Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas Adventure

As most of you know, I bought Christian a telescope for Christmas. We decided that on Boxing Day night we would have a play around with it and just see how it all worked. There's way too much light pollution from the city where we live so we figured we may as well head up to Mundaring since we were going to visit my Mother in Law anyway.
We went to North Ledge which has views out over Mundaring Weir and it was a pretty good spot but there were an awful lot of trees still in the way so we didn't have an unlimited view of the sky. But at short notice it was the best spot we could think of so we stayed put.

We arrived about half six so we still had an hour and a half of light left so I wandered about taking photos. It's such a pretty spot and it really bought back memories of when we took Boo and Mouse there when they visited us.

This was such a pretty flower. I loved the colours and also the feather type texture of the petals.

The view of the weir. I know it's probably just the wind but it looked like there was a current through some of the water.

The view out over the valley.

Pretty bush.

I liked this tree.

And this one.

As I write this, the colour of the white background of my draft page perfectly matches the colour of the sky. I can't tell where the photo ends and the page begins. I know it will be different once I've published.

The setting sunlight looked so pretty through this palm.
The valley just as the sun was dipping behind the hills.

This is the rock that we climbed all over when the Scots came to visit.

Once the sun had set, we went about putting the telescope together. I'd assumed we'd put it together before we lost the light but it was so windy that Christian decided it would be safest to do it at the last possible minute.

It didn't take us long and we were soon trying to find something in the sky to focus on. The star finder was ridiculously difficult to use and so we soon gave up, looking through the eyepiece and moving the scope about randomly. We soon discovered Jupiter and it's four biggest moons. It was very pretty and looked very much like this photo.
We had forgotten to see when the moon was rising that night and unfortunately it was rather late and so we didn't get a chance to have a practice on the moon. It seemed the most likely starting point for complete amateurs like us but I guess it shall have to wait until next month.

We had a great time but we had to leave rather early as Molly was being dogsat by Christian's mum. But we figured we'd give it a go the next night as well. And so yesterday we headed back to the same spot but much later than the first time. Unfortunately we had a few problems and didn't end up staying for long. Quite a lot of cloud cover came over while we were there which prevented a lot of viewing and also the telescope seemed to be rather wobbly. The previous night we hadn't noticed the problem so we're not sure if it's faulty, if we didn't set it up exactly right or if it's just like that and moves around quite a lot.

I guess we won't know for sure until our next adventure out. The night wasn't a complete loss however - we spied on Jupiter a lot more and could see a faint stripe under it's belly. That was pretty cool :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The creativity bug has struck

Well I must say the end of this year has really got my creative juices flowing! I've been taking photos like crazy and framing a heap of them, I started work on a secret project with Boo and then on Christmas Day I was inspired again.

Christian and I had lunch at my older sister's house on Christmas day and after a lovely spread, we all sat around the table picking at the gingerbread house Jo and Darcie had decorated. Afterwards, I was looking at the sorry remains of the house (parts of the roof had been broken off and most of the lolly decorations had been eaten) and I asked Jo 'Do you think this would be covered by their home and contents insurance? Or would it be considered an act of God? I mean, if you believe in God, would he send giants to eat your home?'
Jo wasn't sure so we asked Christian. 'They don't call it an act of God any more.' Christian informed us. 'They call it force majeure.'
'And that means?' I asked.
'Same thing really, it's a force beyond their control.'
'Ah, so do you think the gingerbread family would be covered?'
Christian shook his head. 'No way, the idiots built their house out of gingerbread, they were just asking for someone to come along and eat it.'

And so I had the idea of writing a story about an insurance agent in Fairy Tale Land. Upon getting home from Jo's I had two hours before our friend Tash was coming over and I finished the last sentence as she walked in the door. It's not been edited and it's rather rough but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

(I must apologise for the spacings - it didn't transfer properly from Open Office...)

Once upon a time, in a magical land where fairy tales were real, a place called Fairy Tale Land, there lived a man called Mr Jones.

