Carbuncles can swim

Bruiser has a carbuncle, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped his swimming gymnastics. As fish go, he is pretty agile; despite the bulbous lump near his tail that is about a fifth of his body weight. Still, he was never delicate (hence the name!), and at 20cm in length still manages to dominate the tank. Indeed he seems to proudly flash his gross pink lump at visitors; not one for the squeamish!

Over it

Frankly I have been ‘over’ the fish for some time, and when the carbuncle appeared, was  hopeful that it would take bruiser off to fishy heaven. But that was over a year ago, and since I mentioned (to the universe at large) that I wasnt going to replace any fish and would get rid of the tank, not one fish has died! Bruiser is 4 years old and showing every sign  getting a lot older.

Operation

The nurse in me wants to do a quick lancing with a sharp knife and a nice clean cut-off; but have never been convinced by the argument that fish don’t feel anything…..so, thus far have chickened out.I could of course numb the area for Bruiser before the mini-operation, but so far the best  idea for a fish anaesthetic that I have come up with is ice……freeze it off in a kind of crio procedure, or just numbing it and lopping it off with knife. But I would have to hold his head under the water, so he could do the weird fishy breathing thing, and have his rear out the water and hold an ice-cube to the lump…..but he is a slippery little sucker’ and on the one (brief) experiment; he wouldn’t oblige by staying still and I didn’t have enough hands. Besides, if I used too much ice he could have turned into a very strange fish finger.

Carbuncle 1, Wimp 0

So the carbuncle stays, and if it gets any bigger will need its own postcode. There is of course the option of a full-scale assault (sorry re. pun….they just pop out unannounced like a non-swearing form of Tourette’s; I have Pun-ettes!)…and flush him off to the great oceans to swim free. I know, I know, there are many reasons why he wouldn’t get from loo to sea uninjured; but my conscience prefers to think of it that way. Besides, he is too big to flush and may block the loo; and I wouldn’t like to explain that one to the plumber!

*Mindful I don’t have the stomach for fish dispatching, so will take “learn to fly fish” off the ‘to do’ list for retirement.

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IT Tribulations

New Laptop has lots of twiddly bits,
Like facial recognition;
And I’m thankful “Himself’s” doing set-up
As DIY not ambition

‘What if it doesn’t know me without Lippy on?’
Drew looks of disbelief;
Put ‘face on’ first his helpful tip
‘Controlled by machine!, Good Grief!’

And if it still won’t open?
And I’ve held it up like mirror;
‘Turn off and on’, (IT guy’s default setting);
‘Or could be “common user error”

I’m not common says I, and please just
Set to take a normal password;
‘And if you forget?’ had him on thin ice
‘As if!’, wont happen, don’t be so absurd

And if I need help when you’re not here?
‘Just download guidebook, advice is sound’;
Ok, download you say, where’s
The guidebook to do that to be found?

I seem to have made him speechless
And maybe used up all his time;
Not sure I got the ‘last word’ though,
Was that a single digit mime?

*Mindful I am spoiled having a live-in tech person, even if we don’t talk the same language 🙂

‘Journey’ of a rant

If I hear one more person saying “its been  a journey” I wont be responsible for my actions! I get it, I really do understand that folks are trying to convey some form of experience that has taken them from go-to-woe but PLEASE can we think of some other ways of saying it?  The journey word is so overused it should come with a health warning as terminally boring.
Journeys Journeys everywhere and not a trip was taken

From TV cooks to school kids taking exams, its all you hear; cant folks just accept multiple events will happen?; that its life  (the rich tapestry and all that.),  just please please don’t give it the journey label. We breath in, we breath out, we do stuff, not every blooming thing has to be described with the ‘J’ word; to me ‘J’ has become the new ‘F’.

Cranky 
The assistant in the pharmacy yesterday was the straw’ that prompted this camels rant, I only went in for lozenges  and came out with a headache.

