April 22nd, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Our sole remaining chicken, Wingdings the Dogproof of the Order of the Stoopid Hairdo, appears to have lost the plot. For reasons known only to herself she spent Saturday night outdoors in a torrential downpour. Come morning she looked like a particularly repellent pipe-cleaner recovered from the interior of a Sarlacc. She whiled away the hours staggering backwards around the house, scraping her beak along the ground with her head on one side, staring cock-eyed at the world and giving every indication of having already become Chicken Zero.

Helpdesk Man offered a little too eagerly to go all Atticus on her white meats; but by the time we got back from church she had fluffed up and regained some low-level sanity, so we decided to wait and see. I realise that this is the kind of thinking that causes people to shout at the screen; and  sure enough, the next rainshower saw her sopping and crazy again. Today, Wingdings is nowhere to be seen. Humanity, we apologise.

This being our track record, it is a wonder that we have been entrusted with the temporary care and feeding of not only a dog, but two guinea-pigs. The dog is Holly, a mere four-day addition to the household. The guinea-pigs, Eartha (Ertha?) and Gretel, are small fluffy reminders that my ungrateful family of origin is heading off to the British Isles for the next, if you don’t mind, ten weeks. Missing, I might add, two birthdays, a whole term of both violin and choir, and numerous prime babysitting opportunities. Some people.

3:30 PM: Snortlepig: “Miles! Don’t sit on the guinea-pig! What were you THINKING?”

7:00 PM: Miles, towering over Holly, who was lying meeky on the floor: “Sit down! Doggie! SIDDOWN DOGGIE! SIDDOWN DOGGIE!”

9:30 AM: Miles, shouting inches from Holly’s (silent) nose: “Hush you dogs! Hush you dogs! HUSH YOU DOGS!”

1:14 PM: Snortlepig: “Ooh, you know what we could do? You could make Miles a dog costume, and me a bigger dog costume, and a fat one for Daddy, ’cause - you know. I’m not saying he’s fat, because that’s rude. And we could all wear the costumes, and then when Alison came to pick Holly up, she’d be all concerned and say “Where did all these dogs come from?” … We probably better not.”

Daddy: “Oi.”

Snortlepig: “I didn’t say you were fat, Daddy.”

4:30 PM: Snortlepig, shouting across the orchard: “Mum! Holly’s met Macy!” [Macy is the orchard dog.] Pause. “They’re BEHAVING!”

4:45 PM: Smokey to visiting small child: “She likes you? …Mm. No no, we won’t pull her hair out. Guinea-pigs look better with hair. No, we won’t poke her eyes. Don’t squeeze the head! That’s important. Squeeze the other end. Oop! Careful with the eyes. Do you think she likes that? Hmm, I think she’s looking a bit sleepy. Maybe we’ll put her back for now.”

5:02 PM: Helpdesk Man: “OK Miles, time to sleep. Night-night! Kiss for Mummy… kiss for your sister…”

Miles: “Kees a doggie?”

6:12 PM: Miles: “Hi doggie! I’m naked!”

6:35 PM: Smokey: “No, Miles, that’s your toothbrush! Don’t brush the doggie’s… give that here.”

6:37 PM: Miles: “I bash a doggie!”

Smokey: “Miles, no! Give me the fork.”

6:58 PM: Smokey: “Miles, don’t feed your baked beans to the doggie. Doggies don’t like baked beans.”

6:59 PM: Smokey: “…Well, maybe doggies do like baked beans, but I said not to feed her. Those are your beans.”

7:00 PM: Smokey: “Miles! Don’t! Feed! The dog!”

It is now 7:43. Smeg. I forgot to feed the dog.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers
April 18th, 2013 | 7 Comments »

1. It is the season for mice, apparently. The orchard dog has been joyously snapping them up among the apple trees; the orchard pigs have been spotting them by the dishwasher and squealing “SO CUUUUUTE!” repeatedly.

Helpdesk Man being less impressed, we have been loading a lot of mousetraps. Most commonly, the mouse licks the peanut butter off the trap and prances away smugly; less often, the thing works as advertised and Tiny Miles gets to admire the corpses up close before we fling them over the fence. And then there was last week.

Before bed: a trap, peanut-butter-baited placed enticingly by the open door of the pantry.

