Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

The Dining Room Diaries – the here we go again edition

Firstly, Reg would like to apologise profusely for the situation in which we currently find ourselves in the glorious and somewhat germ ridden state of Victoria. This is all his fault. He foolishly joked only last weekend that we needed to go into lock down again because our social life was getting out of hand, hurrhurrhurr. Ahem. Cosmos heard. Cosmos obliged. Okay, I really should add that he does NOT have the covids, and nor has he been to any of the 120+ exposure sites in the key times, and he was in fact reacting to our somewhat hectic and definitely chaotic six weeks or so of having an actually MORE hectic social life than we would have done ten years ago in 2019.

Yes, after 15 months of sitting in the same chair, staring at the same walls, we were out and about and getting amongst it. Football games (the blokes), shopping day trip to the Big Smokey for no apparent reason (that would be moi), any number of birthday parties (at least two, maybe three), mothers day *and* culminating in a weekend away drinking and carousing with seventy of our closest friends. Noice. This weekend was supposed to be more footy (blokes) and a fundraising dinner (moi). Yeah, nah. Nope. Shut it ALL down.

Fuck.

I am actually quite emotional about it all this time round. I mean, fuck. Actually having stuff on the calendar and going to places, and negotiating who’s driving and who is going to have fun or whether Uncle Uber will drive us home, cos fuck it, I reckon tonight is a two wines kind of night (you know when I say two wines, it’s not two standard drinks, hey? More like two buckets o’ wine. I ain’t driving anywheres). Oh, and let’s not forget the logistics of getting four adults to a party and one kid home from work when said kid isn’t keen on our friend Uncle Uber. Yay for hospitality working gfs of partying teenage boys, that’s all I can say. First world problems I was in fact happy to have.

And now, we’re back where we started. And I am having a wee sad. Which is ironic, as I was in two minds about going to this dinner tonight, anyway. (One of those annual things, attend as a couple and barely see each other all night. Going on my own wouldn’t have been much different to normal, to be honest; but nice dinner out v takeaway at home all by myself…Decisions.) Looks like it will be the takeaway at home, just not actually by myself. Which means it will be pizza or burgers (the only takeaway the four of us will all eat. More first world problems. But you know, the ironic thing about living in the first world, is the problems you have tend to be just that. First world. So there you have it.)

To be honest, I had a bit of an inkling shite was going down a bit earlier in the week, so did my grocery order to pick up yesterday. The supermarket was a bloody nightmare a couple of hours after the big announce, the toilet paper shelf was best described as sparse – seriously, it would have taken at least a year to get through the last lot of panic buying in February, so why do they need that much more crap wrap? AGAIN? People were driving trolleys around blindly grabbing whatever off the shelves and hoping for the best. On the plus side, I didn’t get into a punch on like the last time I did click and collect on a Thursday lunchtime. Okay, it wasn’t really a punch on. It was more of a slightly bemusing spat. Apparently, only people who are getting their groceries delivered to the car can park in the dedicated car parks out the back of the supermarket, and not the ones who go in themselves and get it. This factoid was news to me and to the supermarket bloke. But not to the Full Karen who decided to park her car across the back of the car parks and stand there like a belligerent bulldog sucking on a wasp. Also, I think I won, because she did move her car (although she took a picture of my numberplate? Why? Who knows?)

Anyway, fisticuffs aside; I was in and out reasonably quickly, ducked into Uncle Dan’s for a selection of cool drinks, and resisted the urge to add another bottle of Mother’s Ruin to my trolley. I do have three full bottles. No, four. I should be fine. It’s only a week. Reg only has one slab. he might get thirsty. Then I headed off to Bunnings. Now, I am not sure where Bunnings fits in my list of top ten shops, but it’s up there. I like to have a poke around and see if there’s anything good (there usually is). This time I had a List – potting mix, rooster booster, a soil testing kit, seed raising mix and some peat pots. Tickticktickticktick. Got the nice man to lift the heavy stuff into the car for me and chatted about the general state of play. I mentioned I was planning to go to Bunnings on Saturday anyway, but figured it would be easier to just get what I needed on Thursday. If the nice man could have prostrated himself on the floor in thanks, well. I think he would have. Click and collect. {shudders} good idea coming today.

So here I am, sitting in the dining room. I was supposed to be going into the office today, but yeah, nah. As of Monday, Mayhem will be doing school at home. Hence four bottles of gin. Maybe I should have got the fifth? It’s only four days. Probably. Depends. Maybe. Don’t think about the end date. Don’t do a countdown. What if it spikes up again. What if it’s longer. How will you fucking deal. Well, you know you will fucking deal because that’s just what you do. And drink gin. That’s the other thing you do. And stiff upper lip and all that cos you know that you’re the Clag that keeps this haphazard show on the road more or less. My circus, my monkeys. Or clowns. Never did work that out? Not sure I approve of animals in circuses, so yeah. My circus, my clowns.

Oh, and my preferred method of stress management? Spot of retail therapies? So far, I have procured a second big screen for my desk and a fancy-arsed USB-C/HDMI adaptor for it. Delivered on Monday. Hopefully. And new runners for Mayhem with the Giant Feet. Nervy about that… he’s not grown out of them, just worn them out. He is due for another growth spurt. His feet grow first. Argh. Very boring retail therapies. Although, one will make work at home more alluring and t’other will prevent whining. Which in turn prevents wine.

It’s now 5pm (almost. Will be by the time I post this, anyway) on Friday night. I should right now be hopping on board the deadly treadlie and wheeling my way home prior to the consumption of a restorative glass of fermented grape juice, a quick scrub up and heading off into the night. Probably would have faced up to a baked ricotta gnocchi with prosciutto, goats cheese and rocket in a napoli sauce, followed by a simply delectable house made ice-cream with hot chocolate sauce and praline. Then a couple of v.cheeky glasses of rose and a hell of a lot of conversation. Then, Uncle Uber home for a well deserved rest.

Instead, after I pack up my desk, quite probably a quick squirt on the treadlie (after I suss out roughly where 5km is), followed by that tin of Pimms that’s been sitting in the fridge winking at me all day. And pajama pants and dial a dinner. Pizza goes with rose, right?

The Dining Room Diaries – the transformation edition

Well hello readers. I am back in the Dining Room after a glorious two weeks doing whatever the fuck I wanted, actually. Including eating meals at the fucking dining table. Well. That’s come to an end, hey. For the time being at least. I am going to work in the office on a Friday. Am I excited? Sort of. Nervous? Not really. Irritated by the idea of having to lug everything I use on a daily basis into the office? Well, give me a resounding hells yeah. But more on that laters.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about transformation. According to the dictionary, a transformation is a “dramatic change in form or appearance” – I’m no caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and becoming a beeee-yoooo-tiful butterfly. I’m just as likely to be a cranky arsed enormous moth (one of those moths that dive bombs you out of nowhere) as some delicate and beautiful creature. And I am certainly not getting a different haircut or changing my hair colour. But I have this feeling I am on the cusp of something different and, well transformative. (Maudy goes deep and meaningful. Maybe? Yeah, nah. Deep as custard, mate.)