She was explaining at length to her colleague why she had a small bandage on her wrist, and I was quite happy to wait until they were all ‘up to date’ with the fascinating tale of a slight sprain…..right up until she said “yes, the healing has been quite a journey”.

Well; I didn’t know I could make quite such a loud scoffing noise, but it certainly got me served quick smart, and I was off home on my own journey (sojourn, hike, wander, travel, quest…yadda yadda…..), nope, really I just went home, plain and simple. I am probably on some cranky shopper black list now but I will cope , and do so without an adjustment that indicates  I took  some form of a trip!

Phew, rant over

Now that I have got that off my chest (and thanks for reading/listening) I will share the other objection I have to the ‘J’ thing.

You see it indicates people are always going somewhere. Well of course we sort of are, its just that the very  word perpetuates the striving to be somewhere else.  The main point is that if you are always focussed on getting somewhere, you tend to forget to appreciate where you ARE.

Each moment is precious and important (even the bad ones), and many even transform us, but how many moments do you miss as you focus on getting somewhere else?  You may already be AT your destination, and that destination is now….in this moment and this moment.

*Mindful to breathe in, breathe out, and be present;  and if you are going on an exploration or perchance an expedition, I hope you have a wonderful time. And if you are just living your life  moment to moment and savouring each one, I hope that is also splendid.

Dear Tax Man….a poem

Dear Tax man, kind exalted one; please excuse this slight intrusion,

I know your busy counting wads from others wealth profusion.

First let me say thanks! for  great website and helpful online forms,

Your endless lists of what can’t be claimed  keep us usefully within norms.

 

I’ve hit a snag am sure was error /oversight and not deliberate making;

Asked accountant George, who’s puzzled too, as set his head a shaking.

It’s not the boxes I see that are a problem, as they are really of clear help;

To the Supplementary section question I put “Yes, I supplement with Kelp”.

 

New ‘Edna Everage’ specs in “other work expenses” bit, and claims for slip-slap-slops

were certainly for protection as I am always outside Lots.

No extravagant items from me; am more Gum-Boot wearer than Jimmy Choo’s

But just in case, please be so kind , which box for expensive claims for shoes?

 

 *Mindful …..that attention to detail both takes time and saves time…….Learned that the shoe-box filing system has its limitations; or maybe I need more boxes?……that’s it!…more shopping 🙂

 

Beanie Hunting in Tasmania

Beanie hunting is not for the faint-hearted and should be approached with caution. It can be exhausting (stalking just the right one may take some considerable time), irksome (if your bag carriers don’t share your enthusiasm for the sport) and indeed affect your sight (as the vast array of colours and shapes can give you spots before your eyes); and yet…….> off I go to chilly Tasmania, full of enthusiasm for the thrill of the chase.

Indeed, my hunt started in the wee small hours of this morning as I searched the house for my favourite Possum beanie…(note to self: you shouldn’t leave your packing till the last-minute!). Luckily I found it hiding on top of the wardrobe because  the annual trek in the Tassie mountains just wouldn’t be the same without it; and frankly I would freeze without my  wee possums thermal protection.

Hat hunt

Maybe I should mention that a beanie is what Australians call a type of  hat, usually wool or similar but can be made of a multitude of things and comes in all shapes and sizes. In UK it would be a wooly bunnet, or pompom hat I guess and I have no idea what it would be called in America (so if you are from there perhaps you will let me know?). I try to find new beanie’s on most of my travels and I know that Tasmania is ‘fertile ground’ for new creative treasures. Lots of wacky crafty people keeping their hands warm, making stuff. Cant wait to see what I find on this hunt.

Possum

Now before you get all ‘animal rights or righteous’ on me, yes, my hat  is made from real Possum but no, it does NOT look like a pelt!. I am pretty sure it lead a long and  fulfilling life / died of natural causes and donated its cosy fluff for the benefit of human kind. I got this particular wooly treasure in New Zealand, where the making of such things is common and they do some great process that incorporates the downy fluff with wool.

