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What can I wear?

What can I wear?.

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Keeping it real

Keeping it real.

It was a defining moment. Searching for a pair of 3D glasses in a darkened movie theatre in a handbag which had swallowed them up. Why? Because the lining in the recently purchased ‘perfect’ handbag had torn and the offending article was nestled somewhere at the bottom of the bag along with some peppermints. Again I asked myself as  Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf discussed weighty matters on ‘The Hobbit’ , why is it SO hard to find the perfect Mulberry-Leather-Handbags-Light-Coffee-Outlethandbag?

Long have I searched. If bags were men, then I would be a loose woman having short term relationships with men who appear at first glance to have all that I need to live a perfectly balanced life. Alas, like men, I always find that the bag is not up to scratch and does not meet my modest needs.

Is it too much, I ask, to have a bag that carries everything? I have been told that I carry too much in my bag, but that is not true. I need that sunscreen (in case it is sunny). I need that mozzie spray (in case their are mozzies) I need an umbrella – you guessed it – in case it rains. Then there is the wallet, mobile phone, fan (for post menopause hot flushes) comb, makeup, pills, loyalty cards, diary, tissues, peppermints, almonds for a snack, bottle of water, cardi, sunhat, car keys, house keys and torch. And a book to read in case I have nothing to do and no-one to talk to.

Hmm, maybe that list is too long. But I NEED those things, just in case. In case of what, Karen Jones. Maybe it is time to get your priorities straight and leave some of that stuff at home. But I might NEED it my inner woman snivels. Get over it, says my tough outer woman. Hah

But, somewhere out there must be the perfect bag. Like the perfect man it complements my every style and mood. It is capacious but not bulky. It has hidden depths and accessible pockets. It is giving and comforting. It holds all of my stuff. It never buckles, rips, or snaps under pressure. It is genuine leather. It is the perfect tan colour (not brown). It goes with everything. I can find my keys in the dark and my mobile phone does not become invisible in there. It is reliable, sturdy, attractive, matches everything and is hopefully a designer label under a hundred dollars.  It must not be glitzy or too shiny. It must sit on my shoulder and should have a zip for safety, but no flap. Flaps are annoying. It must sit on my sloping shoulder without sliding off. The strap must adjust to the right length for my hand to slide in and feel my vibrating phone so I can take important calls. It must have a flat bottom so it will not fall over and spill contents when on a flat surface

Alas, in the shop I see it hanging there. Lovingly I try it on for size, search the inner depths for the perfect phone shaped pocket, the zipped compartments, the buttery leather, the lovely designer label, the exorbitant price tag – but look. It must be a blessing from heaven, it is on sale for half price. I can have it. Excitedly I take it home. Sniff the leather, admire the profile in the mirror, fill up the compartments. Why is it bulging? Is that now a pen mark on the lining? Where is my phone? Why can’t I find it? Oh No

Perhaps one day I will take my possibly unrealistic expectations in hand and design my own perfect bag. I will take the design to a leather craftsman who will make me one. Others will admire it and I will start a business designing and marketing the perfect bag.

Perfection. Bah humbug. We are imperfect mortals in a flawed universe. God alone creates perfection. An old proverb tells us that beauty is never perfect. How dull and placid would be a flawless world if it were a Mattel universe peopled with Barbie and Ken replicas. Stiff, unyielding, emotionless ciphers. Ugh.

Land the plane Karen, land the plane. The perfect handbag? It does not exist. Part of the rich experience of my life, and the continually upgrading of my patience quotient is done with the purchasing and discarding of handbags. Look in the bottom of my wardrobe. There lies a handbag graveyard littered with the discarded corpses of handbag hell. The bad buys from Ebay. The broken handles and zips. The scuffed leather. The imposters that were not leather at all.  Ah, alas

But still I am quietly optimistic. I look in shop windows, Ebay, online and op shops. I quietly covet other people’s handbags and long to discuss their handbag relationship issues with them. However, I do not want them to think that I, a  perfect stranger, have a handbag obsession. I don’t, do I?

