The Strawberry Shortcake Situation

Charlotte had brought the house down with a fantastic speech on lamingtons. Her mum had even brought in the classic Aussie dessert to share with the class. This week’s speech topic was “my favorite fruit” and not to be outdone by Charlotte and her lamingtons, Kenna decided to bring in some culinary bribery of her own.

She started work on her upcoming oratory six days ahead of schedule, meticulously making note cards and rehearsing endlessly in front of the mirror and any live audience that was willing to sit through her spiel on the joys of strawberries. The clever speech included descriptive diatribes, questionable facts, eye contact, and impressive vocal stylings. This was an A+ waiting to happen. All she needed was some culinary support and perhaps a carefully planted slow clapper at the end to intensify the electrifying response she was sure to receive.

To showcase the strawberry we settled on an all-American confection–Strawberry Shortcake. The novelty alone would win the hearts and minds of the natives.  I utilized imported Bisquick to create the pastry and purchased copious amounts of fresh strawberries from Harris Farms to make the ambrosia filling. I whipped fresh cream into a frenzy for the finale. The speech and its shortcake counterpart would no doubt become the stuff of legend. I finished the masterpiece with minutes to spare and headed to Roseville Public with Aunt Leslie and Chaylee to deliver the goods.

Leslie and I arrived just early enough to quickly assemble the shortcakes. Fortunately, the children were still in the main hall enjoying a bit of dance, so we had ample time to work our magic. We layered the tasty morsels in small plastic cups, leaving room for a dollop of cream. They looked beautiful and tasted even better. There was the small problem of having limited cutlery, but Leslie and I determined that most first grade classes came equipped with some form of plastic utensil for occasions such as this.

We could hear the children in the distance and the melodic though strained voice of Mrs. Burnside* leading the way.

“Come now children. Don’t run! Hats by the door! Take your seats! Quietly please…quietly 1B***!”

Kenna’s eyes widened with utter delight as she saw her precious strawberries displayed gloriously in the clever little cups! Her mates gathered round excitedly to see what “Kenna’s Mum” had brought them. They were clearly impressed.

“Mom, I will put on the whip cream as a demonstration okay?” I nodded with maternal confidence. I had done it. I had taken her speech from here (insert hand motion) to here (repeat hand motion with increased elevation).**

Mrs. Burnside approached and offered Kenna the option of going first or last. It felt like the coin toss at the beginning of a big game.

“First please.” She replied.

That’s my girl!

Kenna delivered her speech brilliantly and without error, and before I could deliver the slow clap, I was called upon to help serve-up the big finish. It occurred to me, however, as I approached the table that some key planning had not taken place. I had not brought napkins, nor had I addressed the cutlery issue with Mrs. Burnside.

“Mrs. Burnside, I only have 11 forks. Might you have some available?” Her already palpable stress visibly increased. “No, but you may be able to find some in the faculty lounge, Mrs. Pasley.” She was passively displeased.

I quickly ran out the door to do some fork finding while Kenna placed uncomfortably large portions of whipped cream onto the shortcakes. Meanwhile, Mrs. Burnside, noting our lack of serviettes, asked Max to run to the back of the room to collect paper towels. I raced back from my successful mission to find Mrs. Burnside crouched uncomfortably near Kenna and Aunt Leslie holding back nervous laughter on the sidelines. The children were hovering over the table of treats like little pugnacious vultures, fighting for flesh.

“I want that one!”

“I don’t like strawberries! I just want cake!”

“I don’t like the cake, I just want the cream!”

“I’m hate strawberries!”

“I want the big cup!”

“No, I get that one!!!”

“Mrs. Burnside, how would you like us to proceed?” I said, hoping some leadership would emerge amongst the chaos. I don’t think she heard me. She continued to attempt to bring order, correcting individual student transgressions like a flustered nanny.

Since the speech was only supposed to take three minutes, and it had already been nearly ten, I decided to just start handing out the cups randomly, not realizing that the napkin situation had not been brought under control. Max was running around aimlessly near the paper towels, clearly not meeting his objective. Leslie intervened but it was too late. The children had begun to eat before the utensils and paper towels had been distributed. That’s when things got ugly.

Mrs. Burnside was beginning to unravel—she was like a mildly deranged Mary Poppins.

“Sit Down! Place your rubbish on the table! I said, sit down! That is NOT where that cup goes. Place your rubbish on the table! Be more careful please. Sit down 1B!”

