January 17th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

1. American fries are surprisingly bad. They have an off, rancid-oil taste to them. Chik-Fil-A’s waffle-shaped fries, however, are delicious.

2. Between pennies and dollar bills, a purse can look extremely sumptuous and yet contain very little money.

3. So far two people have guessed we are English. One, oddly enough, was from Sydney.

4. Carsland at night is a thing of utter beauty. Srsly. It is astonishingly gorgeous.

5. I have a sunburn. California in summer must be deadly.

6. The air here is extremely dry. Burns the sinuses. I feel I should have a spray bottle on hand at all times to squirt up my nose.

7. Favorite rides so far - Star Tours, Radiator Springs Racers and the Hollywood Tower of Terror.

8. If Autopia gives any clues to the future, I am NOT teaching the pig to drive.

9. Hollywood is extremely grotty. In a sort of charming way, but still. You can buy plastic Oscars saying Best Barber and Best Golfer at fifteen shops right next to each other. The Founding Fathers would have been proud.

10. At one point in a burger joint a strange-looking man came in and started shouting at us all to listen up. I thought it was some kind of stick-up, but he merely told us all loudly that Jesus loved us and then disappeared into the restrooms.

11. You know the scene in Monsters Inc where Sully tries to flush Boo’s stuff down the toilet? I always found it strangely unrealistic, with the water level that high. Well, nope. US toilets are like that. Explains the whole ‘dog drinking out of the toilet’ thing, not to mention those toilet seat locks you can buy so your toddler doesn’t fall in and drown.

12. Yesterday evening, our final suitcase arrived at the hotel. It had spent the intervening week skulking in airports, traveling merrily to and fro across the Pacific, and apparently causing great mental distress to the good folk at Delta Airlines, who did not know what to do with it and hope if they ignored it, it would leave of its own accord. The only reason it arrived at all was because Mother waged a prolonged telephone campaign for four days straight, being worried that without my drugs I would jump off a roller coaster or get a reality TV show or something.

*I* was hoping that the delighted of Disneyland would wean me off the drugs in a magical, heartwarming fashion. It did not, alas, though it didn’t really get a fair chance, what with us all dying of the flu. Still, being off me meds made Great Moments with Mr Lincoln seem terribly beautiful.

13. There is nothing more dispiriting than trying to order some plain buttered toast, being invalided and temporarily unable to appreciate the delights of po’boys, gumbo and cheesy pretzels; and finding it sickly sweet. Bread should not be sweet, people! It’s bread.

14. The Carnation Cafe’s loaded baked potato soup, on the other hand, is delightful.

15. I saw Peter Dinklage at DCA. Helpdesk Man said he thought he saw that girl who was in that show that time.

16. Knott’s Berry Farm today. We will see how many G-forces our recently regained health can withstand.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers
January 4th, 2014 | 8 Comments »

Three days.

We are leaving in THREE DAYS.

Well, four, technically. We’re spending the night in an airport hotel. But in terms of packing, sewing, organising things, getting the house into housesitter-acceptable condition and trying to look up all the landmarks we might later kick ourselves for having missed… three.

On the debit side, I have two tops, a coat and three dresses to finish sewing before we go. In the black, there are now only three days in which we can contract chicken pox, break our legs, die in a car crash or consume dodgy ham, thus ruining the whole enterprise. This thought has begun to consume my mind. I hurt my toe while ironing the other day (don’t ask) and immediately thought “Welp, this is it”. I wince every time the snortlepig jumps off something. Miles - well, he’s a walking advertisement for travel insurance at the best of times.

We do have travel insurance, fortunately. The brochure was alarmingly specific. Under Loss of Limb, it informed us that the going rate for a severed toe is $50 per. Does that seem low to you? I mean, I’m attached to my toes - if a hygienic but maniacal surgeon offered to lop them off for me, I doubt I’d be convinced at any price - but for $50, I wouldn’t even be tempted. And shouldn’t it be on some kind of scale? I mean, surely losing five toes is more than five times as debilitating as losing one - balance-wise, aesthetically, when purchasing shoes, not to mention repelling potential life partners. If only I’d done better at maths in my youth, I could sell the formula to insurance companies and make my millions.

Also, our travel insurance will not pay out for kidnap if they can prove you’ve been kidnapped before. As if kidnappability is a pre-existing condition. Never having been kidnapped before - at my most portable ages, people tended to wish to get rid of me rather than the reverse - I can’t muster up too much rage about this, but it’s a curious bylaw. I suppose most repeat offenders come from wealthy families who can afford to pay their own ransom, which is sort of the point, isn’t it? Still, it seems rather like victim-blaming. Like losing your no-claims bonus if you get hit by a drunk driver. Life ain’t fair.

