Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

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.

Dining Room Diaries – Yeah but, nah but what even?

I went into the Office today. It was weird. Seriously weird.

I haven’t been in there for nearly seven months – I’ve driven past, waved, looked up at *my* window and sighed a little. But as for entering the doors… no. So, to go in (even though it was only the IT department) was quite extraordinary. It’s so silent without the hum of 800 people and 800 computers. Ironically, I’m going to be heading back in there tomorrow as whatever they did today? Yeah nah.

So, how’s things?

I have five more days of School at Home. The last lot went as well as could be expected. We didn’t actually come to blows, however there were tears on both sides. One positive to come out of this was doing eleven parent teacher interviews from the comfort of the kitchen AND getting it completed in two hours. Lordy, that has *never* happened, and I give you the tip, more than happy for that innovation to continue. Imagine if you will, a school that is a collection of stand alone two and three story buildings. Building A level 3 followed by Building C level 2 ad nauseum. You’ve busted a phoofer valve getting from one side of the school to the other, and by the time you catch your breath – NEXT. I have three more years of high school after this one. Albeit with one kid rather than two, but more than happy for telephone interviews!

In summary, I got through term three without strangling my favourite youngest child, and I didn’t turn into a raging alcoholic (although, I did have a red hot go for a while there. The alcoholic part, not the strangly part). I think this is good? I am also 137% convinced I am not cut out to be a teacher. Definite.

Something else that I’ve become even more aware of over the last two weeks in particular, and that’s my status as “default parent”. Despite my being head down, arse up in the middle of my work day, there’s still an expectation that “hey mum can you just…” means I will just do whatever. Erm. I am working. Ditto re finding activities for the computer obsessed child who will alternate between watching gamers on youtube or actually gaming. I. Am. Working. At my job. The one that pays the bills around here. So, not able to come up with a timetable of Awesome Activities! Or things that don’t involve the computer. Geez it takes me 97 goes to get him to unpack the fucking dishwasher. Fuck.

Anyway, said offspring spent the bulk of two weeks gaming with his mates online. I suppose that’s socialising of sorts? And youtube was banned during work hours. World hasn’t ended. Yet. The (not so) wee beastie managed to grow enough that I had to go buy him more school clothes so, it didn’t stunt his growth or anything.

The default parent setting seems to apply to most things around here at the moment. Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m the only option – yon paternal parental unit is also available for the provision of lifts. And neither offspring has two broken arms, so there’s a fair chance they didn’t need to wait until mum gets up to make lunch. Crikey. Five more days of having to make lunch for people. And it’s Reg’s week off – I don’t know if he’s realised yet, but I’m um. Not cooking this week. At all if I can manage it. Chaos is back to working two shifts a week from this week which creates a little havoc with the meal plan. But we are taking him out for dinner this week, unlike last time we went out for dinner… (Instant 25% discount if we go out without him. Damn giant kiddies eat a lot).

Anyway, I’m ticking along. Sorta got a sad at the moment. Everything in the media is so nasty and mean spirited – like knowing exactly who’s responsible for a one in a hundred year disaster will change anything that’s happened. As if they’d* have done any better, made better decisions, made the fucking economies awesome and all of that kind of shit. They can say what they would have done with the benefit of hindsight and the firm knowledge that it’s unlikely they will ever have to deal with it.

And I’m trickling through a whole lot of firsts and lasts at the moment, and my favouritest whingeing board is no longer able to lend me a casual ear for those times when I need to let off some steam; and realising I am almost exactly the same age my mother was when my father died. And that I’m technically an orphan. Mortality knocks. Pass the fucking gin, mate. So yeah, bit of a sad.

Anyway, she’ll be right. Even though I’m a bit of a grumpy, sweary fuck a lot of the time, I’m generally a reasonably positive and sunny little vegemite. So, I am quite sure I will in fact turn that fucking frown upside down shortly. Or bite someone. Either will suffice.

I’ve told myself I’m not going back to work until March next year – if it’s earlier, that will be awesome. If I’m not wandering back through the glassy doors by then, I’ll give myself another internal deadline. And continue to build a series of tiny fucking bridges.

She’ll be right, mate.

*”They” is all those politicians from the opposite side of government, all those people who prop up the desks at certain newspapers and “news” outlets and all those people who waggle microphones in people’s faces, looking for a fucking “gotcha”. And those theorists of conspiracy. Especially those theorists. THEY can all get fucked.

Dining Room Diaries – The Here We Go Again Edition

Yes. I live in Victoria. Regional Victoria. And we’re about to go back into Stage 3 restrictions. Like that was ever not going to happen. Glad I don’t live in Metro Vic for a number of reasons (would be seriously ripped off with the 5km radius – although would technically be able to go boating?) Anyway, I’m not going to delve into the politics of it all because hello. Suffice to say I was pretty sure we’d be going down again as soon as the numbers went up.

And here we are.