Strawberries were being strewn across the newly cleaned carpet and haphazardly crushed into the grey threads by wandering school shoes. The red chunks of pulverized fruit were accompanied by bits of shortcake and entrails of cream. Many a school uniform was compromised as well. It was a disaster. The clever little cups were no match for the little uncoordinated consumers.

Aunt Leslie offered to address one of the stains on the floor. Mrs. Burns accepted her offer with a sort of righteous indignation. I cowered in the back, intermittently eating left over shortcake, while frantically cleaning off sticky cutlery. I could over hear Mrs. Burnside instructing Leslie to address additional stains like she was Jane or Michael Banks. Apparently, there were many. Despite the guilt of knowing she was on her hands and knees scouring the floor, I could not make eye contact Leslie, knowing that one look would send us both into a hysterics. How could it all go so horribly wrong?

We collected our rubbish and left over samples and headed quickly for the door before Grace’s speech on Rock Mellon got underway. Evidently, she had samples too.

Words of the Day:

Rhyming Slang

Good thing I was not Pat Malone (alone) when I got into froth and bubble (trouble). Ta Les.

Poll:

Have you had any classroom debacles as a parent or child that you would like to share? Because I would like to hear them.

Points of Interest:

* Mrs. Burnside is not her real name. I decided to use an alias to protect her virtue.

** This famous saying is a Carolee classic but must only be used in conjunction with the    suggested hand motions

***Classes at Roseville Public are referred to by their year followed by the first letter of    the teacher’s name. 1B thus stands for Year One-Mrs. Burnside.

Family Not-So-Fun Fact:

We have been evicted. The landlord wants his land back by then end of November. It’s going to be an interesting Christmas. Maybe I can find a nice stable to give birth in. Looking forward to the life lessons that are coming my way. Or that’s what I am telling myself in between sobs. No really. I am okay. Not really. No, really, I am. Sort of. Hopefully this situation will get funny soon too.

MOUNT OLYMPUS

Warning: This blog is my most revealing to date. It is raw and vulnerable. The naked truth. Proceed with caution and be gentle. Pray you don’t see me any differently when you are done.

Disclaimer: This is a bit more lengthy than my average entry. Just bare with me.

Aunt Barbara might be the most persuasive woman in the world. Not just in the Northern Hemisphere…in the world. When I was 12 years old I went with her to the Oregon State Fair. The only parking spot we could find was a small patch of grass between two haphazardly parked cars. Her solution? To hop in the stranger’s car that was preventing our parking progress, put it in neutral and push it forward till our parking needs were accommodated. She can even get a parked car to do what she wants! This would explain why she was able to convince me to come face to face with one of my most debilitating phobias–nudity.

I am the woman in the locker room who does not remove her towel even to shower. I get creative. I am uncomfortable revealing my humps and lady lumps. I don’t really want to observe the markings of my motherhood, or the scars that have come from multiple organ removals. The giant vein from hell that is invading my lower right quadrant is something I would like to ignore. It is far more fun to pretend that my body is a wonderland and a towel is my little red pill.

It was Dec. 20, approximately 10am, when I sat down at a long wooden table with some of my favorite women in the world, my mom, my cousin Sue, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Barbara. It was there and then Barbara dropped her voodoo magic on me.

“Get ready honey, cause we are going to the naked spa.” It was as if she had monochromatic spinning tops for eyes. Every fiber of my body, every nervous limb, screamed HELL NO, WE WON’T GO! And yet, as if hypnotized, I said, “okay”. She had put me in neutral.

The Olympus Spa is located in beautiful downtown Spanaway. It is surrounded by spacious parking lots, Asian specialty shops and is conveniently close to the B&I. Location, location, location. Mom and I arrived fashionably late and collectively nervous. Neither of us were particularly comfortable with the concept of communal bathing, but we were nonetheless ready to ave’ a go, not wanting to squander the generosity of Aunt Barbara.

We were warmly greeted by the friendly Olympus Staff and given a tour of the facilities. The warm marble floors and tranquil sound of silence intrigued me. We were shown all the luxurious amenities: the salt-room, the mudroom, the dry sauna, the steam room—little dens of serenity. My anxiety was briefly pacified by the anticipation of peace promised. We were handed thin, hospital grade robes, soft white towels and informed that we had exfoliation and massage appointments in the hours to come—we would also need to “soak” for one hour before their commencement. Then it hit me… I would soon be naked. I put on my robe and clung to it like bones cling to flesh. Without it I might die.

