Story Blog

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday 23rd June 2011

Yesterday’s performances were side-splitting. I thought (to be honest) that one hour of kids’ performances would drag rather, but it was as entertaining an evening as one could wish for. Not just the one that Darling Daughter featured in, but all of them.

The kids obviously enjoy themselves immensely and it’s quite infectious. Lara herself had three lines. She mumbled one of them incomprehensibly, fuffed the second and more or less delivered the third. However, the delight in the delivery was quite unparalleled. In fact, it could well have done to be less pronounced. Her group were meant to come on looking really sad, and she was smiling fit to split her head in two, beaming up at the audience, waving to us, and to cap it all bouncing up and down uncontrollably the whole time. Apart from that, perfect method acting. The first line she had: “How can we make the Princess smile when WE’VE all forgotten how to smile?” was interrupted by irrepressible bouncing and chortling, so just slightly…. unorthodox in delivery, perhaps.

I loved the bit at the end where the whole cast came on as zombies, murmuring ‘brains, brains, brains’, and Ian was beside himself with mirth at the inexpressibly confusing announcements at the end by the organiser - said it was the most hilarious thing all performance. I rather suspect the toilets backstage are either scarce or unusable because both Lara and the presenter were dancing and hopping about the place from leg to leg. Really don’t know how much was due to excitement, ‘acting’, natural tendencies or bladder engorgement.

Unfortunately, there are NO pictures. No, not because we forgot camera / video / the batteries gave out / anything like that. We were stopped from taking them because not all kids had the consent form to be photographed. HOWEVER (despair ye not oh avid photo-philes of the older generation) I’ve put our name down for the ‘official’ photos and (they say) a video of the event, so at some point in the future there may be some photos of the Littles grinning  like Mr Potatohead on stage.

Meanwhile, I sit here rather numb of brain. Yesterday was just too snotty to write or do a thing, and today’s been wiped out sorting out my car stuff. Renewals. Painful financially and time-expenditure wise. Paperwork is the Devil’s own torture device. As for “Codine”,  I’ll have to try and write today’s post after dinner and Lara-bed. Skipped yesterday so it would be dreadful to follow up with another non-post day. Oh well, this is what I invented the blog for: to keep writing. Better buckle down.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday 22nd June 2011

It’s a little documented fact, that household provision of milk is not controlled by demand or consumption, but by habit. Thus, a household that regularly uses four litres of milk per week will ignore indications to the contrary (such as, the fridge being empty, or overflowing, or a holiday coming up), pop the regular four litres in the trolley and move on.

Thus is was that this morning I made a hot chocolate for Lara, reached into the fridge for the next carton of milk and found to bleary-visioned horror there was none. The unforeseen circumstance leading to this calamity was the exponential increase in milk consumption of late, due to Lara’s sudden liking of hot chocolates. This change is a vastly welcome one, as she has for the last few days been getting her full dose of calcium per day probably for the first time since she was weaned. The joy of the new developments had, however, not filtered through to the purchase department.

Now, the Family Cold (which is also the Merewether Heights cold and has for the past two weeks laid waste to school attendances among teachers and pupils alike) had been dancing on my skull and playing juggling balls with my tonsils the whole night. No tea was simply not acceptable. With an oral cavity of similar texture and ambience to the bottom of  dried-out fish-tank, I set off to Coles at . Not before searching for keys (several trips up and down stairs, stumbling the while), locating them, going to the car, finding my glasses case empty, searching for the glasses, finding them, misplacing the keys, finding them, stumbling over stuffed toys, backing out and realising I should have taken the sunglasses instead. Things DO NOT work before a cup of tea.

Eventually dragging the spoils of war back to the kitchen, made tea and proceeded to start the sandwiches. Had got a fresh loaf of white bread (for a slight change from the wholemeal they regularly have). Out come the chopping board and butter. The moment fingers hit slice it’s apparent something’s wrong. Once again, I’ve managed to get ‘toast slice’ – thick as a BT accounts department employee, that means. The fridge is stuffed as if with wadding to keep out draughts with bread that’s too thick for sandwiches. It is currently leaping into my basket willy-nilly, and I don’t seem to be able to resist. The chances of Lara managing to eat her sandwiches today without gluing the roof of her mouth together are pretty much nil.