Since I last wrote of the utter joy I was feeling at the end of school at home, it did take me a little while to get back into the swing of having the house to myself and making my own coffees; and what with rosters and things, I think it was Week 2 after school went back that I finally had the house to myself. Which was then swiftly followed by school holidays and Chaos getting sick. And queuing up for two and a half hours to watch my kid get a stick shoved up his schnozz. Not pleasing. Have to say it was a test I was exceedingly happy he passed (or is it failed? Wasn’t positive, anyway) because, after spending two plus hours in the car with him… yeah. Traditional Teenager-Itis – also known as glandular fever. Curtailed his activities somewhat, I give you the tip. And the day before his first sanctioned Outing since he got sick… no visitors in the home means no movie nights for you. Sorry, matey.

Now that school will be back on at home in a couple of days, a few things need to be sorted out. Have I got enough snackeroonies for two teenage boys? Do they have enough crayons and paper? Do I have enough gin?

The main consequence of the return of School at Home is that I need to tidy up my mess and erm. Un-annex the Favourite Youngest Child’s desk. I took a week off in the holidays because – three people marauding about like hairy wildebeests having FUN and stuff did not strike me as a pleasing work environment.

Anyway, I decided to learn a new thing that didn’t involve food because I’ve nailed sour dough and there’s only so many cakes my heavily covid-conditioned arse can cope with. I have a perfectly good albeit probably 17 year old sewing machine that’s been barely used. What’s a girlie to do? Looked up the youtubers, watched several dozen videos and decided that I could so do that. Probably. And anyway, what else could I do at home? So, I took up patchwork. It’s quite good fun, although it’s probably a bit more expensive than I would have hoped. I got rid of my fabric stash several years ago when I realised it was just gathering moths and dust. Of course, I hit up the wildly expensive but delightful boutique fabric shop because why not.

(Plus, I figured I’m not spending my money on anything much, and I’m supporting a local small business, so why indeed not. Okay, I did go to Spotlight for the gizzards because cheaper. Not totally wasteful of the cashola.)

Things I have learned.

  1. I cannot sew a straight line to save myself
  2. Patchwork is much faster than crochet
  3. And nowhere near as sweary

I have made a long but exceedingly narrow quilt that has been commandeered already by my long and exceedingly narrow child; a very small quilt for my very small doggo, and I’ve made the topper for a much larger and wider quilt for whomever is missing out on utilising the narrow quilt. Plus, I have the fixings for another one that will be a bit stylish and nice. I hope. I’ve made a couple of masks as well, however eyes bigger than tummy – equivalent of my sewing skill set. Enough said. Although if you have one ear bigger than the other, and a taste for old lady florals – hit me up.

Anyway, now that the Favourite Youngest Child is reclaiming his work space, I shall have to pack things away and yoick them out on the weekends. Ah well.

And because Lockdown 2.0 is *all* about me… I am going to miss Pilates a lot (last class tonight for the next six weeks); going out for a steak dinner with the Bloke of the house; getting my house cleaned… I’m really going to miss getting my house cleaned. I’m going to miss freezing my entire face off walking the dog in the mornings (actually will miss that. The facemask is a bit gross and soggy by the time I get home. And cold. Ew.) And I am really going to miss being home by myself from 8.30 – 3.30pm four days a fortnight.

Spoke to the Youngest Child about School at Home at length in the car on the weekend (last chance drive before Lockdown was announced. Loads of Last Things. It’s sorta sad if you think about it too much) because as you probably remember, we had Issues last time. We’re going to do things differently when school starts up again on Thursday. Lot more checking in and going through the assignments and so on at the start of each week, and (hopefully) a bit less hysterics at the end of the week. The Oldest Child is resigned to this year continuing to be the most insane and unpredictable rollercoaster that it started out as. It’s only year 12. Atars don’t really matter in the wider scheme of the universe, and hey, he’s not the only kid on this wild ride. It’s just looking like Plan B might become Plan A.

This year (and probably next year) will be what it is, and we will do what we can to prevent our family being impacted upon more than it is.

Stay safe all you people out there. Wear your fucking mask. Stay at home.

The Dining Room Diaries – NO more sleeps!

No. It’s not no more sleeps until I go and work in an office again. That’s not on the agenda for quite a while yet. Maybe July, possibly August… dunno when I get to play with the grown ups face to face again (Am I ever gonna see their faces again….).

However, there are now no more sleeps until I am NO LONGER SUPERVISING YEAR NINE ENGLISH.

I did start writing this a couple of days ago, when I still had Year 9 English on the agenda, so it’s been three two one yeah a bit of a count down. So, for the first part, imagine you’re talking to Past Maudy…

As you can possibly gather, I was not displeased about this turn of events. In fact, I was almost doing the exceedingly happy dance of joy. I was only almost doing this happy dance because I did have three more days of supervising Year Nine English and dealing with a recalcitrant wee sod who is in fact perfectly capable of writing three (yes three. One more than two. One less than four) paragraphs about the book we have been wrestling with for the last two months. The book in question, I might add, had only 120 pages. It is not a long book, and neither is it a hard book, so I am not sure quite what the issue is here. Aside from the words recalcitrant, year nine, and boy.

