Monday, November 06, 2006

It's that time of the year

...when day light saving comes into effect and SWMBO starts with the "but it's really only ten o'clock" business. It drives me to distraction. Distraction with a smile; the woman is the light of my life. Frustrating logic I grant you. Oh, and a bit of a nag at times too. So, okay, she can give a dragon a run for it's money, but hey, I am in love with her.

Daylight saving.

It starts the night before with "We have to go to bed early because we lose an hour's sleep tonight." followed the next morning by "I am so tired because we lost an hour's sleep last night"
Later that day, this year like every year, as the sun starts to set later and our perception of time still isn't quite right she starts with the "But it's only really 5 o'clock" business.
This day-light-saving-jet-lag lasts about two weeks. Something will happen, the kids will squabble for example, and she'll excuse them with "They're tired. It's really only seven o'clock"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cat Catch up

Here's a few photos of the captives. They'd run away but life is too good in the Way household.

The first is Mycroft in yet another of his sleeping poses.

then Murphy with Lestrade.

Mycroft... tough cat, eh?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spider and Child

Following on from the spider dance story below, The Daughter came home from school the other day feeling very proud of herself.

During class the children had noticed a Huntsman on one of the walls. Some of them weren't too happy about it so The Daughter volunteered to help out.
She's telling me the story of how scared the other kids (and teacher) are but I am ahead of her by thinking she'd do what I do and grab a container with lid and do the deed. So here's a proud dad relieved that something is finally rubbing off. True, just spider catching techniques, but hey, there's a lot more exciting stuff I can teach her in life; we have to start somewhere!
Then she tells me she let it walk onto her hand and she calmly shows it about before taking it outside and releasing it.

Surprised I ask how big it was.

"Oh, about this big" says she as she traces a finger around her palm... about 7.5cm (3") across!

I asked her if she was frightened and she replied at first she was, but it just sat there.

"It tickled when it walked up my wrist"


Are you sure?

Sorry I've not posted in over a month, some people have emailed me telling me off for ignoring the blog.

Anyway, just tonight, during my chicken risotto, SWMBO did it again. She does it often enough, but just recently the children have become aware of it. It's been a hoot for them!

It's two fold, and each are opposites. SWMBO will offer drinks or desserts around at dinner parties we hold. More often than not I will not be asked if I want a drink, or what I'd like to drink, or if I want dessert, or coffee or something. She'll work her way around our guests and absent mindfully skip over me. It's quite amusing when we're all sitting at the table with our desserts except me.

Then the opposite happens.

She asks "Do you want ice cream with your dessert?" or "Would you like a cup of tea?"
I'll answer either way.

A few minutes later she'll ask again.

"Would you like a cuppa?"

"umm, yes please."

A few more minutes, sometimes half an hour or more, "Did you say you wanted a cuppa?"


"Yes what?"

"Yes please, but this is the third time you've asked and I've answered."

A few more minutes...

"Did you say you wanted a cuppa?"
"Are you sure?"

I mean, I can understand distraction, and forgetting the answer, especially over the course of now what seems several hours, but to then ask "Are you sure?" really tops it off.

So tonight, over the risotto, she begins again "Who would like watermelon for dessert?"...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Spider dance

You've heard of the spider dance, right?
It's a condition of human nature to do a little, but panicky, jig one nano-second after walking into a spider web. That moment of sheer terror as you realise it must be on you and ready to strike. You wave your arms about, hop from foot to foot, look left, look right, look over your back, brush your hair wildly with both hands and stare manically at anyone who can tell you exactly where it is.

It seems to me that no matter who you are, or where you're from, we all do the exact same dance.

I didn't know cats did it too.

For the last few days we've had a huntsman spider visit us. The novelty has worn off as they aren't uncommon in our bushland home . We have adequate fly screens so there's not much for the wayward spider to eat. If I don't pack them up and walk them outside they will disappear or die a hungry death on their own accord.

The family is dead against me killing them for convenience sake.

I walked into our bedroom to find three cats lined up against the wall waiting for the spider to come down and play. Obligingly, I used a small paintbrush to push it off the wall.

It landed on Mycroft.

He did a spider dance.

It only lasted about 10 seconds but to him it must have been an eternity. He ran backward a little, forward a little, shook his head madly, shook his tail and paws, spun around and generally panicked. He backed away from it when it fell on the ground.

Anyway, a few moments later I returned to the room to see all three cats staring at the wardrobe.
SWMBO's side of the wardrobe.
I debated whether to tell her. What sort of trouble will I be in now?

Later I told her the story and she freaked. It's all my fault, naturally. Now she needs to shake clothes out when she pulls them from the wardrobe but she'll never really know if there's a spider hiding.

I await another spider dance, this time from SWMBO.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

24 hours

It all started about 24 hours go. One of those days when things just don't go your way.
Last night, after leaving work late I was off to do the grocery shopping at Woollies. I arrived just after 9:00pm, the place is deserted, just how I like it. I grab a trolley, pull out the list SWMBO wrote, (yes, a list, go figure) and set off down the aisles after the fortnightly supplies.
I make it into the fourth aisle before I realise I've missed the Radox bath salts . Bath salts are another story. Anyway I go back to where I left the trolley.

It's gone.

There's about a half dozen shoppers and the odd, lurking employee in a not-quite-white shirt. The point being there's not a lot of trolleys to get confused over. In fact I made a mental note that I was the only shopper in the aisle at the time.

So I go trolley hunting.


No one has my trolley.
If you're an alien abduction conspiracy theorist then you might have some news for me, but to my everyday mind either another shopper has mistaken it for theirs, or the lurking employee thought it abandoned and un-packed it at lightening speed (yeah, right). I give up, Radox in hand, I return to the front of the store. I need to leave the Radox at the counter so I can leave the store for a replacement trolley. I explain why I am doing this to the gum chewing check-out chick but the return conversation is a indifferent shrug. Hmm. Must happen all the time?
So, I re-start my shopping from aisle one. I pass the Radox. I realise I've left it at the counter.


I get home, start un-packing when SWMBO tells me we have a tour at one of the prospective schools in the morning. I have a huge day at work and really can't afford the time, but SWMBO's look tells me I-need-to-go-along-too. In-case I miss the look she tells me in long hand that I have to-go-along-too.

SWMBO drops The Daughter off at school a little while before I drop The Son off at his school so she goes to the Coonabarra Café and waits for me. We have a bit of time between school drop-offs and school-tour so it would be nice to meet over coffee.

A school mum walks past the window, waves and comes into the café inquiring about my back. SWMBO's eyes dart back and forth, she can't remember School Mums name and can't quite place her. During my year working from home I got to meet all the stay at home mums.
After she's left, SWMBO gives me the third degree with questions like "How does she know about your back?"


We do the tour, nice school and all that then return to her car parked outside the Café. She's locked the keys in.


I make it to the railway station to commute to work, but as the 11:06 train arrives the station master announces that a tree has fallen across the tracks further down the line and delays are to be expected.


I board the train in hope it will take me as far as possible at which place I can either get a taxi or bus for the remainder. Well, the utter confusion of what to do was so funny I almost had a fit. I got out of the train, and back in several times before the railways settled on what they were going to do with a train filled with mostly old people on their way out during pension week.
Enough to say I managed to get a train to one station, a bus to another, then a taxi across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and downtown into work.

My workload tripled due to my lateness and compounded by my in-experience in using Cinema 4D modeling programme. I'm working to a tight deadline later in the afternoon.

Then the alarm goes off for a fire drill.


10 floors down and it's blowing a cold gale outside.

Anyway, I am home now, kids are all in bed, SWMBO has returned from Choir rehearsals and the 24 hours are up.

I hope.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Notebook time!

Hurrrah! Father's day. Our children treated me to a great day today with lots of hugs, breakfast almost in-bed and a selection of gifts including a brand new notebook! Yippee!

The Son (age 8) wrote a really nice card:

Dear Daddy
Thankyou for being such a good dad to me.
You are the greatest Dad of all time.
You are fantastic, awesome, strong, smart, funny, handsome, and
I love it when you tuck me in at night, when you play games with me and most of all when you love me more than anyone else in the world!