Come the dawn: a mouse lying dead with a bloody nose in front of the pantry, and no trap to be seen.

We still haven’t found the mousetrap.

Chilling, no?

2. Here are my two latest cakes. The first was for a two-year-old nephewpig, who wailed at it like an ingrate. The second was for Helpdesk Man’s 30th. He did not wail at it, but he did fail to finish his piece in favour of someone else’s trifle; so it’s been a pretty psychologically taxing run, cakewise. I should write a book on Suffering.

3. This past weekend, we loaded up the pigs, a sword and a bow and arrows and went to Wellington so Helpdesk Man could attend a martial arts conference. I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of two days in a strange city with no car, two pigs and a foreboding weather forecast - to say nothing of the eight-hour trips there and back - but I’ve been lobbying for a return to Wellington since our honeymoon, so it seemed silly to pass up the chance.

It wasn’t too bad, actually. We rented a tiny house, which turned out to have one bedroom fewer than might be desired and was located up a perilously steep hill, accessible only via numerous ramps and flights of stairs. Still, clean and cozy, a proliferation of spare towels, and a kitchen well-stocked enough to make nachos and ravioli, so we didn’t feel we should quibble - especially after Miles throomed on their duvet.

On Day 1 we went to the zoo, where Tiny Miles confounded me somewhat by his attitude to the beasts. His invariable first question - “Izza cat izza dog?” - made sense, but when he followed it up with “Eyebrows?” I was frequently stumped. Does a cheetah have eyebrows? I guess, kind of. But an otter? A porcupine, of which only the hinder end is currently visible in any case? Deep stuff.

Wellington Zoo is a nice little zoo - by no means spectacular, as there aren’t any elephants and the Little Blue penguins had done a bunk. But there was a Giraffe Talk, at which the pigs were given sprigs of browse and allowed to feed the beasts. The snortlepig kept shying away at the critical moment and dropping her leaves - Miles, however, suffered no such qualms and happily let himself be licked all over while the giraffe attempted to wrest the leaves out of his chortling paws. At the end of the encounter Miles waved goodbye to the giraffe’s retreating head, and then sighed with beatific content: “Cat!”

On Day 2 we went to Te Papa. This is a museum - apparently a good one. We studied it in the only history class I took at Uni, which despite being called Communication In History: From the Printing Press to the Internet and being taught by a rabid Tolkien fan, was mind-numbingly dreary. What museums have to do with the history of communication, I never did find out: but we learned that Te Papa is a respected, highly up-to-date and progressive institution.

Which is all very well, except that

a) I have a phobia of museums

b) I have a phobia of stuffed, skeletonised and otherwise corpsified animals

c) I have a phobia of large aquatic life

and d) Te Papa is an a) filled with b), some of which are c).

Despite this, I have been twice - once on the initial horrifying trip that cemented a) and involved me being literally dragged, sweating with clenched eyes, round a bunch of taxidermied stags by my two heartless sisters who kept saying things like “Ooh, let’s take her into the Marine Mammal Skeleton room!”, while a museum assistant looked on with mild interest and said “Is she all right?”; and once to see a display of LOTR movie props, which just goes to show that Geekdom Conquers All.

As do drugs, apparently. This third trip wasn’t planned, but after waiting for a bus which didn’t come and walking all the way into the city, trying to persuade the pigs that the shops were interesting enough not to whine about visiting them, but not so interesting that one needed to escape from one’s pram and destroy them - well, any remotely child-friendly space was appealing, be it ever so festooned with the scaffolding of plesiosaurs.

So we went in, and I averted my eyes from the giant creepy anchor that looms in the foyer, and asked the information lady which pig-friendly areas could be accessed without passing beneath a fibreglass reconstruction of the Kraken - which she took rather well, even advising me to go down this side of the lifts because there was the skeleton of a famous racehorse on that side (side note: why? WHY?); and there we were.

The areas we visited were on “Pasifika” and “Invention”, and they were moderately well-done; but I spent most of my time gazing in fascination at my son and heir.

Miles is not a shy child. Where the pig saw Things to Do, Miles saw Friends to Make. His modus operandi was to find a baby, walk over to it, kindly but firmly appropriate its toy, and then make its parent play with him. And they did.

