Trish's Boring Stories

Some of these posts were edited down from longer posts made to RCTN.

There are more stories available at Trish's Boring Stories 2 and Trish's Boring Stories 3.

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Spiders Boring Story was Is this true?
Date: 02 Aug 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Hee hee! Here in Oz the summer footwear 'uniform' for many of us is a thing called 'thongs'. I believe my US friends call 'em flipflops and NZers call 'em jandals. Anyway, I taught DH my preferred way of dealing with spiders. I'm willing to share it with my good friends here at rctn.

This only works for the Spiders-as-Big-as-Walnuts that knit-one-purl-two across on opening, OK.

My Mum used to *cultivate* spiders, thinking they kept burglars away! I had to give at least lip service to this idea, because they certainly nearly kept *me* away! There was one variety whose name I never learned that knitted (or tatted) *incredibly* strong nets across the pergola over Mum's driveway. So when I came home late at night, I developed a sort of Heil Hitler vertical salute, designed to catch the cobweb and, hopefully, avoid the ginormo-spider. Some of these cobwebs were anointed with epoxy resin glue and composed of some impermeable sort of cable, because one would frequently bounce off the web after impact! I felt they were the work of Horse-Eating Spiders which were in the process of learning to enjoy human flesh!

Next morning, I would secretly creep out and put Patricia's Spider Relocation Method into practice.

You take off your right thong, step back from the spider (lurking and smirking in the centre of his nylon ripstop web). Adopting an eastern forehand grip on the thong, you line up the spider and take a single step forward with a relaxed, waltzing motion. You begin with a fairly strong forehand volley, taking care to smite the spider in the centre of the thong. Use a strong wrist action and DO NOT dream of putting english on the 'ball'. Follow through with the same relaxed, graceful swing, finally releasing the thong. Drop it and run like h*ll! Return at your leisure, taking care not to step on the possibly-still-there spider with your unclad foot.

The denouement is seeking out the spider carcass and holding a little ritual reminiscence over the body. Feel no guilt at what you have done. Remember all the times you gaily marched into his Trap of Death, all unaware, and got wads of sticky cobweb in your hair and over your clothes. Remember doing the Dance of Horror as you brushed ineffectively at the cobweb and desperately screeched at anyone within a kilometre's radius 'Where's the spider? Where's the spider?'. And best of all, remember the sweet pleasure of knowing the last thing that went through the monster's mind was his bottom!

Trish {|:O}

From: Trish Lavis <>
Subject: Re: OT: Schoolisms
Date: 12 Jun 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

When I taught fourth class, I had a particular boy called Ben who was my little bete noir. Gorgeous kid, he just couldn't keep out of strife. At first, I used to reprimand him in his seat, but he would then take MUCH pleasure in pulling faces at me behind my back etc and generally clowning around. I solved this by standing him behind the blackboard, without an audience. You guessed it: reeeeeekkkk reeeeeekkk reeeekkkk!

One day I gave up! I stormed round behind the black board, seized his hands and bellowed "RIGHT! THAT DOES IT! NOW I HAVE TO BITE YOUR FINGERS OFF!" Kid nearly died of fright! He never did it again. <smirk>

I must add, we were having lessons about the Passion of Jesus (Catholic school), including the Scourging at the Pillar. Ben insisted on calling it the Scorching of the Pillow. At a school function following this lesson, I was required to read a passage that included a reference to the Scourging etc. You guessed it again! I SPAT all over the prayerbook as an image of blackened pillows crept into my mind. I got the most awful fit of the giggles and was Very Grateful when my mate, Martin, wordlessly stepped up and took over the reading for me. We frequently did this for each other as we were a pair of inveterate jokers.

Last boring story: I taught in an open plan classroom. Three classes in one big room, separated only by office partitions. Martin's class was famous for being rather noisy and tending to disturb the rest of us. One day, I suggested to my class that we might get our own back.

We made up the old button-twisted-on-a-rubber-band-on-a-bent-hairpin-inside-an-envelope and I sent a kid across the room to deliver it to Martin. He opened the envelope (all my kids were hanging over the partitions like Foo or Kilroy). BBBZZZZZTTTTT! Poor old Martin threw up his hands and fell senseless on the desk. He'd actually fainted! His class erupted, and they were all screaming "Mr Vaughan is dead!" When he came round he looked over at us: we were all busily doing spelling with our noses buried in our books.

At recess, he cornered me and said "It was you, wasn't it? I'll do you a deal: I won't get you back for it, as long as you don't let the guys in the cricket club know ANYTHING about it!"

I miss my classroom....

Trish {|:-}

From: Trish Lavis <>
Subject: Re: OT - Old enough to remember?????
Date: 17 May 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

I had to laugh when I read a similar thread on the Australian Genealogy NG I subscribe to. Everyone's been remembering the days pre- "Dismal Guernsey" (that's Strine for Decimal Currency). People are writing their fond memories of threepences (thripny bits), sixpences (zacks) and two shillings (two bob). One lady fondly remembered outdoor toilets...


Sorry for shouting... But I've been sick all week and being forced into the dark and chilly night, just to go to the loo is simply too much. My outdoor Dunny (as we call them Down Here) is a typical one: it has more wildlife than the Dubbo Zoo (Black Widow spiders and centipedes included); it leans slightly, so that it's hard to close the door and it has wall to wall air conditioning (gaps between the boards) so that every icy blast positively *howls* over one's poor, quivering behind.

Last week I put my hand on the doorknob in the dark and recoiled in horror as I felt something cold and slimy and dangerous! It was the Great Granny of all slugs, cosily wrapped around the doorknob and just fillin' in time until I came to grasp her.