It is the warmest thing ever and leaves Marino and Alpaca wool in the cool shade when it comes to the thermals. Besides, alpaca wool always has that slight residual smell of Yack about it  when it gets wet, not sure why; perhaps they are relatives?…I digress……

Wilderness Wonders

So here I am at the airport, having my last ‘fix’ of electronics before going off-line in the hills, hiking in the rain and hoping for snow. It’s good to have some contrast weather-wise when you live in a warm country like Oz and Tassie delivers it. With a spectacular backdrop of rain forests and awesome mountains; cosy log cabins, roaring fires, enough hot chocolate to induce diabetes and not too many folk………Bliss.

Favourite features

Before I go, I will share the best three things about my favourite possum beanie (apart from its warmth):

1. It has coloured bright red and yellow stripes, so if I get lost in the hills it will be easier to find me

2. It has a rolled up cuff that can be pulled over your face, balaclava style in case it snows……no scary eye holes that would make it look like you were going to do an armed hold-up’ or anything…..so you can’t quite see where you are going, so best to avoid using this function near cliff edges

3. Possum beanie actually helps keep you walking, even when the legs are weary;  because you don’t want to sit still too long when wearing it in the wilderness, or the wildlife start mating with your head!

Cheeri-Bye for now, am away to do some happy wandering

*Mindful of the restful recharge communing with nature brings.

pompom beanie 2

 

 

 

 

Mint Murder, the Pongy Evolution

As the  Mints fell from the packet, bouncing briefly on the table in a random pattern before heading south, there was no prospect of them hitting the floor.  Two lurking Labrador’s moved with the agility and speed of a starved cobra  and inhaled the full packet in a nano-second and were looking for more. On the bright side, maybe it will help their breath (and other gaseous emissions) as so far I have failed to improve Aggi’s aroma by adding mint leaves to her food.

Early minty moments

This was the Menagerie’s first (accidental due to my clumsiness) introduction to the sweet lollies, however I have had a long and evolving relationship with the Mint family in general.  From the early years, when I couldn’t  stand anything even faintly tainted with what I viewed as yucky poison, to today when I have a mild addiction to peppermint tea; it has been an interesting transition, probably borne of necessity.

Mint Imperials, the king of mints

The real power of mint came into its own in my ‘smoking years’ , sadly I don’t mean I was irresistible!! I am referring to the imbibing of the nasty nicotine (now thankfully a past habit). In my Community Midwife years I used to teach pregnant mums pre-natal relaxation classes and it was at this time that I adopted the Mint Imperial as a close ally. You see I was very good at the ‘getting them relaxed’ bit and  talking the would be mamma’s into sleepy submission.  I would get them into a snoozy position on their individual foam mats towards the end of the session, dim the lights, turn on the urn and nip out the back of the health centre for a ciggie. In fact I got it down to a fine art and could fit in 2 ciggies followed by 2 mint imperials  in the time it took the urn to boil.

Pong delusion

Like most smokers I was convinced I had covered up the smell with my minty buddy and nobody knew. I would pop back into the relaxed expectant ones; talk them round from their snooze with my voice intonations increasing in tune to the bubbling urn and we would all have the obligatory cuppa that marked the end of a session. Thus, over time I grew to like mints and gave up the ciggies.

Minty Irony

Now mints feature in every handbag and pocket. I even have different sized containers for the things, based on said handbags size so you see it is not just the tea I am addicted to! The real irony though comes from my lack of green thumbs when it comes to the mint genus. You will be familiar with what they say about mint plants “they grow like weeds”, “they pop up everywhere and spread”…etc etc…. and I consider myself a bit of a gardener; but not when it comes to mint.

Yes, its official: I can kill mint!….and I don’t even need to do anything to it, just my presence in its general vicinity seems to makes it shrivel up and vanish. To date we have 5 varieties in the garden, now all safely in an isolated exclusion zone (from which I am verboten ) and under the care of ‘Himself”…….. I will stick with growing the easy stuff, like Orchids and Bok Choy.

*Mindful of the power of habit persuasion and its effects on  taste buds….and learned how hyper dogs get when you feed them sugar!

