major culling of all our Stuff – I’m heading into hyperventilating territory.

No – it will be good. It will be exciting. It will be bloody fantastic when it’s done. (I just hope our marriage survives it!)  And so overdue it’s not funny. We’ve been talking about this more or less since we bought the place 11 years ago – and it would not be a lie to say that because of so much of the shabbiness, I’ve not been as houseproud as I might have been.  I would be embarrassed to admit all the cleaning issues I have not dealt with because I had the shits with what was wrong, and what was well overdue to be replaced.

I might even come out the other side of this a new woman, rejuvenated by pride in her abode. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t mind sharing the trials and tribulations, before and after shots, and harvesting everyone’s ideas and experiences .. so stay tuned for more Renovation Rescue.

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Mmmm, cake….

After the last post you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only cake I know how to make is a quickmix in a baba tin.*   Not true.  Once upon a time I was a younger mother with much more energy than I have these days, and from the very first  birthday (of, in the end, three children), I started making novelty cakes. At first I copied them out of the Womens Weekly Birthday Cake books – but after a few years I became a little more daring and, dare I say it, creative, and I branched out and did my own thing – with varying results.

[*A ring tin with fancy moulding, called also by other names which I cannot recall.]

It also used to lead to just a bit of Stress!  in the lead up to party time – a kitchen in complete chaos with bowls of coloured frosting, cut up lollies, and cake crumbs everywhere.  And me in a flap, covered in frosting,  trying to ignore the rolled eyes of a husband who didn’t really *get* why I brought this on myself.

Some years they might have even ended up with a few cakes – the main feature for a party, and another one for the actual birthday day, and potentially even another one if a grandparent came for a visit. [They weren’t all as fancy, but is it any wonder I’m now certifiably insane?]

Anyway, I thought I might share some of my creations.  You just have to remember that we’re talking up to 15 years ago, and many of these predated digital cameras – and any scanning commonsense or know-how on my part. (One of these years I will have to dig out the prints and rescan them at higher resolutions.)

These are just a few, in no particular order (I don’t even seem to have scanned in the very first one!)  Mostly I can remember which of the three girls they were made for… and mostly I remember which age. Mostly.

hi5cakesmall

Hi-5 for a five year old (who is now 14!). Not sure Hi-5 has made it overseas, but any Aussies with kids will know how popular they’ve been for many years.

teddy

#2 had a teddy that looked a bit like this.

DaisyTeddycake

And #3 had a teddy that looked a bit like this!

B2cakeThis guy should need no introduction.
(Possibly #1’s second or third birthday?.. now I’m struggling…)

cake2This was for #3, but I’m starting to lose track of which birthday! Definitely a princessy stage. Fairy princessy stage. What princess wouldn’t want a heart shaped castle?
(And if anyone says the towers look phallic, I’ll hit you…)

dolphin_cakeOur eldest was always dolphin crazy. *Think* this was for her 9th birthday. Or 10th. Gah.

johnson
One straight out of the ABC for Kids cake book. #2 must have been keen on Johnson.
Definitely her 2nd birthday. We had just made the big move up here, and it was a few weeks late, waiting till the Daddy arrived after finishing work on our previous house.

lulucakesmall
And someone must have liked Lulu.
Hands up, who can tell me all of Lulu’s friends?

turtlecakesmallHmmm.. think it was a Sea-themed party for #2 – when she was about 6.
(Year 1 party – We had about 20 kids here. Eep.)

nimbus2000smallSomeone was into Harry Potter. They all have been at some point or another,
but this, I think was for #1. Some year or other…

Well, those are only some of the many… might show you the others another day.  Sadly for #3  I seem to have petered out with any motivation to come up with these creations (I think I was still going past 10 years old with the others.)  Which sucks, but I suppose it comes with the territory. I think she still has good memories of cool cakes that Mum made when she was a kid…  Maybe if she’s a good girl there might be one more left in me by the time October and her 11th birthday rolls around.

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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae

They really do love me.

Mum’s birthday cake Version 2.0 a couple of nights later. This time she remembered to spray the tin!

candles

Quickmix Banana cake, with caramel icing. nomnomnom…

[Ms 16 played around with filters and stuff with the top photo – but I couldn’t be bothered to attempt to replicate her efforts …]

candles2
By the time our family gets to my birthday we are actually a bit caked out.

Ms Middle Child had her 14th birthday in late July. For one reason or another, this didn’t end up being a party year for her, but her mother did manage to make a cake on the day in question. We just didn’t have a charged up camera battery, so we had to make do with mobile phone cameras (and I still haven’t got round to collecting the ones Big Sister took on her phone.)

candlesali

candlesali2Golden caramel cake with drizzled melted chocolate, strawberries, cream AND icecream. Double omnomnomnomnom…

And then 2 weeks later (and a mere five days before my birthday) the Daddy turns another year older, and gets a bit of special treatment. (Even if this year he had to cook the BBQ for dinner!)

candlesdad

candlesdad2His favourite – Quickmix Lemon Delicious cake.  He’s not a real sweettooth.

Thank goodness we have a breather for two months before Littlest has her turn for a day in the candlelight.

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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae

Have had better.

I think once the well-meaning (yet very much appreciated) greetings peter out, I’ll get over my grump.  (As long as the Grump is not tied up in a peri-menopausally-hormonal thing as I suspect it might be..  but I digress…)

Thing is, the honest response to “Hope you had a brilliant birthday” is

‘Err, well, not really.”