Now, I am rather good at looking stuff up and working out what things mean and answering questions (and creating questions as well) and translating meaning for other people. Words and numbers are my bread and jam. So, you would think that this skill set, coupled with the fact that I did actually pass Year Nine English (and year ten and eleven and twelve. Twice); I might actually have a clue about how to do this shit.

Apparently not.

Experience counts for nothing. English is pointless. Why do we have to learn it? We speak it. There’s no need for a special subject just of English because we do it every day. You never need to do this stuff in real life.

A-fucking-hem.

Back in the 20th century, when I was a wee lassie (and possibly a recalcitrant year nine girlie, to be perfectly honest), we would have regular meetings with the Careers Teacher – a formidably bosomed woman whom I shall call Mrs B because a) there is a slim chance she is still alive, and b) a slimmer chance someone who knows her may read this. Now, Mrs B had a little office full of interesting pamphlets and handbooks and the like for the illumination and the career guidance of the denizens of my particular girls school. I’m not sure quite why she needed so many bits and bobs, because Careers according to Mrs B went something like this:

Option A: Leave school as soon as you turned 15 and go and work in a shop. I’m looking at all you ratbaggies with your short short frocks and a quick ciggie behind the bike shed.

Option B: Well, aren’t you the clever one? And aren’t you particularly excellent at typing and shorthand* – finish Year 10 and off to secretarial school for you.

Option C: All the way to Year 11, well. Nursing school for you, then. People or animals?

Option D: Year 12. Okay. Primary school teaching this way… Oh, you’re quite good at English. You can be a HIGH SCHOOL teacher. No. No other options. Teaching for you.

So, yes, Mrs B’s job wasn’t all that onerous. She had four buckets and she popped you into one of those buckets pretty much the first interaction she had with you. And Mrs B was absolutely 127% sure that I would make an excellent teacher. Anyone could be a teacher. You go to the university, you get the teaching degree and off you go. Nice work, Mrs B.

(I went to a High School reunion a couple of years ago – of the year seven class – because of the 180 of us who started, just under 60 made it all the way to year 12. And quite unsurprisingly, there were a lot of nurses, a few school teachers, a sprinkling of the secretarial types, a surprising number of welfare workers, and at least a couple of accountants. I wasn’t the only one who wandered off the Mrs B approved career path.)

Now, I think it’s abundantly clear that I did not end up teaching anybody anything (there are options, Mrs B, many options) – well, aside from a dalliance in the training department in a past life. That was traumatic. I am a relatively quick study. Strangely enough, I did have the belief at the time that my colleagues were possibly more intelligent than they actually were; and the expectation that after I explained something maybe four times, it really should sink in. And stay sunk in. And apparently, saying “oh for fuck’s sake, it’s not that fucking difficult” is a bit frowned upon in an adult learning environment.

I can’t imagine it would be that much different in the teaching of the children department. Right you little fuckers, if you do not understand the theme of loneliness in Of Mice and Men, I will make you eat the whole fucking book, one page at a time.

Oh. Wait. That might have happened during last week’s lesson. Possibly why there were tears.

This week we needed to write three paragraphs of approximately six sentences each on three key questions. I started swearing about 90 seconds after school started on Tuesday morning. And by 9.30 Tuesday, I was considering *my* options…

  1. Nag like Ming The Merciless until said 18 sentences are written
  2. Sit with him and calmly coax him into producing the three paragraphs
  3. Lose my shit because for fuck’s sake we’ve been doing all the goddamn pre-work for the last two months and it’s not that fucking hard,
  4. Random combination of all of the above
  5. Leave it because fuck. Who cares? Next week he will be *his* English teacher’s problem and I won’t have to give myself an aneurysm.

Considering I’d already done Option 3 by 9.15am on Tuesday morning, I suspect you can guess how the rest of the week panned out. If your guess included a chunk of Option 2, followed by a LOAD of Option one, and finally throwing my hands in the air and taking Option 5 – you would be pretty close. Because I honestly don’t give a flying fuck about who’s the loneliest lonely person in Of Mice and Men (Curley’s wife. Who doesn’t even rate a name.)

So yeah, not cut out to be a teacher of anything much.

And, ironically, after hours of badgering, cajoling and the odd swear or twenty – he did in fact produce a rough draft of his three fucking questions. Just in time for his English teacher to email the class and say “Yay, kiddies, you’ve done enough work . We will do this on Tuesday IN FUCKING CLASS”

Okay, the teacher did NOT say the last bit.

Funnily enough, my week has improved as quickly as school finished. My Cleaning Fairy returned to work this week, as well. So, it’s now Friday – the house is clean, the fridge is full and I am looking at a three day weekend with nothing more onerous on the agenda than an extra sleep in and a little bit of family time.

Zen. I might find some.

*(Yes, high school was a long time ago. They did shorthand classes at my high school. And Needlework. And Home Economics. Which was probably more useful than Food Tech. And yes, ironically, considering how much of my day is spent typing and taking notes, I sucked at typing. No-one has ever failed Year Nine typing. 50%)

Dining Room Diaries – what day is it again?

