01 November 2013

Contacting Clancy

I've been on a bit of an Australian Bush Poetry binge recently.  (I haven't been on a similar blog-writing binge, but you knew that already.)  It started with a poem I wrote as a competition entry but there was more in the tank after I'd finished, so I kept on writing.

Do you remember Banjo Paterson's poem Clancy of the Overflow?  It starts with the writer sending a letter to Clancy's last known address but receiving a return letter that Clancy has gone droving in Queensland and couldn't be contacted.  That inspired me to write this parody about trying to contact Clancy in a digital age and coming up dry.

Contacting Clancy

I had written him an email which I’d filled with gripping detail,
Then I took my list of Contacts and I searched it through and through.
The address I had looked decent, but it wasn’t awful recent:
I had clancy-o@lachlan, then dot-com then dot-au.

As soon as I had sent it and had settled back, contented,
My inbox notified me of immediate reply.
‘Twas an automated message that confirmed my dismal presage:
“Clancy’s taken leave of absence, gone to Queensland, FYI.”

So I check his Linked-In profile, and in classic Clancy O-style
He has many email contacts but I dunno where they’re from.
So which one of these addresses is his current? My best guess is
I should try the first one: clancy-o@overflow.com.

And although it’s quite a long shot that he’d find a wireless hotspot
I could try his Hotmail, Bigpond or his DrovingLife-dot-co.
Any case, with bush as backdrop, I can’t see him on his laptop
‘Cause he’s jolly hard to contact, Clancy, of ‘The Overflow’.

- Ukulele Jutsum © 2013.

10 October 2013

Fifty Books!

Initially when I saw the ABC Local Radio's competition to win 50 books by localising literature, I didn't think I had an entry.  The idea was to take a classic piece of literature and localise it - make it about Queensland.

I thought the examples they gave were pretty good, but I didn't have any ideas for localising the title of a classic.  However once it was pointed out to me that you could write a poem, I knew what I had to do.

There's a great Australian Bush Poem by Banjo Paterson that many Aussies would know called "The Man From Ironbark" which was begging to be parodied.  It's about a bloke from the bush who comes to the big smoke and gets a new style - a beard shave that goes horribly wrong.  Upping the ante, my protagonist went one further.

To my massive shock and surprise, the ABC didn't disqualify me on the grounds of "Anatomical Terms Some Of Our Listeners Won't Have Heard," and I won the 50 books!

Here is a frightening example of my accent, for the enjoyment of Heather.  I did broaden it a little for the bush poetry, but probably not enough.  I still sounded like a city girl instead of a rugged bush balladeer.

with deepest apologies to A.B. "Banjo" Paterson,
the good people of Charleville, Qld, Aust.,
and tattoo artists everywhere.

There was a bloke from Charleville who struck Toowoomba town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
Searching for a “look” he could display back home with pride,
A haircut or a beard shave, some look he’d never tried.
He’d heard the man from Ironbark had had a shave and cut,
But knew he had to move quite quick, before the shops were shut.

He hit Grand Central, Margaret Street and Cliffo’s for good luck,
He didn’t like his chances of a haircut for a buck.
One salon said they’d shave his head and one suggested foils,
A ritzy salon tried to sell him mousses, sprays and oils.
Despairing that he’d ever find a look to fit the bill,
He thought he’d ask his Facebook friends, our man from Charleville.

He did a status update: “I’m hitting the big smoke –
Can you suggest a change of style for this poor outback bloke?”
One friend suggested piercings.  He thought he’d look a clown
With bling in tongue or nipple (or p’rhaps one further down?)
Another friend said, “Tattoos, mate! Let’s do an online poll!
Where should Charlie get his tat?  Can’t wait to see this!  LOL!”

Now this idea, it grew on him.  He thought he would do well
To check out “Innervision,” “Inked Up” and “Hot As Hell.”
He didn’t know the style of tat, nor settled on location,
He thought of searching Pinterest for artistic inspiration.
But first thing’s first: sustaining ale, for pain he sorely hated.
Not noticing how much he’d drunk, became inebriated.

