INTERROBANG

Musings on life, the universe and an elephant named Flobo

alpacayourthings

 

Moving day has arrived and I am currently trapped in the office, unable to assist in the first loads being transported to the new house. Like with all things, Christmas, Birthdays, anything big – it is incredibly painful to wait and time seems to slow down.

I am being driven slowly mad trying to concentrate on work (whilst already being mentally and physically exhausted from the last couple of weeks of work, packing, Christmas). However, I know I am not alone in my exhaustion. I can see all the zombies lurching around the shops while I am taking my lunch break in the city.

I finish work at five and then get to spend 40 minutes on a packed train before I can walk home and continue the packing of cars and trailers of the smaller stuff to take to the new place. The plan is to empty the old house of all the small furniture, boxes and those random bits and pieces that don’t make sense to throw in a box but take up a surprising amount of room so that on Saturday we can hire a truck and move all the big furniture. I am hoping that in practice, this will be as simple as it seems in principle. Between up, my fiance, his mother and I have moved a hell of a lot of times so are basically experts in this. Fingers crossed nothing goes wrong. The first moving injury has gone to my sister-in-law who has lost a toenail (ouch). I am surprised that the first injury of the day wasn’t mine since as we know, I am slightly uncoordinated.

Anyway…  I shall let you know my progress.

 

 

pexels-photo-262786.jpeg

The Architects

In your ruins, you left your marks
The chiselled stone, and celestial charts
These cryptic ciphers, etched in stone
These ancient text, of glyphs unknown
Depicted are your spells and laws
Instructions to the Portals door
Celestial travel, for now eludes
Within these texts, you left the clues
To transcend the heavens, and depart this world
To view the universe, as if a pearl
In ancient text, we seek to find
The secrets withheld, to free our minds
Within your temples, we’ve bowed in service
And looked to you, for our purpose
As architects, of all we know
The longer you leave us, the less we grow
The primitive creatures, you left behind
Evolved we have, beyond the mine
No more we dig your earth and stone
To build your pyramids, of blood and bone
Throughout the centuries, our world has changed
But the one thing still remains
Patently we wait for your return
To teach your children
What you’ve learned…

© Copyright 2017 Robert Hayes

pexels-photo-728460.jpeg

For this Christmas post, I thought I should delve into the Christmas truths that we all encounter, and some we would rather forget about.

The Shops are going to be busy. This may seem like a no-brainer however some people seem to forget that the shops are going to be absolutely crazy. I know quite a few who love to leave Christmas shopping til the last-minute and then basically end up reenacting Arnie’s day in “Jingle All the Way”. Ho Ho Ho… I told ya so. Get in and get out quick people. Just because you manage to have a brief moment at the shops without people pressed up against you from all sides, shopping trolleys regularly connecting with your shins and feeling at once amongst the zombie parents, doesn’t mean the shopping craze is over. It has just begun.

On Christmas Day and no doubt in the days before and after, you are going to eat too much. Yes, you may be on a diet or have a special event right after the holidays so have been starving yourself. Face it now. You are going to fail to behave over those festive days. My advice, let up with the guilt trip – you will just end up feeling worse and no doubt having the “fuck it” thought and decide to polish off the turkey single-handedly. If you allow yourself to be a bit naughty however, without feeling like you have just done something absolutely unthinkable, you will be able to enjoy the day and hopefully won’t feel too ill afterwards from over consumption of delicious treats.

You are going to have to spend time with your family. Assuming you have family and live anywhere near them or are capable of travel, you are going to have to endure the fams. Yes, for some this may be one of the things about the holidays that is most looked forward to. I love spending time with a large portion of my family. I have family that I basically don’t see unless it’s Christmas (saving some family event like a wedding or funeral). However, no matter how much we all love our families, we all have at least one family member that we can do without. Whether it is the crazy aunt or uncle, the rellie who looks down their nose at everyone or the cousin that gets drunk, tries to perform the tune Rudolf the Red nose Reindeer with burps and passes out underneath the tree. We all have some in our lives that make the day that little bit more challenging. For me, the main challenge is just being around that many people. My family is loud. Think ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding” loud and then substitute the Greeks for Aussies and you are pretty close to there.