It’s been nine weeks (I know, right) since I started working from home. And about the same since I last blogged. Oops.

Things have been a little Miss Thing in the McGee household. Life is no longer as we know it. Shortly after I last wrote, things went a bit tits up with a couple of things in my behind the scenes life (cryptic post is cryptic, might share later, but yeah. Not now. Still getting my head around shit, to be honest. And I sigh. A lot).

But I am sure you desperately need to know how I have been filling my days in the Dining Room and you don’t really need to know what disasters have befallen…* so here we go again.

Well – last time I wrote, I had no pants, the kids were on holidays, my cleaner had quit (temporarily), and yeah, no pants. Technology and interwebs and stuff was being okay. More or less. Two teenage boys slamming the internets for two weeks solid over the holidays convinced me that the internet would be okay with school work and work work because non-stop youtube and gaming =/= video conferencing and school website. That bit was quite good.

Then came the sudden realisation that there are TWO school aged kiddies in tha house and they both had erm. Slightly differing needs. And I, as the gainfully employed member of this establishment, was going to maintain my annexation of the Dining Table. Of which I have commandeered approximately Half. Ish. Sort of. Depending which way you measure it. And if you squint a bit. Suffice to say, the remaining portion is not what you’d call a useful size or shape of a 1.1m by 2.2m table.

This lack of proper writing spaces necessitated many trips to the Officeworks armed with tape measures and hairy eyeballs to determine exactly what desks were available for procurement (here is a clue… the number starts with fucking NONE). We negotiated a slightly banged up floor stock (no discounts, you want you pay. Okay? We wanted so we paid). So, Desk A into Room B, Desk B into Room C, Desk B out of Room C because well. Geometry and Physics. Or Trigonometry. Or something. Desk B in passage while Dining Table (Desk D?) received a 90 degree rotation and voila! The Dining Room magically became Year 9 and Work simultaneously (and, at the same time).

And, also simultaneously and at the same time, the remarkable room rearrangement of Room B in order to fit in Desk A resulted in maybe five large bags of accumulated detritus. Which was even more remarkable considering he’d cleaned his room during the holidays… Ahem. {cough} hoarders{cough}. So, ready to start School at Home, Remote School, whatever you want to call it. Not home bloody schooling. It is not that. And work. Simultaneously. And at the same time.

Well. Okay then. Right. That took a bit of workings out – apparently, my prior confirmed expertise in Year Nine English, and the aspect of my day to day job that requires translation of the written word counts for nothing when confronted with an ever so slightly surly 14 year old. Ahem. Words may have been exchanged. There might have been a fight. It did not degenerate into fisticuffs. But it came close.

There are many, many reasons I am not a teacher. Many.

Year 12 on the other hand is swimming along. Sometimes waving, sometimes drowning, sometimes just splashing about. He won’t be the only one, and it’s not the end of the day if this year doesn’t pan out as well as it should, could, might have… But the look on his face when he found out school was going back in two weeks… well. Brand new bike for Christmas from Santa, a red one with the shiny handlebars and the doo-hickeys that made it sound like a motorcycle. Yeah. That face.

Oh, and pants. Yes. I have pants. They are quite comfortable pants, exceedingly cheap and eminently practical working from home pants. In fact, they’re not really pants… they might be leggings that look a bit like pants from a distance and if you squint a bit. They also have elastic. This is a useful thing for pants that aren’t really pants but might be leggings that look like pants (bugger it, I’m just going to call them pants). Because in the isolations, I have dropped from my daily 10km walk to about 3km. And it’s a three kilometres that’s 100% weather permitting. Call me um. Squishy.

Because I have learned how to make sour dough bread from scratch in isolation. I already baked a yeast bread pretty regularly, but I have upped the ante, and created a “mother” (which I put in the beer fridge and promptly killed. You name the Mother – I called mine Bill, which is ironic really. I killed Bill). I also have another working starter that’s called Kenny (are you sensing a theme here…). While I do make some erm. Interesting looking loaves, they do taste splendid. Very splendid. With lashings of butter. And yeah. Been baking other delicious treats, too.

Elastic pants for the win.

I’ve discovered I have a limit to the number of video calls I can tolerate in one day. It appears to be two, and no more than 40 minutes (maybe that’s why Zoom picked 40 minutes, hey?) or my head turns to custard and I wander off. It’s hard to maintain listening face with the video on you and everyone can see you. I’m a hider, face down, doodling and scribbling in meetings. I listen better with my ears if my fingers are busy. Stops my mind from wandering. Weird, hey. A story for another day, perhaps. But yeah – maintaining an interested and engaged face for longer than ten minutes is a Bit Hard. Yay for the video off button is all I can say. Although. Tip for young players, turn the call on mute if you take yourself into the kitchen for a coffee or something. They can still hear you…

So here I am, sitting in my house that needs a bit of a clean, wearing elasticated pants, and sighing. Still working, still have the correct number of childrens, doggies, and significant others. Actually quite like my family. And I haven’t completely lost my mind.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

*you don’t.