Tijuana isn’t covered either. Tijuana is a Bad Place, people. So are Greyhound bus stations. It is fortunate that Google is so happy to reveal the sordid underbellies of American life, and equally fortunate that Helpdesk Man hasn’t lost the childhood paranoia born from living in South Africa which causes him to shy away from unattended luggage, or I’d probably end up leaping right into a drug mule conscription van in the hope that it sold hot dogs.

[Brief pause to google 'can you take needles on a plane?' According to Mental Floss: "Cremated remains are permitted as both carry-on and checked items, but an agent has to be able to sift through them."And on the TSA website: "Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag, as the passenger’s other liquids, such as shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics." Fascinating.]

Anyhoo. Back to sewing. Have I mentioned I’m on my fourth sewing machine in a week? Mine finally gave up the ghost, bobbin-jamming every two seconds and emitting angry noises. Then I borrowed Mother’s ancient Janome, which sews like butter for the first six inches of every seam and then shreds the thread. Then I borrowed one from a friend, who got it from her mother and had never used it. It was of an extremely peculiar design and didn’t sew - probably an Autobot which failed to do its research. Now I’m using my sister-in-law’s machine, which fortunately works and is similar enough in construction to my old one that I don’t keep wildly pawing at the air trying to find the presser foot. Such excitement. Here’s the pig in her Wonder Woman outfit.

December 6th, 2013 | 11 Comments »

1. Doctors. Doctors, doctors, doctors. Phblllght.

So this afternoon I wrestled myself blearily out of bed to go see the doctor about my fatigue. My doubled dose of happy pills seems to be making me a more productive seamstress, which is nice, but isn’t doing much for the brainworms and even less for the tiredness. I’m not much of a one for following up on “come back and see me in a few weeks if things don’t improve” appointments, but as it happens Tiny Miles has been strangely droopy lately, and my left shoulder-blade hurts when I cough. Who can resist a three-for-one bargain like that? So off we went. Naturally, I didn’t get the same doctor I had before. I never do. The new one was jovial, friendly and utterly useless.

On the plus side, I don’t have chronic fatigue syndrome. I know this because the doctor shook his head, said “ehhh” and proceeded to advise me to take long walks, spend time away from the children, do things I enjoy, and relax.

“But I have plenty of time to myself,” I said. “The children are pretty low-maintenance, and I do lots of reading and hobbies and stuff. I don’t think I’m overwhelmed, just really tired. Are you sure it isn’t something like chronic fatigue?”

Whereupon the doctor smiled and said that chronic fatigue is “sometimes a self-fulfilling prophecy”, and I should make sure I was spending lots of time with my husband. At which point the pig, echoing my own thoughts, said “When is he going to fix you, Mummy?” and he smiled and said “I am fixing her. Sometimes you need medicine to be fixed, and sometimes you just need to talk.”

At which point I restrained myself from clocking him one, proving that for a hysterical housewife I have remarkably good control of my emotions. We then discussed my upped Citalopram dosage (he: “That should help” - me: “But it isn’t, that’s why I’m here” - he: “Just wait and see, it will help”), Miles’ condition (he: “Wait and see, I think he’s fine”), my lack of rubella immunity (me: “I’ve been vaccinated for it before and I’ve had it. Apparently I just don’t seroconvert for it.” - he: “Ah yes, seroconversion can be a problem. Just make sure you keep being vaccinated.”) and my stress levels (he: “Sometimes you have pressures in your mind you are not even aware of, even if you think you’re fine. With two small children you must be very busy.” - me: “I’m really not that busy. They’re very good at playing by themselves. I have lots of time to myself.” - he: “You should have more time away from them.”) His final thought? “I knew a lady once who had chronic fatigue. She got pregnant and her fatigue went away. Now she has three children and she has no time to be fatigued. Ha ha!”

Forty-three dollars later, I’d completely forgotten to mention the pain in my shoulder-blade. I suspect he would have recommended bubble baths and chocolate.

2. We do seem to go through cars at a great rate, don’t we? This one, I’m happy to say, was totalled by somebody else. Helpdesk Man had the right of way, but that didn’t do the bonnet any good. Worst of all, when he went to the junkyard to retrieve the carseats he forgot to check the storage slot in the passenger door, and now my sister’s copy of Chloe Marr is compressed somewhere inside a cube of metal. (I’ll buy her a new one. Sorry, sister.)

