Cyber Dad

I’m really enjoying living close to my parents again and being able to see them more often.  Dad is now taking advantage of the fact that I am close by and gets me to help him with his day-to-day ‘electronic difficulties’.  This can cover anything from making sure his television is connected properly after he has played around with it and messed it up, making sure his  new phone is working after he has played around with it and messed that up, too, and ringing utility companies when something goes completely wrong and Dad has tried to fix it and it becomes yet again even more messed up.

Just recently Dad decided that he wanted to enter the world of cyberspace.  We all cringed but we went with it.  Everybody else was doing it, apparently, so he wanted to do it, too.  Mum says that if everybody went out and bought a pink elephant in a purple tutu for no apparent reason he would want one, too, even though he didn’t quite know why.

He wanted a tablet because my uncle had a tablet and wouldn’t stop raving about it.  I wish my uncle would stop raving about stuff because the last thing he raved about was a coffee maker and Dad bought one even though he doesn’t drink coffee.

I had a look around and decided that the best tablet for the money by comparison and quality was the Apple iPad.  I couldn’t get Dad down to the store fast enough as he wanted to get his hands on one and start pressing the buttons.  I explained to Dad that to have the iPad connected to the Internet he would also have to have an Internet connection established as well.  I naturally got the job of Internet organiser and it was an agonising wait of 24 hours after he purchased his iPad before I could set up the Internet.

My father is not technically savvy but he did his best to learn and was amazed when I downloaded a few game apps like solitaire and jigsaw puzzles.  The irony was not lost on me that Dad had just paid five hundred dollars to play Solitaire and do a few jigsaw puzzles when he had a perfectly good five dollar pack of cards and some good jigsaw puzzles which would have cost him around thirty dollars.  I have also taught him to explore the world using Google Earth and he’s been everywhere from the pyramids in Egypt to his old house as a kid.

My dad may not be technically minded but he is having a darn good time tapping away and feeling like he has one up on most of his retired jigsaw genius, card playing, travelled friends.

And it’s not a complete loss, of course.  When Dad finally gets sick of it and moves onto a computer or back to his cards I may be the new owner of the almost-new Apple iPad.  I may have to fight my son for it, however, as he apparently doesn’t have one of those in his more technically-savvy-than-me arsenal.


Smokers anonymous

My husband has recently given up smoking.  He told me he was going to give up smoking when he turned 40 and as he turned 50 a couple of months ago, it has taken him quite a while to throw that ‘last’ packet in the bin.  As he likens it to cutting off an arm or a leg I suppose 10 years isn’t that much of a stretch.

He seems to be going well but I’m keeping a low profile and out of the way as he can go from being a happy little vegemite to an angry bigger troglodyte in 0.5 seconds.  He certainly gives my so-called PMS a run for it’s money – and he wins the Golden Globe for grandiose dramatics on suffering withdrawals.

I’ve noticed my sweet treats going missing on a regular basis and empty ice cream wrappers turning up in the rubbish bin every other day.  He came home yesterday sporting a red ring around his mouth but knowing his history – a jam doughnut trumps another woman.  The former may kill him eventually.  The latter and I would kill him immediately.

I’m starting to get a little worried about him as he is starting to look like the Goodyear blimp.  I have bought healthy snacks for him to find around the house but he zeros in on the 100 percent fat content like a homing pigeon.

I’m hoping it is a phase and he wakes up one morning and actually looks into the mirror he is avoiding at present.  It is only a matter of time before he either frightens himself into taking up smoking again or gets serious about getting healthy.  I’m having an each-way bet.


We live in a world of acronyms.  I’m not sure when it happened.  One minute I was a kid getting berated for spelling floccinaucinihilipilification incorrectly and the next minute the shorter the word the more everyone seemed to rejoice in it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for getting things organised in the shortest amount of time – just ask my husband why he doesn’t like my cooking – but after having had grammatical excellence shoved down my throat from a young age, getting through university based on not only my knowledge but the ability to write eloquently and going through the agonies of 12 months of  grammar and punctuation studies I find it difficult to admit it was all for naught and join the the dedicated ‘OMG itz gr8t’ ranks anytime in the near future.

Admittedly the frugal side of me can see the merit in how the smaller the text sent the less data used; however, I’m still given to resistance regardless of the cost.  Having said that I have been the perpetrator of occasional OMG’s and LOLs in my casual online conversations in recent times.

The spoken and written word over time has changed enormously and I suspect we are careening towards a new era in communications – some of it good and some of it not so good.  Call me a grammar Nazi – I find myself cringing at some social media interactions and wondering about the purpose of education for some.  I feel that in some instances presenting yourself well is still as important as it ever was.  Acronyms and abbreviations have their place but to interact professionally, good grammar will always take it to the next level.  I have never seen anybody win an argument or debate online by misspelling, phoneticising or using capitalised acronyms to solidify their point.  Credibility is lost once you make a mistake, misuse a word or overuse simplified terms to hasten your progress.  They will crucify you online and it is there for everybody to see.