Image result for christmas memes

You are going to receive some rather odd gifts. Gift giving is a hazardous exercise which should be entered into carefully. I know from personal experience that I will receive more than my fair share of elephant themed items. Although I have expressly asked for no more elephants to be in my life, once you mention your favourite animal you are going to find that at every occasion, more and more of them are stampeding into your life. Apart from these kinds of gifts, you are also going to receive a lot of personal hygiene products like scented bath soaps and lotions in oversized plastic containers. I don’t know why these products are so popular as gifts. I admit that I have been guilty of buying these myself in the past. However, they are usually for the person you rarely see, possibly don’t particularly like and couldn’t care less what they are actually interested in. When I receive this particular present, I like to think it is more from the person not knowing my interests and not because they think that I need a shower.

Which brings me to…

You are going to forget to buy a gift for at least one person / couple. Or, they are going to randomly surprise you with a gift that they have bought for you just so that you can feel awful for not having returned the favour. It is bad enough having people randomly rock up at your house, but when they also come baring gifts… it is unforgivable.

 

You are going to receive at least one tin of biscuits that has either been sitting in storage at the shops, or in the persons cupboard for at least a year. Do yourself a favour, open tin, discard the stale biscuits and reuse the tin to fill with treats or as an amusing way to disguise a gift. Try hiding your kids new phone or gadget in a biscuit tin and wait for the fireworks. Extra credit if you carefully place tape around the tin so that it looks like it was never opened and repackaged.

 

You will be force-fed food by various people who think that they are great chefs and bakers. If you are lucky, most of these people will be correct in their judgement. Be careful. You do not want to appear rude by not sampling the food. Perhaps practice making the yummy face and rubbing your tummy for when that person who always produces garbage waves that plate of food in your nose. Also a great time to teach any kids a safe word which will send them into crazed child mode and give you the opportunity to slip away to deal with the little angels (and carefully dispose of the food). I have found lying about food allergies is another helpful way of getting out of this situation.

You will be tired and cranky. Christmas is like a crazed, tinsel clad marathon. Do not treat it like a sprint. Yes, the day seems like it is over quickly once you are on the other side of it but everyone knows getting to the actual day is enough to drive you stark raving mad. Firstly, you have to finish work for the year and everyone knows that depending on jobs, it can seem like the holiday is hardly worth it due to the mountain of work you have to wade through before and after the break. You need to attend all the end of year concerts and child friendly events (this is one of the times I am happy to be an aunty and not a parent. I get to split my time up and I must say, I have had 3 different work Christmas functions depending on who is asking). Some people seem to enjoy living off the stress at this time of year. Those people who spend a month decorating the house, have a tightly planned schedule of baking, shopping and Christmas activities to fill all the hours of the day and then some. I take my hat off to these people. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You will reach the stage (if you haven’t already), where you never want to hear another Christmas carol and you feel quite certain that the children carolling at the shops have a personal vendetta against you as they seem to follow you around personally. You will not be able to escape it. To add insult to injury, you will find that you start humming carols the second you let your guard down.

 

Some people will not be surrounded by family, friends, food or a safe place this holiday season. Reading the poem “Sleeping Rough” by Robert Hayes which I posted yesterday, reminded me that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I know that a lot of businesses and churches will have different charity events organised. My office is taking part in Foodbank this year. However, charity doesn’t stop there. If you see someone doing it rough, see if you can spare some money. And if you can’t, at least treat the person like a human being.

Image result for christmas memes

Christmas can be a challenging time of year. We all have people that we miss or that we don’t get a chance to see based on where we/they live. For those that you can be with, make sure that you treasure the memories. Put down the phones for a few moments and enjoy ripping open the crackers. Make sure you don’t choke on the coins hidden in the Christmas pudding and above all, smile.

 

Merry Christmas.

 

 

pexels-photo-220365

Some food for thought, not everyone is lucky enough to be surrounded by loved ones in a nice warm house this Christmas time.