From the best son in the world
your son

and his full name.

We built a train track between us:

While two of the cats, Mycroft and Murphy, found it an exhausting day...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The fun begins

Ever heard of the axiom "Under sell and over deliver"? It means you promise less to someone then when the time comes you give them more. It makes you look good and makes the other person very happy.

Dell did this to me.

They said I could expect delivery of the notebook on the 5th of September. So they deliver it today.
Today off all days.

Let's start from earlier today...

We managed to catch the train to work together.
She started the 30 second conversation. That's where she says something every thirty seconds whilst I am reading.
Anyway, today is THAT day so I new to be cautious. Soon enough she asks what the children should get me for Father's Day. I consider my options. Do I tell now, on PMS-Day, or do I say nothing? Do I drop a hint? Can I afford a "debate" on a crowded city commuter train?
"A laptop would be nice."
"I don't think we can afford it this week." is her evasive reply.
Conversation ends, thirty seconds pass and the next subject comes up.

Phew, that was close.

Then later in the day the notebook arrives by courier a whole week earlier than expected.
I'm so excited I unpack it straight away and turn it on... ooooh it's so sweet!

I repack it, bring it home and leave it in the kitchen next the the briefcases & schoolbags.


SWMBO is downstairs watching Crossing Jordan and hasn't seen it yet.
My tactic of broaching the subject of the contents and origin of the large cardboard box was based in humour "Look what followed me home, honey." But it didn't work... She was in the other room watching TV.
I've one eye on this blog and the other on the door. As soon as she passes I have to wander up the stairs behind her...
I've decided to take the Father's day angle, coupled with the extra freelance work I've done, and the tax deductions and GST claim-back thus reducing the outlay for the notebook to around $400.00.

I sit here wondering if she'll buy it...

... she has no choice, but she might keep it until Sunday so the children can 'give' it to me for Father's Day. Oh the wait is going to kill me!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bedside notes and logic

We were going to bed one night and SWMBO wrote a note on a slip of paper then placed it in front of her clock-radio, brushed her teeth and jumped in. All the while I am there propped up against the pillow wondering what she wrote on the note.

She's an avid note and list writer. I suppose anyone living a busy lifestyle, such as we do, realises notes and lists are important tools; they help us make it through the week. She normally leaves notes in that spot in the kitchen every house seems to have.. the place where the post sits, bills fester, school permission slips lurk until the-night-before...

But not this note.

This note is sitting in front of her clock-radio.

I'm not a home-note person. I write notes at work in my diary, but not at home.
Lists are worse. I hate lists with a passion because they're all about control. Write a list and suddenly it has a mind of it's own, not unlike a Ouija board. The worst travesty of lists is their ability to leave things out. Take a shopping list. First it demands you go grocery shopping (the control thing) then it tricks you into relying on it.
It works like this; I return home to where SWMBO is bound to ask "Did you get the toilet paper?"
"Was it on the list?"
"It should have been."
"Well, it wasn't on the list."
This short but regular dialog is followed by the "You're a forgetful twit." look.

You can see what I mean. People automatically rely on lists. And lists let you down.

But this is a note, not a list and its on the clock radio, at night, at the wrong end of the house.
It can't be for anyone but her, if it was for me, say a romantic note, then she'd leave it on my pillow, or if not, then out next to the forgotten permission slip.

I lean over her, reach out and snatch the note.

It reads: "Wake up early."

...and it's on the clock radio.

I give her my best Commander Spock raised eyebrow.

"It says 'Wake up early.?"
"Yes dear, I have to get up early in the morning."
"You don't find anything wrong with this?"
I hand it back to her, and she replaces it.

We read for a bit. I read the same paragraph until I realise I'm reading the same paragraph.

"That note doesn't make sense."
"Yes it does."
"I want to wake up early."
"But it's a note."
"Yes." I can tell she's getting frustrated at reading the same paragraph as well. She stops reading then she sighs with a "I am patient with you" look. She turns to me and explains "I wrote the note to remind me to wake up early in the morning so I wont be late."
I think about this. SWMBO is an intelligent person, one whose intellect I respect.
"Darling, how can a note help you wake up early in the morning.. what about the clock-radio?"
"What about it?"
"Use it. Set the alarm earlier..."
"I have."
"And you've written a note?"
Now it's my turn to sigh.
I start to giggle in both amusement and frustration.
"But why have you written the note?"
"When the radio goes off, I'll hit the snooze button. When I do I'll read the note and remind myself that I have to get up early."



Later, lights out and I am lying on my side enjoying the complexities of SWMBO's mind and the way it thinks.
I start.
Something's wrong.
That's it.
SWMBO's clock-radio has always been set fast. It never tells the right time...

Friday, August 25, 2006

SWMBO and that logic

Women are funny things. I'm sure someone out there has remarked as much and certainly more eloquently.

SWMBO, as mentioned, uses logic in a way that never stops bewildering me.

Take the weather.

"Gee, the weather's funny today" she'll say from our bathroom at 7:00am, before she's left the house, only minutes from waking. I make these points because I expect any judgment on the day's weather to be borne with experience. I am sure you couldn't really make comment on the weather until, at least, you've been out in it for a bit. And you've something to compare it, requiring you be out in it long enough for a point of reference. To put your tooth brush down and come up with a gem like "Gee, the weather's funny today" strikes me as odd.
Naturally, I am compelled to respond, which for quite a while now goes along the lines of "Well, weather is not a stable system; it's in continual change. Some-days the change is rapid, others slower, but it's always changing. It's also very unpredictable much like the way dice will roll."
"Yes, but, yesterday it was windy and rainy and today it's sunny."

Sigh. "But why is that funny?"

"Well, it changed. Yesterday was windy and rainy, today it's the opposite."

Calling the weather funny because it changed defies logic.

Twilight Zone

The first day of deceit ends without SWMBO being aware of the notebook. Of course she doesn't know because I've not breathed a word.
It's a strange feeling living this double life, which Dell informes me should end on the 5th of September; the day the notebook arrives.

Naturally, I am torn between the excitement of receiving a new toy and the fear of facing her with the news.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Way, a LAN, snow, a dining cabinet, and speed shopping

Life with SWMBO is never dull.

I’ve been toying with buying a notebook computer for a few weeks now. I could use it on my twice-a-day 40 minute train trip to do work stuff, learn new modelling and CAD programmes I am behind on, plus the odd movie and music. I’ve read through nearly all of the novels in the house so I'm bored.

This is how things are developing…

Two weeks ago I drove with a mate up to Brisbane from Sydney for queensLANder; a TOG LAN party where we got together with 60 players for a great weekend playing computer games and catch-up. I started organising it ovPhot by Southn_Comforter four months ago. It was a fantastic success due mostly to great volunteers and TOGgers themselves. Anyway, SWMBO was giving me my week's spending plus extra to go away. She had $200.00 in her hand and asked, "How much did you spend on petrol?" We'd recently changed our banking policies to avoid horrendous VISA bills. She now withdraws cash for the week. I get $25 spending, plus $32 train fare, and about $20 for petrol each week. Somehow this always appears as a single $50 note.

Hey! She's a lawyer, not an accountant.
I argued $25 was less than the $40 I used to get but she countered that "the bloody internet" cost about $15 per week and that came out of my "spending".
"But you buy all those vitamins, herbs, and that Rhodesian swamp water stuff! PLUS you go to the Gym and then there's all that Nutrimetics you buy"
"I need the vitamins & herbs to help me, and it's not swamp water; it's medicine that stops PMS each month. You don’t want a return of that, do you?" The horrors of a mad woman going through her cycle each month was worth $100 bottles of swamp water. "And the Nutrimetics keeps my skin wrinkle free and beautiful; you want me to look lovely, don’t you?"

One of the big errors in my life was to marry a lawyer. I've rarely won an argument since. Marrying SWMBO was wonderful; it’s just the Lawyer bit.

"Well, that's still a whole lot of extra stuff you get that I don't".

Bad move.
I can play a fair game of chess but I'm out of my depth with SWMBO.

She takes her usual "hand on hips" victory stance.

