Saturday, 15 February 2014

February Use Your Words The Very Bad Day

Hello and welcome to the February edition of the new blogging game Use Your Words. It looks like this series was another winner for Karen at Baking in a Tornado, so she's decided to keep it around for now. 

This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now. 

So allow me to introduce you to the other bloggers participating in todays challenge. Be sure to visit them all and see how they manage to mold a group of random words into something beautiful.                   Baking In A Tornado                 Just A Little Nutty             Battered Hope          Juicebox Confession      Black Sheep Mom   Stacy Sews and Schools              Confessions of a part time working mom     Evil Joy Speaks         Spatulas on Parade                     The Bergham’s Life Chronicles                      FBX Adventures (In Parenting)                     Healing Tomato                Dates 2 Diapers 2               Follow me home . . .                       Outmanned

Now the other thing you need to know is what words I have been given to include. This time my words were submitted by Spatulas on Parade and they are:  calendar ~ time off ~ jerky ~ teriyaki ~ hot dang ~ slammin 

So I mentioned in my last post how we had the worst bush fires in five years over the last week. I had to go to work on Monday despite the fact that the town I worked in was closed off from all freeway traffic and authorities were telling everyone to stay away from the town. Off course with all of this in mind, I had gone to bed the night before assuming that my boss would tell us to stay home the next day. Despite the fact that I figured I had some time off on the Monday, I was still up at 7am like I always am on a work day. (Trust my stupid body calendar to know it's a weekday) so I texted the office manager asking for confirmation that I should stay home and not do anything insane like drive directly into a fire affected town. Sadly for me she told me I HAD to go to work, and I would need to leave early because I'd have to find an alternate route into town. 

Now I don't know what any of you would do in this situation, but my natural response is to panic. I started tearing around the house madly trying to find clothes for me and Miss K and trying to remember where I put my shoes on Wednesday night after I finished work. I grabbed Miss K and started to take her nappy off, so I could get her cleaned up and ready for day care. What I didn't realise at the time was that I had grabbed her and ripped her nappy off mid bowel movement, when she was beyond the point of no return. I was so distracted and complaining to mum I didn't realise anything was wrong until I noticed the nugget on my carpet, looking a lot like a piece of teriyaki chicken. "Hot dang!" I yelled as I scrambled to pick it up. (Actually what I really said was a lot ruder and more appropriate for when you have a lump of turd on your carpet, but this is a child friendly place right here you know?) By this time Miss K was crying because she was upset she had just done a poo on the carpet, I was crying too from sheer frustration. I sat on my couch with my head in my hands heaving huge jerky sobs and just wishing I could go back to bed. (Or at least crawl into a dark corner and start slammin back the vodkas).

This was the point where mum stepped in and took Miss K off my hands so I could focus on getting ready for work. I had the quickest shower I have ever had, and then raced out the door while wearing my little sister's shoes (I never did manage to figure out where I'd hidden my own shoes until the next morning) and started the long and often terrifying drive to work along some of the most treacherous roads I have ever driven. A trip that normally takes me 15 minutes took an hour and a half of winding, narrow, unfamiliar roads in towns I'd seen on maps but never had the urge to visit for myself.

You'll be pleased to know I made it to work in one piece, and while the office manager was totally unsympathetic to the rough start to my day, my boss was a lot more understanding when we spoke about it the next day. When the freeways were finally reopened and I never had to make that drive ever again. I think the next time the town decides to combust I'll be telling the boss to close the office for the day and just let me go back to sleep.

Well that's all for now, I am off to go share a single bunk bed with a two year old because that's what you do when you visit family for the weekend. Thanks to Spatulas on Parade for my words, especially because I've never been given the opportunity to compare bowel movements to Asian food before, so this was an exciting first for me. Now go on and visit everyone else and enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The good, the bad and the natural disaster

Hello again lovely people, I've come here tonight with a sad story and some scary photos. For any of you in Australia, you will know that Victoria has spent the past week battling hundreds of bush fires and dealing with the devastation that fire brings. You will also know that last Saturday was the 5 year anniversary of the Black Saturday fires that claimed 173 lives and destroyed 2029 homes. The fact that it was also the day that began the worst rash of bush fires since Black Saturday was just cruel irony.

