Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blood and Water.

I have a small thug living in my house now. He’s six years old, and looks like he’s just survived a run-in with a rival gang.
The short version of the story is that one of his teeth came loose and had to be pulled.
The long version however…

I have long had a qualifier that I apply to the little peoples' requests for attention. It is: “Are you bleeding?” For those of you without children who are horrified at my lack of care and compassion, I should point out that for the better part of a decade now I’ve been unable to take a shower or use the toilet without hearing “Mu-um!” They’re like a pack of hyenas circling their prey but only attacking when the animal is injured (or has shampoo in its eyes). So the “Are you bleeding?” response is a quick way to draw their attention to the fact that it’s possibly not the best time for a lengthy chat. It works well, up to a point. Although I did have one occasion when Laura wandered away, picked at a scab and came back saying “Mummy, I’m bleeding now.”

For a change this morning I was not in the shower when the noise erupted. However, the qualifier – if I’d had time to say it – could have been answered with a resounding “Yes!” There was so much blood in Oliver's little mouth that it was hard to see where it was all coming from. And there were tears of course. Naturally no one seemed to know what had happened. Oli kept pointing at the plastic toggle on the end of the blind cord, but that made no sense at all. A hasty inspection revealed that one of his top, front teeth was now hanging slightly longer than the one next to it. So, short of an outbreak of ‘were-rabbit-itis’ it seemed pretty clear that something dental was going on.

Naturally I kept a calm head. Pah! My main concern was that I wasn’t sure if the loose tooth was a baby tooth or an adult tooth. I knew that he’d already lost some baby teeth, but I couldn’t remember which ones. ‘And the Worst Mother of the Year Award goes to…’

A hasty (and expensive – Fifty-five bucks!) trip to the dentist later and Oli was minus one baby tooth and plus a novelty pair of glasses. Phew! Well, you never know when you’re going to need a pair of novelty glasses. And at this point I should thank our pastor, Ryan, for his calm and efficient help in our mini-crisis.

Of course, none of this answers the ’what happened’ question. He finally confessed that at the time of the injury he was attempting to open and close the horizontal blinds with his mouth. The cord had caught on his tooth and pulled it loose - but not completely out - when the blind went down. Feel free to laugh now - that's been the general reaction. You know, I strongly feel that the window-covering manufacturers should add ‘possible cause of dental injuries’ to the little warning label on these things!

You’ll be reassured to hear that the child has since been banned from touching any blind or window covering until he is seven. So he’ll have to come up with some new inventive ways to injure himself in future. Just hopefully not while I’m in the shower.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I wonder where the boydies is...

Spring is, well... springing, here in Tennessee. At least this is a season with a name we can all agree on (let's not even go into that whole Autumn/Fall fiasco). In fact, the weather has improved so much that I was inspired to dig me a hole.

'Has she finally done in one of the children?' I telepaphically hear you ask. 'Have things got so bad that she's ready to fill the bath and plug in the toaster?' No, sillies, it's Spring - time for planting things. Although, I don't expect to get much growth from what I planted this week. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

One of my first discoveries on hitting the shores of this great land (metaphorically speaking - there aren't too many shores near to where we are right now) was that these people are all drying their laundry in (gasp!) clothes dryers! Now my US friends need to understand that the backyard clothesline is so ingrained into Australian culture that for us a backyard without a clothesline is like a kitchen without a sink. The electronic clothes dryer is for the wealthy, the extravagant, or anyone living in Melbourne (city of eternal rain).

I have to say, to begin with it was no great hardship. 'Oh dear, I shall have to throw these clothes in the dryer rather than have the fun and excitement of hanging them up one by one, waiting for them to dry and unhanging them.' However, once the novelty of technology wore off I found myself missing my clothesline. I got really tired of having baskets of wet clothes lined up in the laundry waiting to be dried... and since our laundry is also our hallway, that can be an Occupational Health and Safety issue. Plus the clothes didn't smell as fresh, and I couldn't rely on 'sun power' to remove any lingering stubborn stains. I could go on. But I won't. It would bore you. Truly.

Anyway, some time last year I managed to get my hands on a Hills Hoist rotary clothesline. If anyone is at all unsure of what these look like, here's one now:


It came to us from Australia via Quebec, Canada. I called mine Hilda (the Hills Hoist). I inherited my mother's tendency to name inanimate objects.

Well, Hilda entered our lives just in time for winter to set in. Think frozen ground and days with about 23 minutes of sunshine. So Hilda has, until recently, been inhabiting our walk in wardrobe. Until, that is, this week. Yes, the plants were blooming, the sun was shining, and we even found our first tic for the year (eeuurgh). A perfect time for installing a clothesline.

I downloaded my instructions from the company's web site, got my tools, and was ready to go. Thankfully the 'call before you dig' people had already been out to our place and marked the safe spots for our cable company (who promise faithfully that they absolutely will get that electrical cable buried before the end of all time). So I managed not to electrocute myself or dig into a sewer.