Couple of weeks ago, I completed the last step to formally complete changing my name officially to the name I’ve been using for forty odd years. It was always a bit of a joke that I run with a couple or three different names, depending on the circumstances (nope, Maudy isn’t actually one of them) – I reckon I called the change of name people three (or four) times to work out what name variation went where on the actually pretty bloody simple – if you aren’t on name version THREE already – application form. So, name on birth certificate (that I never used), actual name (that’s only on important shit like my licence and passport) and my regular name that’s on every other bloody thing I have my name on. Tab A goes into Slot C and but wait… I think I have two Tab As? And what about Slot B? Anyway. I now have a birth certificate with my regular name on it, a driver licence with my regular name on it, AND to complete the set, I now have a shiny new passport in my hot little hand. Once I cart said shiny bits of paper around to a variety of infuriating people, I will just be me. No more seekrit identities. Well, aside from Maudy. And that other one. Erm. Yeah. Reg threatened to ask me to marry him just so I will have to change ALL my names on everything again. As if.

I finally went to the doctor, too. Rocked up and said err. Here is a list of things I need chopped off. Ahem. Two down, one to go. Appointment for the third item in a couple of months. So, said goodbye to the cocopop on my neck that is basically a sprouting ball of witch-i-poo hairs; and to the almost non existent potential new mole (or BCC) that was growing on my nose. It was less than 1mm in diameter. Felt like it was the size of a watermelon. I don’t need that shite. Had a skin check as well (really should do that more regularly) because I am quite the mature and responsible lady (see what I mean about transformation? I am being Responsible.) As for the last thing on my list – which is getting another crown (I will be flasher than a rat with a gold tooth, because I will have THREE gold teeth), that has to wait until I see a dude about fixing my hand in a couple of months. Such a fucking grown up I am being. Pfft. As long as there is wine at the end of it, I can be a grown up.

And we’ve headed back into the office after more than a year at home at the Dining Table. That was weird on a lot of levels. I miss my colleagues and I miss the collaborative nature of my work environment. Having to book a meeting to run an idea past someone? Yeah, that’s fucked up. (And literally, as I type… called in to a meeting to do some Hard Maths.) But I am a creature of habit. I like to sit in the same spot and stare out the same window when I am thinking something through. I like to know I have a packet of panadol and some bandaids in my drawer alongside a toothbrush and a hairbrush because you never know. Now, though. Sitting somewhere random, looking at a wall or a divider. I need to bring everything with me on a daily basis and cart it all home again. I made myself a checklist

  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • Phone charger (or power block)
  • Mouse
  • Diary
  • Notebook
  • Glasses case
  • With glasses in it
  • Water bottle
  • Wallet
  • ID card
  • Tissues
  • Pen(s)
  • Coffee cup
  • Cutlery
  • Plate
  • Frypan
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag

Oh, wait.

Confused my packing lists there. But you get the gist of it all. I’m buying my lunch when I go in just so I don’t have to carry anything more than I absolutely have to. And I bought a bike. A lovely, shiny can go quite quick actually e-bike. It has a basket on the back, and fits my bloody enormous stuffed to the brim pack pack reasonably well. It has a 15kg limit – so yeah, tend to leave the frypan and the tent at home. But before you start saying e-bikes are for cheaters… Let me tell you a thing (or three) about the e-bike…

Thing one: You still have to pedal. It’s not hop on and off you go (that would be an electric motorcycle. Not the same). And you’re pedalling enough that after a decent ride, you are well aware of the muscles that you only use while pedalling a bike.

Thing two: I live on the side of a hill, and to get just about anywhere, I need to go down a hill, up a hill, up another hill, down a hill and up again. The down a hill bit at the very start is a very steep and unfriendly bit of hill that ends at a very busy road. Therefore starts terrifyingly and ends with an absolute ball-tearing slog. The alternative is to continue up the steep and unfriendly hill to a hill that is less steep but worse in that it’s a bloody long hill with a gentle rise. Then it’s down again. So, riding a push bike is not as alluring as it would be if I lived somewhere somewhat flatter.

Thing three: Basically, what the e-bike does is well. Make it flatter. A flatter ride is an alluring ride. No more busting ma phoofer valve going up the ridiculously long steep hill to get to the smaller steeper hill that leaves me panting like a superannuated steam train with a blockage. I pedal along like a lady. As long as I’m pedalling, it’s pushing me up the hill.

So there you have it. Three things about e-bikes. Well. It’s two really. And I will ride it because a) it’s pretty, b) it’s fun, and c) yeah, not as bloody hard work. Oh, and the other thing… Reg bought himself one as well from the Aldi. He now rides to work because he doesn’t need to deal with the omfggunnadie hill to get home. We do enjoy a family ride as well. Although Mayhem had an epic stack over the weekend. Claret everywhere. Fair bit of bark off, but no bones broken. He’s complaining a lot now, so figure he’s okay. He is bloody well going to work tonight or else.

The Dining Room Diaries – Quarter Time

Yeah, like what’s with the sporty analogies, Maudy? Crikey. I could really dig deep and go for some you know, accounting analogies. So, yeah, I’ll be reporting on Quarter Three. Or Quarter One. What year is it again? Right. Yeah nah. As an aside I rediscovered some of the many many reasons I gave accountancy the arse when I was studying today. Situation involving five quarters. Some stray GST and a misplaced decimal or something. Anyway, complicated. So, five quarters? Is that a calendar year year and another quarter, or two halves of two financial year years and another quarter? Yes. Both. Can’t be both. Well. It is. Five quarters. Two years. All good. So there. Anyway enough of that. I AM ON HOLIDAYS.

Yes. The dining table is reverting to a large, flat wooden surface for the use by me for things that do not involve earning a crust. Yay! I am not doing anything at all. Well, I am. I am going to appointments, I am catching up with the inlaws, I am going to Melbourne for the day to look at a bike. Electric. Cute. Expense. Want. I have one week with the family and one week more or less home alone. I’ve also taken up studying again (more on that later. Regrets, I have some. It is not even week one)

Where was I again? Oh yeah. Quarter time. At the start of this year, I set myself some goals. Decided that small short term goals might work better because flighty as fuck and have the attention span of a… look… shiny. Focus, Maudy. Right, small goals.

  1. Read ten books – at least two non fiction, and at least two new authors.
  2. Finish two craft projects
  3. Get less fat
  4. Reconnect with some of my friends
  5. Make new food
  6. Save $150 a month
  7. Be more organised

So. How did I go?

Goal One: Reading.

I read EIGHTEEN books in the first quarter of this year. Winning. I did only read one non-fiction book, but I started a second one. And as for new authors? Nailed that one. After watching The Bridgertons, I’ve read a couple of the series. They’re funny and silly and light. (And predictable, but I’m only up to kid #4, so there’s at least four more to go). Also, this other series (Peter Ash); the main dude is a veteran with PTSD, gets into pickles (think Jack Reacher, but less ridiculous). Plus there were a couple of other ones. Can’t remember. But 18 books. Noice.

Goal Two: Craft

I finished one project. A knee rug I made for one of the kids when he was about half my height, instead of taller. Started a couple of new ones, worked on a couple more.

