|trivial tales from someone who's always in it|
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Failing all that, I'd settle for someone merely taking our wardrobe-dwelling cat off our hands. Extra bonus points would be awarded for cleaning out the Unnerving Fridge that squats evilly in our kitchen while propagating teeming cultures of hitherto unknown super-viruses. I am very afraid of this fridge. I'm very afraid of the cat too, for that matter. I'm especially afraid of what I'd find in the wardrobe if I ever mustered the courage to inspect it.
I'm hoping that BlogRolling will help me to overcome these various fears. BlogRolling is, after all, about ultimate power. One click here, another there and lo! -- the world changes in subtle but undeniable ways. With this omnipotent tool on my desktop (and sincere apologies to the poet Alexander Pope), I can only raise my voice to the heavens and cry: I click! I link! O loony cat in the wardrobe! Where is thy victory? O demonic refrigeration unit! Where is thy sting?
I think I'm getting a tad carried away here. Sorry.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
1. When you get home from work, whip up a marinade. If the recipe calls for silly ingredients like sherry or mirin (rice wine) and you don't have any, use some creative flair and throw in a few good slurps of port instead. Add fresh fish to marinade and leave to dissolve for three hours. Then, when your partner arrives home, you can open the fridge door with a flourish and prove that for once you at least thought about preparing a meal. He will become euphoric and want to celebrate. He will then give you beer.
2. Do a little housework. Nothing too taxing; pushing a vacuum cleaner around the living-room a few times will do the trick. Just make sure you're not wearing much clothing on your upper body. Your partner will then be able to admire your musculature and will quite possibly give you more beer.
3. Visit your neighbours to drop off some mail delivered to your address in error. If they offer you a beer, instantly decline. Then change your mind.
4. Graciously permit your partner to remove the few remaining fragments of fish from their marinade and cook them on the barbeque. Make salad. Enjoy the sense of pride you feel when you survey the healthy meal you're about to eat. Wash it all down with a healthy beer.
5. Waste the next couple of hours in front of the TV, drinking beer. You deserve it.
6. Start yawning conspicuously. Moan about all the things you still have to do -- washing the dishes, making lunches for tomorrow, dreaming up something to put on your blog, etc. If your partner offers to wash the dishes, speedily accept. When he puts on an über cool Talvin Singh CD and starts running water into the sink, smirk and feel superior in the certain knowledge that no-one else in town will be washing dishes to music as funky and groove-filled as yours.
7. Become playful. When your partner offers to dry those dishes he's washing, refuse to hand over the tea-towel. Tussle affectionately for five minutes. When he makes demands like, "Give me the tea-towel", respond with something reasonable and mature like, "Go soak your head". Allow him to chase you around the house brandishing a wet sponge. He obviously needs the exercise. When he traps you on the bed and squeezes the sponge over your face, show him that you're the bigger person. Wait until you're back in the kitchen before drenching him.
8. Decide it's time for another beer. Take said beer outside with a pair of binoculars. Try to find Mars. Give up in disgust when all you can see is a blurry blob. Make scathing remarks about Mars and planets in general.
9. Round off the evening by watching The Amazing Race because it is, without question, the most unintentionally hilarious programme currently screening on TV.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
You know the ones: the type where your partner gets taken to a neighbouring town in a stretch limo with five other blokes to have dinner, get absolutely shit-faced and watch a bunch of strippers do their strippery thing. The sort where you have a night out with the girls and end up nearly killing a dance-floor full of people because you've decided to try pole-dancing on a slim steel rod that just happens to be supporting four huge and heavy spotlights and the whole thing starts tipping over in slow-motion. The type of weekend where you go to a barbeque the next day and try to cure your hangover by drinking lots of beer and dancing in a very ridiculous and embarrassing fashion. The sort where you think you should probably apologise for a lot of things you can't remember saying or doing, to people you're not sure you've ever met.
Actually, that all happened last weekend.
This weekend was quiet. Restful. Basically hangover-free.
