Friday, January 26, 2007

"Poor horsey!"

People who have spent the night with MFC (and by this I mean "shared the living room floor with him after a night of drinking"*) will know that he talks in his sleep. Sometimes, if you're awake enough and feel like some fun, you can even have a whole conversation with him.

Why, just the other night this gem occurred:

MFC (sitting bolt upright and scaring the bejeejuice out of me): Is it still on?
an9ie: Um, yes?
MFC: (No response.)
an9ie: I mean, no! No, it's not on. I turned it off.
MFC: Good. (Lies back down again.)
an9ie: Hang on a minute, is what on?
MFC: (gives a heavy "my girlfriend is SO dumb" sigh and turns his back to me in rejection.)
an9ie: Ooooookay then.

And last night I woke up to hear him say:

"Oh, poor horsey!" and make those lip-smacking noises that people use to soothe cats or birds, or, in this case, horses.

Then he rolled over and patted me on the rump.


* This is of course pre-Angie, because I don't like staying over at people's houses unprepared (what! Without my dental paraphernalia? Without my moisturiser and a hot shower and my jim-jams and fresh cotton sheets and contact lens solution?). So I usually end up driving us home.

Happy Australia Day!



All posts today brought to you courtesy of AUSTRALIA DAY! (But only because this glorious public holiday allowed me to sleep in and post this morning from home.)

Happy Australia Day, everybody! I love it because I get to sleep in (yes, I know I've mentioned it already) AND we have fireworks this evening in the city (that experts from overseas are setting off for us because the government thinks we are all morons who will blow our hands and ears off otherwise).

Oh, and I suppose because I love this country too. No, no, I really do :) (I can't stand the national anthem though, and think we should have used "Waltzing Matilda" or something with a better tune, but that's a story for another day.)

MFC and I "still call Australia home" and we can't think of anywhere
else we'd rather live. I hope all of you from overseas can come and visit this great country one day.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guess what this (food) is #1

The rest of the family recently came back from South East Asia,
and brought back one of my favourite foods . . .




Not sure what it is? Let's have a closer look . . . OK, now it looks like something the probe from Mars sent back . . .



The answer is . . .



Hey! That label's wrong! It's actually called PORK FLOSS. I have NO idea why the packaging says "Shreded Pork Stick". It's like cotton candy/fairy floss, but meaty! Mmmm . . . meaty.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Peeves

I had an encounter (and I use that term very loosely) with one of my pet peeves yesterday. One of the things I hate, because it makes me soar to the heights of hopeful, innocent joy, only to come crashing down into bleak misery*, is when people take the last biscuit, but leave the empty packet behind, to ambush unsuspecting Angies. Deceit! Heinous deceit!

This then reminded me of some other pet peeves, because I am nothing if not anal, in my resentments. Do note that I am actually not referring to my current housemates here, because they are lovely and responsible people and a delight to live with (thank goodness). I'm actually referring to situations in previous houses I've lived in, or houses that I've stayed in during my travels, or past workplaces.

Such as:

  • Finding out that whoever used the milk last, ALMOST used it all up, but left a teaspoonfull's worth at the bottom of the container, so that they didn't have to be responsible for throwing it out**.
  • People who do not check the toilet to make sure they have flushed it properly, leaving a mellow, or worse, floaty surprise for the next person who uses it. Argh! My eyes! My eyes! (This check would also cut down instances where people dribble various bodily fluids onto the toilet seats and don't wipe them off.)
  • And while we're talking about toilets, this next bit is a bit too queasy for the boys, so I shall white it out (highlight with the mouse to read, IF YOU DARE):
-----------------
Start white text
-----------------
Women who throw their used sanitary napkin or tampon directly into the sanitary waste bin without wrapping it, so that it smears, or even worse, sticks to the metal tray. Unwary Angie lifts tray to dispose of her own unmentionable ladies item and . . . ARRRGH!

Wrap the damn things up first, people!
-----------------
End white text
-----------------

Man, the whole toilet thing is making me wonder if I should just drive straight home when I need to pee. Even if I'm in a restaurant or at an art exhibition.

  • Finding the sink full of dirty dishes, even though there is an empty dishwasher an arm's length away.
  • Using the dryer when we live in a state with very little rainfall, and it is always sunny outside and there is a clothesline. Perth does not need dryers, seriously.
  • People who try and cram as much as they can into the kitchen bin, even when the bag is overflowing, because they can't be bothered tying up the bag and carrying it out to the council bin, which is like, 10 metres away.
  • Not recycling.
I sense a pattern here. It's about people taking less and less responsibility for their waste. With indoor plumbing and electricity and gadgets and high density housing and council waste disposal, we're removed from the problem, and so we don't care. And this is why the planet is going to shit.

How would these people have fared in Ye Olden Days when you had to dig a hole for your own poop, feed your kitchen waste to the pigs or chickens, and cultivate a lime pit for bodies?

Hmmm . . . Angie imagines scene that looks suspiciously like it was stolen from The Crucible but sssh! I won't tell if you won't!

Proctor Jim: "The lime pit overfloweth with potato peelings! Who was too idle to transmogrify their unused kitchen fare? Now we have nowhere to put our dead! I blame THEE, Biddy Buntface!"

Biddy Buntface: "I was under a spell! The devil made me do it!"

Goodwife Angie: "I saw her, Proctor Jim! The hellion danced with a cohort of imps as she mouthed incantations and sprinkled potato peelings into the pit! And she ate all the chocolate biscuits too!" (Buries face in apron and sobs.) "Oh, those goodly chocolate biscuits, now condemned to the devil's abode!"

Proctor Jim: "Thou art a witch! And shall be burned, then hanged, then burned again!"

Goodwife Angie: (cackles into her apron) "That'll learn her to eat all the chocolate biscuits."


* I once got a B instead of an A in English for using language that was "too flowery". Can you believe it?
** Or rinsing and recycling it, as the case may be. This is what I do***.
*** I'm a good girl!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Balancing out the blog

Hey you guys, I've just realised that some apologies may be in order.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I do try to make the blog entries balance out, before we all come down with a case of the bitchhives. (What's that? You've never heard of them? They're pretty damn itchy, is all I can say. I always keep some DermAid and calamine lotion handy, but there is no cure, except a million dollars*.)

I try, oh, how I do try. Ideally, my posts would follow this kind of order:

Post 1: naughty
Post 2: nice
Post 3: a little mean
Post 4: nice
Post 5: kind of snarky
Post 6: uplifting
Post 7: G-rated funny

But most of the time, I end up with this:

Post 1: snark
Post 2: bitch
Post 3: meh
Post 4: snark-snark
Post 5: bitch-bitch
Post 6: smack talk
Post 7: here is a picture because my brain was empty today!
Post 8: bleah
Post 9: reference to porn
Post 10: mmm, food!

So, once again, my apologies!

Also, with the swearing. I'm sorry if you don't like it, I do talk this way in real life, though. And you may notice that I don't like to use the f**k word or the c**t word, not at all. MFC uses the F-word fairly liberally, and occasionally the C-word when he is engaging in macho-talk with the boys. This is fine, I don't mind. I accept that they are part and parcel of the free-speechifying society we live in.