Just one of the many fires from Black Saturday.

A lot of the fires were very close to the town I live in, and the town I work in, which is just 12 kilometers down the road from my home was shut down completely as fires threatened homes. This town is actually a coal mining town, and there are two power stations in the area, which provide electricity to a large portion of the state of Victoria. Sadly one of these power stations caught fire, as did one of the coal mines. As of writing this post, the coal mine fire is still burning and it will be for a long time to come. This is just a fact of life when you're dealing with coal, and fires in the mines aren't uncommon. Fires of this size are however.

What a burning coal mine looks like.

There is also a paper mill and the plantation which houses the timber for the mill. This too caught fire, causing a lot of damage. Another fire caused by a lightning strike managed to reach the freeway which links my home town and my place of work, which is how the fire got so close to us. They closed the freeway from right before it reaches the opposite end of my town, right up to the next town on the other side of my town of work. That is about 25 kilometers of road that was being threatened. The freeway was closed for two whole days while they fought the fires.

How the world looks when it's totally surrounded by fires.

The thing that saddens me is how many of these fires were deliberately lit. There have been reports of two young gentlemen driving around with lighters and toilet paper starting fires along a stretch of highway in another town nearby, which caused several thousand hectares of bush land to burn down.

Now I mentioned the Black Saturday fires at the beginning, the loss of lives, and the loss of property that it caused. I can remember that day clearly, and it was horrifying. Luckily for us again our town wasn't directly in the line of fire, but we were under ember attack, and I remember watching the debris fall down from the sky as the wind carried it over to us from surrounding towns. When it rained in the afternoon that day, the rain was black as the water mixed with the ash and soot in the air. The sky glowed orange all day and the atmosphere was suffocating. Back in 2009 our emergency systems were basic at best. There was no efficient way to relay information to people in danger and part of this is the reason why Black Saturday was so devastating. There was an inquest after the dust had settled, and the next few years were spent creating new ways to inform residents of current fire activity and impending danger. This included of course a Facebook page (where would we be without Facebook?) and a new emergency services website with constant updates which tells us exactly where in the country there are fires, and what it means for people in surrounding areas.

What the website looked like on Saturday. The red triangles mean get out now, the orange triangles mean be alert.

It is sad that it took a widespread tragedy to let people know that we needed a system like this, but hopefully the changes that have been made will mean that we never have a repeat of Black Saturday ever again. If this past week is anything to go by the changes are certainly positive. So far we have had one loss of life due to bush fire this year, which is a huge difference to the 173 lives that were lost in 2009. 

So now the rebuilding begins. Teams have already started cleaning up the freeway, and although it looks like a barren wasteland now with nothing but charred trees lining the roads, in a few weeks the green will start growing back and the trees will heal like they do every time there is a fire. The people will heal too. We're used to fires, we do live in the country after all. And as soon as the smoke finally clears we'll all be able to breathe a little bit easier. 

This is what we're breathing in at the moment.

I would like to take a minute to give a huge thank you to the heroic members of the Country Fire Association and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade who have come all the way down from Melbourne to help us fight these fires. Without these fearless men and women I'm sure this story would have a different ending. This includes the people working in the command centres, organising the information updates and making sure everyone knows how to stay safe.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Secret Subject Swap - Romancing the Stone (Hearted)

Hello again my lovely readers, I am back for the February round of Secret Subject Swap. You would all have to know the drill by now wouldn't you? I'll explain it for any of the new comers anyway (welcome newbies) Twelve lovely and brilliant bloggers all get together and send a subject they want another blogger to write about to the lovely and endlessly patient Karen at Baking in a Tornado. Karen then distributes the subjects evenly between the twelve of us, and we simultaneously post the end result. I have been doing this for 9 months now and each month is more fun than the last.

So first things first I will introduce the rest of the team to you, once you have read the fun that is my blog, you really need to go visit everyone else, even if just to find out who got my subject and how she or he managed to mold it into something cohesive. Spread the love far and wide and let them all know they are awesome.             Baking In A Tornado                          The Momisodes           Follow me home . . .                      Dinosaur Superhero Mommy             Dates 2 Diapers 2 Confessions of a part-time working mom                         Spinster Snacks  FBX Adventures (In Parenting) More Than Cheese and Beer                          Small Talk Mama             Juicebox Confession          Spatulas on Parade

So today's topic for me is: Tell me your ideal romantic day.  Your time spent preparing for the day, the events, and the day itself. And it was submitted by Evil Joy Speaks.