We watched movies. We read. The Dreamboat cooked; I did some housework. We went to the gym. We drove to the nearby town of Dampier to attend a two-hour work function hosted by the Dreamboat's employers. And while it's true that Your Correspondent managed to put away two-thirds of a bottle of champagne, the two-hour limit meant she was reasonably coherent for the duration.
This is how you know you're starting to get old -- when you can only handle Wild Weekends once a fortnight. There must be Recovery Weekends in between and you find yourself actually enjoying them. You slope around in old clothes and take time to do things you've been putting off, like pondering deeply on the possible reasons why your cat has decided to live in the wardrobe. Or wondering if your eyelashes are going to turn grey and if so, at what age. Or debating the wisdom of telling your colleagues in Melbourne last year that you had a Masters degree in nuclear physics but had given it all up for love of administration work.
Important considerations like these often get overlooked on Wild Weekends. There isn't time to get all deep and introspective when one is desperately trying to hold up teetering spotlight stands. That's why everyone should make the effort to have occasional weekends of the Recovery variety. Not only do they eliminate the need for excessive amounts of B group vitamins, but they afford the opportunity to meditate on the things that really matter.
Friday, August 22, 2003
... two hours spent in total surrender to the ministrations of a capable hairdresser.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
I could do some wildly effusive piece thanking anyone who has ever dallied here longer than twenty seconds, those people who have sent me encouraging emails and the intrepid souls who've made that ultimate leap of endorsement by linking to this site on their own pages ... but let's not get carried away. I am no longer the wide-eyed innocent of a year ago. I've moved on. I'm cooler. I'm hipper. I've nearly mastered the art of writing in short-ish sentences. So in the spirit of the New Me: cheers, guys. It's appreciated.
Having got that over and done with, we can move on to the real issues. Like, where are all my fucking awards? Where are the publishing contracts and the talk-show engagements? Where are the riches, the paparazzi, the photo spreads showing me being gorgeous with mah Dreamboat by mah side? How much longer will I have to wait for my Vin Diesel living-room ornament? Must I continue to struggle through each day with the appalling knowledge that I still don't have a pool boy called Sven?
I thought it all would've happened by now. Twelve whole months of slaving over a blog on an almost daily basis must be worth something. I should've been well down the road to World Domination at the very least. Heads will roll over this, kiddies, I can assure you. But in the meantime, here's a wee thing in tribute to the Year That Was:
When I started hot water ...
1. I was living in Melbourne and didn't like it.
Fortunately: I grew to love the place.
Unfortunately: Then we moved.
2. I was unemployed.
Fortunately: I've since scored my dream job.
Unfortunately: I still can't talk about it ... yet.
3. I was 10 kilos overweight.
Fortunately: I lost it all.
Unfortunately: I had to resort to wearing 'thin' clothes I'd bought five years earlier, thus being svelte but unfashionable.
4. I was depressed.
Fortunately: I am depressed no longer.
Unfortunately: I now have nothing to moan about.
5. I couldn't cook for shit.
Fortunately: I've improved a great deal.
Unfortunately: You can't get raspberry vinegar or rocket in Karratha, so why bother?
6. I had never skied.
Fortunately: I tried it and loved it.
Unfortunately: I'm now addicted. In a glorious semi-tropical climate it's an unwise addiction to have.
7. I'd never been to Europe.
Fortunately: This lamentable state of affairs was recently remedied.
Unfortunately: It didn't help my flying phobia. Not one little bit.
8. I didn't have a pet to slobber over.
Fortunately: I am now looking after a cat temporarily.
Unfortunately: She's ugly and totally uninterested in everything except food.
9. I had a writing 'block'
Fortunately: The blog cured it.
Unfortunately: I don't get time to write anything else.
10. I was nuts about the Dreamboat.
Fortunately: I still am.
Unfortunately: There's nothing to put in this space.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
What follows is a snippet from a recent conversation with the Dreamboat, proving that some things are better left unasked. It begins with Your Correspondent laughing for no apparent reason.