If he happened to come across a temporarily babyless adult, he would instead break the ice by thrusting out a foot and saying “Izzabzzagllbta BOOT!”, or perhaps pointing and saying “Lady!” repeatedly, until the parent admitted to being a lady. At one point he brought a hand-puppet goat to a man and said “Wazzat?”, and when told it was a goat decided the man was a zoological authority and brought him a possum, an octopus and a parrot for inspection while the man’s neglected daughter played by herself in a corner.

He was only snubbed once - by a pre-pubescent, shy-looking Asian boy who tried to brush him off with a vague smile. Miles, being immune to the concept of a brush-off, continued to attempt conversation for a good two minutes while the boy shifted from foot to foot and cast occasional nervous glances in my direction, as if to say “Call off your baby, woman, it thinks it’s human”. I probably should have, but it seemed a shame to deprive a forward-thinking museum of such a compelling anthropological performance piece.

On the way off the bus home, Miles cheerfully shouted “Thank’oo! See’oo! See’oo! Bye-bye!” to the bus driver. Giggles from every adult in the vicinity. I don’t know where he gets it from. Some recessive non-recessive gene, I spose.

And I did not have a panic attack, even when the corner of my eye caught the grinning front end of the racehorse (who was looking far smugger than circumstances warranted.) All hail Big Pharma. Srsly.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers
April 4th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Miles [having eaten approximately half the crackers in the known universe]: Quacker!

Me [tearing self away from reading article online about alopecia for no valid reason]: You want more crackers?

Miles: Quacker! Moah quacker!

Me: Whoa. You are so hungry for crackers! –Oh dear. They’re all gone!

Miles: Moah quacker!

Me: There aren’t any more, Tiny. You ate them all!

Miles: Moah quacker!

Me: There are no more crackers. Look, they’re all gone!

Miles [dispiciously]: Gone?

Me: Yes, all gone! Look.

Miles [outraged]: GONE?!

Me [nervously, trying to jolly him along]: All gone!

*pause*

Miles: EMPTY?!?!

Me: Yes, the packet’s empty.

Miles [quietly]: Mmh. [trucks off happily down the hall to play with his trains]

Posted in havers
March 30th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

1. I made myself a dress.

Further details here if you’re into that sort of thing. I like it - it’s just 50s enough that I feel I should be wearing it with cherry-red pumps and cherry-red lips, sipping root beer from a Mason jar and perching ingenuously on a bicycle with cat’s-eye glasses and a heavy Instagram filter over the whole. Sadly, this is not a look I am ever likely to pull off. I do have a cherry-red lipstick - one of Helpdesk Man’s clients sent it to me (long story) - but I wore it the other day at the pig’s insistence, and Tiny Miles pointed at my face and squeaked in outrage “WazZAT?”, and I cannot disagree with his assessment. Also, Helpdesk Man refuses to let me buy cat’s-eye glasses. Still, I like the dress.

2. Here’s a question for you. For $100, would you sleep for a night on a pile of peeled bananas? No pillow; a blanket is allowed, but it must not come between you and the bananas.

Helpdesk Man says no. I am inclined to agree, although oddly, if I could sleep for ten successive nights on a pile of bananas (fresh each night, obviously) and make $1000, I’d be more inclined to consider it. I dislike bananas, and the smell would be off-putting; and I imagine it would be an intensely unpleasant experience, especially around 4AM or so. But still. We’re trying to save for Disneyland. Thoughts?

3. This evening I was looking through some old photos on the computer while Miles sat on my knee. I unearthed one of me carrying him at six months or so.

“Girl!” said Miles. “Girl!”

“That’s me!” I said. “That’s Mummy. See, Mummy?”

“Girl!” said Miles.

Apparently these last sixteen-odd months have aged me beyond recognition. He still recognised Daddy, of course, from photos of a similar vintage. Rotten little blighter.

4. The snortlepig’s latest thing is watching childbirth videos on YouTube. Whenever she’s bored. It unnerves Helpdesk Man no end when he emerges from the office for his bihourly coffee. The pig will not, she informs me, be having any babies herself; I’m not sure whether she watches the videos to bolster that conviction, or simply because, she puts it, the babies are “so cute and squashy”. Either way, she’s learning a good deal about amniotic fluid. SCIENCE, guv’mint.

