Sunday Funday

Family Day now very much a thing of the Olden Days was put aside again today due to the request of the six-year-old at a fellow six-year-olds birthday party.

The one in the play centre that I don’t wanna go to! Humph!

Grumpy Pants and I had also spent yet another Saturday afternoon, traipsing around various stores to procure various, boring, householdy type things. I scored a new vacuum – oh, yays.

However, it has been deemed a birthday present, which means I am either not allowed to have it straight away, thus will have to fight with the oversized, jet pack style, industrial cleaner we have (which is my very, very valid excuse for never vacuuming – and I’m sticking to it! ) or the other one we have which does not do stairs very well. Or, you know, at all.

I always wanted a vacuum for my birthday. It will go nicely with the iron I got for Christmas once … and if anyone has seen it since, can you let me know where I put it? Ta.

Boxes acquired over the past several months have been utilised to put little brothers in before pushing him down the stairs, turned into signs, left lying around the floor, overfilled the recycling bin and, in a pique of creativity, I delegated a crafty-construction type task to Grumpy and he and Chippie constructed a space ship out of boxes. They have since all been disposed of, mostly to create room for more boxes once containing householdy stuff.

But we’d had enough and did a Big Box Cleanout and the house became all boxless. It was a sad moment.

Not for long, however, as I heard the robot vacuum thing (a gift from a family member last Christmas) starting up, followed immediately by bursts of laughter and sounds which can only be described as ‘encouraging one to get up to some mischief’.

In the meantime, I was allowed to open the new, cordless vac and ‘do’ the stairs and stuff. My insistence that it required a full overnight charge was met with derision and the possibly implication that I was, in fact, trying to get out of it.

HA!

Also, apparently, I had to see if it would work. It did. And it allowed me about three stairs before it ran out of charge and I was forced to get the instructions and point out that it required charging before being man-handled. Or, woman-handled as the case may be.

So it was that I made my way towards the giggles and hilarity, to find the older two ensconced in watching the robot vac make its way around the room, topped with a variety of small, plush toys. The best bit was when it went under the couch and knocked them off. Although ‘hilarious’ the kids were equally disappointed that there were no decapitations occurring and deemed the action somewhat ‘boring’.

As this was occurring, Chippie was sitting on the laundry floor, watching the new vacuum recharge. An activity, I’m sure, that held great appeal.

Or is possibly considerably weird.

Whatever, it did occur to me that we’d been stuck in the house for a rather long time and a Family Day was more than necessary for us to regain our sanity.

(Too late!)

The Tantrum

A week of frequenting public places, still, in order to achieve as much as I can possibly achieve that requires achievement on my behalf has chipped away, subtly, at my levels of tolerance.

Also, my neck still hurts.

I also spend much of my time travelling from one place to another in order to attend to my required achievements, thus taking sizeable chunks out of my day and … why the bloody hell can’t things just be easy.

Also, why the FUCK can’t people chew with their mouths closed.

Also, if you’re wearing headphones to watch some shit on You Tube in a public, and unanimously understood ‘quiet place’ such as a library, plug the damned things in!

Thus it was this morning that I had some I don’t know what blaring on one side of me, which, sadly, did not have any effect on the excruciating noise of the same person CHEWING WITH THEIR MOUTH OPEN. I tried to breathe deeply, block out the sound, and swear, quietly, as I awaited the connection to the cyberworld.

It was then that the person on the other side returned, and my breathing deeply was rendered even more stressful.

She’d been out for a smoke, and I very nearly suffocated.

I did try to remain calm, but even I have my limits, and I quietly, subtly, slammed everything around and moved myself to somewhere less comfortable, from a sitting perspective, but far more tolerable from a sensory perspective.

I breathed a deep breath, reminded myself this is very much a first world problem, and made attempts to prevent the ‘rest’ of my life from filtering in and making it okay for me to have a low tolerance level at the moment.

It all builds up; teensy little bits here and there that chip away.

Also, despite the weekly phone calls I was getting from Telstra a little over a month ago, happily informing me that Nothing had progressed, since things had progressed I cannot get a phone call returned. It is starting to, quite frankly, piss me off and I am somewhat more annoyed at those who call Telstra (and other, large companies) with the intent to be angry and annoyed and do lots of yelling, for I am far too nice and understanding and realise that whomever I get on the end of my call has probably dealt with a number of offensive and spoilt brats, who happily yell, swear and abuse whomever is on the end of the call.

If people could just back off a little, and allow those of us whom have had over two months of building frustrations get a little out, I’d appreciate it. I know it’s not their fault that my life is currently stressful, but I am getting pissed at the too-much-now-not-enough communication.