DB: What are you laughing at?
Niki: I was thinking about those "Freudian Test" things ... when you're supposed to answer four questions and the second one is to do with your favourite animal and the reasons why you like it. Afterwards you find out that this is supposed to respresent your ideal mate. I was remembering the answer of a guy I asked once. He said his favourite animals were cats because "they sit on your lap and stick their arses in your face." I'd given the test to his fiancee at the same time and her answer was, "Camels, because they're ugly and nobody likes them." You must've done the test before, surely?
DB: Well ... no, actually.
Niki: So ... um ... what are your favourite animals, then?
DB: Because they're nice.
Niki: Nice? Nice? That's not what I would've expected you to say. What about eagles, for instance? Come on, you like eagles. All that power and majesty and shit.
DB: No, dolphins.
Niki: Because they're nice? What sort of reason is that? What else?
DB: They're intelligent and they have fun.
Niki: Great. (pause) But you already knew what the question signified, so your answer doesn't count.
DB: No, I didn't double-think into it. I just answered with the truth.
Niki: (strained smile)
Three possible conclusions can be drawn from this conversation:
1. I am not the Dreamboat's ideal mate.
2. It's possible that despite my best efforts over many years to appear otherwise, I am, in fact ... *cringe* ... nice.
3. The "Freudian Test" is a load of bullshit.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
A few years before I fled across the ditch from NZ to Oz, a very popular ad for a very popular brand of cat food was running almost constantly on TV. This ad had a jingle that was so revoltingly catchy it welded itself to my synapses and stayed there for ever more. I suspect this explains why the word "brand" became part of marketing jargon in the first place.
What you had were images of perfectly-groomed pedigree cats rising from their innocent slumbers in fields of buttercups and then bounding across the meadows, fluffy tails erect, to designer stainless-steel cat bowls brimming with meaty goodness. Then you were treated to the sight of a couple of impossibly cute kittens as they abandoned the $8,000 Italian couch they'd been wrecking, in order to race to their itsy kittenish dinners and cutely fall asleep with half of said dinners still smeared over their itsy kittenish faces.
Playing over the top of all this rapture was the equally bouncy and enthusiastic jingle. I can't remember the exact order of the enticing ingredients, but the lyrics went something along the lines of: "Whis-kas time! Chick-en and tur-key! Whis-kas time! Ba-con and pil-chards! They all love that Whis-kas time!"
The ad ran for months and the damage to my delicate cranial machinery was done. The problem was I didn't realise this had happened. Not until quite recently, that is, when I started caring for unwanted moggies and striving to meet their culinary needs. Imagine my horror one night when, while filling up the cat's bowl with some feline gourmet concoction that actually included the word "paté" on the label, I found myself singing the Whiskas jingle. Except my damaged brain had somehow mangled the lyrics to: "Whis-kas time! Ick-y old en-trails! Whis-kas time! Smashed-up vis-ce-ra! They all love that Whis-kas time!"*
I realised what I was singing and started to giggle. The next night I sang it again. And once more with feeling on the following night. Now I can't stop. The Whiskas jingle is out of control. Give me a hungry cat and a can of food and I spiral into madness. I don't care who's around to listen and I don't care how they might react. I'm the victim of an extremely virulent and pernicious cat food jingle and I need help. Now!
*Disclaimer: In the highly unlikely event that the Whiskas manufacturers read this and start feeling all funky and litigious, I am not in any way suggesting that "icky old entrails" and "smashed-up viscera" are actual ingredients of Whiskas cat food. If people mess with the lyrics of your advertising jingles, it's your own freakin' fault for making them so catchy in the first place, innit? Just be grateful I don't sue the arses off your marketing department for intense mental anguish resulting from brainwashing. Miaow.
Monday, August 18, 2003
I don't mind hearing this from someone I know and trust, but when the speaker is younger, male and trying to sell me something -- as was the case just over a week ago -- it annoys the hell out of me.
