Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Hormones

Like Michael Jackson’s stubble and Junichiro Koizumi’s permed Richard Gere-esque hair, Daniel Radcliffe’s latest sensationalised promotional photos leave me faintly disturbed. I haven’t joined the Puritan Police overnight to bluster about – quelle horreur! – the naked human body (one of either model of which, last time I checked, we are all possessed). Rather, it is that such attempts (with dubious success) to project an image of masculine sexual attractiveness are just wrong! wrong! wrong! in people with whom I would never consider engaging in a romantic encounter. Michael Jackson? Scary as all hell. Koizumi? Completely unappealing. Harry Potter? Paedophilia!

When did he morph from a cute little mop-headed tyke into a nether-thatched man-boy? If I weren’t at least ten years removed from the acceptable Daniel Radcliffe ogling demographic, I might be all squealy and giggly over him as I was over my teenage pin-up (confessional aside: it was Lou Diamond Phillips), but I think therein lies the real issue behind this particular vague disquiet. I’m old and increasingly prudish, with babies of my own, and I dread the day my innocent children will grow up and, like a boy wizard dunked in a cauldron of hormones, become sexually aware beings, objects and sources of lustful desire.

Will I be forbearing enough to refrain from yelling, “And just where do you think you’re going dressed like that, young lady?!” at Miss Lonie, or trusting enough not to pull her every boyfriend aside for a quiet but threatening chat? Will I grin and bear it when it comes time to wash Master Lonie’s stained sheets, or when he leaves his condom-stuffed wallet open on the coffee table? I don’t know, but I can only hope that, like my siblings and I seemed to, they muddle through okay, unaffected by the downsides of ‘gender’ activity (as The Goodies might say).

I suppose I should just have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. It’s still a few years until Mr. Lonie need acquire the must-have tool for every father of girls (a big stick), and perhaps by then chastity belts will be the new teen fashion accessory. We can only hope.

Copping an Eyeful

I like to walk around the house naked. Not in a lewd, sexual way; Mr. Lonie pushing past my unclothed form to watch Warnie yob around the MCG is enough to wither any pretensions of irresistibility. Not in an exhibitionist way; I’ve had enough creepy loser and dirty-old-man attention to be thankful wolf-whistlers, touchy-feelers and up-skirters probably no longer pay me a second glance. No, I walk around the house naked (or scantily clad) in a, ‘it’s bloody hot / where’re my undies / can’t be arsed putting clothes on’ way.

I make no apologies to the Puritan Police who raise an outcry over Janet Jackson’s boob but don’t bat an eyelid about discussing their most intimate sexual problems with Dr. Phil and his audience of millions. Nakedness in the home is a luxury of the non-share-houser with children still several years away from almost dying with embarrassment over their mother appearing in front of school friends dressed only in bra, undies and pantyhose, dammit! And frankly, if you’re going to peer rudely into my house, any subsequent spontaneous retina detachment is your own silly fault.

But did I want my parents-in-law to see me dressed only in hobbit pants and a stylish pink maternity bra last Saturday? Ideally, no, and I had the best intentions of being arsed to put clothes on before they arrived to inflict their punishment (a.k.a. weekly visit), but, well, the road to in-laws dishabille is paved with good intentions. Blame the 2007 Bloggies, for I was perusing the nominees (wondering if writing about explicit and made-up-sounding sexual adventures would snag me a mention next year) and lost track of my last precious minutes of pre-inanities relaxation.

The stupid-sounding: “I’ll just get myself decent!” was the first thing that leaped from my desperate lips as my in-laws appeared and proceeded to let themselves in. They made some confused noises as they added my unthinkable state of undress to their list of Lonie’s Crimes Against Humanity, while I raced to find a top that was ironed, lest Mr. Lonie’s mother have a heart attack from indignation overload.

Some people might have been horrified to find themselves in my situation, but I could scarcely keep the laughter from gushing out. My father-in-law’s face as he hovered in the doorway, aghast and uncertain, was utterly priceless. To a passive-aggressive soceraphobe like me, it was the best laugh I had all day.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Lonie Polony’s Lexical Guide to Australia Day Family Outings

Pleasant and enjoyable: A picnic with my family on the grass beside a river while we watch people swimming and playing cricket.