I do what I can without physically maiming those whom I feel could use some maiming right now, perhaps, on the instance of the person two seats to my left being rendered with an injury that requires his jaw to be wired shut so he STOPS CHEWING WITH HIS MOUTH OPEN (ARGH!) and head home to do what needs to be done there.

A glance at the diary indicates we have a birthday party – well, Chippie has a birthday party – to attend in the middle of the day on Sunday and I should probably do something about a birthday present.

I don’t wanna.

Still, I collect him from school, arrange to meet the rest of my family down the street so we can organise for the weekend, and shuffle Chippie off to Smiggle so he may select a gift, or a small sample of gifts, for his school friend (a girl).

In six-year-old boy mind, this actually means he wanders around saying “I like this, can you buy this for me” and not actually responding to any of my “do you want to get this for her?” questions. I would have made the decision on my own, but the week had rendered me incapable of deciding very much at all.

In fact, it wasn’t until I had a glass of wine this evening that I reminded myself I was actually in a position to just grab whatever the hell I felt like and not have to ask him anything at all.

Isn’t our vision wonderful in hindsight? And after a glass or two of lime vodka mojito?

Anyhoo, as it was, brain not function good and I appeared hell bent on him just giving me an answer.

He, again, translated this as picking everything up and telling me to buy it for him.

In the crowded Smiggle, I stamped my foot and said “Just pick something! I don’t even wanna GO to this party!”

Two Smiggley shop assistances laughed. I don’t think they appreciated my predicament. Bastards.

I looked at them.

“I HATE SIX YEAR OLD BIRTHDAY PARTIES!” I said.

Or yelled.

Stamping my foot some more.

“It’s in an indoor play centre with shit coffee! I. Don’t. Want. To. Go!”

They laughed some more. Although, they did mutter some vaguely empathetic phrases.

Eventually, hands full, we make it to the checkout where they can’t tell me where they keep their Valium.

The Bittersweet of the Great Internet Void

Mostly established in our new home, albeit with a list of items that still need to be purchased, installed or otherwise acquired – like a coffee machine, destroyed by the thirteen-year-old but not so destroyed as to deem it completely dysfunctional – or, rather, unfunctional (need coffee, making words up) – we are still Internetless.

It has been two months or so now.

The novelty is wearing thin.

It has, of course, not been all bad. It forced me to retract from the online world, thereby preventing me from falling futher into a black abyss  all the negativity and stupidity that can occur in great amounts affords.

It forced me to take a step back, to realise not only how much time I was spending on there, but also how much it was affecting my mood, my perspective and my sense of self.

It also forced me to really take on board just how much I was avoiding the discomfort of really, seriously following my dreams. Sure, I was taking the steps to do stuff, slowly and surely, but not really getting stuck into it. Because, quite frankly, it is big, scary stuff that is way out of my comfort zone and whilst I know ‘this is where the magic happens’ it also makes me incredibly vulnerable and open to criticism and nasty comment and all the stuff that humans don’t generally like to willingly open themselves up to.

Not to mention I’ve already been fucked around and fucked over with these same dreams – partly my own fault, I’m far too trusting and nice – so, you know, added scary.

The downside is, I can’t fully indulge my passions, to fall into the world that is doing the stuff I love; the writing I do for myself and for others.

It is becoming somewhat stressful an my tolerance levels are wearing a little thin.

Added to this is the thirteen-year-old, barely coping with the lack of ability to connect with friends after school. It’s all well and good to say “they spend too much time on screens” etc etc blah blah … but this, I realise, would be akin to being prevented from using the totally corded, dial adorned telephone … really, it was bad enough before touch tone phones and call waiting were invented, and a sibling was on the phone, speaking with his friends and DIDN’T HE UNDERSTAND THAT ME TALKING TO MY FRIENDS WAS MORE IMPORTANT?! Vital and …. and … life threatening if I could not speak with them during that lull between arriving home from school, eating dinner and listening to the Top 8 at 8 on EON FM?

I digress. I understand his frustration and stress, however, it is not helping that I am equally stressed and frustrated, not least because I worry I am not keeping the promises I have made to others, mostly in the form of paid work, and the goals and promises I have made to myself.

The incessant “when are we getting internet?”, basically, is not helping.

Not to mention the eleven-year-old is not only experiencing a seemingly terminal Minecraft deficiency, but he also has a level of obsession and if not provided the answer he is looking for, or, indeed, a more tangible answer, he will continue asking the same thing, over and over and over and over and over … etc … several times per day.