Mr Jones was not a fairy tale creature - not a troll or a dwarf, a prince or a warlock, but just an ordinary man.

On the first day of the new year he got up in the morning, had toast for breakfast, dressed in a neat gray suit, kissed his wife goodbye and went off to work.

Completely ordinary in every sense.

It was the nature of his work that made Mr Jones the subject of this story; for where he worked was an interesting place indeed.

Mr Jones was an employee of the IAF – the Insurance Agency of Fairy Tale Land. All day long he assessed and processed claims submitted by the magical and not so magical creatures of Fairy Tale Land. As you can well imagine, these sorts of insurance claims are rather different to the claims you or I might submit in our world; there are very few claims for a new washing machine or a new car. The nature of their world changed the nature of their claims but for us to understand these, how about we spend a day with Mr Jones and see what he comes across?

Mr Jones arrived at the office just before 9am. He worked down town on the main street, right opposite a bakery and he enjoyed the smell of the fresh bread that wafted across through his open window. Like insurance agencies in our world, the IAF was a large room separated into small cubicles, with a desk, a phone and a filing cabinet in each one.

Mr Jones' desk was neat and tidy and had a framed photo of Mrs Jones upon it. After hanging his jacket on the hook by the door, Mr Jones sat down and looked at his full 'in tray'. The period after Christmas was always the busiest of the year for the IAF and many claims had already been applied for. His whole day was full of appointments and his first client of the day had just arrived.

Mr Gingerbread knocked at the door to the cubicle and Mr Jones ushered him in. The poor biscuit man looked totally dejected and close to tears. Mr Jones pulled out the appropriate paperwork, along with a notepad and pen.

“What brings you to see me today Mr Gingerbread?”

“Oh, my family had a terrible, terrible holiday Mr Jones!” Mr Gingerbread pulled out a handkerchief and wiped at the tears escaping from his licorice eyes. “On Christmas day itself no less, our house was destroyed!”

“Oh dear” said Mr Jones. “How ever did that happen?”

Between sobs, Mr Gingerbread relayed his story. “The wife and kids and I were outside, building a snowman in the garden before we sat down for lunch. We heard them before we saw them – laughing and joking, full of festive cheer. A whole family...” he broke off, blowing his nose on the hankie.

“Go on” Mr Jones urged, handing the sobbing pastry a fresh tissue.

“Well, as I said, we heard them first. We'd seen the news reports, we know this happens almost every Christmas and so we had a fair idea of what was coming next. The wife and I scarpered across the road with the kids and hid behind some fairy floss bushes and then they came. The giants. And they...they...oh it was terrible! They ate our house!” Mr Gingerbread broke out into fresh howls as he relived the nightmare again.

“I see. Well I'm glad none of your family was hurt Mr Gingerbread; there have been fatalities in the past.” Mr Jones said sympathetically.

He pulled out a manual from his desk drawer and flipped to the appropriate section. “Yes, it is as I recalled, you're in luck Mr Gingerbread. The IAF recently changed the policy regarding these types of claims. It used to be that they considered these sorts of incidents to be 'Acts of God' and wouldn't pay out but since none of the Gods would tell us who was responsible, they decided to start paying for the claims. Your house will be fully rebuilt and in the mean time you can stay at Old Mother Hubbard's Lodging House, all covered by your policy of course.”

“Oh thank you, thank you!” Mr Gingerbread exclaimed. “That's the best news I've had all holidays!”

“Happy to help,” said Mr Jones. “Now, if you just take this paperwork to Nancy at the front desk, she'll get you all sorted. Goodbye.”

Mr Gingerbread shook Mr Jones' hand and left the cubicle, looking much happier than when he walked in.

Ten minutes later, Mr Jones' second applicant arrived, towering in the doorway.

“Ah, Mr Bear! Come on in, what can we do for you today?”

Mr Bear squeezed into the cubicle and into the visitor chair. “We've had a bit of trouble with a break and enter Mr Jones.”

