What’s Been Happening? Part I Sunday, May 1 2011 

Blue Mountains

It’s been nearly two months since my last blog entry, but they’ve been a very busy two months indeed! Entirely too busy, in fact. And by busy, I mean stressful.

It became clear that Young wasn’t working out for us, so we resolved to move back towards Sydney. For a start, Mim couldn’t get her regular prescriptions written without paying a $65 consultation fee (for a $5.60 medication on the PBS), and we wanted to be closer to Mim’s daughter Charmaine.

So whilst we looked for new digs, Mim and I stayed with an old friend of hers in Blacktown, a harrowing experience to say the least. Our host’s driving talents nearly cost us our lives, and despite our near miss, I still came away with cracked ribs—which I wasn’t allowed to mention publicly, lest it jeopardise our accommodation. (Needless to say, our host wasn’t all there.)

Shortly thereafter, Charmaine broke up with her boyfriend, and moved in with us. And shortly after that, our erstwhile benefactor had some sort of mental shortout and tossed all three of us out onto the street, leaving us to live in our car. Via SMS. Via her daughter. For 36 very tense hours, she locked our cats—without food, water or ventilation—in her back room, and we weren’t even certain we’d ever get them back.

We’d just managed to secure a place in the Blue Mountains, and fortunately—I can honestly never express adequate gratitude—our friends Chris and Nikki let Mim, Charmaine and I sleep in the lounge room in the interim. Once we’d finally retrieved them, Arthur the Rabbit graciously allowed our babies to borrow his hutch. By the end of the week, though, we were headed up into the mists.

Meanwhile, the NSW state election raged, but Mim and I were powerless to help numerous old friends who ran for office. Although many succeeded—notably the new Members for Kiama, Menai, Oatley and Coogee—their fortune has done little to assuage our guilt. Sorry, guys. Next time.

For the next week, we lived on blankets and inflatable mattresses, which our friends Ali and Samara generously lent us. However, cats and inflatable mattresses don’t mix. Try telling that to six distressed moggies: rather than have them cry all night outside our door, I spent the week sleeping on the hardwood floor in the kitchen, huddled around the oven for warmth.

Chris and Nikki once again came to the rescue, donating their old lounge. Later that night, however, Mim found her leg trapped under our car’s rear tire and was rushed off to hospital. As painkillers helped Mim explore unplumbed corners of her consciousness, Chris and I dashed to Young and back to pick up a trailer load of essentials. Including our bed, which Mim serenaded on our return. At length.

I’m beginning to worry about Mim’s relationship with that bed.

To be continued…

Blogging in Exile: Other People’s Misfortune Wednesday, Dec 15 2010 

Mim’s compulsive channel surfing finally paid off: Prime showed a segment on Medical Emergency featuring a woman who’d suffered an injury whilst walking her cat.

It turns out that her cat’s deaf, and was so startled when a dog sniffed it from behind that it clawed its way up her back, over the top of her head and then facehuggered her like something out of Aliens. The poor girl was covered in blood, bruises and open gashes; in truth, it looked like she’d walked up to George Foreman and delivered a particularly witty Yo mamma so fat…

I shouldn’t laugh, I know, but the image of her running around, screaming hysterically whilst trying to pry the inverted moggy’s embedded claws from her face as the latter howled demoniacally and its tail rotored like an out-of-control line trimmer was just too much.

Sure, it wasn’t cat-attacking-baby funny, but it was so very, very close.

Blogging in Exile: Cat, Meet Goat Friday, Dec 10 2010 

As usual, the cats woke us this morning. But this time, it wasn’t for breakfast.

The neighbours on the hill have a vineyard that’s just starting to come into fruit, so they’ve hooked up a series of gas-powered devices to scare away birds. Every few minutes, an explosion issues from the hill. It started at about 6.30 this morning.

We live on the highway, so the noise doesn’t bother me too much. The goats, on the other hand, are probably used to small-calibre gunfire by now, but the louder, early-morning gas explosions spooked the hell out of them. One got loose and found its way to our kitchen window. (It probably doesn’t know how much Mim and I like the taste of goat meat…)

So Timmy decided to park his voluminous arse on our heads and meow loudly: “Guys, you gotta see this! This is the weirdest shit ever!”

To a cat, goats must be the equivalent of the people in the Mars or TDK ads. I’m pretty sure this is the first time our cats have seen one. From a cat’s perspective, goats have weird, curly fur, spikes sticking out of their heads, and their eyes—their eyes!—are twisted through 90 degrees from what they should be. Let me tell you, if you really want to screw with a cat’s head, there’s nothing better than introducing it to a goat.