I truly believe there is a God in Heaven who will, one day, provide me with an indoor Dunny. Until then, sisters and brothers in stitching, please don't anyone 'remember outdoor toilets with affection'.

Trish {|:-}

From: Trish Lavis <>
Subject: Re: OT: Language Soap Box (long) plus boring school story
Date: 18 Jun 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Hey Aramanth, ol' buddy!

You bet I do! I MUST tell you another one of my boring stories. In my career, I never had the chance to teach Infants (age 5 - 8). Except once... I was absolutely woeful at keeping my fifth graders in order for Sport (remember, I'm a stitcher and a sewist and a reader, NOT a sportswoman). So our Kindergarten teacher sidled up to me one day and made me a proposition. "You take my Kinders for Music and I'll take yours for Sport."

"Oho!" I thought, "Happy Day!" So I polished up me trusty old guitar and set off for Kindergarten. I had the kids warbling away in minutes. In fact we raised the roof! Everyone who passed by Kindergarten Room looked in and smiled benignly (just like in the scene from "Flying High"). There was one little boy who kept putting up his hand and saying (through missing front teeth) "Ith pith, ith pith, ith pith!" and pointing to a little Botticelli angel who was seated in the class beanbag and singing her blessed little lungs out. I told him to sit down and if he was quiet, he could have a turn in the bean bag later. He blanched and sat straight down, not to murmur again. All the kids bellowed laughing, but caught up in my great performing success, I paid no attention.

A couple of hours later, when Joan (the foul, wicked schemer) returned, beaming, with my class in breathless tow, I greeted her happily: "Hello Mrs Woods! Kindergarten has been singing beautifully today". Waiting modestly for congratulations, I was a bit non-plussed when she looked past me at the serenely beatific little girl in the bean bag. "Jennifer!!! Oh no!!!" she croaked.

Lifting the child, she revealed an enormous puddle gathering in the bean bag. Apparently, the boy who stood up had the permanent engagement of telling when Jennifer approached the bean bag. She had a penchant for relieving herself in it and did so at every opportunity. She had in fact been doing so for the whole afternoon as we sang our merry way through two hours of singing and p**ing. That was the day I decided I would prefer to teach the older, toilet trained kids and leave the Jennifers to the more hardy types.

Sorry for going on and on - I could keep going, but I'll stop now.

Trish {|:-}

From: Trish Lavis <>
Subject: Re: OT: What bad grammar sets your neck hairs up?
Date: 25 Jun 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Gina, Gina

You've just stimulated another one of my boring stories! A pair of Spurwing Plovers nested in our Back Paddock when I was a teenager and I well remember watching for the chicks to hatch: it was IMPOSSIBLE to tell where the nest was as it had been so very well-camouflaged.

On the happy day when I saw little baby puffballs scooting around, I called my Mum and told her "I'm going to hold one, just for a minute". Against her excellent advice, I waited till Mr and Mrs Plover were off shopping and I ran to the nest and picked up two gorgeous striped babies. I was admiring them, oblivious to everything, when I heard my Mum screaming at me "Patricia, MOVE, you stupid child!" I looked up and straight into the fiery eyes of an enraged Plover, whose sole intent was to do me in. I dropped the babies into the nest and fled!

Mum reckons I grew Fred Flintstone legs (the ones like propellers) and covered the ground at a prodigious rate. The Plover actually parted my hair for me , but I managed to avoid having him actually scalp me by virtue of my ultra-thick hair. I'll never forget the expression on that bird's face: he had murder on his mind, I'm telling you.

Of course, I've since become a Zoologist and know much better than to interfere with birds' eggs NOW.

Trish {|:-}

From: Trish Lavis <>
Subject: Re: OT: Frozen Heads??
Date: 26 Jul 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Sorry! I thought all you people in the Americas would know of Axolotls. They're Mexican Walking Fish (immature salamanders) and they have big frilly gills around their necks like a ruff. They look sort of like dinosaurs.

When I had mine, they were oh-so-exotic, but they have become very popular here in Australia. You can see them at just about any pet shop now. They come in black, white, green, gold and apricot colours, so of course I had one of each. They were named after the heroes/heroines of my favourite operas (YES - I have come out - I *love* Grand Opera, but pleeze don't hold it against me!).

If you get the chance, buy one for your kids. And if you'd like tips about their care and feeding, email me.

Trish {|:-}

Who had a VERY indulgent Mother.

Oh, PS. I *have* to tell you just a teensy one of my Boring Stories. I was cleaning out the Axolotl tank one night (they are rather dirty fellows). Mum was cranky as she was trying to get dinner ready. She served my Dad and he took up his knife and fork with Great Relish as he leaned toward a large Rump Steak.

At that very moment, the Axie I was holding leapt out of my hand and landed fair in the middle of Dad's Steak! He *bellowed* at me: "Get that d***** fish off my tea!!!" When I murmured that "It's not a fish, Dad, it's an amphibian..." he erupted from his chair and tipped his plate, steak,'fish' and all into the garbage.

I was terribly upset as I was afraid of skin damage to my poor Cavaradossi. But he came through the ordeal very well. And Dad apologised the next day: I caught him giving Cav an ultra-fat earthworm!

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: OT: Music (long Boring Story)
Date: 16 Oct 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

To my *enormous* sorrow, the one thing DH and I don't share is our taste in music. He's a heavy metaller (Aerosmith, AC/DC, Alice Cooper) and I'm strictly classical (Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Bach). But one really terrific thing has come out of it: DH puts on his old Led Zepp albums and drums on my shoulders while I stitch. At the risk of offending anyone <G> it looks a bit kinky to onlookers (spousal abuse?), ' cause DH drums *hard*. But I love it and it realeases that awful knot you get in the back of your neck when you stitch for too long.