However, not that I'm a prude, but I really dislike it when people use them in every single sentence, and loudly. It says, "Hello! I did not graduate from kindergarten and consequently do not have enough adjectives or nouns in my vocabulary." I feel like my brain cells are being tortured and my ears are going to bleed. It's like listening to the Chopper Read segments in the Ronnie Johns Show. I have to change the channel or leave the room when that part comes on, although the rest of the show cracks me up. Sigh, what a fragile little petal I am.

But the occasional b*tch, sh*t, and d*mn are OK.

Except around children.


* Meh, who am I kidding? All I'd do with a million dollars is go revenge-crazy, Count of Monte Cristo style. 

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Origin of Witchcraft (my theory)

As regular readers may know (and hello there! I heart you very much!), I'd been under a wee bit of strain over the holiday period, what with that revolting morning discovery, pre-Christmas misery, the whole land clearing thing (Parts 1 and 2), and those damn glamour shots.

In the midst of this, I generated enough ill-will to fuel a volcano. Screw dark matter as a potential energy source, if we could somehow harness all the bad thoughts in this world, and combust them, we'd be able to kiss petroleum and uranium goodbye.

As a passive-aggressive, I tend to internalise all my anger into a little ball of hatred, and then exorcise it with malignant thoughts and elaborate schemes of entrapment and revenge (which never get carried out, so I just end up eating bacon, pancakes, and Streets Parlour-Style Caramel Fudge Twist* instead).

Um, no ice-cream? Is that what it means?

And you thought I was a nice girl! :( Sorry. I am working on it though, and not letting things get to me so much, unless it deprives me of my sleep, and then, as spazz said on that post, I turn into a "psycho hosebeast".

During one of the sleepless nights (I think it was one of the "pre-Christmas misery" ones), it occurred to me, that maybe that's all witches were, you know. Just really, really, pissed off passive-aggressive misfits, who'd taken a few too many hits and went loco.

Maybe they were born with big warts on their noses and the villagers were mean and teased them lots, or the village idiot lived next door and kept tooting his bugle at inappropriate hours.

Maybe they just didn't want to get married at the age of 12, and did terrible things like learn how to read, and were ostracised for it. ANYWAY. . .

Thoughts are pretty powerful things. I mean, OK, obviously thinking about bludgeoning someone is nowhere near as bad as actually bludgeoning them. But it's not good.

I reckon I manifested enough hostility to affect someone once. It might have been coincidence, but, you never know. . .

(Brace yourselves, as this next fact may surprise you ;) I used to be quite a gym junkie, going to aerobics classes almost every day. Mondays and Wednesdays were the nights that I did Body Combat.

Of course, like all regulars, I had my usual piece of the gym to stand on, and I liked to have lots of room to do side and back-kicks. And then one day this blonde girl turned up, in tiny shorts and swishy hair. Swish, swish, went her hair as she surveyed the hall for a place to stand, and then came and stood right next to me. Argh! Invasion of space! I could have reached my arm out and touched her. My kicking perimeter space had been violated.

So my ire, it rose. "GRAH!" I growled to myself as I had to keep my kicks low, ruining my workout but also making it awkward because I couldn't extend my leg comfortably. So, every time I punched or kicked in her direction, I pretended I was doing it to tiny shorts girl.

10 minutes into the class, she suddenly hunched over, grabbed her stuff, and then ran for the women's changeroom. She didn't come back, so I can only assumed she went home. I felt kind of guilty, but also a little pleased, in a mean way, because I had all this space to myself again. Mixed up with all this was a bit of dizzying "Whoah, did I do that? Call the X-Men!" power vibe.

So was it my awful mojo that got rid of the other girl? Shouldn't I be using this power for good? Was it a fluke? Mind you, if it really did work, I would have had much more sleep by now, and there would be a lot more people hunched over their toilets in Perth.

* That my housemate left in the freezer before he went on his holiday, which I had three bowls of, and it gave me nightmares, and then I had to buy some more! But obviously, now I must eat enough to bring it down to the same level that I found it, so that everything's square with the household budget, you know?**

** Obviously.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Boudoir Photos/Glamour Shots: Is it bonfire night yet, Charlie Brown?

Ooh! Before I start my story, here is an interesting thing from the Choice website:

"According to copyright law, you (the client) own the copyright of photos commissioned for ‘domestic purposes’ (including family portraits, wedding photos and glamour photos), unless you and the photographer agree otherwise."

I don't remember signing anything, or even discussing it, so the photos are MINE and I can sell them! For money even! Hmm . . .

Update (22/1/2007): Actually I can't sell them, because they were commissioned for domestic use. Oh well, they can't sell them, either, but why would they? Dammit! There goes my plan of starting a credit card access-only website!

Angie will start the story now.

So, on Tuesday afternoon I finally went to pick up those damn glamour shots. And as I left the headquarters, and Hard Sell Girl said goodbye, I snarked, "I hope you enjoy your holiday to Bali! That I am paying for!" From the car, with the windows up, of course.

Then I went home and had another look at all of the photos. I like the little ones, because they are small (A4), and cheap(er than buying an organ from China), and easily hidden under the bed/Yellow Pages/shoestand. But the big ones . . . Oh man, they are HUGE. And the trouble is, if you are a nit-picking, low self-esteem wearing, obsessive-compulsive like me, you do not want to be looking at enormous pictures of yourself, no?

The close-up is not bad, but I wish those two WISPS of hair weren't hanging quite so low.

The nude one of me covering my boobs. Y'all (this section needed a Southern accent), why is my thumb angled back like that? Why does my ear-ring look funny? What the hell am I staring at?

And the one of my back? I should have been wearing clown makeup.

Sigh. Of course normal people will look at them and go: Why, Angie! You look lovely! And not scary and all don't-touch-me like you usually do!

But all I will see is strangely angled thumbs, messy hair, and a clown picture, that I paid $2500 in total for . . .

Bleah.

I must perk myself up now. (But why? you ask. We were all enjoying the sweet warm darkness of your depression. Mmm . . . so warm, and dark. Never want to wake up . . .)

No, I insist. I'm going to go to my happy place now. And in a way that doesn't involve vibrating objects or chocolate pudding or shoes.

This is how I cheer myself up.

I am going to be a millionaire in 5 years. (Yes, I have made an executive decision. Try and stop me.) And to a millionaire, you know what?

$5000? It is nothing! It is spare change! It is maybe 3/4 of what I spend on a single handbag! Ahahahaha! Because I am a millionaire!

As a millionaire, I will actually have a house SO BIG that as you're wandering through it, the portraits you see on the walls will seem tastefully spaced apart. (I say "you", because when I am rich I will fly over my overseas friends to visit me regularly.)

Anyway, while wandering through my palatial mansion/house, you will see aforementioned portraits, and you will think, ah yes, a wise choice, having the closeup of Angie in the West Wing and the boobie shot in the East Breakfast Nook.

You will peek into the English games room* and wonder, Why is she using that clown picture as a dart board?

Oh, and perhaps one day, when I am a millionaire, I will be brave enough to tell my mother about them.

Angie: "Lookie, Mumsie! Now that I am a MILLIONAIRE, I've had some pretty photos of me taken! For you to keep! They're all professional and stuff. Oh, er, maybe not the nude one . . ." (gestures urgently to Gaston to take it away.)