Mim managed to corral the goat once more and mend the fence, but the cats are still running around the house in some kind of surreal daze. Perhaps if I can find the catnip, I can dope them up and convince them it was a vision of heaven; then, I’ll have my own little army of furry, four-footed Hashshashin

So! What have you been up to??? Monday, Nov 1 2010 

In answer to the question….

The other day I was asked, Where have you guys been and what have you been up to the last few months??? “Well it has been busy” was my response… The I tried to explain just what we had been up to and it seems that things have been happening on so may levels it has been hard to keep track…

I suppose the main thing is we are no longer living in Cowra… This is a very good thing, let me assure you… It seemed every week we lived there we had another disaster of some kind on our hands.

Multiple car breaks downs requiring the extended use of hire cars sent us broke, Dave was working for Centrelink until his contract expired during the caretaker government period and they could not renew it… He reapplied for a role in the same office doing basically the same job, we are still waiting for an answer… the role was supposed to be filled by mid September at the latest, it is now the beginning of November and still no answer… we have given up waiting now and have decided to look elsewhere for work here in Young… health issues for both Dave and myself, multiple hospital trips, idiot issues, neighbors and real estate agent issues, house heating and cooling issues were the least of our problems… that damn town and house just about trashed us… I can’t believe the power bill for less than a year was over $2500… as the place was literally falling apart it was impossible to cool and way past impossible to heat…

Centrelink screwed us over multiple times as customers as well causing massive flow on effects… this was exacerbated by the fact we could not go into the local office as Dave having worked there meant everyone in the office could not look at our files as it was deemed as a conflict of interest… I am hoping my last call screaming down the phone at them last week finally has it sorted…

I went back to TAFE to finish a Business Admin course… I had decided to wait and see if Dave got his job back or if he would be working locally when we moved, so I had put off transferring until I knew for sure… we are into week 3 of this semester and I have yet to have an answer so tomorrow I am off to transfer to the local TAFE… I think I am more pleased about this than I realised as things were getting hinky at Cowra TAFE anyway… 2 bottom of the barrel teachers got me to the point that I refused to attend their classes and then there was the issue with one of the girls in the class…

We befriended each other early on in the piece and apparently in the first week of the holidays her partner was approached in town and told to watch his back as I was “after” him… YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME… WHAT IS THIS PRIMARY SCHOOL??? Seriously… he and his girlfriend had been having other problems and it all blew up into a huge fight… What I actually said was IF he was hitting her or keeping her there against her will I would take Dave out there and get her… as in pick her up, bring her to town, seek medical/police intervention if needed etc… apparently in someone who was listening in’s mind that translated to I was going to go out and kill this guy, then it went through a Chinese, drunken whispers thing and the poor boyfriend in question took it as gospel that I was after him and it made things worse for them… REALLY PEOPLE… GROW UP AND GET A LIFE!!

We then tried to help a friend of a friend with some legal issues and housing issues, but lack of communication put paid to that… I was also considering getting back into Karaoke etc… but the lack of reliable long term partners and potentially unreliable venue managers was enough for me to put that away and lock the door on it… I really am not going to waste my time again with that sort of thing if I do not have a good feeling about it…

I was working as a volunteer for the local PCYC… lets just leave it as this… As long as certain people high up in the management structure of NSW PCYC remain there, nothing productive will happen and that is such a shame given the potential for good…

Dave and I threw up our hands and walked away in disgust after much conversation and soul searching…

As some of you may know I am Secretary of the Australian World Peace Bell Association… things were pretty busy there for awhile too… We had the annual Peace Day celebrations and I was extremely busy organising that, a big thank you to my good friend Johnny Burrows for coming through at the last minute with an awesome musical number for the event and to my wonderful Dave for putting up with it all…

The poetry competition had some wonderful entries and the guest speaker Professor Stuart Rees of the Sydney Peace foundation was awesome…

I was invited to participate in a forum, 10 big ideas to grow the Central West… What a waste of my day… Duplicate/extra committees/boards to do the same job as the ones already there but incompetent… a waste of resources… Sorry, but it is… A couple of geniuses from the Orange area put forward that we provide public and community transport for the ill to go from all around the central west to Orange as it has this great new medical service instead of getting the services to the people… so if you are terminally ill, elderly, post surgery etc… lets just send you on a bus to your specialists up to 3 hours away… I rather loudly made the case against this, but ended up walking away in disgust… Never again… To all my friends in the various levels of government, good luck, I hope you can do more for these people out here, they desperately need the help… The fact that I was rushed to Cowra hospital and could not even get an ultrasound as they did not have the equipment and the radiology place in town did not have anyone who could use their one was a joke… I mean, yes, my suggestion of reviewing and making changes and having people actually accountable for their jobs/roles might be a bit of a pipe dream, but seriously…

OK, so by now you have probably guessed we have moved to Young… what a wonderful little place this is… so much better than Cowra… We have been out to the movies twice… it is an older cinema called the Southern Cross and our tickets are a whole $9 each… wow, expensive hey…

I can eat out as there are many restaurants here that supply gluten free meals… the IGA supermarket here is simply amazing with the largest range of gluten free products I have ever seen… So all in all we are more than happy.