He staggered in.  “Now ink me up, I'll knock ‘em dead, I will.
I'll go and do Toowoomba toff back home in Charleville."
He settled on a nice half-sleeve of Navajo design,
And lay upon a couch beside a stunning girl sublime.
They traded nervous grimaces and passed the time of day.
“You had a drink?”  “My word, I have.  It’s my first tat today.”

Bewildered by his task, the artist’s brow grew fierce and black.
“I’ve never known a country bloke to do his lower back.
I guess we’ve got the signatures we legally require, but
This bloomin’ yokel’s gonna think his arse is set on fire.”
The artist checked designs with both but due to all the drink,
A grunt was all reply he got.  He started with the ink.

By now you will have realized what luck our bloke had copped -
It seems the tattoo art of the hapless two were swapped!
The artist raised his hand as he paused before attack,
Then pressed the tattoo needle on our victim's lower back.
He fetched a wild up-country yell: his face an ashen white, shouting
“Murder! Bloody murder! They’ve set me arse alight!”

But when he’d sobered up he was quite glad the job was done,
For soon he grew quite proud of that fine tramp stamp on his bum.
And though a dolphin he’d reject if he’d been thinking clearer,
He showed it off on Instagram with selfies in the mirror.
And whether he's believed or no, I’ll say this in goodwill:
Tramp stamps now are all the go way up in Charleville.

-       Ukulele Jutsum © 2013.

21 July 2013

Zeffwee's Bwains

This is Zeffwee. Well, I think it's supposed to be Jeffrey but it certainly sounds like Zeffwee when Woody says it.  And this isn't Woody, it's Rex, sorry that's confusing.

Zeffwee is very old, possibly originally belonging to my brother, Wee Bro.  His forehead has been mended many times but keeps coming open.  Woody occasionally finds a quiet moment to sit with Zeffwee and fondly "pull his bwains out."  Lucky Zeffwee.

This is the worst game you've never heard of.  The mother is vaguely aware of the sounds of her offspring riding bikes and scooters on the driveway, and then comes the sickening sounds of bikes and scooters forcefully falling to the ground.  She looks around to see her offspring lying in a horribly mangled, twisted heap, apparently having had a major crash and all fallen over.  Just when the mother's finger is hovering over the zero ready to dial 000, the children all gleefully jump back up onto their bikes and scooters and repeat the whole process.  It takes a while for the lower-intelligence mothers to learn not to be fooled by this again and again.

I would like to apologise for all the guests who have visited us over the last month and been treated to the seven signs in the toilet, all bearing the same recommendation.  I never remember to remove the signs before guests come over, I'm only reminded they're there when a guest either laughs from the direction of the toilet, or comes out sheepishly saying, "You'll be pleased to know that I flushed."  The signs are down now.  It seems that when they're up for longer than a day, they cease to work.  It's maddening to see a child casually walk past seven signs urging him/her to flush and saunter off without flushing.  And anyway, it's time for my next project: seven bright yellow signs saying, "For the love of all that is good, WASH YOUR HANDS!"

Here is a little boy on his first birthday.  All he needed was a few new clothes and books, and some tiny cupcakes called "Angel Babycakes"which was cute.

Jessie's hair is extremely thick and it's getting very difficult to brush.  I said to her once, "If you don't let me brush it, we won't be able to get the knots out and you'll ... you'll ... you'll have to get it shaved off or something."  She then went away to write her usual passive-aggressive note about life, only it was more sad than aggressive.  "Dear mother I don't want my hair to be shaved off or else I'll be so disappointed!  Because I will burst with tears and I'm doing it right now.  Love from ... etc."  And a little picture of a girl with extremely long thick hair bursting with tears.

Well I couldn't leave it like that, could I?  To make it a true representation, I did this and let her discover it for herself.  It seemed that nothing was noticed until ...