Fortunately, my excellent parents have just obtained a new station wagon, and have lent us their mighty behemoth of a HiAce while we scavenge the funds for a new car. It’s quite an experience, driving an unfamiliar car - like being transmogrified into a baboon. Things are farther away, farther apart, squishier and angled differently to how you expect, and your muscle memory goes all fritzy. I’ve had a steep learning curve every time we got a new car, but this one - an arthritic sauropod with zero rear visibility - is particularly daunting. I now know why Father makes the faces he does - you have to, if you want to see behind you. Still, it’s kind of fun. Leaning down to take the ticket out of the carpark machine is a new experience, and there’s a certain feeling of clunky power driving something so enormous. Every time I drive it I feeling like getting a tattoo and eating a burger out the window.

3. You know, I really dislike doctors.

Posted in havers
November 15th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

Miles, poring over the snortlepig’s colouring book: “Tha’s Ariel. Tha’s Belle.”

Me: “We’re going to see those princesses at Disneyland!”

Miles: “Yeah!”

Snortlepig: “I’m going to go up and talk to them. And they’re going to say ‘You’re a very nice little princess’, and I’m going to say ‘Yes, but I’m not just a princess.’ And I’m going to tear off my clothes, and underneath there will be my Wonder Woman suit.”

Me: “Whoa. Awesome. What do you think they’ll say to that?”

Snortlepig: “They’ll probably say ‘I’ve never heard of you.’”

Posted in havers, sewing
November 10th, 2013 | 7 Comments »

I am going to make our fortunes.

Remember how back in the day, shady figures acquired their billions by selling pet rocks, Tamagotchis and sea-monkeys? Well, I have the new big thing.


They’re little shrink-wrapped toes, see, and you buy them individually and rehydrate them to see which toe they are. The aim, of course, is to collect all ten, preferably in the same skin-tone, though who am I to judge? Kids will swap them with their friends. The appeal will be in the mix of chance, skill and choice necessary to completing a set - the Amputoes will be engineered so that longer soaking will produce a pruny effect, for them that wish it. Similarly, children will be able to decide whether they want curly little toes, second toes longer than the first, hairy toes, smooth toes… the possibilities are as varied as beautiful humanity.

Then, aside from the basic set, there will be expansion packs - the Athlete’s Foot Edition, for instance, tapping into today’s zombie-crazed youth market - and collector’s editions modelled after the toes of famous fictional and historical figures - Frodo, Lincoln, Kevin Spacey and the like. Pedicure sets will be available in everything from classic French manicure to Spiderman. A foot base with little spikes will hold the toes; alternatively, they could be strung on necklaces or placed on a whimsical little couch. All these products will be advertised by anthropomorphised Amputoes - spokestoes, if you will - from the happy-go-lucky hero Bunion to the evil, mustachioed Hangnail. And kids will keep buying, foot after foot, in the hopes of getting the one-in-ten-thousand Amputhumb, the presentation of which will garner them prizes in the form of expansion packs, accessories, Amputoe comic books and so forth.

Amputoes. You heard it here first.

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Posted in havers
November 8th, 2013 | 9 Comments »

I had a doctor’s appointment today. It went differently in my head.

What I planned to do was march in there and say “Look, peon, I’m sick of being exhausted all the time. Test me up for chronic fatigue, mono, low thyroid, hysterical pregnancy, diabetes, anaemia, sleep apnea, lupus, bubonic plague and whatever else you got until we whup this thang.”

What actually happened was the doctor saying “I see you haven’t had a cervical smear for a while. I’ll just go ahead and book you in. Yes, I know, I know, but we like to do it just as a screening process.”

My doom thus sealed, I got to fill in a multi-choice quiz about how much I wanted to kill myself and others (Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never or Only After Being Shanghaied Into a Cervical Smear?); according to which I still have ‘moderate’ depression, which is a bit of a chiz given that I’ve been shelling out, um, $3 every three months for Citalopram. (Apologies to my American readers.) She suggested I up the dose. “After all, 20mg is a bit on the low end for your weight”, she said, which wasn’t very cheering. This feeling was compounded when she went behind me, massaged my neck, said “Swallow” and then returned to her seat with an airy “No, it isn’t your thyroid. You just have a full neck, like me. It looks a little bit like thyroid, but it isn’t.”

Say what? I have a fat thyroidal neck? She has a fat thyroidal neck? Her neck looked perfectly normal to me. I’d always thought mine was, too. Not, you know, swan-like; but not pathological. Super. Should’ve asked to retake the quiz.