Boring Story:

DBIL bought tickets to see Live (loud!!! rock band) for DH's birthday. BUT - he bought four tickets so we could *all* go! I was horrified! While I had listened to some of their stuff with DH and thought it pretty good, I had Major Doubts about my ability to sit through a full concert. Anyway, we went. Approaching the Entertainment Centre (an enormous, cavernous building set in the middle of Newcastle Showground - the livestock was going ballistic!), I said to DH "Ewww! That's loud, isn't it? I hope I don't get a headache."

Poor DH responded with "Oh, hon, that's just the radio. They play it to fill in time before the concert. It gets *heaps* louder than that when Live kicks in . Should you take another headache pill now?"

"No," I responded with a noble air of martyrdom, "I'll manage..."

We entered. I had to submit to a BODY SEARCH (yes, shouting!) at the door. This was in case I had secreted any botttles of beer or even water to hurl at the stage while moshing. (I should insert here that I am No Fairy. There is no conceivable way I could achieve even the tiniest mosh.) We sat in our 'excellent seats', not twenty feet from the Biggest Mother Speakers you ever imagined. The radio played on and I began to turn green with air-motion sickness.

DH turned to me so sweetly and said "Now, if you have to be sick go down to the left and do it over the railing. That way, you'll hit the least number of people. I'll be right behind you, so don't stop to apologise to anyone. I'll take care of that."

Live appeared. The swell of sound that gathered from the thousands of teenage throats was indescribable! You could *feel* it through your shoes! And *then* the real sound began! Oh! Words cannot explain the way the columns of moving air hit me in the solar plexus! I could feel my stomach heaving and began to chart my course outdoors, glad that I hadn't eaten much for dinner. For the sakes of those in my path, you understand.

Then they played Lightning Crash and everything was OK.

I forgot about feeling ill and began to listen. DH observed that I was groovin' right along there, so he began to drum on my back. We had the *best * time since our DD was born three years ago and ate pasta at a late night restaurant afterwards.

Two concerts I've enjoyed better: poor John Denver's and Chris de Burgh's in Sydney.

So there. Sorry about the length. Maybe some of you can identify with our dilemma? I f only I could get DH to attend a classical concert with me...

Trish {|:-}

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: OT: Scary Snake Story - Very Long
Date: 17 Nov 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

This thread reminds of the exceedingly silly thing I nearly did to my son one day. We were hanging around waiting for the farrier to shoe his horse. (It's really boring, waiting for the farrier).

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cat screech across the grass and sieze something. Quick as a whip, I hurled a big wad of horse manure at it and ran to save the poor little lizard that I *thought* was the victim. Not so! It was a *dear* little snake, about 12" long with the most attractive lemon-yellow lips.

'Aha!' said I, and pounced upon him, holding him up for everyone to see. 'Look what I've got!' The Ugly Sister and her husband are phobic about snakes, so I had the requisite fun time chasing them around with it. Once all the horses had been shod, DS and I put our new pet in a bucket and set off home (driving). DS had the snake and I told him to keep his hand in the bucket in order to prevent the little fellow from damaging his scales. On arriving home, I set about finding my old fish tank. DS kept calling 'Mum! He's rising up out of the bucket!'

'Stupid boy!' I hollered, 'Can't you just hang on to him while I find this thing?'

'But he's angry, Mum!'

'Just shuddup and hold him!'

Eventually, we installed the little lad into the tank and went to look him up in my snake book. 'Egad!' I thought. 'It appears to be a Pale Lipped Snake. They appear to be Very Dangerous...' So I rang up the local Wetlands Centre and checked. The powdery-voiced guy on the phone assured me that the snake wouldn't actually *kill* me or mine, but that it could do nasty things to one's heart rate which might indirectly do so.

I immediately put the phone book on top of the fish tank and stuck it there with duct tape(!) We sped to the Wetlands Centre and they gratefully transferred our PLSnake to a live exhibit of 'Dangerous Snakes of the Marshlands'. And I took my boy home, swearing that I would not take such an active interest in reptiles ever again!

But I *did* have a tank full of Three Toed Skinks for ages. They were a real pain, 'cause you have to feed them on ants' eggs. These do not come in packages from a battery ant house, they are entirely free-range and *you* are the dill who gets to collect them.

Trish {|:-}

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: OT: restraining kids (long Boring Story)
Date: 06 Dec 1997 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Years before I met my DH, I had a perfectly *gorgeous* DBF who came from Papua New Guinea. Mape told me many wonderful stories of life in his village, but my favourites were the ones about his Granny.

As Granny, it was *her* responsibility to take care of her eldest son's youngest child (Mape). She knitted a string bag for him, blessed it and promptly inserted him into it! He lived the vast majority of his life for his first two years inside the string bag. Granny carried him on her back and when she stopped to fish or dig yams, she would hang him in a tree. From there, Mape could see Granny and - ah - relieve himself, with no need for any attention at all. Thus, Granny was free to work, yet the child was secure and safe. An interesting aside is that Granny lactated and actually breastfed Mape!

Granny was considered a Great Beauty by her people. She had followed the old tradition and filed all her teeth to sharp points. In addition, she had tattoed herself from head to toe with wood ash. Her entire body was thickly covered in raised, purple cicatrices!

When Granny's husband died, she went into the bush for two weeks in order to properly mourn his passing. During this time, she systematically cut off the first joints of four of her fingers. This was considered by the village to be a Very Great Love Indeed, as only one joint was required from a single pinky.

Mape loves his family very deeply, however he told me that a very big part of himself departed when his Granny died. He still visits her grave every month to put flowers and fruit there for her.

