Thursday, November 29, 2007

fake stories about real people

You may (or not) have noticed that I haven't been posting much about my fiction writing. Well, that'd be because I haven't been doing much. My second short story was more or less finished with a few weeks ago, and I've been tinkering with story ideas since then.

I have found a fun writing exercise to do though. Last week I borrowed a book from the library which contained photographers' portraits of their own families. Far from the smiley, posed photos that the rest of us prefer, these portraits are more arty and some are more than a little bit weird. So what I've been doing is picking a photo and then coming up with a background story to go with it. I avoid pictures of physically beautiful people - the best ones are of quirky faces, unusual poses and bizarre outfits.

Perhaps I'll post one some time, if I deem it blogworthy. In the meantime though, it's fun to do - maybe you should try it too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

drugs, drugs, drugs

Here's the main reason I'm ambivalent about anti-vivisectionist petitions - if the drug companies don't test their products on innocent animals, would we still have the medical treatments we have today?

The genes I've ended up with have ensured that I get a fair bit of experience in the use of medication (for my allergies, for instance). And in the last couple of days I've been grateful for the painkillers, anti-inflammatories and muscle-relaxants that have made my back strain that much less torturous. I'm now at the point where I can sit and stand with only moderate amounts of pain. So I'd be a hypocrite to voice opposition to testing on animals, wouldn't I?

If only scientists could test on violent criminals instead.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This morning I couldn't get out of bed. I tried for about two hours, while the boy was up and attending to TLM, but every time I moved a muscle I would get a shart pain in my left lower back.

There are women who say that, once you've experience the labour pains of childbirth, any other kind of pain is nothing.

Well, this doesn't apply to me. Standing, sitting, turning, reaching - all of these made me cry out in agony. There were tears. There was very nearly a toileting accident (but - phew, not). The boy is out now, buying some heavy-duty painkillers in the hope of an afternoon without loud "Arrrrggggh!"s. I hope so too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the line of duty

I should have known that it wasn’t a good idea to take your toddler swimming before she’s had her poo of the day. Because when those telltale brown flakes start to show up in the wading pool, there’s a pretty good chance you know who the culprit is.

While hurriedly removing your toddler from a poo-contaminated pool, trying to avoid the disapproving looks from the other parents whose kiddies have been forcibly evacuated – this is quite possibly the worst time to pull a muscle in your lower back.

Furtively hosing down a poo-covered child in the changing room showers is hard to do when you’re pulling faces and saying “Ow!” every time you move. Getting said toddler in and out of the buggy is torture. Wrestling with her when she insists on running into traffic is horrific torture. Geez, even trying to put her down into her cot for a nap takes determination and courage.

Where’s my medal?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Doing a Hollywood *

TLM might well become an actress when she grows up. Somehow she’s decided it’s a great idea to pretend to fall over and cry out, expecting someone to rush over to rescue her. It’s so obviously fake that she’s going to have to be a model-slash-actress** as opposed to an actress – or else get acting lessons. Still, where on earth did she learn this?

* I first came across this expression when I was a karate student. It was used to refer to faked injuries during competition bouts.

** I refer, of course, to the expression used in the movie Zoolander, used to refer to actors who were models first.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This and that

The Troubles
It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks here on the Short and Sweet blog. When you have the combined forces of 1) blogger’s block, 2) mysterious Internet disconnections and go-slows, and 3) inability to leave a comment on Blogger blogs, you can pretty much guarantee that I ain’t getting no blogging satisfaction.

So I’m resorting to creating the entire blog post on Word first, then copying it to Blogger when I’m done. It’s the only way to avoid another temper tantrum like the one I threw last night.

TLM Update

The Little Madam has been decorating one of our kitchen cupboards with Mr Happy stickers. While it’s hardly going add market value to the house, I think of it as a way to display her artwork without using up space on the fridge door.

Her back molars are on their way. At least, I think they are. She’s salivating like crazy, often wakes up grumpy and wet-faced, and usually wants ice cream. Okay, strike that last one – she always wants ice cream.

With the aim of breaking her preference for Wiggles music, I’ve introduced her to world music. Specifically, the Playground series by Putamayo. She loves Caribbean Playground and French Playground, but is lukewarm on Latin Playground. So there goes my fantasy of teaching her to sing “One ton tomato, I got a one ton tomato…one ton tomaaaaato, I got a one ton tomato…”

In the face of genius

On Tuesday I went to an exhibition of Bill Hammond paintings. He is, of course, very highly regarded in the New Zealand fine arts community. But after seeing his works up close, all I felt was disillusionment in my own painting ability. I know that it’s stupid and unhelpful to compare oneself with someone at the top of their game, but I did.

