Thursday, October 30, 2014

Think Before You Speak

I think dementia is finally starting to take hold.

Some amongst you would argue that that ship had sailed quite a few years ago. But while I can still find my keys and remember exactly why I went into a particular room (even though that memory may need prompting by leaving the room and going back to where I had the original thought), I cling to the tenuous hope that all is still well with my grey matter.

I was reading the other day that dementia can shorten the attention span. Well, mine is approaching that of a scrub turkey. Which is better than a gnat but way worse than an elephant. I get distracted by lots of things. Pretty lights. Pretty music. Pretty men. All the usual things.

This morning I was having a conversation with my husband and my #2 son. About important world issues. Like Zombie apocolypses (apocolypsi?). And vampires. And what exactly is the difference between a zombie and a vampire? According to son #2 a zombie can see itself in a mirror. According to #1 husband a zombie is dead and a vampire is immortal. And the fact that I can still remember both of these salient points is proof positive that I still have control of some of my faculties.

Anyway, in the midst of this conversation I became distracted. By Toby. Who's been having another bout of itchy skin. And is now relegated to the bucket. Again.

And that's when I said something that no mother in a household full of adult males should ever say.

"I want to have a look at your scrotum."

The look on #2 son's face was priceless. The look on #1 husband's face was hopeful. The look on Toby's face was full of dread.

Need to remember not to act like someone who's had a frontal lobotomy.

PS - Toby's scrotum will be fine with a lot of TLC. And in the meanwhile the Cone of Shame acts as a handy bug catcher.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farewell Little Red Hen

We said good-bye to our last little red hen on the weekend. 

                                          

She was pretty old and had been less and less active. I went to check on her on Friday night and knew that she wouldn't last much longer. So it was no surprise when Iven told me that she'd passed during the night.

Call me hard-hearted but no tears were shed. Can't say that I truly bonded with either of the birds that liked to wake up and greet the day well before dawn. On the days that I didn't have to get up early to run. And I really can't say that I appreciated our lawn being destroyed (not that it was ever that great but it was a lot better than exposed dirt) in their endless quest for tasty worms and grubs. And I was never very happy about them visiting my workroom and using it as a toilet - even though Toby would clean up the mess immediately. He's a thoughtful but slightly gross dog.

But having said all of that I'll kind of miss having them just for the fact that I never felt guilty about chucking out leftover food. If I cooked too much it became a hen's breakfast. If the vegies started to go off before I used them, they were a donation towards those lovely eggs that we used to get before the girls went through henopause. As I type this I'm thinking about the container of cooked brown rice that's been languishing at the back of the fridge for a week and remembering how excited they used to get when you'd tip it into their feeder - aka the compost heap. And no, I won't be giving it to Toby and Bubbles. Flatulence can be a potent deterrent to food recycling.

I mentioned our hen's demise to my Mum when I saw her at breakfast later that morning. Remember my Mum? She's the one who used to have the scrub turkey problem. Until she solved it using creativity, ingenuity and a life-sized Justin cardboard cut-out. 

Poor Justin hasn't coped too well with the rigours of our harsh Australian climate. In just a week he went from standing on his own two feet to being a crumpled mess on the lawn. That's when my Dad stepped in and gave the boy a bit of spine by sticking a pole up his you-know-what and lashing his head to it with some wire. And that wire proved very useful when one of their dogs managed to grab a chunk of turkey feathers from a trespasser. There's nothing that says 'Enter At Your Own Peril' to a turkey than Justin with a pole up his butt and turkey feathers in his headband. 


Not one to rest on her laurels, and knowing that scrub turkeys are persistent creatures who have the recall of an amnesiac, Mum asked if she could have the corpse of our dearly departed. So she could string it up on Justin as a further warning to all fowl who enter uninvited.

I think she was joking. At least I hope she was because we all laughed and the corpse stayed in the wheelie bin where it had been laid to rest. Triple-bagged in plastic grocery bags. 