Goal Three: Get less fat

Hrrrm. That was going okay until March struck. Some interesting food and beverage choices, and while I only lost about half a kilo over the entire month. I didn’t gain any. The psychology stuff that goes along with the weightloss program I am following in a bit of a half arsed way – well, most of the time it’s a bit fucked up (when one is dealing with real emotions, pretending to have emotions is bullshit). Anyway, I have discovered I am not an emotional eater (i.e. it’s not the emotions that lead me to the fridge); I don’t eat because I’m stressed, either. Tired or bored, though? You better put a lock on that bad boy or I’ll chew my way through it like a plague of locusts. And when I am super emotional or stressed, I don’t sleep well; and when I don’t sleep well…what is that delicious morsel, and yes I will have another or ten. Oops. Handy to know though. Still have to work out how to attack that little problem.

Side goal was to do a 5km walk at some point, and to walk 3km in 30 minutes. I did both of those, so there’s that. Only once each, I might add, but baby walks. Now I am on holidays, I think I will try and do both again a couple of times. I can only do the quick walk on my own. I don’t sniff as much stuff as the dog does.

Goal Four: Reconnect with friends

Yeah, did that a bit. I have good friends. They understand.

Goal Five: Make new food

Yeah, definitely did that. Tried out a few new things, cooked up a bazillion kilos of tomatoes from my tomato patch. Picklepalooza occurred. Tomato chutney, tomato pickles, cucumber pickles, strawberry jam, passata, pickled beetroot…found things to do with a million passionfruit as well. Lookin’ at you, passionfruit slice and you over there passionfruit curd. I do like to cook. This goal is not onerous, although it does clash somewhat with Goal Three.

Goal Six and Seven:
In the olden days (you know, before the decade that passed last year), I used to save my gold coins and my leftover cash from my pocket money*. I would accumulate a tidy little sum that would be used frivolously – a weekend away, a new fucking dishwasher the minute the old one died instead of waiting for six months, took the fam bam to the Melbourne Show (woooood chopping and Bertie Beetles. Noice.) But yeah, that stopped about the time I stopped using cash on an ongoing basis and my jar of gold coins has been declining somewhat dramatically. Nowt to do with Chaos raiding the jar to wash three weeks worth of clothes at the laundromat. Long story. But lesson was learned. Anyway, saved up lots. Not so much now.

One thing I do in fact like to do when I am all emotional and shit is erm. Buy crap. And by crap I mean stuff I really don’t need like erm. Washi tape and stickers and ink and fountain pens and a stationery subscription box and some random articles of clothing like a coat that may look like a teddy bear. I don’t know if it really does look like a teddy bear but I imagine I will find out between the 9th and 13th of April. I think that is the last parcel I am expecting? There could be some more washi tape? Can one have too much washi tape? I will let you know.

As far as getting myself organised goes. Well. I have used a bullet journal for a really long time, but I have been a bit off ma game. So, days and sometimes weeks would go by and I wouldn’t use it. And bills wouldn’t get paid and people wouldn’t be where they were supposed to be and things were missed and mislaid. So. Organised. Diary now. Copiously adorned with washi tape (knew there was a reason I bought so much). Very delightful. Much joy is sparked. Chaos works three or four nights a week, Chaos also has a girlfriend. They do sleepovers. I don’t often know exactly when or where he is. Mayhem has just got a part time job. People need to be places at times. Well, not so much Chaos as he has wheels of his own (except on Saturday nights when he sucks up to his mother for a lift into town. Last Saturday, took two mothers to get the Young People into town). But Mayhem is a wee young thing and still needs carting about at various times of the day and night. And his mother (that would be moi) needs to know who needs to be where and when and what the fuck is for dinner anyway? Keeping all this shit in my head is a bit fucked up, so my analogue soul is delighted by the legitimate reason to acquire more stationery, and the diary is working out so far.

Speaking of stationery. I have started a course. It’s been a bit of a conga line of clusterfucks so far, and it’s not even the end of week one – I kid you not – I had to prove my competence with the English fucking language. Born in Australia. Speak ONE language. Emailing back and forth IN ENGLISH to confirm that I did in fact speak, read *and* write it competently. Apparently, my just over ten year old degrees were (and I fucking quote) “too old”. And “we need to see proof you completed year 12 in Australia”. For fuck’s sake. I completed Year 12 in Australia in the fucking EIGHTIES before Kylie fucking Minogue shed her first tear in the goddamn Henderson Kids. Oh yes, that’s fine. You can join in. Had non stop technical difficulties, too… apparently someone spelled my last name wrong. And they want *me* to be able to read and fucking write. Fuck.

So yeah, new course. New stationery. New pen. Definitely new ink. Ahem. What did I say about saving?

*Pocket money – a modest sum to be spent on whatever the fuck I want. Mostly books and pens to be honest. Oh, and coffees and lunch.

The Dining Room Diaries – The Sword of Damocles Edition

How’s that for a bit of melodrama to start your day off right? Yes, sitting here with a fucking great sword hanging over my head, held up by a single horsehair. Nice one. Okay, maybe not quite *that* dramatic but – this last couple of weeks has been coloured in by an impending feeling of doom, like I’m just waiting for something pretty fucking dreadful to happen. Heart beating faster (just a little bit faster, not even brisk walk fast), little sweaty (but it was warmish), almost anxious (but not quite). If I were an Older Duck, I would be saying “I can feel it in me waters”. And yeah, I could. Ma waters were all erm. Feel-y. And anticipatory. Like there was a fucking great sword hanging by a horsehair over my head.

There’s been a bit of shizzle dizzle going down at Chez McGee over the last few months, but all the shizzle was getting in the dizzle where it belonged, and ducks were lining back up and situations were progressing toward what passes as normal these days – so why the Portents of Doooooom?

Well, fuck me fucking swinging. Look at the fucking date, would you? Happy fucking anniversary, mate. Yesterday marked a year since I first set up camp in the dining room for “at least four weeks” and look at us fucking now. Still in the same chair I was sitting in last year. To be honest, I have been sitting in this particular chair for a good while now as it is my desk chair from work. But it’s been a feature of the dining room for a whole fucking year now. Fuck.

There’s been a whole lot of “this time last year…” going on as well, as everything fell over, one at a time. Starting with the Melbourne Grand Prix, shutting that down the morning of the event was a massive call. And we had Reg’s 50th birthday party booked in. 150 of his nearest and dearest…refreshing the news feeds hourly, and will we won’t we is the guest list up to date? Like, if we have to cancel do you even know who’s coming? Fuck, what are we going to do with 150 burgers and 20 kilograms of sausages? Fuck. Have we even got toilet paper? And the party squeezed in by the skin of its teeth – partied like it really was 1999 (Hey, it’s the Y2K20 bug. Lordy. I found the bar bill the other day when I did my filing for the first time in a year. Wish it was really Y2k because yeah. That bill was huge.) And after the party, I came home from work, the kids started school holidays early, the footy got shut down and the world as we knew it ceased to exist.

Man, the footy being cancelled burned like something that burns a lot. What? Miss Maudy likes the sportsball? Yeah, nah. Miss Maudy does not like the sportsball. iss Maudy picked her favourite team based on the phwoar factor of a single player way back in the 1980s. Because Miss Maudy is shallow like that, albeit consistent. However, Miss Maudy’s family are proud members of a football club (or two. Long story.) and this means that every weekend from March to September, there is a 50% chance at least some of the the blokes at Chez McGee will be off to watch a game somewhere on at least one day of the weekend. Thus, frequently leaving Miss Maudy Home Alone for a few hours. Miss Maudy is jack of talking about herself in the third person. Reverting to normal programming, stat. From time to time, my services are required to drop off or collect, but aside from that… no need to have the actual game on the television or listen to Reg yell at the telly. Doesn’t matter which team is winning or losing, there is always the yelling. The Hound runs away and hides. The football is on again this weekend. The blokes have tickets. I will wave them goodbye. I hope. It’s a whole three days away. It could still not happen.