For the same reason, reading really good short stories (which short-story writers are supposed to do, and which I’ve been doing a lot of) has put me off writing short stories. Get a grip on yerself, woman!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A new round of daycare centre inspections

I'm currently obssessed with finding a daycare for TLM for when she turns 3, because by then she'll be too old to attend the lovely daycare she goes to right now. Granted, this won't happen until August next year, but waiting lists for daycares are longer than the queues were for the last Harry Potter novel.

The obvious solution, I thought, was to canvas the parents of TLM's current fellow inmates, and put her on the same waiting lists as their kids. But, from the few I've talked to, everyone seems to have decided on different places, and most of them are across town. So there goes the idea of TLM going some place where she already knows people (y'know, like in Cheers). Of course, I could consider daycares that are inconveniently located, but I'll only do that as a last resort.

Last week I visited two potential daycares and one kindergarten, and yesterday TLM and I visited another daycare. So far, the place I like best is the kindie, which is a bit sad because they only offer three 2 1/2 hr sessions per week, and I was hoping to work part-time (20 hrs/week) next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Strange tastes

I was accidentally watching Survivor: China the other night (as you do), when the unfortunate contestants were doing a Fear Factor with the local food. Chicken hearts.

Many of those people looked as though they shouldn't be quite so unfamiliar with the idea of eating those li'l blood pumps, because they looked Asian and surely their own parents had tried to force such delicacies down their throats at some stage in their lives. And boy, do I know how that feels.

I've been forced to eat lambs brains in soup. I've been fed sheeps' tongues (voluntarily, I'll admit - at least until I saw the picture on the tin). I've even had to dine on pet pigeons (at least, my brother and I thought they were our pets). I've eaten fish eyes, chicken's necks and chicken's gizzards.

But I still can't bring myself to enjoy mouldy blue cheese.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Ever since I downloaded the latest bunch of Mac-related downloads last weekend, web-browsing has become frustratingly slow. In any one evening, I'd be lucky to be able to read half a dozen of the blogs I subscribe to, and even luckier if I manage to successfully leave a comment. It's also partly why I haven't posted as frequently as usual this week. So, all you guys - I'm reading your blogs, and have been trying to post.

So - if anyone out there knows why this might be happening to me, help me pleeeeeease (and save the boy from my angry squints).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quick work

For a while, the house alarm kept going off just about every time we left the house, and it was such a pain to have to go all the way home again just on the off-chance that there really was a break-in. Fortunately (I suppose), it was always a false alarm.

It stopped happening once the alarm people sent in a technician to replace the sensors, and once again I was able to get out of the house for longer than about half an hour.

But then it went off again yesterday, and by this time we were at least 30 mins drive from home - with at least two major peak-time bottle-necks between our friends' house (where we were), and ours.

It was probably the builder (let's call him Bob), who'd been doing a quick-fix repair in the bathroom over the last few days. Bob hadn't returned my back door key, but he hadn't left any indication whether he'd actually finished painting over the new bits of wood. It really was too bad that I'd left his (unlisted) phone number at home.

So I stood around at my friend's house, a tiny bit too tense to take notice of how TLM and her two playmates were using the house as a Grand Prix race track, gulping my coffee and wondering whether the boy was up for an early finish to his work day.

Then Bob rang. Yes, he'd set off the alarm, no he hadn't got the message I left with his flatmate - till now, yes he'd gone ahead and finished the paint job anyway while the dread siren tried to gouge a hole in Bob's poor head.

So I was happy, because I did't have to go home early after all.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

For the Rellies

There's been a dearth of bloggables lately, so here are a couple of photos of our Little Madam:

Here's TLM at the park on Sunday, bravely treading the wobbly bridge.

...and wearing the Dora pyjama top. If we put it on her before bedtime, there’s no chance of getting it off her until her next bathtime.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I got a bit grumpy this morning when dark clouds rolled in as soon as I'd finished hanging out the washing, but it turned out hot and sunny after all. The three of us went to a free outdoor concert at a local park and playground, and it was such an enjoyable afternoon.

There was a live band, a sausage sizzle (i.e. hot dog stand), free sporty toys to play with (supplied by SPARC) and a nice, comfy family atmosphere (even the punky people had their kids with them).

The boy usually takes TLM shopping or to the zoo, rather than to the park, and I think she really appreciated having a taller parent around to guide her through the trickier parts of the climbing frames. She even danced a little to the reggae music, attracting a couple of amateur photographers (though I'm not expecting to see her photo in the newspaper).