(See Woollies, this is precisely the reason that I don't bring recyclable bags. I put all the bags you pack my groceries in to very good use.)

And now you all know where I got my evil, black sense of humour from. Thanks Mum.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Public Service Announcement

I just have one thing to say today. A Public Service Announcement if you will.

Because there are just way too many stupid people in the world.

NEVER STOP AT THE END OF AN ESCALATOR

Yes, this might be a special message directed to the three generations of one family, including a baby in a pram (those prams make very efficient escalator obstacles), who decided to do just that. When I was standing behind them. Closely behind them.

I'm not sure what was so urgent in that pram that it caused all three (maybe I should say two because the baby didn't have a choice) to stop dead right at the bottom. Baby wasn't crying. It was sitting up and gurgling happily so it hadn't stopped breathing and wasn't in immediate need of resuscitation. My guess was that it was in imminent danger of starvation from the food that was proffered. But surely that could have happened another few steps away. So I could have exited the escalator without having to do an awkward little dance on the ever-changing bottom step.

It had me in a bit of a tizz because the only other time that I've tried to go against the flow of an escalator ended up with scrapes, bruising and public humiliation. And it killed any desire in me to break rules and take unnecessary chances.

Luckily there was no scrapes, bruises or public humiliation today. Probably because I'm more fleet of foot than I was at the age of 10. Speed training has obviously paid off big time.

But I've decided that in the future I might adopt this method of travelling on escalators to avoid inconsiderate fellow escalator-riders.


And if anyone has any idea of how to safely dismount from this position I'll be truly grateful.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bieberising

We put up a bird-feeder.

I've been enjoying all the birds that come visit my Mum and decided that I wanted to do the same so I talked Iven into creating a special birdy restaurant that would bring birds in from near and far. I got him to put it just out from our patio so it would be easy to refill and easy to see all the magnificent birds that came to call. And it's over-hanging a garden bed so if the seeds fall out of the feeder there won't be any mess. Genius - I know.

I had total faith that if we built it they would come. They haven't!

That was about four weeks ago and so far we've had two birds. A magpie.


And a dirty, great scrub turkey. 


Disappointment is an understatement for how I'm feeling. Especially when I go over to my Mum's and see her lorikeets and cockatoos and kookaburras. And even more so when my sister, who doesn't even have a bird feeder, shows me the pictures of the king parrots and cockatoos who regularly visit her. Seriously?!! There's free food on offer and the only takers are the underclass of bird society.

I personally think that the problem lies in the scrub turkey. I'm pretty sure that the other birds are staying away because he's there. Lording it over the feeder and taking out the best bits of the bird seed like the sunflower seeds and corn. So I have made it my life's mission to dissuade this bird from ever darkening our doorstep again.

Picture this. It's 6am and I'm just out of bed. Still in pyjamas. Hair sticking out every which way. Broom in hand. Screaming like a banshee while flailing said broom over my head. You'd think that would be scary enough to stop him from ever returning. It's certainly made the neighbours look at me with distinct mistrust in their eyes.

But not my fine feathered friend. Food trumps crazy woman in his world and he keeps returning despite my superior broom-twirling skills.

But I have not lost hope. My mother has had a similar scrub turkey issue and has managed to scare him enough so he's no longer scratching out her newly-planted annuals. And the method she used? She Bieberised him.


For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Bieberising involves a life-sized cut out of the (using the term loosely here) star and placing it strategically in the garden. Sort of like a scarecrow. Personally I wouldn't have thought that the sweet, young Justin - before the egg-hurling, peeing in janitors buckets and all the arrests wouldn't have been so scary to a bird that has a pea-sized cerebrum but this doesn't appear to be the case. 

The dogs, on the other hand have no fear of Justin. Both of them have peed on him. Which gives me a sick sense of satisfaction. 

So once my mother has finally gotten sick of having this in her yard I'll be putting my hand up. I just he's not that scary to cockatoos and lorikeets.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Inspired

The Melbourne Marathon Festival happened over the weekend.