Just then Aunt Barbara and Aunt Nancy came bursting out of the mud room, guns blazing, stark naked and just happy to be there. They were free birds, soaring about in the nude. My sweet mom looked at me knowingly, in an attempt to reassure me that our liberation was just around the corner. I was not so sure. They could see my panic, but the clock was ticking and it was time to get “soakin”. We headed to the poolroom…the hall of nakedness…land of the robeless.

I feel, at this time, it is necessary to add this caveat for all my male readers.

The naked spa is not a gathering of super vixens with legs that don’t quit and anti-gravity breasts giving each other neck massage. Instead, there are women of all shapes and sizes represented. Some are 300 pounds with legs that quit after ten minutes. Some have breasts as large as human heads. Some have no breasts at all. Some have skin conditions. Some are 90.

As I entered the pool area my panic peaked. It was time to get naked. I stood there gripping the flimsy strings of my robe like they were harnesses preventing my eminent demise. It would take the jaws-of-life to get that thing off me. The room was filled with birthday suits and the air void of self -consciousness. Which was why I stood out like a nun at an erotic bakery. My beloved family made every attempt to embolden me but their humorous encouragement soon morphed into genuine concern as I began to cry. Even Master Jedi Barbara was no match for this phobia. The force was strong with me, but I could not seem to let go of my fear. Barbara began to pray…but unfortunately things went from terrifying to unbearable for I discovered…the exfoliation room!

It looked like a gynecological experiment from hell. Naked women lay prostrate on what looked like operating tables, being scrubbed violently from head to toe by small Korean women with oven mitts, before being doused repeatedly with large buckets of water.

Mom witnessed my discovery and collected my hand in hers.

“It’s okay honey. We’re okay. You’re okay. Let’s soak.” She said with a nervous smirk, knowing it would take a miracle to get me on that table. I was no parked car I was a jumbo jet.

We looked for the tub with the lowest population. Mom bravely entered first. My immersion however, was not so courageously executed. A robust older woman, with a thick gold chain around her neck and smudged garish make-up approached me with an air of empathy and concern.

“I was just like you my first time too, now I come here everyday. It makes me feel so clean. You’ll be walking around without that robe in ten minutes. You just gotta get in there honey.” She said with a gentle shove.

There was so much wrong with what had just happened that I could not find words to respond. I just stood there immobilized, bewildered, and deeply disturbed.

“C’mon hon, just get in there!”

Before I knew what was happening, my harness, my lifeline, my shroud was whisked away by the lipstick clad jaws-of-life.

I dove into that tub like go-go speed racer and swam to the corner to seek solace in the jets. I clutched my knees to my chest in an attempt to keep all orifices tightly under wraps. My poor mom was also stunned by what had occurred and sought to comfort me with humor and tenderness. Though her efforts were valiant and appreciated, I knew why I was marinating in that pool. Soon, I would have no water to hide my form, just a couple of roving oven mitts.

For the next hour I hopped from pool to pool with the moral support of my mom, who would stand waiting for me with a towel at each exit, like I was James Brown. Noting my neurosis and the looming skin care appointment, my cousin, Sue, attempted to make a private appointment for me so that my exfoliation would not be quite so public. But her efforts were in vain. The clock struck 1. It was my turn.

The Exfoliation Room

“Hello, my name’s Patty. This your first time?” She was kind and observant.

“Yes. In fact, I was wondering how you would feel about me keeping this here towel on me during the process.” I said humbly.

“ How bout I give you this.” It was a hand towel. I was noticeably disappointed but grateful.

“Oh you so shy. You be fine.” I wasn’t fine. I laid there, whimpering, on my belly with a hand towel partially covering my posterior. The exfoliation had begun. She scrubbed me like a cleaning lady scours an oven. She was fast and furious and thorough. Where there was skin, there was exfoliation. I closed my eyes and tried to find a happy place, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t decide on a destination.

Just then, I heard the distinctive tambour of Aunt Barbara’s voice in the distance. I decided to open my eyes to trace the sound. I looked up slowly and…

BAM!!!

VAGINA!

They were everywhere. Fearless vaginas. I couldn’t escape. I buried my head into the table, mortified. It was time to turn over. I gripped the sides of the table and held on for dear life. Patty kindly placed the sacred hand towel over me like a fig leaf and continued her work. I used the ceiling as a focal point, as if I were a woman in labor giving birth to softer skin.

Then, something wonderful happened. Patty collected warm soapy water in a bucket and poured it over my new and improved epidermis. Warmth overwhelmed me. I opened my eyes…and smiled.

It was a miracle. I was comfortable. Happy even.