I actually wrecked myself with laughter when I opened the email with this subject in it, as I am truly one of the least romantic people I know. This is the absolute truth. When Miss K's dad proposed to me at Arthur's Seat (a tourist attraction based around one of the most breathtaking panoramic views you will ever see) all I could focus on was the fact that he kept mucking up the words, even though I know he had been practising exactly what he was going to say for weeks before hand. It was still beautiful and I did cry, but I'm sure the sentiment behind it all would have been less wasted on someone else.

That's not to say I don't appreciate if a guy makes an effort for his lady, I'm just not as big a fan of all the gushy stuff. So my idea of a romantic day may be totally different to what the rest of you would actually call romantic. (Is this a bad time to mention I've only ever had one valentines day when I got a gift from a boyfriend, and only two boyfriends who have ever bought me flowers?)

Now if we're going out in my life currently, the first thing I'd need for a romantic day would be a date to take me out. Sadly given that I have decided to focus all of my attention on being a part time secretary/part time business owner/part time mum, it hasn't left much room in my life for persons of the opposite sex. Add in the fact that most of the men I see during my days are in the process of divorcing their wives and you come home feeling as romantic as a wet sponge on most days. But for the purposes of this post I'm going to pretend that the guy taking me out on this date exists, and he is even going out on this date willingly. 

Now I don't know how other women prepare for dates. I'm assuming you spend hours doing hair and make up, choosing your outfit and practising your best come hither smile. My current beauty regime since Miss K was born consists of picking something out of my floordrobe* that doesn't smell like sweat and isn't decorated with last night's dinner thanks to my finicky daughter. Make up is a real luxury for me these days, and given what I have planned for this date, I think I'd probably wear minimum make up, and something comfortable but flattering. (That is actually harder than you think with my current range of clothes.) It will probably take longer to bribe someone from my family to take Miss K for the day so I can have some alone time than it will take for me to actually get ready for this date. 

So the thing that impresses me the most about a guy is when he takes the time to listen to the woman he is trying to please. You want to make me happy? Take me to the beach. And not just in summer either. I love walking through the waves during winter. So the rest of my preparation would probably consist of dropping constant hints to my beau and hoping he gets the point that I want to walk along the beach with him. Now I know the old walking hand in hand along the shoreline is actually a pretty big cliche when it comes to being romantic, but I'm more likely to be the one kicking the waves and splashing the person I'm walking with, so that really doesn't leave much room for holding hands and staring wistfully out to sea. 

Now we'd spend maybe two hours driving to this beach in the morning, (well he'd drive, I'll be too busy looking out the window at all the pretty scenery going past.) so there will be about an hour to walk along the beach before I'll start getting the munchies and need to stop for lunch. Depending on the season will depend where I want to eat. If it's summer we HAVE to have fish and chips on the sand. You're just not Australian if you don't eat fish and chips on the shoreline when you go to the beach. If it is winter however, I'll probably not want to sit out in the elements just to eat, so we'll need to find a cozy little pub somewhere for a sit down meal. The atmosphere in some of these tourist town pubs is just amazing and I love finding one that I could just sit in all day. 

But despite what some people think, for me sitting in a pub all day isn't really the most romantic thing to do, so I'll probably suggest we spend our afternoon exploring the town attached to the beach we have come to visit. Beach side towns are always such beautiful places to explore, and not just because of the shops (although that is always a bit of a draw for me) but the houses are usually not too shabby either, and I love looking at houses. (call me weird, I don't care. One of my favourite places to visit when Miss K and I visit her Melbourne family is the upper class part of Sydenham just because the houses there are breathtaking. They seriously all look like massive convention centres.) 