"Well, if you want to spend some money on gym fees I suppose we can find it; you do want to go to the Gym, don't you?"
If my eyes were beady they'd be darting back and forth looking for a way out of the room as quickly as possible, but no, they had to be content with the wild-eyed-look-of-fear instead.

"Well, no, but I still get less than you, and the internet is mainstream now... like the telephone, electricity, water. Why should I have to pay for a utility when all those others come out of general revenue?"
I had her with logic. She's not strong in it, which I can't determine if it's purposeful or not. I am suspicious she uses false logic to advantage.

Either way, as financial director, she still has the purse strings.

The conversation ended, and two weeks later I'm still only getting the $50 note that’s magically worth $77.00.

Anyway, I tell her I had to fill the car up and it cost $60. She whips the $60 from the $200 and hands me the change. Sigh. A weekend away on $140.00.
Naturally, once safe in Queensland, nearly a 1000 kilometres away, I withdrew another $100 from an ATM. Actually, Demon_Keeler withdrew it for me.

It took a while after queensLANder, and the long drive home, and a busy week at work catching up on the two days I had off; before it dawned on me that SWMBO and our children were going away for a weekend in the snow.The Daughter Skiing Hmmm… I could use that to help broach the subject of a notebook. They returned late Sunday night. After the luggage had settled I asked, “How much did the scout skiing weekend cost?” She was a bit cagey with the answer trying to add up this and that and making comments like “It was good value since we got two breakfasts, two lunches…” etc.
Ha! I had her justifying the “cheap” weekend away with the scouts. Turns out it was about $1050.00 plus “shopping, takeaway and some ‘other things’” Total somewhere around $1300.00.”
I’m working on the thought this is a good softener for my next big idea, but it can wait until Monday night. I don’t want to be too obvious.

Monday night, “I’ve been thinking of buying a notebook to use for work.”

Things got a little out of hand after that. Not by the words spoken but those which weren’t. It was a very short discussion mostly from me justifying the purchase. Surely she’d see the “fairness” on the basis she spent nearly as much on the weekend. I made no mention of the conversation the night before…

I needn’t.
She did.
Who was I trying to fool?
It ended with “You asked about the ski trip just so you could argue for a notebook.”
I wasn’t going to give up so easily, it’d just take time, that’s all. I wasn’t expecting an agreement on Monday night anyway, just enough to seed the idea and wear her down with persistence.

But then I am dealing with a woman, a wife, a lawyer and above all an expect shopper.

We’ve been married eighteen years. You’d think I’d learn?

SWMBO was given a bonus in July for all of the long hours spent covering poor staffing levels. Our wages have always been consolidated so there’s no argument about petty things like bills and expenses or in-equities. The idea behind it is what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine. And to our credit we’ve never had a word about who contributes more or less. And it’s not happening now. Either way, the proceeds from mum’s estate will arrive soon to add to the coffers in a small way, but one thing I want to do for myself with the inheritance is get this notebook. Still, under the rules of consolidated revenue administered by the financial director this purchase needs both our signatures.

Tuesday morning I find myself at home with The Daughter who’s redecorated the bathroom with the recently internal contents of a 13yo child’s stomach. It’s my turn to stay home and anyway SWMBO has already left for The Son’s athletics carnival.
At about 4pm SWMBO returned home all excited. She’d dropped The Son off at a schoolmate’s house and made a field trip to the local furniture shop. For 13 years she’s been trying to get me to build a dining room cabinet. Now, today, she decides to visit a store. She drags me up to the place and points out a hideous stained-pine glass cabinet. It’s unsuitable to hold dinning room stuff; it’s for glassware, figurines etc.

  • It’s made from pine. Like I am going to allow THAT into my home.
  • It too narrow.
  • It’s ugly.
  • It’s about $800.00, Pfft on special it’s too much already!

There's the false logic at work again.

At the time I didn’t know it but now it all comes to light. The shop makes to order as well. After an hour she’s signing an contract for a custom made dining cabinet in Tasmanian Oak. $1730.00.

It took me nearly a whole day to realise I’d been hoodwinked. Here I am hinting at the cost of the ski trip to help my argument for a notebook thinking I am cunning by playing it slow and calm.

I look so amateurish compared to SWMBO.

When will I learn I am playing with the best of them?

Over night she’d gone from hearing me suggest a notebook to her planning a counter-spend. She’s spent the last of the bonus. She’s beat me to the post. She’s signed the deal and sealed the fate of the notebook in less than 18 hours from Monday night to Tuesday afternoon.

God she’s good.

Thursday. I can't take this lying down so I placed my order for a Dell notebook at the cost of $1675.00.

So, laugh if you like, 18hrs for her to get the gumption up, and 48hrs for me. I figure the inheritance will be though before the credit card bill attracts interest. And there are all sorts of justifications such as value for money, sale ending today, tax deductions under my small business, and GST rebate etc. I even placed it on my personal Visa card so she won’t see it so soon.

It’s all figured out.

Except the part about how I explain the purchase to She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Home from hospital

Dateline: 29th May 2006

I live.
Thank you all for your kind wishes, phone calls, emails, PMs and offers to cut my lawn. My mind was drawn to TOG quite often and wondering how you all were doing just as much as I was with other close friends. I am heartened to see the concern you hold for me in this thread. I arrived home this morning, alone, by taxi, to an empty house, if you'll pardon the three cats who couldn't be bothered to do more than raise a sleepy eyebrow.I am still a bit zonked so you'll need to wait for the anthology of the eventful week I've had.Hmmm Meds...

...later that week... 3rd June 2006

Ah well, I had a low day on Thursday and from Friday afternoon up until and including this morning. Just feel week and unsettled. Not sleeping, waking in sweat etc.Most of the pain had gone but now I find it was the nice meds keeping it away. Now that I've run out of the strong stuff: the pain from the two incisions and swelling has returned. *I must take the anti-inflammatories and panadol more often.*I (we) saw the neurosurgeon yesterday morning (Friday) who gave me the all-clear. He took back some nasty drugs the hospital shouldn't have let me leave with (apparently some form of morphine that they normally only prescribe for cancer patients).He also gave me a DVD with some movie files showing the operation in action. Aww god - all that blood. Even made me feel woozy. (Yes MF I will send you a copy )Looks like I can return to work on Monday, the boss hand delivered a nice wooden gift box of red wine (Margaret River Reds) on Thursday night. Yum.

Here's some pictures:

Way, a donut, a garden & the Knife

Dateline: 12th May 2006

I’ve had a slippery disc for about five-six years.In January I lifted a bag that was too heavy which set it off, a few days later I did some snorkeling (involving a rip) when I twisted the wrong way, so the only thing to do was come back from holidays and jump off a garden wall, and garden walls around my place are not your average garden variety garden walls. Unfortunately I was not wearing my cape. It was at the cleaners.After ignoring it for a month, after realising it’s not going away after another two weeks or so, after booking myself into a chiropractor & x-rays, after seeing him three times a week for 3 weeks and twice a week for two weeks, after coming to the conclusion that it’s actually not getting better I decide to see my GP, then go to a radiologist for a MRI; after all of that; I’ve finally seen a neurologist who said I need an operation.So SWMBO, the personal injury lawyer, who knows all about back injuries (and everything else), wanted me to get a second opinion.“This is my body, my temple, did I go off at you when you were pregnant? It’s your womb, this is my back.”“I know it’s your body, but it’s OUR problem if something goes wrong” She had me there, after all, the pregnancy became OUR problem shortly after the screaming and pushing ended.“But I fully understand what’s wrong and what will fix it. I’ve even looked it up on the Internet!”“Oh, and the Internet knows what’s wrong with you?” Please, dear reader, visualise the "raised eyebrow of stupidity" and the "tapping foot of impatience".So I said to her; “Fine. Get me another appointment and make me wait weeks in pain” The reverse phycology (sp) laced with a guilt ultimatum didn’t work. SWMBO is a lawyer after all, and from 17 years of marriage you’d think I’d learn?“No problem, I know a guy I use for work”She would.She rings up and has an appointment at 8:30 the next morning with a Neurologist who is so busy he makes appointments MONTHS in advance. He sees me before his daily schedule starts. I am starting to think SWMBO has a life I which I know little.So I saw the second neurologist (just yesterday) who said the exact same thing.$210 for 20 minutes for an opinion that I already had. Arrggghhh!The first guy was only $150 for 30 minutes.The GP was $60 for 15 minutes.The radiologist who did the MRI charged $200 for 30 minutes The Chiropractor reaped it home at $45 for 10 minutes manipulation. I am in the wrong job.I have a badly herniated L4/5 disc. Think of a donut. Pineapple is fine, though I prefer ones with pink icing. The ring of the donut is made from rubber band type fibers and the centre is filled with something akin to silicon (or jam if you like the donut metaphor). The compression on my spine caused the silicon stuff (jam) to burst through the ring and extrude into the area that normally houses my spinal cord. Think of a toothpaste tube being squeezed, just to mix the metaphor. The jam is compressing the right L5 nerve which runs down the outside of my right leg via deep inside my pelvis. If I had a pen I could draw on my skin exactly where the nerve goes until it reaches my small toe just by the pain alone. I could be a walking nerve anatomy mannequin. I’ll change $45 for ten minutes,The pain is constantly bad, with high points so intolerable that I yelp. If you’ve ever tried to walk on a sprained ankle then you can understand the intensity of the pain. Except it is the whole of my leg and groin not just the ankle. It wasn’t this bad at first, but it’s been getting worse each week. And accelerating. I am noticeably worse today than two days ago. Panadine Forte has little effect & the combination of aspirin, anti-inflammatory pills and an empty stomach have caused “internal” bleeding on more than one occasion. I tell you, it scared the crap out of me in the crapper.I can’t sit, lie, walk or, stand in one position for more than a few minutes. Sitting is best; I can do that for about 5-10 minutes, but after getting up I can only walk for two metres before searing pain makes me wince.People on the train to work have moved seats; others just shuffle across and stare.The surgeon has been able to fit me into his schedule so I can be relieved of this ASAP. He operates on Friday next week (19th)The procedure (microdiscectomy) is to make an incision in my back about 1 to 2cm long, move ligaments around, wiggle a tube into place to localise the works. He may need to remove bone to access the offending area, then slice the jam off & remove it, clean up the area a bit then pull the tube out allowing the nerve to expand back to it’s former self.The SAN (hospital) is using equipment brought in for the operation as a trial (he performs this surgery elsewhere) and they have offered to do this free of charge. It’s new stuff involving a microscope with regular lens or whatever plus a real-time scan of some sort showing a different angle so the surgeon can see what he’s doing from multiple angles. I have no real idea what he was talking about so I might have it wrong; my eyes had glazed over at about the “incision” bit.It’s a “day operation” although I will be staying over-night. I hope they don’t expect me to eat the stuff passed off as food there.He expects I will walk pain-free from the hospital (pain-free except for the incision and hip pocket nerve) however I am to rest for a minimum of two weeks (more like a confinement to avoid a fall etc) and be back at work shortly after wards. Not so long ago the procedure meant a four day stay in hospital and slower post op recovery. This is why the hospital is interested in the new procedure.Still, after private health & Medicare refunds the operation will cost me about $4800 or so, not including another $1500 for doctors/chiropractor/radiologist fees plus I had to pass on my night work to a colleague that was worth between $13000.00 to $16000.00. (I come home from my day job as a wreck due to the pain of being active all day and my customer couldn’t wait any longer)Anyway, it’s been five months and hopefully it will be all over in a week or so.No. Not that sort of “all over”. Mind you, if things don’t work out then can you see to it that SWMBO gives me a proper burial? None of this “just quietly” stuff.


Dateline: 21st Febuary 2005

SWMBO asked to borrow my car so she could take the children to a bike track for some exercise. She wanted me to go too... the family thing... but my physio says not to ride bikes whilst my L4-L5 disc is giving me trouble... which annoys SWMBO to no end.

She was meeting another family at the rendezvous. I fitted the bike rack, pumped up the tyres, checked the bikes over, adjusted seat heights for growing children, and parked it all ready for her. Regardless, she’s running late. SWMBO is a woman who always finds something to do at the last minute so she’s always running late. I say to her, as she’s leaving, “Don’t worry about the fuel light; it’s low but not that low” She gives me one of those wife-type-looks that reduces husbands to mere-moron-level instantly and drives off. I settle upstairs with a fresh coffee and start up my PC to practice in a game of BF1942 for tonight’s ladder match.

The coffee’s cold beside me right now.

Before I could fire up the game, the phone rings: “Hello?”

“Idiot*, the car’s broken down right in the middle of Wahroonga!”

“Oh dear”

“I think its run out of petrol, and I’m on a hill blocking the traffic”

“Oh Dear”

Silence. (Treat this silence as a guilt type silence, I did)

“Ok, um, I’ll be there right away with some petrol”

“Well you better; I am so annoyed”

“Be right there” I was going to add “Don’t go anywhere” but I caught myself just in time. A rummage through the garage reveals the chainsaw jerry-can with some leaded fuel and a bit of oil… 2-stroke. About 2 litres of a five litre can. It’s too much to top up at the service station and too little to get the car started and too much to tip out. I’ll have to risk it and pour it into the tank and hope it's enough.

I arrive at the scene. Its cold for this time of year, but the weather is fine. The source is an icy stare from a very frosty wife. Without ado I pour the fuel into the tank. No go, not enough on this hill to pump up to the motor. I get the children out, and with the aid of a passer-by, we push it up the hill out of the way for now. I advise SWMBO that I’ll be back ASAP with more petrol, she reminds me that our friends are still waiting to be met, they don’t have a mobile phone (WTF?) and it’s coming up to an hour late. There’s one problem tho. I am only buying about $5.00 worth of fuel. I don’t have any cash. The servo won’t accept cards or eftpos under $15.00. So, humbly, I ask SWMBO for some cash to put petrol in my car that I said wouldn’t run out of petrol. I am sure the cash didn’t like being in such an awkward position, I think it would prefer to be in a bank robbery.

I return as the saviour, albeit, ego bruised so the glory can’t be enjoyed, top up the tank, it starts first go, children board, SWMBO drives off leaving me standing in the street smelling like petrol, holding the can and wondering what is install for me after they return home.

So, TOG Cobra Squad on the BF1942 competition ladder: I may be wifed tonight and not be able to make the game.


Dateline: Father's Day 2005
Today, as the father’s day breakfast of coffee and lovingly burnt ham & cheese croissant digest in my tummy, I write to you of another head shaking time at the Way household.

I am a cat lover, but of the short hair type, not the long haired flea-farming-fluff-balls that tumbleweed though our home leaving hair over my washing, my carpet, my hard floors and my lounges. You see I married a girl who loves Persians, and I a Siamese & Burmese lover. Nothing wrong with that; we started out married life by keeping (or being kept by) one Persian (Watson) and one Siamese (Holmes) who got on famously as did the Arthur Conan Doyle characters. Sadly they are no longer with us and have been replaced over the years by a succession of cats: Mrs Hudson, the Persian and Moriaty, the Burmese. And lately, the subject of the threads above; Lestrade the Persian and Mycroft the Exotic.

My gripe started earlier in the year when SWMBO and The Daughter bought home the new kittens. Not only did I miss out on the purchase decision but I missed out on the selection process too. Not to mention the sheer expense involved. Subsequently I’ve had to put up with two long haired cats. Mycroft may look like a short hair, but his coat is quite thick and deep.



Over the months since then the two kittens have been dragged to three cat shows. The running joke was the first show was going to be a first and only cat show. Sif that was going to happen. As each show ended SWMBO was keen to do it again. There’s another in the planning. Anyway, they’ve done quite well; the latest tally is Best Kitten, Best of Breed, Third Place Best Kitten, Top Ten and Top Five. There are ribbons & rosettes from the different shows plastered on the walls.

Naturally, being the head of the household, when I’m cleaning the floors, vacuuming the carpets, brushing the lounges and clothes of cat hair I’ve put my two cents worth in. The lines are wearing thin but I complain about the imposition of the extra cleaning, the lack of decision making, the shear cost and vet fees, and the lack of actually not having the type of cat I like as insult to my injury.

“Look at this! All the cat hair on the lounge! And I didn’t even want a long hair!”