Oh, and how did I decide to celebrate my first year of working from home? By getting my first fucking COLD since 2019. Chaos came home from somewhere with a cold last week. Scratchy throat, stinkin’ headache and a stick up the nose, day in bed for you, Sonny Jim. And because my favourite oldest child is the caring and sharing type… Monday night, I have the scratchy throat, Tuesday morning, I have the headache and a stick up the nose. No day in bed for me though, I puddled along at work – three hours of meetings that I couldn’t delegate or avoid. Bastards. Oh, and how do I know the last time I had a cold was in 2019? Well, that would be because the cough mixture I took a slug of at 1.30am was best before November 2019. Tip for young players, best before being oh, 16 months ago, meant it did slightly less than fuck all to stop my coughing up a lung or two. Suffice to say, replaced with modern and hopefully more effective medicine for tonight’s shenanigans.

Wondering how long before the other two ninepins at mine come down with the Mongolian Death Plague…

So yeah, waiting and wondering and wondering and waiting. And waiting. And maybe wondering.

(And the other thing is this last couple of weeks is leading up to is the Biggest Bad of 2020, which it appears I am still not really ready to talk about. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of lasts coming up in the next three or four weeks, and then we’re back to finishing the list of firsts and starting on the seconds. It sucks a bit and yeah. Not talking about it. Pfft. Explains the anticipation, though.)

The Dining Room Diaries: The Tucker Fucker edition

Bloody hell, you know what? It’s been exactly FIFTY ONE WEEKS since this Dining Room adventure began and I commenced working at home for a month. Coughs. A lot. Not that much. Don’t need a stick up me nose. Okay. Crikey. yes, I’ve been home for almost a year. Anyway. This episode of the Dining Room Diaries is brought to you by Nat’s What I Reckon, and a gigantic flashback to my long long ago past. Now, young Nat made a bit of a name for himself over the Quarantine Period with cooking videos – the recipes are pretty good, and the cooking videos are fucking funny. The clip in question is the Wrong Way to Make Dinner – Nat makes a microwave dinner straight out of the best microwave cookbooks the nineties have to offer. I am watching this fucking thing and flashing right back to my fifth career. Yes. I have made a few dubious career choices in my time. I am currently on career #7. I digress.

Anyway, I’d got the arse from my job in a bookshop (how, I am still not sure. Well, I sort of know how, and it had a lot to do with the owner shagging people whom he was not married to; and me erm. Catching them walking hand in hand through Myer on a Friday night. Ahem. Not *my* problem, and suddenly no longer my job.) So, slow-motion through four and a half months on the dole. I was getting a) a bit broke, and b) a bit testy being home all the time because I had no money to do anything. So, I applied for a job as a cooking demonstrator for a bit of a lark.

At this point in my illustrious culinary endeavours, I had just learned to cook. Seriously. That’s how bored I was on the dole. I figured I could do chemistry and shit without blowing things up, so I could probably cook. Turned out I can follow instructions adequately and churn out an edible outcome. Nice. So – can cook ish. Can travel. I guess? Okay. Popped in my application, and was suitably impressed I got a call back and an interview. Now, the interview was in the Ansett Lounge at the airport, so I felt pretty damn fancy walking into that establishment. Somehow or other, I bluffed them into thinking I would be the right person for the job and started work a week later. I had to get my passport and everything, because I was trundling off to New Zealand for 12 days to learn my new found craft of teaching people how to get the most out of their microwave ovens.

Yes. I got a job as a demonstrator for Microwave Cuisine Cooking School. They unironically linked the words microwave and cuisine in their title. I was moderately pleased in that well, I would at least be getting out and about a bit and well, earning a couple of bucks while I did it. Nice one.

The Microwave Cuisine Cooking School’s home economists travel throughout Australia and overseas teaching microwave owners how to make microwave cooking easy.By showing students the many tips and techniques that are usually gained through years of experience, they help microwave oven owners to feel confident about using their machines. Cost is $25 and includes morning tea, lunch or dinner and free copy of Joan McDermott’s Ultimate Book of Microwave Hints (valued at $6.95). 

Three hour class, and for only $25 INCLUDING A FREE BOOK. Wow.

Anyway, I rocked up to this woman’s house in the burbs of Melbourne and piled in to a van and took off to the wilds of East Gippsland. We basically rocked up to community halls and sporting clubs around the country and set up shop. And by set up shop, I mean *I* set up a bank of three and sometimes four microwave ovens on a couple of wonky trestle tables, ducked down to the local supermarket and bought the ingredients on the very specific list and did a shed tonne of food preparation (including doing diabolical things to a chicken that yes, I was going to be cooking in one of those microwaves).

Half way through day one, I was pretty sure that there were worse things than being on the dole. Buy the end of day one I knew there were worse things than being on the dole. I spent my first day being kitchen hand/dish pig while my co-worker demonstrated to a pack of farm ladies how to use that newfangled device their husbands had bought them after that bumper harvest. It was totally going to revolutionise the way you cook, and you could throw away everything else and no need to slave over a hot oven on a summer’s day. Wow. Amaze.

Now, the whole premise of these classes was that anything you could cook in a conventional kitchen you could cook in your damn microwave and we demonstrated how to cook a variety of things – a roast chicken, roast beef, your sides, cakes, slices, a {gasps} toasted sandwich for which you would need this very expensive browning dish. Never mind that it took three times as long as cooking it in your bloody jaffle maker, you can cook a fucking toastie IN YOUR MICROWAVE. Outstanding. And browning meat – well. that’s just a visual thing you know, but if you want brown meat you can use Parisian essence. Or rub a packet of French Onion Soup all over your chicken. Delicious. Lordy.

By the end of that first day, I had the uneasy feeling that I was contributing to the decline of the old school country cook, and by the end of the second day I knew my role in this sideshow was to flog as much overpriced single function cookware to as many unsuspecting punters as possible, and charge them $25 for the privilege of being fleeced. My little mother called me one night and asked me how it was. I managed to convey to her the sheer horror of where I’d found myself with yes, no, and a judicious use of mmmm. Yeah. Fun times

But I am a woman of my word. I’d committed to this travesty for a full three weeks, and I was going to stick it out. I soon upgraded from mere kitchen hand/dishpig and broadened my repertoire to include giving parts of the demonstration (while still doing all the kitchen hand/dishpig parts of the job) while my erstwhile colleague flogged as much overpriced shit as she could possibly could. We ran two classes a day – 11 til 2pm and 6 til 9pm. That four hour gap between classes was taken up with flogging shit, cleaning up after the first class, quick trip to the supermarket to restock and checking into whatever low budget country motel was going to be our bed for the night before rushing back to set up for the evening class. And we’d finish up closer to 11 than 10, crawl back to our lodgings where I would lay awake, listening to the dulcet tones of my colleague snoring her head off. Nice. Oh, and we’d start at bumfuck o’clock so we could drive to the next destination, hit the supermarket and set up before the morning class.

