Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Friday, March 11, 2011

11th March 2011 (Friday)

The biscuit is well and truly taken. Housekeeping has gone to a different level.

Just tidying up the Littles’s room today, sniffing the air think wow the sewage treatment plant is really playing up today – smells a bit different, though. Stick my head outside but strangely is seems fresher. Start to have a horrible feeling. Nose around the room, sniffing and snuffling, like some deformed bloodhound. Start to focus on the wardrobe. Locate an old rucksack, which we use (used) to house miscellaneous of the Littles’s bags and a whole stack of beanbags. Source identification positive. Cautiously take it outside on the balcony before peeking inside, armed with plastic bags. As suspected, there’s the corpse of a mouse. Curled up amid a load of chewed beanbags and spilled-out foam pellets.

The rucksack and the beanbags have been disposed of, but there were some rather nice little bags there which the Littles would miss. Haven’t got round to whatever nuclear disinfecting treatment I’ll have to think of to render them usable again, they’re still out on the balcony but I guess I’ll have to deal with it. Luckily I think I must have caught the corpse before it really took off as there were no visible signs of decay but … YUK!!!! Damn that pest-control guy, I asked and he swore they’d go outside to die. Sod all he knows. I REALLY hope that’s the end of them. The whole wardrobe is now drying off from the disinfectant and cleaning.

One of these days I’ll write about something other than rodent extermination. Talking of which, I’ve noticed that the stories I’m writing are invariably about annoying characters, these days. Seem to be having a run on sport-related characters who drive one round the bend – and more oddly they tend to be narrated in the second person present tense. Funny what one’s mind seems to run on, I haven’t even been to the gym in months.

It was ‘Crazy Hair’ day today (gold coin donation for leukaemia), and the Littles went to school with about ten little plats all over her head, sprayed an attractive green and gold and decked out with multicoloured ribbons. She was by no means the most garish. Oddly enough the boys were even more extravagant than the girls – I think it’s because relatively short hair will respond beautifully to sculpting with hair-gel. There were girls with little windmills sticking out of the top of their heads, wigs and colour everywhere. I decided against the pipe-cleaner option on grounds of safety for the Littles. God knows where they would end up with her. Nice soft, safe ribbons.

Oh well, I guess I’d better get back to cleaning. So long, mouseless readers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

9th March 2011 (Wednesday)

Just been mosying about on my Stat counters for the websites… wow there are lot of different addresses watching Upside Down from the Veneto region, I wonder if they’re all real.  According to them there’s San Vendemiano, San Giustina, San Vito Tagliamento (fruili-Venezia), Piombino Dese, Azzano Deaivo, Venice, and of course Treviso. Lordy. The only thing is that they’re all listed as using Firefox and Iunet, so I wonder if it’s all the multifaceted W&W. Funny way of bouncing the IP about though if it is… I thought IP was per computer. Oh well. Not that it makes any difference, it’s just such a lot of information. By the way, I do know Zagreb’s looking… through an AWFUL lot of different computers, too. Curious as to who’s dropping by from Sisak, though.

Our mouse problem has (fingers tightly crossed for luck) GONE. HURRAH. Today incidentally I discovered where he’d found the ribbons for his nest... I hadn’t remembered leaving any lying about. I was tidying up the Littles’s room today and found that all the little pink bags I made for her, labelled ‘cars’ and ‘animals’ and ‘the gingerbread man’ etc, had their drawstrings chewed through and extracted. He’d gone into the cupboards and found himself pink ribbon. Well I never. Now I shall have to re-string them all again.

Lara seemed to enjoy her drama class again yesterday, although I gave myself a stomach-ache from anxiety because I went off to New Lambton Library while she was in class and the traffic back was ghastly, meaning I got there nearly 10 minutes late, by the time I’d found somewhere to stop the car. Ugh. Won’t be doing that again, every SINGLE light was red, I felt like ramming the cars aside. Still, she was OK but it’s not a good way to start of class attendance. Must be extra-careful in future.

It’s turned a little chilly here now… well, it’s still in the high twenties but still, a far cry from what it was. The Littles went in with her bank book today, with great glee. Now that she actually has an Australian bank account (and lots of money in it), she can take in her deposit book to school of a Wednesday and they’ll deposit stuff for her. Well, I mean, you have to provide the money, obviously. Still, seems like a healthy sort of attitude to try and foster. She was all eager, too. Just wonder if she’ll manage to bring the deposit book back, that’s all. Oh well, it’s all good practice.

Monday, March 7, 2011

7th March 2011 (Monday)

Hurrah! First dead mouse.

I know, not the thing you expect to hear of a Monday morning but it is a bit of a relief. Finally. They’ve been chewing on that bait for days now and there didn’t seem to be any signs of activity getting less.