March 10th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Last night we invited Gran, Grandpa and the aunts over for an Ancient Egyptian dinner. The pig got quite into it.

She has quite the Clara Bow thing going on, don’t you think?

We made the lot - dress, wig and necklacey collar thing, the name of which I should probably know, given that we’re doing a whole study on Ancient Egypt. We were going to do armbands, but we ran out of time. But then, so did the Ancient Egyptians, eventually.

There was also a pharaoh.

The pig decided he was going to be Tutankhamun, and that she would be his queen. “But we can’t pretend to be married, because he’s my brother,” she said. Without thinking, I said “Well, I think the real Tutankhamun actually married his sister…” “Oh! That’s all right then,” said the pig cheerfully. “Isn’t that handy?” She then generously offered to let me and Helpdesk Man act as her slaves - or alternatively, grave robbers. We declined.

For eats, after some hasty Internet-based and none-too-rigorous research, we had a platter with cucumbers, gherkins, eggs, lettuce, radish and cream cheese; a chickpea salad with green onions and sesame oil; fish cooked with cumin; and wholemeal flatbreads topped with mustard seeds, cumin and herbs.

Dessert (unpictured) was melons and grapes; a fact which outraged all my notions of hospitality. It caused me physical pain to refrain from whipping up some ice cream to serve after the pig had gone to bed; but I refrained. Probably good for my soul.

The drinks were ginger beer. Apparently Egyptian beer contained a large percentage of solids - surely one of the most intensely off-putting phrases ever applied to a beverage. It was the consistency of gruel and highly nutritious. We skipped it.

All in all, the evening was a success, not least because I got to feel like a Fancy Homeschooling Mother who Does Such Things. The downside is the pig’s newfound obsession with eyeliner. I may have unleashed a monster.

Posted in havers, sewing
March 7th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

1. Felicia Day was homeschooled. This cheers me greatly.

2. If I ever need surgery I’m going to ask them to give me synaesthetic instead of anaesthetic, so my pain will be turned to song.

3. The snortlepig to Miles this morning: “Can you say ‘In October, vampires go to war’?”

I assume she’s writing a screenplay.

4. Today I did three mystery shops. It was only during the third, at which I had to pose as the kind of individual who would shell out $400 for designer sunglasses, that I noticed I had a large quantity of butter on my shoulder. To her credit, the salesperson treated me as if I were unbuttered; in a just world this would be reflected in my report, but there wasn’t a multi-choice question for it.

5. Today I visited a catering supply store, which I just discovered sells bulk food not only to restaurateurs and rest homes, but to ordinary, buttery citizens like myself. It was thrilling. I do not joke. There were cans of tomatoes as big as the snortlepig. 20-kilo bags of flour for $10. Bottles of vanilla essence big enough to crush your foot. 600-metre-long rolls of clingfilm. Pesto by the litre. Large bottles of Lepanto olives, which we haven’t been able to get since Farro shut down. And cheap. I haven’t been this excited since, um, the Auckland Food Show two years ago. That would be depressing if I sat and thought about it too long; so I shall go to bed instead, and dream of sitting out the zombie apocalypse in a fort made of pasta sacks.

Posted in havers
February 28th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

1. We are down to one chicken.

Where the other two are, we do not know. The options are fourfold:

-Macy, the landlord’s sister’s dog. The landlord’s sister denies this. Macy looks enthusiastic and wags her tail, which is inconclusive. It does not seem politic to press the matter.

-The chickens across the way, who live in arguably plusher surroundings and include a particularly dishy rooster. This is the optimistic option, in which Arial and Lucida will come back one day trailing fluffy little chickens behind them. Naturally it was Arial and Lucida who trucked off, leaving behind Wingdings, the gimpy stoopid-looking one who was bitten by a dog. She is not laying, which in combination with her track record of dog-proofness may lend some support to the Macy theory.

-Tarantino the hawk, who circles above the orchard for much of the day with his eyes on Tiny Miles’ tender flesh.

-El chupacabra.