Trish {|:-}

PS I *must* add this bit! Mape was fishing one day with five of his brothers (10 kids in the family). The second eldest, Verere, disappeared under the net. When they dove for him, they found he had been wrapped in the tentacles of a box jellyfish (whose sting is very quickly fatal - people die of this sting in Australia!). The boys seized their brother and hurtled in the canoe back to Granny's place. On receipt of the comatose Verere, Granny worked her healing magic with part of his *placenta* (her job to keep those for all the family!!!) and he woke up about an hour later asking for food! The stings received by Mape and his other brothers were serious enough by our standards, but somehow the magical Granny had better powers than medical science and applied creams that made the pain go away. No-one died..

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: O.T.-Attention any Australians! And Boring Story.
Date: 21 Feb 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Omigoodness, Anne, *listen to Pauline*! Don't miss out on the bliss of Chocolate Crackles just because you don't like coconut! I'm a *loather* of all things coconut, but there are some times when you can manage not to notice it in things. Lammos (lamingtons) and C. Crackles are two of those times. Copha has no taste at all: it's perfectly bland. Its only function in C. Crackles is to bind the stuff together (as Pauline pointed out). You could probably omit the des. coconut from the recipe, but I think it would deteriorate in texture. Part of the appeal of C. Crackles is the sensation of biting into Essence of Chocolate and then crunching away on a variety of textures. DO MAKE THEM AT LEAST ONCE!!! (shouting). Share them around and you'll be very popular.

Which brings me to another point...

Any other Aussies remember little girls' birthday parties where most of these Oz recipes might be featured? (ie. pavlova, lamingtons, chocolate crackles... and fairy bread!)

I *hate* fairy bread and no child of mine will ever be fed it! I wonder whether they have it in other countries? It's just buttered bread sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. (erm... do we all know what 100s and 1000s are??? Those teensy coloured balls that you sprinkle on cakes, toffee/taffy and fairy bread).

Oh and a Boring Story comes to mind a propos of 100s and 1000s!

It was DD's third birthday and I made my incredibly rich boiled chocolate (which is rich enough to eat plain without icing/frosting). However, I also made my incredibly rich whipped chocolate icing as well. DH had discovered a dyspeptic-looking plastic fairy to sit atop the cake and was about to plonk it down when I said "Hang on! I have to put the green coconut on for grass!"

Guess what? No coconut in cupboard! Party about to start and I went into a perfectly understandable 'Oh B****y H**l' session! DH *superciliously*suggested sprinkling on some coloured cachous (shiny balls made of compressed sugar in rainbow colours - about 1/8" in diameter). So we did this, thinking it would look magical and lovely for the apple of our collective eyes.

When presented with her cake, the rotten little toad *shrieked* like a banshee and said "Ellie can't eat that cake! The fairy has done a poo all over it!' In spite of threatening, cajoling and assuring her that it wasn't fairy-poo, but little packets of magic, DH tweezed each forsaken cachou off the cake and we plopped on icing sugar instead (confectioner's sugar).

Trish {|:-}

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: Iguanas and Boring Story
Date: 28 Feb 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Oooer! More info on your bearded dragon, please? Is it a native one or imported from somewhere? I don' s'pose it's an Oz one? They make a *won*derful pet and can become quite tame and loving. I used to care for them in the Animal House at the University I attended.

Boring Story: When I was a second year Zoology student, my Mum used to escort me about the countryside as I did the fieldwork component of my course ('No daughter of *mine* is going traipsing about the country alone!') One day, I saw a large male bearded dragon reclining on a fencepost. "Aha!" I thought. "What a coup it will be to hand up a complete lizard skeleton for my project!"

"Sto-o-oop, Mum", I squawked! Thinking the animal was dead, I marched right up and seized him. Imagine my acute chagrin as I realised that not only was he quite alive, but he was also quite p***** off! All I could do was hang on to the beast, because I believed he would *eat* me if I set him down again. There was nothing for it but to carry the thing home and hope for a solution there.

With Great Misgiving, Mum let me ride home in the car with an irascible reptile clutched in my hands! (NB These guys aren't so very big, about two feet long, but they can give you a really septic bite: they feed on carrion and carry unspeakable bacteria in their mouths).

Once home, I gratefully put the animal into the pink bathtub while I rang some sources who might help me with his repatriation. It was very interesting to note that he quickly changed colour from chocolate brown to beige in an attempt to match his environment. This worked very well for him. Not so well for others...

Hours later, Dad came home from work. Tired and messy (he was a butcher), Dad headed straight for the bathroom and a restorative soak in the tub. As usual, he stood under the shower nozzle to wash off the grime before drawing a bath. *Not* quite as usual, an enraged lizard ran up his leg, eyeballed him angrily and hurtled off again to hiss indignantly at my father's retreating bottom.

This was the first (and only) time in my life I ever saw my father naked. It was not a pretty sight, mostly owing to the purple hue of his face as he *squealed* at me: "Why, Patricia? WHY IS THERE A BLOODY CROCODILE IN MY BATHTUB? A man can't turn round in this house any more! You've got me in fear of my life!" and he went off muttering something about Other Men's Daughters and dolls...

A nice man from a local wildlife refuge came and took the lizard, warning me that it's not a good idea to pick up Bearded Dragons you find in the road. He didn't seem to be listening as I tried to say 'But I didn't *mean...*'

Trish {|:-}

PS DH just reminded me of another Bearded Dragon story where I nearly *lost my life*, but that's another Boring Story...

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: Iguanas and Boring Story (long)
Date: 01 Mar 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

>PS DH just reminded me of another Bearded Dragon story where I nearly *lost my
>life*, but that's another Boring Story...