Acronyms are almost certainly here to stay, however.  They are fun, easy to use and are on their way to creating a whole new language that will more than likely be infused into future generations like they had always been a part of it.

I would imagine that the old toffs in England would have said the same things about my generation.


Solar savings

My husband decided that we were going to go solar with our new house purchase which was not unreasonable given the unbelievable power price surges in the last few years.  As we live in one of the sunniest regions of Australia getting solar would be the equivalent to giving greedy power companies the third finger which was very appealing to me so I was keen to get a quote.

My husband took researching and gathering information to a whole new level in his quest to find the best system for the most competitive price and became quite knowledgeable on exactly what he was after.  I just went with the flow, as I knew from past experience he would go for the biggest one he could get his hands on.

We had various companies and salespeople through, some my husband offered a beer to when they got through the front door and some he disliked on sight.  The last quote came in with the biggest system, the best inverter, the best sun-tough solar panels, a wireless monitoring system and a wrangled deal with my husband to remove the old solar hot water system from our roof for free.  It was a no brainer.

The installation day arrived and everything was running smoothly until they tried to remove the old hot water system from the roof and it bounced off its perch, to the ground below and went through the neighbour’s Colourbond fence.  The only good thing about that was it went through the back fence and not the side or we would have all had a rather large pit bull to contend with as well as an irate neighbour.

To their credit, they finished the job on time, took a photo of the damage to the fence and got somebody out to fix the fence before the end of the week.  It may have been hastened a little by my husband telling them they wouldn’t be paid until the fence was fixed, however.

We now have fully working solar after a few mishaps and miscommunications between the power company, the solar installer and the company who actually came to turn it on – but that is another story.

I can now happily monitor what our 7.19 Kw capacity can do and it’s marvellous.  We are certainly not using as much electricity as we produce so a lot of our power goes back to the grid for a small bonus payment back to us as well as a reduction in cost of the actual electricity we use.

We get to stick it to the power companies – but only on a sunny day.  The next step is power storage systems.  After even more research my husband has decided to wait for that one for a few years so he can get the biggest and most innovative deal for his dollar, as usual.


The move from Hell

Well, the move is complete and we are now settled into our new home.  I have decided that I am never leaving this place, not only because I really like it here but because I never want to experience another move like this one again.  They can carry me out of here in a pine box – I’m staying put.

We’ve moved a few times and most of the time things have gone smoothly.  We had been lulled into a false sense of security as we perused the classifieds for a ‘suitable removalist at a reasonable price’.  They came, they quoted, we booked it in and they left.  Everything was right in the world.

Two days before the move my husband was called back to sea so it was all up to me to get it done right.  I had a couple of friends over on the day for moral support in case I lost the plot as I was already hyperventilating before the removalist truck pulled into the driveway.

I took one look at the truck and decided that it was going to be too small for our furniture and it was definitely not the largest truck in the fleet – the truck that we had ordered – for the day.  The driver assured me that it would be okay and that he would fit it all in.  I looked at him and walked away before I said something I would regret.

As we lived on an island at the time we were dependent upon barges for transport to get to the mainland.  The deadline for the booked barge was looming, the truck was almost full and I still had a mountain of furniture to be loaded.  I gave the driver my best ‘I told you so look’ and stormed off to ring the company.  I was assured by the manager that they would send another truck to pick up the rest of the furniture and I told the manager that if they had have sent the bigger truck we booked in the first place then he wouldn’t have had to send another truck.  I’m pretty sure he told the driver and his offsider to go slow after that just out of spite because the barge time came and went and I had to book another barge for three hours’ time.

The second truck they brought over to the island didn’t come for another ninety minutes and it broke down just as it got off the barge ramp.

I had one truck fully loaded with three-quarters of my stuff, two sullen drivers, the second deadline looming with the second truck broken down and a third truck on its way.  You can’t make this stuff up.

It was at this point that I let them have both barrels – but I won’t go there.

We eventually just made the second barge and left the other furniture behind to be picked up by a third truck which only just made the last barge off for the day.

We started the move at 7am and the removalists did not leave my new place until 9.30pm.  Despite needing the barge to get us across less than a kilometre of water, as the crow flies one house was only 10 minutes away from the other.  They damaged my furniture and to add insult to injury they left my microwave in the house so I had to go back for it myself the next day.

Then they wanted payment.

To cut a long story short they got paid but they didn’t get paid what they quoted for.  Nowhere near it.  They were lucky my husband wasn’t home as he was gunning for them and wouldn’t have paid them at all.

Like I said.  I’m out of this place in a pine box.  At least a removalist won’t be involved.

The view from Dogueville

I love dogs.  I have always managed to be accompanied by a furball or two at different stages of my life.  As far as I am concerned life just doesn’t feel complete without a dog in tow.