“That's not good! Did they catch who did it?”

Mr Bear nodded. “It was that young scallywag Goldilocks, from down the road. I know I shouldn't blame her, coming from a broken home and all, never being brought up proper and whatnot but she did quite a bit of damage. Baby Bear is quite upset and Mrs Bear is in all a tizz.”

“Understandably,” Mr Jones nodded. “Do you by any chance have the police report with you? We need it to file the claim.”

“It's right here.” Mr Bear handed over some documents he had brought with him. Mr Jones accepted the bundle and looked through them.

“I see, so according to this report the damage was, luckily rather limited. Locks need to be replaced, kitchen chairs were broken and some bed linen was soiled.”

“Yes, we were lucky we came home when we did,” Mr Bear nodded. “Otherwise there's no telling what she may have gotten up to. The police say that she's been known to steal quite expensive items and we had the new DVD player I bought Baby Bear for Christmas sitting right there in the lounge room.”

“Well, this is a very straight forward claim Mr Bear, you won't have any problems. Nancy will write you a cheque to replace these items, just see her on your way out.”

Mr Bear nodded and stood to leave. “I appreciate your help Mr Jones.” He held out his paw for a shake and then squeezed his way out of the door.

Mr Jones had time for a quick coffee before his next visitor. He choked on a sip of coffee when he saw his applicant and tried not to cough too hard as he showed his hairy guest to the chair. A long nose and beady black eyes peeked out from under a bonnet and from beneath the cotton dress a large hairy tail swished backwards and forwards.

“Ah, how can I help you, Mrs...?” Mr Jones managed after his coughing fit passed.

“Grandma Hood,” supplied the rather gruff voice from beneath the bonnet.

“I see...Grandma Hood. So, how can I help you today?”

“Well, I've got health insurance and needed some new glasses and was wondering if they were covered?”

Mr Jones nodded. “Certainly, we have a range of glasses to suit such big eyes as you have.”

Grandma Hood gave a shaky laugh. “Oh, but you'd think they'd see all the better for it, wouldn't you?”

“Indeed. Is there anything else we can help you with?”

Mr Jones' hairy visitor gave a nod. “I was also wondering if I could book in for a scale and clean.”

“For your big teeth?” Mr Jones asked.

Grandma Hood nodded. “I do like to keep them clean...and sharp.”

“I'm sure we can arrange that. If you take this paperwork and wait in the waiting room just outside, my assistant Nancy will be with you in just a moment.”

“Why thank you, kind sir.” Grandma Hood rose and sauntered from the room, her bushy tail wagging behind her.

Once she had left, Mr Jones picked up the phone and rang through to Nancy's extension.

“Nancy dear, do me a favour and get security to apprehend my last client. Can't miss him, he's a wolf dressed as an old lady. And once that's done, call the Fairy Tale Land PD. I think we've found that serial killer who's been knocking off those old ladies and their granddaughters.”

“Certainly Mr Jones.” came Nancy's reply.

“That's a good girl. Now I'm off to lunch. I'll be back in an hour.”

Mr Jones left his cubicle and decided he'd go to the bakery across the road for a bite to eat. On his way out the door he passed 'Grandma Hood' scuffling with three security guards and as he crossed the street he heard distant sirens getting closer. By the time he entered the bakery, police officers were storming into the IAF office.

The Muffin Man stood behind the counter, serving his customers with a smile on his face. Mr Jones was happy this business was doing so well now. Just last year his old premises down on Drury Lane had burnt down during the night and The Muffin Man was sure he'd never recover from his losses. But the payout from his insurance policy had covered the cost of buying this new bakery and due to the more central location, business was booming.

Mr Jones waited his turn and then bought himself an egg and lettuce sandwich which he took outside to a table to eat. As he ate his lunch he saw 'Grandma Hood' taken away in the paddy wagon, exchanged a greeting with The Pied Piper as he led a procession of rats along the main street and gave directions to a rather scary looking lady who was in search of a spindle shop.