Several times per hour, in fact.

For all intents and purposes it is all round tragic.

Even the good bits, the benefits I have gained from this, are starting to become overshadowed.

Not helped by the innocuous ‘helpful’ advice along the lines of “you need to change your internet provider!”

Up until a week ago, if there was an internet provider capable of connecting me to something that wasn’t there indeed I would have contacted them in an instant.

That issue has now been rectified, a connection is available, and I am now awaiting my scheduled appointment time and wishing frantically that it all goes to plan.

If, however, I hear one more “you need” or yet another scripted, Indian-accented “I’m sorry you are exeriencing such inconwenience” I may very well go postal.

In all of this, I continue to remind myself that I have and am doing all I can do, the best I can, with the resources avaiable to me and under the circumstances.

I have kept the promises I have made to others, alongside loud, obnoxious cafe patrons, library visitors who not only smell, but sit opposite me and kick the table repeatedly, or sit beside me and chew gum. Really loudly.

For those who know me, this is something I cannot tolerate … but so far, I have.

I am in desperate need of a massage due to sore body parts courtesy of bad ergonomics, and am thankful for the coffee and wifi I have access to.

The frustration and stress, of course, can at times be overwhelming.

I simply remind myself that just because I’m feeling shit – and that my circumstances, currently, are also just a little bit shit – I am still getting shit done.

Surely I must give myself some credit for that?

A DIY Kind of Fathers Day

Well established within my household that I am extremely big not just on gifts, but on ensuring the right gift, the leadup to Fathers Day was its usual bundle of shit.

“What do you want for Fathers Day?” was the repeated question to Grumpy Pants from all his offspring and from his wife.

“Nothing,” was the inevitable reply.

Although, for a bit of variety, he also added the odd “I don’t know” which was just as helpful.

Or not.

I decided we needed a new BBQ, and it was one of the many things on the List Of Stuff Required For The New House, so I took him along with me, insisiting he check out some BBQs, got him to pay for it, then sent him on his way.

So it was that last night, whilst seven children between the ages of 6 and 13 destroyed the kitchen with a pre-planned Make Your Own pizza session (Monkey Boy had invited a few friends over for a sleepover – fab timing!) I was on the balcony, DIYing Grumpy’s Fathers Day present.

A 4 burner BBQ that we’d purchased.

Or, technically, that he’d purchased, but it’s his own fault for being an arse about gifts.

I forbid him from assisting me, because it was his present.

Although, I did at one point have to send him off for a screw, because I’d dropped one and thought it had fallen between the cracks in the decking, and then had to get him to hold the other end of the thingy – one of the many thingies – whilst I screwed something else and hopefully didn’t screw it up entirely.

Then I got him to get me some wine, shirking his “Leave it and we’ll do it in the morning” type comments.

But I had other plans and it simply had to be done by morning.

It was a close call, given the lighting on our balcony is extremely limited, I had felt 6.00p.m. was a better time to start than 4.00p.m. and I was mostly doing this in the dark. I had moved the Ikea light I’d managed to construct only a week ago, manoeuvering it so it shone out the window and gave me enhanced vision, but Chippie had found the large pieces of polystyrene securing the BBQ in the box and was standing in the light, being a Transformer.

At one point, I thought I’d managed to screw myself into the interior of the BBQ. Thankfully, however, I’d put a bit on upside down, so had to take it off and reattach it, thereby ensuring my release from its confines.

Some three hours, blood, sweat and tears later, I was done and in need of a shower. Also, the tears weren’ t mine. No, a rivalry over ownership of the large, cardboard box ensued and came to blows.

There was also a suggestion that I had cunningly chosen this moment to work on the construction so as to avoid dinner and a bunch of tweenagers. Which is really unfair. Also, possibly, subconsciously true.

Bed time was demanded, the inevitable two hours of talking and fucking about occurred and I was up at some stupidly early hour this morning. I can’t help it. I just get excited when gift giving is to occur.

Also, I had mostly successfully managed to coerce Grumpy’s children to partake in some sort of contribution to his Fathers Day gift, given he is their father and not mine.

Whilst I had ensure all the DIY of his actualy gift, I could not deprive him of some form of DIY for himself. This is, after all, something Dads love, right? Some DIY.

We had coveretly hidden all manner of uncooked breakfast fare under the hood of the newly constructed cooking implement and left him with a Fathers Day Breakfast Menu.

This consisted of Deconstructed Croissants and Jam and a considerable portion of DIY BBQ Bacon and Eggs on Turkish Bread.

I’m not entirely convinced he appreciated it.