He was a nice enough guy and I was prepared to at least listen to his pitch because I know how difficult it is to sell things door to door, but he blew it the moment he opened his gob and blurted that out.
For a start, he didn't know me from a bar of soap but assumed I would value his assessment. Secondly, the comment had nothing to do with the conversation. Thirdly, he seemed to think this was some sort of magic formula that would make me go all squirmy with gratitude and sign up on the spot. (Yeah, OK, so I did sign up. But then pulled out two days later after reading the fine print.)
I indignantly related the story to the Dowager Empress my mother during our weekly phone chat. Her view on the subject differs slightly from mine. She thinks I'm an ungrateful cow.
DE: It was a compliment. You should be thankful.
Niki: It wasn't a compliment. It was a tacky piece of insincere flattery.
DE: Listen to her! At least you're getting some flattery. Mrs X at the church turned 70 last week and everyone told her she didn't look it but none of them said anything like that to me on my birthday.
Niki: Mum, that's because you won't tell any of them how old you actually are. None of them know your age. They're probably scared of offending you by saying the wrong thing.
DE: But they think they've worked it out, and they still didn't say anything. She's got a nice face, Mrs X, I have to say it. A lovely face. But the shape of her! She's a terrible shape. It's a pity really.
The Dowager Empress is very slim. It goes without saying that she's exceptionally proud of this. 'Shape' figures prominently in her assessment of who does and doesn't look their age. It appears poor old Mrs X has definitely lucked out on that score.
Since then I've decided to compile a list of possible responses in readiness for the next time a youthful door-to-door salesman tries the 'you don't look your age' number on me. Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. How would you know?
2. That's because I shag younger men. (leering suggestively)
3. That's because I shag younger women.
4. Really? And what, exactly, are forty-year-old women meant to look like?
5. Yes, Lord Satan bestows many gifts on his loyal followers.
Not a huge list, admittedly, but it should get some interesting results. I'll keep you informed.
Friday, August 15, 2003
"SOMEBODY HELP!" winced Matt.
- Boy aged 10
... Sam said, "Give me some lemonade, 'cause burning down a playground is hard work."
- Girl aged 11
The builders were really wishing they could have fun, so Sally said, "I will give the first builder 7 lollies when they have finished."
- Girl aged 11
The door was locked! Before they could say, "Stuff it," they were surrounded.
- Boy aged 11
Johnny's death was instant and his soul went to his dad and moaned, "Daddy, Daddy, I got pushed down the slide and this is my soul."
Dad rolled over and muttered, "That's nice, son."
- Boy aged 11
Today we got a new kid in our class, his name is *****.
"I reckon he is cute," said Tina.
"No way, he is a hunk and he is mine," I whispered with a touch of love.
- Girl aged 10
Phew! I really thought my life was going down the toilet but it floated back up like a floater.
- Girl aged 10
OK, maybe I was scared and wet my pants.
- Girl aged 11
On the bench there was an array of small medieval weapons.
- Girl aged 11
It was everybody's favourite park, it even had a pond with a goldfish in it. People kept on going there to steal the fish so they decided to put some cement over the top of the pond.
- Girl aged 11
Matt was fined $100,000,000,000 and was jailed for his whole life and everyone laughed at him.
- Boy aged 12
One sunny day a young boy called George was playing a game, which involved 1 basketball, 6 marbles, 2 skipping ropes and 1 whip.