Mum:
"Why is your hair shorter?"

Angie:
"Um . . . Photoshop? I do own Adobe now, you know. MFC bought it for me as a Christmas present."

Mum:
"You're wearing too much makeup in those pictures."

Angie:
"Yeah. It felt like old cake."

Mum:
"I don't like them. How much did they cost?"**

Angie:
"I . . . Gah! Never you mind, because I . . . am a millionaire! Now, let's have a bonfire! Because I am a millionaire!"

* This house is so massive that it has SEVERAL games rooms, and they will be sorted by country. The Australian one will be full of beer, pies, and hammocks. Haha! Just kidding! Yes, yes, we have great swimmers and athletes and woo-yay for us Australians.

** Asian mothers are programmed to ask this question in relation to ANYTHING.
"Mum, we sold one of the children today."***
"How much?"

*** N.B. The only "children" we have are a stuffed dog named Heen, Max the little dachshund statue, and MFC's step-son****, Oliver the wooden giraffe, whose picture you can see in this post.

**** Why 'step'? Because I had to fork out the money to buy Oliver! I had to pay for my own toy! At the Perth Royal Show, the equivalent of the county fair! So MFC doesn't get any custody and Oliver doesn't call him "Daddy". Yes, I'm still bitter about it. Can you tell?

For all the girls - Paula Begoun's drugstore doubles

Ladies! Go here to see Paula Begoun's take on cheaper alternatives to name brand cosmetics. I'm going to try some of these as soon as my existing stock is finished.

I'm a great admirer of Paula Begoun, and buy a lot of stuff from her Australian website. If you become a Paula Direct member for only AUD$10, you get a huge discount, and every month there's a new special (occasionally it's free delivery), so good value all round. And her products last for ages. Paula believes in full product disclosure, so you find out exactly what is in them, and how they work for your particular skin type.

The last time I saw my friend Nicky, in person, I found out that she was using Paula's Choice products, based on her sister Veronica's advice. Veronica is the queen of skincare and makeup products. She has a huge budget to blow on these things, and gets only the best. And if Veronica was using Paula's Choice, it showed I was on the right track! Woo!

I have oily skin that has a tendency to get dehydrated. This caused me a lot of misery for many years, because I was treating it like dry skin and wondering why nothing worked. At the moment it is quite balanced, but greasy, because it's summer here, and hot. I currently use the Paula's Choice 1% Beta Hydroxy Acid Lotion every couple of days as a night-time moisturiser. It also seems to be a great spot treatment for small whiteheads that are just starting, I dab a gob of this lotion onto them and they disappear the next day.

I used her Essential Non-greasy Sunscreen for a bit but it's not great on my oily skin type. I think a person with normal skin would benefit more.

Her books are also quite illuminating. I followed her advice on TRESemmé brand shampoo and conditioner and have never looked back.

Just thought you girls would like to know about a great resource, good products at good prices!

Movie review: Vampyros Lesbos

On the weekend, I was looking up horror movies on the Internet, specifically, people's top horror movies of all time.

I know, I know. It's the last thing someone like me should be doing. I have this love-hate thing with horror movies. I love horror, I want to know all its stories, but then it lingers in my subconscious and resurfaces at inappropriate times, like when I'm in the loo, or trying to fall asleep, or driving at 3am in the morning and there's no one else on the road and I think some psycho has stowed away in my back seat, even though I already checked it before I left.

Anyway, one of the lists I found talked about this movie called Suspiria. The guy who compiled the list, and is obviously some kind of horror movie buff, said that when he got home he turned all the lights on, and even now, years later, his brain flashes back to scenes from the movies, which he remembers perfectly, and still frighten him.

This is how crappy I am at controlling my imagination, all I have to do is look up a brief synopsis of the story on Wikipedia and my brain does the rest. Well then, just don't do it, you silly b--, you might say. But I WANT to know, I MUST know. And then I end up sleeping with the light on, and the next day I wake up with eyebags that would rival the cracks of Mount Doom.

"Sam, is this where I'm supposed to throw the ring in?"
"Um, no, Frodo, they're just Angie's dead sleep-deprived eyes. Move along!"

But this post is not about scary horror movies. Even though I have waffled on about them for four paragraphs. No, I'm writing this post because looking at people's top 50 horror movies of all time reminded me of when SBS started advertising a certain horror movie and my friends and I from Uni were very excited about watching it.

The name of the movie was Vampyros Lesbos. Come ON, people. Lesbian vampires! It's bound to be a hoot! And probably pee-your-pants scary too!

So we all gathered together at Chris's house, because he'd taped it off SBS, and we were prepared to be frightened, and maybe a little aroused (well, the boys were), but mostly good old-fashioned frightened.

. . .
. . .
. . .

Damn you, Wikipedia! How could you have got it so WRONG! "Erotic horror tale" my arse.

See, there's this girl running around. Most of the time she looks confused. And then the director cuts to footage of a scorpion just randomly hanging around the pavement, or on some sand. All the cool scorpion hangouts. Then back to her. Repeat for two hours.

Oh no! Something's chasing her!
Cut. Scorpion tries to walk across a crack in the cement.
Bare-breasted women lounging around pool!
Cut. Scorpion goes to Gloria Jean's for a frappacino.
Head vampire woman tries to lure girl into bed! [Not as exciting as it sounds - an9ie]
Cut. Scorpion goes to TAB to bet on some horses.
Vampire man hunts her across island! [Once again, not as exciting as it sounds - an9ie]
Cut. Scorpion surfs RSVP.com for lady scorpions.

Disclaimer: Some of these scenes may not have happened exactly as described, or even in the locations specified. Guess which ones!

You get the idea. Blah symbolism blah boobies blah boring. After about 30 minutes we turned it off and played cards till Chris threw us out (he put his hands on his hips and went, "I'm going to bed now. I really mean it, you guys!").

And if you are a movie buff, please do not write and go blah blah, Angie actually the insects inherently symbolised blah, and the pavement covered with cracks represented her fall into hell etc., and it was actually REALLY SCARY if you know what metaphors to look for.

I guess I just don't get culture.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Clumsiness - inspired by Miss Doxie

Update (17/01/2007): Grammatical mistakes! Argh! All gone now! Also thought it would be funny to include MFC's response to me spilling hot fat on him.

Hi everyone! I'm as happy as a pig in pignuts*, swill, and mud.

Miss Doxie
, who is living my dream of cohabiting with a pack of sausage-bodied, short-legged, floppy-eared, cute-as-a-button hounds-from-hell, is currently very busy, and hasn't updated her blog for a few days.

Boohoo. I was suffering from withdrawal, and consoling myself with chocolate chip cookies, when I happened upon her old, old archives. Oh frabjous day!

This post, in particular, caught my eye.

I mean, the lady is beautiful, Southern, smart, and funny but still falls down stairs and accidentally flashes her boobs. I hear her pain and love her at the same time.

So here are my own small tales of clumsiness, inspired by Miss Doxie.

As a child visiting the department store with my mother, I was always made to wait outside the aisle that sold glassware or crockery, because Mum didn't want to fritter away the grocery money on breakages. Strangely enough, she had no problem with taking me with her into the cutlery aisle, which had knives and graters and other inviting items at child height.