He was also treated to making pancakes for seven kids, four of whom weren’t his own.

On the upside – I BUILT A FUCKING BBQ!

And it was still standing the next mornning. And it worked!

Cupcakes and goldfish

Today is the day of Chippie’s actual birthday.

I could go into all manner of gushy blah, about how it was the most awesome experience and how much he has changed our world and [insert any other of the hundred million cliches about childbirth here] but there were cupcake to be baked, iced and eaten.

Also, the usual Monday evening affairs, from the cooking of dinner and music and swimming lessons and trying not to yell at the kids again.

Et cetera …

Despite not wanting to, I had baked some sixty cupcakes last evening.

Today, they required icing, so I popped into the school first thing to confirm the time they were needed. Generally, it is around 3.25p.m. however, today they requested it for 1.25p.m.

Lucky I checked, because I’d have just turned up and been really annoyed that I had 60 cupcakes and the kids were all at assembly!

I not only managed to ice them all without incident, and, for the first time ever, without getting any icing on either of my breasts or pants, shoved the remaining lollies I had leftover from the weekend on top, and delivered them to school, just as the rain started to come down like I haven’t seen for some time.

In keeping with the healthy eating policy of the school, the icing was gluten free; although, to be honest, that was unintentional. It just so happened that I noticed the gluten free information on the half-pack I had in my possession. I also suspect that icing is mostly gluten free, anyway, and it was put on there because That’s Just What Marketing Companies Do with whatever the latest health fad is.

(Again, no disrespect to genuine gluten-free-requiring people.)

I also ensured there was an abundance of fruit and green leafies adorning the cupcakes.

Again, more of a coincidence than good planning – it just so happened that I had purchased a pack or two of Party Lollies for the weekend and promptly forgot about them. It also just so happens that there were lots of fruit based lollies in said pack and … well, it all worked out for the best really.

cupcakes

Okay, they may also have featured the odd baby and a dinosaur or two. But it was mostly fruit and leafy stuff.

The signing and cake distribution done, it was off to the pet shop to purchase Chippie’s birthday present; the much coveted goldfish and also if I could buy him a giant T-Rex please?

I bought a fish tank with a T-Rex theme, and five fish; two gold and three teensy little fish and had loads of fun setting it up and decided I’d really prefer to keep it myself because I like fish.

I did find myself sitting and just watching for … I have no idea how long. They just relax me and I could watch them for quite some time.

His arrival home was marked by much, much tantrum as he ascended the stairs, only to be stopped mid “I don’t want to upack my lu ….” when he saw the large, wrapped gift. It was pretty much the box with a few, minor fish tank related items in it.

I do like fucking with my kids heads like that. It’s fun.

A large box, a small net and a gravel cleaning thingo. Oh, and a small thing of fish food.

He was unsure what to make of it, but smiled and appeared delighted like the polite child he can be at times.

His eyes, however, lit up at the sight of the rest of his pressie and he was very happy.

We both sat, quietly, and just watched. It was nice.

Then we ate cupcakes …

 

Birthday. Again.

Sometimes, I feel like all I do is birthdays.

No, that’s not entirely true. It’s that I insist on having several parties for each child and it simply adds up.

Anyhoo, after two or so months of crazy moving chaos, and still enduring trips to Ikea and Bunnings and Spotlight to overwhelm ourselves entirely and then attempt to put stuff together, I decided Chippie needed to have his birthday party sooner rather than later.

Yes, yes, I know. I don’t actually have to host parties. They don’t actually have to have a party, much less two each.

Except, well, except they do.

Because I have a pathological love of parties and even when I have very stern words to myself about them not actually needing, as in matter-0f-life-or-death if they don’t have one and ‘they’ll get over it’ and ‘we’ll have a cake at home and that’ll be adequate’ and all those other sensible things, a little voice in my head pops up and says “But … but … party” and my resolve collapses and before you know it there’s fucking chocolate ganache all over the kitchen floor, cakes in tins over every available surface in the kitchen and I’m frantically trying to find candles, only to run out at the last minute to by another pack of eight … no, wait, I better get twelve … no, hang on, I’ll just get the pack of 24 cos I’ll need them for the next party I’m not having … and then I grab two packs, and get home and the 807 candles I have purchased over the last two years under the same circumstances miraculously appear …

So, yes, we have parties. A kids/friends party, and then the family. Usually over two days, but being realistic this year, I opted for one after the other.

Having been requested to make a Volcano Cake, I looked blankly for a bit before Grumpy made a very sensible suggestion, followed by Chippie providing explicit details about how this cake is to look; dinosaurs stuck in mud, lots of lava and if it could be erupting, that’d be great.