Nuisance: Tenacious ants crawling all over our rug, reminding me why I don’t like picnicking and outdoorsy things.

Tasty: A lunch of ham and cheese rolls, hard-boiled eggs and cinnamon buns.

Unpalatable: Master Lonie’s lunch of leaves and twigs. Insufficient data to compare with his sand feast from a couple of weeks ago.

Exhilarating: A ride on the local stainless steel bobsled.

Short-sightedness: Letting Miss Lonie have her fifth marshmallow in the car on the way home.

Dreadful: The tell-tale throat sound of imminent vomit-eruption.

Frantic: Me shouting, “Pull over!” to Mr. Lonie, who once again displays a pathological unwillingness to do so even when a passenger is upwardly-ejecting stomach contents.

Stench: Partially digested ham and cheese roll, hard-boiled egg, cinnamon bun and marshmallows spewed over clothes, face, hair and car-seat.

Inexplicable: Spray-pattern of vomit, which indicates a gravity-defying chuck up onto Miss Lonie’s hat

Unpleasant and unenjoyable: Removing and stripping car seat, locating and cleaning each of the hundred nooks and crevices vomit has seeped into.

Serendipity: Finding $2 partially submerged in spew.

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!

Saddle up your kangaroo, slap on your cork hat and throw another shrimp on the barbie – it’s time to celebrate the beginning of white settlement in Australia! Genocide? Dispossession of land and culture? We call it a public holiday! So grab your Union Jack (antipodean colony version) and wave it around like Elizabeth your queen has deigned to accept our offer of an all-expenses-paid trip to the arse end of the world. After all, like every other Australian, I never refuse a holiday, especially one with ‘Australia’ or ‘ANZAC’ in it to remind us we have not (yet) been annexed by the USA as its fifty-first state.

But enough of the wry political commentary. What do I know? I’m just questionable pig parts disguised as a suitable sandwich filling.

I will be celebrating with a picnic at a nearby dam/drought-ravaged mud-puddle, eating ham and cheese rolls (no snags), marshmallows (Miss Lonie’s request) and home-made cinnamon buns (no pav either, I’m afraid – and incidentally, my trans-tasman bros, pavlova was created HERE. You can have Russell Crowe). And I will be thinking that yes, this country has its problems, some of them daunting, shameful, and chronic, but it’s actually a pretty good place to live.

Happy Australia Day!

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Treasures From The Hermit's Cave

The catharsis of venting has combined with a flood of weekly chocolate allowance to leave me feeling much mellower. Contrary to scurrilous rumours currently circulating, Lonie is not a constant grumpy-bum (an epithet guaranteed to irritate me). Here are some things that make me non-grumpy, which you may also enjoy:

Beatrice and Benedick; Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy.
Romeo and Juliet? Pfft! I have no interest in the myth of ‘love at first sight’. Give me repartee and humour, with a happy (and alive) couple at the end. If reading Shakespeare and Austen isn’t your cup of tea (too many hey-nonny-nonnies and games of whist, perhaps?) I like the 1993 Much Ado About Nothing directed by Kenneth Branagh. I know there’s a lot of terrible acting (I’m looking at you, Keanu and Robert Sean Leonard) and more American accents than is perhaps appropriate for a Shakespearean vision of mediaeval Italy, but Beatrice and Benedick are the true stars. Watch them and be happy. I also like the 1995 BBC television production of Pride and Prejudice. The look exchanged between Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth the evening she dines at Pemberley? Can’t get enough.

The Lady of Shalott and La Pieta.
I’m no scholar of art so I’m not going to try and talk about Waterhouse and Michelangelo in any pseudolearned terms. I’ll resort instead to the very philistine declaration: “I know what I like, and I like what I see!”
Read the Tennyson poem and gaze at the lovely lady as she prepares to meet her doom.
As for La Pieta, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian or even believe in God. This beautiful sculpture is, for me, a moving homage to a mother’s love.