- Girl aged 10
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Your Correspondent is a member of the Pilbara Writers' Group. Your Correspondent is one of the competition judges. Your Correspondent has twenty-seven little books on her desk, belonging to an assortment of ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds. She must pick what appear to her to be the three best entries. She must write Judge's Comments for all entries. So far, she has managed fifteen. Her deadline is Saturday morning. She is half-blind with fatigue and her brain has turned to sludge. So she's going to bed.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
1. Winner of next year's Australian Big Brother
3. Unsuccessful stand-up comedian
5. Spider vein-bespeckled old lush
6. Talk show host with fabricated degree in Anthropology
7. Crane driver
8. Defender of the Weak and a shining example to the disenfranchised middle-aged of the world
9. Gifted artisan struggling to keep alive a dying skill, e.g. putting those little plastic bits on the end of shoelaces and getting it just right
10. Rich, famous, gorgeous and universally admired for non-specific reasons
There was something else I could've included on that list but I decided against it because it wasn't ... you know ... realistic. The industry involved is one I've always dreamed of getting into. The first job application I ever wrote and the first 'thanks, but no thanks' letter I ever received were direct results of this dream. My second application and rejection letters were not, because I'd veered away from the path of righteousness to the point where I thought I might enjoy a long and fulfilling career as a technician in a university bacteriology lab. However, application number three marked my return to the righteous way, and rejection letter number three promptly told me not to kid myself. So Your Correspondent set about distracting herself with other trifling matters like dropping out of university and getting married and embarking on the first of a long series of Jobs That Suck.
Now, years and years later, I have a chance at it again. My Industry of Choice has a vacancy in Karratha. I applied for the position a couple of weeks ago. I heard back on Monday. I was invited to start work on a trial basis beginning today. I've been invited to go back for a few hours tomorrow.
Opportunities you'd never get in a large city: one of the advantages of living in a small town.
Not being able to say any more about it until you're sure you've got the job: one of the disadvantages of living in a small town.
Even if I do get this position, there's a chance I still won't be able to talk about it ... confidentiality agreements, and all that. Or I just might not feel like it ... being a tease, and all that. Whatever the case, I'm sure you'll still be happy for me, 'cos that's the sort of people you are. Right?
You are Spike, the vampire big-bad from Buffy the
You tend to fall in love rather easily, and when
your heart is broken, you take it badly. You
would be a wonderful boyfriend/girlfriend to
any lucky person. Despite this, you are not a
sensitive person. You have no idea how the
people around you are feeling. You've been
known to not abide by the rules, and have
probably at least gotten detention, as you
usually cause trouble. You're loud, funny,
witty, rebellious, and very complex.
brought to you by Quizilla
Monday, August 11, 2003
Look at that scary thing. Do you know what it is? Yes, that's right. It is Niki's nose. See how ugly and shapeless it is? Poor Niki! We must be extra caring when we see her and try not to throw stones.
Do you have a nose? Of course you do. Everybody has a nose, unless they have a nasty disease called 'syphilis' or once got on the wrong side of Alexander the Great. But we won't talk about that any more because that is called 'history' and everyone knows history is very boring.
Here is Niki's nose again. Yes, I know it's not easy to look at it, but we have to be like real scientists and not whimper. See those two holes? They are called 'nostrils'. See that bit between them? That is called the 'septum'. Its job is to keep the nostrils apart. Many people don't have septums because they would rather have cocaine. Niki would probably prefer to have cocaine instead of a septum too, but she can't afford it. Loser Niki! She really doesn't have much going for her, does she?
Look at this other scary thing. Do you know what it is? No, it isn't a close-up of mutant cauliflower. It's something called a 'coldsore'. We have talked about coldsores before, remember? Look at all those little blisters. There certainly are a lot of them, aren't there? Do you know what the Dreamboat says when he sees a coldsore? He says, "Ewwwww!" Funny Dreamboat!
Now we must get ready to put everything we've learned so far into a Big Picture. Science is so exciting, isn't it? Are you wearing your white coat with nothing on underneath? Good. That is very healthy and natural.
Here is Niki's nose. Here is Niki's septum. Here is the very big coldsore underneath Niki's septum. It goes halfway down to her top lip, doesn't it? Here is the Dreamboat. He is looking at Niki's coldsore. He is saying "Ewwwww!" He is sad because he is thinking of all the oral functions Niki will be unable to perform over the weekend. Poor Dreamboat! Don't be sad! Maybe you can practise some oral functions of your own instead!