After a refreshing cup of coffee and a quick phone call to his wife, Mr Jones was ready to face the rest of his work day.

The afternoon was just as busy as the morning. He had to finish the paperwork regarding the claim made last month by The Pig Brothers. They were trying to claim damages to their houses during a freak storm but upon further investigation it was found that they had not sought council approval to build their houses and also the structural integrity of the dwellings was rather shoddy. This was one claim the IAF would not be paying out on.

After Mr Jones finished with his paperwork, he got himself ready for a very important client. A powerful merchant was coming to see him regarding a specialised service that the IAF offered – K&R. Although Fairy Tale Land was normally a peaceful land, some times bad things happened and the IAF tried to cover all scenarios. The Kidnap and Ransom service was expensive and only the richest and most powerful people could afford the service.

When the merchant arrived, he was visibly upset. “My daughter, Beauty has been taken from me by a horrid beast. He's not made any demands as yet but he refuses to communicate with us. What do we do?”

“First of all, you need to stay calm.” Mr Jones told the merchant. “The IAF is happy to act as negotiators on your behalf. This is our fee,” he showed the merchant a figure on some paperwork. “If you're happy to pay, I shall get you in a meeting with out top negotiator this instant.”

“Anything for my daughter! I shall pay right now.” The merchant snapped his fingers and a servant came into the cubicle carrying a small wooded chest. He opened the lid to show the gold inside.

“Excellent.” Mr Jones said. “If you'll have your servant see Nancy at the front desk, she'll take care of your receipt and I'll have you escorted to conference room four where you'll meet with our negotiator. I wish you all the best of luck with getting your daughter back.”

“Thank you so much.” The merchant said. He nodded and then left the room , his servant following, taking the chest with him.

Mr Jones' last clients of the day were none other than the King and Queen of Fairy Tale Land.

“Your Majesties, how may I be of service this afternoon?” Mr Jones asked, bowing deeply.

“It seems we may have a bit of a problem. A princess asked for shelter during that big storm last week but our son, (you know how he can be!) wanted to find out if she was a real princess or not. He hid a pea in her bed and when she woke up she was black and blue, covered in bruises. Turns out she was a real princess and she's not happy at all. She's talking of suing us!”

“Goodness me! That's not very gracious behaviour after you put her up for the night!” exclaimed Mr Jones.

“My thoughts exactly,” murmured the Queen.

“Well, never fear your Majesties,” Mr Jones assured the royal pair. “Your public liability policy is very extensive and if any judge in the land would decide against you, you wouldn't have to pay a cent.”

The King nodded. “That's good to know Mr Jones. I'm sure it won't come to that, I'll have a talk with her father, and I'm sure we'll get it sorted. My son just fancied her but he's determined to have a 'real' princess. I just wanted to make sure our policy would cover such an incident if need be.”

“Ah, young love, it causes everyone so much grief, does it not!” Mr Jones laughed.

“Indeed it does Mr Jones! Let's just hope her father sees sense. Well, good day to you.”

“You're very welcome Your Majesties.”

After Mr Jones' royal clients had left he finished up the last of his paperwork, turned off the desk lamp and gathered up his briefcase. As he was leaving the office he nodded goodbye to Cinderella, the office cleaner who had just started her shift and helped Nancy carry a box to her car. Then it was a short drive home to a lovely dinner cooked by Mrs Jones and a relaxing evening on the couch watching his favourite television shows.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In which Nettie takes Molly to the vet...

Many years ago we started noticing that one of Molly's eyes was getting cloudy. She still seemed to be able to see out of it fine and so we didn't worry about it too much. Then one day I was at the vet and asked to have it checked out while we were there. I was told that Molly had a cataract but she could still make out shadows, light and dark and see movement.
Then about a year ago we went back to the vet for some unrelated issue and whilst there I got the vet to check her eye again. By this stage the cataract had developed to the point where Molly was completely blind in that eye, a fact that we had begun to suspect anyway. Several times Molly had had trouble seeing things on that side and it had become sadly obvious.

