Tag Archives: #humour

That kid

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Mopping my floors is a time consuming, mundane job when most of what we walk on in our home is polished wooden boards. No one’s home on this particular mopping day and so it’s just me and my damp mop, one of those Enjo-Sabco types that when wiping over the floors requires more muscle means the cloth pad of the mop is drying out and needs water, either by sliding the mop pad off and rinsing it under a tap or pouring water onto it from a cup that moves with me from table to bench top. It’s even dull writing about it, but stick with me.

Mopping around the heater vent in the front entry, I chuckle out loud. The spike of autumn shoots through the flyscreen door and I glance into the street for anyone walking by that might catch me laughing at nothing. People are always walking past our home, more so during the Corona lockdown.

It was a few days earlier that I first glimpsed a round container full of white, thick goo on the floor by this heater vent I just mopped around. At first, I wondered whether I’d put my sour dough starter there, only to quickly realise that my starter was growing in a jar and not in a plastic container. I laugh again, remembering the container, and keep mopping. That kid, always inventing or exploring something science and engineering. I kept meaning to ask him what he was doing with the container but he’d been flitting between work and online Uni classes and I couldn’t catch him long enough to ask. I didn’t dare open the lid, didn’t want to discover anything disgusting growing or brewing with the heat. I laugh out loud again, this time so hard that I had to stop mopping. That kid.

The same morning of finding the container by the heater vent, I was in the sunroom on the phone to friend when I heard music. I followed it into the lounge room where my son’s phone lay on the floor, beside a blanket. It was his alarm sounding to wake him for work. I thought it odd as he always takes his phone with him into his bedroom. He must’ve fallen asleep on the couch and dropped the phone and blanket on the floor as he got up to go to bed. I took his phone into him and asked him why it was in the lounge room. He didn’t know. Making breakfast 20 minutes later, I asked him whether he’d fallen asleep on the couch. He replied again that he didn’t know. I smiled, thinking he was probably still half asleep. He’d been working long hours over the past week.

Later in the evening after finishing work, my son walked through the backdoor.

‘Hey sweet, how was work?’

‘Good,’ he says, smirking. ‘I don’t know what happened last night, but I think I was sleep walking.’

I laugh and stop clearing the kitchen bench from the onion skins. ‘Why, what makes you say that?’

‘I don’t know,’ he says, sounding unsure. ‘I don’t know how my phone got onto the lounge room floor but I think I remember getting up after going to bed, to watch TV.’

‘You used to sleep walk when you were little, but you haven’t done that in years.’

‘Yeah, I sort of remember that,’ he says.

‘I used to lock the doors at night because I would find you in some strange places and I was worried you’d one day walk out of the house.’

‘That’s a bit dangerous, deadlocking the doors when we’re sleeping. What if we had a fire, and couldn’t get out quick enough.’

‘I know, but I was more worried about you sleep walking into the street and being hit by a car. One time I found you in the dining room,’ I laugh. ‘Do you remember that?’

‘Yeah, I was asleep on the floor.’

‘Asleep under the bloody chair, exactly where the dogs lay when we have dinner!’

‘I remember,’ he chuckles.

‘You must’ve been four or five at the time. Honestly. Sometimes I’d wake for no obvious reason to see you standing in the hallway, trying to work out where you were. I’m not sure what would wake me but one time, I woke to hear you call me and I found you standing in the dark in the laundry, not doing anything. Just standing there, calling me.’

‘I know I did it, but I don’t remember doing it.’

‘You sleep walked for a few years, maybe from when you were about three until about eight years old I think. And then it just stopped. Until the other night!’


After two days of looking at this science experiment container on the floor, I’m in the kitchen making a pot of tea. As the kettle heats the water, I draw open the curtain in the lounge room and notice the container in the front entry had disappeared. That kid, he must’ve done something with his experiment after I went to bed last night.

My son wakes soon after and almost prances into the kitchen. ‘I know what that container was.’

I look at him, thinking yes, great, the experiment’s finished. I know that.

‘It was the houmous.’

‘What?’ I begin smiling.

‘It was the houmous. I went looking for some in the fridge last night, for a snack, and couldn’t find it. Then I walked past the container near the heater vent and thought, that must be the houmous.’

I laugh out loud. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I think when I was sleep walking the other night, I must’ve eaten some houmous and then went to put it away in the fridge but for some reason, thought putting it near the heater vent was putting it in the fridge.’

We both break into raucous laughter.

‘Are you nuts!’ I say. ‘How can the heater vent be the fridge!’

‘I don’t know. I was sleep walking.’

I can’t say whether he was laughing as hard as me that morning, as I couldn’t see through the tears I was laughing.

That kid.