Sleeping rough

Another night, the bitter cold
Empty stomach, and things unknown
As darkness falls, the noises start
A snapping branch stops my heart
This concrete mattress I call my bed
A pillow absent, I rest my head.
Hours pass, now dawn approaches
One more night amid the roaches.
Mornings angst, and prying eyes
A mother snickers, a baby cries
Breakfast absent, the search begins
To hunt the trash, and empty tins.
A meal betrayed, spoiled by time
The maggots feed, where is mine?
Charity’s hand, my saving grace
A meal provided, and hope replaced
To plot my course, my daily chores
To beg for change by open doors.
A dollar here, a word to follow
Will this be enough?
Will I see tomorrow?
Days turn to night, the process repeats
This is the life, of those on the streets.
Society abandoned, vanity lost
This is the story
Of those who sleep rough.

© Copyright 2017 Robert Hayes

 I spotted this tag over at https://literaryweaponry.com/Modern Witch’s Bookshelf

Since I haven’t taken part in a tag session yet, I figured what the hell. You only live once (unless you believe in reincarnation I suppose…)

 

Image result for reader gifs

Have you ever damaged a book

Since I am an honest person, I must say that I am sure I must have at some stage in my life and if I could go back in time, I would bitch slap myself. I have an insane respect for books, not just as a writer but also because I respect the engineering that goes into the binding. Plus, I wanted to study paper conservation and repair old manuscripts so the thought of intentionally damaging a book horrifies me. I yelled at a nephew a few years ago for jumping on a story book and doing the twist until the spine snapped. The kid didn’t speak to me for a week out of fear, although I doubt he has damaged a book again.

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book

Not that I am aware of.

How long does it take you to read a book

This all depends on the size of the book, my interest level and the amount of time I have to read. I used to average a couple of average size (60,000 words) novels a night during my insomnia stages. I have devoured some books in single afternoons and have declined invitations to events and social gatherings because I have been too absorbed in my stories.

What are you currently reading

I am currently reading Ken Follet’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and loving it, I just find that my wrist is getting sore from holding it as it is quite a chunky book. I was also reading “The Mountain between Us” by Charles Martin. That book is stunning, and you will certainly need a box of tissues handy during some sections. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

 

What books haven’t you finished

Hyped/popular books that you didn’t like

As mentioned above, Moby Dick and Fifty Shades. Books by Matthew Reilly. My mum loves him as a writer, and did go all weak kneed when I took her to an event and book signing. I tried to read a couple of his books, however I just couldn’t handle them. Okay, should probably have added those to the unfinished books list…

I will admit that I have never read the Twilight series, any Dan Brown books (although I have seen the movies) or tend to read anything that is the book or series at the time. I was reading Harry Potter before it was widely known and although I didn’t mind the first two books (Prisoner of Azkaban is by far the best), I felt the last in the series were just tacked on and it annoyed me when the Horcruxes were introduced.

Image result for Twilight booksImage result for 50 shades of grey books

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading

Not that I can think of. I don’t really care what people think of my taste in books. I do laugh at people’s preconceptions based on book titles. One of my all time favourites is “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham. Wow you get some strange looks on the train when people read that title. I did get asked a couple of times what kind of kinky things were in the book. You should have seen the persons look when I started describing Philips club foot…

How many books do you own

I wouldn’t know the answer to this. I have regrettably downsized my collection dramatically over the last couple of years and only have one bookshelf (instead of a room lined with shelves like I used to). However I also have a kindle, so I wouldn’t know the exact number. My days of cataloguing my collection has passed. Yes, I had a catalogue complete with referencing (including state the book was in, very handy in lending books to people – not that I did that often). When clearing out my storage locker years ago, my boyfriend didn’t believe me that most of my possessions were books. As box after box of books got loaded into the truck, he soon came to understand my obsession.

 

Are you a fast or slow reading

I am generally a pretty fast reader. Lightning fast according to my fiance however I would say this all depends on what I am reading. Fiction can be read far quicker than Non fiction, however grammar and the layout of the text certainly has just as large an impact on the speed of reading as actual content.

Do you like to buddy read

I don’t actually like to read aloud. I hate the sound of my own voice. However, I do love sharing stories with my nieces and nephews so at times I do buddy read with them.

Do you read better in your head or out loud

I tend to read in my head, although if I am editing something, I do tend to read aloud as well. I like to be able to hear the meter as I work.