Even now, when I have dinner at my parents' house, my mother will automatically lean over and push my plate a little closer to the centre of the table. Just because a few times in the past, I may have become too excited and gesticulated wildly with my hands while talking. In most people this is harmless, but with me it often results in my palm landing on the edge of my plate, and sending food all over myself, the table and the floor. So many innocent dinners have lost their lives this way. I salute you, my friends.

Childhood was a haze of grazed knees and walking into walls. Luckily, most collisions with said walls were usually stopped by my head.

At the age of 4, my sister was chasing me around my parents' bedroom when I tripped and my forehead hit a wooden corner of the bed. She got spanked, and I got five stitches. At the hospital, I remember my Dad kissing me on the head to make the pain stop (it didn't, and my childhood innocence was flushed down the toilet). I also remember the bright flash of the needle as it came down, looking like it was going to stab me in the eye but instead landing higher and burning me. Mum removed the stitches a week later while I slept.

At the age of 8, I dropped my glasses into the toilet at a restaurant, because I was leaning too far over the bowl to see where the toilet paper went. I fished them out and Dad had to pay $5 (an exorbitant amount in those days) for a glass of whisky to sterilise my hand and glasses. This was at the request of my mother, who thought I'd catch some horrible disease from toilet water. Who's the crazy now, eh?

In the first week of boarding school, I went to afternoon tea with the Headmaster's wife, a custom for new boarders. She set a lovely table with homemade biscuits and orange cordial and tea, served on white china. The table was covered with a lacy, fine linen tablecloth. Probably an heirloom tatted by her grandmother on her deathbed, and the only thing left to the family after the Second World War (I'm just guessing). Guess who reached for a biscuit and spilt orange cordial ALL OVER THE TABLECLOTH?

I don't think tablecloths like me. I think they keep trying to steal my glass, because they know I'm always thirsty, and in the resulting tug of war something gets spilled and they go, "Haha! Have at ye, trollop! Oh! I am wounded! But Angie is humiliated, so my sacrifice was totally worth it." As my evidence, I present to you numerous instances of spilling red creaming soda, red cordial, or red wine (according to appropriate age group) onto tablecloths at dinner parties, in restaurants, and onto cream wool carpets in people's rented houses. Red on white, such pretty colours.

At 18, I was running in the house with scissors, and I stumbled and stabbed myself in the thigh. Blood goes spurt! Big scar in thigh.

At 26, I was seized by a fit of hygiene awareness, and decided to clean around the kitchen stove and rangehood. With a damp sponge. While balancing on top of a rickety bar stool. The damp sponge touched some electrical component on top of the rangehood (which I, of course, had not turned off before cleaning), and sent a large shock through my arm. If I hadn't caught hold of a cupboard door, I would have fallen off the chair, hit my head on the cupboard, and probably been left paralysed on the kitchen floor. My parents were away for two weeks and I was alone in the house. If the worst had happened, I wondered if a) anyone would notice that I was missing, before I died of blood loss/starvation, and b) how long it would take our dachshund, to become hungry enough to start chowing down on me**.

Last year, I was walking to Harbourtown*** with a friend, and tripped and landed on my knee, ripping a hole in my jeans. After some ow-ing and ah-ing, I limped on to Harbourtown, thinking that everything was fine and the large brown stain on my jeans was just mud. We sat down in a cafe to wait for a friend, and I casually pulled up my jeans to look at my wound. The large brown stain was BLOOD, caused by the BLOOD spurting out of the gigantic HOLE in my knee. But I still went shopping, that's the kind of trooper I am. A month later, the hole had closed up and was healing nicely, with a little scar that I hoped would disappear with tender care. Then I walked down the street to lunch with some friends when I tripped AGAIN, ripping a hole in my other pair of jeans, and re-opening the scar. Sigh. Big puckery scar there now.

A few weeks ago, I made a roast chicken for dinner, and kept the fat and juices separate to make gravy. I heated up the juices in the microwave, and when I took out the bowl, I nearly dropped it because it was so hot. Ah. Phew. Didn't drop bowl of hot fat. Three seconds later, I touched it again, and it was still hot (duh) and I did a wild drama queen flailing of the hands which resulted in the bowl flying into the air, and spilling hot fat on my stomach, MFC's foot, and five kitchen surfaces (wall, wall, wall, ceiling, floor). Painful burn on Angie's stomach and a kitchen that still smelled of chicken fat after a week.

Surprisingly, MFC didn't go ballistic on me, apart from a loud "F***!" when his foot got burnt. He just gently took me by the shoulder, looked into my eyes, and whispered, softly and calmly, "Do you see what happens when you act like a drama queen?" Then he limped off to the bedroom while I cleaned up.

That's all I can squeeze out of my memory for now. Now I'm going to put on my padded fireproof suit and eat my dinner with a fork that has a cork on the end.

* No, not those kinds of pignuts (unless you have a great admiration for matadors and don't mind eating bull's testicles, in which case I guess you wouldn't mind digging into them). Just go here if you're confused.

** About 17 minutes, was my guess. But he might have turned up his nose at raw meat. He was kind of fussy like that.

*** Strangely enough, Harbourtown is nowhere near the harbour. It is however, very popular with people who talk like sailors.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Stradivarius on eBay? Buy, buy, buy!

I took up the violin for a while, in my salad days (oh, OK, it was only about five years ago), and I was playing on a Made In China jobbie that one of my cousins had discarded.

Things didn't sound quite right. How could that be? Why was I not an instant prodigy?

I was convinced that the cruddy quality of my "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (I was using the Suzuki method) was due to the fact that I had a substandard violin*.

A decent violin, I knew, would cost a few grand at least. But I thought I might get lucky. Find one second-hand. A diamond in the rough, discovered in someone's attic. Some poor grandma who was cleaning stuff out one day and said, to her equally clueless grandson who nonetheless was all tech-savvy and had an eBay account, "Billy, see if you can get somethin' for this here fiddle, why not start bidding at a buck? That's my boy!"

And then Billy would have gone, "Yeah, whatever, grandma," because he was too busy looking up Internet porn, and then I would have bought it, and found that I had the missing fifth Stradivarius that everyone thought had been lost forever in the second world war, but actually some guy stole it from Nazi headquarters and gave it to his uneducated peasant wife, who used it to hit the kids when they stole Papa's beer.

That was a long sentence.

Of course, now, being older and wiser, I know that the chances of finding a genuine Strad on eBay are about as high as getting Lindsay, Britney, or Paris (just pick your favourite) to only flash their panties to the world ONCE a week.

I was this close to being suckered in. Whew. Luckily, reason prevailed and I went and bought some SK-II instead, discovered by scientists in an ancient Japanese sake brewery and guaranteed to make you look like Cate Blanchett.***

If you're on eBay right now, do a search for Stradivarius violin. Billy is still selling them. But stay away from the SK-II! It's all mine!

* Yes, I know. How the young delude themselves! Really, it was because I had a shit teacher.**
** Ha! No, she was lovely. But I think I gave her wrinkles.
*** Look! In the dictionary! Next to the word "gullible", it's me!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Boudoir photos/Glamour shots - I'm never going to stop bitching

Nope, never. They're certainly providing a lot of blog fodder though, aren't they? Like the Hydra, cut off a head and two more grow in its place*.