Meanwhile, everything has come down at once. The holidays are suddenly just round the corner, next week it’s the school disco and time has well and truly run out. I’ve just got out my large sheet of paper for customary ‘holiday planning’ and am waiting for notification from the Hunter Region Parks – they said they’d send me an email of their programs. Meanwhile it looks like one week of swimming for Lara from the 11th at least. Then a whole heap of renewals to make, what to book her in for next term, all that gubbins. My nose is running just at the thought of it. To cap it all she’s got her performance today and I’m going to have to take her out of school at – reminds me, must lay out some black clothes for her to change into.

Time for another cup of tea.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday 19th June 2011

Been a wet blanket today. The Family Cold has finally made its way to me and I’ve been nursing a tummy gripe all day. Poor Ian had to look after us both, did all the cooking, playing, deciding, fetching and carrying. Bit of a bum Sunday.

Still, we did get out to the beach. Beautiful day, even with stomach ache. Watched in amusement as Lara played in the shallows and (inevitably) eventually fell in, fully clothed. The amount of sand she brought home at the end of the day was phenomenal. Again, Ian dealt with it all, and as for Lara she seemed perfectly happy to wander about with nothing but her head and shoulders dry.

Haven’t done a thing all day, and now I’ve got a headache to replace the stomach ache (it’s all go here). Instead been reading some new book I’m meant to be reviewing – a translation from some insane Romanian guy’s where the sentences (I kid you not) frequently run on for a page and a half. Can’t believe I’m still reading it. What do these guys think they’re doing? Plus, just think of the poor translator!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday 18th June 2011

Blogger is gettng REALLY annoying. Well it was annoying before but I thought I’d semi-licked it. I guess I’ll have to get into the habit of logging into Google Chrome on here if I want to post any comments on blogs. It even refuses to let me post on my OWN, the snub-nosed swine.

Two houses viewed today and neither of them hopeful. One of them (unbelievably) already had a deposit on it by the time we got there for the open house – and SO overpriced! I don’t know what they’ve agreed to but it’s on for 575 and I wouldn’t part with a cent more than 499 for it, it’s just not reasonable. Here it is. The other one was much better presented, for the same price, but still not geared to what we wanted at all, and wouldn’t be worth it. Here. Anyway, that was disappointing. Plus there’s one we’re quite interested in, here, that didn’t advertise the open house on the net so we missed it, despite the fact that I’d emailed the guy earlier in the day to ask about it. Mind you I guess it is a Saturday. We’re going to see that on Tuesday morning. Oh damn, just remembered – bang goes my yoga. Why does everything always have to pile in to Tuesday? Anyway, pound still cheap, houses more extortionate than ever, we’re going to end up living in a cardboard box.

Talking of finances and general tedious administration, I came to the end of a long rigmarole with a healthcare peripherals saga yesterday. Now, you’ll have to take this from the top.

  1. Went for regular screening, and at the docs signed a paper that said yes, I was happy for them to send the bill for the lab tests straight to Medicare without passing go. That is, without passing by me.

  1. A while later I get a bill for lab work for $59. Huh? Phone the lab. Ah, your Medicare refused the request because the card had run out. Ah.

  1. (interlude while I update Medicare with the details of our new visa, resident status etc etc. All fine.)

  1. Take the bill to the Medicare office. Well you can pay it and then reclaim from Medicare, of you can post it to Medicare and they’ll send you a cheque, which you have to then send to the doctor. They won’t post direct to the lab? Nope. So I send it off to Medicare.