The aquatic blanket was heavenly. Then came the oven mitts. Patty moved her magical mitts in quick circular motions over every inch. PATTY! PATTY! PATTY! I didn’t want it to end. For a moment, I did not feel naked, I felt new. She wrapped my security blanket (robe) around me and sent me on my way.

It was a little victory. Little Patty had pushed back this jumbo jet. And although I didn’t summit Mount Olympus naked, I did gain some altitude. And sometimes…that’s enough.

Words of the day

Dag: a down to earth gal.

Spit the dummy: Get upset

Patty really knows how to handle a dag that spits the dummy!

Aussie Trivia

Sydney is home to a popular Korean “naked” spa, known as the Ginseng House. I don’t think I’ll go.

Poll

Do you have a phobia? Tell me about it.

Song of the Day

I’m a Jumbo Jet and I’m Okay

Highlander

I had successfully created man heaven. Extra cushions and blankets were strategically placed on the couch. Pre-made snacks and beverages were arranged on the coffee table within reach. Films with gratuitous violence and chaotic action sequences were rented. A child containment action plan was put in place. The universal remote was in position. All that was left was the man with the repaired meniscus

He arrived home decorated with an impressive knee brace and oddly shaped crutches better suited for a polio patient. He looked just pitiful enough to lavish sympathy upon with sincerity. He felt loved, at peace, grateful for modern medicine and a loving bride. He was enjoying himself. And who wouldn’t? Everyone likes a little non-life threatening illness or injury now and again, particularly when one is provided with around-the-clock-in-home-care and heaps of codeine.

The next morning Mike was served a two egg omelet breakfast with toast and tea as he lounged on the couch. Other than performing intermittent leg exercises, he was required to do nothing but heal. He was living the dream. Now all I had to do was get the kids out of the house and I would be inducted into the Spousal Hall of Fame.

But the dream would soon be compromised and my induction ceremony cancelled.

“MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! MIKE! I NEED YOU! (Expletive)…MIKE!”

He hobbled to the front door to see what had gone wrong only to find Chaylee in hysterics and me crumpled on the rain soaked ground holding my right foot with tears in my eyes. My notoriously sturdy ankle had failed me…had failed him.

“Are you okay?” He said, clearly hoping that my hollering was a gross overreaction to a minor incident.

“No.” I replied trembling, still clutching my throbbing limb.

“But there can be only one.” He said, as the magnitude of the situation begin to hit.

“There can be only one!”

It was pitiful. I could not rise unaided and he could not bend. He staggered over to his crutches and handed them to me. I began to cry, which sent the already fragile Chaylee into a tearful frenzy.

“It always has to be about you, doesn’t it.” He jested, but I was in no mood for dark humor.

It was becoming clear that the ER was in my future. Fortunately, Patrick the Irishman and Isabella, would be by later in the afternoon to pick up the kids for a play date at Wizzy World, but in the meantime, I needed a ride. I needed a friend, but no one was home. In Roseville, when school holidays commence, the entire neighborhood evacuates, except for a few despondent cab drivers. One of them would have to do.

Mike escorted me through the rain to the cab and handed me his crutches. My heart sunk into my belly as I watched him lug his impaired appendage back into the house unaided, where he would be faced with two confused and hungry children. In a matter of moments, man heaven had become man hell.

My visit to Northshore Hospital was uneventful. I was x-rayed and diagnosed with a “bad sprain” The 12 year old doctor provided me with a brace, some panadein forte, and more suitable crutches. I was relieved but still in pain.

My homebound cabbie was even less sympathetic than the gentleman who picked me up. He sat comfortably perched in his warm vehicle while I waddled unsteadily toward him on crutches, negotiating my purse, a bulky sweater, a shoe, paperwork, and of course, Mike’s loaner crutches. The indifferent chauffeur did not even pretend that he wanted to assist me. Instead, he sat muttering to himself about the “idiot” in front of us who was blocking the roundabout. “Yeah,” I agreed sardonically. “What a jerk…”.

The fun-loving chauffeur spent the rest of the ride home explaining why he hated Australia and was desperate to get back home to Iran. I thanked him for the ride and encouraged him to go ahead and make that dream come true.

The days that followed were not easy but there were some flowers that emerged among the thistles.

For example: my left ankle happens to look incredibly dainty next to my grotesquely swollen right one. This has always been a dream of mine.

Communal ice packs and his and her crutches can really bring a couple together…(or tear them apart…we experienced a little bit of both).

Times such as these make you appreciate your friends, family and all the comforts of home.

Codeine is awesome.

Poll

Have you and your spouse ever been ill or injured at the same time? Did you continue to like one another?