Sometimes, to torture myself, I like to dream of what else I could have done with that $5000, like commission a life-sized bronze sculpture of me marrying Nathan Fillion. (Actually, screw that, I could use that to pay Nathan Fillion to be my husband for a day. Or a couple of hours.) Or try all the coffees at Gloria Jean's, and then be so hyped up on caffeine that I become like Neo in the Matrix. Or buy some pandas! Oh god! I could have bought some pandas!

Hmph.

Anyway, for my $5000, which could have paid for drinking water for an African village for a year, I got three gigantic framed pictures and about 20 A4s. But it's the framed ones that I shall obsess about today.

They are:

1. A closeup of me smiling. I think my head is resting on the back of a chair or something, so my face is on its side.

2. A full body shot where I am NEKKID, but with my arms covering the boobies, and a sheet hiding the down-below bits.

3. An arty one with my back turned to the camera, where you can just see a little bit of my nose. I like that one best, 'cause you can't tell it's me, and it's oddly poignant**. Heh. You're not sure if you should boo or cry. In fact, I think it would proudly hold its own next to one of those crying clown prints.

So, these gigantic white elephants that show me looking damn good? My master plan is to FORCE my progeny/spawn to pass them down as heirlooms, ushering in a new age of horror for each generation. Hopefully I'll stick around for a while so I can make sure this happens and they don't end up in Red Dot or god forbid, WA Salvage's closing down sale. I'm planning to live for a pretty long time, and of course, look young through the miracle of science. By the time I'm 90 my body should be 87% plastic.

The proud hand-me-down ceremony would look a little like this:

Heir 1: "But Great-great-great Gammy, I don't want that huge closeup of you smiling! You look so evil, like you've eaten a baby! The eyes follow me around the room!"
Heir 2: "Oh, you think you got a raw deal, Floyd, but I got the one where you can almost see her boobies!"
All (dry-retching): "Ewww!"
Heir 3: "Hey! I don't know why you guys are complaining, I've got the pseudo-arty one where she thinks she's a painting. It's so kitsch. Why don't I just buy one of those singing fish and put that on the wall instead?"
Ancient-plasto-cyborg-an9ie: "Shut it, you kids, before someone gets a knuckle sandwich from Gam-gam! Those pictures cost me a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Canada! I could have stalked Nathan Fillion! So you are going to keep them, and you are going to cherish them!"
(Then I'll do that Homer Simpson thing where I shake my fist in their faces and they cringe, but one of them says, "Who's Nathan Fillion?") "I said, CHERISH THEEEM!"

Oh man, good times. No? Maybe you just had to be there. In my head.

I only wish they could be like those living portraits in Harry Potter? The big smiling one of me would keep whispering things like, "I can smell your blood!" and "Your baby looks so . . . delicious." The nude one could flash people. Sometimes for money. Mostly for fun. The arty one could just . . . stand there. Poor arty shot, even as a living portrait, not very useful. But I love you best.


* Why, no, officer, I haven't been drinking.
** People who know me will say I am about as poignant as cheese. Or is that piquant? Anyway, I like most cheeses, so I don't mind. Oh, except the kind that tastes like I threw up in my mouth. You may laugh, but I have had cheese like that in Europe. And then I had to SWALLOW IT to be polite.

Leonard Nimoy. Naked Ladies. OMG!

I was trawling through some of Neil Kramer's old posts when I found this one about prominent Jews.

OMG! Did you know that Leonard Nimoy likes to take photographs? Of naked ladies? Typical, I'm always the last to find out these things. Some of these pictures even show their hoohoos!

Be sure to check out the Maximum Beauty series. Those ladies look like they're having fun :) I love the dancing in a circle shot.

I'm actually quite pleased I found this site, not because I like looking at hoohoos (I don't dislike looking at them either, but I'd rather be looking at hohos*), but because I was just thinking that I need well-defined, simply lit, naked bodies to practise my human anatomy drawing with, and I can't seem to find any good classes at the moment. Enter Mr Nimoy!

There is also an official Leonard Nimoy photography website but the link wasn't working when I tried it. Perhaps you'll have better luck.

* Hohoho! Yeah. I suck.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My demons changing shifts

Inside Angie's head...



Birthday: 10th January, 2007.

Method:
Wacom tablet and MS Paint. I know it's a little rough, but I needed to say this quickly.

Comment:
My brain did it again. On Monday I had to spend the night by myself. For some reason, as I crawled into bed, I did not start thinking horrible things about malevolent supernatural beings and how they were all out to get me. Nope. This time I fixated on the corporeal. I was convinced that thugs, souped up on drugs, were planning to break into my house. So I got out of bed and wedged a barstool under the doorknob. But I still didn't feel safe.

Cruelly and ironically, I am afraid of the dark, but cannot sleep with the light on. However, there were burglars outside my house, so the lights stayed on. In the morning I felt like a moron, and I was sure tiny gnomes had replaced my eyelids with burnt toast.

I also came close to wetting the carpet at 3am when nature called, and I couldn't get the damn barstool out from under the doorknob.

If it's not frickin' Somara and Sadako, it's real-life monsters. Seriously, I think I need to start a bedtime drinking/ketamine/pot habit.

Update (12/01/2007):
I was telling MFC about this and said, "I don't know what's wrong with me! I think I'm cured and then some other phobia takes its place!"

He looked at me carefully and replied, "Mm-hmm. And you don't think it had anything to do with the fact that you had three bowls of ice-cream before you went to bed?"

I'm not taking his advice seriously. I mean, it's not like he's a medical professional or anything.

Don't enter awards competitions, just don't.

Update (11/01/2006): This post also appears as a feature at indiebloggers. Woo! - This message was brought to you by an9ie, spreading the snark since 2005.

I did a very bad thing yesterday. It was terrible, and it made me feel awful, horrible, gutted, replete with self-loathing. I will never allow myself do anything like that again, unless MFC discovers cold fusion, or I become some kind of super-powered mutant (hmm, make a note: good conversation-stoppers for the school reunion).

Also, I will probably have to stop being the poster-girl for schadenfreude, and dudes, it's not just a job, it's a calling, OK?

So here is the Incredibly Bad Thing I did: I Googled my ex-classmates. From Uni.

Unfortunately, I found them. They were never the kind of people to sink into obscurity, the Honours crowd, they were brilliant and ambitious and fun to be with.

One was a former CTO for a company in London, and now he and another classmate have started up their own company in Perth. It looks like they're on to something pretty good, they'll probably make a ton of money and retire before 40. Reading their bios made me want to screw up my resumé and recycle it into toilet paper. And not the soft cotton-rich stuff either, but the recycled brown matter you find in National Park toilets. You know, that gritty concoction that looks like it's been pre-mixed with crap and freeze-dried sand.*

But I didn't stop there. No. Because Angie is a moron.

Although my self-esteem was already in the U-bend, it appeared I wouldn't be satisfied until I'd flushed it all the way to the sewage plant.

I Googled some more people I knew. People who were younger than me, and certainly a lot more focussed than me at the time** (I spent a lot of my Uni days drinking chocolate milk and watching Buffy. That's pretty much all I remember. The rest is a sugar-glazed blur). And holy crap! This guy that I'd always envied, because he was studying 3D animation at Curtin, is now a visual effects artist for Rising Sun Pictures, and worked on The Last Samurai and the third Lord of The Rings. Another girl went to Oxford as part of her PhD and has a pilot's licence.