The first I haven't been part of for five years.

I can't say it wasn't hard to hear all the excited talk about coffee and food and shopping and running over the last couple of weeks. Cause it was - just a little. And I can't say it wasn't hard to let go of the opportunity to see my big baby boy - cause I miss him every day.

But it wasn't the right time for me this year. So I decided that disappointment was counter-productive and the best attitude is always a positive one.

But how to turn disappointment into something positive?

It actually was quite easy once I started to think out and not in. The weekend in Melbourne was all about my running buddies and their inspiring stories. So many of them went down to run and each of them trained their butts off to be ready.
Some overcame injuries to be there. Some ran with niggles that they were managing. Some ran PBs,. Some ran debut marathons or half marathons. Some struggled to finish but never gave up. They ran individually or together but they all supported each other. Because we are family - running family.


My favourite story from the weekend was from someone I've spent long Saturday runs chatting with. A man who probably shouldn't be alive after a massive heart attack last year. He had his heart set on running the full marathon and no doubt would have if injury had not intervened. And because of the post-heart attack medication he's on, the injury took longer than normal to heal. So he had to be content to drop back to the half marathon - still a huge ask when he couldn't run 10k a month ago.

His training ended up being a very short block culminating in an 18k long run just a week ago. He may not have been confident but he was determined and sometimes that's all you need. I couldn't have been more excited when I got the message that he'd gotten to the finish. And managed a PB!


Seeing all the pictures on Facebook over the weekend became the highlight of the week. It was a reason to reminisce over my Melbourne runs. My half marathon PB in a time that I never had dreamed possible. My first marathon - something that I'd vowed I'd never do. An injured half marathon that I ran supporting a squad member. A half marathon run after a year of a mystery illness that's no longer a mystery. And last year's marathon that I'd never have even started without the support of some very dear friends that I'd made through the squad.

I have gone from a little disappointed to really inspired.

Melbourne 2015 - only twelve months to go!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Blame Game

It happened again.

I went out with all intentions to run a nice easy run on Thursday and somewhere along the way all those good intentions got thrown into the river.

I'm pretty sure that it wasn't my fault. Nothing really ever is. That's the beauty of having a family - there's always someone else to blame. Even when it's clearly my own fault, I can distort things so the finger of blame is pointing away from me. Only just yesterday I had Iven believing that he and he alone was guilty of leaving the dog's lead in the car. Even though he hadn't been at home when it had happened.

I'm going to start by blaming the man posted at the temporary fencing to stop pedestrians from getting onto the Bicentennial Bikeway. He's a brave man that tries to stop menopausal women from running their favourite route at 5:00 in the morning. Let's say that I probably wasn't his happiest customer of the day. Which is nicer than saying I was a cranky bitch and it's lucky that I'm not allowed to carry a taser because I'd have really enjoyed trying to make him dance.



The little 'episode' with him and the adrenalin rush of having to cross Coronation Drive twice, illegally, had me running a little faster than I'd meant to. And we all know that once you get into a rhythm, it's hard to break it. Especially if that rhythm is dictated by the song that's playing endlessly in your head and you can't change it because your MP3 has died. Yeah, should have charged the battery.

I was just starting to get over the annoyance of the dictatorial path man, having to cross the road twice unnecessarily and having my music die when I saw HIM just up ahead of me. He looked fit and a good ten years younger than me. And I thought to myself - I can take him. Because there's nothing that I like better than beating someone in a race that only I'm aware of. Unless that someone is younger, fit-looking and male - I definitely like that better.

So ever so slightly, I picked up the pace. And slowly I started to reel him in until I was at the point of passing him.

Passing anyone always requires a special effort. You can't just pass another runner and ease off knowing that your job is done. You have to pass and make sure that the passee stays passed. And that's all well and good most of the time when the passee knows that there is no point as they are being passed by a superior runner. But every so often you get one that has an ego and doesn't take kindly to being passed by a middle-aged woman. As did this runner.