If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why

Hmmm now this is an incredibly hard question. If a gun was held to my head I would have to pick Utopia by Thomas Moore. I fell in love with this sociopolitical satire many years ago and it is one of those books that has always stuck with me. Although, what kind of monster would only allow me to own one book. That is some cruel and unusual punishment – plus, I would just create my own.

Image result for utopia by thomas moore

 

Now, that is me all done for this tag.  Feel free to play along if the mood strikes you. 

 

 

Straphanger Chronicle

Boy oh boy haven’t the trains become busy! Every day without fail in the last week, I have gotten on a full train in the morning and squeezed onto a packed train at night. I had expected the trains to become less choked with commuters now that school is out. Perhaps it is all the Christmas parties and people being responsible drinkers that is the cause of this congestion.

Usually, I am able to find a seat. Yes, I tend to spend most of my day at work sitting behind a desk however I do prefer not to have to stand for 40 minutes wedged in between strangers as the train tilts to and fro. For one thing, I am a rather clumsy person. For another, after being at work all day I am just exhausted and want to find somewhere to flop.

A train I was on yesterday was so full that a woman was sitting on a guy’s lap. I assume that these people knew each other however it did get me thinking, for a good part of my journey, whether it would be found acceptable if I perched on someone’s lap. I didn’t end up doing it. Firstly, because I couldn’t locate a nice lap that was just that right level between boney and cushioned. Secondly, because I didn’t want a stranger thinking I was coming on to them. Commuting can be awkward enough without that…

This also got me to thinking. Trains are badly designed. Either you get the rows of two seats which are occasionally interspersed with a four seater as the direction the seats are facing changes half way down the carriage, or you get those awful carriages with a row of seating against each wall. I assume these rows are designed to pack more of us in however it is just terribly uncomfortable and more than a little awkward when seated in one of these rows when you have someone standing crotch to head level and stretching out as they hold onto the straps. I was presented with such a view of a male crotch this afternoon, and although I tried to focus on my phone (since I’ve finished the latest bag friendly novel I have been reading), it was impossible not to occasionally find myself staring directly at him. I think the guy noticed the direction of my gaze at one point during our shared journey as he jutted his pelvis out just that little further. At least I am not the type to blush.

Temperatures in the trains have become slightly more stable, or perhaps I am just getting more used to them. I have managed to get on two trains this week that didn’t reduce me to the state of a popsicle. I was quite proud of this achievement. Yes, I know it was more to do with the actual temperature of the train and not my body perfectly handling the external temperatures with which it was presented, however it felt like a win. You’ve got to celebrate the small as well as the big.

I have 6 days of commutes left to go before the work year ends. After that, my commute is going to grow by approx. 20 minutes when I return to work after moving house. Oh goody… more people watching 🙂

Safe travels everyone.

pexels-photo-69896.jpeg

I came across this poem by Robert Hayes and absolutely fell in love with it. The words conjured up memories of days spent inside, snuggled up in a doona with a good book as the rains fell. Let me know what you think.

 

Raindrops

Awoken by its sweet perfume
The smell of which fills my room
The rains are here once again
The pitter-patter of my old friend
Its gentle notes revealed in song
The storm bird calls, and sings along
Spring is here, the crops rejoice
The flowers sigh, in one voice.
Beauty revealed in many forms
The Summer rain, a Winter storms
Puddles cast, as children play
Mud is thrown then washed away
Children’s laughter fills the air
My mother’s voice, you wouldn’t dare
Muddied boots, and soggy clothes
Footprints lead to the old wood stove
Gathered around its warm embrace
Its gentle flame warms my face
Supper served we have our fill
Put to bed against my will
Hours pass, the stars descend
Until tomorrow my old friend

© Copyright 2017 Robert Hayes

Happy Dance.jpeg

I am sure that many of you have heard me whinge and stress over the last couple of months regarding finding a place to live. Well, cover your ears and avert your eyes no further. This is a happy post.

Around midday today, a couple of hours after viewing the property with my partner, we were notified that our application was successful and we have a new house from the 21st December.

