Thursday, April 30, 2009

They are saying that no actual swine have developed the Swine Flu. Which makes me wonder why it would be called the Swine Flu.

Then it came to me. Obviously Mel Gibson was the first person to get it and it was named in his honour.
I hate being blase about tragedy but what's with this Swine Flu?

We were all going to die from the Bird Flu and SARS. Now we're all going to die from Swine Flu?


This morning on the news they said the first person, sadly a little child, has died in the US of this flu. However, they also qiuetly mentioned that in a normal year 36,000 people die of flu in the US. That's a lot of people and the rabid newsreaders don't usually scream about it year in, year out.

I'm just confused about the rise and fall of these "super" flus. They seem to bugger up already struggling economies (previously in Asia, now Mexico). But in the end they never end up being all that bad, in comparison to what normally goes on with flu every winter around the world.

So what's up? Is it just a case of distracting us from what is really happening in the world? Is it just poor media coverage/journalism (I know that one would be a big surprise for everyone!)? Is it just another round of social/health panic which seems to sweep us all up every few years?

Any ideas?
So I've signed up to Facebook. Buggered if I know why really. Growing feeling I'm missing something. However now that I'm on I'm fairly sure I'm not missing anything.

People seem to have lots of stuff on their pages but I can't figure out how to put up anything except for the basic info -books, films, blah blah.

So what's the secret? What's the magic [insert jazz hands here]?

Those in the know, please explain!
You know I had a soft spot for Mel Gibson about a gazillion years ago. I remember him as the sweet young man/boy in Tim (an Aussie film which doesn't even seem to warrant a mention on He went on to play the lovable crazy rogue bent on revenge in the Mad Max films and the lovable crazy rogue bent on revenge in the Lethal Weapon films... a theme developing?

Then I lost interest all together. Until The Passion of the Christ when I started to realise he was actually a real crazy but not so lovable nutter. Of course the rant against Jews and the drink driving incident followed.

Despite my growing dislike in the back of my mind there was still a little voice which said "at least he's a decent family man, no matter what his external behaviour is". WRONG AGAIN!

I hate to gloat when an overtly religious person (such as Mel, who built a church for his super strict Catholic congregation) finally shows himself for the moral fraud that he is but gloating I am. What a morally corrupt slimebag has Mel turned out to be? Seriously!

Some people don't surprise you when their mortal sins are laid bare to the world. But pious shits like Mel make me sick. All these years he's been seen as the righteous family man, happily married with 8 children, living a moral life under the Catholic faith. WHAT A LOAD OF BULLSHIT!

This morning I see him parading himself and his slaggy little (most probably pregnant) girlfriend less than 3 weeks after splitting from his wife. Gee, I'm no biblical scholar but where is this sort of behaviour condoned in the Bible?


Sunday, April 26, 2009

My recent post answering a meme about motherhood provoked some thoughts on a related topic which often visits my thoughts: education. I find this is a subject which often comes up amongst friends with children. With Will having learning difficulties and developmental delay I have had education-related thoughts going on since he first joined our family.

The main question remains the same: which path is best to help him reach his potential (whatever that may be)? How long is a piece of string? A similar question and just as easy to answer. At the beginning I was fairly certain about what I thought he needed. As time has gone on I have found, as with everything in life, things are a lot more complex than they first appear.

We have followed some dead ends, started things which seemed helpful and worthwhile and have found them not to be, have found other things which are helpful and worthwhile and yet the effort needed to pursue them fully are beyond my capabilities. There is no approach which is perfect.

One thing which I find really amazing about other parents is a certain confident attitude towards education. Especially amongst those who choose private education for their children. They seem so certain that this is the "best" for their child. I've heard a recent interview with Alain de Botton where he states that his super wealthy parents didn't leave him any inheritance (??) but they did pay for the very best private school education which is the best thing any parent can do for their child. An old boyfriend of mine (a pathetic, spineless mummy's boy) was one of four sons, his mother (a hideous Mrs Bucket-type) worked a full-time job simply to put her four boys through a prestigious Sydney private school. At the time I knew him one brother was long-term unemployed, one drove a bottled water delivery truck, one was a fireman with the airforce (the nicest boy/man) and my dickhead boyfriend was a graphic designer with a degree from a third rate university. The question arises: was this educational money well spent? Was her labour and, presumably, sacrifice worthwhile in the broadest sense?

The only thing I've really learnt since I've been grappling with Will's educational needs is I am certain of less and less as the years go on. I am fairly sure there is no such thing as a "good school". Numerous friends have sent their children to such establishments only to be personally very disappointed for various reasons. I am learning that each child's educational experience is completely individual and can change from week to week and year to year. Teachers come and go, as do princpals. A teacher may work wonderfully for child A and clash horribly with child B; a right-on-the-money teacher in Year 1 may be replaced with a brain-dead time watcher in Year 2. A dynamic principal may be replaced with a facile bureaucrat. Such things are just as possible in a private school charging $12,000 per year as in the local public school.

