Monday, September 29, 2008


I know some people who love horror stories - books, movies, campside tales - anything that will scare the bejesus out of them. Anything that will make them break out into a cold sweat, get their heart racing or jump so high they lose their footing and fall over.

Fear certainly offers a good physical workout but why do people enjoy it so much? I often wonder if they've never experienced real fear. Can they enjoy it because of that innate sense of safety cocooning their lives? Perhaps it's a need to prepare themselves for possibilities - planning for a disaster and making sure their body will be ready to react under pressure.

I'm a timid sort. I never liked being surprised or frightened as a child, always sought the quiet spaces when there was an argument at home. That doesn't mean I can't deal with situations that cause fear. I know how I react in situations like that - if I can get out, I grab my daughter and run and hide. If I can't, I stand in front of my daughter and talk until help arrives. I'm no hero.

As an adult I've been frightened to the stage that all my insides liquified. I lived in a situation that waking up alive meant I was having a good day. Every house I moved into, I plotted various hiding places and escape routes. That includes the house I'm living in now - a place that's very safe (both physically and emotionally). I even had a problem when I first moved in because this house is in a cul de sac - only one exit route - and that's years and years after the last time I was truly afraid. It stays with you.

Being afraid isn't fun and I simply can't understand how other people can seek those sensations and call it fun. It gives me nightmares.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Strawberries too.

I just picked 15 strawberries from the two strawberry plants I have in my front yard. I've always loved fresh produce but am amazed at how different these strawberries taste from ones bought in the shop, even 'organic' shops. The strawberries are only little - about 1cm-1.5cm long - but the flavour is incredible. The juice simply bursts from the berry and smothers your taste buds in sensation. They don't keep long as I pick them ripe but I don't think I'll ever buy another strawberry, if I can avoid it. Fresh picked is so much more satisfying. We'll have them tonight for dessert.

I've also been using other things from my little garden. Tonight I'll use the last of the pak choy. It's amazing how long it's kept in the fridge. I picked the last of it - two huge armfuls - about three weeks ago and just dumped them in the vege bins in bottom of the fridge. The last bunch that I'm using tonight is still just as plump and crisp as the day it was picked. I'm sure I can credit some of that longevity to the efficiency of the fridge but some of it has to be the fact that the veges were fresh picked. The flavour is different from store-bought as well. Sometimes there's some bitterness in the stalks - not with my home-grown ones.

I haven't had a problem with pests before but I'm battling grubs for my cabbage. I think it's because I haven't planted herbs around the cabbage like I did with the other things. I tried a garlic spray last week but it didn't seem to do much so now I'm trying milk. I'm not sure yet whether it's working but we only found four grubs today compared to about 10 each day last week. I'll spray them with milk for a few more days just to see if the grubs return.

I'm not much of a gardener. I don't like digging or weeding. I'll even avoid watering if I can - we have to use recycled water bucketed from the bathroom and laundry because of water restrictions here. But I love reaping the benefits and I love the sense of satisfaction I get preparing a meal that has its basis in my own home-grown vegetables.

I have friends who say they get bored with food - it's the same things, the same flavours all the time. Even if I cook the same vegetables every day (because that's what's coming out of the garden at the moment), I never get bored. I grew those vegetables myself, as well as the herbs I cook with them. The changes in the produce coming from the garden as one vegetable finishes and the next one comes into season keep me interested. And I change the herbs I put with them and the methods of cooking so I end up with something different every day.

Tonight I think I'll make pasta as well - I have the basic ingredients and it will give me a perfect excuse to play in the kitchen for a while and not do an assignment that's due. Wouldn't it be nice to have everything served at the table home-grown or home-made? I'd love to do that.

I've made a start. I make chutneys, jams and jellies whenever I can and I make my own bread every week. The vege garden has taken that one step further.

Friday, September 19, 2008

It always works this way

I don't know about other peoples' lives but in my life if I've arranged to spend a lot of money and I'm trying not to spend elsewhere to make sure I can afford whatever big thing it is I want to buy, something in the house breaks and has to be replaced.

Earlier this year it was the fridge. This month, when Lauren and I have just contracted to buy a house, it was my computer monitor. Thankfully that doesn't cost as much as a fridge, but it's still an expense I didn't want just now.

Of course buying new things can be fun. This time though, it was simply a necessity. I can't manage a day without my computer. Sure, I could use the laptop but I'm not as comfortable with that. I like my desktop with the big keyboard and ergonomic furniture. It was quite funny actually. My old monitor had been showing signs that all was not right for a couple of days, so I emailed Lauren and mentioned I'd need to get a new one soon. Of course I was hoping it would last until after we settled on the house but, no, that couldn't happen. The old monitor died yesterday morning.

Lauren phoned and laughed when I told her it died right when I was viewing her email giving me information on new monitors. I lamented that you just can't get things to last anymore. Look at my old fridge. We bought that in January 1972 and it just suddenly died earlier this year. Hmph. My darling daughter was silent for all of a second before she reminded me that I'd bought my old monitor in August 2000. I suppose, for a monitor, eight years isn't bad. It was a flat screen one - a bit special back in 2000.