Dining Room Diaries – Day Five

Yes, I know I talked about a week last time I wrote – but this is officially the fifth day of looking out the window from my dining room. Today is also the day the kids finished school. For the holidays. Allegedly. Today is also the day my Cleaning Fairy popped us on hold for the duration, and the day my Pilates class got cancelled.

I’m a bit sad.

On the positive side, the Ironing Fairy picked up, and while it might be for the last time, at least I will have smooth clothes for the next week or two. Which brings me to tonight’s topic of discussion.

What does one wear to work when work is the dining room table?

Now, in the past, I’ve always dressed for work to work from home. Not full on fancy with tights and face on and all, but I am dressed in work clothes, and a proper shirt and my hair is dried and I look professional. But this time, dressing properly only lasted til Wednesday. I was in shorts and t-shirt on Thursday and Friday. I’m still trying to work out a routine where I can get at least one decent walk in before I start work; eat a sensible breakfast, do a tiny bit of housework, and still “get to work” at 9am. Sounds easy, but yeah, still getting kids up and getting side tracked by The Shiny… But bloody hell, getting dressed is becoming an exercise in futility. (Also, sadness impacts upon my sartorial decision making. Perhaps I need a kaftan. Or a mu mu?)

Before the world stopped yesterday evening, I went for breakfast with ma homies. I have been having breakfast once a month with a bunch of girlfriends for 16 years. It’s a bit of a habit. Anyway, we went out for breakfast, did the social distancing thing, then I ran a couple of errands… I walked past Peter Alexander – or is it the “Working from Home Uniform Shop”? I do like my pajamies. But if I wear them all day, what would I change into when I finish work for the day?

It’s also starting to get a bit cooler… I had to put the heater on this morning. So, does that mean trackies are appropriate for work? They’re more formal than pjs, and I can still downgrade to pjs when I finish work? And they’re definitely more formal than the exercise tight? Jeans suck after a while. They dig and they poke and they’re singularly unpleasant to sit around in for hours at a time.

Of course, I still have the outstanding issue of no appropriate work trousers that I may have mentioned previously. I was planning to get some made in time for winter – but that’s not going to happen now. How can one have one’s inner leg measured whilst leaving an acceptably social distance? Once these shenanigans abate, I will be hastening rather swiftly into the trouser making establishment to remedy this situation; however, in the mean time… I have no fucking warm pants.

Four weeks at home with no pants. I’m only going to be video conferencing. Who will know, gentle reader, who will know.

The Dining Room Diaries – Week One

Evening, Viewers. How’s your week been? Shit has started to get a bit surreal. I mean, the panic buying and whole toilet paper thing is bizarre enough, but there’s other stuff going on as well. We threw a party last weekend for 150 of our closest friends and fam – it was epic. Everyone was partying like they would never see each other for months. If the party was this weekend, we would have had to cancel. So, maybe they were right?

And there’s been rumour after rumour that school was going to finish early or the holidays were going to go later or something and maybe workplaces might, you know, let everyone work from home. So, I ducked out and panic bought a couple of things for the just in case, like an extra monitor and a decent wireless keyboard with a number pad because I was working from home that day anyway, and seriously, excel is an arsehole at the best of times, let alone on a 14″ screen.

Then people started throwing words around like social distancing and isolation and quarantine. Then it happened. Probably a good idea to take your stuff home. Make sure your numbers are updated. And next thing you know, I’m no longer a boring office clerk. Well. I was never that, but hey. Now, I’m a boring dining room clerk.

I’ve always quite enjoyed working from home. Most of the time, though, it’s been because I’ve had something on I need to deal with in the middle of the day. So, I start nice and early, set up my laptop on a couple of cookbooks and work solidly for a couple of hours, do my thing, work the rest of the day and chuck my laptop back in my bag and my fat cookbooks back on the shelf. And job is done. But this is going to be for a month. And we’ve never seen or done anything like this before. Ever.

Crikey.

Plan is this – I’m going to jot down my thoughts about working from home long term, and document vaguely and in a half-arsed fashion how I manage working full time, and do school at home for a couple of teenagers, one of whom is in his final year of high school… Yeah, not thinking too much about THAT side of things. Ahem. Living history at the moment, so should record it. So here we are…

Anyway.

The Dining Room Diaries – Week One.

There’s a lot to be said for the Dining Room – I have a lovely view of the street and the trees, and the middle aged blokes who have suddenly taken up a morning constitutional that involves huffing and puffing up the hill. If I turn my head the right way, I get a glimpse of the bay. Lovely. At work, I look at two car parks.

The Table itself is quite splendid – it’s very big and has more than enough room for me to spread out all over. Which I do. I am not a tidy person. I like to see all the things. It’s big enough that I can see all the things. My desk at work is quite small. I have things like plants and piles of journals and random bits of crap that I need then lose under layers of paper.

