Thursday, December 23, 2010

OCD at Christmas

Today I learned that maybe I do care a little bit for my brother. Who I despise. And sometimes hate.

He has OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder. He washes his hands all the time but the rest of himself only about once a month, because once he starts he can't stop. He hoards, food mainly, he has cuboards full of out-of-date food. He is 42 and still lives with my mother and is ruining her life. He has no life. No job, no girlfriend. He sleeps and eats and watches TV. I personally think his problems are half OCD and half lazy-bastardness. Other people with OCD have some kind of life. He won't take the drugs that help his condition because he doesn't like the side effects. What could be worse than the life he has?

The original plan for Christmas every second year when I host was for my family (mother and brother) to visit Christmas Eve and leave after present opening on Christmas Day, then my husband's family (the whole horde) would arrive on Christmas Day and stay for several days. His side is much more fun, but I feel Christmas should include my family too. The first time, my father-in-law invited himself for Christmas Eve. That was ok. The second time, he and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend came early. I think my brother was a bit uncomfortable with that. This year, the third time, when he heard that they were all coming again - in fact four people with my father-in-law's girlfriend - he decided it was too many people and that he wasn't coming. He had already stopped coming to my kid's birthdays. He is retreating more and more from the world.

I feel sad for him. And a little bit resentful towards my husband's relatives who don't ask when it would be convenient for me for them to come. Admittedly, I have never said anything to them about it and this year pretty much just assumed they would come on Christmas Eve. But it still seems wrong that they come for days over the entire Christmas period which means my brother will be at home alone for most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. His choice, I know, but still. He has a recognised mental disorder.

Maybe in two years time I will say something, and ask the in-laws not to come until Christmas Day. I don't know if I can. But I feel like I should.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slow cooker

Today I learned that the slow cooker is ... slow! Don't bother unless you have a whole day. I didn't get the boeuf bourginon on until 1pm, and after 5 hours on high it wasn't close to being ready. I put half in a little casserole dish in a hot oven, and hopefully it will be edible soon. Not exactly how it is supposed to be cooked. I like my casseroles long and slow and falling apart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Another nugget stolen shamelessly from QI; a wigwam is not the same as a teepee. A teepee is the upside-down icecream shaped leather tent of the American Indian, a wigwam is the home of the Eastern American Indian and looks more like a giant, squat beehive made of straw.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Apparently, mace is the ground outer casing of nutmeg. It was on Junior MasterChef masterclass today. Those kids are amazing; 8 - 12 years old and better cooks than me!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Today I learned that disorientated is a real word. I had always thought it was a mispronunciation of disoriented, but apparently it is a valid alternative, and even listed first in the dictionary. Fancy that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

QI: bamboo and hello

I just watched QI (Stephen Fry on the ABC), I must have learned something... Bamboo can grow up to 4 meters a day - you can actually see it grow. I think I already knew that.

The word "Hello" was invented by Edison, he thought it was a nice clear sound when he used "Haloo" (hunting call) to make his first recording. Prior to that, "Hullo" was a sound of surprise, not greeting. Hullo, what's all this then? There was something about Hello being chosen as the word you say when answering the phone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A good friend of mine had two rescue dogs, both female, of similar ages but she got them at separate times. The first, Jemima, was still quite young (less than a year old) when they got her, and when the second dog, Sally, came along, Jemima became the top dog even though she was a much smaller breed. Both friendly, lovely dogs, but Jemima did have a tendency to bully Sally a bit. They lived together harmoniously for a year or so. Until one day Sally snapped and nearly ripped Jemima's jugular out.

Sally was returned to the shelter and Jemima is recovering nicely. It was a big shock to the family, my friend and her 5 year old daughter saw some of the fight and it was very scary, and very hard to separate them.

Apparently, female dogs of a similar age will fight when they get old enough. And the only way my friend could separate them (the hose didn't work) was to pick up Sally's back legs and pull her away. A dangerous move.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The power of the question

This morning I walked my son to preschool, and then I had the option of walking home again (as I usually do, it's about the only exercise I get) or getting a lift with a friend. I have been down with a bad cold for the past week, and the lift seemed like a nice option. If my friend had said "Would you like a lift home?" I would have said yes. But instead, she said "Are you walking? I don't want to discourage you." So I said "Yeah, I'll walk."

It was not that I was uncomfortable asking for a lift, it is just that the way a question is worded has a big influence. Because her question was about walking, and implying it was a good thing to do, it made it easy for me to say yes to that. If she had mentioned a lift, and perhaps how cold it was today or how I was looking a bit tired/unwell, it would have been easier to say yes to that option. But I did my walk, I was fine and I quite enjoyed it and felt good about starting the day with a little exercise before getting to my desk.