From The Marriage of Figaro. It was also the music played by Tim Robbins over the PA system during the scene in The Shawshank Redemption when he locked himself in the warden’s office.

Baked cheesecake

Easy, delicious and not a Weet-Bix in sight.
125g plain sweet biscuits
60g butter
375g cream cheese
¾ cup castor sugar
1 Tblsp plain flour
Pinch salt
2 eggs, separated
1 whole egg, extra
1 cup sour cream
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1 Tblsp castor sugar, extra
1) Grease and line the sides of a 20cm springform pan. Crush biscuits finely, mix well with melted butter and press evenly into base of pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
2) Beat cream cheese until softened, combine with sugar, flour and salt, beat well.
3) Beat in the whole egg plus two egg yolks, sour cream and lemon juice.
4) Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, beat in extra sugar and fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour onto prepared crumb crust.
5) Bake at 160° for 1¼ to 1½ hours. Allow to cool in oven and refrigerate until firm.

Flushable nappy liners

God bless whoever invented these.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

A Hermit's Life For Me

I would normally describe myself as a fairly cheerful person, but there’s a limit to how cheerful I feel when indulgence in a major vice (sugar, and by extension a significant portion of my daily food intake) is severely curtailed. Suddenly I find myself grumpy for a number of reasons.

Mr. Lonie’s holidays have ended, ergo so have mine. No more lie-ins and equal division of housework and child wrangling. No more respite from Master Lonie’s favourite game of ‘let’s cry so long and loudly at Mummy’s lack of a marsupial pouch in which to carry me with her at all times, that the neighbours think Mummy’s horribly abusive and/or neglectful’. The house is already disappearing under mountains of clothes and washing-up, so according to the Law of Judgemental Relations, I’m due for a surprise visit from the dreaded in-laws. I can’t bear to imagine the exponentially worse state of the house, week-day dinners and my sanity when I return to full-time paid work in a mere two months.

Don’t get me wrong: having been unemployed or in a number of crappy jobs, I’m ever grateful to have decent work without an unwritten duty statement including tolerating sexual harassment, fending off sleazy bosses, dressing in demeaning costumes, copping frequent rudeness and verbal abuse, or trying to pretend someone’s feet aren’t eye-wateringly smelly or shockingly ugly. I am, however, hardly filled with enthusiasm to hear, “We’ve moved [from our prime position, into an unpleasant corner somewhere], and by the way you no longer have a desk,” from yet another new boss who arrived during my leave. After my last stint, I was considering seeking work elsewhere, but the prospect of having to re-write my résumé, CV and statements against generic selection criteria (all of which have been lost in both soft and hard copy) makes me groan with dread.

Meanwhile, I’ve squandered my last foreseeable opportunity for decent writing time on blogging and less profitable pastimes. Sure, blogging’s a fun hobby but it’s not going to earn me a living sufficient to quit my day job as John Howard’s lowly minion. Yet I can’t seem to stop, and while my meagre creative energies are divided between novels (yes, that’s a pathetic plural) and blogging, none are done to my satisfaction (or at all). Nothing makes one grumpy like realising one has irrational, half-analysed self-imposed psychological obstacles to achievement that would fill a large portion of a Dr. Phil show.

And so it is that nursing such crotchety thoughts, I’ve frequently caught myself with a frown on my face, directed at no-one in particular but fierce enough that innocent people have shied out of my way at the local shopping centre. Though my first thought when in the midst of such a dudgeon is Flee my death-glare or perish, you meaty logjams! I’m persuaded to exert some control over my truculent mien by the next thought that occurs to me: (inward groan) What if one of those disgustingly perky, interfering nitwits accosts me?

You know the ones: the gormlessly smiling strangers who think it an incumbent duty to approach people they’ve never seen before and whose circumstances they know nothing of, to impart their singularly useless advice.

“Cheer up, it might never happen!” or “Smile! It’s not the end of the world!”