  1. Several weeks later, I get a cheque (made out to the doctor, as promised) for $23 odd. Hm, why is there a difference? Phone Medicare. Well, they say, some labs bulk bill straight to Medicare and you don’t have to pay a gap. Some don’t. They can charge what they want. So how can I make sure that I use labs that bulk bill, I didn’t choose the labs. Well, they say, you can ask the GP to send it to a bulk biller. And are they obliged to send it to a bulk biller, I ask. No, they’re not. So in short, I have to check with the doctor BEFORE I ever make an appointment whether they use bulk bill labs for that particular item if I want to get away scott-free. Pretty much. I ask whether they can tell me what doctors/ labs go down this path. No, they can’t give out the information, I have to find out myself.

  1. OK, well information duly noted and I get out the chequebook to top up the payment with the remaining $35 dollars odd, but can’t find who to make it payable to so call the labs (again). Yes, pay to blah blah blah. Thanks, quoth I. Just before I hang up they say wait a minute I’ll just check you account while you’re here. Check check check. Ah, you don’t have to pay the gap on that. We’ll accept the Medicare payment as full payment. Oh? Quoth I, well that’s great but why do I have a bill for $59 instead of $23 then? Well that’s just the bill, what happened in your case was the doctor asked us to run this on Medicare, and we’ll accept that request. But how would I have known that, had I not happened to call you? How would I know for the future? (And here’s the punchline…) Well, said the nice lady on the other line, I guess it’s just gut feeling. If you want to query something there’s always an accounts number on there, call it.

GUT FEELING? What happened to just invoices and payment? Perhaps I can go up to a house agent and say, Well this one’s on the market for one and a half million but I’ve got a feeling I ought to pay just 500K for it. That cool with you? Maybe that’s how it works round here, maybe that’s how people can afford all those nice houses. Get out your guts. I don’t know, the whole healthcare system’s a complete mystery to me. Seems to expand and shrink like random cyberspace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday 14th June 2011

Anyone would think it’s the Arctic here, not Australia. Howling gale, rain, front door rattling so hard I’ve wedged the big leather pouf hard in front of it to stop the noise.

Both of the guys stayed home today, mopping up the remnants of their colds and other maladies. I did however take Lara to drama in the evening, which she seemed to be quite up to. Seems at least one of the other kids at drama stayed at home with the same sort of symptoms today: floppy, watching telly, coughing, listless as lettuce. His mother was vowing he’d be going back to school on the morrow come hell or high water. I sympathized. … Oh gosh, look at that, I just found a hair on my black jumper that’s quite white from top to tail. Mine, of course.

… Sorry, got quite distracted there. Ah! But I haven’t told you! Picked up my new glasses today: one plain pair and one pair of sunglasses. The strange little man who does the front of house at Specsavers and has the air of a gay Rumplestiltskin fitted them for me with absolute precision, speed and total silence. Felt like giving him a bunch of flowers in gratitude (no Christian babies to hand at the time). Mind you having said that Lara was there, but she’s hardly Christian or a baby. She had a burning interest in what my glasses cases were going to be like, for some obscure and child-worthy reason. Was disappointed at the plain offerings I came away with, but reconciled herself to them quite quickly. She also had great fun trying out the kiddy-glasses in the shop while we waited. Have to say she looks pretty good in any of them, should the need arise. As I suppose it might well.

The main joy, though, was when I drove back from the drama class, in the dark. Always hated driving in the dark, but good god, I could see! No scarier than driving in daylight! Marvellous beyond all ken. Road markings, bumps and bits in the road, what the road was doing way up ahead… dammit the roadsigns and shop-fronts are so clear they’re almost distracting. “Parking 2 hours, Monday to Friday…” “Tow-away zone..” Fascinating. Even when I started driving my vision was never quite perfect so it’s an entirely new and wonderful experience. I’m still a shit driver and can’t park for toffee but I can see!

… Which also reminds me, Lara was interested in the shop-signs too, and was mentioning from the back: “when it’s dark they have the flashing lights saying ‘open’ on the door. It’s dark now. Look! See? There!” in triumphant tones, and indeed I glance to the side to see “Adult Bookstore, OPEN” in lurid neon surmounting some starkly-displayed corsets and bondage-lite gear. Nothing wrong with her eyesight just yet.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday 13th June 2011

Phew! New blog launched! The first story’s a mystery/thriller, called ‘Turning Stones’ and it looks as if it’s going to be about 8 parts long. All comments welcome – including typos, annoyances with posting, commenting, layout, the lot.