Yesterday Ian and I spent quite a while hoovering, disinfecting, checking and prodding various nooks and cupboards and kept on finding more and more mouse leavings. It turns out the Littles is eagle-eyed and is an excellent Mouse Poo spotter. Particularly enjoys yelling out ‘MOUSE POO!’ in decibels sufficient to overcome the roar of the Dyson busy sucking up said debris. Sounds like Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers. We took down the bookcases in the study and sure enough underneath one of them there was a mouse nest. Thankfully no mouse of any description inside it. Turns out it’s a very girly mouse: seems to have chosen red and pink ribbon as favourite building material, with shredded paper as a back-up.

Despite all of this, they were still in action last night and we still had visions of the Dick Whittington scenario where mice run all over his bed at night so he has to get a cat. (The Mr didn’t seem too put off by the theory but even he realises that at the moment this isn’t a viable option). So, dead mouse in the garage of a Monday morning is one of the best ways I could think of to start the week.  

We went to see this house on Sunday morning. Very nice, and two doors up from Lillian’s but overpriced. Not that there was a price actually on it (they were trying to sound out the market surreptitiously) but they were thinking of between 700-750 for it. We said it won’t go for anything over 700 when they asked us our opinion. However, it seems that since then someone has put a bid in already – don’t know what it was for but Anna says “close to what they were asking for.” Blimey.

In the meantime, we’re seriously re-considering this one. I think I’ll make another appointment to see it today. We need to start getting money over in a serious way. It’s awful to finally have to bite the bullet and say goodbye to all those exchange rate losses, however one must think of the rent one won’t have to pay.

There was also, of course, Lillian’s party in the afternoon so that took care of quite a bit of the day. They had great fun and, being designated the photographer, I took over 300 pictures so there should be a few coming in a while.






Meanwhile Lara’s voice ticks are driving me absolutely crazy. The variety and continual application are mind-blowing. The Mr tells me to chill but he goes bananas too when she grinds her teeth, it just depends what sets you off. The last straw was when she started constantly running her fingers along her lips to make a brr brr sound, like the archetypal village idiot in a cartoon. Won’t stop. She is now banned from eating with us and I ignore everything she says if it’s said with an unnecessary addendum, is squeaked, growled, yelled, whispered, directed to the other side of the room, or generally misdelivered. I think we won’t be communicating for a while. Luckily I think she knows she’s finally pushed it too far and this morning she was trying to be good. All this hassle and nonsense for absolutely no reason. Ours not to reason why. Ours merely to be consigned to a mental asylum in the next couple of years. Two months of this and your hair starts to fall out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

6th March 2011 (Sunday)

Impromptu early Pancake Day 'celebrated' here yesterday. Well, that's to say, we stuffed ourselves with pancakes. Never get round to it of a Tuesday so we always end up missing out... boy we didn't miss out this time. Not awfully healthy but jolly tasty.

We sat at the kitchen table surveying the high blue skies at 7:30 am, and decided that a quick trip to the beach and a short walk round to Ash would be just the right way to start the day. At 7:35 we noticed the light beginning to fade. By 8:00 it was decidedly chilly when we stepped outside. When we got to the beach the wind was near enough to knock you off your feet and both the girls ended up huddled under towels. Even Lara didn't dream of getting into the water. Partly because the tides were sweeping wholesale over the barriers into the Baths, and partly because the waves were bringing in hordes of Bluebottles. We took a walk down the beach towards Bar Beach instead, and marvelled at the mountains of bluebottles washed up in swathes of neon blue all over the sand. They're like organic bubble-wrap. It's quite compulsive stepping on them and making them go 'pop'. So, about 200 pops later we wound up at Swell's, had a hot chocolate (not very hot by the time they didn't heat it and it sat in the wind for two seconds), and went home.

Hot chocolate at Swell's ... and a closeup of the Bluebottles (yes, they're Portugese Man O'Wars)


... LOTS of them

Popping bluebottles

The rest of the day's a blur. Lara and I did work, and quite a bit of reading while the Mr prepared his lectures for Tuesday and Wednesday. (I think he's still got more work to do on that). There were the pancakes, and quite a bit of Bagpuss. Somewhere between the end of pancakes and possibly during Bagpuss I know I lost consciousness for some time, alarmingly suddenly. Very soporific, carbohydrate engorgement.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3rd March 2011 (Thursday)

It's full-scale war on our sub-tenants at the moment here. Yesterday, spraying the spiders outside the house. Today, bomb-blasting the inside of the house for sundry roaches, spiders, ants and other creepy-crawlies. Tomorrow at 10 in the morning the pest control people are coming to do something about the mice – they were talking about going up in the roof. How that's going to help when they're making nests in the study isn't entirely obvious but I guess they know what they're doing. You'd really never guess it was in such need of pest control to look at the place. I guess that's what a hot climate does for you.