Scrambled eggs, scrambled brain

Scrambled brain
I beat my two organic eggs, fresh from my chooks this morning. I’m grateful for the mundane as my brain runs in overdrive. Strategies to write on how to talk to communities across a 500 kilometre (310 mile) radius and budgets to assign, assignments to mark, getting boy three to karate after school, time to see Mum, when would I fit in a yoga class, washing to do, time to write my blog… and it’s only lunchtime.

All that high-speed flitting and I can feel my little brain vibrate in my skull. I can hear it buzz, feel it hovering beneath its casing, straining to be released.

The fork clinks the side of the bowl with each flick of my hand. The two varying shades of yolk, a sign of natural egg production, split and mesh with the well-formed whites and skim milk. I grind some mixed pepper into my eggs. Coarse shards fall into the pasty goo and their pungency spikes the rich, fullness of the eggs.

I pick at a piece of hay from the side of the bowl. It must’ve fallen from the eggshell when l cracked the egg in. I beat again, appreciating that homegrown eggs always smell better than store bought.

I’m aware suddenly, of eyes staring at me. It’s my pale blue-eyed dog, or rather my amphibious dog. She sits on her butt with her hind legs spread out like frog’s legs as her body is slightly long for her short legs, the result of a German Coolie and Cocker Spaniel cross.

It’s unusual for her to be sitting because if she’s not running around the yard barking gruffly with a ball in her mouth at dogs passing by, she’s foraging around my feet for dropped food. I don’t mind her doing that, unless I’m chopping onions and then l become anxious. Onions for dogs are as bad as lettuce for rabbits, maybe even worse.

I don’t know how long I’d been beating but my eggs are well and truly blended pale yellow. I rest my fork on the side of the bowl and notice black and grey specks floating to the top. Maybe it’s more hay. I look closer and pick out three spots.

More surface. I look closer. Where are they coming from? Maybe specks of chook poo fell from the shell. I look at the broken shells but they’re clean. I always wash any muck off the eggs before I shelve them.

Maybe something was inside the eggs. More flecks surface, some deep pink and beige. They must be diseased eggs! But how can they be?

I pour my mix down the sink. It’s such a waste. I start again – eggs, milk and pepper.

Again l beat and again, flecks of black and grey appear once I stop beating. What’s happening to my eggs? Maybe it’s some infection inside them!

And then l realise. It’s the ground pepper – mixed, coloured peppercorns of pinks, black, whites and greens. Talk about a scrambled brain!

Sodden but not stirred

Stormy Heron Island
A dot of a tropical island lazes under daylong sunshine within the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, an oasis with perfect daily temperatures of around twenty-nine degrees Celsius (eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit) … that is, until you’re caught in lashing wind and rain from an ex-tropical cyclone!

We arrived on Heron Island to those perfect conditions and were told within hours that water supplies were low, as the island hadn’t received rain in months. Water would be available for two hours each morning and evening and fresh water in containers would be delivered to apartments daily for use any other time. Rain was coming, monsoon rains should’ve been there weeks ago. That was okay, I thought. We were in a national park surrounded by Pisona forest, that’s nature.

When the water came on that evening, we discovered that we had no hot water. And an hour or so later, the ceiling fans clicked off. No power either. However, it was easy to reason that we were in a place that needed to be self sufficient, in a national park. The mass of Black Noddy Terns with white capped heads flying across and at us from nests perched throughout striking green-leafed trees, told me that.

A walk down to reception, dodging those terns and boards scattered in the middle of the path that covered the nesting holes of Wedgetailed Shearwaters, fixed both problems and gave us the opportunity to book our days of snorkelling and scuba diving for in two days time.

The next morning, we snorkelled those beautiful waters off the beach. Reef sharks and Loggerhead and Green turtles swam with fish of varying shades of purple and yellow, and dark stingrays with white underbellies lunged up out of the water to surprise us before splashing back down. Pure beauty.

Clouds swept in by lunchtime, although the weather remained warm. Not to worry I thought, tomorrow we had a boat booked to take us snorkelling and diving the outer reefs. And it remained warm at night for a walk over coarse shell-grit along the water edge, where we discovered Green Turtles slowly making their way up from the water to nest and lay eggs about ten metres from the water edge. It would take them about an hour and a half to make that walk and nest.

The next day, the rain began yet it was light enough to allow the reef walk after lunch. I collected some reef shoes and gathered with twenty other guests eager to learn about the reef over the next one and a half hours. We set out over slippery rocks and into the warm waters of the reef. Soon, the rain gathered momentum and pelted down on us. The winds grew and I could barely walk against currents that stirred hidden beneath the water’s surface. Within half an hour, we abandoned our walk and struggled against the gales and downpour to get back to shore.

And that was how the weather stayed for the next three and a half days. Boats to snorkel and scuba dive were cancelled; stargazing was cancelled. Some island walks went ahead to finish prematurely, as was the case with our walk to the Marine Research Centre where rains lashed us and winds turned umbrellas inside out.

