Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Wistful can of worms

There are a thousand things I wish I could do, but can't due to reality and physics. Here's the abridged list:
  1. Return loved ones from the dead, Lazarus-style.
  2. Time travel. 
  3. Meet the earth's deepest, strangest sea life at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. 
  4. Sing.
  5. Settle down in a quiet little town and forget about everything.
Oh well. 

Kate Takes 5 has some wonderful and far less whiny impossibilities on offer. 

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Toilet humour by way of apology

Potty training is the hellish process by which toddlers exact revenge on their parents for future ills. Somehow the Geneva Convention fails to mention potties. Perhaps as with childbirth, the frequency of this right of passage makes it seem somehow normal and okay. As a potty training survivor, I can confirm that it is not. That period in my life is a blur. I still don't like to talk about it...much. 

During my dark days in the potty training trenches, the trusty Auntie D lent me a lovely pull-the-tabs potty training book. The kind of delicate book that survives in a household with nice orderly children, not monsterdogs who use mauling to show affection. It didn't take long for some alterations to occur (see below). 

'And as a reward you can keep your other arm.' 
'Mum, I think I pushed too hard.'
Cat flees wreckage; limbs continue to drop at an alarming rate. 
I'm not even sure WHAT Ana ripped out in that last picturewhatever it was, it has long since dissappeared, likely eaten by its attacker. 

Auntie D: we officially apologise for maiming your book. However, since we had a floating head and arm handy, coupled with a sleep-deprived sense of depravity, we humbly submit the following potty story re-imaginings in compensation. 

Cat watches in abject horror. The storyline has taken a grim turn. 
Grotesque genetic experimentation gone potty.  
No. It is a human head. Cat pukes hairball in terror. 
Though I don't have a picture of it, one image sticks in my mind from the potty training days. On a dark stormy night when Ana was supposed to be tucked safely in bed upstairs, Papa and I suddenly heard her shrieking for help through the floorboards. We dashed to the rescue, ready to defend our precious girl from night pirates, monsters, ogres, demons, or whatever, armed with nothing but our bare hands and ritious anger. We smashed open her bedroom door, and there was Ana: crashing about her room with her potty stuck fast on her head, like an irate Pooh Bear caught in a honey pot. She'd snuck out of bed to try it on like a hatjust like all the good potty books all suggest.  Papa eased the hat off and calmed her down. We both tried not to laugh too much. 
Mutant flees mutilated book. Oh the humanity.  
Things have really improved since then. But we are due another dose of potty training in a bit over a year. So as they say to St Jude: pray for us

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Seven only slightly silly things

The lovely tag-team MummySquared has roped me into a game of 'seven things you didn't know about me'. Pretty exciting stuff for a bog standard Tuesday around here, thanks guys.

As requested, here are seven mostly true and largely inoffensive things about me:*
  1. I have double-jointed thumbs. 
  2. I served a cappucino to Julia Roberts once.
  3. I was very nearly born under a juniper tree.
  4. I fell head-first off a balcony as a toddler, but was caught by a toe.  
  5. My brother used to tease me by calling me 'Spatula'. He has since sharpened his teasing skills. 
  6. My daughters think shampoo is kryptonite. 
  7. I got married on a solstice, under a thundercloud, to a cowboy.
I could go on, but anyone reading this probably nearly asleep. So I will tag some far more interesting people for resuscitation purposes: Whiskey for Aftershave, Honest Mum, and Cocktails by the Kiddie Pool. Their lists will no doubt be fascinating and hilarious. 

*Apologies for any tedium-based eye-strain this list causes. You can probably tell that I have lived a sheltered life.

Early risers

Spring on my step. 
A toast to Mother Nature via The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Deceptively spacious rain gods

Dear rain gods,

Stop it already. I know you invest heavily in Wellington boot production and clinical depression, but give us a break. Why don't you go on holiday to my eternally drought-stricken homeland?

How I wish you weren't here,



To the estate agents in my life,

Can we drop 'deceptively spacious' please? If I see that nonsensical phrase one more time I am going to spontaneously combust. And can we please let me be the judge of  'well appointed' and 'sought after location? I am not a turnipI can diagnose overpriced 70's carpet and crap house near an off-licence all by my little self.

