True Confession : My dirty little idiosyncrasy

clothes lines 1One of my little idiosyncrasies. Most people in Australia, who live in single family dwellings, have a clothes line. Some apartment blocks have a shared line, also. There are few days in the year when the weather is too ghastly to dry clothes outside, especially in Queensland, the Sunshine State!

This is where my idiosyncrasy comes into play, though some might tag it by its possible clinical term as an “obsessive, compulsive” habit ritual.


When I peg the clothes out, the coloured, plastic pegs chosen for each item must match. Two yellow pegs, or two green pegs; at all possible costs it must never be a yellow peg with a green peg.

Oh, and my clothing needs to have blue pegs. Blue is my favourite colour, most of my clothing is blue (or black, a little grey in winter). So it follows that the blue pegs are for moi.

Mr FD, uncouth and uncivilised, (be they of the same literal meaning?) follows no such gentility and will now only use random colours, but [name and shame] he deigns to even peg a pair of undies with a shirt. Yes, dear reader, a shirt will be pegged, not from the hem line, but from its shoulders and will frequently have a pair of undies dangling from a shared should peg. I only than the Big Whatever that our clothes line is at the back of our property and unseen by other eyes, except for wallabies and kangaroos who disdain the wearing of underwear anyway.

Yet, this attention to detail does not carry through to other areas of my life. My children have entertained dinner guests with the many and varied uses their mother has found for a tupperware lettuce crisper. Why limit it to just holding a lettuce, I say? Great for holding left over roast, for instance. And small, bouncing balls; or cotton wool. I wonder if I could set jelly in one?

Just this weekend I horrified Daughter 2 by informing her that I carried my fruit salad to school in a tupperware sandwich keeper. It doesn’t leak for a start. Why is everything a”keeper” with tupperware? Are they worried we might lose our sandwiches on the way to lunch?

I speak of tupperware though I have been but to two parties in my life. Most of my tupperware has been inherited from my mother who could never say no to anyone inviting her to yet another party plan event.

Do you think there are secret meetings of tupperware addicts, who meet in church basements under cover of darkness? “Hello, my name is Darleen, and I have 42 tupperware lettuce crispers.” Too frightening to contemplate.

back on earth

chanel suit 1

Hello my darling, little people! The Queen has returned!The sugar high is gradually decreasing.

Daughter2 left on her plane for the west with more than a few tears on both sides, laden with an extra suitcase weighed down with gifts. It was a “bring your favourite children’s book” baby shower, so Baby (or Peppercorn as it is known now) already has quite the library! The suitcase weighed in at 30.2 kgs!

Petite Fille had the joy of being loved by her extended family for a few days, and Daughter 1 and I experienced the after glow of pulling off The Baby Shower (in my not so humble opinion)!

Numerous cups of tea accompanied baby name suggestions. They have chosen not to find out the baby’s gender. While they have settled on a boy’s name, they are yet to agree on a girl’s name. It is so odd to hear the names of my aunts and great aunts that I considered “old fashioned” being suggested. As a teacher it is also hard to say you like some names when you have taught a string of children with that first name and they have all been horrors – like any boy’s name ending in “dyn”. Sorry, if you have a Braydyn or Jaydyn, but it is teacher truth.

Best moments :

  • Seeing Daughter2 laughingly surrounded by her girlfriends.
  • The moment I was making tea sandwiches, my sister was buttering pikelets and Mr Boy was crafting coffees in a corner of the kitchen while the party swirled around us.
  • Throwing a balloon back and forth with Petite Fille and hearing her declare “This is the best balloon game in the world!” At two and a half she is constructing complex sentences of seven or eight words. Of course there are more times when she just sits and yells NO! YUCKY!
  • My two daughters talking life and babies.
  • Petite Fille taking an afternoon nap with her arms wrapped around the Peppa Pig soft doll that may have arrived with Grandma Flamingo Dancer.
  • Mr Boy, PT’s daddy, reading Tiddalick the Frog and using a variety of animal character voices, to Petite Fille.