This will make Christmas holidays interesting, although I love the challenge of a good house move. It is the organisational freak within me that just loves the punishment. One of the things I am most looking forward to is having a place with a pool. For most of the Christmas’ my fiance and I have been together, we have spent the holidays at his Mums house enjoying too much food, too much drink and a dip in the pool. There is something about scorching hot Aussie Summer days that just begs for a pool and for the first time in my life, I will have a place that has one. I am looking forward to being able to teach my nieces and nephews how to swim properly (well how to swim at least as well as I can) without relying on the age-old method of throwing a kid in a pool for a sink or swim exercise. That is just not cool.

The current house is largely packed up and now comes the discussions about logistics and how to angle furniture up the stairs, or whether we take some of it over the balcony. Oh the decisions. Luckily, we will have some of the menfolk in the family on call – I can lift the heavy things occasionally but given that I am not the tallest of people, it just makes it awkward trying to see where I am going when carrying a couch. It is like Barbecuing, the men folk control the burning of the steak, or in this case the moving of the furniture and the women prepare (the salads in the case of BBQ’s) and unpack.

The move in date is the day before I finish work for the year so I am sure that over the next week, my week will become a bit hectic and my current house will look like it is bursting from the seams with boxes. Given that my mother-in-law works in an aged care facility, and the boxes that she has gathered from work all have branding for adult incontinence pads, I can’t wait to see what the neighbours think of us when the boxes start getting unloaded.

I cannot wait to make this house a home. I cannot wait to sit on the front patio and look out at the water. I think my new blogging space will be somewhere on that patio.

Happy Dance time 🙂

 

 

Image result for happy dance

 

frank-mckenna-252014.jpg

As some of my readers may be aware, I am soon to move house – assuming I am able to find one (fingers crossed for tomorrow’s inspection). To occupy my time, to prepare and in an attempt not to spend any more time in the shops during the Christmas period, I have begun to pack.

Packing for me, is a marathon event. I don’t think I have that much stuff. I would say my hoarding levels are pretty average and I have downsized quite a few times over the years so I don’t find that I have things like old school newsletters, snippets from magazines that have long since gone out of circulation or random childhood toys lying around the house gathering dust. I don’t even have as many books as I used to – those were hard to get rid of and another the Kindle is useful, I don’t actually like it… I love the feel and smell of a good old-fashioned book.

Anyway, what I have discovered from all of this packing is that it takes bloody ages. Yes, it can take a little bit of time to wrap up breakable objects so that you don’t open a box to find a million shards inside, or possible worse, find an unfortunately decapitated figurine. That kind of packing is expected to take a bit. However, the bits that I have found that take up the most time is anything of any kind of sentimental value. Instead of throwing photo albums into a box, yes, not all of my albums have made it to digital – I know… don’t judge, I find that I have to sit down and flick through them. Random bits and pieces found at the back of closets that have spent a couple of years in the dark suddenly bring back memories from days gone by and the room that should have only taken an hour to pack, has suddenly taken 2.

I don’t know if everyone else struggles with this kind of thing. Yes, I have most definitely been accused of being too soft at times. I tend to travel relatively light but some objects and items are just irreplaceable. I remember having a jelly bowl. Nothing special, just a Pyrex glass bowl that can be found at many stores and when moving with my ex, it ended up with a chip out of the lip and had to be binned, since according to him it wasn’t safe. I cried for an entire day at the fate of that bowl. Not because it was a bowl, but because it had been my Grandmothers and I could remember all the jelly that had been served up at family barbecues. Little Freddo frogs would be included in the kids jelly, assorted fruits and more healthy treats in with the adults. It was just so innocent.

I have 3 boxes full of different bits and pieces that I have been given over the years from various people and it would be another jelly bowl incident, if anything in these boxes were damaged. I think I have included enough padding inside to protect even the most breakable objects on the planet and written FRAGILE, on ever available surface. Even so, I am sure that those boxes will find a way into my car and not into the moving truck. You just can’t be too careful about these things.

The other thing I have noticed is how much space boxes take up. I have moved the chaise which usually occupies a room of my study into my fiance’s office so that I can keep as many boxes as possible in my room and away from the rest of the house until moving day arrives. It is amazing how the contents of a couple of drawers that seem rather empty can end up taking up a box in itself. I am one of those people who tries to keep boxes separated by rooms as much as possible, although I also find that scarves, pillow cases and tea towels are great at wrapping valuables so a good portion of my wardrobe ends up in boxes destined for the kitchen or living room.