We cancelled the playdate today and the whole family stayed at home. Lara’s probably watched more television today than she has for the whole of the rest of the year put together. Well, sometimes that’s just how one feels. Worse things have happened. She’s looking perkier now and fingers crossed might be back at school tomorrow.

I’m off to do something mindless and eat curry.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How tedious is the pixel punch-up invariably involved in setting up a new blog. As a protest to the Google Chrome blackmail Blogger’s waging (wielding power over comments posting), I set up a Wordpress blog instead for my new story-bites site. But they just assume everyone in the world is absolutely fine with html programming, PLUS to alter the font size of a template you have to purchase additional stuff! (Someone please correct me if they know I’m wrong.) I seem to have hit the proverbial brick wall. So it’s probably going to be another Blogspot one, and we’ll see how it goes.

Went to Neve’s today, and the kids played while I spent most of my time drooling over their nice house. They probably had to go round with a mop afterwards. Neve is due to come for her usual Monday playdate tomorrow but it’s looking slightly dubious – Lara’s gone downhill again for the evening and now has a temp again. The two of them haven’t been top form. Plus it’s pissing it down.

Did I mention I got another shortlister? Short story this time. They haven’t finished selecting yet so it could even go further. May’s subs are turning out to be quite productive. No story link unless it gets picked for the top spot but hey, it's a name in the list.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday 11st June 2011

Well, as reader participation goes that was pretty abysmal. So I've just gone ahead and thought of something. Perhaps start posting on Monday – mind you it's a holiday here on Monday so perhaps not. Isn't it funny, the Queen's birthday is a holiday here? Not in the UK.

Been a bit of a non-event today. I got up at about, oh, six thirty and made my way to the computer. Checked mail, wrote stuff, messed about, 7:30, no sign of anyone. More messing, 8 o'clock, no sign. Oh well, messed some more, and it was 9:30. 9:30?? And no sign? Turns out that Lara was feeling ill and groggy and Ian – well, he's an adult, so it amounts to the same thing. So we spent the day indoors. She watched lots of telly, Ian took care of her and did a long Moose Den, they played DS, and meanwhile I hung about in the background and planned out mysteries.

She's feeling better by now but Ian's a bit iffy, we'll see how things go in the morning. We're meant to be going to morning tea at Neve's place tomorrow, don't know if we'll be in a fit state. Oh well, early to bed, I guess.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reader Intervention

I've got an idea for a random writing project. A blog post a day (on a dedicated blog) on some random story. Here's the thing, you get to choose the theme. Plot. Whatever. If I don't hear anything I'll just pick something myself.
Here's what you have to suggest:
  • Setting (where, what time period)
  • Main protagonist (occupation etc)
  • Conflict (emotional theme, that is)
  • Genre (detective, horror, thriller, historical, mystery, drama, young adult, etc)
Plus you can suggest:
  • Items to include (physical things)
  • Secondary character
I'm thinking 10K upwards for total length of piece but we'll see. Or maybe one a week? Go on. It'll be a laugh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday 9th June 2011

Another competition win! Poetry this time. Not entirely sure but this might be my first outright win. I'll post a link up once they publish to site.

Unlike last month, however, this one seems to be slipping by in a morass of writing nothing. June is a third gone and I haven't done a thing! Don't know what's happening. Well, I do. Laziness, that's what's happening. Belt, braces and back to the grindstone, it has to be.

We had the Wednesday gang over yesterday afternoon (Ruby and Sophie, that is). Talking of which, I was re-reading some Norse myths the other day and there was the story of Loki having his eating contest with the guy called Logi. Loki lost because Logi ate the bones and the trencher as well as the food, though Logi turns out to be Fire. I guess the kids did leave the plates on the table but not much else. It's wonderful for them to be so voracious. They were a tad bickery yesterday, some argy-bargy going on there but they inevitably seem to mellow into hugging harmony after dinner. A way to a girl's heart is obviously through her stomach.