It is cheaper, nicer and a much happier place to be…

We are living out of town on a farm, we share the farm with the owners, they have the main house and we have the secondary residence… The owners of the property are wonderful people… so kind, helpful and welcoming… These are really good people and I am so happy that when I put it out to the universe that we needed help this was the response I got… Our cats still are not allowed out as I think it is better for them to be indoor, less vet bills that way, but we are in the process of setting up 2 large enclosures for them to roam freely in… 1 is weatherproof and about 10m long x 3m wide and 3 meters high and attached to the house, the other is off the back end of the house and is about 7m x7m and 3m high again, but not weatherproof… I think they will be happy with those, they love the one attached to the house already so that is great news…

The farm also comes complete with animals and orchards… Cherries, Peaches, Olives, Strawberries, Blackberries and eggs (courtesy of the free range chooks) are all abundant.. there is plenty of room for my much longed for vege patch and we have befriended some of the animals here too, Ebony the little dog who likes to come for a visit and see if I have left the cat food down for her to eat (which I actually pick up before I open the door except for about a dozen cat biscuits so she thinks she is getting something special)… the cats are terrified of her… it is so funny as he is half their size… Earl, the cat… comes in and demands inspection daily…( just quietly, Chloe has fallen in love with him and follows him around, sadly he does not even acknowledge her). Cookie, the BIG dog…. Our little Holly sits there every day pining for him as she has fallen in love…

There are also the horses, Gus and Giggles… beautiful animals, I love sitting there watching them run and play in the back paddock and I had forgotten how much fun chooks are… they LOVE the tea leaves I put in with the vege scraps for them… so cool…

oh I forgot the goats… Timmy keeps wanting me to take him out the back to look at them… he is so confused as to what they are… I love watching him nose to nose with a goat, meowing and wondering why they wont meow back… the first time one of them bleated at him he nearly wet himself and ran inside… LOL…

and I forgot the frogs… as we are on tank water here.. you go into the bathroom at night or look at the bathroom window/kitchen window, don’t be surprised if there is a frog or two looking right back at you!… LOL… love it… I am not too sure just how Dave feels about that… I think it is great… our environment here is clean enough that we can support frogs… YAY!!

Dave is writing again, I am reading and blogging again as well as motivated to cook and do housework… these are all minor miracles when you consider just how beyond giving a stuff we both were and how little we felt like being productive a few weeks ago at the old place…

My industrial kitchen is awesome too… 2 stoves, 4 ovens, heaps of bench space and a walk in pantry… YAY, a dream come true… I am already happily cooking up a storm and Dave has made a comeback to the kitchen as well.. WOOT!

Dave and I sat down and had a long talk yesterday. I am off to the TAFE tomorrow to transfer, we are both going to look for work locally and things are really looking up, we pick up the last load of our stuff from the old place this week and all will be well in our world…

We are hoping to see some friends from Sydney down in the next few weeks as we have missed everyone so much but have just not been able to get there because of everything else…

Life is good!

So, What have you been up to????

My Hot Little (Virtual) Hands Wednesday, Apr 21 2010 

Apologies to all and sundry, but today’s Gateau Method article will be a little late. I met a stunning influenza at a wedding a week and a half ago, and we’ve been rolling around in bed together ever since. (Incidentally: congratulations, Dan and Claire! Best! Wedding! Evah!)

But what’s really stopped me in my tracks is the PDF release of Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity, which I downloaded about an hour ago. I’m so excited about this that I’d almost wet myself—if Jewel wasn’t sitting directly beneath my chair and didn’t have a history of attempting to shred my genitals with her razor-sharp claws.

It’s finally here! It’s a couple of days later than expected, but seriously, after two years, what’s a couple of days? Poor Shane Ivey (the project’s editor) has been posting brief updates to the Delta Green mailing list over the past few days, and they read like he could use a house call from Dr Herbert West—he’s done an awesome job, but there’s still the hardback to come in a couple of months. I’m sure I’ll be just as excited when that makes its way to me through the mail.

In other news, I start work at Centrelink next Tuesday. Whilst I’ve been less than charitable with my opinion of Centrelink in the past, I really am looking forward to working for them.  Our old office in Sydney was so poor—and they lost our documentation so many times—that Mim and I would take a 30 km round-trip out of our way to their Sutherland office in order to get anything done. In contrast, the Cowra office has been wonderful and their service has been impeccable. Is it a country-town thing? I dunno.

I’m sure I’ll have more to tell on both Centrelink and Targets of Opportunity in the coming days…

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