When I was younger and more anxious to please, I dutifully complied although part of me seethed at the presumptuousness of such a suggestion. For one thing, my natural resting face can sometimes look a little pensive or glum, even when I’m not. For another, what if ‘it’ had already happened? How did they know my pet hadn’t just died, or I hadn’t just been informed by the doctor I had two weeks to live before a drawn-out, horribly painful death, or I hadn’t just learned a colossal meteorite was, in fact, shortly to bring about the end of the world?

These days I’m rarely in the mood to humour morons. Like the three drunken boys who interrupted my somewhat frantic search for a wilfully stray Mr. Lonie (also drunk) before he could get almost beaten up again, to leer at me and say, “Aaaaaaaay! Smile!”

I turned on the death-glare instead. Even through their alcoholic fog they registered something had gone awry.

“Lesbian bitch!” they slurred at my retreating figure. The satisfaction of denying my initial nice-girl impulse was worth their unimaginative, knee-jerk reaction to an unexpected ego-bruising.

The last fool who dared thrust his fatuous platitude on me copped an earful back. I was pregnant, stressed and unwell, waddling uncomfortably through the shopping centre while Mr. Lonie (ever the gentleman) strode ten paces ahead. Just when I was thinking if some cretin tries that ‘cheer up’ crap on me, I’ll rip out their tongue and slap them with it, suddenly there it was, forcing its way through my unwilling auditory canals: “Smile! It’s not the end of the world!”

Nice, polite Lonie didn’t stand a chance against hormone-drenched, verge-of-nervous-breakdown Lonie. The most she could do was muffle the outraged scream into a passive-aggressive mutter that was nevertheless clearly audible to Mr. Moron and his missus.

“Shut the eff up!”

The effect of this small release of pent-up tension was, sadly, short-lived. The people I’d just sworn at were our neighbours.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

There's No 'Blog' In Lethargy

Have you ever had one of those days when, no matter how much you want to or feel you should, you just can’t be bothered with [insert hobby/pastime/alternate career path]? When you’re tuckered out by housework and children and heat? When the one simple task you set yourself remains unfinished and drags on into the next day?

Yep. Several. Goodnight, I’m off to bed.

Monday, 15 January 2007

She Justified Procrastination With Flimsy Excuses

Book still unfinished. Blogging wins again.

“You’re incoherent!” they scoffed.
“No, look.”

Though mediocre, she entered them anyway:

Married in haste. Repenting at leisure.

Kittens are harmless! (Sophie’s last words.)

Upon tasting, discovered it was manure.

“I wasn’t always a woman, Darling.”

Never was cutting toenails so fatal.

Their final course was Roger sorbet.

No bright light – atheists were right!

Her heart sank. Fish ate it.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

The Cynic’s Guide to Marketing

Zounds! I was right. Ambling through the supermarket on autopilot today, I was jerked out of my corned-beef-related reverie by the fragrance of cinnamon. And there they were: several dozen bags of the year’s first Hot Cross Buns.

I’ll stay away from the shops tomorrow – best to avoid the imminent explosion of St Valentine’s Day tat.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Singular Saturday

A family trip to the beach for the first time in years today proved to be a Freaky Friday sort of experience. I’m not suggesting I turned into a drunken slapper maniac-driver deluded-wannabe-singer starlet of crappy remakes, rather that the predicted levels of parent and child enjoyment were surprisingly inverted.

Miss Lonie, who was probably expecting water somewhat like a bath’s, was unpleasantly surprised by the cooler waves. Protesting she needed socks and a jumper, she thereafter refused to even let the water wash over her feet and played half-heartedly in the sand, biding her time until she could prevail upon us to take her to the playground. Master Lonie’s reaction too was somewhat disappointing. He spurned the sea we’d driven two hours to reach, preferring instead to crawl after seagulls in the hopes of sampling a feathery taste sensation even better than the sand he’d shovelled in his mouth by the handful.

Mr. Lonie and I, on the other hand, frolicked in the waves like flabby white porpoises and built sandcastles with an enthusiasm perhaps a little odd in people of our vintage.