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Belief and Bugs

With finger on the trigger and murder in my heart another home-invader was in my sights; and with a small finger movement, was dispatched in a cloud of pongy mist. I would never make a good Buddhist as my attitude to Bugs would always get in the way; especially the Spiders, how could I possibly see one as someone’s ex Aunt Ethel reincarnated and let it cohabit?

The good…

Yes, as the menagerie would attest, I am an animal lover however the sight of the very wee sentient beings that are of the bug family leave me not just cold but intent on annihilation. With the possible exception of Ladybugs and Grasshoppers who both do a great carnivorous job of keeping the smaller aphid critters out of the garden, so they are positively helpful. Actually it is easier to be tolerant of general creepy crawlies when they are outdoors and seem to be doing something vaguely useful; but out of their natural habitat i.e in my house  it brings out the hunter in me, and I am off looking for weapons of mass destruction, which can’t be at all good for my Karma!

I give thanks to the inventor of the Aerosol spray (and the nasty chemicals within) , for without them I may have to actually get close to the bugs to hasten their demise; and I probably couldn’t do that. You see I am a sprayer, not a squisher…..a total wimp in the face of six or eight legged blobs, so if there is no hero to hand to do the dirty work for me I am forced to spray from arms length and run away until the coast (and air) is clear. Of course it’s not good for the environment (the chemicals) but I salve my conscience and balance environmental credits by being super good at recycling and water conservation (promise).

The bad…

Spiders are (of course) the scourge of the earth and the best thing I can find to say of them is that they make pretty webs, which can look spectacular when decked in dew drops in a morning mist; but NOT when you walk into one, as happened to me at the weekend when going under a tree, and the sticky threads stuck to my face and hair…EEEECK!!….. Much swatting and ruffling of hair later I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had somehow missed the body of the beastie and that it was waiting till I wasn’t looking and would drop down from my fringe in front of my eyes.

…and The Hugli

The puppy  (Aggi the farter) was my saviour after the web in hair incident, as she is rather fond of bugs, and frankly will eat anything. All I had to do was retreat from the web to the indoors and roll-around on the carpet with the wee one for 5 minutes; a good licking and hair grooming ensued and I felt not only bug free but well loved…..if there had been any bug in my general vicinity, believe me it would have been eaten. Must say that the first time I saw Aggi eat a bug I felt ill, but now view it as a great help around the house.

Aggi is (of course) cute as a button’, unfortunately , her penchant’ for eating anything from Chook poop  and bugs to socks doesn’t leave her smelling so sweet (hence her nickname). Am going to experiment with adding handfuls of mint to her food to see if it improves the air quality, will let you know how it goes. *Mindful that tolerance levels could do with some work, but thankful that fur baby hero’s give good hug. 

 

 

Amature Guerrilla

As a long-term want-to-be “guerrilla Knitter”, this week I finally gave in to this fluffy urge to wrap inanimate objects in knitted colour. I started small (see picture of stapler below) as it occurred to me that a woolly jacket for this utility item would not only add some texture but also has a practical purpose; a padded gentle platform for the hand when stapling many documents and its winter here so (if required) it can double as a hand warmer! Safe, fun and warm. Suddenly this most basic of desk items has a whole new appeal, I only wish I had had more colourful wool to hand when the compunction to knit overcame me.
If you are not familiar with the Guerrilla Knitting movement, a quick Google will tell you all you need to know about this peaceful, clandestine wrapping of our world, one colourful object at a time. Today a stapler, tomorrow a satellite dish! It’s important to have ambition.
Woolly origins  and the invincibles
I can trace this long-held fascination with knitting back to when I was seven and my Nana taught me to knit squares ‘for the babies in Africa and the poor’; knitting squares from any odd bit of wool was very “in” then, as I seem to remember all my friends being urged to do the same.
These squares were taken in batches to a gaggle of earnest women in invincible cardigans, who huddled in the church hall and sewed them together into regulation covers for the needy. Even in my tender years I could see that it was a great excuse for the women to have a right old gossip, and the noise levels   made your ears hum.