One morning, Petite Fille’s paternal Grandma invited us all out to morning tea, which was delightful. We wandered into a children’s gift store afterwards that was just amazing. Their mission is to have nothing that is plastic or requires a battery, and may I say they achieve it beautifully. I could have moved in and lived the rest of my life there!

Petite Fille walked out with an abacus from her other Granny (Granny FD had already purchased  books and a spunky new pair of blue sunglasses (a must in Australia’s climate) for PT). To her credit, PT asked for nothing, and touched nothing, merely walked around discovering the sights as well. She showed amazing retraint for a toddler – her grannies were less disciplined! How many weeks until Christmas?

Less slow in the city

daughters are darling

In the City for a few days to meet up with my gorgeous daughters. D2 is flying in on Friday night as D1 is hosting a baby shower for her on Sunday. I have been promoted to esteemed Grandmother position – making tea sandwiches in the kitchen!

I threw my self on the pyre and also volunteered to play den mother for Petite Fille and any other little ones on the day as well. Oh life is so hard!

My generosity has nothing to do with the fact that I struggle to put names to faces that have grown up over time when daughters’ school friends approach – and don’t you suggest it!

bake 1

D1 informed me they are having phone and internet issues so I anticipate limited communication while city side. Oh don’t cry! I shall be back shortly.

slow living and a Walk in the Woods

walk in the woods

We spent the afternoon walking the Appalachian Trail with Bill Bryson (aka Robert Redford) on our second 2015 staycation “slow fun day”. My sister joined Mr FD and I for lunch at an Austrian restaurant in The City, and an afternoon at the movies to see “A Walk in the Woods”. Both events were superb.

Sister and I chose bauern grostel (beef, chicken, onions, bacon and kipfler potato crisply pan-fried) whist Mr FD enjoyed a schnitzel. Our meals were washed down with glasses of almdudler – Austrian herbal infused lemonade. Huge meals that Sister and I struggled to finish.

“Walk in the Woods” was the perfect movie for our day out. The right mix of humour, pathos, self-discovery, love and beautiful photography of gorgeous landscapes.

We were all on a little happiness high during the journey homeward – and planning our third 2015 “slow fun day” during the next school vacation.  

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.
—  Jack Kerouac

What a difference a day makes


chasing innocence

As soon as I awoke I felt, well, rested. Does that make sense? A very quiet first day of vacation brought a degree of revival. I opened the patio door to allow Augie Dog out for his morning constitutional, while I made a lovely mug of tea. Then we retired back to the bedroom.

Mr FD is still sleeping in the spare room due to the difficulty of his nights, post operative. I am getting quite into the habit of sleeping alone, and I have to admit that I may just mourn it when he moves back in. The aristocracy were onto something there – I mean, it is just, so civilised. None of that, “now we all roll over and one falls out”; or “Who stole my blanket?” And if you have a sleepless night, your partner is not sentenced to one too.

I think Mr FD was up just about every hour on the hour until early morning, so Augie and I resolved (I did the resolving, he did the obeying, as it should be) that we would not wake him if possible. So, tea in hand I updated some social media.

Ten thirty and still no sign of Mr FD, so a check to see if he was still breathing (he was, obviously, or I would be writing an entirely different post… I think), before my tummy said “enough” and demanded breakfast.

earth music

Augie had toast and bacon; I feasted on avocado, bacon and egg on toast, with fresh tea. We breakfasted on the patio, and watched a couple of birds savour the bread treats I had thrown out for them.

Mr FD appeared just as Augie ate the last toast crust, I was benevolent and reopened the kitchen. Slow times.


two sides to every story


A female teaching colleague has been diagnosed with cancer. As support, it was suggested that meals that could be frozen be gifted; or money to allow a cleaner to come in, once or twice, to help with the home, be donated.

We Flamingo Dancers, have been touched by more than one medical emergency over the years, and I lived through cervical cancer, as well as an eye tumour, so I guess I experienced instant empathy. I donated money towards a cleaner.

What surprised me was Minerva’s attitude. ” She earns big money, why should I give her anything!” Yes, she does earn a higher pay scale as an experienced senior teacher, and she may have income protection, but as I know, to suddenly go from a double income to a single income family can be devastating, plus medical costs are another burden.