I don't subscribe to the throw-away mentality so prevalent these days. I buy the best quality I can afford, and I expect it to last a long time. I don't like having to replace things too often and will only do it if they're no longer providing me with the service I want. Now that I think about it, the monitor lasted longer than my husband. Either it provided a better service, or I expected less of it.

The best bit about my new monitor is that it's bright and BIG. I know it's not big in today's terms but a 19" widescreen is a lot bigger than my little 15" square one.
Anyway I've put a picture of my new monitor below. Lauren's boyfriend isn't too impressed with it, even though he considers it a huge improvement on the old one. I think his monitor is a 26" or something equally obscene. It's a good thing I don't need mine to be big.

Samsung 943NWX 19 inch Gloss Black 5ms 8000:1 SIMPLE TILT STAND Product Code: MNSA943NWXB The 943NWX provides many adjustable movements for better ergonomics. It’s the best solution for the work environment and is designed to meet VESA standards.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My new house

Lauren and I have bought a new house. It settles at the end of the month. I can't wait. As soon as it settles I want the plumber and floor sander in. The bathroom is getting replaced and the floors stripped and polished. We probably should put up a new fence as well - the current one is riddled with (thankfully now dead) white ants.

So, after listing the bad things, these are the things that made us choose to buy it.
  1. It's on a corner block and we love corner blocks - two street frontage, only two neighbours to worry about and, even if the land isn't large, it feels it. It's actually 809m2 so it is a big block.
  2. It's a post war house and we love that era.
  3. It's in a nice quiet area close to the river (but not so close it'll be easily flooded).
  4. It's close to transport (a bus stop just next door, rail and freeway into Brisbane less than 1km away).
  5. It's in a city that is slated to boom in the next ten years so rental potential is good.
  6. It's in good condition but needs a bit of work so value-adding is easy.

I love the whole process of buying a house although waiting for finance approval can be a bit nerve wracking when you're working to a deadline. Planning renovations is brilliant.

One thing I have been worrying about is the financial situation in the US. It's going to impact on us, that's for sure. I keep telling myself all we have to do is be able to hold onto the house long enough for prices to go back up and the economy to stabalise again. Neither of us have extended ourselves financially - at least, even though we both owe more than we ever have before it's still within reasonable limits - so it shouldn't be a problem. I just have to keep working for a bit longer than I'd hoped.

If you want to have a closer look, click here.


I've just been introduced to the concept of 'tagging'. Yet another aspect of cyberspace society I didn't know existed - and did I really want to?

I have been tagged by Danielle Ferries. I'll try to follow the rules but I'm not sure about no 4. I don't know six bloggers! See my response to no 3 for the reason why.

The rules:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. List 6 unspectacular quirks you have.
  4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking them.
  5. Leave a comment on each person’s blog to let them know they’ve been tagged

My quirks:

  1. I'm basically anti-social. While my job requires me to interact with a large number of people every day I don't like meeting new people socially, particularly in crowd situations. I'm terrible at all that 'getting to know you small talk' and I usually prefer to be on my own.
  2. I can't watch people get cut or have injections. Piercing the skin freaks me out.
  3. I had to have a child to learn how to stick to a schedule - it's not my natural state of being. I think I'd have made a good 'flower child'.
  4. I hate chain letters/emails and anything like them with a passion. They're a waste of time and often subtly threatening. (Tagging might fall into this category too. Sorry Danielle.)
  5. When I feel like reading, I read in bed - and stay there for days.
  6. Inefficiency is irritating. If you've decided to do something and actually start it, finish it as quickly as possible so you can go back to doing nothing again (my comfort zone).

Now comes the hard part - how to link to other bloggers, and, even harder, finding SIX. Perhaps I could just ignore that bit and save everyone a whole heap of bother ;)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to work

Today was my first day at work in seven weeks. It's a long time to be off work but I'm not sure it was long enough.

Today I taught a total of 1-1/2 hours with an hour break after the first 1/2 hour. It didn't seem to matter. Within 20 minutes, my voice was shot. By the end of the day it was little more than a whisper. It's incredibly frustrating and worrying. I find myself getting irritated at not being able to speak properly and I try to force it. Of course that's the worst thing I can do. I am usually a very patient and accepting person but this has worn all my patience away. I want results and I'm getting totally sick of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back that's been happening so far.

The best thing is that with speech therapy, the exercises I do help my voice to recover fairly quickly, but there's no way anyone could call it strong.

I have another hour teaching tomorrow so I'll see how I go. I'll be ringing the speech therapist after that to give her an update on my progress - we might need to rethink my presence in the classroom.

And I should mention my year 9 class was absolutely gorgeous. They were so interested in what's been happening to me and sympathetic about it. They thought the amplifier I have to wear to be heard at the back of the room was cute. And they were silent - all lesson - except for answering or asking questions about the work we were doing. Most of them even told me they were glad I was back. Isn't that sweet? It's times like this that remind me why I love teaching.