Here is Niki's coldsore again. Doesn't it look different? That is because all the little blisters are drying up. They are turning into things called 'scabs'. Scabs are darker than blisters. Can you think who Niki looks like with all those scabs underneath her nose? Yes, that's right. She looks exactly like 'Hitler'. He was a bad man who lived in History. So we won't talk about him any more.
Look at Niki. She is acting funny. She is acting like a person who is happy and sad at the same time. Maybe she is 'bipolar' ... What's that, Niki? You've just been invited to start a new job on a trial basis, beginning tomorrow? And it's a very special job because it's one you actually want? And you 'don't want to rock up looking like fucking Hitler'? Silly Niki! Get over yourself! Take some vitamins and don't bother us any more! That will be $60.00, please. Next!
Friday, August 08, 2003
There is an ancient esoteric law which states: 'lard attracts lard'. I've seen the workings of this piece of wisdom first-hand lately with respect to the size of my bum, which has expanded somewhat since we went to France. I blame all the cheese we ate. If you were to ask the Dreamboat's mum, she'd probably have a different theory:
DB's Mum: Who are the beer drinkers around here?
Niki: Me, the Dreamboat and Malcolm (DB's brother). John (DB's brother-in-law) has a couple now and then too.
DB's Mum: But you've only been here two days. That can't be right.
Niki: How do you mean?
DB's Mum: This morning I counted fifty-two empty beer bottles.
Niki: Oh. Well, um ... they're much smaller than the stubbies that you get in Australia. (Note: this is the truth. They were.) But it's OK. We'll pick up some more today.
DB's Mum: ...
Whatever the cause, Your Correspondent's rear end has increased considerably. Serious remedial action has been necessary, involving extended sessions at the gym. And yesterday, Your Correspondent was introduced to the strange and frightening world of the Group Fitness Class.
Let's shine a little perspective on this. I'd worked out for an hour and twenty minutes the day before, with great emphasis on squats and lunges, so was already at an advanced stage of impending paralysis. Before the class itself, I had a forty-five minute personal training session with my dear friend Sam, who is not renowned for her merciful approach, even on her best days. Then I joined five other worthies in a room containing large, bouncy, inflatable balls and had the cheek to think it would be easy. I was wrong.
So we're in two rows. I'm in the front one. Sam's facing us. The motivational doof doof music is thumping away and we're supposed to be bouncing our arses on our fitballs while performing a series of kicks and punches. Because it's ... you know ... good for us.
My ball was blue and it was alive. It had an evil little mind of its own. I couldn't even stay on the fucking thing. Every time I thought I'd mastered the bouncing stuff to the point where my boobs were no longer flying past my ears, and was ready to try flailing my arms and legs around, the bloody ball would start inching away at weird angles.
If I was really lucky, half of one bum cheek would actually make contact on each bounce. So then I'd have to assume unnatural and contorted positions to maintain my balance. I'm not sure what sort of expression was etched on my delicate features -- probably one of those 'you've got to be bloody joking' types -- but Sam seemed to find it highly amusing.
I don't know how long the class lasted. By the end of it, I was hard pressed to remember my own name. I was so traumatised that I actually agreed to do it all again next week. Then I went home and didn't move for a very long time.
The experience has made me seriously re-think my attitude concerning my bum. I value it a lot more now, because I can see that after six or eight weeks of Fitball classes I'm not going to have a bum left. It will have disappeared altogether. Or maybe it will have been forced inside my body, pushing my kidneys up to my shoulder blades.
My legs will end and my lower back will begin, and nothing will mark the transition. I'll be forced to draw a vertical line with black marker pen where they meet and just pretend I have a bum. This is what Fitball classes do to people. You have been warned.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Moddy is nearly six years old. She's a dainty little tortoiseshell-and-white cat, and from a distance looks quite cute. It's only when you get close up that you begin to realise she is actually rather ugly. In fact, it would be fair to say that once you're inside a three metre range, this cat is a bit of a dog.