As the mother of a child with extra educational needs I worry about what the future holds but I have no confidence that any school on the face of this planet has all the answers for him. Sure the school he attends is often lacking in specific areas which I could pinpoint but I am realistic enough to understand that they can not possibly deal with each individual child's needs. They teach somewhere to the average and make tokenistic gestures to show they care about the kids on the fringes. I don't blame them. What children like Will need is difficult to deliver. Schools and teachers are overloaded as it is.

In my roundabout way I am making the point that I truly think education, in the instituional sense, is overrated for some children. I think we hang a lot of hopes on education because we fear the potential difficulties of the life our children will face and we think education will be a guarantee of a successful future. But the hardest thing to accept is that there is no guarantee of anything, for tomorrow or next year and certainly not for 10 or 20 years down the track. We all want a rosy future for our children but nothing we can do now will make that a certainty. I wish that wasn't so.

Sometimes I think Will might struggle in life but Marianna probably won't. As soon as I think it I realise the folly of such a simplistic idea. Being intelligent is obviously an asset in life but again no guarantee of success. Life success is such a complex and mysterious chemistry. Two children can go through life with an identical upbriging and school experience and come out very diffirent individuals in adult life. Judging by their superficial intelligence at this point in their childhood I can not predict with even a small amount of certainty what the future will hold for my kids. Where they might succeed or fail, where life may pull the rug out from under them or hand them a bouquet of roses. Education is part of the equation but not enough a part of it to make me put any great faith in it.

Like with religion I sometimes wish I had faith because there is a part of me which craves certainty. I hate this post-modern nothingness which is my brain. There is nothing wrong with a little innocent delusion and I wouldn't mind some of that comfort when the vast abyss of the unknown future yawns in front of me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I've been memed by Kath. It all started here.

I'm a little vague and sore-throaty today so I'm just going to wing it. I think the point is to write 5 things I love (or not) about being a mother. This is dangerous territory but I'm going to give it a go.

1) Becoming a mother wasn't easy for me. My children are adopted. My body let me down, nothing to be done about that. I prefer not to dwell on negatives. My children's birth mothers couldn't care for them; I couldn't have a baby. Somehow, through the mysterious workings of the universe, DoCS and the court system in both Guatemala and Colombia, I became their mother. The sadness, regret and pain of both of these situations live within me always. They are tiny atoms fused within my heart. 99.9999% of the time I don't think about them or feel them. But occasionally something will happen to make me re-focus on their existence. The weight of these moments is more than I can bear, but I have to, and soon the moments pass. I don't want to think that these atoms affect my parenting but I fear that they do. I can not articulate these fears, I just feel them fluttering there, under my heart, sometimes.

2) Because of point (1) there is some part of me which still can't accept that I am actually a mother. Someone has surely made a mistake. I like to turn these strange sensations into a positive. I live by the idea that my children are only lent to my by the universe, I do not own them, just as no parent "owns" their child. I felt "owned" as a child and I do not want that for my children. I want to walk side by side with them, guide them where I can, aware that I know so little, that I can not foresee or control their path. These ideas free me and trouble me. I see other parents sharing a more intense, more intertwined relationship with their children and wonder if there is something wrong with me; am I missing some maternal spark.

3) I find the day to day of parenting a heavy weight to carry. It is not just the fact that there is not enough hours in the day to fit in the children's needs, housework, paid work, other family issues, hobbies, friends, etc, etc. Though this is a significant fact. It's that I am selfish. There is a strong internal faction inside me which demands "me" time, whether it's to write this blog, or go to a mums' dinner, or simply plop in front of the tv in peace and quiet to watch some reality tv trash which I sadly find entertaining. Mothers want to be with their children all the time, right? Shouldn't I want that too. Maybe it's that my children won't be compartmentalised, they won't stick to the rules that exist in my mind. Play when I want to play with you, eat when I want you to eat, go away and play quietly when I want you to do so. They do normal annoying child-like things and sometimes that is hard for me to cope with.

4) So far it seems that there is nothing I love about being a mum. I guess that's just my processing. It's funny because I so love almost everything about being a mum; a mum to two beautiful wonderful little people who I am so priviliged to be able to parent. It is almost like the emotional part and the physical/mental part of parenting are two very different things. How can I describe the joy of snuggling in bed at night next to Will as he settles into sleep, listening to his comments and questions about the day past and the day ahead? He is my fragile little man, the baby who eight years ago lived with the possibility of never walking or talking, now almost ten years old, robust, happy, friendly and loving. My heart swells to bursting with admiration and awe at how far we have all come together since the day we first held him in our arms in Guatemala City in September 2000.