Unfortunately, there were people around, so I couldn't tack a Post-It onto my worthless carcass saying "Ship to Chum factory" and then kill myself.

The moral of this story:

Like Bruce Mau says in his manifesto (I believe it is number 26), "Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you."

Basically, I'd made up my own awards competition in my head, and dear god, I'd come last.

In a competition I MADE UP.

IN MY HEAD.

Just don't do it, m'kay?

* Colons do not require exfoliation, that's all I'm saying.
** Actually, I'm not that great at focussing in general, except when I'm at a party and someone comes out with finger food. Then it's all, "I am a hungry Jedi, you will bring the plate... to me..."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Boudoir photos/Glamour shots - I finally did them!

Note: Oh, I've lived in fear long enough. So here's the post. Beware, it is rather long and convoluted. Get a cup of tea. Sit yourself down. You may need a toilet break.

A continuation of the Boudoir photos saga, except now I shall refer to them as "glamour shots". This post has been a long time coming. For some strange reason, perhaps as a "right brain, left brain" kind of thing, I find that when I'm on holiday, all I want to do is sleep in, play Sega Mega Drive games on MFC's PC emulator, and see how many Shortbread Creams I can eat in one sitting. Too slothful to blog or Internet, I remain dormant, unless something raises my ire (like silly ladies who want us to fork up imaginative amounts of fence money, see previous posts).

Then, the work week begins and suddenly I love the Internet. I love blogging. I love drawing my silly cartoons. I'm inspired to make crazy jewellery. Ideas for posts leap out at me and I scribble them furiously on bits of scrap paper, or e-mail them to myself to expand on later.

So, if this theory holds, to become a really, really good artist, it looks like I have to find an incredibly mind-numbing job, like the person who glues together boxes in a box factory. By Grabthar's Hammer, I could potentially be the best artist in the world then.

Anyway, back to the glamour shots, a post that I have visited many times but never finished. By the way, I told my sister about them tonight, when she called me, and she couldn't stop laughing. And not in a "teehee" kind of way, but in a "BWAHAHAHAHA, GLAMOUR SHOTS! AHAHAHAHA!" kind of way.

I have mixed feelings about the photos. They turned out beautifully, and I enjoyed the session, although my first reaction to the makeup was, "Good lord, I look like a Harajuku callgirl. Does Gwen know?" I do understand that you need that kind of heavy makeup to look natural in photos, which is some kind of bizarre oxymoron. They certainly did the job, because the photos make me look like not-Angie, the one that says no to Picnic bars. The Angie that looks like she's been narrowed horizontally in Photoshop, and had the blur, clone-stamp, and smudge tools applied liberally. (By the way, I love you, clone-stamp tool. Kisses!)

I felt that [name removed] was a true professional, and very good at what he did, but the sales rake-over that I received after the event left me feeling vulnerable and very, very poor, once I realised what I'd done. Oh, I can afford the pictures, but in a now-that-overseas-trip-will-have-to-wait-till-next-year and I'll-have-to-take-on-a-casual-weekend-job-and-eat-cereal-for
-the-next-12-months kind of way. In fact, I feel so damn poor I'm champing at the bit for July to come round so I can get my tax refund. But oh no, no regrets.

I have no regrets because I CAN'T HAVE ANY. I'm in, I made my bed, dug my hole, whatever, and moping about it won't help, although MFC does bring it up from time to time, such as when I nag him about buying some new geek toy. "But do you really need it, my sweet?" "Well, I can afford it, babycakes, since I'm not the one that blew $5000* on photos!", and I have to retreat, murmuring, "Yes, yes, I suppose you're right," while thinking, You wait till it's bedtime and I have cold feet, mister, because I know where I'm gonna put them!

I can have no regrets, even though, after the big sale, I had to go and lie down and stare at the ceiling, awestruck at the colossal amount of money I had spent**, and MFC had to come and talk to me gently until I recovered. The way you talk someone desperately clinging to the windowledge by their toes, or a sleepwalker who's holding a gun, and is dreaming that they're big game-hunting in Zaire. (For your information, the MFC was pretty angry at the whole sales pressure thing too, but he let me make my own decision. For some reason he thinks I'm a grown-up.)

I chose the damn things, and I'll pay for them, and I'll enjoy them, my three framed pictures and some A4s in a box. Even if I have to sell them on the Internet so I can afford them. And really, now that my youth has been captured forever on cotton-rag paper, I can let myself get gloriously, luxuriously fat and spend hours in the sun. Or, at least I thought I could, but MFC threatened to walk out if I did anything like that deliberately.

But really, to all of you who are considering this, caveat emptor, OK, guys? I'll tell you what you're in for, and hope you can be a little stronger and wiser than me, or at least have a large deposit saved up, if you ever go down this path.

Taking the photos was the fun part, being made up, and talking with the makeup artist [name removed], who is so good at what she does. And yes, I know I said I looked like a you-know-what, and I really think I did, and so did MFC when he had a close look in daylight, but it made for a lovely result in the photos. [Name removed] is very down-to-earth and we had a fun girlie chat while she was creating the facade. Oh, and she used to be a world-class ballroom dancing champion. Cool, eh?

I had fun during the shoot as well. [Name removed] and I talked a lot about art, photography, Photoshop and image processing, RGB versus CMYK, digital versus analog. I told him to get a Wacom tablet, and how it would change his life once he got off the mouse. He made me assume (and hold) a lot of poses which felt awkward, and required a lot of bending. My back was a bit stiff so I had to have a good stretch after each one, but the poses do bring out the best parts of your body, and still manage to look natural and hide any bulgy bits.

I made an appointment to come by after work the next week, to choose which photos I wanted. I asked for the prices beforehand so I could budget, and I was told:

A4 photos - $150 each, or $120 each if you buy a large framed picture,
Large framed pictures - start at about A3 size including gold leaf frame, $690, $790, $890. To have the large pictures on canvas instead of paper (for an oil painting effect), would cost $400 on top of that.

Holy crap indeed.

My gift included the photo session and makeup, and one free A4 photograph. I thought, silly me, that I would get, oh, at the most, $500 worth of photos, some nice A4s, for the memories. I was wrong.

Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I budgeted beforehand. I thought I was prepared. But I still blew my budget. No one held a knife to my throat, but on the day, I still managed to spend 10 times more than what I had intended. So spare me any snide comments or judgements because I'll ignore you and bring out the voodoo dolls. Hey, I didn't think it would happen to me, Miss Careful-On-A-Budget, but it did, and now I'm telling you.

I cannot directly state that the photos were a rip-off. What's the price of art blah blah? How do I know what his overheads are? However, I certainly felt that I was heavily pressured into making a far larger purchase than planned. And if any friends would like to get these kinds of photos done, I will let them know about all the "traps", yes, a harsh word, I know, but marketing traps these were, putting you in a high pressure situation, making you feel like it was now or never, and you could never come back.