...her usual game of Hangman now had a new punishment for not guessing the target word in the appropriate number of guesses:

The player who doesn't guess the word in time gets their head shaved.  Cool!

20 July 2013

A Clown Car and other things

This is the cutest picture you will see all day, even if you happen to see pictures of kittens and duckies.
It is, of course, a Clown Car.  A car full of clowns.

They collected "kindling" from the forest, but a lot of it isn't good kindling, it's just leaves and green stuff.  Then they made a shelter using what they learned in SOSE at school about how Aboriginal people built shelters and had a great time.

This water table has been great fun!  I usually put warm water in it, and this time I put some detergent and food colouring in as well.  Playtime always ends in children sitting in the table completely soaking, only to be stripped off and put in a warm shower at the end of it all.

Jessie gets in moods when she wants to be so close to me that it's Just. Too. Much.  Pulling ghastly faces doesn't work, in fact nothing seems to make her want to give me a little space.

Kasparov never had to deal with spectators trying to suck on the bishops and eat the pawns.

Rex has a lot of favourite things, but baths and showers rate in the Top 5.

He laughs a lot.

He cries a lot too.  Here he is crying for no reason while Maisie models a hat I made for a tiny little baby boy who is now home with his family after many weeks in hospital, charged with the important task of growing bigger.

19 July 2013

Sixty seven kilobits per second

That there, people, will stop anyone blogging.

Long story short, it's all fixed now (only took three months, yip yah!) and now I can share some more Pieces Of Nothing with you.  Not very efficiently on this incomprehensible Mac, as I'm still emailing photos to myself from my phone then saving them in who-knows-where and uploading them onto my blog, but I CAN and that's the point.

Technology fails me (or the other way around) to the point that I am only using my poxy little phone camera instead of my nice Canon.  It seems that I HAVE nice things, it's just that the nice things don't work for me so I usually go to bed at this time of night instead.

Anyway, here is a lot of Random!

This playground contraption is called a Vomitron.  It is called that because Mr de Elba named it that.  We were horrified to see the old orange Vomitron being dismantled one morning, but delighted to see that afternoon it was replaced with an even-more-appropriately-coloured TECHNICOLOUR Vomitron!  Oh yes!

Some of you are thinking, "Oh how nice, three children baking."  Others are thinking, "She obviously gave up and bought packet mixes for each of them."  I'm just thinking, "Buzz really needed a haircut back then." We're all correct.

Long story short: Woody split his scalp on a heavy iron pole and so we bought him a swimming cap to keep the water off the glue they used to 'suture' it and the associated yuck that was dry and crusty.  He loves his swimming cap, and when I ask whether he will have ears in or ears out, he thinks deeply and decides on "one ear in and one ear out."

Woody fell asleep with his wand just in case he needed to do "Expelliarmus" in his sleep.  Or perhaps his signature spell: "A-woghurt!"  That's a spell he made up, claiming that "it covers you in woghurt."

My dear old Grandma died aged 90 years 1 day.  She was an absolute gem.  I will never feel I had enough time with her, not because 90 years 1 day isn't long enough and not because I didn't spend lots of time at her place in my childhood, but just because her years were very busy, filled with work that she needed to do.  My sister and I played piano at her service.  A few hours before, Jessie threw a few girlie items into a little handbag: three bottles of nail polish, a few brooches, a pink teddy bear, etc ... without checking to see the lids of the nail polishes were on tightly.  When the stench of nail polish became unbearable I went searching and found the contents of the handbag swimming in an ocean of thick, sticky blue nail polish and I frantically tried to scrub everything clean, as Jessie was distraught.  Then I looked at my hands ... blue.  Very blue.  A few hours before playing for my Grandma.  This pictures shows me half-way through the process of scrubbing it off because I couldn't feel things - you know - I had no fingerprints - so playing piano was difficult.  Scrubbing your hands with detergent and steel wool isn't great for them either, it seems.