Last Sunday I was sitting on the couch with Molly perched on my lap getting wuzzes when I noticed her other eye had a bit of a shine to it. Suspecting the worst, I took her to the vet the following day only to have my suspicions confirmed. A cataract was already almost fully developed in her good eye. It's just a matter of time before Molly is fully blind.

The vet discussed the options with me, which were rather limited.
1) We get a referral to a doggie ophthalmologist and have an operation to restore sight in one or both her eyes. This will cost approximately $3500 per eye.
2) We do nothing and the cataract continues to develop, rendering her blind but on an indeterminable time line.

Christian was in Melbourne for work and so when I got home I rang him and we discussed the options, since if we decided to operate, the sooner the better.
It was hard but we ultimately decided to go with the second option. Several factors influenced our decision but the main ones were a) the first cataract took several years to develop enough to take her sight and since Molly is already almost 12, the chances are good that she will have some sight up until her death b) the vet said that dogs adjust very quickly to a loss of sight and she would cope rather well.
Cost was obviously a factor too and if Molly was half her age, we wouldn't have hesitated to spend the money on her. Finding the money isn't an issue - we've made extra payment into our mortgage that we can access at any time but due to her being an elderly dog it just seems silly to fork out so much money and put her through the risk of surgery.

Maybe that's callous, I just don't know. But I think we made the right decision.

I am curious to know what everyone else would have done if you were in my position. What do you think? Did we make the right call? Or should we do whatever it takes?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shoot me in the brain

Christian and I have been watching The Walking Dead and the other day watched the episode in which the CDC scientist explains about Test Subject 19. For those of you who haven't seen this episode, basically Test Subject 19 was a scientist who got bit, gave permission for their transformation into flesh eating zombie be documented and then when the transformation was complete was shot through the head by Mr CDC. Glaring obvious from the beginning was the fact that Test Subject 19 was in fact Mrs CDC. It's a great show but please don't think we're dumb...

Anyway so after we'd watched the episode Christian and I had this conversation.

Me : If I turned into a zombie, would you shoot me?
Christian : Looked honestly shocked at the idea that he could shoot me.
Me : If you turned into a zombie I wouldn't hesitate to shoot you.
Christian : Looks honestly shocked that I would shoot him.
Me : Well I wouldn't want you to have to walk around for eternity, decaying flesh falling from your bones, the hunger for flesh never stopping, driving you mad with every waking moment.
Christian : Oooooooookaaaaaaaaaay...
Me : So you'd have to shoot me.
Christian : I don't think I could.
Me : But if you didn't shoot me, I'd bite you and then you'd be a zombie too! And in my heart I'd know I was responsible for destroying your soul.
Christian : I'm sure I could stop you biting me.
A wrestle commences which culminates with me biting him on the neck.
Me : See how easy that was! Wouldn't have happened if you'd just shot me. That's a lesson. Why? Because now you're a zombie.

After that we shuffled around a bit, ate raw flesh and then spent the rest of the evening moaning 'Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains'.

Turns out being a zombie isn't that bad after all ;-)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Yet another post

Wow, I'm really pumping them out aren't I? I hope you believe me when I say I haven't been abducted by aliens and replaced by a cyborg - it really is me!
It's just I had a bit of time to kill the other day and I went back and read some early posts that I had done on this blog but also early posts done by Boo and Mouse. And it seemed that way back then we actually spent time writing about what we did on our weekends, places we'd been, things we got up to. I've just found that recently when I've been posting at all it's been more about specific events or thoughts or just a bit of a photo dump.

I don't know if I'm making any sense and I'm not saying posts like those are bad in any way but I always enjoyed reading ramblings about the everyday lives of my friends and since we're all so similar I'm sure you guys are the same.
I guess that was the whole point of this blog in the first place. I have so many great friends, who don't live anywhere near me and this was a way of keeping in touch and up to date, not just for the big events and occasions but for all the little things along the way too.