Oh, and the cake had to be chocolate inside.

Well, duh.

“I’ll make a mud cake,” I tell Chippie of the impending birthday.

He gives me a blank look. Then frowns a little. Then says “No!”

Am a little taken aback, for two reasons. One, I like my mud cake. Like, I really, really like it.

Secondly, there are two kind of cake I make; butter cake and mud cake. I don’t want butter cake cos it is boring, and if I can’t do mud, well, basically, we’re fucked and there is no cake.

“Make it chocolate inside. But don’ put mud in it,” he instructs.

Ah, right … now I’m on the same page.

I make a double mix of mud cake recipe, and divide it between the two tins.

As it’s cooking, I’m being given a load of further instructions. There are to be bones in the cake. Also, lava bursting out of the cake. And fire balls. Lots of fire balls, exploding up into the air.

“Um ….” I say and am torn between loving that he thinks I’m so freaking wonderful, and terrified that I’m going to fuck him up for life (or, you know, fuck him up even more) because I am so not that freaking wonderful and will let him down.

I learnt a loooong time ago to let go of the perfection with the making of cakes, do as much as I can do with the skills I have (limited) and just enjoy the process. Most times, I come out ahead. Most times.

I make some orange jelly, which is no where near enough.

I open the pack of dinosaur lollies, to give myself some fuel to complete my construction. I notice there are some white dinosaur lollies in there, and moosh a few into the top of the bottom cake, figuring they can be the bones he has asked for.

Fuck! I think to myself. I am fucking awesome, and don’t even realise it!

I set about making some ganache, which I have now mastered. To be clear, it’s my own, specially defined level of mastery. For me, it is ‘mastered’. For others, maybe not so much. Also, shut up.

I put it in the fridge to cool a little, and drop the spatula, coating the fridge, floor and wall in ganache. I swear. A lot.

Then get impatient and pour slightly runny ganache all over the cake, realise I don’t have enough, and have to make some more. This requires a trip to the supermarket, which I do before school pickup, then am left with the dilemma of having both cream and chocolate sitting in the boot of the car until the kids get their shit together.

Home. Ganache some more, manage not to spill any, shove some more white dinosaurs under the gap at the bottom of the cake, and pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, and it is perfect. So much ganache, the smell is almost sickening. Can’t wait to eat it!

I shove a couple of dinosaurs into the mud, use the bits of ganache that have splattered around the cake board to stick other dinosaurs on, then get adventurous and make trees.

I have no idea what happened. I guess I got carried away, inspired by my stroke of brilliance at the whole ‘bones’ thing …

Chippie comes home from school, delighted, and I go out to see a movie with a friend.

So, this morning, I needed to add some lava to the cake, as well as, apparently, a river, some rocks, a dinosaur at the top and an explanation as to why the red stegosaurus was stuck in the mud. I did none of these things.

His friends arrived, we took them to a park to run around, but they whinged and complained instead.

I created the ‘eruption’ via the use of sparklers, which was a huge hit, but did not create the fire balls that were requested.

Another unexpected stroke of genius, when we realised we could take the top cake off to serve up to the kids and save the bottom half for the family when they arrived.

Hurrah!

I’m brilliant.

I also swore, yet again, that I was not ever going to have another kids’ birthday party in the house … how many times is that I’ve said the same thing now ….?

Anyhoo, birthday parties over, ganache has been licked off the floor and we’ll be eating rich mud cake with too much ganache and dinosaur lollies for dinner for the next week.

I just have to get through the actual birthday now.

Parent Helper

Tonight was the primary school, whole school concert.

It’s been in the planning for months and months and the teachers, quite frankly, look like they’re in need of a good vodka or 37.

Being a small school with vast diversity within the student body, they really do like to make things as simple as possible for we parents. Costumes  - or, at least the costumes I had to contend with – were derived from the backs of wardrobes, and searching through sibling’s drawers to find suitable, required attire.

T’was easy. Even fnding black shorts for the little one for his costume was more of a ‘random luck’ than actual effort as there they were, hanging on the heavily discounted stuff rack out the front of Kmart.

Bonus.

Having done rather little in terms of helping out with the concert, I put my hand up as one of the Parent Helpers to walk with some 48 kids to the venue in order that they participate in a full rehearsal (not dress) before the actual concert.

I, and a few other parents whom also volunteered, sat in the classroom until it was our turn to leave. Engrossed in a conversation with another, fabulous mum and friend of mine, we glance up and discover that the youngest group within the wider group have disappeared.