Right now we’re rather at a loss. The obvious thing to do is replace the chickens, but I hardly like to fork out money and (slight) emotional attachment for creatures that may not live until the following dawn. If Wingdings survives the week, I suppose I can assume the malevolent chicken-eating spirits have moved on; but on the other hand, the likelihood of that has just gone down a notch, because:

2. We have acquired a dog.

Not permanently, mind you. We’re babysitting it for a friend. She being a boarder, it cannot live with her; and it usually lives with other friends, but - in worryingly vague circumstances - they decided they would like a break from it for a while, and so it has come to us.

Its name is Fargo, and it arouses no particular emotions in me. I like the colour, but not the shape, and I was never much of a dog person. But it seems a pleasant enough beast, and when we took it for a walk this afternoon I got resistance training and cardio, which is surely beneficial; so I am prepared to be affable to it. Not, however, if it digs up my basil.

3. We watched Superman Vs The Elite tonight, for Pig Night. The pig is fond of superheroes. In her mind, they have a clearly defined role: to catch girls. The bad men throw them, she explains, and they [the superheroes] love them, so they catch them; so they must be good, so why is Superman hitting that man? Deep questions indeed.

I particularly liked her reaction to Atomic Skull. “Why isn’t he dead, Mummy? He’s being hit VERY hard. Oh… he’s glowing his head, I guess he must be made of magic.” (Whereupon I suppose I ought to have explained the wonders of nuclear fusion, instead of elbowing Helpdesk Man and going “Heh - “glowing his head”.”)

4. I just finished an article about gender differences in fetuses and newborns. I found this study. Read it if you’re glum; it’ll cheer you up.

Posted in havers, writing
February 18th, 2013 | 7 Comments »

Tonight I burned my tummy while ironing.

It isn’t what you think. I have been known to iron the skirts of dresses while wearing them, yes; shirts, never. But just now I was sewing a shirt for Tiny Miles from the butchered remains of a shirt my father once wore - judging by sleeve length it was a winter shirt, but knowing my father he bought it two decades ago and the fabric’s now good and summery. Also, by “just now” I mean 10:49PM, because apparently I live in a Thomas Hood poem.

Anyway, so I was ironing the shoulder seams flat - I always give the clothes I make a jolly good press when I make them, and after that they have to fend for themselves; it’s an attachment parenting thing, “baby the babies when they’re babies so they won’t need babying for a lifetime”, you know - and the ironing board padding had slipped away from the metal mesh, and as the iron gave a particularly juicy zhzhzhzh, it steamed out through the gaps and through the by no means sheer fabric of my shirt, and there I was. Scalded on the tum. I haven’t been scalded on the tum since I gave birth to Tiny Miles and clutched a wheatie bag so tightly to my squish that it was red for days afterward.

Thought you should know.

Posted in havers, sewing
January 23rd, 2013 | 3 Comments »

This morning our largest, blackest, boofiest chicken Georgia came inside and pooped on the carpet. Our displeasure was compounded by the fact that Georgia has lately ceased contributing to the family omelettes.An unproductive chicken is bad enough; an unproductive carpet-pooping chicken is distinctly worse.

This afternoon, while I was fossicking about under the bushes by the house for the tap, I came across a clutch of three Georgian eggs. (Arial’s are smaller, and Lucida and Wingdings lay green ones, so the forensics weren’t hard to figure out.)

“Aha!” thunk I. “Sneaky beast.”

And then I looked a little further under the bushes, and found a further clutch of twenty-five.

Cheered by the thought that virtue had been its own reward (I had been trying to turn on the hose to hoosh cobwebs off a broom), I gathered them up in a pleasingly Anne-of-Green-Gablesy bowl and brought them inside for inspection. The floating test proved satisfactory - several of their blunt ends bobbed up, but not far enough to cause alarm, according to the internet, and none of them floated.

The internet also recommended the slosh test, however. Sloshy egg bad, silent egg good. So I tried that. Smeg. Several sloshes.

Ach well, I thought, I’ll test them all now and make up a big ol’ smegload of ice creams and custards, and we shall Feast Like Kings.

Which was all very well till an egg exploded.

It was quite interesting, really. Someone online had described rotting eggs as “the worst smell you’ve ever smelt”, and initially I thought she was overstating it a bit. I’ve been on field trips to Rotorua, I can deal with sulfur. But no. The smell sort of… seeps. It is insidious, like the gradual adoption of secular humanism as an unofficial state religion. And the egg was green. I didn’t realise that was an actual thing.