When good cats go bad…

The victim of a heinous crime

It was the Monday night after a long weekend. I was just drifting into the kitchen to wash up when I heard an unearthly sound. It was like all of the banshees of Hades were having a conference in my back yard. I tore outside to see my poor little cat being attacked by the nasty black and white tomcat who harasses her every spring. In spite of numerous hose squirts over the past decade, this testosterone tom, this pussy pervert intent on getting his moggy rocks off, had the absolute gall to leap on my poor Grace and start hammering away. I discovered the hose was undone so did the only thing a true pussy lover can do, I ripped him off her, and he ripped into me. I screeched and let the nasty beast go, and he tore off into the dark, cattus totally interuptus. Grace staggered inside where I prepared to offer her rape counselling. Suddenly the pain set in. Blood dripped from both arms and hands, he had torn holes in my even where I had a sweatshirt on. I went into shock. My neighbour heard my cries for help and doused me in betadine. After ringing the 1800 medical help number (great invention) I was advised to get a Tetanus booster and anti biotics the next day.
Grace sat on the bed looking stressed. She has been speyed, and I think that like me, she would prefer a cuppa and a good book to the amorous attentions of an importunate male. She had no obvious wounds, just a nip out of her ear where lover boy probably considered was an erogenous zone for a cat and one which would serve as a super quick method of foreplay in the feline seduction manual of 2001, right after the chapter which discusses whether you woo her with a seafood dinner and a yowl at the moon first.
Now, all quips apart, I am known for my love of the cat. I am a total sucker. I ignore the fact that they eat birds and decimate wildlife, I know they do, I’ve occasionally walked on a dead rat on my floor, but so does the Highway Project from Coffs to Woolgoolga (not eating birds exactly, but decimating wildlife corridors)
My mother was an avid cat lover. My father hated them. He was in a house with a wife and four daughters who would offer undying love and affection for the cat while he sat in his chair waiting for his tea. He would give the poor thing a sneaky cuff or boot up the backside when he thought he wasn’t being observed. However, if God had said to love cats, then there would have been an altar for them under the Cross which hung over our fireplace. My poor old mum used to ring me in her dottage and tell me (with her false teeth out so I had to really listen hard) “My pussy has just come in and shes all wet…” she was referring of course to Violet, her ancient cat who was returning home after being out in the rain. “Pussy” probably is a word that has been changed from it’s original meaning. A result of post modernism I’d say. A bit like gay once meaning happy…
Yes, I am known for my love of cats. I have left one relationship because the offending male did not like my cat. I have had relationships which have lasted longer with cats than with some people. I know they are a aloof and imperious. They are selfish and self absorbed. Probably why I have such an affinity with them (just joking). I just love their shape, the texture of their fur, the perfect symmetry of their face and just their essential “mogginess”. I like dogs, but I love cats. Dogs bark and poo in unsuitable places. Both things annoy me. Cats at least have the dignity and grace to poo discretely, and in my neighbor’s garden, not mine…
Anyway, I am mending well, and knew that as I walked into work the day after my phone message told them “I’m not coming in because I got attacked by a cat”, would produce some riotous mirth – and I was not wrong.Lots of cat calls, meows and of course, being the calm, level headed, well balanced and good humored person that I am, I took it all in my stride. I’m not a woman to sit around feeling sorry for myself and saying “paw” me

So you thought all pitted olives were equal did you? In sublime indifference you munched into that tantalizing orb of oliveness, knowing you would not have to negotiate that tricky olive pip with your tongue, and ouch, there it is – the olive pip that got away. The nasty little blighter that lurked among the green leaves of your Greek salad, hiding smugly behind that little bit of sun dried tomato, peeking out behind that bit of feta glistening with balsamic, this nasty little blighter that has you checking your tooth to see if it is still in one piece. It is? Well done.
I was thinking, as I often do, about life and the way it works. It is no secret that I do not like nasty suprises. Chaos, noise, mess and disorganisation gives me a stomach ache. Yes, I know. Probably anal retentive amongst many other things, but at least I know it. Yes. I like to think that when something is supposed to be the way it is meant to be, then it should be that way. Ah, but alas. We all know that is not true. As witnessed with my last post on the sliding dish drainer. It now sits on the cupboard floor, still fulfilling some of it’s obligations by holding the dish mop and scourer, but not really doing the job it set out to do.
Ah, but alas dear reader. I am not perfect. I thought I might me, well almost perfect and yet several times lately I have made mistakes. I can’t believe it. I have forgotten things. My files at work were only 99% correct. The Horror, as Joseph Conrad might say in Heart of Darkness. I also forgot to do a couple of things which I said I would do. In spite of my lists, my diary, my iphone calander, I actually forgot do do some things which I had intended to do.
Stricken, self examination, mere mortal Karen. Oh no. Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa (see I do at least remember some latin)
So as I see that I am a frail human being who also makes mistakes, why can’t I be more tolerant of other human foibles. Does it really matter that my longed for skinny flat white has a less than perfect crema. Will I remember in ten years time that there is yet another small dint in my car which I did not do. Does it really matter? Is perfection attainable in this life? Must everything go my way?
Does it really matter that I can make a cup of tea while my ‘high speed broadband’ decides to flicker into life? Does it really matter that the supermarket trolley has a left wheel bias and will not focus on forward propulsion? Is there really a subversive plot in place which causes the bird which has diarrhoea to always defecate on my car on Fridays? And why is it that the sun is extra hot on Fridays so that it bakes on really hard?