Given both of us have children within that particular group, we figured we’d best be finding out what was going on.

“Have they gone already?” I ask of one of the teachers.

She responds by doubling over laughing.

Apparently, it had been suggested that they go for a wee before we head off and were returning promptly.

She suggested that perhaps we don’t talk when the teachers are talking and was perhaps wondering if she shouldn’t have better reinforced the need for Responsible Parents to attend the walk.

We all made it to the venue, unscathed, although they did almost lose a parent. Me. I think they may have been trying, though.

I organised my day, and planned the evening, as we still had music lessons after school, before the concert, and some tight time frames to work with. I ensure the constumers were collated and placed in the same spot so we would remember them, and communicated with Grumpy Pants the actions for the evening, and times everything was to be occuring.

Thankfully, he arrived home in time to chauffeur us to music lessons, immediately after we’d shoved some dinnerlike food in our faces.

Costumes collected, the instructions to deal with the fabric paint on the front of Chippie’s shirt fluttered to the floor, and I was standing at the bin, attempting to rip seriously adhered newspaper from the inside of said shirt, whilst yelling at them to hurry the fuck up and get in the car so we wouldn’t be late.

Argh!

Additional snacks were packed for the period between music lessons and delivery to the concert and another bout of telling Monkey Boy that he was bloody going, and he would bloody enjoy it whether he liked it or not and to please SHUT UP! was had.

More chauffeuring was done, with a variety of pick ups and drops offs and culminating in the agreement that we’d meet at a wine bar before the concert started.

Despite a few hiccups, and extraordinarily low budget, it was a great show. Funny. Creative. Terribly lacking in decent talent (although there was also some very good talent) … exactly as a kids’ school concert should be. No professional lighting and singing and acting tuition.

Just fun. And funny. Party because it was funny, and partly because of the few, minor, goings wrong. Brilliant!

Home, exhausted and really proud of how my two kids performed.

Actually, I was pretty proud and impressed with everyone involved.

It was good, even despite the involvement of some dubiously-responsibilitied parents …

Poor Old Sausage

Our recent move has been a bit of an upheaval for everyone, as, I’m sure, is fairly well standard.

That’s not a complaint … it’s just an Is.

We’ve slowly been settling ourselves in, redoing the pantry some 37 times, hosting a Tuppeware party so I can redo the pantry again and hopefully have it Just As I Like by the end of the month.

One of our biggest challenges with the move has been the Stupid Cats.

Over the last 17 years we’ve had a plethora of cats. When we moved in together, the Grumpy Pants and I, we had – or, rather, he had – two large dogs and a cat called Dimmy (yes, as in short for Dim Sim).

Not long after, because he is a pet person, both dogs and cats, and I am more a goldfish and Blob of Cake Dough pet kind of person, we obtained a brand new kitten from the vet. She and her siblings had been dumped, so she was a mere 4 or 5 weeks old when we got her.

She was promptly named Sausage.

A few years after that, we obtained another adoptee, whom we named Muffin, and it was quite a few months, possibly even a year or more, before we drove up the drive way one day and found two identical cats eating from the cat food bowl. On closer inspection, this stray cat was only slightly smaller, with barely discernible differences in marking to Muffin.

She was also a very, very nice cat, the nicest of the lot, and because she looked so much like Muffin, she was dubbed Cupcake.

I’m now starting to sound a little like a cat lady.

Dimmy, sadly, passed away at the age of 18, Cupcake had four kittens, one of which remained in our family, and was named Pants, because he looked like he was wearing pyjama pants, such was his colouring.

His full name, really, was Tim Tam Pyjama Pants, but we called him Pants for short.

Moving house, Muffin did a runner and never returned, although we looked and looked for her. Our hope is that she went to live with a nice family who cuddled her often.

Sausage, Cupcake and Pants remained in our family and made the move before this last one with us.

Sausage was turning into a crotchety old crank, and had never, really, been one for pats or cuddles or sitting quietly on your lap. In fact, I think we had more incidents requiring bandaids due to children attempting to pat Sausage than for any other reason. She didn’t mean to be mean, she just never learnt to play nice; I suspect because of her age when she was separated from her mother and siblings (she went into the vets, initially, without a mum, so I have no idea how long the kittens had been motherless) and her reaction from even that young was to roll over and gnaw at your hand.

This was totally adorable when she was a kitten, but not so much when she became and adult.

Cupcake, the lovely, placid cat, who would allow two-year-old Chippie to hoist her out from under the house by her tail and not react at all, contracted cancer in her face and had to be put down last year. A sad time for us all. She was beautiful.

