Thursday, March 6, 2014

Apropos of Nothing

Me to Posy: Darling, we have to go and pick up the girls from school because Rosy has a sprained ankle and can't walk, or get on the bus.
Posy, lying on the floor eating popcorn and watching cartoons: NOOOOOOooooooooo. Can't The Girl carry her?

Further evidence of Bad Parenting. Posy doing obscure Japanese craft with a box cutter, while I am in the shower.

I bought these budget tissues from our odd local supermarket recently. I think they must have bought them as a job lot off the back of a truck or something. They really were very cheap..

Anyway, I am trying to work out how one would 'strive to excel' in relation to tissues. While one was miserably suffering with a nasty sniffle? During the process of wetting one under the tap to gingerly clean out gravel rash on dirty knee of shrieking child? Using one to squash a nasty bug which is causing unbearable trauma to shrieking child who is refusing to go to sleep?

Of course, due to being an supposed 'eco-warrior', striving to excel in relation to tissues would be to not use any, and get out that stash of granny hankies instead. Alas, I really hate washing phlegm, and hence, adore tissues. Sorry, no excelling today.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Battling The Machine

I am afraid standards have been slipping alarmingly around here. The Man has been gone for over a month. A month! This is the longest he has ever been away, and truly, if the children were smaller I would be seriously suicidal by now. Single parents, I salute you. As it is, most of the children are more competent than I am at most things. Sadly, now that The Boy has left home I have no driver. Add to list of inadequacies: failure to teach The Girl to drive. She has had her learner's permit since April last year. And in that time we have taken her driving once. Truly, it is a reflection of a) how terrifying it is to teach a child to drive, and b) how incredibly difficult it is to pick up the phone and organise a driving lesson, or two or three. And now my dilatoriness (probably not an actual word) has come back to bite me because now, when I really need one, I have no extra driver.

I also have no-one to mow the lawn, and have had to work out how to do this MYSELF which seems wrong and unfair. I am nothing if completely unmechanically minded, and am sure there is a special circle of Hell designed so that every single action anyone could possibly need to undertake involves putting together a complicated machine, or even just starting one, aided only by instructions written by someone whose first language isn't one's own, and accompanied by diagrams that bear no resemblance to the actual piece of hardware in front of you. Oh wait, that is already the life of every one who doesn't herd yaks in Mongolia. So, the lawnmower. I could see theoretically how it ought to start, but just couldn't. The whippersnipper? Just no idea. So for the first week, I got A Man in, who mowed and whippersnipped very efficiently, then charged me $45 at which I nearly fainted. For 20 minutes' work? That is a very good hourly rate. I made the world's most expensive lawn trim last as long as possible by not watering the lawn, but then I felt I must have a go. Yes, it's true, I have never, ever mowed the lawn by myself. Pitiful, you might think. I prefer - strategic. If you can't do something at all, then you don't get asked to do it.

But here we were, no excuses. Except I couldn't start any of the wretched inanimate objects. I had to ask the good natured neighbour to pop over and start the lawn mower for me. Terribly humiliating. Even worse, he did the whippersnipping for me while I mowed. I am slain by kindness and my own incompetence. Next time I needed to mow I was determined to do it myself. Still couldn't start the damned mower. Called all the girls out. Gave stirring speech, highlighting female independence from hierarchical male lawn-mowing hegemony. Receive stirring applause blank looks. Rosy tries and fails to start mower. The Girl starts it. Cheers from me, some minor head shaking from her as she goes back inside to finish her tea. I mow the lawn but fail to start the whippersnipper at all. Can not bear shame of going to neighbour's again. Pretend shaggy edges is the look I am going for in the garden.

In the end I have to send off urgent messages for help to The Man. Slightly embarrassing, but then he is used to my continuing mechanical incompetence. He sends terse instructions for starting whippersnipper. Slightly mystified by most sentences, including the one about the choke. Is 'in' and 'out' the same as on and off? It takes Rosy and I some time to exhaust all possible combinations and permutations as we fantasise about machines that have only a big red button, with maybe a smiley face for confidence, and the words 'Don't Panic' helpfully silk screen printed somewhere prominent. Finally, finally, Rosy manages to start the damn thing, and I do the edges at last, which must prove something heartening, like, 'girls can do anything' or perhaps, 'two girls and a middle-aged woman can do anything any 13yo boy can do' which wasn't exactly the sentiment I was going for, but hey, my life isn't a Disney fairy tale.

In other news, I am frequently failing to cook proper meals because cooking for four hardly seems worth it. This is my idea of a balanced meal this week:

I'm pretty sure all the major food groups are covered. Luckily the girls are all well versed in life skills and have been whipping up pizzas and blueberry ice cream and similar when they feel peckish. However no-one has leapt into the breach and cleaned the bathrooms recently, and Rosy, who was supposed to be cleaning the pool, decided to practice ballet on the deck instead, and now has a giant swollen ankle which I am almost sure isn't broken, so instead of being helpful, she has to lie on the couch and be waited on hand and foot.

Luckily, The Man is coming back very soon, because without him, clearly I would degenerate into some kind of crazy cat lady, or become like that poor man with the odd name in Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist, who streamlined his entire life when his wife left, and only ever wore sweatpants so he wouldn't have to change into pyjamas, and sewed all the sheets together in a giant tube so he could keep rotating them and only have to wash them once every six months. I could totally do that, except for the sewing bit. Macon, I think that was his name. Is anyone in the whole world actually called that? Anyway, I am preserved from complete housekeeping degeneracy by imminent arrival of The Man, not that he growls if the bathroom isn't clean, but he sometimes notices if it is clean, which not many other people around here do, and I do apparently require housewifely validation, but also importantly, HE WILL MOW THE LAWN so I don't have to waste karmic energy battling The Machine.

Drop by next week and experience the aura of Zen-like calm that will be emanating from Chez Blueday once the machine wrangler is back in residence..