And coffee is like ten steps away. And it’s proper coffee. And it’s free. AND it’s in a proper china cup. Oh, and snacks. There’s snacks. That are also free. And my co-worker is adorable, makes sure I get up every half hour or so to open and close the door for her, and she never lets me eat all the snacks. She’s also quite keen on a walking meeting or two. (Although our last walking meeting ended up with someone needing a night in hospital. Ahem. That will teach someone to eat things that aren’t supposed to be eaten.)

It’s also quite peaceful. I pop the radio on when I start work for a bit of background noise, and aside from that, it’s just me swearing at excel and the doggie making huffy puffy noises when she wants to go look at the possums.

I’m still in contact with my colleagues all the time – we’ve discovered video chats and the internal messenger service that we never used, so there’s plenty of social contact, and plenty of social distance.

But there’s a couple of downsides as well…

  1. I’m suddenly missing around two hours of incidental exercise every day. That’s quite a lot. I’m no longer walking to and from work, I take ten steps for my coffee, rather than walking to the cafe. And my lunch breaks at home have so far involved folding things and putting things away.
  2. My sedentary office job was nowhere near as sedentary as I thought… I’d wander off to the kitchen to fill my water bottle, go talk to someone for five minutes about something or other, walk around the block to nut out a problem… Now I really do sit on my arse all day.
  3. To work from home properly, you need quite a lot of shit. I’ve got a second monitor, a table whatsis to pop my laptop on, and my monitor is on a couple of cook books. I do have a fancy arse office chair, and an ergonomic mouse. Plus all the notebooks and pens and crap.
  4. I can’t print from my work laptop. I have to email it to my phone and print it from there. Or, send it via my ‘printing mule’ (thanks Reg!!!) ready for the next day. I am an analogue thinker. I print a LOT.
  5. I’ve refused to hotdesk on principle for quite a long time – it’s been proven to ruin creativity and well, it’s actually a breeding ground for disease (ew). Now I am at home though, I’m camped on the Dining Table. The Dining Table is a fucking dining table. Sometimes we eat there. Sometimes we do craft there. Sometimes Reg looks at his computer there. The dining table is highly contested real estate. I need to pack up every night.
  6. Fuck, that’s annoying
  7. Maybe the real reason I hate hotdesking is because I am too lazy to pack my shit up every night.

Anyway, this week has all been about learning what I can do from home and what I need to do to adapt so I can do the rest of it. Like printing. And I’ll know by the end of next week what’s happening with the kids.

So there you have it. One week down…Moderately socially distanced, I’m physically interacting with around ten people each day instead of 30+. Not mad. Yet.

D-day minus a couple of days or something

Well, hasn’t the world just gone tits up in the last couple of weeks…


Now, I lived through the whole Y2K bug thingame whatsis twenty years ago (was it really that long ago?) and yeah, I was all totes whatevs about the whole thing and the sum total of my preparation was buying a single eight-pack of candles on New Years Eve on the off chance the power went out. I did use a couple of the candles a few years later when the power actually *did* go out, and the rest got chucked in my Kon Mari frenzy because they got a bit bent and broken over time.

Even back then, there was a little bit of a panic but people stocked up on bottled water and a few dry goods and yeah, she’ll be right mate. None of this building toilet paper castles surrounded by tinned tomato moats. Seriously, though. HOW MUCH TOILET PAPER does one household actually need? No, serious question. We use between two and four rolls a week for four of us, depending on who’s home and you know, other variables. So, a box of 24 extra long rolls will last us for fucking AGES. Eight to 12 weeks. That’s enough. Now, I’m a person who had a bit of a – shall we say phobia – about running out of the foldy white stuff, and I did have to stage an intervention on myself when I realised my stockpile was erm 60 rolls. I now have a TP delivery service and I never run out. Even in a crisis. But I cannot for the life of me understand why on earth the first thing everyone thought of when they heard they might be locked in for a couple of weeks was “fuck, better get a truck load of poo tickets in then”.

I sorta wonder whether some smart arse in the media department somewhere took a pic of a chap who say, had one of those little convenience stores, or a family motel – somewhere where they buy their bog rolls from the supermarket anyway. And this chap had half a dozen 30 packs piled up in the trolley as one would, if one was running a convenience store or motel, and aforementioned smart arse has gone all “ZOMFG LOOKIT THE PANICSSSSSSSSSS” and the rest is fucking history.

Anyway, I’m all set for the crap wrap, but I figure I really should stock up on a couple of bits and pieces, so I start to do my Doomsday Prepping grocery shop. This consists of me thinking errrrrrrm. What will I run out of in a week, I’ll get two. Ticking along nicely until I kept trying to add self raising flour onto my order. Out of stock. Those panickers need self raising flour? What on earth for? My little supermarket has a minimalist baking section because no fucker near where I live fucking bakes. I have to go further afield to get some random stuff I’m after. Flour section is empty. And yeast. Who else buys yeast? Three supermarkets for bakers flour (it has more protein and is better for bread. I am not a total wanker) and FOUR to get two fucking packets of SR flour and a thingy of yeasy.