Sausage and Pants made this last move, and the difficultly was in finding them a place. They have never been indoor cats, aside from the dog kennel we obtained for them, which they would sleep in. Unable to run, jump, or escape, Sausage was content to sit in patches of sun, and bite your hand off if you tried to pat her as she reposed.

Like our last move, Pants soon went into hiding. Last move, he was gone for a good 8 weeks, before making a reappearance, looking rather well and not at all like a cat who had been in hiding for two months. I suspect he may soon return.

Meanwhile, Sausage was content, being fed and spoken to, but not pat, crawling into her house at night and sleeping.

Which is where we found her last night.

Sleeping so peacefully that she had stopped breathing and was no longer with us. She looked very much like she had simply had enough of life and went very peacefully, snug in her little house, on her mattress.

Tears were shed, a candle was lit and we farewelled our cranky, yet long term family member.

Poor Old Sausage … we will miss you x

A Spark of Light on Depresson

I tend not to make too much comment on whatever the latest celebrity related news is doing the rounds. I feel it’s a little like jumping on the ‘click bait’ bandwagon, writing a blog post on a topic that seemingly everyone else is writing about at the same time.

However, I cannot let this one go right now, for I am deeply saddned by the loss of actor, Robyn Williams.

Not least because of his tragic end, and my understanding of the deep depression he was experiencing.

Not, also, because of hearing the ‘suicide is so selfish’ rhetoric, nor the ‘I just don’t understand why someone would do that’ mutterings.

How could someone, so happy, so successful, with so much money and support and access to whatever he wanted succumb to this insidiuous disease?

I think this is one of the great misconceptions about depression. No matter who you are, where you live, your income, your lifestyle, and whether or not you are doing the thing you most love in the world or not, or whether you are surrounded by the most loving, supportive, happy people in your life, or not, Depression is still a disease that infiltrates your mind, your body, your spirit, and your entire life.

It is, and I know this will offend some and I will preface this with the most humble of apologies if it does offend, for it is not inteded to … it is like other debiltating and/or terminal diseases.

It is, for want of a better term, like a cancer of the mind and soul. The difference is, it doesn’t always present itself as a physical ailment, nor give of physical signs of its presence.

It is still a terminal disease for many, and the fatalities are much less understood by most.

Okay, we don’t understand they ‘why’ of cancers, or heart diesease, or other known fatal illnesses, as in “why is this happening to me/them/her/him” … and we don’t understand the ‘why’ someone gets depression.

Part of this, I believe, is due to our perceptions of the disease … as though it is entirely environmental or circumstantial and you can’t have it if you are perceived to having everything you want.

That’s the thing with perceptions, too, isn’t it? It is one person’s pereception about another, and Person One thinking Person Two has it all. Person two is living the life, the reality of the life and all that goes with it, constantly, 24-7, all day, every day … their life is there with them.
Person One only ever sees what is presented to them, whether via celebrity gossip magazines, or Facebook status updates and small chats in the school playground at drop off time. Not only do they see this limited insight into another person’s life, they then put their own spin, their own beliefs, values and their own perception on it.

It’s not ‘real’, really. It’s just a version.

For one in four people at any given time, Depression is there, in their life, along for the ride.
Although so sad at hearing the news, and at the loss of a great actor in itself, a spark of light, an epihpany, a revelation hit me as I sat in my car, hand on my heart, a billion thoughts going through my mind.
We see Depression as the person, not an illness within the person. The kind of misconceptions that have us think “oh, they’re depressed” and, the unspoken, “therefore, they are incapable”.

Depression is not the person. The person is one who is full of dreams and hopes, and that you can still acheive those things, to follow your dreams, to do what you love, despite having an illness like this.

Robyn Williams, for me, was the epitome of this. John Cleese and Stephen Fry are others.

The happy face, the comedic persona both on and off screen, are not necessarily masks, but the version of the person they really are.

They are examples, and an inspriation to me, that the Demons can be fought off and overcome … actually, no, I don’t like that term. The Demons are rarely slayed or overcome. Instead, they are lurking in the shadows, ignored, neglected, placed high on a shelf for periods of time, and the person – not the Depression – is seen.

Regardless of they happy, the contented life, or the dreams followed, those Demons are still there to some degree, and will be feeding off those parts of life that are not so great.

Being a successful, disgustingly rich, acclaimed and much loved actor does not stop the voices of Depression, the self doubt, the self deprecation, nor real life from occuring. Actors are faced with a disgusting lack of privacy – sure they get paid bucketloads for it, but this doesn’t make snide comments, constant monitoring, and hurtful tabloid reports any easier.