Let me just pause to make the following point. You don't know how big a 250mm (10inch) wide by 650mm (26 inch) deep hole is - until you've dug one with a hand trowel. I felt like I should be gnawing on a carrot and taking the left at Albuquerque. At one point I was sure I heard David Wrightson giving the call to worship at Quakers Hill Uniting Church in Sydney, so I turned around and went back. If Oliver had said just one more time "What are you doing, mum?" I was about ready to pitch him into the hole and fill it in. Of course, like the saintly mother I am, I resisted the temptation. Instead I persisted until the hole was dug, filled one third with coarse gravel, and cemented the clothesline into position.

This took, you understand, the better part of two days. Two days of sun shining, boydies singing, and small forest creatures dancing and singing around lost maidens hiding in the woods from wicked step-mothers. When I was finally finished I put away my tools, scraped the mud from my shoes (and knees, and elbows), went inside and switched on the telly. I swear to you, the first words I heard - before the picture even had time to appear on the screen - were "Now for the weather. We're expecting snow in middle Tennessee tonight."


In the end it didn't snow (of course), but I did have to wait a further four days before the next sunny opportunity to finally put Hilda to good use. Naturally, by that time we'd completely run out of clean clothes and I'd washed all our dirty clothes the day before and put them through the dryer like a wealthy, extravagant Melbournian.

Still, it is looking fairly clear today. If you'll excuse me, I just need to go encourage the children to grub around in the dirt a little...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Eating Humble Pie

Well, after 18 straight hours of rain it finally got cold enough for....

...wait for it...


Okay, to be honest it actually snowed for the first time (this winter) a few weeks ago. But that was such a piddly amount it didn't bear mentioning. This time we're talking about snow that actually gathers on the ground and can picked up and formed into snow balls. The kids loved it. Us big kids did too. Even if it meant frolicking around in the dark, rather than risk having the illusive stuff disappear on us by morning.

Picture, if you please, Mike and Oli facing off against each other. In the red corner is Mike, armed with a snow ball the size of his head (and we all know that's pretty sizeable), Oli in the blue corner proudly toting a snow ball the size of... well, a marble. You can probably figure out who came off best. Well, we all know Mike throws like a girl. Hmm.. might not let him know I've updated, just this once.

So I recant my former position on the existence of snow. I bear witness to the presence of snow in my yard, right now. Never let it be said that I can not admit it when I am proved wrong.

Snow is real, and if any of you are still in doubt let me know and I'll post you some to prove it.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Tale of Two Turkeys.

There have been quite a few requests from family and friends as to how our Christmas went. I shall endeavour to please.

Firstly let me say right off that we have seen no sign of the white stuff I no longer believe in (see 'Ice, Ice baby'). No white Christmas for us. Not even that horrible dessert variety I remember from my childhood. Do they make 'white Christmas' over here? Must remember to ask someone (and then tell them not to bother, if they don't already).

Our first Christmas in the USA was very enjoyable (despite the distance from home). It did, however, last for the whole weekend. By the time we ate Christmas Eve lunch with Ryan and Heather, attended the Christmas Eve service, rang Australia to wish the family a merry Aussie Christmas, opened presents Christmas morning, attended the Christmas Day service, ate Christmas lunch with Sue and Carl, opened presents at Sue and Carl's, received phone calls from Australia from family wishing us a merry US Christmas, and then ate our own little Christmas meal at 'tea' time (that's 'dinner', for some of you - or 'supper' for those of you in The South).... well, we were exhausted. A good exhaustion though.

Two important issues need to be addressed. Firstly, I have to say that Ryan smokes the best turkey I have ever eaten. Ok, so it was also the first smoked turkey I had ever eaten. I never before knew anyone who smoked their own meat. Well, as far as I know. I suppose meat smoking could have some sort of enthusiastic underground following that I am unaware of, and that just about everyone except for me is doing it. Somehow I just doubt that. Anyway, it was a fabulous meal which we all thoroughly enjoyed...

...ok Ryan? So stop harrassing me for a blog review or it will affect your star rating (so far you're at three and a half).

Secondly, I have sad news for those of you who have been begging me to let them know how the deep fried turkey went, at Carl and Sue's house. The turkey did not get fried. Apparently there were some very sound reasons for the non-frying of the turkey. Well, it did rain - so that would make the cooking outdoors thing less appealing to some. All the same the regular oven-cooked turkey was lovely, as was the company (four stars Sue).

Now some of you might not have been aware of this, but over here they deep fry their turkeys. No, really. The first I became aware of this was at Thanksgiving when there was a story on the news about a family who had burnt down their home trying to deep fry a turkey. Naturally I assumed I heard that wrong. 'No, ' I told myself, 'They mean deep frying turkey pieces, like KFC - not deep frying a turkey.' But no. It did mean a turkey. As Mike said "Trust the Americans to take a healthy food and fry it in oil."

So that is our Christmas story. True, it was not as filled with pathos as some of the Christmas movie offerings we have been subjected to in recent weeks. But then, neither was the original Christmas story. We have, however, had the opportunity to experience self-less generosity from others in the form of gifts, hospitality and love.

You know who you are.