Fumigating today meant that, of course, I had to be out of the house for a good long while. So I went and did my swim, went and did a shop at Coles, and after that just sat and read a book for an hour in the car. I was only just in time to get the place aired out before I had to pick the Littles up.

It's also war on the numerous speaking ticks she's practising at the moment. It's been going on for way too long – it's probably nearly two months by now. If she isn't rolling her plosives excessively ('this bbbbbbook is ppppprobabbbbly bbbbbbboring,') it's speaking in an incomprehensible squeaky voice, or growling at the end of every word, or the final one at the moment is trying to speak with her tongue rolled back towards the back of her mouth so it sounds as if she's got a mouthfull of plastic balls. It's driving me round the twist by now. With her speech background you can imagine I'm not keen on her picking up completely unnecessary impediments as well. Add to this excessive experimentation with Australian pronunciation so she sounds like some demented hick, and it's all a bit much. I do hope it stops soon. And if she's not making weird sounds then she's chewing on her hair, the strings of her hat, biting her nails, sucking on her school uniform ribbon, shoving fingers into her mouth wholesale. You'd think this whole thing would be behind us by now. Oh i forgot about the delight of grinding her teeth compulsively.

The Mr has started his lectures, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This week they seem to have gone pretty smoothly. Today he said there was going to be a meeting on the progress of the lab refurbishment, so we'll see if he's any closer to having a lab of his own. Hmph. What are the chances.

Meanwhile I'm down for reading groups on Tuesdays, so there goes one of my mornings. Still, it's worth it to get a glimpse of what goes on.

Red peppers FINALLY came down in price a little so a bought a bunch for some djuvedj. Haven't had any in ages. In fact it's been so long that I clean forgot (until it was half-assembled) that it's also meant to have aubergine in it, so tonight we're having an aubergine-free version. What a silly. Never mind, hopefully the peppers will be cheap at least a little longer, although these things are very volatile round here. Last year they were quite often down to $3 per kilo, and this time I was glad to be able to get them for $6. I guess it's all the floods in Queensland. One can't really blame them for trouble with the pepper harvest when even the houses have been washed away.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2nd March 2011 (Wednesday)

We’ve found a drama class for the Littles! I finally tracked one down by asking the lady who put kid’s stuff on at the libraries over the summer. Called Tantrum Theatre, and she’ll be going on Tuesdays. at Hunter Street - much more doable than at Warner’s Bay. I took her in yesterday for a trial, and she seems to have jumped straight in there.

I say ‘seems to’ because I don’t actually know. I thought I’d be staying to watch, but the moment they saw me they kicked me straight back out again and told me to come back at 5. So all I saw was eager children rushing in for the class, and happy smiling children milling back out again at the end. The teachers said she did fine and joined in with everything, and Lara looked quietly glowing and said YES she wanted to come again, so I guess that’s good enough evidence.

Funny weather day yesterday. It was blue skies with cotton-candy clouds brushed madly about the stratosphere in the morning when I went swimming. Some joker had posted up ‘cold’ on the water conditions, while the temperature was listed as 23 degrees. Balmy and beautiful. A little later on it clouded up and grew stiflingly hot, so I spent the day sweltering. It was still killingly oppressive when I went to pick the Littles up, and as we drove out for the drama class big sploshes of rain started to thump onto the windscreen. By the time we were wandering about Auckland Street trying to find the right place, it was hammering it down in a tropical tantrum, and we arrived pretty much soaked to the skin. Luckily we were neither of us wearing much anyway, and I for one certainly dried off within about 5 minutes. It’s just grey and slightly cool today. Oh look at that, it’s raining.

Just in time for my next task. Despite spraying, the spiders are back all along the front of the house, so I’ll have to do it again. I don’t mind the huge orb spider webs, they’re rather exotic – though I guess I ought to clear them away to stop the place looking derelict. It’s the funny messy ones in the corner I’m worried about. I’ll spray it today and give the place a good hose-down in a few days’ time. I think I’ll wrap a towel round my head or something because that stuff always makes my throat sore for days on end afterwards.

Talking of livestock control… my goodness. What do we not have. The icing on the cake this past week is Scuttles the Mouse. Comes out at night and runs about. Have tried putting down a humane mouse trap but he studiously ignores it. Instead he’s tried to haul a whole A4 sheet of paper through  the miniscule gap between the back of the bookshelf and the skirting-board. Needless to say, though he fits through the paper didn’t. I think he got bored of sitting there chewing it to bits in the open first. Megalomaniac mouse. I’ll have to ask the agents to bring in a proper pest control person. Having a cat is certainly useful at times.