Well, I guess *nineteen* email messages asking for the second Boring Story means I ought to tell it. Trying to be brief (snort!):

One day, my DBIL was trying to repair our 100 year old front door, he heard a commotion in the street and saw that a gaggle of kids was poking at something in the gutter with sticks. He called me and I sailed out like the proverbial galleon to see a poor Bearded Dragon hissing piteously at the little monsters. Quickly dispersing them with 'Look out! It's got rabies!' (A lie: we don't *get* rabies in Oz!) I wondered how to catch and relocate the poor thing.

Reluctant to attempt picking it up, (see previous Boring Story about earlier Dragon) I called to DS. We took about half an hour to convince the lizard into a feed sack with a broom, but having caught him, I happily asked DH to take me round the corner to the paddock so I could release him into Bearded Dragon Heaven. (Our paddock is a *hotbed* of Bearded Dragons, and yes! They will run up your leg if you frighten them!)

I left DH dozing in the car while I plodded all the way down to the creek to release the lizard.

Not realising the significance of the FEED BAG, I began to wonder why all the forty three horses were gravitating toward me... the lizard was being a hole of the a** and wouldn't let go the bag, so I killed two birds with one stone and swung him round my head a couple of times. He had the ride of his life and landed on the opposite creek bank (which suited me fine owing to a healthy respect for leg-climbin' lizards). The horses dispersed and I turned to walk back up to the car.

The first thing I heard was a loud nicker (whooffly sound a horse makes). Turning, I noted that I was playing the leader to *forty three horses in single file*. Laughing uproariously, I began waving at DH to make him see this funny phenomenon.

'Zzzzzzzzzzz!' said DH. The sod was asleep!

Marching on, I turned periodically to see my followers faithfully bringing up my rear. Still giggling, I happened to notice Fred and his wives approaching along the fence line.

Digression: Fred is a Red Devon Bull. He is a giant of his race, proud progenitor of many potential beefsteaks and Lord of All in our paddock. He also has a deep and abiding hatred of all things human and once besieged my DBIL in the truck by humping his back under the tailgate and *rocking the truck* in order to shake Warren out and, presumably, eat him! When he was just a calf, Fred lined up Warren's stooping behind with unnerring accuracy and *butted him through a five-strand barbed wire fence* just for kix! Anyway, believe me when I say that Fred's reputation for danger to humankind was not unfounded!

And here was I, headed on a collision course for The Beast Himself and one of his sycophantic wives for good measure! As if to corroborate my fear, the Wife fluttered her long eyelashes at me seductively and went 'Moo!' in a noncommittal sort of way. I nearly died!

And the gate was open! As I sadly wondered about the future of my poor, orphaned children or perhaps the prospect of life in a permanent plaster cast, I began waving at DH again. Screaming like a mad thing, I simply couldn't wake up Old Dozo, and here I was, not a hundred yards away from safety. I quicked my pace. So did Fred! His dewlap began to swing faster as he broke into a laid-back trot. As if to support the Ferocious Fred, all forty three horses behind me sped up in sympathy!

Trying to gauge the distance, the (slow) speed at which I thought I could run, the prevailing wind and estimate Fred's state of mind at the same time, it suddenly came to me!

*He wanted the feed bag*!!! The stupid great lummox thought there was tucker in the bag I was carrying and he was out to get a piece of it for himself. With this realisation came the most awful noise I've ever heard (no, not what you're thinking, you rude people!) Fred lowed! Ever heard a bull low?It's an almost subsonic roar that travels across land at an amazing rate: you can barely hear it, but you feel it through every bone in your body. He used it to call in his wives and children at dusk. I've also heard him use it as he paced along the fenceline, looking at DBIL with bloodlust in his piggy little eyes. And now he was making it at me!

I dropped the feed bag and belted across the paddock with Fred Flintstone legs. Having reached the gate, I didn't stop to open it, but rather dove between the bars, sucking in my breath as I flew! Nearly strained meself!

Dusting off and looking back toward Fred, I was relieved to see the Great Bull killing the feed bag to death as Sycophantic Wife looked on benignly. He had it in his teeth and was ripping it to bits with his hooves: uttering a Hail Mary of Gratitude, I briefly imagined myself where that feed bag was and turned to have An Important Word to DH about the error of Sleeping While Our Wife is in Peril...

Trish {|:-}

PS The lizard was fine - ran happily up a tree!

PPS Fred became a beefsteak himself in the fullness of time. Headbutted DBIL once too often and sent him headfirst into a fencepost. Quick trip to the Saleyards and a ticket to Ronald McDonald's for Fred! His firstborn, Gary, is now Lord of All, but somehow Gary lacks the authority his Father once had...

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: OT: Children in Public Places and Boring Story
Date: 06 Mar 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

My DD aged three has similar colouring, Elaine, and I'd never thought to prevent people from touching her as you describe! Thanks for the alert! It's *not* nice to be manhandled by strangers and they certainly do like to fondle Ellie's red hair.

Reminds me of another Boring Story: I too had auburn hair when I was younger (it's darkened to deep red brown now) and it was long enough to sit on. When I lived at the University College, we had six visiting Public Servants from Lagos, Nigeria, living at the end of our corridor. They were marvellous people and I became close friends with the only woman in the group. The men liked to join in some of the more social occasions in College, but seemed quite shy.

Until one day I was hanging over the balcony drying my hair. As I stood up, the tallest, largest, deepest-voiced Nigerian gentleman came upon me from behind and buried his face in my hair, seizing a double handful and saying "Oh! This is so beautiful! I have never seen anything like it. You must marry me and give me many beautiful daughters with hair like this!" (NB DS lived in College with me and also has flaming red hair - the genetic component must be obvious).