Anyway, after a heroic battle with my glottis, I persevered. Several more of the eggs had half-congealed into a clotted, opaque mass - and they weren’t all in the “iffy” pile either, which just goes to show the float test isn’t worth the pixels it’s displayed with - but none had managed to attain the heights of festering putrescence as Explodey Egg. (Or our love.)

In the end we salvaged eight edible yolks. It might have been more - the smell of rotting egg was still lingering in the air, disrupting my sensors - but it didn’t seem like the time to be daring. So we can make one batch of ice cream. I think I’ll make it chocolate and give it all to Helpdesk Man. Because I’m Noble.

As we finished sorting the eggs, Tiny Miles pooped. It is noteworthy that the smell was comparatively pleasant.

In other news, if anyone should come visit and just happen to tread heavily on Georgia’s neck, it would not be taken amiss.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers
December 26th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Miles O’Baby is the Chief Mayhem Officer on the starship Enterprise.

Officers of the Mayhem division may wear uniforms in any colour they choose - command red, security yellow, sciences green - as long as the colour is no less than 75% obscured by schmutz.

The pips on the uniform of Miles O’Baby are actual pips.

Miles O’Baby is responsible for the jettisoning of no fewer than eleven warp cores, on the grounds that he filthied them up.

Three kilograms of matter are beamed off Miles O’Baby’s uniform every week.

Miles O’Baby programmed the replicators to produce only dryer lint.

For Miles O’Baby’s sonic shower to work effectively, power must be diverted from life support on all decks.

Once Miles O’Baby has sipped from the communal goblet of Romulan ale, it becomes as mild as synthohol.

Miles O’Baby once saved a tactical officer from death by stickying up the console explosives.

Miles O’Baby, when beamed onto a Klingon ship, causes more mayhem than an engine room full of tribbles.

Miles O’Baby’s sonic shower has been mistaken for a targ sty.

All space static comes from Miles O’Baby.

Miles O’Baby broke Picard’s little ships.

When Counselor Troi passes Miles O’Baby in the corridor, she experiences an uncontrollable urge to blow her nose on the walls.

A Level 3 containment field is permanently in place around the quarters of Miles O’Baby.

A phaser on full power will barely clean the face of Miles O’Baby.

After Q looked into the mind of Miles O’Baby, he invented the platypus.

Miles O’Baby gums up the floors sufficiently to eliminate the need for gravity generators.

Miles O’Baby travelled back in time to collect vintage toenail clippings.

The remains of three ancient, noble civilisations live on under Miles O’Baby’s fingernails.

Miles O’Baby cannot use the transporters unless the biofilters have been deactivated.

Miles O’Baby defeated the Kobayashi Maru with drool.

Miles O’Baby left corn chip fragments in Data’s positronic net.

There are no dimensions in which Miles O’Baby is clean.

Miles O’Baby programmed the holodecks to give holocharacters dandruff.

The Borg decline to assimilate any ship contaminated by Miles O’Baby.

The most highly trained Vulcan cannot repress a grimace when passing by the quarters of Miles O’Baby.

When Miles O’Baby swiped a drooly hand at Commander Riker’s chin, Riker instantly sprouted a beard in self-defense.

Miles O’Baby has chewed as many Delta Crosses as he has been awarded.

Tricorders short out when pointed at Miles O’Baby.

Miles O’Baby will hunt an enemy of the Federation to the far ends of the Alpha Quadrant if he thinks the enemy’s weapon might be worth biting.

Geordi’s visor refuses to process, display or acknowledge any bio-residue left behind by Miles O’Baby.

Miles O’Baby can skunge up a bar of gold-pressed latinum so bad a Ferengi won’t touch it.

Jean-Luc Picard once experienced an entire lifetime in twenty minutes after smelling Miles O’Baby’s socks.

Miles O’Baby moonlights as a Roomba in Ten-Forward.

A Medal of Honour is awarded to any member of Starfleet who agrees to room with Miles O’Baby.

The Klingon translation of “Miles O’Baby” can only be pronounced correctly by vomiting.

For the sake of time, Starfleet’s mandate to seek out new life has an exemption clause for the quarters of Miles O’Baby.

Posted in havers