On picture selection day, I met [name removed]'s daughter, [name removed], who oversaw the selection process, and we sat in a room with soft music and the lights turned down low, while enormous photos of myself paraded in front of us. It's unnerving, looking at yourself like that. I felt like I was in some bizarre Hitchcock movie. "And here are some pictures of the latest victim." "Oh, she was such a pretty girl." "Yeah, well now she's wormfood." ARRRGH!

We looked through about 50, maybe 60 photos. Here is what happened:

- I made a first pass through the photos and "culled" the ones I didn't like. Despite this, we revisited them anyway. In fact, I think we may have gone through the whole set about six or seven times. At one point she insisted that I choose ones according to how I would display them, in the living room or in the bedroom. I played along, although privately I thought that they would all be bedroom ones, because I didn't want to be one of "those people" who have gigantic pictures of themselves all over their house. I think it's a bit wanky, to tell the truth.***

- MFC came along a bit later, to help me choose. I don't think having a partner along is necessarily a good idea, because then you'll end up with more photos, as they will very likely choose ones that you don't like (bloody men), but then you feel a leetle guilty and you want them to have the pictures that they like as well.

- I asked if I could pick some photos out now, and come back at a later time to get more. I was told that the ones I picked now, this evening (i.e. bought) would be kept, and the ones I didn't would be discarded. Considering that these were digital photos, and memory is so cheap (especially if you run this kind of business and can tax-deduct it), I found this a little suspicious. If I were allowed to take the copies home on a CD, now that would have been something, but no, they got rid of the ones you wouldn't pay for, and you could only keep the printouts.

- As mentioned before, I couldn't come back later to have another look, and was told, only one client in all the years had ever come back to get more pictures, i.e., you won't come back either, so we have to get this done now. I definitely felt under pressure to make a decision then and there. I couldn't leave until I'd picked all the ones I wanted. I couldn't even take them home and deliberate over them. I arrived at 5.30pm and was there for just over 2 hours.

- When I asked about the prices, I was told that they had not changed for twenty years, and that prices were going up in the New Year. I would understand this if they were using old film processes, but surely with digital technology and improved printing technology, costs would be much lower now?

- I was happy to have all my selections as A4s, but I was told that some photos would only look good as large framed pictures, or only look good as the largest framed pictures. It would be "a waste" to have them as A4-sized pictures.

- At one point, before I made a full decision, the total was something like $5080, and I asked if it could be rounded down to $5000. Absolutely not, I was told. No room for bargaining whatsoever. Like a chump, I accepted it, when perhaps I should have walked out. I mean, $80 less out of $5000? I think you can get better deals on LCD TVs at Harvey Norman's.

Oh, that doesn't sound too bad, you may think. Silly weak-willed Angie. Perhaps I was trapped by my own vanity. But seeing all those lovely pictures of myself, and being told I only had one day to choose, I jumped. I abandoned reason. But at least I got this story out of it. Now, if you are a friend, that I may encounter in real life, be kind. Do not rub the amount I have spent in my face. In fact, please do not mention it at all. I think a small artery in my brain dies every time I hear how much money I've spent. Apart from that, feel free to ask questions while I have surviving arteries and can speak coherently.

As a postscript, I confessed to a friend what I'd done and how much I'd spent. She too, confided that she had felt pressured to spend about $420 on photographs that seemed reasonable at first (they hook you in with the sitting fee), and she showed me, three small black and white framed photos in a plain black frame, of her son. Smaller than A4, about A5 notepad size. So she got "done" too, and so we commiserated together. I don't know. It just doesn't seem right.


* Sigh. Yes, you read correctly. There is no extra zero typo. Actually, it was a tiny bit less, but it's easier to round up.

** Enough for an unforgettable trip around the world. Enough for the hard drive and scanner I need. Enough for half a year of Uni. Enough to reduce the interest on my mortgage by a whole lot. Enough for laser skin treatment every month! Suddenly these seemed like much more worthwhile things to invest in.

*** And now I AM one of those wankers. However, if my mother ever visits (she has no idea what I did), they're going in the store room. She has a heart attack when my father buys a DVD, lord knows how she would survive several grand's worth of photos.

Hey, why aren't WE getting paid to blog?

I mean, really, I look at the blogs on news.com.au, and the credentials range from "Peter has had thirteen years experience as a professional musician and editor of Music Weekly" to "Madison likes to shop for bikinis and thinks 30 is old!"

I reckon I could fit my blog in there and make some pocket money.* You know what I'm really, really good at? I am a world, nay, GALAXY-class whinger extraordinaire.

My little byline would include the following:

Angie is an experienced whiner, rabble-rouser, and malcontent, who has been honing her craft for the 30 years that she has been out of the womb. Anecdotes from her mother show that she was sending back breast-milk before she'd even had a taste of the other boob. She always finds the weather too hot or too cold, and thinks that people still in school are on Ice and plotting to steal her purse.

See, we can all find something we're good at!

* Note: am currently desperate for any spare change you may find lying around, as I have spent a ludicrous (possibly even a Ludacris) amount on glamour photos. Story coming soon but I want to have the bastards physically in my hands before I post so that I don't receive them covered in spit or with Photoshop-enhanced thighs or something equally unpleasant.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I have a whole stack of good ones somewhere, but I figure I'll just Nike them, you know. I'll just try and do them, as often as I can and as well as I can without thinking about it too much. Because thinking too much is the surest way for me to put them up on this crazy pedestal that makes me cringe, thinking, no way can I do all that, it looks so hard, I don't have enough time/money/talent and why do I think I even deserve that kind of success?

So...I shall just do them. And then they shall be done. And lo, I can say to myself, See, crazy lady? You did that thing after all, so what was all the bitching and whining about? Eh? Eh? Hey! You look at me when I'm talking to you! Shouting? I'm not shouting, YOU'RE THE ONE THAT'S SHOUTING!

However, in the spirit of the New Year, I thought it would be cool to have some lame half-arsed resolutions that even I could keep, and here they are:

1) Be able to drink more than 10mls of alcohol without turning bright red, becoming sleepy, getting a migraine, and having my sinuses swell up. I shall start on the three bottles of Midori that await in the kitchen, chipping away at them with a sparkling mineral water mixer, until I OVERCOME this ridiculous teetotal state. Baileys is also allowed, mmm, yummy Baileys, but not too often because of the unfortunate bloating...lactose intolerance, remember? Ooh, I'm experiencing motion-sickness just thinking about it.

2) Buy only one bad food item per grocery shopping expedition.

3) Draw more pictures of dachshunds.

Hooray for resolutions!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Die, shonky tradesmen, die! - Lawn and garden maintenance (Part 2)

Written 5th January 2007:

So, the last time I left you I was ready to do this (and much use it would have been, but at least my passive-aggressive soul would have been satisfied):



I finally heard from Mum this afternoon. She said she arrived at the block with her menacing posse (my words :), and the guy had already done a third of the block with his mower. She asked him to stop work, and gave him $50 for his trouble (which he solicited and was very happy to get). She felt sorry for him and gave him a cold bottle of lemonade that she had in the car, which also made him very happy.

According my mother, who has the softest heart on the planet, bless her, he was a very nice man, and he said that the garden maintenance was just a side-business. His main job was fixing computers.