It may mean the can send someone to punch a journalist in the face, but it doesn’t make the comments and thoughts that feed the Demon any less significant.

Actors and other celebrities still face a multitude of life issues the rest of us face; they have parents or children or close friends experiencing severe illness or death, they lose their car keys, and can’t remember what they walked into a room for.

They are still people, and they are no less affected by Depression than ‘the rest of us’. Sadly, in many cases, they have the means to assuage their Depression with drugs and alcohol and other vices that are of no benefit to themselves and of great benefit to the power of their Depression.

They are overcome.

What Robyn Williams has taught me is that you can follow your dreams, you can be so uninhibitedly you, because of or despite your Depression – which one you choose is a matter of personal opinion and circumstance.

He showed me that you are not your Depression, and that Depression is one of the many facets of your hugely, multifaceted being.

I don’t want this to sound all “think positive and you’ll cure yourself of depression” kind of wank, nor even imply that it is easy, or that even in your times of being YOU that your depression will simply vanish.

Even as you smile, entertain your toddler or the world, and exude enough light and happiness to make others laugh, the Depression is still there, and, for some, always will be.

The voices will be telling you how crap you are, as you confidently go about doing the thing you love, self-doubt will big clutching at your heart, and the insidious black thoughts working their way through your mind.

The degree of their presence may vary from moment to moment, day to day, or week to week …

You, however, are not your Depression, and I now fully understand that I am not mine and never have been.

I am a person filled with love, hopes, and dreams who also happens to have an illness that you cannot see, because it does not manifest physically, and more often than not, I choose to show Me to the world, and not my illness.

Thank you, Robyn Williams, for the lifetime of laughs, quotes for me to use on my kids, and for being so unequivocally you.

You will be greatly missed.

sparkofmadness

Cultivating Positivity in the Home

As one would expect, homelife has been somewhat stressful. Strains and stressors are coming from all directions, tempers are easily lost and located some hours, if not days later, at the bottom of a wine bottle.

I suspect a more significant amount of calm may be located in the spirits cupboard. This, however, is blocked by a big arse photo frame and I am frantically attempting to sort through photos, locate the ones I thought I lost, then thought I found again, but appear to have misplaced (or lost) when my hard drive died a few years back.

Fuckery!

Also, note to self, sort the fucking photos the moment you upload them to the computer, for fuck’s sake. I have no idea which voice in my head said “Nah, she’ll be right. Do it later!” As a result, My Pictures folder is telling me there is 33,000+ photos to sort. I know this is not a correct figure, as I have since found that some folders have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled up.

I did wake this morning, screaming into my pillow, however. That was a result of Asking For Help. Yet another one of my brilliantly stupid ideas.

Thus, positivity is waning a little. Well, let me rephrase. Grumpy, whilst generally a happy, irreverent, funny old bastard, who has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and constantly able to get away with being revoltingly inappropriate, is always slightly on the negative anyway. It’s just a little worse, and he’s a little more intolerant of late.

Then there is the thirteen-year-old who is, well, thirteen, and aren’t they delightful little rays of sunshine to be around?!

Both smartarses in their own right, they have been at each other. Most of it is funny, but it is wearing me down. I’m happy and content right now, although the demons that are the killers of my self confidence and happiness are circling about. I am trying to keep them at bay and, to be honest, the negativity, even said in jest, is making the fight a little harder.

As we sat at dinner this evening, the two of them started what can only be described as a Smart Arse Comment War, waged against each other.

I slammed my fork down, pointed my finger at the thirteen-year-old and said “YOU! I’m sick of this negative bullshit. Stop it NOW! Find something you like and comment on that instead of always finding the negative in everyone and everything. I’m over it! I want some positivity!”

Barely pausing for breath, I pointed at the smirking old one, and said “YOU TOO! You’re just as bad, stop it, stop it now! I can’t do this anymore!”

In typical Grumpy Pants fashion, he checked over his shoulders to see who I was pointing at. Obviously, it couldn’t possibly have been him.

I sigh, and calm down slightly, bringing the tone of my voice towards some sort of calm version and repeat.

“Seriously, guys. It’s dragging me down. I just need to hear nice things instead of all the hates and bad stuff all the time. Please? Just say something nice.”

The look suitably chastised and Monkey Boy puts his arm around his father and says “Dad,”

“Yes, son,” replies Grumpy Pants, clearly making a complete mockery of the situation.

“I really like it when you look over your shoulder and pretend Mum isn’t talking to you,” Monkey Boy says.

And they laugh and laugh and laugh …

As did I.

Bastards!

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