Everything progressed along the usual New Cat lines to begin with:
Day One - hide in wardrobe and refuse food;
Day Two - hide under bed and refuse food;
but by Day Three I began to notice some variations. The large, musty-smelling wet patch on our bed, for instance, quickly followed by the discovery of a similar wet patch on the cat's own bed. Aha! thought Your Correspondent, ever quick on the uptake. Contrary to what I've been led to believe, this fucking cat's never been house-trained. A call to the previous owner seemed in order:
Niki: I wanted to check on something. Is Moddy house-trained?
Previous Owner: (warily, in a 'Why? Are you going to demand that I take her back?' sort of tone) House-trained?
Niki: Has she ever used a litter tray?
Previous Owner: Oh. Uhhh ... no. She always went outside. But I thought they all just knew how to use them, like, automatically.
Niki: Nope. Not if they're five years old and have never seen one before. But thanks. That explains a lot. Like why I can't coax her anywhere near the tray, even with bribes of food. And why all of my bedding is hanging on the washing line and and a ton of baking soda is sprinkled over my mattress. And why we slept on the floor in the spare room last night ...
You do realise, don't you, that it'll be nigh-on impossible to find a new home for a cat that's not house-trained? Especially here in this town, where there's a real problem with feral cats? The last thing people want is domestic cats roaming around outside and eating the wildlife. From what I've seen, if anyone wants an adult cat for a pet at all, it has to be a house cat.
Previous Owner: What's that they say about teaching old dogs new tricks ... I wonder if that applies to old cats as well? (laughs) You'll find out soon enough, I suppose.
Yeah, lady, that was really clever and funny. How very 'it's not my problem any more' of you. Not that your attitude surprised me all that much; there are others in town who share it and some who are worse. Like those bastards on Sunday night, for instance, who opened one of their car windows and hurled a sick dog out onto the road while travelling at 80km/hr.
How can someone be responsible for something for nearly six years - feed it, care for it, presumably pet it occasionally - and then suddenly not give a flying fuck what becomes of it? How could anyone do what those people did to that dog? I don't understand it, folks. I really don't.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
This line is spoken by James Earl Jones' character ("Thulsa Doom") in the movie Conan the Barbarian. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the picture. Not a bloody thing. Well, except that it mentions a tree. But no talk about items of footwear dangling from its branches, note. I guess it wouldn't have been good for the Tree of Woe's image to have Conan crucified in the midst of pink fluffy slippers and steel-capped boots painted in bright colours.
The tree in the picture is called the Shoe Tree. You'll spot it while driving on the road leading to the small mining town of Pannawonica shortly before the turn-off to Deepdale (premier camping spot in the area, we've decided). Your Correspondent became wildly excited when she saw it. Surely something as unusual as a tree in the Outback, festooned with assorted items of footwear and sporting a reflective vest around a central branch, would have "A Story" attached to it. I resolved to find out.
This morning, I made two telephone calls. The first was to the Pannawonica Medical Centre, because the only reference to the Shoe Tree I could find online was on their web page. The nice woman I spoke to said that ornamenting the tree with footwear was something people did when they left town. She gave me the number of someone else who might know more.
From what I could gather, this second person was employed by, or affiliated with, the Robe River Iron Associates -- the company that built and owns Pannawonica. She seemed surprised by my interest. I was surprised by her surprise. I thought the Company would be used to getting phone calls from nosy travellers inquiring about the Shoe Tree's history, but it appears not. We paused for a moment, lost in our respective states of surprise. Then the following conversation took place:
Woman: Well, it's what people do when they leave town.
Niki: The miners?
Woman: Not just the miners. Their families too. Anyone.
Niki: Yeah, I noticed a pink fluffy slipper dangling there. (chuckles)
Niki: So why do they paint them different colours?
Woman: I don't know. That's just what some of them do.
Niki: How long have people been doing this?
Woman: Well, it's been going on for as long as I've been here ...
Niki: (getting a bit desperate) And that would be ... how long?
Woman: Five years. But the mines have been going for twenty-nine years, so maybe that long. They've just started doing it again recently.
Niki: OK, thanks very much ...
Woman: (sounding relieved) That's OK. Bye.