5) Then there is Marianna, our dynamic diva. Whereas parenting Will has meant living with the fear and joy of a dependant child, parenting Marianna has come with all the opposite fears and joys. She is so independant it is strictly her lack of disposable income which prevents her from moving out and living life as she sees fit right now at the tender age of almost four. I adore her and I fear her; I know she is capable of bringing immense happiness or possibly causing terrible pain. I am sometimes scared at what the future may hold for her and us. Anything is possible for my bright, beautiful, strong-minded princess.

Well, as usual, I've meandered into a whole lot of useless navel gazing. Barely touched on the theme at hand. I am much better at the basic memes, as opposed to these more DAM ones. Bugger it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

If you ever get the impulse to take your family to the Sydney Easter Show here is my advice: Take $300, place in nearest garbage bin, stay at home.

Honestly I hate it more and more each year. Last year wasn't too bad actually, as the Show was held out of school holidays and it was quite a nice day without the crowds when we went on Kids Day. It's the little things but I especially enjoyed getting the Women's Weekly showbag at half price.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was HELL. It was busy, it rained, the two for one rides thing didn't seem to work very well, the kids whinged, the showbags were outrageously crap and even more outrageously overpriced. I hated almost every minute. I should have known it was bad news when the sign out the front said that the WW showbag was sold out. Big Jay got free tickets from work so at least we didn't have to pay the ridiculous entry fee.
But the kids had fun.

If nothing else I answered the question "what are people doing with their $900 stimulus package?" They are spending it on SHIT at the Easter Show. Bloody hell, I've never seen so many bad haircuts and tracksuit pants in one place. The theme shouldn't be the country comes to town, it should be the Bogans come to Homebush Bay.

Don't be jealous now. This big hunk of man is all mine!

Look how much joy a hug from a giant baby swan provides for my little munchkins! Cyggy is very much loved by the junior members of our family.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If I do say so myself tonight's chicken, zuchini and tomato risotto cooked in my new pressure cooker was absolutely gorgeous! I would go so far as to say it was the best risotto I've ever made (and possibly ever tasted).

There's something about the pressure cooker which forces the flavours together beautifully. It was just right, creamy with just a bit of firmness in the rice itself. The savoury chicken flavour was beautiful.

I have now made three things in the cooker and I am learning that the recipes need to have about an extra 5 or 10 minutes of cooking time added to them. The lamb shanks I made on Sunday were nice but definitely not falling off the bone, which is how they should be. I think an extra 10 minutes would have made a big difference.

At this rate I may never need my other pots and pans again. There is almost nothing I can't make in this thing. [Obviously I still need my wok and my big pot for cooking pasta, but everything else can go.]

Luckily I have made it back to the gym as of this morning because all this hearty winter cooking is going to be tough on the waist measurement.
I am not generally a violent person.

Why do I have an overwhelming urge to smack Penny Wong over and over again with a dead mackrel? Jeez that woman shits me in a very major way!
Is Twitter the stupidest thing you've ever heard of? I mean who has the fucking time?

I can't believe people are taking the time out of their day to say: "I'm on the loo." "Waiting at the doctor's surgery." "Picking the lint out of my bellybutton."

Is this information crucial for the wellbeing of the universe? Do people really need to know and, more importantly, do any of them really care?

On the first screen you see when you go to [I am not promoting this tripe btw]there is a quote from someone or something called Wired "Incredibly useful". Really! How?

I am the first to admit that blogging is a silly indulgence and of no particular use to the world but Twitter is in a universe of useless triviality all of its own.

Also, am I the only person to never have looked at Facebook?

Friday, April 17, 2009

My first effort in my brand new pressure cooker. Beef Goulash, made with gravy beef, onions, mushrooms, paprika, tomato paste, stock and sour cream to finish.
The photo doesn't do it justice. It was delicious and tender and full of flavour. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes + 5 minutes to thicken sauce.
I did struggle a little to get the lid on properly to start with but I guess it's a technique I'll need to master. I was skeptical that it would turn out. After all gravy beef normally requires 2+ hours to reach a tenderness suitable for eating. When I finally lifted the lid I wasn't sure what to expect but it was just as promised.
I am suitably impressed at this point. Sunday I'm doing lamb shanks so that will be Big Test #2. Report to follow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Another wonderful weekend away with our good friends. I didn't sleep (almost at all) so I gradually became grumpier and grumpier. Luckily no-one could tell the difference.

We stayed on a small hobby farm in the Yarramalong Valley on the Central Coast. It was a lovely little property with free roaming chickens (right through the house), horses, a pony, cows, goats and alpacas. Plenty of fauna to keep our city children entertained. Fresh eggs from under the chickens' bottoms every morning.

A few pictorial memories...

So I've ordered a pressure cooker and I'm excited. Yes, I know the words "pressure cooker" entice images of exploding casseroles and steam burns but I am assured the new, second generation cookers available today are a much safer, easier and overall better appliance than the thin aluminium relic from the 50s and 60s which most of us have in mind.