The next days saw this tiny island that took twenty minutes to walk its circumference, pounded by wind and rain from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. It became a paradise overtaken by the ferocity of nature. I looked out from the lounge that we had been confined to one afternoon, to where the day before, I sipped a cocktail on the water’s edge looking out to a shimmering, turquoise sea. Now, waves pounded against rocks up to where I sat admiring the view and which had turned stirred grey with a frothy milkshake on the reef edge. If I were there again, I would surely be smashed against those rocks and dragged out to sea. The power of nature and our vulnerability to it struck me, the fine line between life and death overwhelmed me.

Rooves leaked and caused the big screen T.V. hanging in the island lounge to be taken down, and people to be moved from one room to another. Buckets sat conscientiously capturing water from leaks in the lounge, bar, reception and in guest rooms. Toilets clogged and smoke alarms malfunctioned due to the humidity. Trees came down, one crashed onto a building. Palm and pineapple leaves fell and rolled with the wind to be strewn over paths and in large pools of water.

Little Quail with cream stripes that extended from their eyes as masks, across their neck and over the top of wings, walked into the lounge for shelter, and the poor ‘noddies’ struggled to fly against the wind and were often pushed back to look as if they were flying backwards. Even a flock of large, black Frigatebirds hovered lazily in the skies, taking refuge over the island until the storm passed, a long way from their Galapagos home.

Us, we trod through puddles under umbrellas that often turned inside out, between the lounge, the dining room and our room at the end of the resort, where the smell of damp bush undergrowth lingered. I had never been more sodden in all my life and I was sure the noddies hadn’t either. Luckily for some of them, the rain helped to dislodge the sticky flowers of the Pisona that clung to their feathers and that would normally have killed them.

I got to finish a lovely book by Sofie Laguna called One foot wrong, where a child was imprisoned in a house by reclusive, religious parents and who only has Cat, Spoon, Door, Handle and Broom as friends that speak to her. It was so beautifully written and confronting at the same time.

It was also an opportunity to reconnect with people, all one hundred or so guests thrown together as strangers marooned on this island. After three days and no electronic distractions as our connections beyond the island did not exist, we got to know faces well. It was perfect for watching people and eavesdropping on conversations as inspiration for writing too!

And of course it was an opportunity to connect with my family, to watch my boys and other children play billiards and swim outside in the pool while it rained, to play board games that included hours of time in Monopoly. The laughter, and the boredom.

At one point, I noticed much giggling coming from the table where my boys were playing scrabble. They noticed me watching them and tried to hide their mirth. That spelled trouble! I looked more closely at their game of scrabble, which was ‘dirty-word’ scrabble. Boys!

The storm subsided and we eventually got off the island, albeit, one day late and very sodden, but not stirred.

*For the story on our journey home from Heron Island, read my earlier blog The world revolves and not around us.

Fifteen minutes of relief

melted wordsBeads of sweat trickle in constant stream down the centre of my back as I move into the tram to head home. The doors seal behind me to leave the dry heat and baking tar outside. City pollution can’t linger in this heat – even my eyelashes feel as though they’re melting.

I find a seat towards the back of the tram and plonk beside a young woman. She’s flicking through the pages of a thick book of readings, similar to mine in my bag that I just used to teach in the tutorial. I’m glad to see she’s reading them.

The coolness within the tram grips me and is in stark contrast to the saturation of 40°C (104°F) heat outside. The relief is more than wonderful. As the tram eases away from the stop and we head towards the CBD, I ease into the coolness. My faint reflection in the tram window reveals strands of hair that have fallen from hairpins. They dangle as moist rat’s tails with ends that stick to my neck.

A squeaky scrape over the tracks jars me and I tune into the chuckling speech of two middle-aged women sitting diagonally opposite.

‘I wake him at 7.30,’ says the round-cheeked woman as she nudges into the side of her taller friend. ‘And then I go back at quarter to eight, and then at ten to eight, calling him, Ge-rald,get up!’ She giggles with her friend as a cheeky, little schoolgirl, and catches me watching her. She smiles warmly to welcome my stare, in.

‘Sometimes, mine asks me to wake him at 5.30 so he can get to work early,’ says the tall friend as she heaves a bunch of red curls up from her neck. ‘Stan-ly, it’s time to get up, I call.’

Their giggles grow sassy.

Ger-ald, get up, I keep calling,’ sings the round-cheeked woman. ‘And then I finally yell, get in the shower, Gerald! And he does.’

The two are in full laughter and I can’t help but tune in to them. Some passengers attempt to look everywhere but at the two women, while others have growing smiles they tuck into tilted heads. I feel the skin on my cheeks stretch and I realise I’m on the verge of giggling with them. I shuffle in my seat and look out the window at the busyness in the heat haze.