The long experiment
The bit that never made sense to a very young me was why the African babies would need wool blankets?…all I knew of Africa at that stage was that it was hot and had Lions and I was pretty sure that a blanket wouldn’t stop a big cat. I did run my doubts by Nana but she did her usual diversionary tactic of getting me to concentrate counting rows and making the squares a regulation six inch square size…….’but why squares Nana?’ asks me,’ because if I knit big long strips they wont need so much sewing together’ says I , chuffed that I had thought of a way to get the ‘needy’ warm quicker…….she laughed and told me to ‘haud-yer-wheesht’ which roughly translated from Scottish means be quiet and is a mild scold… ‘nobody likes a smarty pants down the church hall’, she added to make sure I understood my wheesht should be haud down there too!.
Instructed to just knit in six inches…….a ‘but why?’ resulted in a lecture on how they have to be that size as ‘most folk only have six inch rulers and not the luxury of ones with the full 12 inches’; she had an answer for everything my Nana and it was an early lesson in conformity and not rocking the boat; for rocking the boat in a small town was considered a heinous crime. She did however give me all her odd bits of wool to run my own creative project AFTER I had finished many uniform blocks of garter stich; and I turned the bits into the longest scarf, complete with wool joins, holes and knobbly bits. A stunning edifice, I wore it with everything until it vanished one day and nobody in my house owned up to having seen it. but I digress………………>

Other creations

This week, in addition to the stapler warmer I also fashioned a cute little egg cosy in red ( an item from a bygone age, where people had so much time to eat breakfast that they needed to keep a boiled egg snug!); however, when I went to get camera to take a pic.  Aggi (puppy) ate it; she is a Labrador, what can you do ‘sigh’.  Pooper scooping was therefore more colourful than usual and she managed to have a poo that looked like it was wearing a wee woolly hat! (too much info I am sure), so I am chalking that one down to my first outdoor wool bombing (all be it via the puppies insides)…..now that’s what I call clandestine!!

Future projects

Driving by the local primary school this morning I had a ‘light-bulb moment’ for there was the Lollipop man, patiently ushering the kiddies across the road in the rain and his poor hands looked frozen on the lollipop pole ***‘I could cover the pole in fabulous knitting thought I, that would not only look fantastic but warm his hands and I wonder if you can get luminous wool?? coz that would make it safe for the kiddies on the road too’. Clearly it will take more  planning, as I would need access to the pole to get the right measurement; but how do you ask a lollipop man if you can measure his pole without arousing suspicion?

PS: I would offer to make you all a stapler cosy but the delivery time could be anywhere between one and five years if the encounter with Lollipop man does not go well. Besides, I don’t think they let you have knitting needles in prison coz of the pointy ends ;which is a shame as I am sure they have time on their hands and could make great stuff. Maybe it isn’t because of the pointy ends, maybe it is because they could knit themselves a rope ladder and escape?

* Mindful that creativity knows no bounds but community norms can be barriers in themselves.

 

wooly stapler

Yes, it does work with the cover on!

 

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Uncommon Ailments of Menageriness

Irritable Owl Syndrome is  the ailment  our semi-resident frog-mouth owl must be having now that we have interrupted his food supply. In addition to the ever prowling cats, we have added some mouse traps in the garage as the wee rodents are attracted to the chook feed store. Poor frog-mouth doesn’t look happy of late and now has to go further than our back garden for his tea; not that he ever does look happy, but who would with a name like that!

Even the puppy isn’t immune to the odd illness and, (as a result of my experiments with Paleo inspired bread making) now seems to have developed Flaxtoast Intolerance’; defined as an intense dislike of my flax seed and coconut flour bread, the symptoms of which result in her giving the best sad-eye pathetic looks to ‘himself” until he caves in and makes her some vegemite toast from his own wheat flour laden loaf to make her feel better.