So yeah, I’m set. I have meat, I have vegetables, the fruit shop reckons they’ll have fresh stuff on an ongoing basis, so eh, that’s alright. I’ve got ingredients, so I can make fancy stuff, so we will not starve. But I give you the tip, the vibe is fucking WEIRD. It’s like Christmas Eve in the food shops, New Years Eve at the bottle shop and 5pm Sunday afternoon everywhere else.

And people are being complete and utter guttersnipes. I want to use a stronger word here, you know which word I mean. You can replace in your head when you read. But, I saw a grown arse woman rip shreds off a wee lass behind the counter at the bakery because she didn’t have what Karen wanted. Now, Karen, it was less than 15 minutes until closing time. I didn’t expect her to have what I wanted at quarter to quitting time. That poor kid. Seriously. Nobody deserved that level of arseholery. And a complete and utter moron at the supermarket screeching at the manager because he could only buy ONE what ever it was. He only left because the manager called the fucking POLICE. To a supermarket. Because he couldn’t buy two packets of tic tacs or something else he already had thirty packets of at home.

Fuck. Be nice to each other.

Changing shit up.

I’ve been giving myself a few long hard talks lately. The kind of talks that end up with eye rolls and shifting from one foot to the other and loads of sighing and whining incessantly about how my life sucks and I’m bored and I’m totally a whiny arsed fourteen year old girl stuck in the body of a middle-aged woman.

I do have Staff for the boring bits of housework, like, the actual cleaning and the ironing. But the cleaning fairy doesn’t do the fucking washing, or tidy up the linen cupboard, or plan the meals or do the groceries. That’s still all down to me. I mean, the fam does a bit, but it’s mostly down to me to at least organise even if I don’t do all of it. But I am a true Queen of Procrastination and I’d rather fuckarse about with my phone or whinge to my friends than actually do the shit I need to do. Which is all very well, except that yeah. I still need to do the shit I need to do.

So, enough of the whining, and more of the pulling my finger out of my self-indulgent arse and even more of the just fucking DO it. Because, you know, most of the time, it takes a lot less energy and effort to just do it, cross the fucking thing off the list, and move onto the next item. Rinse and fucking repeat. Ad nauseam.

My just fucking do it approach to life seems to be paying off… Sort of. Life seems to be meandering along in a marginally less fucked up, slightly more organised kind of way. We’re still eating at stupid late o’clock, and I’m still going to bed even later. BUT… The dry washing is folded and mostly away; dinner has in fact been cooked every night. Take away only occurs when I plan it, and not because I forgot there were SEVEN dinners required in a week, and not, you know. Five. Or sometimes four. Dishes are done and bills are paid more or less on time. Give or take a day or two.

Work is even going orright for a change of pace. Like – actually getting shit done kind of orright. And by change of pace, I mean work is ticking along at a speed that is comfortable instead of insane. Although yeah, have to stop with the leaving at 6pm (that totes does NOT contribute to the eating fucking late and going to bed fucking later. Totally. Not. Probably. Um. Yeah.) I don’t seem to be able to get there on time, but in all honesty, that’s probably a side effect of not going to bed until fucking midnight half the time. And despite my protestations of never a-fucking-gain, wrote a paper. Now, that is in the lap of the gods, but still. On top of all that, I’ve been reading and cooking and doing stuff that’s sorta fun instead of filling my weekend with resentful housework. And I entered a writing competition. Actually did it. Instead of just thinking about it.

I got a multi-cooker for Christmas, so I’ve been learning how to use it. Chocolate puddin all round thank yer mother for the rabbits and that’s all she wrote. And you know those Woollies vegetables last year? Well. I grew beetroots and radishes and lettuces. I did kill a fair few things, but I’ve got a lot of spares to try again once the fucking cucumber dies a natural death. We got this thing called a vegepod, and man, best idea ever. Although carrots fucking suck to grow. Apparently, they grow them in sand and in pipes. Not actually straight in the ground. They taste good, even if you can’t peel the bastards.

Also, one only needs ONE cucumber plant. Not four. I have made cucumber relish and pickled cucumbers and every time people leave my house, they leave with a cucumber in one hand and a jalapeno in the other. Because, while I did only plant one chilli plant, it’s enjoying life in the Pod. A lot. Damn shame the damn cucumber has strangled the capsicum. And the strawberries have mould issues. I shall google it.

Last month, I cooked at least four or five new recipes. That never happens. I also read EIGHT books. That also never happens. Nice mixture of new and old and crime and not and actual books and non-fiction which I also don’t read. And the writing competition, well. Not a hope in hell of winning a prize or anything, because well. Srs competition. Although I did read last year’s winners…

So, I’ve cooked and I’ve read heaps and I’ve written stuff and I’ve grown stuff and I’ve done loads of crochet, and I’ve done the fucking housework. Like a grown up. Who would have thought? Also, who would have thought I could fit so many fucking swears in one less than one thousand word essay.

Stuff.