Stan-ly, get up, I call,’ says curly haired woman, and I immediately swing back to them. ‘And finally he’s up, sometimes two hours later!’ She drops her head into her friend’s arm and laughs into it.

‘And then after twenty minutes,’ the round-cheeked woman snaps back through her raucousness, ‘I have to yell, GeraldGet out of the shower.’ The woman squints to furrow her brow, creating tiny, slit-shaped eyes. ‘You’ll be late for work!’

Curly-haired woman lifts her head and laughs hard. She’s barely able to ask her friend, ‘What do you do in the shower for twenty minutes?’

Ger-ald!’ mocks her friend.

Stan-ly!’ snaps back curly-haired woman.

‘It’s like I have three kids!’ The two laugh in rapturous ripples that come from the depths of their bellies.

I can’t help but laugh with them.

The round-cheeked woman sees me and asks through her cackling, ‘You’ve got one too haven’t you, an extra kid.’

I brush the strap of my dress that’s slipped from my shoulder, back up. I smile and wink at her.

My stop approaches and I stand up to walk to the door, clasping my satchel in hand. They slide open and I step down from the tram back into the heatwave that began ten days ago. My rat’s tails instantly cling to my neck as before but this time, I’m smiling a smile I can’t remove.

I begin to cook through to my middle as I stride a block to the train station. Beads of wet leak from my porous skin, as words that can melt as ink and leak from a page.

My menagerie

Boys and their games, dogs playing with chooks and chooks thinking they’re dogs … that’s life with two dogs, eight chooks and three boys.

Our two dogs are pure love, forever wanting to be with us. Yet both have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Blue-eyed pooch will not leave you alone outside, dropping her ball onto your lap, into the clothes basket or into sauce on your plate after a barbeque dinner. Then, she waits, with her head pitched high and big, blue eyes fixed possessed on the ball, until it’s airborne and she bounds across the yard to fetch it and bring it immediately back for another throw. If you don’t play her obsession, she’ll snatch the ball in her jaws and dash to the next person. Then panting heavily and after many runs, she’ll splash into the fish pond to cool off.

Brown-eyed pooch is the princess of the household. If she’s not on someone’s lap, anyone’s lap, she’s sweeping the kitchen floor for anything dropped, or breaking into the chook pen to eat the chook’s food scraps. Holes in the chook pen have been crocheted with wire too many times to count. She’s the one too, who likes to chase the chooks and dodge them merrily when they taunt her. Both of the little dears howl whenever a chook clucks as it lays an egg or boy two plays his violin.

Chooks can have personalities bigger than their little bodies. Our eight live in a chook pen and garden in the corner of our suburban block. They regularly roam free around the backyard. We say they live in ‘chook heaven’.

Our speckled Plymouth hurt her leg years ago and is now our disabled chook that hobbles around the yard. Our bantam wants to be a mother and can sit on eggs that spread from under her and can never become babies. No roosters allowed in suburbia.

One of our Isa Browns thinks she’s a dog or possibly Houdini, and escapes from the pen by jumping up into a big Chinese elm tree and flapping over the fence. She waddles over to eat dog biscuits with the dogs or to the clothesline with the dogs and I, to scratch around our feet. Sometimes, if our escape artist has gone through an unrepaired hole instead of over the fence, the other chooks jump through after her in single file to scuttle across the yard and peck at dog biscuit crumbs.

At the top of the menagerie hierarchy, are the boys. They adore the dogs. Number three boy loves them so much that he scoots on his hands and knees over bare floorboards after them, stopping occasionally to lick me as they lick him. One late night, boys one and two found boy three asleep in the corner of the dining room where the dogs lay when we eat. When asked the next morning why he slept there on hard wooden floors, he replied that he wanted to see what it felt like to sleep where the dogs slept.

Number two boy is akin to brown-eyed dog, sitting and lazing about on bean bags, not moving unless he must. The manner in which they eat too is alike, both chewing meat repeatedly until finally minced enough to swallow.

Number one boy, well he’s something all on his own. He printed a t-shirt with an image of himself and gave it to boy two for his birthday last week, along with a broken-chained, tiny bike found dumped with in a lane. He makes short films on things like how to ride a scooter, pointing out all safety elements before scooting over a ramp to fall flat on his back. We laughed for days on that one.

But it’s not all fairy floss and lollies in our menagerie. One time, one of the chooks, a Hamburg, perched on the gate that led into the chook garden. As the gate was being shut, she slipped and fell between two palings of wood. Needles to say, her life ended quickly, and tears flowed.

With chooks out for a nosey peek and a bask in freshly dug holes in the sun, pets chasing one another in circles, and dogs sneaking into the chook pen to rummage over leftover food scraps or rest on boys in hammocks and on bean bags, it’s sometimes like watching an old, unfashionable movie or cartoon to the tunes of howls and cackles.

My menagerie of mayhem is mine and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. To me, it’s love in its purest form.


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