Playing in the winter afternoons.  Rex is most unhappy when he doesn't get some outside time with his siblings every day.
A long time ago, we chopped Baby Rex's door down with a mattock.  You should try chopping one of your doors down with a mattock sometime.  Put it on your bucket list.  Then after you've done that and replaced the door, painting the new door might be on your bucket list for quite some time, because after all that effort ... meh.  I knew I was never going to get around to painting Rex's new door by myself - there is never a day when it is remotely convenient for me to paint a door - so I asked my Wee Bro if he'd be up for it, and he obliged.  He and his lovely girlfriend took a few days out of their holiday to paint Rex's door!  I am deeply thankful.  I gave them a manly apron and an outrageously girly one, and they decided who would wear which (above.)  Just as I thought they would.
And I have no explanation for this.  See it and photograph it, that's what I do.

26 May 2013

Weird Moments

I was driving through the carpark at the supermarket when I slowed down for an elderly gentleman who didn't seem to know which way to go. He stepped this way and that while eyeing my car which by this time was travelling as fast as a dolls' stroller. And then I kid you not, he crossed himself - made the sign of the cross. Weird moments like this, people, are what make up my life.

19 May 2013

Appropriately Named

Jessie was sitting in the back seat on the way home from a birthday party, munching on the contents of her party bag. "Ooh! Look! I've got a baby!" she squealed.

I pretended I didn't know she meant a Jelly Baby.  "Congratulations!" I said. "What did you name it?"

She thought for a moment, then mumbled with her mouth full, "Headless."

09 May 2013

Only outside the pharmacy

On many, many occasions:

Me: Okay Woody, click yourself in to your carseat.
Woody: I caaaaan't!  I'm too wittle!  I caaaaan't!  Nooooo!

- - - - - - - - - -

On one occasion, months ago, after a trip to the pharmacy:

Me: (sigh) Here, I'll click you in.
Woody: I've done it by myself!
Me: You - what? You did it by yourself?  How?  Did you just do it because - ? (Making up something ridiculous...) Because we went just to that pharmacy or something?
Woody: Yes.
Me: Okay then.  Pharmacy.  Huh.

- - - - - - - - - -

The next day:

Me: (sigh) Here, I'll click you in.
Woody: I've done it by myself!
Me: You - what?  How?  Ahhhh, I see!  There's a pharmacy just over there!  Ha ha funny!
Woody:  Yes.  I can kwick myself in when there's a pharmacy.

- - - - - - - - - -

Ever since, when in a place without a pharmacy:

Me: Okay Woody, click yourself in to your carseat.

Woody: I caaaan't!  I'm too wittle!
Me: You CAN!  You did it that other day!  The day with the - the pharmacy!?!?  You remember?
Woody: I can't do it!  I caaaaan't!
Me: Why not, for goodness sake? No pharmacy, I expect?
Woody: No.  Dere's no pharmacy.

- - - - - - - - - -

Just to confuse me while at the shops without a pharmacy:

Me: Uh - can you click yourself in today?
Woody: I did it!  By myself!
Me: Whaaa?  Without a pharmacy?  Amazing!  You're getting bigger!  Clicked himself in without a pharmacy close by, imagine that.

- - - - - - - - - -

Just to confuse me while at the shops with a pharmacy:

Me: Okay, click yourself in.  There's a pharmacy over there.  Just do it.
Woody:  I caaaaan't!
Me: Why?  Why-why-whyyyyy?  There's a pharmacy!  Just there!  Look!  The green shop?
Woody: I caaaaan't kwick myself in!
Me: I just really don't get that.

- - - - - - - - - -

Recently, at home:

Me: (sigh) Do I have to click you in today?  Surprise me.
Woody: I caaaaan't!
Me: Oh come ON!  We're going to drive past a pharmacy!  Does that count? Surely it counts?
Woody:  I caaaaan't!
Buzz and Jessie: Woody, we have medicines in our cupboard just there in the kitchen, look!  That means we are a pharmacy!  We are!  You can click yourself in here, because we're a pharmacy!
Woody:  I caaaaan't!  Waaaahhh...