I say to myself sternly. Karen your life is not so bad. You live in a funky little place, full of things you love. You have great family, great friends and a job which is fulfilling mostly. You live in a country where you can always eat and have the freedom to follow your faith openly and to share it with others.  I think sometimes we think that life is greener on the other side of the meadow. Hah, but I have met some of the people who came from that side of the meadow and they were looking at my patch of green grass with interest. Olive pits, car dints and bird poo will always be with us. As will middle aged spread and GST, but I am blessed. I can curl up on the 1000 thread count sheets which I got in Target’s last half price sale with a good book, cuppa and my cat for company. Inner peace as it grows from faith in God helps to dispel the outer discontents. I think in about 5 years time, I might be almost perfect then. Check this space for updates…

Broken promises. The dish mop drainer slides nonchalantly down the kitchen cupboard door. It mocks me meanly as it once again lands with a crash on the cupboard floor. In spite of the promise embellished on the wrapping, it does not stick. No, indeed, it sure does not. In spite of following instructions, a clean surface, holding it fast for sixty seconds, not filling it up with anything heavier than a pair of yellow rubber gloves, it still taunts me. That crash in the middle of the night when it once again obeys the pull of gravity. The muttering under my breath as I once again press the suction cups into place with a stern admonishment to “Stick you little suckers”, making sure that the red edge (Indicator that it is not sticking) is hidden. But alas, this piece of deficient technology does not reign alone as symbols of useless stuff in my little house. No indeed. There is a list.

There is a corner stainless steel shower caddy festooned with a multitude of suction caps. It’s job is no more onerous than to hold a couple of plastic bottles full of shampoo and conditioner. I never ask more of it than that. But it too grows weary. The suction cups decide not to suck any longer. And it droops dispiritedly down the bathroom tiles, usually in the middle of the night so that the resultant crash will be assured of waking me from my slumber and confront me with either the thought of an imminent apocalypse or a noisy burglar coming to nick my Timtams.

Why is it that things do not do what they are supposed to do? You buy them with the expectation that they will do what they are designed for. Stick firmly, hold things. The shampoo holder’s younger sibling is smaller, and holds only a toothbrush and toothpaste. Its job is to firmly attach itself to the shower wall and stay there also. But alas no. It too stops sucking and crashes to the floor. Ha, then there are the picture hanging howszydoozers which will not come off until you remove them. What a blatant lie. They too grow weary of being stuck on that boring wall and slide down in the middle of the night. They promise not to remove the paint, yet my walls have several nasty little blemishes where they definitely have NOT peeled away when no longer needed. They have peeled ok, but taken some wall paint as well.

This blog is a bit of a vent, but hey – this woman has been silent out here in cyber space for a few months. A retinal detachment, surgery, recovery, then a slow return to work has occupied my time. I have done a lot of deep thinking during that recovery time. I have considered my faith which has been tested, but God is unlike any of the manufacturers who sell things to make a quick buck and to rip off the gullible.

God stands by his promises. In fact he guarantees them. He cannot and does not lie. He has promised to do a genuine repair job on us. He does this skilfully, removing parts of our attitudes which need adjustment, sanding down some bumpy negatives, oiling our rusting and creaking objections and then giving us a good polish so that we will shine for him. When we are broken, he mends us with compassion and love.

Three weeks ago on Thursday I bought a kilo of plums from Coles. They were a deep purple colour and reminded me of pert bottoms as they lay in my beautiful Turkish clay fruit bowl. That was three weeks ago. I would occasionally pick one up to feel it to put in my lunchbox. But they were still hard. Give them time I thought. Last weekend I went to a wonderful women’s conference in Sydney. My moggy minder, Elaine messaged that she had eaten a plum. She even said yum. I was encouraged. Ripe plums to return to. I returned from the conference and looked at my plums as I sorted a pile of washing to go into the front loader. I turned then over one by one. Still hard. I did notice that a cockroach or a desperate mouse had taken a wee bit out of one. I tossed it away. Every day I picked up a plum to put in my lunchbox. Still hard. Hmmm. But they looked beautiful. A bit like some people I suppose. All beauty and promise but tasteless and hard inside. Not that I am a cannibal.