You may notice in that timetable a serious lack of time to actually consume proper foodstuffs. Breakfast was maybe a slice of cold toast and a cup of international roast. Lunch and dinner was picking over the leftovers once the punters had eaten their fill because nothing else was fucking open at 10pm on a week night in the boonies. So, tired and fucking starving. And I could say without a lie that I had eaten every single thing we ever cooked. And when you’re that fucking hungry, you’ll say anything.

Anyway, tired, hungry, morally bankrupt. Moderately adept microwave demonstrator. Nothing like a crowd of old country women to keep you on your toes. And apparently, my very general, very mild Australian accent was virtually incomprehensible to a pack of Nanas from the wilds of New Zealand. Although, back then I sounded a lot more South Australia than I probably do now. And didn’t swear as much. But still. Fuck.

At the end of my three weeks, I went home clutching my very own copy of Ultimate Microwave Cooking Hints and a package of the very fancy utensils we were flogging for $20 a pack with the edict to learn how to use all of them properly when we started up again in January. The costs of both were deducted from my pay. And it turns out I was supposed to be getting commission on all the crap we were selling. But yeah, none of that came my way. I waved goodbye to my colleague as I sailed out of the resident return bit at customs, while someone enthusiastically went through her entire oversized luggage and never saw her again.

I went home to bed and slept for two days before starting Career #6 the following Monday and posting my resignation letter.

The Dining Room Diaries – The Insomnia Edition

Sleep is something that’s been on my mind a bit lately. I’ve been getting all introspective and shit and being mindful and all that palaver since I made the executive decision that I had reached what can best be described as Peak Maudy. Also known as the point where one realised that one is in fact fat as fuck and unless one wants to spend a fuck tonne of cashola on the procurement of wider clothing, one had better start taking notice of what one eats.

So how does that relate to sleep? Good fucking question.

Well, as part of this introspective (and to be honest, slightly wanky*) articles I have been subjected to in the process of de-Peakifying Miss Maudy, there was a series of articles on managing stress and stress related eating. This came at a rather good time for me as well. Stressed out of my tiny little brain at the present. A whole conga line of things that, well, you know – one or two would be manageable but ten? Yeah, nah. Stressed. It comes and goes in waves but normally sits at around a 5/10 and peaks at eleven or so. Out of ten. So, I was super keen to (actually) read these articles and get some ideas about managing my stress levels.

But I realised after reading the articles that they were about managing your food-response cues to stress. I don’t actually eat while I am stressed. I just don’t. I’m not hungry at all and food has no appeal, so I just don’t eat. I clench my jaw so hard that my face hurts and I chew on the inside of my cheeks. But I don’t sit down and plow through a block of chocolate and a family pack of barbeque chips when I’m stressed.

But the other thing I don’t do when I am stressed is sleep. And when I’m super tired… it’s like I’m hungover, and there’s that one perfect thing I can eat that will make me feel better. So hells yeah, family block of fruit and nut and bag of BBQ chippies GET IN MA BELLEH.

I’ve always been a bit shithouse at sleeping. I was one of those kids who was bundled into the car for fifty or so laps around the block when I was an infant; and I’ve always woken up at the drop of a hat. I’m the kind of person that goes from asleep to awake and that’s it. No in betweens. Well, once I had babies, I did master the art of getting up, feeding the baby and shoving him back in bed without actually waking up properly… that was pretty good (Mayhem was efficient. Chaos on the other hand…). I’ve had insomnia off and on since I was an actual teenager in a teenager’s body, instead of a teenager in the head of a middle aged lady. I used to sleepwalk and sleep talk and do all manner of odd things in the middle of the night (remind me to tell you the tale of the electric blanket one day).

When I was in my early thirties, my insomnia peaked. I was getting around three hours sleep at night, maybe four on a good night; and not even catching up on weekends. Again, I was fairly stressed – my father had recently died, work was being an arsehole, my love life was in the toilet (again), I’d taken up university and was juggling study with full time work. It was quite ridiculous. I would either not go to sleep at all, drop off in the early hours, and be rudely awakened by my alarm at 6am; or, I would go to sleep okay. But wake up at 2 or 3am and lie there, raging about being awake, until I’d drop off in the early hours and again be rudely awakened by my alarm. I tried all sorts of natural “remedies” – none of which stopped the rage-awakenings in the middle of the night.

I finally went to my doctor after a couple of weeks solid of not sleeping and I tried some chemical assistance. Ahem. No. Not a fan. Taking a sufficient dose that I would fall asleep and stay asleep *all* night left me a zombie the next day. Reducing the dose meant I’d fall asleep, still wake up and rage with the added bonus of being a zombie still the next day. This was not a case of better living through chemistry. It was worse! Back to the doctor I went.

So, we talked a lot about my sleep habits (sketchy as fuck, to be honest) and a bedtime routine (bwhahahahahahaaa) and how some people (me) when they come to the top of a sleep cycle, open their eyes and look around. And if you do that, and you see the clock, and you see time passing in 40 or so minute increments. You think you’re awake. And when you think you’re awake, guess what? You fucking wake up. Ahem. So, new rules.

  1. Move your fucking clock. If you can’t see time passing you won’t know time is passing.
  2. Have a bedtime routine. Make it a ritual and do things in the same order.
  3. If you wake up – Get up and do something. It’s okay to be awake.
  4. After no more than 40 minutes, re-do the bedtime routine and go back to bed again.

Moving the clock was the biggest game changer. I probably still wake up a bazillion times a night (according to my fitbit, this is actually true) but I”m not aware of it. And having *permission* to be awake is another one.Yep, you’re awake. No point getting angsty over it. Use the time to do something else. I used to get up, get dressed (supporting undergarments and everything) and walk up to the 7/11. I’d buy a chocolate bar and walk home, repeat the evening routine and go back to bed. Instead of being awake for 3+ hours in the middle of the night, I’d go back to sleep after about an hour. It’s still broken sleep BUT it would be seven hours of broken sleep instead of four or five. Now, I give it 20 minutes then read for a bit. Usually works.

Even now, the bedtime routine is still a thing. It takes 15-20 minutes and I do it every single night. IN ORDER. Even if I’ve done parts of it earlier. I get up from the couch, start turning lights off, clean the kitchen, pop the last couple of things in the dishwasher and run it, go outside and erm. Check the perimeter. Come in, lock the back door, do ma evening ablutions, lock the front door and hop into bed. I read for ten or so minutes most nights, then it’s sleepy bo-bos time. Someone once described sleep as being like a train – you have to wait for the Sleep Train to come to your station and get on as soon as it arrives. If you dilly dally, you’ll *miss* that train and have to wait for the next one. It’s probably lost something over time in my memory (that is scarred from sleep deprivations. Ahem.) But basically, if the sleep train is pulling in as I go to bed, no reading or I’ll miss that train and it will be another 20 minutes til the next one. Sometimes I forget. Mostly I remember.

So yeah. There’s sleep. And not sleeping. And being so bonecrunchingly tired I don’t know what to do with myself. But this passes. The stress passes. And gets replaced by a new and different kind of stress. And that too passes. Bit fucking Zen, hey. But as long as I realise that the tired is down to stress and will NOT be relieved by fruit and nut chocolate and BBQ chips; and what I really need is an early night… eh. We’ll see.