Let me tell you, my job is to maintain computers, and I'm thinking that instead of wasting those four years at Uni, I should have just bought myself a chainsaw and a strimmer. I could have a mansion in Peppermint Grove by now, with a boathouse and a small yacht. And a bronzed poolboy called Umpopo.

So, this guy, who at first quoted $450 to only clear the grass, managed to cut more than a third of it in the time it took my parents to drive to the block (20 minutes), and was happy to take $50 for the work he'd done (even though it wasn't authorised). Is anyone seeing the disparity in the mathematics here?!? Or is it just me?

To add insult to injury (perhaps we have been naughty and karma decided it was time for some payback), while Mum was out there, the lady from next door came over and demanded our address so she could send us a bill for half of the dividing fence. Luckily Mum was not intimidated and told her she'd have to speak to her daughter (thanks Mammy!).

The woman kept saying that the neighbour on the other side of the fence had paid up, and she had got a very good price on the fence (when asked what this "good price" was, she said she "couldn't tell"). She also kept mentioning that her husband was Australian and that they were property agents (well, big whoopee for you, ma'am!)

I researched the Dividing Fence Act of 1961, and the dividing fence needs to be agreed on before construction by both neighbours, and if not, they should have sent us a Notice To Fence in the mail. Regardless, we do not have to contribute to the cost of the fence (and the Act says "contribute" and not "pay half") until we complete a building or substantial structure on the land. (I'm not sure if a giant Wicker Man passes for a "substantial structure", but I really hope so :) If the aforementioned "lady" crosses my path tomorrow when we go to clear the land, I am going to throw the full Act at her. Perhaps I should etch it into a concrete slab first.

Written 6th January 2007:

Just got back from four hours of clearing the block, a concerted family effort with MFC and another family fried helping as well. I got bitten by red ants but managed to kill them before they crawled up to my bajingo, came home, scrubbed myself clean, had a small nap, and woke up feeling like ten kinds of crap. But it's all done!

Apparently before we got there the lady (perhaps too generous a term) next door was leaving in her car, and she said again to Mum, "You have to pay half of the fence, you know!" "How much was it?" asked Mum. "Oh, I've forgotten!" Gleesh. I hate bullies.

I hate bullies who pick on my family even more. Passive-aggressive Angie becomes Cold-Frosty-Claw-Your-Eyes-Out-Angie then.

Anyway, all's well that ends well, and maybe I'll get to build my Wicker Man and have a human sacrifice in it too* :p


* Disclaimer to anyone without a sense of humour: Of course I am not going to set fire to a huge Wicker Man on the family plot, idiots.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Die, shonky tradesmen, die! - Lawn and garden maintenance (Part 1)

Sigh. My parents have an issue with tradesmen at the moment. They're all busy, and it appears that nine out of ten of them are bastards.

Mum and Dad own a block of land to the east of the city. Last week they received a fine in the mail because the grass had been allowed to grow too long and was a fire hazard. OK, fine. They did the right thing, talked to the ranger, paid the fine, and started looking for tradesmen who would cut and clear away the grass.

Mum called round and they all refused work because they were too busy, it being the holiday season and all. Obviously they don't care about sustaining a customer base because they're all too rich already and can't take on new clients. She finally found a Jim's Mowing guy who said he would do the job on Tuesday for $400. It had to wait till Tuesday because he had to hire some "special" equipment.

On Tuesday he called up and postponed till Thursday, because it looked like it would rain. Then on Thursday he called up and said he'd looked at the block, it was bigger than he thought, and now it would cost us $1200 to cut down the grass and take it away. So I told Mum to tell him to bugger off, and pray that he got srtuck by lightning on the way home (well, OK, maybe that last bit I said in my head, but I wished hard!).

My feelings are that it was a win-win situation for him, charge an unholy sum which would either a) frighten us away, or b) we'd be so desperate that we'd pay it anyway, and he'd get a lot of money for a day's work. OK, who earns $1200 a day, people? (Apart from neurosurgeons.) Why aren't we all starting up our own Jim's Mowing businesses, in that case?

So she asked the nice ranger for an extension, and called up four other guys, and told them the size of the block in advance (around 1000 square metres, 1079 sqm to be precise). Two of them said they'd look at the block and call back (they never did).

One of them said that as long as she cut and removed the grass near the fenceline she would be fine. He said he would charge $400 to do this, just cut the grass to 3 metres around the perimeter. (Mum asked the ranger about this and he said, no, if the block is under 3000 square metres to have to cut all the grass and take it away).

The third one wanted to be paid in advance, $450 to slash the grass but not take it away. He wanted pre-payment because he'd been ripped off before, and he couldn't start work till Wednesday. Mum said that she'd been ripped off before too, and she wasn't comfortable paying till after the job was done. The phone cut out at this point and Mum left it there.

Today (Friday) she got a call from him saying that he's started work on the block, and to come and see if she liked his work. If so, she could pay him when she was done. She called me, and I said that she never authorised the work, so he shouldn't have started, and to call him back and cancel, and say that she wouldn't pay for it.

I called her again ten minutes later, and she said that she tried to call him, but he wasn't answering his mobile, and so she was going down to look at the block. I asked her who she was taking with her, and she said Dad and Glen.

So now they're down there at the block with this guy, and I asked MFC if I should go, but he said that if the three of them can't stand up to this one guy then we have more problems than we thought.

I'm waiting to hear back from them but I think Mum will probably end up paying this guy some money to do a half-arsed job and we'll have to go down there tomorrow anyway to clean up after him.

Seriously, I'm wondering if Perth bloggers should unite and start some kind of tradesmen directory and rating system. Either that or I'm going to have to start making some seriously lethal voodoo dolls.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rottnest getaway - New Year's Eve

Sorry for the quiet, everyone! On New Year's Eve, MFC and I went to Rottnest to spend some time on his dad's boat, anchored at Stark's Bay, Rottnest.

The ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest was packed with schoolies. At my advanced age, I look at anyone still in school suspiciously and clutch my purse close to my chest while MFC tells me not to be a tool. I also anxiously keep my Kwells close at hand, intending to consume the maximum amount allowed per day (I think someone died from an overdose once) because I am horribly, ingloriously prone to sea-sickness.

Here's a picture of exhausted MFC after the arduous trip across. We both felt groggy due to the unnatural waking hour of 8am required to catch the ferry. What? We're on holiday!


I woke him when lunch was ready. Freshly caught crays!

Steamed gently in seawater for 25 minutes, and then dipped into mayonnaise and eaten with fresh bread and butter. Instant addiction. Crayfish = Angiecrack. Oh dear lord, I would bludgeon someone over the head for some of that sweet, sweet flesh right now.

In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have woken MFC for lunch. More crayfish for Angie! We ate a lot of things we caught ourselves. When the sun started to set, we fished for next day's breakfast from the back of the boat. Fried skippy and herring, with toad-in-a-hole on the side.

The view from the boat, blessed with glorious weather on the last day of 2006. Happy New Year!

I feel sad when...

...I can't think of any more things to eat. Last night I made a delicious bacon and prawn carbonara with tagliatelle egg noodles. On tonight's menu are garlic prawns with a tomato and cucumber salad. Tomorrow I think I'll make turkey meatballs with mushroom stroganoff.

Not bad for someone who's slightly lactose intolerant.

Yes, I know I'll pay. Oh, how I shall pay...