Thank you for your linguistic consideration,



Dear Nana,

I've slept more in the past three days since you arrived than I did in the entire year before that. The giant crows foot atop my neck appears to be melting back into a human face. You can stay. Or rather, you're not allowed to go.




Dear Kat of 3 Bedroom Bungalow,

Thank you for delivering my letters through the So & So post. This is especially helpful at the moment, as Royal Mail still appears to be dealing with a huge Christmas backlog (it's the wrong kind of post).

I look forward to partaking in this fun weekly event again,


Friday, 14 January 2011

Be of good cheer

November is a season of thanks, December a month of festivity, and January a bleak stretch of blerg. Chin up, there are some reasons to be cheerful in spite of it all. For instance:
  1. Soup. The wonderful smell of Nana's vegetable soup is currently wafting in from the kitchen. There is no better reminder of home and warmth than wintertime soup. 
  2. Pudding. Some diet in January, I eat sugar in search of hope at the bottom of a bowl. And I love to see my kids' eyes light up at the mere mention of the word. 
  3. Caffeine. Because I haven't slept properly in three years, but my trusty coffee mug has stood by me through it all, even when I lost the ability to form sentences and ceased to have any apparent hairstyle.   
I know there are some far more legitimate reasons to be chipper, and for these I look to the lovely Mummy From the Heart (thanks, such a nice idea). 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Nosey folks

During a recent lineup of the usual suspects, I noticed that noses feature quite prominently in this house.
In the toy trough. 
Thanks to the Jenny Matlock of Alphabe-Thursday for the assignment.


I left my copy of 'On the Road' in New Mexico. Which I regret, because I'm on a travel moratorium until Chaos and Destruction learn to wear seatbelts for more than five minutes without screaming.

Off the road. 
And yet my feet itch, so I'm glad Kate Takes 5 brought up the subject of places. Although Johnny Cash is the master in this regard, here are mine:
  1. Monterey, California
  2. Taos, New Mexico
  3. Berlin, Germany
  4. Cozumel, Mexico
My mind is in Monterey, gazing out at the big blue Pacific (where the tide pools teem with life), searching for the ghost of Steinbeck's Cannery Row. My spirit is in Berlin, running through the Tiergarten in autumn, giggling at nude sunbathers, drinking pils with my sister. All of me pines for snow on yellow aspen leaves in Taos. And for a pair of coronas on a shoddy Cozumel balcony at sunset, after a day of dodging barracudas at Chankanaab reef.
The beaten track.
In body, I am a sidekick and food-flinging target to a pair of short people. Funny how this makes my memories of paradise seem all the more vivid. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Tall tails of the unexpected

Sometimes my sitting room hangs with vines and the walls become the world all around. A private boat tumbles by for Ana and she sails off through night and day, in and out of weeks, to where her wild brethren are. After rumpusing for a spell, she gets lonely and trades her wolf suit for supper (which is still hot).

Shaggy tale-feathers. 
There is a posterior focus about Tara Cain's marvelous body of work this week. A fitting angle in this wild house, where most residents have tails to match their horns (some invisible, but don't be fooled).

I don't mean to imply that Ana spends all her time where the wild things are. Sometimes she's off chasing Bagheera through the jungle. But tails are compulsory in all her worlds.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The aliens who came to tea

M is for martian martini party at Mama's place (thank you Jenny Matlock of Alphabe-Thursday). As such, I'm belatedly taking up the lovely Kate Takes 5 on her suggestion to assemble a dream guest list.

Now I suspect my fabulous five guests won't actually attend because they are either too famous and paranoid to talk to me, or don't exist in this dimension and would therefore encounter vast logistical difficulties in making greater London for 8pm*.

Interplanetary starter for five.  
But here goes:
  1. Mary Poppins. I suspect she is pretty crazy-fun after five martinis to help the canapés go down. 
  2. Zaphod Beeblebrox. Just this dinner party guy, you know?  
  3. Po from 'Kung Fu Panda'. As an aspiring Soup Developer I am desperate to get my hands on the secret ingredient.
  4. Luc Besson. I'm hoping he can turn my living room into the cool futuristic world from 'The Fifth Element' for an evening. 
  5. Tom Waits. There's got to be music, and I'd imagine the aforementioned four guests are pretty keen on 'Swordfishtrombones'.  
Unlikely as it seems, perhaps the fabulous five will sit down at a martini bar together someday in a galaxy far, far away.