Apart from that, Ian seems to be having some last-minute teething problems with his lab being set up... the 10th June prospect has been put back to the end of June, and it sounds as if inter-departmental communication leave a little to be desired but it's pretty near completion in any case. In a few weeks he might actually have a functional lab and a full set of employees, finally.

Momentary extraordinary occurrence yesterday when I felt a twinge of nostalgia as someone in front of me in the grocery check-out queue pulled out some Sainsbury's carrier bags to re-use. She'd been chatting about how her kids were picking up the Australian accent anyway so I knew she was a Pom but it was the unlikely crumpled orange bags that were the trigger for an 'aww' moment. Haven't shopped at Sainsbury's for years anyway, the overcharging shite-mongers. Anyway, the twinge rapidly evaporated.

(a little later...) Pumpkin, spinach and coconut curry for breakfast. How good can one small life get? By the way, I forgot to mention (for the picture-crazy amongst you) that I posted a retrospective few pictures on the 15th May. Hadn't downloaded for a while.

(Quite a LOT later... like several days) 
I STILL can't post comments on Blogger, so resort to modifying my own text. Thanks for the update, Whaley, we'll catch up at the weekend. Hope the minestrone's good. (mmm)

Almost a term of endearment, surely, Bananas. Particularly when lengthened to 'Pommy Bastards'. A lovely old gentleman who helped me park my car the other day was using it freely - we are now firm friends . I like to think it applied more to my turning circle than me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just checking...

 … to see whether this Networked Blogs thing on Facebook works. Hopefully this'll show up on FB once it's posted. Perpetual feed, for your delectation and delight, obviously.

Hm. Not working immediately. Digital life is fraught with difficulties.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Before and After pics! (Or After and Before, rather)

Little Miss Smart!

Sunday afternoon at Dixon Park

and at Dixon Beach

Their 'Honest' faces before they show me something they've done.... and Burger Faces!


'Before' pics: cousin It!

Snogs in the Garden

Long Plait Action

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lara's Recipe for Bird Stew

How To Make Bird Stew


1. chop carrots and onions
2. Fry carrots and onions then get water lime and salt
3. Add water, lime and salt
4. Add the bird
5. Eat!

Sunday 5th June 2011

Marvellous! Wonderful! At the end of last week Lara came home and said she wanted her hair cut, and this time she sounded 'for-real'. So we said we'd take her to the hairdressers's at the weekend. So we did. She looks lovely! Haven't taken any pics yet but will do as soon as she gets dressed. There's even a possibility of her combing her own hair now! She seems very pleased and I swear it's making her act in a more grown-up manner... eating sandwiches properly without dismembering them, and buttering her own toast this morning. She's pleased enough with how it looks but when she realises how much easier life is with shoulder-length hair rather than butt-length hair, she'll be turning cartwheels.

What with one faff and the other, we didn't do much else yesterday. Bit of hair, bit of shopping, bit of lunch, bit of reading and QUITE a lot of Moose Den with Daddy. I was waiting at the sidelines to take over for reading and work when they were finished, but she insisted on Daddy for those, too, so the poor man didn't get much of a break.

… In fact, talking of reading, it's time for reading now so I think we'll get that over with before Daddy gets up, save the poor bugger.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


How utterly bizarre. I appear to have won a (signed) copy of ‘The Africa Reich’ by Guy Saville. And it’s only in the morning. They’re actually going to post it out to me.

This is the problem with entering every competition available like a machine gun. You end up with the weirdest things. Still, better than a kick in the teeth, which is what I usually get. Ugh, reminds me…. Now I’ve semi-sorted the eyes but STILL haven’t braved the dentist.