*I have a degree in psychology, specialising in social and cognitive psychology. You know, behaviour change. These articles are a) based on reasonably sound research; b) cute-d up and simplified for the lay-person; c) twee as fuck. Honestly, it’s like your dad tryin’ to be hip and down with the cool kids. Noice. I know how this is all supposed to work, and I am actually a little brat and ignore most of the articles and the “homework” I’m supposed to do. But hey, I have lost 3/4 of the Covid Condition, so I will shut up now. And keep not reading my articles.

The Dining Room Diaries Episode I don’t even know what day it is don’t judge me

This is the one with some random thoughts. I think. Something I started a couple of months ago and got side-tracked with. Me side-tracked? Who would have thought? I’ve been such a slacker lately. Well, I haven’t actually been a slacker – hence the lack of write (and the sudden flurry of posts. Ahem). Anyway. Random thoughts is random and here are some random thoughts.

Firstly, Christmas. When the fuck did that happen? Okay, that was bloody ages ago now, but hey, once that was over, I was sitting in my chair surrounded by the detritus of the day, going thank fuck that’s over for another year. Now I’m not normally massively together and organised a week out, but fuck. This year? No fucking idea about anything. I ventured into town a couple of weeks before Christmas for the first time and oh my fucking lord, too many people, so much noise, and the stench of a crowd on a hot summer’s day. It was vile. The rate I was going, everyone was lucky they didn’t end up with a stick and maybe a Carlton Draught bottle cap with a bit of trivia on it. Maybe. If they’re lucky.

One thing I did notice while I was doing the shopping and not buying anything anyone wanted was because well, the shelves were picked bare. Like, seriously – was it the last Christmas on earth? One joint was busily rearranging stuff that was left to fill the holes on the shelves, while trying to remember where the last two widgets were put because even though that’s where you’d think they’d be they got moved because they looked lonely. So yeah, even the big ticket stuff was a bit well. Looks like that’s not an option either. Bloody hell. Maybe town is always this picked over by the time Christmas rolls around, and I don’t notice because I’m in there almost every day? But even the post Christmas sales were a bit tragic as well. Maybe the Grinch did eat Christmas this year?

I took the week off between Christmas and New Year – I think this is only the third or fourth time since I started working back in the later part of last century (man, I am old) aside from when I was on maternity leave. Reg worked, and the kids slept in ’til lunch time and hung with their mates. New Year was a night. Mayhem had some mates over – I ended up watching the finale of Bridgerton in the company of a herd of squeamish 15 year old boys. Nice. And Chaos who has attained his majority was shenaniganising around the countryside until brrrng brrng. Hey ma… can we come back to ours? Yes, darling, that’s fine. Of course I am happy that my barely 18 year old child is at home on the muckiest night of the year.

New Year’s Eve has always been overrated. Too much pressure to have a Good Time and if you don’t have a Good Time, then well. Your entire year is rooooned. When I worked in hospitality, I always put my hand up to work – no pressure to have a good time because sorry, working; the tips are always awesome, and yeah, clean head in the morning. When there’s a party, there’s always the pressure of having “fun” and then trying to get home afterward. When I used to live closer to town, I’d walk home NYE. Now I am too old for that shite. I remember one year when the kids were little, the in-laws said we are taking the boys you go out and have a good time, no excuses. We’d been invited to like three parties and when it came to the crunch of well, do we go here for a while then there? Or there and there? What if that one gets offended we went here? What do you want to do? No, what do you want to do? Well, actually, I just want to go out for dinner, go see the early fireworks and watch telly. Best New Year’s ever.

Having a break was really good. I needed it. The best part though? The Dining Room was the dining room again for a whole ten days. Meals were eaten at the table like civilised adults, instead of perched on stools in the kitchen. Craft was done. Messy, spread out across the universe craft. Dead people were stalked. And some living people. But only to find out if they were dead. And they’re alive until proven otherwise. Or something like that. Maybe. I even read both of my Christmas books – I got Nat’s What I Reckon Un-cook yourself and the new Phryne Fisher Death in Daylesford. One was ace, one was disappointing. In that order. Although I have to say the second one felt like it was written by someone else. Or maybe for TV? It wasn’t the bloody same anyway.

Then,it was back to work for a couple of weeks (during which I realised I really needed two consecutive weeks off, and not a week followed by another week a couple of weeks later) then an actual family holiday that was NOT CAR RELATED! It was lovely. Beach holiday house full of Nice Things (not complete crap), walking distance to the shops and the beach, a lovely deck for lolling about on in the sunshine with my books and my craft. In fact the only thing that was missing was a few lamps. Lamps are underrated. Had some quality family time, took Reg for a gin tasting… gin isn’t his cup of tea, however, when push came to shove, I discovered I could not walk into a distillery by myself and do a tasting. Just was not going to happen. But Reg kindly took one for the team and discovered there is gin and there is gin. Yes, we came home with a bottle of the delicious from the distillery. Which he is helping me drink. We may have to have a little day trip… or an overnighter? I can leave the 15 year old home with the 18 year old, yes?

Oh, and we had a near death experience on that trip – probably not our deaths, fortuitously – so, we were visiting some friends a couple of towns further along the Great Ocean Road – which, for the uninitiated, is best described as a bit windy. Has a speed limit of 80km/h and most of the (blind) corners have a speed advisory of 40km/h (or less). Anyway, I’m pootling along at about 60km/h most of the way… then next thing you know, a bunch of motorcycle riders came roaring up behind me. Then overtook. On a solid white line. Then their little friends came up behind me and a) double white line; b) car coming the opposite way and c) if I’d not backed off a bit, the last one would have clipped the front of my car, causing me to drive into a sheer cliff face, and them to fly off over the side of the same cliff. Nice one, dickheads. Their other two friends came up one at a time, waited patiently, and overtook in a civilised fashion. So, dickheads in groups. Obvs. And how did I know they were all little friends? Well, the matching outfits gave it away. Nice one, fucksticks.

Of course, this holiday ended with a small disaster… turns out that in the process of cleaning out the fridge to go away for a week, somebody helpfully turned the fridge off to stop it beeping. And it stayed off. For a week. Aside from the exploding cream, the fridge wasn’t that bad. But the freezer? Fuck. And the stench? Also. Fuck. Much scrubbing and googling ensued, everything that could go through the dishwasher did. Everything that couldn’t went outside for a pressure wash. And everything *in* the fridge and freezer went in the bin. Lordy, that was bad. But silver linings – you know how there’s always a couple of things in the freezer you really should throw out, but you forget or it gets shoved to the back and forgotten? Yeah, well, after the Purge, there’s none of that any more. And while I wouldn’t have actually been 100% sad if the fridge had to be burned with fire… a good scrubbing, some bowls of oats, coffee, and bi-carb (along with a few teabags) and it’s good as new. And clean. And a month later, you can’t even tell there was a disaster.

Then it was back to school, back to work, back to nagging the kids like Ming the Merciless. And back to the fucking Dining Room.

Sigh.

The Dining Room Diaries: Capsule wardrobes

Well hello hello hello.