“Oh God, not again, I am sick of cleaning cat hair off my good jacket! A Siamese wouldn’t shed like this!”

“Darling, wife, you should have seen the number of vacuum bags of hair I got off the floors today; it takes ages to clean them properly”

It went on.

For seven months.

Today, SWMBO got even.

Father’s Day.

I should have seen the signs, but being merely male I didn’t. After seventeen years of marriage you’d think I could pick it?

On reflection the first clanger was at the birthday lunch in a restaurant for my father-in-law. The Daughter had wanted to get a short haired cat so I would stop moaning. But then she always wants more animals; story about the mice in this household is waiting its turn to be posted. Anyway, over the months SWMBO and I have said no for many reasons. But SWMBO is a bit soft with money, the love of cats and our daughter. So each time they’ve trekked off to another show I have been at home worrying about what they were doing. Thankfully, SWMBO and The Daughter have come home with no change to the cat population.
Anyway, back to the restaurant. Father-in-Law asks how the new kitten is doing. SWMBO is not at the table at the time so my eyes shoot straight to The Daughter. The look of innocence is not convincing but she protests there is no new kitten. I suspect that the truth is out there and pursue the conversation later with SWMBO. After a few days and the absence of any kitten I put the Father-in-Law comment down to the confusion of an 85 year old on his birthday. That was in late July. Just after the last cat show.

Then came the second clanger. About a week ago SWMBO and The Daughter went off on a Sunday afternoon shopping trip leaving me with The Son at his Football presentation day. It was an afternoon of company among friends with picnic food and plenty of wine to go around. The sun was shining, it was a mild end-of-winter day, the kids were playing cricket and all was good with the world. I thought it funny that SWMBO would want to leave so soon to do some shopping but put it down to the fact that she rarely has free time and this was probably the last chance she could race off to get a fathers day gift from the children for me and one for her father. We’re short of money at the moment and short on crockery for the kitchen. The set we have is about ten years old and we’re down to our last three bread and butter plates. To economise I suggested we give me a new crockery set for father’s day. All agreed, except The Son who couldn’t give two hoots about plates and cups. (Last year, for economy reasons, I asked for a new cutlery setting, which “we” received) I am kind to my family, I make sacrifices. I desperately need a new video card, but new crockery will have to do.

So there I am, sitting blissfully and ignorant in the sun whilst SWMBO was off buying gifts. The real destination only came to light this morning.

Just to prove how “male” I am the third clanger went past with the stealth that only women on a mission can deliver. We were to go to a dinner at a friends place last night, and to help economise I arranged earlier in the week for The Son to stay over at a mates place even though it was the night before Father’s Day. At first SWMBO thought it was a dumb idea, as most of my ideas are to her. Nothing suspicious there. Anyway, the next day she agreed and she volunteered to collect The Son before breakfast.

The cat’s probably out of the bag now and you’ve gathered what they were planning, so read on and see how I was duped yet again.

We need to go back not to the last cat show but the one before in June. It was probably then, that SWMBO gave in to The Daughter and they decided on a new kitten. Evil are the ways of women folk when they plan. These are the events as best I can squeeze from them:
The Daughter contrives with SWMBO to give me a kitten. Perhaps they did it to stop my whining, perhaps they just wanted another.
They order the kitten from a breeder in Tamworth… six hours north of Sydney.
They arrange for the breeder to bring him to the next show.
They meet at the show in August but the breeder brings the wrong kitten in her haste when packing for the trip.
They arrange to ship the correct kitten down the week before Father’s day to another breeder a few suburbs away. God knows how much that cost!
SWMBO and The Daughter take off on that lovely Sunday afternoon to visit the newly arrived kitten leaving me to drink up the wine. “Mere male is not match for our trickery” must have thought as they drove not to the shopping centre but to the breeder at Mt Colah.
They doubled back and bought the crockery later in the day.
I arrange for The Son to stay at a friends place and SWMBO obviously cottons on that this suits her fine: she can leave the house early on Sunday morning with the excuse to collect The Son.
She wakes early and leaves the house, I hear the car go down the drive.
She drives to the breeder and collect the kitten.
She picks up The Son and some croissants & ham.
I’ve rolled over and gone back to sleep, the red wine from the dinner the night before giving me ample reason.
Some time later I hear noises from the going on with the preparation of the burning of croissants and the waking of The Daughter. It’s a great awakening with my family close to me and very affectionate. They present me with a book and surprise! A crockery set. I read the school made father’s day cards and am content I have a lovely family.
SWMBO returns to the room with a bundle that meows as she walks up the hall. I know instantly that it’s a Siamese meow and not a fluff-ball meow.
In her arms is an impossibly small wide eyed blue point Siamese kitten who immediately snuggles into my waiting arms. He’s so affectionate and purring and all good things that a proper short haired cat can be.
Then the events of the past weeks all flood back into my mind as I wonder where in the world this kitten came from. I shot laser guided “eyes” at SWMBO but they melted before reaching her because of the loving smile she was radiating back at me. Dang, Women.

Anyhow, I’ve named him Murphy in keeping with the Sherlock Holmes theme that’s been running in this family for 17 wonderful years.


Fluff-balls Lestrade and Mycroft are quite miffed and are giving us a hard time over the new arrival. No cat enjoys, or will tolerate, a younger cuter kitten. Vanity runs strong in the feline world and these guys realise there’s a new bloke on the block and are sulking.
In the end, my economising ways: cutlery & crockery father’s day gifts instead of the video card, and not fixing the dishwasher, but volunteering to look after it “manually” to save money, the farming out of The Son to save on babysitters, (the list is long) is all out the window with the purchase of a new kitten, shipping and incoming vets fess, food bills and all the responsibilities of owning a lovely, affectionate and proper cat. :)

Oh, and the twin LCD screens I lusted after? I managed to secure a job and splurge on two 19" screens in June 2005. :)

Nearly Drowned Cat

Dateline 17th May 2005
It had to happen. Mycroft, pictured below, snoring in his recliner, helps me with household chores. We have a front loading washing machine. I know from past experience that cat and water do not mix, but this cat had yet to discover this simple fact from Cat law.
On Saturday morning last week SWMBO decided to take the laundry into her own hands and put some towels on. I was enjoying the Sydney Morning Herald, toast with liverwurst (Latvian) and freshly brewed coffee. Peace was about our home. After about three to five minutes later Mycroft’s brother, Lestrade, seen below, starting a performance that shattered the tranquility of this lovely domestic setting with howls of distress!
SWMBO rushed to his side by the washing machine and asked what was going on. He was staring and meowing at the glass door of the washing machine. SWMBO bent down to look inside to be met with a vision that caused her to howl with distress! Mycroft, as you gathered, had made his way into the washing machine and was now doing the “rounds”. At the sound of SWMBO howling and words of panic I rushed into the laundry in time to see the door open, towels and water and suds spill onto the floor, and out flop a very wet, sudsy, and wide eyed Mycroft.We had to wash him straight away to remove the harsh laundry detergent from his skin and eyes and mouth. A rinse with woolmix, a blow dry and he was right as rain, if not a little quiet for the rest of the day. Lestrade was awarded Pet of the Day for rescuing his brother.