- - - - - - - - - -

Today, while out:

Me: (sigh) I'll put Rex in his carseat so you hop in and I'll click you up in a minute.
Woody: But I can do it at home because we are a pharmacy!
Random Stranger: Pharmacy?
Me: I can't explain.

08 May 2013

Kindy, ballet, sewing, cello, noodles, plane-watching, outdoors, swimming, writing, skateboarding and Coldplay

Here are three little guys ready for Year 3, Year 1 and kindy.  The days are generally passable in Year 3, usually pretty good in Year 1, but they are always totally awesome in Kindy!  Kindy is so good in fact, that Woody is always deeply asleep when I go to pick him up.  If Kindy didn't slow down for rest time, he'd power through and enjoy the whole 5.5 hours we pay for, but I understand that after a few hours, the teachers are probably glad for a bit of quiet time!

Day 1 of Kindy.  Enjoyed a big swing with Daddy, then was accidentally pushed clean *off* the swing by Mummy.  Blitzing life, as usual.

Another ballet photo, because I can't get enough of the cuteness.

This you may not believe.  I made this ballet bag!  I sewed it!  With a sewing machine!  And it's nice!  Nice enough!  And I didn't stuff it up and get mad at fabric!  I was inspired by this duffel bag pattern and I used fabric that I quilted myself.  I am still in shock that I made this.

Now you may think that Year 3 is a little young to be learning cello.  Goodness knows, I did.  But wow and wonder and amazement, one little Buzz happens to be quite good at cello.  He's most pleased to be allowed to use his bow finally, as pizzicato was getting a bit old.  He's always had the music in him, but I can see the legacy of some really great classroom music lessons as he seems to "get" the idea of musical notation, especially rhythm.  And - not wanting to scrape my own cello or anything - there's something about being the parent in charge of practice that helps one learn bits and pieces oneself.  I learned so much in one productive late night that I did such bad damage to my left pointer finger that it was painful and a bit numb for a few days.

Two-minute noodles are so messy.  But when you drop them, they're relatively easy to pick up and you can have another go at them.

Plane-watching at the airport!  We saw three planes take off and one land in the hour we were there.  A nice way to while away an hour, if you've got one spare!

It's so easy to take a table, chairs, papers and pens outside for no discernable purpose, but really hard to remember to take it all back inside.

I've found if I can plan really well, taking four kids to the pool can be managed.  Things get easier once the bigger ones are water safe.

Now lest you think I'm doing a good job at this mothering thing I include this one of many little writings that fill our house all the time now to show you how far one can fall after taking the children on outings like those above.  This contains language that some of you will definitely not have heard before, and I apologise for offending your delicate sensibilities.  I don't know who is "saying" this to whom, but it appears to be a motherish figure in the middle of the board losing her cool and shrieking at her offspring to decrease their own volume, with the addendum, "...or I will stickey (sic) tape you! Oh I mean it!"

And there is an arrow pointing from that motherish figure to two smaller faces, a boy and a girl, with a judicious application of sticky tape over their mouths.  I can honestly say this has never happened at my place.  But I can't say it's not giving me ideas.

Buzz received a skateboard for his birthday.  Mr de Elba, inspired by the sale price of Buzz's skateboard, bought himself one.  Buzz, Mr de Elba and Jessie all increased their skillz on the skateboards and so Jessie received a small pink one for her birthday a few weeks later.  Woody is getting good enough on the skateboard that he has a similar surprise in store for his birthday in a few months.  My only non-skateboarding child is Baby Rex.

This is Woody chilling while listening to Coldplay on this iPod.  It doesn't matter how big their feet get, they still retain the shape of the baby feet their mother fell in love with in the hours after they were born.