I have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Bellingen at the Readers and Writers Festival which had previously inspired me to write my second to last blog post. I am inspired to once again give this poor old dead blog metaphorical mouth to mouth rescusitation, and to start and maintain a disciplined writing practive to share with my friends, family and new readers (hopefully) and also an interested editor searching for new talent (double hopefully). I fed the cat on my return, check my messages, put on the kettle and looked at the plums. I felt the plums. Still hard. I am mystified. I eat a grape instead.

What does one do with three week old hard plums? Is there a life lesson to be learned here? Are they are a metaphor for my life? Will they ever soften up or will they stay hard forever, destined to be thrown out on the lawn for the pointy beaked birds to toss and roll amongst the grass blades before they blunt their beaks looking for the sweet golden flesh masked by those shining purple skins.

What is their history? were these plums gassed into a state of pre ripened dormancy? Were they ripped off the branch while still longing to cling to nurture by the mother tree? Did they mourn being warmed by the sun and drenched by the rain due to their premature harvest? Poor unready plums, forced to fill shelves so we consumers can fill our bellies.

I’ll give them another week I think, before I throw their purple loveliness out to the birds. I go away again at Easter, which is two weeks away. Maybe I should leave them there. If I do, maybe they would become raisins.

I wonder.

I have always considered myself a lover of animals. I feel qualms of conscience when I eat a lamb roast, but not because I have been directly involved in the actual deed of it’s bloody demise, but because I deliberatly dull my conscience to distance myself from the ethics of eating animals. I actually like animals. I like pigs, but I love bacon. I saw a tee shirt lately which read “I love animals, they taste great”. Now I love a chilli chickpea pattie and I don’t mind a lentil burger, but sometimes meat is just what you need. Now I will veer sideways onto dogs.

I like dogs, except for their obsession with barking coupled with the often trance like oblivian of their owners who cannot hear the deep, gutteral roar of their dog, or if the pooch is small, it’s shreiking, nerve rending crescendo of stacato barks which shiver down my spine and lodge in my brain making me feel frayed and fragile. I love it when the owners say “he doesn’t bark” even as the beast is showing me his tonsils as he belts out a jazz inspired rendition of the ‘woof woof’ song. I think they (the owners) have a self imposed convenient type of temporary deafness. I like cats because they are silent. Even as I write this on this sunny verandah, the silence is shattered by the annoying barking of the dog next door. If dogs could have their bark removed and wore nappies then perhaps they would be of some use.

I am allergic to noise. I know I am. I need to choose the noise I listen too. I don’t like imposed noise. Roaring motor bikes, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, screaming children and country and western music. We live in a world where noise can assault and frazzle the calmest of souls. But lets get back to the rooster. I am house sitting a small dog in Bellingen and the owner threw in a few chooks as well. I like chooks and find their clucking quite restful. However, one of the chooks looked bigger then the other, it had a bushier feather tail. He had an arrogant gleam in his beady eye. I realised it was a bloke chook, aka a rooster. I managed to lure them into their cage for the night, realising that there were six of them lunging at the food bowl. The instructions told me there were five. Never mind, must be a friend coming for a sleep over. Hope they don’t mind sharing their toothbrushes.

This morning as I lay in the land of deep slumber, catching up from a busy week and enjoying the bliss of the countryside quiet, I heard a cockadoodledoo sound outside my window. Pilllow over my head, I tried to sleep, but no, the wretch would not give up. He went on and on at intervals until I felt like a jangled wreck and wobbled out to meet the dawn.

I thought about roosters. Like some men, they have a limited use. They are needed to fertilise the eggs so small fluffy chickens can be born. But, I thought nastily, what use are they the rest of the time? Centuries ago our ancestors who rose at dawn to till the soil used them as alarm clocks. I have an alarm clock thank you very much. So, I open up the debate. Apart from one occasional use, what use is a rooster? Sure he looks really handsome with his glossy black feathers and smart red combe. He struts like a Rugby player out to ‘pull’ on a Saturday night. But dig deeper, and not much seems to happen in his small pea sized brain. But, alas it is not up to me to upset the balance of nature or to discuss the ramifications of post feminisim with a bunch of chooks, so I did the next best thing. After wandering down the street for a coffee to jolt me awake, I bought some ear plugs. Looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow. I hope.

I want to go to Writer’s Festivals ALL of the time.  I want to be that woman with glossy bobbed hair who wears expensive but comfortable clothes which display quiet elegance and expensive taste.  I want to be that woman who walks around with a pile of newly signed books under her unflabby arm. I want to join her and her other bobbed cronies as they discuss with erudite wisdom the qualities or deficiencies of the writers on offer. I want to wander the cafes of small but cultured country towns or large cultured cities listening to those who can put plot on a page and carve out characters which compel others to lie huddled under the lamp light at midnight while they squeeze in “just one more page” before they go to sleep. I want to eagerly devour the secrets of those self satisfied authors who have finally made it into the sacred realm of print on a page.  I want to read out aloud my best passages and answer with urbane but scholarly wisdom the curly questions which are thrown at me by bearded men in beige bomber jackets who fancy themselves to be academic experts.