I am still working from home – they gave us a wee nod today, all things being equal, the 1100+ of us will start shuffling in probably one floor at a time toward the end of February. Of course, I’m not actually going to hold my breath on this one because the area I work in is probably well suited to this whole working from home palaver, and we’ll be last back in. But in the mean time, I’m going to have to start thinking about what to fucking wear again.

I realised while I was folding washing last night, that I’m not wearing anywhere nearly as many clothes as I do under normal circumstances. Like, there’s no way on earth I’d wear the same pair of pants for a week if I were trundling into the office each day. Nor would I wear the same cardigan (or jumper) for five days in a row. But at home? All bets are off. I just wear whatever. Okay, I do change my under garments, and I usually wear a fresh shirt every day, but aside from that… pick a pair of pants and off I go. Also, I am still a Bit Fat, so there is a self-imposed (by the size of my arse) limitation on what I can actually fit into. However, doing something about that, so yeah. Possibilities.

I’ve dallied with the idea of a capsule wardrobe in the past even if only to make the thinking of clothes and what to wear to work tolerable, because it’s something that shits me to fucking tears. But any example of capsule wardrobes always seem to be a bit wanky and a bit like you need 37 items per season and fifteen pairs of shoes (I live in Victoria – that’s 37 items times four seasons = nearly 150 items already) plus all the other shizzle you have in your wardrobe like – I dunno, active wear (cold and not cold – that’s four sets), and pyjamas (flannel ones for when it’s cold and I stop being a flashy lady; and thin cotton ones for well, all the time really), jeans and winter coats and in between seasons coats (Victoria. Yeah. Several seasons. Often daily. Need coat(s)) and old clothes for painting the fence and it’s like this is more clothes than I actually have and I still have nothing to wear.

Then, apropos of completely nothing – probably still folding the washing. Actually, I think I was folding a school uniform and that lead me to the realisation that school uniforms really are the ultimate capsule wardrobe. The kid has three shirts, two pairs of shorts, a pair of trackies (actually two pairs because he was the same size as his damn brother last year) and a jacket (and a set of ‘proper’ uniform as well) Back in the day, I had two summer frocks (and a spare that I never wore because I sorta grew out of the first two frocks, and Mrs McGee assumed I would continue to grow at the same rate and went like three sizes bigger instead of one. So, I just wore the threadbare micro mini originals until I finished high school. I digress. Where was I?); three or four winter shirts, a kilt, a jumper and a blazer and that was me done, week in and week out for six years. Nine things. Fuck. Regardless of the weather. Cold hot dry wet… nine items of clothing (one pair of shoes, too. Black lace-ups.) Okay, I had weekend and school holiday clothes for the rest of the time, and my one going out outfit…but I probably didn’t have many more things than that.

Hrrrrm.

I really do like the idea of a capsule wardrobe though. The simplicity appeals to me. But it’s not simple. But it should be simple. Could it be simple? And trans-seasonal? Well, it would have to be trans-seasonal because 39C Monday, 21C and raining today; so I can’t see how a capsule per season would work in the slightest. I’ve consulted Professor Google and she is not particularly helpful – all key items from fancy arse designers (none of those fucking designer wankers make clothes for tall *and* fat chicks) and capsule wardrobe shopping lists in current trends. (Isn’t the whole idea to have *less* in the wardrobe and not be upgrading each year?) Or have like five pairs of jeans. I think I own two pairs, so yeah, nah. And that’s the thing – my pre-covid work clothes were well. Business attire. Work at Home clothes – not so much.

So, does that mean the capsule should include home clothes as well as work clothes? Or do I have a work capsule and a home capsule and how many capsules does a girlie need?!

So, what would I need for a week of work clothes? Well, realistically, I think I would need to have enough clothes for eight working days (ironing is done once a week, just need enough to be sure). So, enough stuff for eight outfits that cover off external temperatures ranging from around 10C to 40+C and an internal office temperature of 22C (which isn’t that warm in winter and is a bit bloody cold in summer. Maybe they should look into that? Apparently office temperatures are set so that an average 70kg, 40 year old bloke is comfortable sitting around all day in a three piece woollen fucking suit. Ladies don’t wear that to work. Actually, most blokes I know don’t wear that sort of shit to work. The CEO at my office doesn’t wear that shit to work. Studies show that an ambient temperature of 24-25 will not decrease productivity and will actually save a shit tonne of money. And will probably increase productivity cos all the ladies in the office won’t be flinging their cardies on and off and shivering all fucking day. Since I’ve been working from home – hot day, air con goes on once it’s 24C inside and I maintain that all day. Winter, stick to that pesky 22C but I’m wearing appropriate for the bloody weather clothing not business attire. Oh, and I have a window seat with all the lovely morning sunshine to keep me warm.)

Anyway, where was I? Eight days of work clothes. Right.

  • Bottoms:
    • Two pairs of long pants (definitely not polyester. Ahem.)
    • Two pairs of Capri length pants (ditto on the polyester)
    • Two skirts (winter weight)
    • Two skirts (light weight)
    • One pair of shorts
    • One pair of good jeans for casual Friday
  • Tops:
    • T-shirts (four – white, grey, navy, black)
    • Sleeveless shirts (four – white, navy, black, grey)
    • Long sleeved shirts (six-eight – variety of colours. Who am I kidding? Mostly white, blue, and navy)
    • One or two dresses for winter (black and a print)
    • Two dresses for summer (neutral prints)
  • Knits, jackets, and coats
    • Cardigans – three woollen (probably black, navy, red and/or grey); two cotton – black and navy
    • Jumper – light weight, oversized
    • Denim jacket
    • Blazer
    • Overcoat
    • Proper warm coat

Fuck, that looks like a lot of clothes. 40 things, without adding in shoes? But I suppose if it’s a year round effort… it’s possibly not that bad? Is it? Day like today – expected top of 21C, fucking chilly 16C at 11am, chinos (capri length because stupid fucking long legs, right), long sleeved shirt, cardigan. Probably would have worn that to the office. Would have worn shoes though… I still need to think of at home clothes and there’s the leisure wear department as well…Nah, that’s bullshit – too much stuff. I would need another house to store my capsules. This is supposed to be an exercise in minimalisation. Okay, if my wardrobe caught on fire… What would I need to go and buy tomorrow?

For work, I would need couple pairs of pants, couple of skirts, maybe six or eight tops or shirts, and a dress; plus a couple of cardigans. And one decent pair of jeans for casual Fridays. And a coat for winter. And tights and undies and socks and shoes and shizz.

And for home, jeans, casual pants, half a dozen tops (winter and summer) couple of jumpers, shorts, leisure wear and jarmies.

That’s looking more like it. Although it’s still a fucking lot of clothes.

The Dining Room Diaries: Gratitude edition

I have been a bit of a fucking grumpy sod lately. But you get that on the big jobs. And on the middling and smaller sized jobs as well. For starters, I’m still stuck in the fucking dining room for the foreseeable future. I’m completely over the set up/pack up of the whole palaver each week, and I’m over just about everything else within stick poking reach. BUT, realistically, if I was to go back to work on Monday, I would need to wear a fucking mask *all* day in the office. And how much would THAT suck? Yeah. Shaddup. Sick of people forgetting I’m actually AT WORK even though I’m at home all day and yeah, coming in from a great day out having fun and shit with “what’s for dinner, I’m staaaarving” or, even worse… can’t you just ring up and organise this or go pick that up for me. Um no. Working. At home. In the dining room. All day.