I don't think she was being deliberately unhelpful. It just seemed that she didn't know very much on the subject and couldn't understand why anyone else would want to.
If I had any sort of real journalistic instinct I would've asked for another contact -- maybe some grizzled old miner who'd lived there for yonks and had a fund of anecdotes about the more colourful former owners of the Shoe Tree's display items. But by then I was starting to feel a bit deflated and stupid. What, after all, was the big deal? It's just a dumb tree with a bunch of painted boots and stuff hanging from its branches ... but that's just the sort of quirky thing that travellers love. It's the type of unexpected image that would get them taking photos for their websites while talking about 'those colourful local characters'. If that Shoe Tree was located anywhere else, you'd find it featured in every local information brochure and tour guide ever printed. Maybe it would even be enough to cause someone to linger for a little while in Pannawonica, to sink a few beers in the pub and buy some supplies in the supermarket, instead of filling up the petrol tank and accelerating through to the next town, like almost everyone does.
It'll never happen, of course. That's the problem with Company towns. They exist solely to support whatever industry put them there in the first place. While the industry flourishes, they don't really need or care about visitors. They're self-maintaining.
One day the iron mines will be exhausted and I wonder what will become of the little towns that depend on them. Maybe they'll struggle along for a while, or perhaps they'll find some other way of supporting themselves. They might die and become ghost towns like Beltana in South Australia, which once supported two copper mines. I hope that doesn't happen to Pannawonica. I don't like the idea of the Shoe Tree sagging under the weight of the entire town's discarded footwear. That, to my mind, would be a real Tree of Woe.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
What? You've never heard of it? But it's one of the biggest events on Karratha's calendar! Bloody hell, you lot should get out more.
If a short person with chemically-assisted red hair looking remarkably like me was to ponder on the primary reason for Karratha's existence, she would probably come up with answers like: 'to drive you up the wall', 'to promote regular and heavy alcohol consumption' and 'to right the karmic balance for all your past-life crimes'. On more charitable days, the response would probably be: 'to help you build some character, you total drop-kick'. But the correct answer is far more prosaic than any of these.
Karratha exists purely to support three major industries: iron (Fe), salt (NaCl) and natural gas (NG). In August of every year, the town is granted a long weekend in which to give thanks for these. Hence, FeNaClNG (pronounced Fin-ACKLE-ing, or Fee-NAY-cling. Experiment a little. Take your time. Find the inflection that best suits you).
There are displays to educate you, demonstrations by local sporting clubs to motivate you, and whirling fairground rides to make you chunder. There are wheelie bin races, an Iron Man event ("Can you carry 20kg buckets of iron ore, then go back for 20kg of salt then return again for a heavy gas cylinder, while stopping to climb a 20ft rope in between each haul??") and a float parade.
In short, it's a fun holiday for the civically-minded, full of jolly interesting activities and warm, fluffy community spirit.
So the Dreamboat and I went camping instead.
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Hurley: Maybe the dog can find water. I mean, dogs can find pot and bombs, so I'm sure they can find water.
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Niki (Your Correspondent): a shy, retiring, sweet sort of soul who wouldn't say boo to a goose. Born in NZ of Irish parents, jumped across the ditch to Oz in 1998. Hates cabbage and has always craved a life of complete obscurity. So far, this wish has been granted. Dammit.
Karratha, Western Australia ... again.
from the cheap seats
"This person is not a team player."
High school Biology teacher
"... an idiot."
The Dowager Empress
"... powerfully irritating."
A former spouse
"... dangerously mischievous."
current attention grabbers
Curling up with:
The View From the Valley of Hell
Drowning out the world with:
Your Favourite Driving Songs
Staring fixedly at:
Directed by Jonathan King
Trying hard to:
Reassure The Cat about The Dog
other recommended blogs
Bad News Hughes
John Howard: P.M.
S.A.F.E. (Saving Animals From Euthanasia)
Bert Is Evil
Ask Sister Rossetta
the good old days
webrings and cliques
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