I nearly shot off the balcony into the ether, I can tell you! However there were two hands, each the size of a leg of ham, tangled in my hair. Can you picture a gibbering zany-woman skittering along a corridor with a very large (and extremely handsome) black man grafted to her head calling 'Ajaja! Ajaja! Ajaja!' - the Nigerian lady's name. Once we sorted all this out, everyone laughed and the gentleman (Chima, by name) and I became firm friends too. I found he already had two wives safely installed in two households outside Lagos and approximately seven children already.

During this time, the Olympic Games were being televised on the local TV station. Each night a knot of us would congregate in the common room to watch TV in the dark and eat bucketsful of popcorn with lashings of butter. One night, Chima stuck his head into the darkened room and said "Omo, you idiot! I *know* you're in there! Open your eyes so I can see you!" Omo was particularly dark and he made his presence known with his flashing white teeth and the whites of his eyes reflected in the light from the TV set! This little incident brought the house down!

My friend, Ajaja, was very fond of needlework and was happy to learn needlepoint from me. She taught me a bit about beading and we spent many happy hours together chatting about our hopes for our children and so on. The day we took our leave of each other, I found she was not, in fact, twenty-fiveish as was I. Ajaja was fifty five and turning fifty six the following week!!! She is one of the most truly beautiful women I've ever met. Soon after she returned to Nigeria, there was a long period of civil unrest and we lost touch. I often wonder what happened to all my dear friends and whether they remained safe.

Trish {|:-}

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: UFO week (Now gone 'way OT with Boring snippet)
Date: 24 Mar 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Re the doorstep evangelists: I don't have any worries about 'em. They're just people: sometimes I have a chat with them, other times not. Sometimes they can be tiresomely insistent and then I giggle and tell them they remind me of myself in my early day as a salesperson. I recommend they read Tom Hopkins and politely close my door.

Re Witches Bitches: In the Days of My Youth, there was an Essential Feminine Fashion Accessory called Witches Britches. Anyone remember these? Showing my age here, I am. They were essentially ladies longish knickers that came to just above the knee. Made of some evilly anaerobic fabric, they were festooned with rows and rows of ruched lace and usually came in LOUD colours like Fuschia or Chartreuse.

I wore mine to school one day (on top of me regulation black stockings and -shudder- navy cottontails). In fact, this reminds me that the purpose of Witches Britches was to cover up that disgustingly bluish-white expanse of the female thigh which extended from the Stockingtop to the Suspender Belt (sorry, Gord, but you got me started on a roll...) All together now:God Bless the woman who invented pantyhose!

But I digress... Stupidly bending over at the bubbler to get a drink, I was unaware of the beady and implacable gaze of one, Sister Irenaeus, noticing my Scarlet Witches Britches like mad! As I stood up, I subconsciously hoicked at my school tunic to cover the W/Bs: too late! I had been detected!

'Miss Patricia!' came the dry and crackly voice. 'I expect your Lady Mother is unaware of your - ah - attire today? I expect she would be saddened and shocked to find her little daughter (I was a strapping fourteen year old with legs like Pinon Pines!) wearing such *trampish* undergarments?' And I was frog-marched off to the Convent, so they could be removed and confiscated by the good Sister. I never got them back, no doubt due to some oversight.

But I still have an image of Sister Irenaeus in my mind: she minces soberly along the cool corridors of St Aloysius' School for Girls and beneath her black habit is one very red, very de rigeur pair of sexy Witches Britches!

Trish {|:-}

Actually, this isn't as OT as it might seem, as Sr Irenaeus was a Gun Tatter (cf Gun Shearer: one who can shear more than 300 sheep in a day) and Lazy Daisy Stitcher extraordinaire.

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: beading & waste canvas & boring story
Date: 21 Apr 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

However, I must tell a boring story on myself! You've reminded me of a day when I was in Kindergarten...

Y'see, an old family friend had taught me to read well before school. The results of this were legion but two major ones stood out: i) I was always happy to read anything - even the tomato sauce label and ii) I spent a lot of time being bored in the classroom.

On this particular day, the saintly Sister Mary Charles had us sitting in a little circle around her as she played phonics games with us. I was royally bored, but no matter: I had two (2) glass marbles in my pocket and I was fiddling with them like Ben Wa balls (have seen these in a 'rude' shop and am not sure what they do, but the simile seemed good, OK?). As I got rather boreder, I idly poked one into my left nostril. It felt great! Stretchy big nostrils seemed like a wonderful idea, so I went for broke and stuck the other marble right on in the other side.

Have you ever experienced the unfortunate phenomenon that happens with a snorkel? You know: you'll be swimmin' along, breathin' away like Darth Vader, when suddenly you inhale that bit too exuberantly. GGLONKKKK! The little ping pong ball thingy seizes up at the top of your snorkel and you are suddenly at risk of Extreme Oxygen Embarrassment.

Well, this happened to me in the middle of my Kindergarten class with Michael O'Brien looking on (He was so cool! He had a haircut that showed his head-skin and could pick his nose with the end of his tongue!) The Ping Pong Ball Seizure went into effect and I *bellowed* to the poor nun: "There's barbles id be dose!"

Since my nostrils were dainty enough to preclude the admission of even the slimmest prising device, I gouged and probed and squeezed, all to no avail. The Nun sat there glowering at me, saying "The d***l makes work for idle hands, doesn't he Patricia?" There I stood, slowly turning a wondrous shade of magenta (it hadn'occurred to breathe through my mouth at that point) and wishing the d***l would stick his pitchfork into this woman's bottom and make her HELP ME!!!

Calmly, Sister fumbled deep in her endless pocket (one of the Nun's Phenomena: they had pockets that could hold an armoured personnel carrier!) and brought out her hanky. (Not, I should add, the lovely Irish linen crocheted one I had given for her Feast Day, but a walloping great thing that looked like portion of a bedsheet). "Here!" she commanded, "Blow hard." I did and a marble shot across the floor, scattering hysterical kids everywhere ("Yuck! Boogie juice!"). 'twas but a simple matter to snort out the other marble, which obediently followed its fellow under the paper press. I believe they may still be there....