Words of the Day

  • Cook: Ones Wife
  • Built Like a Brick Sh#@ House: Big strong bloke.
  • Dag: Nerd or goof
  • A over T: to fall over, from “arse over t*#s”.

This cook felt like a dag when I fell A over T. Good thing my man is built like a brick sh#@ house.

Random Aussie Trivia

Australians make up nicknames for everyone. Even the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is known as Ruddy. His Treasurer Wayne Swan is referred to as Swanny. So to pay homage to my countrymen here in Australia I will now affectionately refer to the President and Vice President of the United States as Bamo and Biddie!

One Last Note

I love to use a variety of features when writing that facebook does not believe in…like bold print and italics. I feel this note lacks drama because of the absence of said features, and for that I am sorry.

International Mall Mayhem

All malls are the same regardless of hemisphere. Each one has a food court, curious mall music, wandering wayward youth who should be in school, skin care specialists who want a moment of your time , and department store mirrors designed to hurt your feelings.

Exhibit A

My little girl looked so beautiful: her fine hair pulled back haphazardly, her giant, hypnotic, hazel eyes gazing into my soul, tomato sauce strewn across her little fingers…It was an ordinary moment with an extraordinarily moving aura about it.

Why was I so moved? Why was I welling up? What was this raw emotion? Then it occurred to me. It was the music. It was the mall music. The ambient, manipulative melody of Joshua Kadison’s classic… “Jesse”. I don’t even like that song. In fact, I can honestly say, it is just above “Sometimes When We Touch”…in fact, the two sound eerily alike, if you think about it.

It was humiliating. I was publicly moved by an Elton  John wannabe and his voodoo magic. Everyone saw it happen. Even the wayward youth that should be in school.

Exhibit B

I should not have made eye contact. It was an accident. I was in no mood for skin care advice and I had a happy baby in a fancy car buggy that I had hired for five dollars an hour. Never wake the sleeping dragon. Never.

I risked it.

‘Would you like to have soft skin that looks younga?” He said with a distinctly Greco-Australian accent. He grabbed my left limb and begin to apply a silky gray clay from “the dead sea” to a small area just below my knuckles on the back of my hand.. I must admit, it felt nice. He rubbed the top of my hand in a circular motion, before washing off the deceased ocean clay from my skin. He then remarked on the significant difference in softness from the course, scaly, state of my epidermis before the treatment….that is what I felt like he said. He then requested that I lift the other hand to provide contrast, in an effort to again prove the awesomeness of his product. The problem was, my right hand was still speckled with tomato sauce as a result of a speedy departure from the food court after the “Jesse Incident”. Once again, I tried to explain, but he seemed repulsed. I was humiliated. At least the dragon was still sleeping. When he realized that I was probably not going to be a paying customer, be tried a new tactic. “You know those red spots on your face and those splotches, this will actually make those go away completely, giving you a more youthful look.”

Evidently, Zorba the Aussie, didn’t realize that the way to a woman’s heart is through affirmation. Never insult the client! Never. A woman wants to feel like she is smokin as is and on fire with a little help. This guy was a rookie. Why did I even risk waking the dragon for this fire fighter.

Exhibit C

Getting half naked in front of a mall mirror is like being forced to listen to “Jesse” in surround sound while being insulted my an effeminate skin care “specialist”. It moves you to tears.

Poll:

Have you ever been emotionally manipulated by mall music?

Have you ever been swindled by a salesman working out of an island in the mall?

Have you ever woke the sleeping dragon while shopping?

Have you ever been mocked by a mall mirror?

Do you agree candle lit dressing rooms would improve overall mall sales?

Have you had any mall mishaps lately?

Words of the day:

  • Bogan : person who takes little pride in his appearance
  • Bail (somebody) up : to corner somebody physically
  • Spit the dummy: get very upset at something

I nearly spit the dummy when the bloke bailed me up and made me feel bogan.

Trivia

Has wine consumption affected my blog writing ability?

The Chicken Situation

“We are on the Central Coast. Would you mind checking on the cat while we’re gone?” requested Jane. “I asked Victoria to take care of things, but I may have forgotten to mention the cat. And, while you’re there, go ahead and grab any eggs you find in the ‘chook’ pen.”

I would do anything for Jane. She was the first Australian to take me under her wing and the least I could do is check on her chickens and throw out some feed for her feline in her absence. She assured me that the “chooks” were quite easy to handle and that if they tried to escape, they could be easily coaxed back into the pen with a broom. Or, at least, that is what I thought I heard her say.