The selling point for me is slow cooked meals in half an hour. For me one of the best things about the cooler months is using my slow cooker to do scrumptious lamb shanks (and lamb shank and barely soup), rich beef casseroles and tomato and mushroom chicken (such as the one we enjoyed last night). However these dishes take hours and hours to cook so usually I have them going on the weekends and then freeze the results. With our weekends being what they are this scenario doesn't happen all that often.

So now I have a better option. Apparently in my new pressure cooker I'll be able to cook the same meal but in half an hour or so. Magic.

I am armed with my Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Suzanne Gibb (that's Margaret Fulton's daughter) and awaiting my delivery of aforementioned pressure cooker and a large box of top quality meat from Mmmmmmm.

Stay tuned. Reviews forthcoming.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I know that knocking the banks is like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

However, it must be noted that the banks are utter utter bastards.

Not passing on (or only partially so) the latest rate cut is pure bastardry. No two ways about it.

I'm fairly sure when the Reserve Bank decided to cut the base interest rate it was thinking "we'll put the money back into people's pockets, encouraging spending, encouraging small business investment, maybe save a few jobs, maybe allow people to hang onto their homes in these difficult times, etc". I'm quite certain they weren't thinking "we'll do something nice to improve the big banks' profit margins. Poor dears are only looking at a $6 billion profit this financial year. Obviously they need all the help they can get".


Wednesday, April 08, 2009




[Blogger just don't offer a dramatic enough font size for this.]





Sadly I am likely to go on my own as I can think of no other Specials fans right now. Those people are all in my dim dark past.

As you were.

Monday, April 06, 2009

So here I am living life in red and white.

What do you think? Is it a look which could take off?

Personally I'm just happy that the Swans won. We didn't just win, we beat Hawthorn, last year's champions. We didn't just scrape through, we won by a very respectable 38 points. That's as close to a miracle as I am likely to see.

I was a very happy little Medusa-head on Saturday night.

So the early rush of tv shows for 2009 has finished. It's been a mad rush of taping and IQing a gazillion shows and then trying to find bits of time watch them. Sheesh, the pressure I am under, I can't tell you!

Anyway, Dexter is finished and I have to say Season 3 a little disappointing. Of course I would watch any program featuring Michael C Hall, even if it was an hour of him sitting on a stool whistling Dixie, but this season just didn't cut it for me. On the other hand I know that such a unique idea can not be sustained for three seasons without loosing some integrity. I can now live in fear/anticipation of Season 4 which is apparently on it's way.

City Homicide also concluded for the season with a very unexpected and terrible ending. Got to give it to the writers for having the balls to end it like that. That show continues to hold our attention.

Underbelly is a dog's breakfast but it's fun and stupid and a little worrying. I don't mind the bums and tits, nothing I don't see in the bathroom every day of my life (sure their's are a little firmer and perkier). I do hate it when they break for Easter though; I mean, does anyone NOT have a VCR and/or some other much more technologically advanced recording device these days?

Packed to the Rafters has been enjoyable (especially with the guest appearance of our dear friend Dina) but I am a tad disappointed with the super cliche, a late in life pregnancy. Gosh, who could have seen that one coming? Overall still a good Tuesday night show which provides a reasonable dose of entertainment without wasting too many brain cells.

Now that regular shows are taking a break I can catch up on True Blood, the entire series of which I have IQ'd but not watched. I do love a vampire tale but I'm not sure what to expect with this strange little series. Also Big Jay and I can finish watching that damn addictive Come Dine With Me which we've been stockpiling on the IQ, mainly because those 20 minute episodes are just right when we want to fill in a bit of time or when we're just too bloody tired to contemplate an entire 90-120 minute movie (which, let's face it, is most of the time).

There's also a new series (praise the ????) of Jon and Kate plus Eight starting at the end of the month. How I've missed those crazy cats and their eight gorgeous offspring. Will I give the new season of Australia's Next Top Model a go? Perhaps now that Sarah O'Hare/Murdoch is hosting I'll give it another try. It's no Big Brother but it does give me a certain dose of shock/horror/yell at the teev type reality entertainment I've been missing.
I was listening to one of Ricky Gervais' podcasts (on Desert Island Discs) yesterday. I really recommend you looking up his podcasts on iTunes or on his website if you're a fan. Very very funny!

Anyway, it's an interview show but they also ask the interviewee about their favourite bits of music. Blow me down if his first choice isn't Bob Dylan's If You See Her Say Hello which is a song I love dearly (at least Jeff Buckley's version). He also talked about the effect songs have on him, especially songs about regret, about nostalgia, and I was [internally] yelling YES YES YES.

Who knew Ricky and I were so similar, like on an emotional level, man.