While Mr. Lonie minded our wet-blanket children, I waded out into the brine and realised that I was grinning like a simpleton as the waves gently swelled against me. Now old and daggy enough to care nothing for what strangers might think of me, I jumped and ran and fell and laughed like a lunatic as my bemused children looked on.

The tide flowed, the breeze picked up and time, inevitably, passed. On the way home, I asked Miss Lonie if she’d had a good day.

“Not really,” she said with a comical wrinkle of her nose.

“Oh,” I said, surprised. “I had a lovely day!”

Perhaps I’m not so old and jaded after all.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

An Amuse Oeil

I’m hanging my head in shame, for this post is a terrible cop-out. In the interests of preserving my dignity, let’s all pretend that I’ve been too busy to post because my writing energies are focused on divers books in various stages of completion. If you are feeling particularly charitable, you may choose to believe that by ‘various stages of completion’ I mean ‘further along than chapter two, the first page, or mental cogitation.’

I saw this little jest spelled out in mismatched bulk-issue letters outside a certain fast-food franchise:

“He always wanted to be above average, but he was just too mean.”

Not sure what relevance it had to the cult of Jared, but I feel it sums up my glacial progress nicely.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Getting A Fix

Aah…like the final-scene first kiss between the two leading characters of a romantic period drama, the wait was long but oh-so-satisfying. Today is my non-diet day, when I can eat anything I like after denying myself in the name of the New Year. I find it to be a helpful part of any new diet regime, particularly in the early stages, to prevent a total breakdown and binge when the withdrawal and pressure grow too great. This morning’s first Malteser tasted gooooooood.

Back on the methadone (fruit) tomorrow.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Salad Makes Me Grumpy

So it’s full of chlorophyll, folic acid, various vitamins, and fills up space that would otherwise be home to chocolate and (non-weetbix-based) cheesecake, but c’mon! If it were really as delicious as perky wholegrain-fed proponents of health food make out, everyone would be eating it: fussy children, steak-and-potato men, those whose sole exercise involves transporting doughnuts from the box into their mouth, and who only leave the house if four burly firemen cut a hole in the wall and carry them out on a door…

If my diet were a pantomime, salad would be the wicked, green-hued stepmother who does away with my sweet, sweet, refined-sugar mum, and I alone would be able to see through salad’s seemingly wholesome appearance to the bitter, stalky truth beneath.

“No!” I would cry out, as salad crept up on my sleeping fast-food dad, a murderous glint in her cherry tomato eye. “Not the mandoline!”

But I would be too late. Pretty soon my new wicked stepfather (vegetable juice) and my three detestable stepsisters (nine-grain bread, bran cereal and ‘occasional small treat’) would have moved in, and before too long Lonie would no longer be a polony, but some horrible soy sausage sold only in health food shops run by fruitarian hippies.

Grim digressive phantasms aside, I believe the blame for my recent real-life nightmares can be placed squarely on a salad-prompted sugar-withdrawal. This morning I dreamed I was in a bleak post-apocalyptic world with two old acquaintances I’d never liked much. There was something about a terrible deadly contagion and a doctor driven insane by the pressures of stemming its spread, such that he descended into heinously un-Hippocratic behaviour, but the salient point for me was this: The diet must have worked, because I looked great.

Glum as it makes me, bring on the salad. I want the body of my nightmares.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Death of a Diet

We all knew it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I was hoping I could last at least one day without the old ‘diet and exercise’ chestnut being smashed to bits by the champion conker of a visit with the in-laws. That’s right, I’m sitting at my keyboard chasing down a hefty wedge of custard fruit flan with Maltesers as numerous as the droppings of The Devil’s own hell-goat, by which these chocolate balls of guilty pleasure were surely inspired.

I’d been so restrained today, forgoing my usual breakfast of chocolate (crammed in quickly before the children, eating their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do healthy breakfasts, see) in favour of cereal, and piously ignoring the sweet treats in our fridge and pantry, relics of our year-end gorging. Then the hour grew late, all hope of reprieve was lost, and I reluctantly submitted myself to an evening of social and culinary cross-bearing.