*I am a Logistical Nightmare Specialist, but there are limits to what I can pull off. 

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Ode to the road

To my beloved open road,

It's been a long four long years since I last hit you.

Of course I meant to return to you sooner, but a mountain of nappies grew between us. You see, travel is kryptonite to kidsActually kids find kryptonite in almost everything under the sun, but travel is high on the list.

Something in the way.
Sometimes when I can't stand missing you any longer, I jump in the car and drive up the tallest hill around just to look out at the horizon. Often this makes things worse because usually all I can see is Aylesbury and a bit of fog. But on quiet nights I can hear you purring seductively out on the London Orbital, so tantalizingly close.

I can remember heading out on the highway like it was yesterday. Papa and I drove like the wind through endless rolling plains, past countless dodgy truck stops, up sky-scraping mountains, down lonely scenic byways into the wilderness, past town after crappy town. We lived on the fly; all we knew was that the fuel tank would flatline too soon, and that there would be at least one toothless, oil-stained dude at whatever gas station it was that we stopped to fill up at.

Out west we pitched camp under the bright Milky Way at night. In sleepless awe we listened to crickets sing into the big empty. And to grizzly bears rummaging for midnight snacks in rubbish bins. And to rain drip-dripping right through our waterproof tent and straight onto our foreheads. What joyous comfort it was to rise with the sun and return to strong steel arms, to the gritty smell of petrol exhaust, to the smooth old reliable tarmac.
Hit the road in tooth and claw. 
Planes, trains, broken-down automobiles, blistery hiking boots: so many forms, but always my one true. I no longer care about the right side, the left side, California stops or WTF roundaboutsI can't deny what is between us. The sedentary life simply ain't my bag.

A rolling stone can't sit still forever and I know we'll be together again. Till then my heart will pine after your broad shoulders and your smooth curves; my lead foot will yearn for your high speed limits and your wide open straightaways.

Much love and a little gas money,


PS: This sappy billet-doux was inspired by Honest Mum's far more eloquent love letter to London, and it is accompanied by Polish Mama on the Prairie's dedication to her beloved Wroclaw.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The long dark tea-time of the year

I witnessed a good omen at the crack of midnight. As London fireworks freckled the perennial cloud cover orange, a neighbor set loose four little fire balloons into the night. The sky rose up to meet them as they glided, hopeful, unashamed, brilliant, out into the big world. I watched in childish wonder, having never seen such a thing before. After a pause, my neighbor unleashed a fifth balloon. This left me a bit worried.

At first light. 
As we enter the year of the skint rabbit, and in keeping with the general mood of austerity and blerg, I'd like to raise a modest sidecar toast to your coming 365 days in an appropriately downbeat but affordably hopeful manner:
May the pot-holey road rise up to meet you and may fowl economic winds always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face when you dream, while in reality the rain falls soft upon your cramped bedsit. May your year not suffer excessively for the excesses of years past. And until we meet again, may you hold your dear ones in the palm of your heart, and never tire of eating tinned beans together by candlelight. 
Christmas is long unwrapped. Crackers cracked. Turkeys gobbled. Household alcohol, sugar and butter reserves are at record lows. But in the silver linings department, waistlines remain plentiful. This may be the case for some time to come, as New Year resolutions were axed in an effort to incur savings at the Department of Introspective Affairs.

Midwinter is so very bleak. January actually means 'a month-long graveyard shift'. Seriouslycheck the Dictionary of Mañana. But complainers like me have been complaining thus for at least as long as women have been having children. And I know that spring will ultimately bloom again, and my sense of optimism will simultaneously emerge from the dark. In the meantime, winter takes advance payment for those finite, perfect sunny days ahead at the height of summer.
The cure for the blergs. 
Now I understand why my Scandinavian ancestors braved all manner of adversity to migrate a little closer to the equator. I suspect they are laughing at me through time and space for doing just the opposite. That said, I have high hopes that this year will be brighter and sail higher than the last one, for all four of us here at Chaos HQ.

Humbug. Happy New Year.