I want to stay in quaint and well appointed B & Bs with my own bathroom and bed. I want the host’s cat to befriend me and snuggle with me on my lavender scented quilt. I want to wake up in a softly sunfiltered bedroom to poached eggs on sourdough with perfect centres which are neither hard nor runny, just perfect. I want a skinny latte with a perfect crema. I want to pack my expensive but subtley trendy leather bag with the day’s provisions of notebooks and pens for taking notes. I want to wander into tiny but exclusive boutiques between literary offerings to look at and perhaps purchase the odd bauble or two. I want to consult my mini netbook to check that my stocks and shares are performing to plan and that my real estate portfolio is doing well.

I want to sit in the front row and open my newly purchased and signed volume and sniff the clean white pages. I want to get high on the smell of the ink. I want to drink in the words of the writers themselves, and  possibly absorb their commitment to their craft through my skin. Perhaps if I  sit close enough, I will learn the art of discipline which enables them to create their offspring with such verve and panache. I want to be the one who is approached by a publisher and asked if I could perhaps allow them to read my manuscripts. I want a weekly column where I can earn a princely sum just for writing down the words with which I describe and engage with my planet and the issues of the  people on it.

I want to drive off in my BMW which has no rattles and has real leather seats and plan my next literary jaunt to the hallowed world of the writer’s festival while the GPS sorts out my route. I want to debrief  to my cat while I polish my bob and answer my correspondence (none of which will be bills) whilst sipping a good red and nibbling on goats cheese. I want to fire up my Apple Mac (not my Dell) and see the words pour out in such a way that I am hailed as  the new Kate Atkinson. But, alas…

Instead I drive home in my rattley car, make peace with the cat, do my washing and have toast and vegemite for tea. I play computer games instead of writing a scintilating short story  and watch Midsommer Murders instead of writing my own thriller. I snuggle up with a good book after putting out my clothes for work in the morning. I set the alarm for six am. They said that if you write one page a day, in a year you would have 360 pages. In other words a book. Ahh, but will it be a good one? would you all promise to buy it?

 

There is something about the lurid lighting in the change rooms of most dress shops. It makes my already pallid flesh look like uncooked tripe – complete with ripples and bumps. There I am pulling up a cossie over my knickers (hygiene you know, you never know who’s crotch has left an imprint) and then I am pulling and pushing bits of my anatomy into what was last year’s size – oops, think I need the next size up, they must be making them smaller (yeah right!! – dream on)

I’ve pulled the sucker up, tucked in my 57 year old boobs and pulled in my tum. There is nothing I can do about the bulge of thigh and bum which is escaping the leg area. More tugging, more pulling. I thought black was slimming. They lied. As for my tuck shop lady arms. I could weep. All those upright rows at the gym have made the top of them look like Madonna’s but underneath they ripple like the surf at my local beach.

Turn this way, then that. Hmmm. take off glasses, yes looks better blurred. Maybe if I tie a sarong and drop it at the water’s edge and then dash into the water without looking around. Why does my skin look so yellow? do I have jaundice, no its those dammed lights.

Ok, back view – ugh, quick back to front view. Not much better. Fake tan might help, but I always look like an escapee from a carrot farm – no matter how much pre-tan exfoliating it still settles into the craters and sticks to any dark blemish on my skin, therefore screaming to the world “She doesn’t know how to put on fake tan!!!” What a failure.

Already tired of all the requirements of being a full time beauty devotee, I have pretty much given up and minimalised the whole routine. I am not going to start getting sprayed with a fake tan hose any time soon…And OMG, what is that shadow, oops need to mow the lawn and clip the edges if you women get my meaning. Oh the bloody tyranny of womanhood. Think those Victorian women had the right idea with neck to knee cossies.

Shall I buy it? There is 30% off today, perhaps it will do. I am meeting my little sis in Sydney next week for a weeks R&R which will involve some close contact with the hotel pool and spa. Hmm, perhaps we can go in after dark.

I walk to the counter with the size 14 pair under my arm. I live near one of the most beautiful beach areas in the world. In a few weeks I won’t give a damm and will be diving into those beautiful blue waves having hopefully forgotten the trauma of swimsuit shopping in spring.