I passed him and I thought I'd done a good job of it - until I heard the heavy footsteps just a few metres behind. So I picked up the pace a bit more. And so did he. My imaginary race had turned into a real one and I was not going to back down.

Unfortunately, though, I was starting to get tired and my competitor was an unknown force. I couldn't tell if he could keep running at this pace all day or if he was breathing as heavily as I was. And I still had about 6 or 7k to run once I got over the bridge. So I did what any reasonable, sensible person would do in this circumstance. I pretended that there was no imaginary race and I stopped for a drink. And I stayed drinking long enough so he was well past me and I wouldn't be tempted to reignite our bitter imaginary feud.

You'd have thought that at this point I would have been satisfied with my imaginary win (and it was a win - because the race obviously finished at the water bubbler). But no - the competitor in me just had to chase down the other two young males (not fit-looking in the least) on the way back home. Luckily these two knew their place and once passed stayed passed. That's the way it's supposed to go.

I got home tired but satisfied. And five minutes faster than the previous week.

So if I'm a little tired in the legs this week from running too hard last Thursday, we all know who to blame. And it's not me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Highlight Of My Day

Sometimes I think I spend too much time by myself.

Actually I'm pretty sure I said that out loud to Bubbles yesterday when we were walking back inside after hanging out a load of towels.

Yes, my life is that exciting! She looked up at me with her cloudy eyes full of the wisdom of a life well lived, dropped on her rear and proceeded to scoot along the grass.

No, not Bubbles - just a graphic demonstration of the one of the joys of dog ownership.

The problem with my business is that there are busy times and slow times. And when it's a slow time it can get really quiet around here. Quiet enough that I talk to the animals. No biggie there unless the neighbours are hanging around, listening to our conversation. And even that's not too big of a deal because I know, from the number of wine bottles that get dumped in their recycling that, if any accusatory dirt was cast in my direction that I could dispel it with sly hints of alcoholic tendencies.

I'm going through a slow patch at work at the moment and I knew that apart from cutting out 43 pairs of royal blue tights there wasn't a lot of other stuff to look forward to so Bubbles' timely actions gave me a raison d'etre. For all of you non-French speakers out there, that means reason for existence. And no, I don't speak French - I've just read a lot of books.

My raison d'etre? To bring comfort to a small, furry companion who regularly gives me comfort and always gives me unconditional love. To use some of the five years of university training that it took to achieve my degree that I hardly ever dust off. To find those impacted anal glands and release them.




I chose the above graphic illustration of the approximate region that the anal glands are found. This was the toned-down version because I was pretty sure that the squeamish amongst you may not appreciate the tail up, full-pucker view of where I had to head. It's also the exact location that I found Bubbles after she'd seen me come in her direction with a tissue and had taken off. Hiding on my bed in full view may not be entirely the smartest thing to do but it does afford the potential for revenge if my tissue positioning is not perfect and the pressure in those anal glands is high.

I have a confession to make here. I love squeezing impacted anal glands. It's almost as much fun as popping pimples or removing blackheads from your spouse or progeny. And can I say that yesterday's experience did not disappoint. I would almost go so far as to say that it was the highlight of my day because cutting out 43 pair of royal blue tights and running 500m reps, although fun, was not quite as scintillating.

The only thing that might have been more exciting would have been getting a visitor to our newly-created bird-feeder.My parents have been feeding birds for a while and I've been getting a little envious of their fine feathered friends. So on the weekend I convinced Iven to create a bird-feeding zone, carefully suspended over the garden so I won't be having to clean up birdseed off our patio every day.

So far it hasn't mattered that the bowl is suspended over the garden because we haven't had a single visitor to our newly created all-you-can-eat buffet. Not one single bird!

I stupidly thought that we'd put out the bowl and we'd be inundated with flocks of cockatoos, lorikeets and galahs. Not so. Word needs to get out amongst the avian community first, it seems.

But I'm living in hope that if I build it they will come.