Then she sent me off to the Pathlab where, in the middle of getting four vials of blood removed - lying down to prevent recurrance of past embarrassing incidents - I had to disguise a fit of hysterical pre-faint giggles so as not to scare the rather dour phlebotomist. When the draining was complete I felt a bit funny, and when the phlebotomist told me to get up I said “Am I pale? Usually if I’m pale it’s a bad sign.” She said “You’re fine” and shuffled out, whereupon I got up and caught sight of myself in the mirror. Pale, no. Green, yes. Apparently I should either pitch a TV series called The Strangely Literal Phlebomist or rethink my stance on foundation.

The good news is, my bowels are fine. The doctor and I are now both quite clear on this, as she asked me four times. This worries me a little. Is fatigue a typical symptom of colon cancer? Does recalcitrant fecal matter tend to back up into the throat, creating a full, thyroidal effect? Results on Monday.

Posted in havers
November 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment »

It’s 11:29 and I should be sleeping, but I just came across a thing on Pinterest where you get a tattoo to match your baby’s birthmark. And I am agog. Is this a sweet idea or hideously disrespectful? The pictured tattoo was of a small, innocuous light-brown splotch on the hand. Would the mother have done the same thing with a congenital hairy nevus? What if the birthmark were shaped like a swastika? Is a birthmark tattoo more or less creepy than a wart tattoo or scar tattoo or ex-pimple tattoo? Would mother and child pose together in photos with birthmarks on display, wearing matching florals? I have a tiny Australia-shaped birthmark by my right elbow of which I’m quite fond (birthmark, not elbow); if my mortal enemy/raving fanboys/celebrity impersonator got one to match, could I sue for, like, copyright infringement? (Could Australia sue me?) I saw a thing once about a woman who got plastic surgery to look more like her daughter, and it was pathetic and unfortunate, but I suppose this is a different thing; more like adopting your child’s stutter in solidarity, which, though, I would not recommend. Or shaving your head when your friend does chemo. I’ve never quite gotten that - I suppose it’s a nice sentiment, but if someone tried it on me I don’t think it’d help my mental health. They’d probably look better bald than I would - anyone would look better bald than I would - and then I wouldn’t even have the comfort of thinking “Oh well, of course they look better than my puking, miserable self, they have hair.” You don’t see people offering to eat KFC so they can puke in solidarity with chemo patients, now do you? Or fake tummies with pregnant friends. Unless they do. How would one know, really. I wonder if it’s illegal to get a tattoo of a kidney-removal scar? You know how if they go in, they have to take the kidney out even if it’s healthy because future surgeons will look at the scar and assume they did? It was on M*A*S*H*. Well, a white-ink tattoo scar would be, like, medical fraud. Good insurance against kidney-stealing, though - although I suppose they’d just take the other one, unless you had two scars, in which case they’d probably be all “?”. SO MANY QUESTIONS. Ooh, I forgot to take my drugs.

Posted in havers
October 17th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Because I can.

Miles, early this morning, trying to show me pictures in a book while I was still half-asleep: “Mummy, looka dat! Is a steamroller! Looka dat! Mummy! I talkin’ a you! Mummy! PICK UP YOU EYES!”

* * * *

At the zoo today:

Me: “Hey Miles, look at the lemurs! Aren’t they funny? Look, that’s one’s jumping! Hasn’t he got a fluffy tail?”
Miles, after staring for a moment: “I want to see the dragons.”

* * * *
Me at health food store: “Hey, do you have anything for psoriasis?”
Lady, grabbing a bottle of Verm-Ez: “Now, this one’s *wonderful*. You might think from the name it’s for de-worming, but it actually works on a whole variety of parasites.”
Me, with the politeness born of fear: “Erm, isn’t psoriasis autoimmune?”
Lady: “Oh yes, I think it is, but you know, I had one lady come in who’d be treated for skin cancer for *fifteen years*, and after a week of this she saw improvement, and after two weeks it was completely gone.”
Me: “…”
Lady: “You know, when you think about it’s really silly - we de-worm our pets twice a year, but we don’t think about it for ourselves.”
Me: “…Yes. Um, do you know of anyone who’s used this specifically for psoriasis?”
Lady: “Not specifically, but as I say, this lady’s skin cancer was *completely gone*. I recommend this to everyone who comes in. It’s wonderful. Now, *externally*, we have a lovely soothing cream here for itchy skin.”
Me: “It’s not itchy, I just want it to go away.”
Lady: “Absolutely! I’ll put these on the counter for you so you can continue shopping.”

The terrible thing is, I bought both of them. She was waiting for me at the counter and I didn’t have the heart not to. I am a craven excuse for a human being. But at least I’ll soon be parasite-free.

* * * *
Miles, putting a bucket on his head: “I bein’ a MAN!” Uh, sure.