Anyway, this whole event had a happy ending: Michael O'Brien approached me and asked me to be his girlfriend. He reckoned that anyone who could pull *that* off in Sister Charles' class deserved recognition!

On a sad note, poor Sister Charles eventually made her way to the highlands of New Guinea, where she worked for twenty three years as a missionary. One day, she was accosted outside a village by members of an odd warrior cult. They stole her religious paraphernalia, her mirror and her life! I think she's up in Heaven right now having a giggle at the awful little girl who wrecked her phonics lesson all those years ago...

Trish {|:-}

PS I don't generally frequent 'rude shops' however did manage to have a fairly good look in the window of one in King's Cross (the 'rude' section of Sydney).

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: MLI-chart replacement and boring story
Date: 09 Jun 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

I am in stitches! This reminds me of the time I shared a house with my Ugly Sister and her three kids. We were living very close to the bone and did a magnificent job of feeding all six of us on only $80 a week. One Friday, we splurged and bought a frozen cheesecake for dessert. All the kids were agog, as we *never* had desserts and this was going to be a real treat.

Dinner was over and all the rosy little faces were upturned and expectant: the saucers with cheesecake were passed out with Great Ceremony and they all waited (as was our custom) for Mum and Aunt to be seated. Just at the penultimate moment, Matt (my DS) announced in his very old-fashioned, stilted way of speaking "I'm terribly sorry, one and all. I find I must go and pee! Won't be a tick!" and off he went. A general groan went up at having to wait for our cheesecake, so Jacquie, my younger niece, whipped out to the other bathroom as well, putting her saucerful of cheesecake down on her seat as she left.

Finally, both errant kids came back and we took up our spoons with mouths watering. Suddenly, Matt (who had to sit with Jacquie on the sofa due to No Room at the table) announced "I'm aawfully sorry, Aunt, but I appear to have sat on Jacqueline's cheesecake! She must have put it here when she went to the loo."

He stood up and there was a saucer stuck very effectively to his jeans with cheesecake grout! Everyone howled (Jacquie not the least) with affronted cheesecake loss, but the situation was saved when Matt offered to swap with Jacquie and eat that which was stuck to his bum.

There are a million boring stories attached to that year with my sister. The most important one is: don't share a house with your sibling under any circumstances! It's a health hazard!

Trish {|:-}

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Nasty buggies and boring story!
Date: 12 Jun 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

> > Alicia, ... HUGE fan of bats, toads, spiders, frogs, and all other mosquito-eating creatures...

Hah! On re-reading my other batpost, I noticed Alicia's reference to 'mosquito-eating' and remembered a trick I once played on my Mum which eventually backfired on me.

One day, I was entertaining my bio Dad (was adopted, had reunion, was bad, don't see him any more) on the deck at the back of Mum's house. We sat chatting and idly looking into the bilious green water of the overwintering swimming pool and watching the mosquito larvae rising and falling in the water. He commented drily "You want to put a few fish in there and keep the mozzies down..."

I thought about this for a while and a picture arrived in my mind of Mum pottering about hanging her washing and suddenly seeing a goldfish jump in the pool. 'Yee-ee-es,' I thought, 'This has possibilities...'

So off to the pet shop I went and purchased a dozen little (2") comets in various shades of gold, white and black. As I emptied them into the pool, I christened them with names from the Great Operas (eg. Tosca and Cavaradossi, Mimi and Rodolfo etc etc). For a few days I dropped in some fish food, but none of the fish seemed to come for it. They were certainly invisible in the deep green slurry of Mum's cesspit of a pool! So I forgot about them! For two years or more! Never once did I see hide nor scale of a single fishy!

Until one day, Mum announced 'Patricia, I want you to take down the swimming pool! No-one swims in it any more and it's a health hazard.' I nearly died! I built that pool when I was fourteen and it was a monument to what two women can do when a man's in a foul temper: Dad never did approve of our having an above-ground swimming pool - he had Tropical Ear Disease and couldn't use it. So he grizzled and grumbled the whole time we were building it and screwed in precisely one (1) screw. The rest was done by Mum'n'me! I would be Very Sad to see it go!

So! With Mum's announcement came the sudden realisation that I'd been responsible for the deaths of twelve little fish! Bowing under my guilt, I began to siphon the green water away, skim out the dead leaves and avoid the various menacing insect larvae that lived there, thinking all the while of the happy times we'd had in The Pool. The times when I'd almost succeeded in drowning my Ugly Sister; the times when I'd jumped off the roof on top of her and the time I'd dropped a small frog down her snorkel when she was using it. Ahhh... happy memories!

In my reverie, I was stunned to see a flash of gold as a *fish* leaped in the sunshine! A *large* fish! A big-enough-to-eat fish! I whacked my hand over the siphon and bellowed 'Mum! C'mere!' (Follows the uninteresting bit where I made my confession to Mum and she had a few well-chosen things to say regarding my idiocy and how were we going to empty the pool *now*, with all those fish in it?) All works became halt as we considered what to do...

The first thing that happened was that my birthday arrived. I was thirty three. I received a new camera and some oil pastels among other things. I was sitting that afternoon at the back door, sketching the big gum tree in Mum's yard when a Pacific Heron dropped from the sky, took a long scoop across The Pool, tossed poor Tosca in the air and swallowed her whole! (Left a lump in the bird's neck, it did!) Then, Mr Heron turned around and came back! Can you imagine me, crazed and frenzied batting at a protected species of bird with a tennis racquet? Now, I have a pretty good forehand volley, but the damned thing wouldn't be put off! We had to put shadecloth across the pool to protect the poor fish from Mr Heron.