Catz & Monitors

Dateline 21st March 2005
First the really bad news. Moriaty has been missing for a week. Our life with cats since we were married consisted of Holmes & Watson, a lilac point Siamese and blue Persian. Watson died via automobile tyre. We found Mrs Hudson (a lilac point Persian) a little later on. Holmes died a few years later from a sudden but unknown illness. His replacement was Moriaty.
Last September Mrs Hudson was laid at rest following kidney troubles. I am sure Moriaty has been on this planet before; he was (is?) a highly intelligent cat, very affectionate and personable. He used to play hiding & chasing with us. He’d hide; we’d find him and chase him. Then we’d do the opposite.
I suspect the cruel neighbours at the back of our property. They’re crass and cranky and plain old-style-mean. Their yard is full of junk, stacked high, rat city and cat heaven. They once took Moriaty to the local pound out of spite. He had a name tag with our phone number on it. But no, they decided to cart him off (which was at least an hour and a half round trip for them) and cost us a lot of worry & tears for the children. And $90 to get him back.
Later he had a trauma that paralyzed his tail (amputated) and caused him incontinence. His tail had been pulled away from his spine damaging the cord. As if some one had grabbed him by the tail and swung him round and presumably let him go. His paw pads where all scratched but he showed no other sign of injury…so it was unlikely to have been a car. Anyway, he’s not come home and we have resigned ourselves to the fact that he probably won’t.
Now for the really really bad news.
SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) has been bemoaning the loss of Mrs Hudson for quite a while now, and with the Royal Easter Show coming up she wanted to go see the cat pavilion and spy a replacement for Mrs Hudson. Then Moriaty disappears. SWMBO gets on the internet (shock horror) and searches out feline catus longafurryia. Google cat. She strikes it rich. Not only a replacement for Mrs Hudson, but two brothers no less. Fancy that a replacement for the barely cold Moriaty. And they’re only 20 minutes away. She and the Daughter visited the breeder on the weekend. The Daughter and SWMBO have talked of nothing else since.
I should explain that I do not like long hair cats. Especially of the Persian persuasion. They just look mean at you all the time, and when they’re not they just look dumb. Look at the two above and you’ll have to agree. It’s been a life of rivalry between my camp; the short hairs and her camp: the fur balls. I was out voted tonight 3-1. I have to discuss things with The Son. He sold out on me. Unfortunately, as some of you know, I am out of work at the moment (changing shortly, hopefully) and we are desperately short of cash. I mean, really short. But women, money, impulse and short legged long haired furry things are a bad combination. It’s like the lining up of the planets.
It looks like we’re in for two credit card cats. Now, I don’t mind so much, I will not stay poor for too long, certainly not long enough to fill the credit card up, however it pays to be prudent. And prudent this is not. The cats are…. $600.00 Each. The Daughter has her savings, some $340.00 that she was going to use to buy a ferret and cage etc. Looks like she sold out too. I’ve said as much to her. So the holy credit card won’t be up for the full amount.
So why am I crying? Well, here's the really really really bad news. I’ve wanted to buy dual LCD screens for my computer since this time last year. But things have been a bit rocky with my job and after four months of no-job I found restraint and not splurged.
So, the point of all this? I am sitting here surfing the hardware sites drooling over something I can’t have for even longer than I thought. I am not buying. It’s the love I have for my family and the happiness on their faces over a pair of white fluffy show kittens just waiting to turn into walking flea farms and balls of mischief.
But how long can I last. Will I order or not. Arrrgghhhhh enough to cause ulcers.

Way, the really tall building and a chicken.

Here’s my story about a day abseiling 36 floors, a fear of heights and a chicken.
Dateline April 1998.
The Sydney City Mission (now Mission Australia) called for people to raise money and as an incentive you could throw yourself off a hotel. I am scared of heights. I am in a panic the whole time I am cleaning the gutters at home, but then it’s up to 9 metres if I fall, so it’s not exactly a walk in the park. I decided the charity might be a good opportunity to face my fears.

We spent an evening session with the charity where they talked us through the jump, showed us the equipment and to sign a waiver. It looked easy watching the instructor hanging from the ceiling. He was so confident and reassuring. Well he would, he does it for a living.

Each jumper had to raise $460.00 to secure a spot in the queue so I ran around the studio and office and my friends asking for donations…$20,00 a pop. I was really saddened by the response I got. Not one person knocked me back. Every one of them wanted to see me jump from a tall building. Some offered to help. Other’s just smiled in a wicked way. Fine group of people I know.

So, it was a matter of days before I racked up more than the minimum and sent off my forms.

The big day approached. I asked SWMBO if she wanted to come down to the quay and watch. Not only had she already arranged it but she teed up a few friends to come with her. I wasn’t really sure how to take that.

Mustering was in a function room on one of the lower floors where we were herded like sheep through various checkpoints emerging at the other end sans anything that could fall… like wallets and watches yet trussed up with the oddest assortment of rigging-climbing-safety gear that weighed a ton. I’m thinking that if I fall then this stuff is going to keep me altogether in one piece, not a pretty site, but easy to clean up I imagine. Then with all that extra weight, like, just to make sure that if you do fall then you’ll go down like a brick and none of this nancy flaying of arms and legs stuff on the way down. Going through my mind is the funny idea that if this happens then at least my wallet, watch, hat and loose change won’t have to be wiped clean before they hand it over to SWMBO.

They loaded two of us into a lift. I’ve was partnered with a real Solo man. He’s bigger than me, all he-man, all excited but and super confident yet unable to stand still. His constant jigging on the spot, like he was overdue in the men’s’ room, was starting to un-nerve me. There I was, barely managing to my fear, being freaked out by a guy, alone, enclosed in a small elevator, heading to the umpteenth floor only to walk out and jump off. I was solid as a rock up until that moment. I must have looked scared.

Something in the air tweaked. He looked over at his new buddy. I dunno, perhaps he goes rabbit shooting at night with the boys, beer and a Ute, but he looked at me in a funny way that must have reminded him of a little itty bitty furry little ferocious rabbit in his scope because he stopped moving, he stopped talking, he just stared for a second of two right into my eyes. He looked away really quickly. Perhaps it was images of the frightened rabbits flashing back into his mind the moment he pulled the trigger.

The rest of the elevator trip was spent in silence. Both of us staring right ahead, counting the numbers as each floor passed. Each number bringing us closer to the roof.

We got out at the penthouse level, were guided down the hall (so as not to make use of the Presidential suite toilet?) and into a metal stairwell that lead to the roof and open sky. So much sky. And what a view.

He started talking and posturing again. You could sniff the testosterone wafting in the cool air of Sydney in autumn. The guides watched us as we crossed the boardwalk (to protect the roof from our feet) to what looked like the modern day version of the gallows. As we got closer warm smiles met us, they looked us over, checking our gear, asking key questions to help them determine our fitness for the jump. Cunning, I thought, them couching pointed questions in casual phases but fitting because my answers were just as sincere:
“How are we today” We are scared shitless came out like Um, yep, feeling fine.
“Been looking forward to today?” Been shit scared all week sounded distinctly like Err, Yeah, can’t wait!
And “Are you ready?” Fruck no, but I gotta do it was spittled all over her shirt with Sure am, great view, huh?

Solo Man and me inched our way from the corral to the platform and were hitched up by two blokes who ran us through the procedure. You have to remember this was my first abseil off anything; we'd suffered no training other than watching an instructor hang from a few ropes in a office downtown, weeks ago. Both of us hadn’t jumped before. They'd normally send us down with a guide but they were running short or something and asked if we'd be up to going down alone. We said yes. After a few moments Solo Man had gone quiet again. And still.

Very still.

I remember the moments very clearly. I was nervous, anxious, and very excited. The adrenalin wasn’t running but everything seemed to be going in slow motion. Just not the Six Millon Dollar Man kind of slow motion, more like the motor vehicle crash test-dummy kind of slow motion. Anyway, we turned round, backed toward the edge, our guides giving us re-assurance by holding our shoulders and saying soothing things like “Don’t look down, have a great trip, are you there yet?”
Well, I am sure they didn’t say those things, but I bet they wished they did.

It gets to a stage where you then have to actually take control of things. It’s you who has to step off the building. No one is holding you anymore; they’ve let go and standing back, cross armed and smiling that same wicked smile you saw in those who threw money at you in the beginning. For me I am also standing next to Solo Man. I can't chicken out now, I couldn't live with myself.

But it was the last chance to say “no, nuh uh, not going” because once you step off they can’t get you back up again. I was sure at the time wasn’t true; they could pull you back up. You know, two or three blokes, plenty of rope laying around, that sort of thing?

I was wrong.

The moment was here, I inched back, my feet on the edge, my weight is the tension on the rope via an arm. Slowly I let my arm yield and the rope take over, and there I am; hanging by my toes on the very corner of a 36 storey building with a rope around my waist. One hand has the tail of the rope held against my thigh, the other free as a bird to wave, signal, scratch my nose or claw my way back.