I haven’t been blogging much lately. No real reason, and my head is full of half started bits and bobs that I’ve not had the energy to convert to something worth reading. Like the Pants Situation. That’s the one where I found some Perfect Pants, disposed of ALL of the less than perfect pants to homes anew, then the allegedly Perfect (but actually complete and utter fuckers) Pants shrank. Did get my money back, but am left pantsless. Which wouldn’t be an issue if we were actually having a normal spring/summer rather than the fuck it’s cold I wish I had pants season we’re currently enjoying. So hey, I look professional from the waist up. And chilly below.

And the follow on from the Winter Clothes Kon Maudy business. That’s the one where I discover that I don’t really have enough “summer” tops if it does actually warm up. This leaves me with another quandary – primarily because I can’t find anything I like that isn’t ridic expense, and I’ll be buggered if I spend $60 on a fucking cotton t-shirt. And after previous Kon Maudy experiences, I’m not buying shit because it will do and it’s better than nowt. But the half arsed spring/summer we’re managing means I am surviving. Did have a Wardrobe Emergency the other day. Well, wasn’t actually a wardrobe emergency, more a trusted the weather forecast combined with the work air-conditioning set on Antarctic instead of Ambient. Easy mistake to make, apparently. Ended up with a new cardy and another long sleeved shirt (oops). Cardy is good (wearing it now. Think it’s down to less than $10 a wear. It will be free by the end of summer). Long sleeved shirt in white and linen. Can’t go wrong really.

So there’s an update on my wardrobe in two paragraphs. More than enough. I have been a tiny bit more stressed than normal lately, too. Just a tiny bit. Lots of stuff that is out of my control going on. While I can control how I react to things, when there’s lots and lots and lots of things that need controllable reactions… to be honest, it’s easier to just run around in circles flapping my hands and yelling fuck you all you fuckers and hide under the doona with a good book and hope all the stuffs goes away.

Coincidentally, one thing I have actually been doing a LOT of is in fact reading. Over the last few years, I’ve managed to read somewhere between 20 and 30 books each year. This is a complete travesty, as BC (before childerbeasts) I would read somewhere between two and four books a week (even while studying and working full time); and if I was going on The Holidays, minimum requirement for a week away was ten books. Over the last few years, I’d be lucky to read 25 books, and as long as I had two books for a week away, set like concrete, mate. This year I have already read FIFTY books, and there’s still a month to go. I started slowly, read a couple of graphic novels, read some old favourites… still prefer police procedurals and urban fantasy. But I’ve discovered Australian Noir. It broke the ice somewhat and I’ve been reading almost like the person formerly known as the Maudy who who formerly read a lot. Of the list in that article, I’ve read most of the authors, and of the ones I have read, I’ve read most of them this year.

Did read a couple of duds (looking at you, Mr Reacher. There comes a time in a bloke’s life he has to face up to retirement. Ahem) BUT there was only one book I didn’t finish. Good year for books though, generally.

The other thing I’ve done is crochet a lot. I discovered I am better at crochet than I thought. I’m now a prize winning crocheter and everything. In two competitions even. Although, it was for the same thing, so yeah. Maybe I’m not that good. Although the bit that won the prizes was pretty damn ace. Anyway, this year, I’ve learned how to do tapestry crochet and overlay crochet and how to crochet in a flat circle. I am mildly impressed with myself. Particularly the project I’m doing now. I thought it would be at the far limit of my abilities, and it’s not. Last time I checked, I was on gauge and everything – which, considering I am a “high and tight” crocheter, is a minor miracle in itself. Maybe I am not shit at crochet? And maybe you can teach a slightly more mature dog new tricks?

I also developed a bit of an obsession with my fitness tracker. I managed to do 10K steps almost every single day (missed less than five days, I think) for about 22 months. That’s pretty good really. But I was obsessed. Tracking my steps and tracking my sleep. And beating myself up over missing my goals with one or the other (ahhhh, I see what’s going on here, something to stress over that is not only in my control, but something that I can control. Who would have thought? Fuck, I’m predictable.)

Anyway, the band on my tracker broke. What was a girl to do?

  • Rush out and buy a new band?
  • Rush out and buy a new tracker?
  • Flap around in a circle a bit and internally debate ordering a new band or a new tracker ?
  • Do nothing?

Weirdly, it turns out I’m doing option 4 for the time being. My particular tracker is superseded, so although it still works fine, it’s a bit harder to find a replacement band for it. If I’m really using it as a “controlled stressor” then that’s a tiny bit fucked up and I should perhaps back away from the tracking for a bit and work out what I was actually getting out of it before I do anything more.

I have been missing the availability of having the time in an easily accessible device (as long as the light was right); so again with the who would have thoughts… I have started wearing my watch on the “wrong” hand instead. Time keeping device, easily accessible, and can read it regardless of light conditions. Unless it’s like proper dark and all. (I am some kind of weirdo right handed right hand wearing watch person. Wearing my watch on my left hand is a bit peculiar. But I will live. And the time is more useful than steps)

So yeah, that’s me. Reading other people’s words instead of writing my own. Tying ever more complex knots in a piece of string. Walking a lot and sleeping not so much. Two big ticket items on my Stress list are more or less resolved, and while I’d still like to run away to a tropical island for a little while, eh. I’ll live.