I took the girls down the road with me to enjoy the kid paradise that is Jane’s backyard. The gated, grassy plot is home to swings, a trampoline, a semi-friendly cat, a cubby house, a scrumptious garden and a pregnant guinea pig.

I put Chaylee in her favorite swing and tended to the cat before heading to the coup with Kenna, broom in hand. Inside were two eggs with my name on it, guarded by a protective hen with a stern look and unnaturally large feet.

I could hear Jane in my head, “If you run into trouble, just use the broom.” I gently batted at the guardian chicken with the aforementioned broom, all the while speaking words of encouragement to her.

“Hello there tender chicken. Can I have those eggs please? Pretty please?”

She stared me down, unmoved by my words. I opened the gate wider and advanced with greater authority. Just then, two hens escaped between my legs with lightening speed and mind-boggling accuracy. Kenna screamed. Flustered, I turned my gaze toward the escapees, and in doing so, left the egg monitor with large feet, unsupervised. She too flew the coup and headed straight for the swing set.

Chaylee was a sitting duck; perched on a swing that was no longer swinging, she wailed wildly, sure she would soon be eaten by chickens. I rescued her from certain death and placed her on the trampoline out of harms way. Kenna grabbed the once heavily guarded eggs before heading to the trampoline as well, which thereto became known as, “the rally point”.

“Whatever you do, do not leave your post!” I said.

“But Mom…” Kenna interrupted.

“DO NOT leave your post! It’s time for Operation Chicken Recovery.” Wielding the broom like a maniac I chased down the rogue chickens, masking my panic with tender words.

“Come on you crazy chickens. Go back to your home. Come on. Please!”

Just as “chook number one” was just about under my control, I heard yet another scream. Kenna stood up and cried out in distressr, egg dripping from her pink ruffles; our first casualty.

Chaylee began to panic. Her whimpers evolved into genuine sobs. The chicken situation was worsening by the minute. Kenna, abandoned her post, and wearing nothing but a t shirt and underwear headed for the hose. I resumed my efforts with the broom. Chaylee continued to weep.

A young neighbor peered over the fence. I smiled and waved.

“I have everything under control.” I said with waning confidence. I was out of my element. It was time to call in reinforcements.

Although Kenna had encouraged me to bring my cell phone on our excursion, I did not. I would have to get in the house somehow. Fortunately, I knew where the spare key was located and was able to enter the house and use the landline. Kenna resumed her post at the rally point to comfort her sister, while I entered the home.

“Mike…we have a chicken situation. I repeat, the chickens are on the loose.” He was not surprised.

I pressed on till help arrived…and oh yes…it did arrive. Mike Pasley had a weapon I was unaware of.

Himself.

You see, Mike Pasley is a chicken whisperer. I did not know this when we met or married. But, this man has a gift. He walked over to the freakish hen with the large feet, and calmly picked her up. The chicken did not fight him. She went willingly. It was then I discovered, that my husband is in fact, the Beastmaster.

Could diplomacy have been the answer all along?

Just then, Victoria and family entered the battlefield and witnessed Mike’s magic for themselves. I shared with them what had transpired and with a kind giggle she broke the news.

“Actually, the chickens will go back into the pen themselves at night. I think Jane just uses the broom to get the eggs.”

Poll

Have you ever been in a chicken situation? (Dee I expect you to have some good stuff to share)

Phrase of the Day

Cracked a Wobbly: To freak out or lose it. ….

I just about cracked a wobbly when those chooks escaped.

Trivia

Did you know that when people yell at you with an Australian accent it actually hurts your feelings more? I will share more about this interesting fact, in my next blog entitled, “The Jerry Springer Carpet Cleaner”

The Wenlock Adventure Down Under Part 1

 

They arrived on the third of August. My beloveds. My blood. My family. In anticipation, Kenna helped prepare freshly squeezed orange juice while Chaylee made up a routine to Men at Work. I set out an array of tropical fruits native to Australia in addition to cream puffs and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Impressive.The anticipation was becoming physically uncomfortable. Mike called just in time. 

“I have the package.” He said.

The girls and I squealed with delight and put the Men to Work. “Land Down Under” played at maximum volume as we headed for the front door to greet our kin.

The series of hugs that ensued would have made you cry. It was as if we had been kept apart by the Iron Curtain. We sent Oprah the tape. As a result, she is buying Qantas for us. Good on ya Oprah!