Solo man has done the same next to me, together we are going to have some fun abseiling down 36 floors of granite and into the of achievement. It’ll only last five minutes at most, they told us, and so I prepare myself mentally to make the most of it. I look out across the beautiful harbour, the sky is brilliant blue, I can see the opera house, the harbour bridge, the ferries and other boats, I can see Circular Quay, other buildings and off into the distance across the harbour and to the north.

It was then I looked down.

Considering my fear of heights it wasn’t so bad. The rope felt firm, we weren’t the first down. The first time is when loose knots make themselves known. I had control of my decent and if I slipped or let go then the little itty bitty ants below me would either step safely out of the way or pull on that safety rope they had in their hands. It was rigged to stop me from falling. I looked for SWMBO but couldn’t pick her and her small crowd of wishful thinkers out from this distance.

Last thing I remember thinking before everything went haywire was it was only five minutes to enjoy this. Obviously the adrenaline was doing it’s job now but it quickly gained extra strength when I looked over at Solo Man. He was white as a ghost. We were only on the edge and ready to descend but something was wrong with him.

The guide said “Let’s go, gentlemen” or something like but they too were looking at him. I tenderly let the strain off my “stop” hand and lowered myself a foot or so. So did Solo Man. Then a bit more, all the time he’s looking at the guide and nothing else. Then a bit more. And a bit more. By the fourth time I am getting the hang of this, but it’s been less than a metre from the top and there’s about another hundred or so to go. A little more adventurous this time and I double the distance to two metres and stop with a jerk. Hmm.. I recall thinking, easy on the stop-hand. I am now lower than Solo Man and the instructor calls to me to wait. We’re supposed to go in tandem so one jumper won’t land on top of the other or whatever. It’s for safety reasons I suppose.

I wait while Solo Man comes down to my level. It’s only been two minutes or so, but for a five minute trip we’re seriously behind.

He arrives next to me, his head, still fixed on the guides, slowly turns to me. The look of abject fear on his face makes me feel so calm. Bad karma? Is it the revenge of the rabbits? Because right now I can see what the rabbits must look like on his hunting trips.

I know it’s completely safe. I know I can’t fall. And even if I let go and wave my arms and legs in the air and shout “aaaargggHHH I am falling!!!” I still won’t because the ants will pull their ropes. If they’re paying attention. Naturally, if I do that I’ll swing and face plant into the side of a hotel clad in pink granite instead. Hard, sharp, pink granite. It’s bound to smart a little.

Solo Man must think otherwise.

He tells himself he’s changed his mind. Louder he tells me he’s changed his mind. He shouts telling the Guides he’s changed his mind. The guides look at each other then look back at him, then at me, then they go backwards out of sight.

I recall wishing they hadn’t done that.

I presume Solo Man was thinking the same.

He moves across to me, I move away from him.

He stops. I stop.

This is good, I actually have nowhere to go. The part of the building we are abseiling on is near the corner. And I am near the corner. Too much to the right and I will slip round onto glass, pink granite and a change in rope-human-gravity geometry. I don’t want to mess up that triangle of love.

He says to me that he can’t go on, he wants to go back up, and that it’s okay because they really didn’t mean it when they said it’s a one way trip. I told him something along the lines that it’s going to be easier, and quicker to go down. I reassure him all is fine without suggesting he’s scared. I am thinking of ways of calming him down, not testing his manhood. I am not frightened of the height. I am frightened of what he might do in panic.

He calms down a little and we drop down a few metres over the next minute or so but he freezes again. It seems very slow to me. It must have been nearly 5 minutes already. My stop-hand is getting sore and my legs are showing signs of fatigue. After all, they’re not used to being this high, and while I am confident about where I am, my body is still quite tense, especially since Solo Man has changed his itinerary for the day.

A guide pops his head over the edge again. He’s all rigged up.

Bad move.

Solo Man seems to stop any silly "downward" ideas now that the guide seems to be coming to get him.

“Wait there, I am coming down. You on the right move to the right a bit please, and you on the left go left a bit.” Is what I think he said. Either way he came down between us and we had to make room for him. This pushed me closer to the corner and I could look around to see more of the harbour and bridge. It was fantastic.

It’s also good because there is someone I trust between me and Solo Man. Well, I don’t know so much about trust as more like a shield. He’d go before I did, and by that time I would have ignored the “stay together rule”, abseiled down and gone off to lunch. Probably enjoying a nice well-deserved glass of something red.

The guide and Solo Man discussed various options about the situation and came to a conclusion in a few moments. The Guide had decided we’re all going down together and Solo Man had decided that he was going to be pulled back up. I was fine, I was enjoying the view.

If I’d ever drawn faces on me feet as a child, and if I’d never washed them and if I’d taken my shoes off at that moment I am sure those faces on my feet would look a little upset. After nearly ten minutes and less than 10 metres my legs were quiet angry, and my stop-hand and arm had decided they were a little annoyed too.
Slowly, the Guide, with decreasing patience and increasing frustration managed to restore some of that bravado in Solo Man. We made progress. I was glad: you can only stand and look at a view for so long, and only so long perched on the side of a building like Batman without the cape and undies.

By the time we reached the bottom nearly 40 minutes had passed. The last half of the drop in only a few minutes. Solo Man had go the hang of it!

Ironically, it was there that I nearly fell over. Not because my legs were like jelly, but because Solo Man started grabbing everyone’s hands for a vigorous handshake with exception of a woman whom he hugged just as vigorously. Loudly and enthusiastically he repeated how great and exhilarating the jump was. His perpetual motion had returned with renewed energy only to be met with dropped jaws. The champion had landed and was asking how he could take abseiling classes and whether the guide belonged to a club and if he could join it too. The guide was very diplomatic. And really frightened. Obviously to avoid trouble he suggested to Solo Man to look up the yellow pages for clubs and lessons. The guide was gone like a rat out of a drain pipe: getting far away as possible from Solo Man.

I made my way down the route to the de-muster room, gathered my belongings and left the room hearing the voice of Solo Man loudly professing how great the jump was.

If ever you feel a bit run down, like you need a bit of something to give you a different perspective, or have an urge to extend yourself then I suggest you do something out of the ordinary. Life is short, and even shorter for opportunities like this. Go abseiling, or rock climbing, or do a long trek in a foreign jungle. Get out of the ordinary every once and a while. Get out of the comfort zone.

Did it cure my fear of heights?