I remember an episode of "Yes, Minister" (an English comedy about a politician and the civil service he has to deal with) where Sir Humphrey Abbleby (the civil service head of the department) shows an un underling how easy it is to get the answer you want. He talks about conscription: if you ask questions about duty, defending the country etc you can lead people to say they would be pro-conscription. But you can ask the same person how they feel about personal freedom to choose, and how they feel about arming teenage hooligans, and you can get them to say they are anti-conscription. It is all in the way you ask.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I am a somebody

I am rather excited at the moment, because I have found out that I will be judging the 2010 Aurealis Award for fantasy short stories. There is something in me that says "who, me? are you sure you want me ... not someone a bit more special?" On the other hand, it's not like I actually get paid or anything, so maybe they take anyone silly enough to apply for the job. Nah, I don't really believe that - I am special!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reversing the cycle

My ducted gas heating broke two days ago. I say broke; I got home from grocery shopping to find the house stinking of burned something or other. Plastic? Not sure. Anyway, sniffed around every room, the smell was everywhere. Didn't seem to come from the dishwasher (which sometimes smells nasty if a wood or plastic implement falls onto the heating element and burns) or the dryer - in fact the laundry (which does not have a heating vent) was the only room that didn't smell. I turned off the heat and aired out the house. It is nearly winter here in Canberra, and the temperature dropped to 14 degrees C pretty quickly. Just to make sure, I turned the ducted gas on again for a little while, the smell returned. So off it went again.

I work from home, and spent the afternoon huddled in blankets in front of my computer. At first I could only get a repair man out Wednesday week, 9 days of frozen toes!, but luckily they called back after they had a cancellation and can fit me in today - so only 48 hours. If they can fix it right away, of course.

So, we all had a pretty cold night, but then the next morning I was telling my friend Caroline about the broken ducted gas. 'But you have reverse cycle air conditioning as well don't you?'

'Um, yes, that cools us down in summer.'

Um, duh. Apparently, reverse cycle means it also heats. Mainly only warms the lounge, not the whole house, but at least it's not 14 degrees C in here any more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ta ta tum tum

I'm back! I still live.

So, today I learned that it was Queen Victoria who started the tradition of walking down the aisle in a fluffy white dress. My source was the book Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. Some very interesting information about Western marriage traditions in there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Published by crikey

I don't really count this as being published, as it is just by me with no one moderating. But I have started reviewing books for and my first review is now online! Yay! I almost feel like a published author.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So where are all the life lessons?

Ok, so clearly I am not learning something everyday and it is really cramping my blogging style. I am going to relax on the theme a bit and just write about anything I feel like. Some days I do 'learn something' and think 'oh I should blog about that' but I forget by the time I am near a computer.

So. Um. Well, I have been working at my new editing telecommute job for a month now. I'm enjoying it but struggle to find the time. The pay is really low but luckily it is ultra-flexible, I just pick up jobs when my kids are at school/childcare. And it's good experience for my CV for when I want to move on.

I had a really bad haircut last Friday. I felt that it made me look so ugly. I cried a few times about it. One thing that has allowed me to cope with gradually getting fatter is that I felt my face still looked ok. A normal mirror (not full-length) was not my enemy. With the new haircut I lost that, and just felt/feel fat and ugly all over. So, I guess I have to lose weight. And let my hair grow out of course.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


My daughter seems to have a phobia of sirens. She is 6, and as far as I know (and I should know) she has never had a negative experience with them, and yet ...

One day the four of us were in a fast-food restaurant waiting to order when a vehicle drove past outside, sirens blaring. Jasmine looked wildly from side to side then bolted for the back door, despite both parents standing right next to her. We had to grab her to stop her running out into the car park. We found it a bit worrying, that she was so scared of the siren she ran away from us and potentially towards danger.

Then this weekend we were in the change rooms at the indoor pool after her swimming lesson, and an alarm went off. Not many people paid it any attention, but I had a hard time stopping Jasmine sprinting for the door. I was dressed enough to be decent, so I grabbed my bag and shoes and we left - she powerwalked (she knows she is not allowed to run near the pool) all the way through the complex and didn't even want to stand near the front doors once we got outside. Poor thing was trembling with fear. A fire engine arrived almost immediately, and we heard the staff tell the fire fighters that there was no fire, but she wasn't much comforted. Has she been drilled about fire safety too much at school?

Today she was playing Sims 3 when her character's oven caught fire and the house fire alarm went off. I only let her play Sims because there is no violence - I didn't know something like that could happen. Not that it would worry most kids. She leapt off her chair and came running to me, almost in tears, shaking and stressed. I tried to reassure her that it was just a computer game, I couldn't work out how to do anything to stop it but a fireman arrived and put out the oven.