And there’s a weirdarse smell in the back room. Smells like well. Swamp. Or something has died. Or something that lived in a swamp crawled into the house and died a tragic and stench ridden death. We did have the pest control people in for the rats in the roof. Maybe it’s them? Who knows? And guess who gets to go and find out? (Well, actually *not* me if it’s in the roof. I am not trustworthy in high places). It’s probably a rat. There was one in the vege garden that *I* had to deal with. Which I did. With some squealing and shrieking.

So, time to build a fucking bridge, get the hell over myself and start looking for a bright patch. A whole side of bright is probably a bit ambitious. So a wee shiny patch of light in amongst the filthy mood and annoyances that are murking up my outlook. Hrmph.

Let’s start small – I have to leave the house for a couple of hours on a Friday morning while my cleaning fairy waves her magical wand over the joint. I barrelled out of the house and did a meeting in the mobile office (car) under a shady tree in the really rather lovely park at the end of my street. I am grateful that I live within a short distance of a glorious almost 200 acre park.

I am also grateful for my cleaning fairy. In exchange for cash, she transforms the dog hair encrusted cesspit I live in into a shiny bastion of cleanliness. Until everyone gets home, that is. But my house is clean right now, and that is the main thing.

And today I had to run a couple of errands in town, so I took myself off to my favourite café, had a delicious coffee made for my by someone else, and ate a tiny and also delicious snack while I read through a report for work. I am grateful that we are currently out of lockdown and that my favourite café has survived another day.

The other night, it was just me and Mayhem at home for a couple of hours. I needed him to help put the super king doona cover onto my super king sized doona. I am tall, but my arms are not long enough to wrestle that beast into submission. So, he helped me make the bed and put the doona cover on. The dog also helped. And a solid half hour of hilarity ensued. I am grateful for the laugh.

A couple of weeks ago we had a Family Holiday. Now, we’re the kind of family that holidays together *every* year – but it’s normally car related. This year, all the car related events were cancelled one after the other (like dominos they were. Cancelled. Cancelled. Postponed. Cancelled) so, before Melbourne got let loose at the end of the Big Shutdown last year, we booked a week away in a beach house over summer. It was lovely. I wished we’d stayed longer. I saw the Californian Redwood plantation. I knew it existed, but didn’t realise it was this close to home. I assumed it was on the other side of Melbourne, or near Bendigo or somewhere. Chaos went there on a school trip last year and told us about it. I have a picture of the redwoods on my desktop and they make me smile every time I see them. I am grateful that my son thought of visiting the Redwoods as an activity.

And the other car event that was cancelled was even closer to home. But we always stay down there for the weekend, as it’s easier than trekking home each night after midnight and back again at 6.30 in the morning. We stay in a house or an apartment with another family. They couldn’t make it this year, so we went on our own. This place is phenomenal. Worth every bloody expensive penny we spent. And being there by ourselves? Priceless. And a lot of other people also decided to keep their accommodation and go anyway. We got to experience the event like an entrant, instead of being an organiser. It was fun. I am glad we kept the accommodation, even though we’ll be on rations for a couple of weeks.

Oh, and Mayhem came home from school in a Mood tonight. Lordy, that child. He’s like a 65 year old man in a 15 year old’s body. Stomping around the Dining Room telling me the ins and outs of the trials and tribulations of school in a class where nobody but him (allegedly) cares. I am grateful that Mr Moody will tell me of his woes. And I am so grateful that this last lockdown was for five days and there was only three days of school at home. So so grateful for that.

There’s a few things to be grateful for. I’m still dark and shirty about well. Just about everything really. But hey. There’s shiny.

Dining Room Diaries – A rose by any other name…

Hrrm. Haven’t been off on a good tangent for a while.


One of the things that’s been making me a Little Mad is also one of those situations where I may or may not have created a rod for my own back. This is mostly down to a couple of decisions I made a really really long time ago.

Decision the very first wasn’t actually made by me. It was made collectively by the parental units who decided to get a bit fancy-pants and sling a hyphen into the mix. Now, this was the swingin’ sixties and many things happened. Suffice to say I became the entity known as Maude Hyphen-McGee from the day my parents scribbled it on a piece of paper

Decision the next was down to me – I like the way my name looks like this – MAUDY way better than how it looks like this MAUDE. I would henceforth prefer to be known as Maudy. I am fifteen. I am also a trifle pretentious. And Maudy looks schmick.

Fast forward a couple years laters, and Mr Hyphen-McGee submits a letter to the licencing authority confirming my name is Maude Hyphen-McGee (partially because the slight deviation of the Hyphen on the birth certificate was tolerable to the licencing authority and the parental unit; whereas the alteration of the first name quite possibly did not occur to the parent) and I became the proud owner of a piece of formidable identification that was somewhat close to that of my preferred name.

Little step forward (and the location of the first exceedingly foolish decision by my good self). Family decides to formalise the whole Hyphen business, and opens up the book of Deed Poll. Now, I had agreed to get married (okay, there were two foolish decisions involved here) and decided against joining in the bulk Family Deed Poll; because point and all that if I was changing my name in a year again anyway.

Didn’t get married.

Oops.

By this stage, I was about 40/60 Maude v Maudy. Looked into the whole Solo Deed Poll shenanigan and it was a motza. Lotsa motza. So, yeah. Didn’t. People were generally pretty damn flexible when it came to naming rights back then, and eh, there was such a thing as a preferred name which I spread liberally from one side of my wallet to the other.

Time flies, I am now 2/98 Maude v Maudy. Aside from my driver licence and my passport, I am Maudy Hyphen-McGee. You name a joint, I’m that. But at the same time, the People stopped being so flexible with the naming rights, and started to actively encourage people to pick a lane and stick to it. Now, I’ve picked my lane, and I am sticking to it. Managed to get my passport Hyphenated and yeah, as long as I remembered E not Y any time I flew anywhere, she’ll be right, mate.

So, fast copious forward. Stuff happens. I need id. I need proper fancy passport-y licence-y id.

Fuck.

I lady-splain the whole sad and sorry tale. My name is my name is my name and it sounds the same, so yeah. No. You must sign 94385798345 additional declarations that change your name back to Maude. Rinse. Repeat. Fucking FUCK.

I’m going to change the fucking thing and be done with it. It’s one fucking letter.

But – it’s not. Not when I go back to the dawn of time it’s not. Fuuuuuck. And yeah, born interstate. Which may as well have been another country because well, fuck. The state in which I reside? Pretty simple process, show us yer id, prove you’ve been living under that name, give us $110 folding and here’s a new certificate.

The state I come from? You must provide one item from each list, you can’t use one item more than once, must have your residential address, no post office boxes, plus you must offer the blood of your first born child, taken under the light of a gibbous moon and on a Tuesday. And write an essay explaining why I want to change my name. AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT IT.

Fuck.

And my two pieces of primary identification are in the name I want to change. Which is, you know, why I want to change my name. Oh, and the utilities bills in my name. Postal address. Which is also where I will be wanting them to send the new certificate. And they want to charge me a kidney for the privilege. Nice one.

So, what is in a name? About $265 and a minor coronary, that’s what.