As to the cleaner,  there is a husband and maybe the children are old enough to help out, but she needs emotional support and so do they. They are on a very exhausting journey with an unknown end; a little help, and it is “little”, is the least we can do. It is about all we can do, after all.

I think what shocked me most, is that it is an attitude that I would never have expected form Minerva, my erstwhile assistant, whom I would have tagged as “generous”, until now. Possibly, Minerva has more of an “us and them” attitude than I realised. To make a meal would cost less than $10, after all. People can be surprising, and always are when least expected!

To me, you give out to the world what you can and you often receive back. We are on a very tight budget as we are only a single income family these days, but I thought the $20 I gave; which let’s be honest will pay for about one hour of cleaning, was a tiny way of saying “we care” and more of a gift for me, than for our ill colleague.

I don’t believe in workplace gifts for birthdays or farewells. Have a morning tea, wish them well, but no crap clutter gifted please! Health issues are another matter.

Meals were donated to the family who lost their son to suicide and we received a very heartfelt letter of thanks from the Dad. In his words they were “blown away” by the caring, and the knowledge that we were there to support them, and their grieving sons for the long term.

Small things can mean a lot, and I repeat, often more of a gift for the giver than the receiver. I am sorry that Minerva hasn’t realised that, yet.

no merry go rounds, but a lot of hot air blowing


Shattered is the word used by Mr FD to describe that emotional, mental and physical feeling that accompanies total exhaustion, or burn out. Shattered is how I feel on this, the first weekend of our Spring vacation.

Last day of term we had a “carnival” day for the students. The school’s parents and friends association donated a rather sizeable amount towards the day, which allowed the hiring of jumping castles, mechanical bull riding – well, just about every inflatable activity there is! Plus the art department created a “gratitude garden” with individually decorated stones the students painted; and there was refugee letter writing in the library. The day started off with a scavenger hunt which had students running in and out of the library, one of the clues on their map.

Morning tea was a “bring a plate” shared feast (usually mums send a packet of potato crisps!), and lunch was “free” beef or chicken hamburgers. Snow cones were sold and donations asked for, to raise money for this charity.

It was a great day with teachers and students bonding and just having old fashioned fun. Nice way to end term three – yes, three quarters of our school year done and dusted!

This, in the same week as we started strike action for parity of salary compared to the rest of the catholic teachers in Australia, and  paid leave for  term time support staff . School officers should not be expected to go unpaid during vacation time – respect and recognition for the role they play in our schools means they should be supported financially during the down times so that they continue in their roles and their experience is not lost to the schools.

Our strikes were merely an hour stop work meeting, the wearing of badges and refusing to attend staff meetings or undertake after school activities.  We now have the legal right to continue  action. It may lead to whole day stoppages next term.

In reality, classroom teachers are paid about $10,000 a year less than other states – we all get the same state and federal govt money. It is more complicated than that of course, but some times one has to make a stand. As it is we only get paid for a 30 hour week, and no one works just 30 hours. Even our vacation time is taken up with either marking, planning or creating resources. Soap box stuff, I know, but if they want “better” teachers then pay parity has to be in the mix to retain and attract quality teachers. Too much burn out.

He Who Never Shuts Up is not a union member, but naturally stands to gain if negotiations are successful, zoomed into my office as soon as the stop work meeting was over, to try and find out what went on. I refused to say anything and he eventually got the message and moved on to his next prey. If you don’t join the union, you shouldn’t get the information as far as I am concerned. A bit like people not voting. In my mind, if you don’t vote then you don’t have the right to complain about the government.

In all, it was a week that was a little different to the other 39 of the year. Then again, every week has its own personality and issues. As Ned Kelly supposedly uttered “Such is Life”.

in my humble opinion


Two female colleagues and I were “volunteered” to create next term’s unit of work. We met to work on it, and damn, we worked well.

So, well, that we congratulated ourselves.

“This is so good.”

“What a great unit.”

“We are fantastic!”

“We are THE TEAM!”


Then we followed up with emails thanking each other for being so wonderful !

Someone has to say it like it is.



Of course the kids will hate it.