Now you may be reading this now and thinking to yourself that playing tourists isn't romantic at all. What you're forgetting is I've orchestrated a situation where for a lot of the time it's just the two of us, and all those hours spent driving leaves a lot of room for talking. And one of the most romantic things for me is a man who can hold his own end of a conversation for hours. It doesn't have to be all deep and intellectual, there can be a few fart jokes thrown in for light entertainment, but to have someone to talk to that you never run out of things to say to is a pretty rare find, so it always excites me to find someone like this. There will be moments of silence too, because you need to find someone you can have comfortable silence with. (One of my closest friends is my favourite person to be silent with. I go to his house when I'm tired of noise because we have lots of long spaces without any conversation. We don't need to talk, we're just happy to have each other's company.)

So we're done with being tourists, it's getting late and we need to go home, but that doesn't mean the day is over. The last thing you must do if you want to impress me is put up with watching a chick flick. When I'm in a relationship I will put up with lots of terrible blokey films, and sometimes I may even enjoy them, but every now and again I need to feel that my man will take an interest in the things that make me happy to watch. I won't even crack it if he points out the plot holes (I see them too, I just don't let them ruin my experience) and he'll get bonus points if his comments make me laugh. (A little tip to all the men out there, I am not alone in this wish. If you really want to make your lady happy, suggest you two watch one of her favourite movies together every once in a while. You might even get us in a frisky mood if you pick the right movie :D)

Because this blog is a G rated blog I'm going to say the evening ends with a quick kiss goodnight and I go to bed with my integrity intact, but if you want my evening to go a different path, please feel free to use your imagination. I for one would be more than happy to just collapse into bed and pass out for six hours before Miss K comes in at 6 to watch Despicable Me 2 for the millionth time in a row.

Well that's it for me, be sure to visit everyone else on my list and enjoy their offerings too. For any real romantics out there who are getting all excited for the most romantic day of the year, I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day, think of me as I try to survive three days with Miss K's Melbourne family while you're having your oysters and champagne. This year is especially awkward for Miss K's dad and I because had things gone differently we would have been married three years this Valentines Day. We tend to try to avoid eachother on February 14th but this year the calendar gods were against us and it happens right on a scheduled visit. Stay awesome and be sure to check back here on the 14th because Use Your Words is back again and I'll be participating again. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

News from the front line

This is Searching for Sanity reporting to you live from a war torn home in a tiny town in country Victoria. This once peaceful place has been ripped apart by conflict between two former allies. On one side you have the young (and very good looking) single mum, trying her darndest to provide a nice life for her and her people, and on the other side, you have a two year old dictator who is determined to overthrow the single mum's power and replace her as ruler of the house. The battles are frequent, loud, and full of tears.

Officials of the house say the worst time for skirmishes has been at bed time, and also when it's time to get out of the tub, but there have also been conflicts over the two year old not eating her vegetables, not sharing her toys, and of course playing too roughly with the kitten. The single mum is desperately trying to regain her footing as ultimate leader of the house, but admits that the two year old is certainly her toughest foe to date.

There have been several attempts by the single mum to extend an olive branch to the two year old, these have come in the form of delaying bed time by up to an hour, and also reading one more book before leaving the room, but the effects of these peacekeeping missions are always short lived and the two year old is soon back to her tyrannical ways. Other citizens of the house live in constant fear for their ear drums, and are always on high alert for yet another temper tantrum. Luckily these are a people who are not unfamiliar with the antics of two year olds, so evacuations of bystanders is always quick and there have been few fatalities to date.

Officials are warning visitors to avoid visiting the house unless absolutely necessary, to prevent the risk of death or injury to any innocent people, and if you know anyone who lives in the house, you should contact the house's embassy for further information about the current situation.

We will have more news as it breaks, but until then, this is war correspondent Searching for Sanity wishing you all good health.

Pictured: An artist's rendition of current events in the war torn house.

For anyone wondering, Miss K is going through a particularly defiant stage of the terrible twos, and tonight was a bad night. Instead of sitting here stewing in my own juices I decided I needed to lighten up my mood, and because this place feels like a war zone right now, this post just seemed appropriate. We'll all get through this I'm sure, and I know by tomorrow morning my sunny little girl will be lying in my bed waiting for me to get up so she can smother me with hugs, but poking fun at the situation will be enough to keep me sane for now. Stay awesome everyone.
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