Day one was spectacular. The children frolicked gleefully, the grown ups relished the bliss of international togetherness. The Wenlocks were impressed with their accommodations and my awesome driving. There was a minor incident involving a sand pit, a mini tractor and Rowen’s eye at the park… but, all in all, it was a strong start. There was also a minor vomit incident involving Mike and some chicken. But, overall…

Day two brought much excitement. While Mike recovered from his evening poolside, the family and I headed into town to see Sydney and it’s Darling Harbour. The outing did not disappoint. The panoramic views, peaceful promenades and world famous Aquarium brought hours of oohs and aahhhs.

Later that evening, there was a minor incident involving Rowen, some vomit and the occasional dry heave. But, overall…

Day three took a bit of a nose dive. An incident developed involving Kirsten, allergies and a nasal infection. Story also experienced some flu like symptoms throughout the night. But all in all…

By day four Kirsten’s right nostril had doubled in size and was a shade just shy of crimson. I told her she was still pretty. She cried. Then I told her that her nose looked a lot like Bill Clinton’s and reminded her that he still gets a lot of A$ despite his bulbous nose. That seemed to help. At least until I was able to get her to the doctor. Though the Medical Center I frequent has a fairly undesirable reputation, it’s convenient and cost effective so we decided to disregard Mike’s “clown medicine” jokes in order to save some cash. The Doctor glanced at my sister’s nose, agreed that it was infected, reminded us of the proximity of the nose to the brain, then mistakenly wrote up a prescription for children’s Erythromycin . Dr Feelgood said if it got worse there was nothing more he could do for us and we would need to head for the ER. Send in the clowns!

Poor Kirsten left feeling worse than when she arrived and far more anxious. But hey, at least she had her bubble gum flavor antibiotic.

Day five brought a whole new set of issues. The nose now appeared broken. Although Kirsten desperately wanted to avoid the subject of the nose, it became a focal point; an impossible feature to avoid eye contact with. Through glassy eyes, Kirsten confessed that she thought she might lose her nose. Mike consoled her by pointing out the fame and notoriety of Voldemort. She was in no mood for dark humor.

My efforts to bring peace were thwarted by my own terror at what was transpiring. I could not seem to keep myself from the maniacal manifests of WebMD. That bastard cyber doctor convinced me that Kirsten had nose cancer accompanied by MRSA with a touch of encephalitis. Tough to tell someone it’s all going to be okay when you have just received their death sentence.

Unfortunately, the nose situation was not the only medical malady of the day. Young James was next in line to be attacked by the House of Pain as his gastro intestinal system fell victim to the bug that seemed to be taking out each family member in kind. But outside of the physical suffering and agony, things seemed to be going well.

I would have been far more discouraged by the escalating crisis were it not for my bearded Hungarian Bride, Big James, who helped me keep the boat afloat by executing diaper changes, doing dishes and bathing children.

On the sixth day the swelling had become more localized with a painful hint of purple. Frightening facial numbness had emerged as well. Not the improvement we were hoping for. It was time to take drastic action. We could head to the ER or return to the circus. I decided to take my soon to be noseless sister back to the Medical Center to Dr. Townsend. The notoriously long line to see him suggested to me that he was the Obi Wan our Princess Leah needed. Maybe he would nose what to do.

Day seven brought healing and hope. The new medicine prescribed by Dr. Townsend was fast and effective. Kirsten’s nose was not going to fall off. We nearly set out to celebrate but then came a minor incident involving Big James and some vomit, but overall…

Phrase of the day: “You’re crook but not crook as rook wood” Dr. Townsend
Translation: You’re sick, but your not going to die.

Poll:
Which is worse?
A: A runaway nasal infection
B: Chunder Down Under
C: Accidentally showing your buttock to a park full of people.

Trivia: Taste is 75% smell. I hate the word smell. So does Kirsten.

Next Blog: Things Are Looking Up

 

The Dinner Party

I was told to bring Hors d’oeuvres. 

I toyed with chips and salsa but then decided on something more impressive. Avacado Egg rolls with a Cilantro dipping sauce; a Cheesecake Factory recipe I seized from the internet. The sauce itself had a difficulty level of about a 9.5 on the Olympic gymnastic scale. As a safety measure I decided to throw in an easier dish as well; brie with honey, caramelized pecans and some sliced apples. It sounds fancy, but all you really do is throw a pricey hunk of brie in a frying pan with some pecans and dump honey on it. Easy. Delicious.

I started work on my contributions to the dinner party early in the day. The sauce was completed with time to spare. All that was left to do was purchase egg roll wrappers, stuff them gently with a mixture I prepared in advance, throw on some “glad rags”, and warm up the brie.