I have a long way to go before I can claim to have mastered my impossible computer problems, but I have finally posted a few times on my blog, which should truly impress you.  It's been harder than knitting elaborate pullovers from piles of rotting grass clippings in the dark with one's fingers stuck together with superglue.  I knew that once I'd chopped through the undergrowth covering the "New Post" button, I could very well have lost every person who ever read this blog in the first place, so I honestly thank you for reading.

07 May 2013

Trivia and Photos, in a Dog's Breakfast

Allow me to regale you with trivia, and attempt to accompany it with photos.

This has been no mean feat, as the move from PC to Mac has been nothing short of disastrous. I can now no longer get photos onto my computer without them getting lost and automatically renamed and duplicated and twisted up horribly in a ghastly photo black hole called iPhoto.

Uploading photos to my blog in the arrangement I want is absolutely impossible.   I used to be able to fiddle with the HTML code and put things exactly how I wanted them, but now everything is a complete nonsense on the Macbook, which has turned me from a blogger into a non-blogger. Observe the dog's breakfast which is this post, if you will. Follow along, if you can. (Postscript: I have un-dogs-breakfasted it as much as possible in between a large number of interruptions.)

I have emailed myself some dodgy photos from my phone, tried to save them in some sort of compressed format somewhere in my Documents folder and uploaded them here, then I've had to put a load of line break commands between my photos so they don't appear as a huge pile interspersed with snatches of text.  Whee, Macs are SO! EASY! TO! USE!

Little Rex at nine months.  I remember how full-on this age is, with the little person clutching my legs as I work in the kitchen, the constant crawling through dirt and mess, and the squishy expectorated food down the sides of the high chair. Oh, there he is, awake and crying.  See?  Blogging?  Huh.

My good friend Justamum has to put up with me texting these pictures from time to time.  Everytime I can make a rude, or snigger-worthy word on Scrabble, I share it with her.  I'm sure she really enjoys this.  This is true friendship, indeed.

Jessie started ballet this year - I wasn't sure we were a ballet type of family, but she's really enjoying it. Here she is, striking a pose.

So much help.  Which is great, because there is so much laundry.  Once the baby gets old enough to be unhappy with everything except being in his mother's arms, all chores become difficult.  Sometimes you just sit him in the washing trolley and get on with it.

This nasty weed has been growing in my front garden for a few weeks.  I let it go long enough to work out what it WAS, then I got rid of it.  I know this one from my grandparents' farm - those seed pods will burst and scatter seeds far and wide, so it had to go.  But before I got rid of it, I named it.  I bet you can guess what I named it.  Obvious really, isn't it?

I had a brainwave one night as I dropped off to sleep - this little Phonics Lunchbox.  I'm doing half a day of work a week, and I have collected enough little speech kids to explode my brain.  A few of them are really struggling with the task of learning the classroom spelling words given each week at school, and I was wondering about the best way to give them some phonics tasks to help them learn their list words.  This is what I came up with - a little snap-lock lunchbox with a strip of velcro on the top, with their weekly list of words inside, along with all the velcro letters they need to make all those words.  I have used the Spelfabet Movable Alphabet to make this little Phonics Box.

I tried to take a cute pic of Rex and his sick mother, but he kept grabbing the phone and this was the best I got.  It occurred to me that before I had children, there were times with a head cold called for a "Doona Day," but now the best I can hope for is a "Doona Hour" and a cup of tea uninterrupted.

Mr de Elba is away for a few days, so here is my challenge: have all children fed, clothed, homework done, extra phonics done, school readers done, lunches packed, cello, swimming and chess remembered on cello, swimming and chess days, dinner-bath-stories-bedtime negotiated with a minimum of hassle, while pondering on my current list of concerns which seems weighty at the moment.

Well this has been a joy, battling the HTML while a sad baby wonders why his mother won't let him type too.  I have missed all you lovely people, and I'd love to write more often.  Oh no!  School Pickup!  Baby crying! Afternoon Tea! Homework!  Darn you, real life, darn you.