I have also discovered that packaging tape is pure evil. I bought one of those tape dispensers, I have used them countless times in the past. This time, the one I purchased decided to be difficult. I am quite certain it isn’t user error. The thing is just stupidly designed… You will just have to take my word on this. Anyway, I ended up tossing the dispenser in the bin and now I constantly fighting with the rolls of tape and trying to maintain a folded over edge so I don’t constantly have to drag my nails over the surface trying to find where the blasted stuff starts. I have begun to suspect a packaging tape elf has invaded my house and takes delight in messing with the ends of my tape. I know I left the edge slightly folded over to create a lip, not enough to waste much tape but certainly enough for it to be obvious and my packaging to go off without a hitch. But no. Every time I go to use the roll the edge has magically disappeared.

If I find that elf, even the big man himself won’t be able to save him…I would blame the other half but he hasn’t gotten into the spirit of packing yet. That will wait for the lease to be signed. By then, I will probably have most of the house done. What can I say, I like to be organised.

pexels-photo-688010.jpeg

Actually, I’ve got to disagree with myself there. To me it doesn’t feel a lot like Christmas at the moment. Yes, the weather has certainly heated up in Brisbane. Yes, the Jacaranda are in full bloom and looking stunning. Christmas lights line the streets as neighbours attempt to outdo each other and it is impossible to go the shops without feeling like you are being chased around by kids trying to torture you with incredibly loud Christmas carols.

No, I am not a Grinch. I love Christmas. It just doesn’t seem to have the magic that it did when I was a kid. Things seemed simpler back then.

I figured in order to get myself into the Christmas spirit, I would start by discussing some things from yester year. To begin, let’s start with one of the Christmas staples, decorations.

Decorations when I was a kid included such things as these beauties:

Image result for popular Christmas decorations in the 80s and 90s

 

Isn’t the star just gorgeous with its hideously contrasting colours…

Image result for popular Christmas decorations in the 80s and 90s

These metal balls were almost like the Christmas equivalent of bubble wrap. Not quite as fun to play with, didn’t make any cool sounds but great to try pulling apart.

 

Image result for popular Christmas decorations in the 80s and 90s

I definitely messed up a couple of these balls, trying to get all the (silk?) string on one side of the bauble.

 

Image result for popular Christmas lights in the 80s and 90s

These shiny fuckers were pure evil. Excuse the language, however I distinctly remember stepping on one of these as a kid. Just as painful as trodding on Lego.

 

Image result for christmas disney tree ornaments in the 80s and 90s

 

My Grandmother had a tree full of Disney characters. It never seemed like Christmas until Donald and Mickey were placed on the tree.

Image result for glass Christmas ornaments in the 80s and 90s

 

Glass tree ornaments always seemed like a strange health hazard to me. Yes, I thought some of them were pretty (some quite gaudy) but I always worried that if I looked at them too long they were likely to shatter into a million grains of glass and spray the entire living room with festive splinters. Also seemed like an odd choice with a house full of kids that occasionally got into scraps. From memory, most of these ornaments did manage to survive my childhood and my mother still uses some of them to this day.

Image result for clip on birds Christmas decorations in the 80s and 90s

 

These birds just confused the hell out of me. Still do. I have never understood what they had to do with Christmas. Even if they were turtle doves there should be a limit to them (2 from my memory of the song). I don’t know if it is because my mum could be considered a crazy bird lady (and cats just to keep things interesting) but our family Christmas tree was always absolutely covered in these ridiculous clip on birds.

Besides, the only kind of Turtle Dove I want to see is this…

Image result for turtle dove joke

Okay, you got me… I’d rather just see a turtle.

Apart from the decorations mentioned above. The one thing that stands out is the amount of tinsel that was used. And when tinsel was in short supply, or during the last week of school when teachers were struggling to think of interesting activities before the yearly clean up the school day, the paper chains. Oh, the amount of trees that were sacrificed in the pursuit of the best paper chain. And how scary it was when some people just couldn’t understand of loop, staple, loop, staple and would end up with something with more limbs than an octopus instead of a single chain.

Ah… the simpler days.  I don’t know about other places, but I think these things definitely sum up an Aussie Christmas decoration party in the 80’s and 90’s.