I decided to start my search for egg roll wrappers at Asian World. I perused each aisle with care. I found won ton wrappers, spring roll paper, and dumplings of all shapes and sizes but nary an egg roll ingredient. I asked several employees and a customer. All looked at me as if they had n2ever seen or heard of an egg roll before; as if somehow the concept itself was disturbing. Did I mention I was shopping at Asian World?

I would have to use won tons. Appetizers should be bite sized anyway.

I cooked up the first batch of miniature morsels without incident. However, round two was “a damn nightmare”. Chaylee arose with a passionate cry from her premature slumber. Mike intervened. A knock at the door followed: the teen babysitter arrived accompanied by a DVD of Sex In the City. I was thinking something more along the lines of Care Bears or perhaps Shrek. The wee one was inconsolable. I nursed her frantically and ask Mike to tend to the deep frying. He promptly removed the little guys from the lake of fire, but it was too late. They were visually disturbing and nearly inedible. It was 8:00. The guests were without their nibbles.

We arrived at The Dinner Party forty minutes late.

As we entered the room it was clear that we had come grossly under prepared. The table looked like an evening at Buckingham Palace. Each place setting had countless utensils, three wine glasses per person, extravagant candle holders accompanied by fresh flowers and linen napkins.

Our contribution? One deep fried wonton per person and a blackened brie pancake with store brand crackers and sliced apples haphazardly arranged on a bright green dinner place covered in crumpled foil.

Bon Apetite!

The next course, provided by the host, was a creamed corn fancy-naise of some kind, topped with seared scallops, spring greens and caviar. I suck. Thankfully, the martini and the three glasses of wine that I was obliged to drink for cultural reasons made it all seem okay.

Poll: What recipe do you use to dazzle? Do you have any plating tips to throw my way?

Fun Fact: Australians love to drink. They always have.

” All through Australia, in every class, it is not considered good form for a man to drink by himself. Very few even of the most hopeless drunkards ever do so. The consequence is, that when a man feels inclined to drink, he immediately looks out for someone to drink with” “At whatever hour of the day a mans meets another whom he has not seen for say twelve hours, etiquette requires that he shall incontinently invite him to come and drink. This is a custom that pervades every class in the colony, and cannot be departed from without something more than a breach of good manners.” Finch Hatton 1887

Words of the Day:
Tucker: food
That’s Bonzer: That’s great
That’s Bonzer, my tucker sucked.

Misc. Moments

On Australia Day I was struck several times by an angry disabled, elderly woman whom I was trying to assist. She had me cornered. Mike sprung into action by escorting Kenna and Chaylee off the elevator safely. Evidently, he felt I had things under control. 

“No Hitting!” was all I could think to say as I stood paralyzed…conflicted. She was throwing combinations and I felt it all. A touch of terror and a sympathetic ache. Poor old girl. I would have liked to have been friends.

Thankfully, a train station worker saw me on the ropes and relieved me, assisting the agitated woman. I only hope that if I start throwing punches at random strangers in my old age, I can strike with the same accuracy and flare.
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On Wednesday I locked myself in the house. Not out of the house. In the house. I locked my keys in the stroller, which was in the garage, which could only be accessed by using said keys. In fact, all doors leading out of the house require keys. Why not open a window you ask? Because our landlord, Houdini, decided to put decorative bars on all the windows in addition to automated metal shutters. How should we go about exiting the premises in case of an emergency? Not sure yet. Suggestions are welcome. In this case, a neighbor came to my aid. She opened the garage, located the keys and set the little ones and I free.

I was wondering how I would go about humiliating myself in front of my neighbors this week. Glad that’s out of the way. At least this time I kept my clothes on.

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Mike sprayed the perimeter of the house a while back in an effort to reduce the amount of roaches of unusual size that were taking up residence in the house. Later that evening, we discovered a plethora of curious red bites on his ankles. His feet swelled up like a pregnant woman. He now refers to himself as “Mike, it’s what’s for dinner.” or, “Mike, the other white meat”. Evidently my brand of flesh is only appealing to caterpillars.

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We still have no car and rental furniture. Pray both reach us soon. Till then, may we continue to grow and stretch and embrace what is in our reach.

Word of the day: Blue: fight
The poor old gal wanted to have a blue with me.

Daily Poll: Have you ever been locked in? Mom….this is a great opportunity for you to tell your story. Go ahead…let it out.

Trivia: Britain decided to use its new outpost (Australia) as a penal colony. The First Fleet of 11 ships carried about 1500 people—half of them convicts. The fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1788, and it is on this day every year that Australia Day is celebrated.