Way and the Mattress

I was listening to a radio programme while doing the housework this morning: it has a Boofhead segment. It brought back memories from about three years ago. Boofhead of the week is about people who’ve made fools of themselves. Predictably it’s the wives who submit stories. It’s aired during The Woodies which is a Mr Fix-it type talk back segment. It’s actually quite good. Now if you know what happens in one of these moments of mine then go off and put the kettle on, grab a biscuit, sit back, relax then read on.
We purchased a small investment property in Balmain, Sydney, Australia. It’s about 6km from the CBD. The studio flat is so small it requires a loft-bed to save room. It was fully furnished vacant possession but our first tenant was due to move in on the weekend, so Friday morning I went over and made the place ready for her. I dropped in a new stove and extra bench top, some minor fix-ups and cleaning but while I was there I got a call from the property manager saying the tenant didn’t want the double bed mattress and asked to have it removed. I had my tools, a box of rubbish and off-cuts and the mattress to pack back into my Hundai Sportswagon.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever carried a double bed mattress on your own. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to carry one down two flights of stairs. It’s large, heavy, flexible but springy and generally awkward. It’s an inanimate object that somehow manages to fight back. After a bit of a struggle I get it to the car. It’s too wide and too long to fit into the tiny cargo bay so it has to go on the roof. But I can’t lift it high enough on my own so I stopped a bloke walking by and he helped out. I carry two ratchet operated tie-downs in the back so I made quick use of them and got under way.So far so good.The ANZAC Bridge on the edge of Australia’s largest city carries a huge volume of traffic each day. It’s monitored by CCTV back at the Traffic Control centre. It’s a gi-normous (gigantic-enormous) bridge made for cars and buses. We’re talking no man’s land here. Do not stop, do not turn, grit your teeth and just drive for goodness sake type of bridge.One doesn’t want to break down on this bridge.
I am driving along the merge lane on the approaches to this intimidating bridge. I hear a horn behind me and glance at the revision mirror in time to see a car swerve out of my lane flowed instantly by what looks like a double bed mattress doing it’s impersonation of a wayward kite.It has a nice tail, I think to myself, as I realise the tie-downs are of the same colour. Holy Moses!I hit the anchors and pull into the V shape area between the lane I was in and the next lane. Cars are whizzing past at 60+kms an hour, some blowing horns to let me know there’s a mattress on the road and that it looks upset.I rush over, grab it and drag it off the lane and up behind my car. I am truly in no mans land. It’s like 6-8 lanes wide. And I can’t lift it on my own. Looking around I find the tie-downs, both are snapped, what’s more the strain has destroyed one of the ratchets.Oh boy.I am looking around for a solution when my eyes fall across a sign that says “In case of breakdown, do not leave vehicle. Monitored 24hrs day.”Oh bother.Not only am copping sweet comments from passing motorists but I am on candid camera back at Traffic Control. All sorts of things are rushing through my mind.The guy back at traffic control is on a microphone calling the tow service to go out and rescue a mattress and it’s hapless owner from the bridge.He calls over his mates and their all standing around the monitor pointing at me and laughing.I wonder if they are taking bets on my next move.I wonder what fine I may face.I realise I simply can’t drive off, they’ll have my number plate.
There’s nothing for it. I try to lift the mattress onto the roof in a vain hope that the one working tie-down and scraps from the other will hold it in place if I go slowly enough. Go slowly enough? On this Bridge? It will cause chaos. And where to then? The bridge exits into the city, then onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then into more city streets or freeways. I can’t even pop into a hardware store… there aren’t any for miles!Just then, as I am struggling with the thing a Taxi pulls up. He kindly helps me with it and off he’s goes again. Great! Now it’s on the roof bars, so I start strapping it down. I can imagine there’s money changing hands in the Traffic Control Centre.Oh no!The second tie-down is so busted I can’t get enough strap to tie it down with. I’ve just spent 10minutes trying to unwind it and all the time I’m conscious of that damn Traffic Control Room party and the approaching tow truck. There’s money changing back again.I give up, there’s no way I can take this mattress anywhere.I like to consider myself a resourceful man. A plan! I drag the mattress off the roof, across a lane of traffic and dump the mattress over the side of the bridge. Hop back into my car, continue across the bridge, get off the freeway, turn around, come back over the bridge back into Balmain, park, and go back and get the mattress on foot. Find a hardware store and buy some bigger straps.Seemed like a good idea at the time. In fact, not only was it my only idea but there was nothing else I could do. I couldn’t wait for the tow truck. The humiliation would reduce me to a mass of jelly quivering on the road.Meanwhile, the traffic control centre has called co-workers from downstairs and the crowd around the monitor is getting bigger.They watch me man handle this mattress from the car at a suitable break in the traffic, drag it like mad across the lane, heave and push, pull and persuade the mattress over the safety rail and let it fall. It doesn’t go far. It’s fallen on a pedestrian footbridge. No one was injured, in fact I am in luck, there’s no one in sight.See ‘A’ on the photo.I race back to the car, take off and carry out the plan.I’m driving along. The image of money changing hands is back in my mind. I giggle because they all think I’ve dumped it and done a runner. The crowd is thinning as they go back to work shaking their heads and the guy is writing down my rego number and filing a report about the dumper on the ANZAC bridge. “We’ll get that guy in the Hyundai”I don’t know if moments later he saw me recross the bridge heading in the opposite direction. If he did, he’d be calling his mates again to let them know something is up.I find a parking spot so far away from the mattress that I wonder how I’m going to get it back. I decide to get it before I get new tie-downs so off I trek. Luckily the footpath was there, if not it would have fallen quite a distance into a wharf area and been almost impossible to access.I reach the thing but I am not alone. There’s someone approaching me in the distance and two nice looking young ladies following me. I have no idea what they were thinking when the guy ahead suddenly stops walking, bends over, picks up an old dumped double bed mattress and puts it on his back and starts off with it.I just smiled as I passed. See ‘B’ on the photo.Then I smiled with the thought of what the Traffic Controller must be thinking.Surprisingly it was easy to carry. I stood it up, backed into it, let it fall over my back and shoulders until balanced and sort of half stood-half bent over. By reaching out with both arms I was able to steady it and walk at a reasonable pace. I couldn’t see too far ahead of me and after a while my neck began to ache so my vision became quite restricted.I occasionally saw lower legs and feet walk past.After about 10 minutes I had to rest so I backed up to a wall and let it slide off my back and stood upright. There were several cars sitting at the lights with occupants all staring at me. What a sight! Here was this lone bloke with a mattress in the middle of nowhere staring at half a dozen people staring at him. The lights changed, I relaxed a little and caught my breath. See ‘C’ on the photo.I set off again. A few moments later two steel poles appeared as I walked bent over. But before I could realise the significance the mattress bounced backward and tried to break free! I wobbled all over the footpath trying to regain my balance and keep hold of the rotten thing. I failed and we both went over. I am sitting on my arse on the mattress looking up at a large double poled street sign. I had tried to walk between them, but the mattress was too wide. I daren’t look over at the passing traffic.Further along was the White Bay Hotel. Built 1915, and early opener. A Wharfies pub. A rough pub.
I didn’t know it at the time but it had been closed for a few years, thankfully. None the less I wasn’t prepared to stop in front of it. The patrons will have to be content in watching a mattress walk past the windows and put it down to one of life’s little mysteries or a symptom of too much drink. The pub might have been closed but the bus stop next to it wasn’t. I saw it just in time and managed to stop before running into it; scaring the baby cheeses out of the people waiting inside. It was a good time for another rest, I’d gotten past the pub, it had been uphill and the sudden stop had threatened to make us fall again. I let the mattress dismount against a chain wire fence and l leaned against it. My arms, shoulders, back, neck and legs were on fire! I was sweating like a pig and breathing heavily when a bus stop person looked round in his seat at me, got up and came over. As the old, age wearied, man approached I was thinking of how to explain what I was doing with a double bed mattress miles from the nearest house or flat or bedding shop, or car parking spot.“Excuse me, can you tell me the time?”Exhausted and almost unable to speak I raised my wrist and told him; he thanked me and returned to his seat. I wonder even today what he though of what he saw. See ‘D’ on the photo.I am nearly half way there. I am at the top of the rise. If I keep going it’ll be just around the corner and down hill to my car. I can see the White Bay Power Station from here.The corner has a set of traffic lights on it but as I get there I am out of puff again and so lean the mattress up against the fence as before. Gathering my strength I raise my eyes to a car stopped at the lights. I think it was just coincidence, or it might have been the sound of laughter that somehow made its way to me over the traffic noise.But it was probably the cruel hand of fate.In the car staring and laughing at me was Cathy, a senior lecturer from the Design & Architecture School at the University of Technology, Sydney. We went through 4 years of an Arts degree (design) together. Worse still, I’d seen her only the afternoon before. She had asked me to critique one of her student’s major works at the Uni. I’d gone in all dressed as a designer should, listened to a presentation, gave constructive criticism and later answered the marking panel’s questions about the work. I was an industry expert. Now I looked like a grubby, sweaty, homeless man carrying a mattress through the streets of industrial Balmain. As our eye’s met I saw her face change as she recognised me. The moment was short lived because the lights changed just then, the car pulled away, but she continued to stare at me with redoubled laughter and pointing through the rear window. To this day that’s the lasting image I have of her. She’s never called me into the Uni again. See ‘E’ on the photo.I made it to the car without further incident. See ‘F’ on the photo. On the way an idea of desperation came to me. If I could just bend the mattress enough I could pop it into the cargo bay of my station wagon and forego a repeat of the flying mattress. I had parked near a smash repair shop, popped in and grabbed some help. The two of us managed to fold it enough and slide it into the car in under 10 seconds. Apart from the strange looks and obvious curiosity the panel beater didn’t ask any questions. It had taken nearly an hour to carry the mattress to the car.I made a point of travelling as slow as possible back across the ANZAC bridge. I suspect money changed back to the original hands once more.I ended up keeping the mattress at home for several months just in case they sent me a fine in the mail. They never did.