I really don't know why she has this extreme reaction. At least she came running to me this time and not straight out of the front door!

So is it the threat of fire, or the loud noise itself? I am thinking it is the siren, as she is also scared of the air hand dryers in public toilets, she says they are too loud. A loud noise phobia?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Preserved Lemon Pants

Yesterday I learned not to open a difficult jar of juicy preserved lemon while wearing freshly cleaned clothes. You know how it is ... you can't open it any other way so you brace the jar between your thighs and use all your arm-muscle strength (such as it is) to wrench it open. And then lots of juice goes down your pants. At least preserved lemon juice smells rather nice.

I also learned that prawns, sambal olek (chilli paste), tomato and preserved lemon are an interesting combination for a pasta sauce. Odd. I'm not sure how much I liked it, but my husband said he did. He suggested it as a casual yet impressive dinner party entree. I do enjoy trying new recipes, but many are outright flops or are similar to but not quite as good as something you already make. This one was at least very different.

I think a real gourmet chef would be both impressed and horrified by my fridge and pantry. I have lots of fancy things like those mentioned above, jars of anchovies and capers and sundried tomato pesto, tins of crabmeat, garlic and ginger and olives and camembert and parmasen and pinenuts and seasalt and all that stuff. But also ultra-processed cheese and 2 minute noodles. And I think the fluffy orange cupcakes would be popular anywhere.

Speaking of which, one on-line gaming guild I was in used to call me 'cupcake' because I always seemed to be baking when I was chatting to them. Ahh ... teasing people half a world away with tales of rasperry muffins warm and fragrant from the oven, choc chip cookies still gooey in the centre, tart passionfruit curd in light pastry.

I wonder why I am a bit overweight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The most expensive known wedding day, apparently, involving an Indian steel magnate (if it was in India I guess it was a wedding week) was $65 million dollars. That's right, $65 million. I hope the wedding lasted!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I got the job!

Today I learned that I got the job! Yay. Not bad, considering it's only the second job I have applied for since I finished my post-grad degree (and I came second in the other one). The pay is rubbish, but otherwise it is just what I wanted. Flexible hours, basically I just take as much work as I can handle from the employer's website and edit at home. I can choose what genres I want to do and everything. So I am very happy. My youngest child will be in childcare a couple of days and preschool a couple of mornings, my daughter goes back to school next week. So soon I will be rejoining the workforce. Of course there will be no actual human contact ... oh well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

3D induced nausea

I had previously assumed that my nausea during 3D movies was only because of the ones I had seen were roller-coaster types (I couldn't understand why other people weren't nauseous!). But I saw Avatar last night, and from less than half an hour in I was clutching my stomach wondering if I could make it through. Two more hours of queasy. Urg. Did somewhat spoil an otherwise excellent movie.

Of course there were some 'roller-coastery' bits; pteradactyls swooping and the like, but I don't think it was that. My husband suggests that my brain is too smart to be fooled by the 3D technology and is struggling the whole time trying to fight it off. That's me, the smart brain girl.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Time Flies

I've been away at the beach for the past week which was great. Nevertheless, I have been diligent about practising my guitar - I took it with me and practised every day except one. That is every day (except one) since Christmas when I got it! Not bad eh?

This afternoon, when my husband took the kids to the playground, I decided to do my daily session early (I usually do it when the kids are in the bath) and when my fingers were getting a bit sore I looked up to find I had been practising nearly an hour. I was amazed, I thought half an hour was my limit. My fingertips aren't nearly as sore now as they were in the first few days after only 5 minutes. I wasn't fingering (if you will excuse the word) every moment of that almost-hour, I am learning some new songs and wasn't sure how they were supposed to sound so I was listening to the DVD that came with my lesson book and then playing. I find it much much easier to play when I know how it is supposed to sound.

I have done the first six lessons now, in 2 weeks, covering E through to top G (10 notes). I still can't play along with the DVD, except the first couple of easy lessons, it goes too fast and if I make a mistake I get lost. But I am getting there.

So, what I learned today is that time doesn't just fly when you are having fun (although I suppose I was, in a way) but also when you are deeply immersed in work. And that I can do more than I thought.

Sorry if this post is a bit dull, it is what was on my mind. And I thought I had better write something every once in a while!

Friday, January 1, 2010

You Learn Something Every Year

2009 was a big learning year for me. I went back to Uni and did a Postgraduate Certificate in Editing, and got the Dean's Excellence Award (for a high grade point average) - yay! I learned a huge amount of technical stuff about editing, and I'm ready to set up my freelance editing business now. I was the stereotypical mature-aged student, there to work hard, very unlike my undergrad days! I enjoyed it so much. Learning, seeing other adults without children in tow, getting out of the house, feeling the satisfaction and pride of great results. A great year.