No, Himself and the girls did not spoil me. Actually, it was only when they belatedly tried to do something that it all went pear-shaped. Really, one of the only redeeming features of the day was that a lot of lovely people sent wishes across the internet and made me feel a little bit speshul. And that at the end of a long night, Ms 14 actually washed up the stuff that didn’t fit into the dishwasher – without being asked. Pretty much a first on both counts, so it probably qualifies as a birthday present.

But, yes.. a bit … disappointed?  Meh, I bring it on myself. We aren’t a yee-ha celebratory family. M and I feel that we spend enough on each other the rest of the year (just recently we’d bought a heap of new bike gear, and took ourselves away on our tandem tour holiday), so we weren’t going to waste money on buying each other presents just “because”

And with his  birthday being just last Friday, and a birthday lunch out that we decided would do for both of us, we didn’t plan to spend any more money on eating out.  (And actually, we have more cycling related bits ordered from the UK that should arrive today – “happy birthday to us”.)

We also try not to be too materialistic, so have never really pushed the kids into buying presents for us. I figure it will come when it comes off their own bat – so I reap what I sow (or don’t as the case may be – despite dropping some hints about a book I wouldn’t mind) and this year just wasn’t the year. Too many other things on their plate, and it’s not easy getting into the shops without me.

Two out of three kids remembered to wish me happy birthday in the morning. (The same two that only remembered their Dad’s birthday last Friday because I was whistling ‘Happy Birthday’ as a ginormous HINT.)

Make that ‘out of  four’. Himself had been away for two nights at a conference and wasn’t getting home till nearly 9.00 at night.   He finally bothered to send me a text just after 4.30 in the afternoon. (Very busy that conference.)  Colour me  feeling just a bit unimportant.

Chauffered kids to and from sport in the afternoon, and psyched up to cook dinner while they basically slacked around. The one who’d forgotten to wish me happy birthday till I picked her up at netball obviously felt a bit guilty because she cleaned up the kids’ computer desk.  The others slacked around watching TV, ignoring my directions to go and have a shower (Ms 10) and  to clean up their pigsty of a room (Ms 16.)

By then I decided that I wasn’t even going to debate whether I should have a glass of wine or not. And because it was My Birthday, I wasn’t going to rush getting the dinner ready either.  So it was getting a bit late by the time I had the stir fry ready.  About that time – something approaching 8pm –  Ms 14 (the one with the bad memory but a conscience) decides perhaps she should make me a cake.  “Don’t you think it’s a bit late? I asked, but she went ahead anyway.

Himself arrives home nigh on 9pm, and proceeds to berate Ms 14 as she pulls the cake out of the oven and says “Oh dear, I forgot to spray the tin.”  The inevitable result is one broken up banana caramel cake. And tears from the child who was already upset enough with herself without lectures from Dad.

Great birthday ambience there. NOT.  He calls  The Artistic but Lazy One (who never makes cakes because she hates breaking eggs)  down from upstairs to help with Operation Cake Rescue,  but she never arrives, and disappears for some time up in the shower – which ends up in a ding-dong barney about her not coming when she’s called, her insisting that she had stood  half naked at the top of the stairs but gave up when she didn’t hear what he wanted her for, and it progressing to a tirade about her spending too long in the shower all the time. So then she stands there like a thundercloud as this broken up cake is plonked on a plate – with no embellishments other than the candles.   When I mirror the look on her face (forgetting that she has no sense of humour when she’s in a Mood)  she then stomps upstairs in high dudgeon, and we don’t see her again the rest of the night.

Needless to say by then, nearly 10pm – way past Ms 10’s bedtime –  I wasn’t in the mood for birthday cake photos, songs, or anything. I blew out the bloody candles, and couldn’t even bring myself to eat the dry cake.

“I suppose you’re going to blog this.” said poor Ms 14.  Well, maybe. But I didn’t have the heart to take a photo of the “cake”.

Best option , I thought, would have been to take a raincheck on the whole proceedings before trying to do candles.

Later he says “Sorry, I suppose I made things worse.”

“Yep”

We watched a show on telly, and managed to get to bed by midnight, though why I was prolonging the day by then, I’m not really sure.

Luckily the middle of the day had some redeeming features. I took myself off for a walk on the headland. Didn’t spot any whales (as I hoped I might –  despite it being prime whale watching time it was a bit windy), but it was a balmy temperature for a winter’s day, and I lay on the grass up there, listening to the waves pounding and surging on the rocks below – and tried my hand at some photography to capture the beauty of where I’m fortunate enough to live.

In my mind’s eye I see many perfect pictures, but I don’t quite have the photographic skill (or zoom on my camera) to capture them.  But I try.

island

The end of the headland gets me a bit closer to this island than from the beach. Then with my feeble 3x zoom and a bit of cropping, I don’t mind the end result.
I love the way the white of the waves accentuates the island. Kind of like
white eyeliner – “isle-liner”
?

flower

No idea if it’s a native or a weed, but it was there, all alone…fending for itself up there.
But what a view she has!

village

Looking back towards our little ‘village’. I can see the roof of our house from here!
I love living here.

shorebirds

Back down on the beach – I had no idea what these birds are, and I don’t see them
on our beach much, which is why I had to get a snap.
[Ed:But I finally found what they were! – Sooty Oystercatchers.]


And you know, reviewing that part of my day makes me feel a lot better about turning another year older.  Maybe I was spoilt on my birthday after all.  And I am very definitely spoilt throughout the year, so it all evens out in the wash.

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