What made our outing even more fun was running into a couple of families we know, whose kids are the same age as TLM. They ran up to each other with grins and wild laughter and then abruptly went off in different directions to play, though checking up on each other occasionally. I do love seeing TLM in the company of her friends. It's the one thing that makes me sorta want a second child.

I think summer might have arrived.

Friday, November 09, 2007

a fun free morning

This morning, while TLM was at daycare, I could have: gone shopping for my brother's birthday present; had coffee at Ernesto and made another attempt at eavesdropping on people's conversations; updated my CV; burned some new children's world music onto backup CDs; watched The Power of Myth on DVD (a birthday present from the boy - and I only thought of it because Rory from Gilmore Girls mentioned it); or even worked on my languishing painting. But I didn't do any of those things.

I spent most of this morning fitting our new toilet seat (no Jon, I didn't get a Toto brand, I just got a cheapy plastic thing from the hardware shop). First I tried to screw the bolts in upside down, then I tried to screw in the connection panel upside down. If you're doing this screwing, unscrewing and re-screwing while maximising the distance between yourself and the toilet bowl, it's very physically tiring.

But it's done now. At least until those mysterious permanent burn-like marks start reappearing, we've got a nice clean seat.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How old people can be a little bit like toddlers

This won't apply to all old people, nor to all toddlers. Actually, it's about just my mum vs my toddler:

  • Needing help crossing the street
  • Refusing to listen to advice
  • They say what they think
  • Often won't acknowledge when they need help
  • Thinking that their respective needs are more important than anyone else's
  • Stubbornness
  • They nag and nag until they get their own way
  • Wispy hair
  • Both probably love me to bits, but can't or won't say so

    There are of course, many differences, which is just as well.
  • Monday, November 05, 2007

    Bums on seats

    I'm in the market for a novelty toilet seat, to replace the...erm...nasty and un-novel one we're currently putting up with. I quite like this one. But I've bid on similar loo seats before, and always end up at a Mexican stand-off i.e. the bidding goes up to, say $35, the time runs out and next thing I know it's being offered to all interested parties for $55. And I'm too stingy to pay that much, regardless of the sealife decorations.

    What I should do, and haven't bothered to yet, is check out the retail prices of both novelty and straight toilet seats. It's the only way to know whether the trader is trying to rip us off or get us a bargain.

    And if I get one, maybe I'll look for a mini version for the potty. Because TLM sure isn't interested in sitting on the plain white one.

    Saturday, November 03, 2007

    Together again

    I was afraid that we wouldn't be able to get to the airport in good time, because The Little Madam (who has a cold after all, and not some kind of hayfever) was still asleep 5 minutes before the boy's plane was due to land. I was afraid that, halfway between here and there (about 15 mins drive off peak-time), the boy would get tired of waiting and get a taxi home, and I'd have missed the text that he sent to tell me.

    But he was waiting at Arrivals for us, and TLM was all grins and squeals when she saw her daddy. Once we were home again, she pulled out all her favourite toys and demanded that he play with her, jetlag and all.

    And then there were the presents - TLM liked her Dora the Explorer pjs so much she wore the top half right away, over her other clothes. There was also a Thomas the Tank Engine toy that that talked and whistled and a Maisy toy. The fluffy teddy bear handbag is in bed with her as I type. She's now got tons of summer dresses to wear - I just hope we actually get a summer this year - and enough over-sized Dora gear to last her until school.

    I got something too, including a rune stone necklace that's supposed to encourage creativity (or childbirth - the former I hope), and another beautiful journal to fill up with something interesting (I hope).

    I'll wait till tomorrow before bringing up the household repairs he needs to get on with...

    A goth! A goth!

    That's what TLM cried out, pointing to the trio of punks walking their labrador to the supermarket. She's been learning words at a scary rate, but I couldn't figure out where she'd heard the word "goth". And besides, they were punks - goths wear mostly black clothes and makeup, punks wear mostly tartans and safety pins - its important to get your subcultures right.

    But anyway, it turned out I'd misheard TLM. She was talking about the dog.

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Independent living

    It's still 2 1/2 days before the boy gets back from his business trip, and though I've managed to single-parent without any major problems, there are some things that are just so much easier when he's around.

    For example, anything to do with our entertainment system. One evening I leaned funny on one of our 4 remotes, and next thing I knew we had big ugly subtitles that covered half of the tv screen. It took me nearly 2 days to figure out how to get rid of them.

    If the boy had been home at the time, I could have complained about it to him, and then left it up to him to fix it for me. Also, it's impossible to change the bedroom lightbulb unless he's around. Oh yes, I have a ladder. But I'm so short that, even when I climb up it, I can't quite reach the damn thing.

    But when I see him next, I won't bother going into all that. It'll sound much more romantic if I just tell him I missed him.