I won’t go into the details of tonight’s in-laws experience, as I fear unleashing a cataclysm of ranting which could obliterate Blogger Beta entirely (tempting as that prospect is, I’ve put too much effort into tinkering with my ‘new, improved’ template which, unsurprisingly, is clunkier and uglier than the old one, to be bothered sailing around looking for the Mt. Sinai of blog hosts), but suffice it to say I know how the guy in The Scream feels.

Fortunately, I’d had a late lunch and so did not have to choose between satiety and protecting my taste-buds from a prolonged onslaught defying my previously-held belief that all mums of that generation are good cooks. Unfortunately, the dynamics of Mr. Lonie’s family made it impossible for me to politely refuse dessert despite my resolution, so I grimly prepared myself to spoon down a large slice of the home-made comestible styling itself as baked cheesecake.

The force of will required to refrain from gagging was enormous; it tasted like it was made of Weeties and yoghurt.

“I made the base from Weet-Bix,” Mr. Lonie’s mother disclosed at this point, while I gamely tried to disguise my grimace of disgust. “It’s not a very sweet cheesecake, is it?”

There it was. The final blow to my fledgling resolution. “I strayed from my diet for this?” I thought irritatedly. “Damn it if I’m going to be hanged for this lamb – I’m going for the whole damn sheep!”

And so I did. And here I am. Munching on Maltesers.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Seven Is My Lucky Number

Here it is again, the time of year when we consider all that has happened over the last twelve months, and make several resolutions which we pretend to ourselves and others that we’re going to keep for more than one week.

It’s been an eventful year for Lonie™ Polony (Taste the absence of rectum!). I returned to work after nearly two years’ leave, only to say goodbye after two months to the almost completely new team assembled in my absence, in order to pop out and rear Master Lonie. In March I’ll make my third start in a job I will have held for three years, with only about five months’ actual work. Aah, public service! I’m in the system like a cancer; they’ll never get rid of me now, the suckers!

My mum’s parents died within four months of each other – quite an ironic achievement for a couple who have been not-so-amicably divorced for the best part of three decades. Of course it’s sad when people you love die, but they were both old and terribly ill, and all of us reconciled ourselves to the inevitable in a philosophical, ‘Grandfather dies, father dies, son dies’ way. Rest in peace, Pa and Nanna.

Happily, we’ve had our own personal Lion King circle of life experience, with two little zygotes nestled safely in the wombs of my sisters-in-law (Mr. Lonie’s sister, and my brother’s wife), one of which is due on my very own birthday! As everyone at Lonie™ Polony knows, luncheon meats of the highest quality are produced on that auspicious day. As an added bonus, my father’s long-cherished dream of marrying-off all his children will soon be fulfilled. My sister recently became affianced to someone we’ve all agreed is a nice chap, who what’s more possesses the rare but much sought-after personality traits enabling him to tolerate our family which is, shall we say…idiosyncratic.

The clock has just ticked over to 2007 as I write, which means I’ve missed my chance to cram the last four blocks of chocolate from the pantry into my reluctantly-resolved-to-eat-properly tummy. We all know the ‘eat well and exercise regularly’ New Year’s resolution is doomed to fall by the wayside (after Lonie pushes it off the wagon in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping), but maybe I can restrain myself long enough to get back to work without everyone mistakenly assuming I’m going for the baby hat trick.

Me and New Year’s resolutions being the on-again, off-again unfaithful lovers we are, I thought a better list to draw up would be ‘100 Things To Do Before I Die’. I remember starting one over a year ago, but as it was a significant document, it naturally found its way into Mr. Lonie’s hands and thence to an unknown sector of the house (commonly called the rubbish bin). That list, with its mix of the fancifully ambitious (write a book, become fluent in a second language) and the laughably mundane (do a chin-up, see a hedgehog) seems completely do-able at times such as these, when I’m hepped up on last year’s chocolate and rendered unreasonably optimistic by fleeting scenes of drunken celebrities commenting on pretty fireworks. In fact, I’ve already accomplished at least one thing on that list – ‘Write a blog’.

Happy New Year everyone – may you all do a chin-up before you die.