And so here is my weekend so far!

Friday : Mum came round for dinner and trying to be healthy I made chicken stirfry and we had strawberries and custard for dessert. Mum marveled over my solar lights, completely forgetting that she's seen them all before, numerous times. The night wrapped up pretty early as Mum had to go and pick up my nieces. I had found a package thrown into my backyard while Mum was looking at the solar lights and it contained a Snoopy scarf I had ordered for my older sister.
Now Jo and I have had a falling out (long story but it's bad enough that she's uninvited me from Christmas) but I thought I'd be the bigger man so to speak and I gave it to Mum to pass on from me. I could have been spiteful and kept it but what does that achieve? I was rewarded with a thank you message on FB but that's been the extent of her olive branch extension.

Saturday : I was up at 6am and as I usually do at that time on the weekend, I jumped online to chat to my Scottish sisters. Boo and I had a rather interesting conversation which led to a few ideas being bandied about which then led to a full on exciting secret project. We've decided to keep it a secret for now for much the same reasons as pregnant people don't tell people they're pregnant until the first trimester is up; if something goes pear-shaped and we don't complete our project we won't have to face the horrifying prospect of informing everyone of our loss.
Let's just say it's combining our creative talents and we're both very excited.

I dragged myself away from the computer and went and had lunch with an old school friend of mine. It was great to see her but odd because she now has a baby bump. For some reason (maybe just my age?) a heap of my friends are all pregnant at the moment. I know it's silly, I don't even really want kids, but because I can't have kids, I'm feeling slightly like a failure as a woman at the moment. I know, I know, it's irrational and silly but that's the best part of being a woman - we're allowed to be irrational and silly at times.

That night Barb and Mikey came and picked us up and we went out for dinner. Mum had all the kids and so my sister and brother-in-law were enjoying their first kid-free night out in quite a while. We had a good night out and had thought of extending the night by having drinks back at our place but in the end Barb and Mikey decided that an uninterrupted night of sleep was beckoning and they headed home.

Sunday - I was up early again and so found myself again chatting to Mouse and Boo online. Mouse headed off to bed early and Boo and I tried to discuss our project but her msn kept crashing. In the end I just phoned her and it was so good to actually speak to her. It's just so hard sometimes being on the other side of the world to them and it's kind of painful how much I wish most days that we all lived closer to each other.
I was going to head to the gym today but period cramps have reared their ugly head and so I'm just having an easy day. I'm off to a friend's place tonight but until then I think I'll just curl up and read my book.

I do hope I haven't bored you all completely. I just missed our bloggy interactions :(

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Walking into walls

I've always been a bit of an accident prone, ever since I was a child.
Here is an account of a conversation I had this evening with Christian.

I pick up my favourite mug from the sideboard in the lounge room and take it through to the kitchen. On the way there the mug mysteriously gets broken.
Christian : What the fuck?
Me : Bugger, I broke my favourite mug! How did that happen???
Christian : Uh duh! You just walked into the wall! Like you always do!
Me : I don't walk into walls! The gap is there, I see it and then all of a sudden I'm walking into the wall...
Christian : Do you need a race?
Me : *blank look*
Christian : *making closing in gestures* You know, a cattle race, so you get herded through the doorway so you avoid things like, you know, walls.
Me : *tries to come up with a snappy retort and fails* Shut up, that's why!

Walls - 40659, Nettie - 0


Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Last Sunday was a sad day.
Dad had been visiting from Canada and he had to go back home :(

I had a great time while he was here and I'm looking forward to visiting him again next year. It's so hard, knowing he's so far away. When he's here, it's like he never left, nothing has changed. And now I can feel the great distance between us and it makes me miss my Daddy so much :(

I may be in my thirties now but you never stop being a little girl when you're around your Dad. Especially when he's such a joy to be around. The photo below is a perfect example of how wonderful he is. Dad is always up for a joke, can't keep a straight face in photos and is ultra supportive.