Influhenza only seems to be fowl based (Not THE bird flu) and manifests in intense flapping of wings and squawking when the pigeons get into the coop and try to pinch their seed; the noise certainly gives me a headache so I can only imagine how they feel.

The cats main complaint seems to be Hypurrtension, the stress  trigger point of which is the critical moment when you have to tip a contented moggy from your lap in order to get anything done. Strangely contagious, at its most active phase it can spread scratch marks to the human thigh.

However, uncommon ailments are not confined to the animals of the menagerie and I have succumbed (on occasion) to Osteopertoesis, which is the intense throbbing of toes following an accidental barefoot encounter with a discarded dog bone. I must take preventative measures by inoculating myself by  wearing shoes.

One of the saddest looking malady’s is currently endured by “himself” who appears to have Sighnisitis ,exhibited by repetitive tutting and shaking of the head closely followed by long exhalations of breath and a sort of hunching of the shoulders……..poor thing, he always seems just fine until he sits down to read my blog; must be a positional thing.

*Mindful of the importance of good health and laughter is not only the best medicine, but also the best prevention

 

 

 

 

 

Invigilated by Stranger

 

A complete stranger Invigilated me last night and didn’t even buy me dinner first! I had taken some preventative Panadol as I suspected it would be painful, still, I expected a little more humanity during the process. It had been many years since such an event had happened, so the memory was a little hazy about what to expect, and as most of the learning to date had been at a distance; this was my first trip to the University.

City Uni

As the Uni is up in the City (and I don’t get out much) I had prepared for the event by rubbing the sock marks off my legs and dressing appropriately…….after all, they say appearances count, so  the look I went for was  from country Ho-Bo to Bo-Ho; at least that is what I was aiming for, but may just have made it on one of those syllables……tis a long time since I was a student, but as it happens, I blended in just fine. A right motley crew of would-be brainy types.

he who must be obeyed

The head Invigilator, ( I forgot to mention he had brought his mates to watch) was obviously well versed in not smiling, or indeed  showing any emotion at all;  he had all the animation of a turnip with the colouring to match. Still, there was a quiet authority about him as he blew a few non-existent cobwebs from the PA mic and started  our relationship with the fore-amble…blah blah…safety, blah blah ‘one bell take note but don’t move’….blah blah ‘two bells Il see you in the car park’…..blah blah toilet…Wait, I should have listened to that more intently as this session was going to be for three and half hours….and then, with both arms pointing at the giant clock (in case we had somehow missed it) we were given the signal to do something with the neat pile of paper in front of us.

the watchers

This is when the head invigilators’ mates sprung into action; like silent snoops they drifted amongst us, checking our personals nick knacks (ID’s that we had been told to put on display….note to self..should have had a new pic taken for driver’s licence….) and checking pencil cases for illicit information that may have slipped in there in cryptic note form between the pens.

archaic

On the subject of pens, in this day-and-age why would we even be needing such a thing?…….why , since my last exam ( many moons ago) has there been no progress into the use of a simple (cheat proof) word processor for use in exams?……..what kind of  thinking has made exams the last bastion of writing by hand ?. Why not go the whole hog and give extra points for using other instruments with ascending degree of difficulty?…….extra points if you use a leaky Biro that has been through the wash; more if you adopt the blunt pencil and left the sharpener at home and top marks if you can struggle through the writing of ten pages using a quill and ink.

relief

And then, as if we had been transported by academic Tardis , it was over, and the neatest thing on the page was my name in the top corners. I was going to add a wee comment on the last page about my internal spell checker being broken, but the exam,Mr turnip head and his mates had fair sucked the joy out of me and it was 10pm; way past my funny bones sleep time. The turnip’s calls for ‘silence as papers were  collected’ fell on the deaf ears of  me and the rest of the rabble rushing to leave the scene of the cramped-hand crime. Cast out into the night and dreaming of a hot peppermint tea, there was just one final test in the day; where did I leave the car?

 *mindful  that we can all be doing the same thing, yet feeling it differently…and that there is life beyond the gumboot sloth so I should get out more 🙂