They have all had different personalities with innumerable peculiarities and I have loved them all equally.  I have mourned their losses terribly and gone out and fallen in love again with another precious bundle of unconditional love – which is probably the point really.  Unconditional love is priceless.  You can put up with almost any doggy personality when unconditional love is on offer all day every day.  I am probably prepared to put up with more doggy quirks than I would tolerate in any human being – related or otherwise –  or so my loving and long-suffering husband has told me on more than one occasion.  In his defence I do have more photos on my iPhone of my dogs than I do of him.

My latest furry personalities are two Bichons named Ruby and Angus.  From the same litter, they have been together all of their eight years but are as different as chalk and cheese.

Angus likes to think he is a little bigger than he actually is and has often suffered the consequences of his short-dog shortcomings when confronted by larger and sometimes lucky for him, slightly more tolerant counterparts.  At best he has gotten off lightly as he is sniffed and swatted out of the way.  At worst he cost me well over $500 in vet bills for stitches and antibiotics when he got out of the yard and decided that a large bull-terrier cross tyrannosaurus rex was fair game.  Lucky for him his short legs got him as far as our front gate and under my legs before he became a snappy happy meal.

Still, that hasn’t stopped him from constantly testing the limits of our four-foot front gate as he blazes a trail from left to right and back again when supposed interlopers get too close to his patch.  I wonder where he gets it from as his sister, Ruby, is placid and gets tired just watching him.  The only time I have seen her blaze any kind of trail is at the mention of food and the sound of a packet of crisps opening in another part of the house.

Ruby wrote the book on not sweating the small stuff.  I find myself watching her at times just to make sure her chest is still moving.  She knows she is on a good thing in Dogueville and she isn’t going anywhere at any great speed anytime in the foreseeable future.  Nothing phases her.  She can sleep through gale-force winds, a sonic boom and a near-miss lightning strike recently that sent Angus and myself scurrying under the nearest bed together.  Braveheart, as he was so named thereafter, wouldn’t come out for hours while Ruby sat by the fridge in hopes of getting his share of the dinner that night.

For all their antics and foibles, I love them dearly and will continue to love them even when they are no longer with me.  My dogs are not only my companions, they are my friends.  They offer me love and make me laugh.  They make me cry when they are gone.  I wouldn’t change one moment of it.



It’s common knowledge around these parts that my family is full of eccentric-type nutters, myself included.  Not that it’s a bad thing but it has its moments.  In a world where mental illness and mental stress are now the norm – some members of my family can give those categories a run for their money, be somewhat challenging or at the very least, downright entertaining.  I’ve managed to keep a lid on most of mine over the years but I suspect that if I had ever done drugs or alcohol I would be spending a bit of time in the local mental health unit by now.

My father is no exception.  I wouldn’t call him crazy but he is definitely out there.  I suspect he has undiagnosed adult ADHD from my stints working with psychiatrists and my discussions with them about him over the years.  He has managed to navigate through his life in blissful ignorance in times of stress with a somewhat childlike attitude to problems and an attention span of a mudskipper.  Mum undoubtedly has shouldered most of the day-to-day burdens, bills and disasters and would probably only now just be getting out of prison for murder if they hadn’t separated twenty years ago.

I get along pretty well with Dad although it can be hard work keeping up with a conversation with him as he flits from one subject to another, talks loudly at lightspeed, looks blankly at me when I ask him a question, says “eh?” and then answers it.

Shopping is fun with Dad albeit a little scary because I never know what he is going to do next.  I have lost him in department stores because he has wandered off or stopped to have a detailed conversation about almost anything he can think of with somebody he doesn’t know.  Going to the cinema is a real challenge as I can’t hear the dialogue over my father’s constant queries about what is going on.

I often take him with me when I go to buy something because he gets bored and has nothing better to do but I try to refrain from taking him into electronic stores because he is likely to come out with something that he didn’t want and knew nothing about but just had to have because it was shiny and had a lot of buttons he could press.  I took him with me once when I went furniture shopping and he managed to smash a three hundred dollar lamp because he was so excited looking around at all the fancy items he wanted to buy he didn’t see the two-feet-tall designer lamp sitting on a side table near his gesticulating right arm.  The manager insisted, however, that we didn’t have to pay for it after I purchased a very expensive guilt-driven dining suite and my father purchased a plush leather recliner that he said he was going to buy anyway.

They certainly broke the mold when they made my father – and for all his oddities and foibles growing up with him was never dull.  He often took me on his adventures and I always returned home not always unscathed but still alive.  He added to my childhood ideals and experiences.  To me being different, odd or eccentric is just another facet of being human.  Thanks to my father and my family I don’t really believe that there is an ideal to live up to.  Human beings are made to be faulty – it’s just the way it is.  We break, cope or strengthen in different ways depending on our map of the world.

I’m not even sure that there is such a thing as being ‘normal’ or whether it is just a media-generated phenomena that the disillusioned and brainwashed feel the need to aspire to. Thank God for weird dads.