* * * *
So today I was trying to take headshots of Helpdesk Man for a business page of his, or something. His modelling skills are even worse than my photography skills, so the session mostly consisted of me wildly pressing buttons while saying “No, stop looking smug. Don’t hunch your shoulders. Put your head on straight. No, now you look like a raptor. There’s a pole growing out of your head. Maybe you should try a hat”, and similar encouraging remarks.

Then on a whim I asked him to give a sultry pout; whereupon the camera, which had previously identified him as Foliage, suddenly recognised his face… as me.

This is disturbing on many levels.

* * * *
Snortlepig: “Is anyone coming for dinner tonight?”
Me: “No, just us.”
Snortlepig: “Well, that’s good, because now we don’t have to clean the house!”
Me: “Ha! –Actually we do, because Annika’s coming around for her baking lesson this afternoon.”
Snortlepig: “Oh doom! We’re done for.”

* * * *
Me: “Miles, I saw you through the window when you were outside just now. What were you looking up at? Was there a birdie?”
Miles: “I lookin’ up sayin’ “Hi sky!”, like dat.”

* * * *
Miles, muttering to himself after failing yet again to balance a cloth on his head: “I incompetent.”

* * * *

Miles, weeping: “I bonk my head!”
[Demonstrates by getting on his hands and knees and bashing his face into the ground.]
Miles, weeping harder: “I bonk my chin!”

Posted in havers
September 9th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

This morning I escaped, pigless, to buy hay for the guinea pigs and buttons for two shirts I’m making and eggs and Christmas presents and a guilty, unsatisfying apple doughnut.

Halfway through, while cravenly sneaking from parking meter to parking meter trying to find one that wasn’t expired (I was low on cash, innit. Succeeded, too. 49 minutes, no parallel parking required. Woot!), I suddenly realised that the car smelled of marijuana.

This was perplexing, for obvious reasons. It worried me. I had never smelled it before. I had passed by people before who were allegedly reeking of it, and Helpdesk Man would point it out, and I’d always be like “What? I couldn’t smell anything” and have to stop myself from going back and giving them a big old experimental sniff. For a long time, indeed, I wondered if I were congenitally unable to smell it. But here I was in the car with a distinctly fragrant, herbal smell surrounding me.

And just the other day, I had breathed in Helpdesk Man’s face and he’d said “Whoa, why do you smell of marijuana?” - a question we never satisfactorily resolved - and now the mystery was thickening.

I could only think of two explanations. One, Helpdesk Man was relieving his not inconsiderable work-related, pig-related and (truthfully) Smokey-related stress by toking up in the passenger seat. Two, someone else - an inhabitant of the orchard, a theological opponent of Helpdesk Man’s from the internet, or possibly my little sister - had decided to use our routinely-unlocked and usefully messy car for hiding his or her stash, malevolently or otherwise.

I considered these two possibilities intently. What if I got stopped by the police? I could get them to test my hair, but it’s hennaed - what if that screwed up the results somehow? And what if my marijuana breath of the previous week had been the result of accidental ingestion? Would they take the pigs away? Would it work in my favour to drive straight to the police and Confess All with artless candor? Would it really be the ethical thing to deprive my children of a loving, though stressed, father who was only trying to self-medicate with an herbal substance, by turning him over to the fuzz? Gosh - this explained his snacking. Can you get medical marijuana prescriptions in New Zealand? He had taken up chewing gum lately. Maybe it was the guy from the sawmill, who wished to keep his habit secret from his children. A laudable scruple. Maybe someone was setting us up for public disgrace by planting the stash in order to discredit Calvinism. Maybe it was Helpdesk Man after all. I could search the car thoroughly and confront him with the evidence, all “Did you think I was a fewl?”, like Skyler. But that would require effort and the unearthing of a lot of items frankly less savoury and wholesome than a small baggie of (I use the street slang casually, with airy ease) pot. Ought I to leave him, just temporarily, to make it clear that this kind of malarkey was Not On? But that would require even more effort, and going to a hotel would eat into our Disneyland fund, and I doubt Mother would want us all hanging around her house for a few days with minimal explanation; and really, who has the time? And why, if he were feeling so down as to require medication, had he not confided in me, his practically only wife? Dwelt I but in the wops of his good pleasure? What if it were my little sister after all? She might be buying it from Shady People. Maybe we should offer to grow some for her in the orchard, so she wouldn’t get stabbed. That would be an interestingly grey moral decision. High is better than stabbed, surely. Does marijuana pass through breastmilk? Won’t somebody think of the children?

And then I realised it was the guinea pig hay. And I went “Oh yeah. Heh.” and continued on my way. Sometimes, people, life almost throws you curveballs… and then doesn’t.

Posted in havers
August 20th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

And the angels rejoiced.

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Posted in havers