Friday, June 3, 2011


$275 lighter, two pairs of specs coming. As I suspected, the guy said I was borderline-ish for driving, and they recommended full tint rather than variables for driving so I got two. He seemed almost disappointed to see that my retinas are fine, but satisfied that the astigmatism’s come back. Oh well, you can’t please everyone.

What with the yoga and the shopping and the eye appointment the day’s nearly gone. Sigh. Really could do with more hours of consciousness.

Fish curry for breakfast and persimmon and pear for lunch. Seems the only ‘diet’ I’m on is ‘weirdo’s diet’. Delicious, though. Reminds me, I finally remembered to pick up some more Laksa paste. Mmmm.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday 2nd June 2011

‘Ello ello. Now it’s the 2nd and it appears I haven’t moved an inch. Must be the middle-aged girth impediment factor.

Ruby was fantastic yesterday – or rather, it was fantastic having her round. I just left them to it, and went to type up something. Found them downstairs 20 minutes later making beautiful and loving gift cards for each other amidst a sea of craft materials and paper wreckage. I was called upon to serve food and do some impromptu face painting (Ruby requested a giraffe, at which I was slightly taken aback  but it’s amazing what you can find with google so giraffe face paint it was), but that’s about it. Oh, there was also a request for me to be ‘mummy dog’ (seemed to involve some deep barking, panting and pretend licks, and some general menacing posturing). Not too onerous by any stretch of the imagination. Much easier than just having Lara. I must borrow that child more often.

Thursday today and so Dance Group. Boy those kids are clueless, but they still seem to enjoy it, so who cares. The performance is going to be a farce. What the hell.

Talking of which, just booked the tickets to her Drama performance on the 22nd. Seems she’ll have to stay there from until about 8! I hate to think what the next day will be like, never mind the performance. Why those arty-farty types have to mill around and take such a long time over everything has always been a mystery. Half the time or more of any gig is spent messing about and (in my case) not being quite sure what’s going on. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if they just came, performed, and left. Oh no, not to be. The whole palaver is an initiation rite.

I’ve got another runner-up story, you can read it here. Almost annoyed at this one, I kind of wanted it to be either an outright winner or nothing at all. Like this of course it’s pretty much incapacitated for further service, but never mind. Another notch. Hey, if you feel like it leave a comment on the site – interest seems to snowball and it’s all promo, one way or the other. Unfortunately you do have to log in (create a username) to do so, but they don’t send emails. In fact they can only rarely be bothered to send emails to people who’ve submitted stuff, never mind to random parties. It’s funny, just this month (and yes, it’s only the 2nd) I’ve alerted two people to wins they’ve had in competition (well, shortlists) because no-one bothers to email any of the entrants. You have to keep checking back. One of them had been shortlisted in January and (I believe) was unaware.

The Mr is making me a fish curry tonight. Mmmmm. Perhaps my favourite. Tamarind and coconut. So long, curry-less folks! (If you happen to have curry for dinner tonight, feel free to blow a digital raspberry).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday 1st June 2011

First of June, eh? Blimey.

Resolutions for June:
  • Get a bloody move on with that novel. I’ve got 13 chapters to revise (they should probably be broken down into about 30) and to this end I’ve hooked a ‘progress meter’ at the bottom of this blog. Would really like to put it at the side to be more motivational but the layout doesn’t allow it.
  • I’ll do a few stories but not many. There are at least 40 comps on in June but I’ll just pick four for submitting new stories, and recycle the rest. I’m sure I’ll be able to recycle four more – eight is enough for one month. Last month I subbed 13 and it’s too much. Besides, it gets expensive.

That’s enough, probably. Hopefully my review group will be able to send me some digital copies of books for reviewing. It's funny, I thought I'd written loads last month but actually it was under 10K words. 10K! Absolutely nothing. Short stories take a lot of time.

And damn it would be nice to move house. … Well, ‘nice’ may not be quite the word, but, y’know.

I’ve got one, possibly two kids over again today for dinner (it’s Wednesday) and it’s and I haven’t done a thing. Once again, in big trouble. How can one small house get so messy.