The next day, with an all-out effort, I siphoned off all but a foot of water and we got about six people into the green slime to trawl for fish. (Crowning moment was the bit where I managed to trip the Ugly Sister on the hose and she measured her length in the slime). Eventually we caught them all and *they were monsters*! About 12" long and really *angry*! I sold ten of them back to the pet shop at Great Profit and kept Blanche and Stanley (OK, so 'On the Waterfront' isn't an opera, so sue me!). Stanley passed on fairly soon after that, but Blanche lived a long and fruitful life until the night DD was born (about four years later). DH had completely forgotten to feed Blanche and she passed away to our great sorrow.

The Pool was dismantled and now Mum has a lovely shadehouse in the spot where my fish farming accident came to pass. I often speculated that if I'd kept The Pool intact, I might have made a fortune as a producer of Large Goldfish... but then... Herons come and go... you never can be sure of these things...

Trish {|:-}

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Hand vs machine sewing (boring story)
Date: 27 Jun 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

When I first went to University (400 miles north of home in a very hot/cold place called Armidale), I didn't take my sewing machine with me. (Thinking, mistakenly, that I'd be Far Too Busy Studying to sew things).

All during the stinking hot summer, I never minded not having my machine. But then, The Cold came and Fell Winter arrived without adequate warning!

I only had T Shirts to sleep in and didn't want to worry Mum by asking her to send warm winter nighties (she was ill at the time). So I marched to the Draper's in town and purchased a pattern, several acres of pale mint green flanellette and three reels of sewing cotton. I marched home again and thought about my nightie, then set to work.

In honour of the acute cold, I felt that it would be good to completely double the fabric, so I did. I stitched the garment together with teensy tiny backstitches (Sister Mary de Pazzi would have felt *entirely* vindicated), added a casing at the cuffs, applied lace at the neck and around the yoke, embroidered my initial in pink chain stitch on the upper left yoke and held it up to admire it.

What a massive garment I had constructed!!!! I believe there were fifteen yards of fabric in all (mind you, the flanellette was only 2'6" wide and had to be cut in panels) and it was Very Heavily Gathered about the square yoke. It looked pretty good, though, and being that this was the early seventies I felt quite Earth Motherish in weearing something of my own fashioning.

When I put my creation *on*, all my female friends began to hoot with laughter. I looked like a Korean lady with one of those wide, wide gowns gathered onto a tiny yoke. When I turned about to test the swish, I knocked people over. I had trouble sitting down in an average chair. Yet, my nightie was as warm as toast and wasn't that the whole idea?

The custom in our college in those days was that we all hung around in our 'jammies of an evening, to watch TV or drink coffee and talk, so it didn't take long for my nightie to be christened The Passion Killer. Of course, it didn't take long for me to start wearing it in public, either. (We did that sort of thing in those days). It had its great debut at a Rocky Horror party, where I went as Magenta with calomine lotion make-up and black lipstick. (I had good hair for Magenta: it was Big Red Hair!).

The only drawback with my nightie was that it weighed several Imperial tons when wet and required several strong women to lift it *across* the clothesline (if I'd tried to dry it by hanging, it would have either weighed down to the ground or sailed away in the wind!

And I have my nightie to this day! I made a companion to it from DMC 995 blue flanny (but the blue is less BIG than the original green) and they are both as warm as warm. The original is nearly threadbare, but it's so voluminous, the warmth remains.

I'd recommend the construction-of-nighties-by-hand to *anyone*!

Trish {|:-}

A couple of years later, I made a dressing gown for my DS from a thick cotton blanket, all by hand. It was a white blanket, striped with blue and blanket-stitched around the neck, hem and cuffs. This would be a lovely gift idea for toddlers.

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: 'Frustration' - boring story
Date: 29 Jun 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

DH had planned a day away, leaving me alone and free to stitch for hours. I got out all the supplies to start a new SB (Yay, Tama!) and realised I had two balls of #8 perle ecru and no balls of #12 perle ecru!

'Never mind,' I thought: 'I'll get some while we're out this weekend'. We went into town and Spotlight had none! We went south for a drive: too late! The shop shuts early on Saturdays! We race east: too late! Traffic blocks from last week's hurricane kept us from getting there by 5pm! Sunday dawned and we shared a picnic with my friend's family: great! 'Absolutely Quilts and Crafts' is on the way! DD vomited in the car! (~ Whew! {|:O# ~) and DH wanted to get straight home so he could wash his precious upholstery! For 60 hours I was unable to start my SB!

Day dawned (well - not really - it was still dark!) and I blearily waved off my DH under the stars. Aengus the Incontinent came strutting home from a night on the tiles, meowed once for his brekky and did a wee on my foot! 'This day's not shaping up well', I thought. I cleaned up the mess, fed the kids and headed for my purse and and keys, ready for the trip to my LNS...

As I rummaged for the car keys, I found DH had forgotten to take them out of his pocket and has them with him. I rummaged for my bus ticket and find *I* forgot to take it out of *my* pocket and it's had a trip through the wash (unreadable by man or machine). My purse is empty and there's only the Precious Card... I have the means to shop, but not to GET THERE!!! I rang up my trusty old Mum and found she's gone out! I rang up my Ugly Sister and found she's got a cold and ain't goin' nowhere for no-one!

So - I said a Very Rude Word, poured a cuppa coffee and sat down to pore over the SB chart so I'll have it memorised by the time some #12 ecru comes my way...

Dontcha *hate* that!

Trish {|:-}

PS Like all my boring stories, this one is utterly true and writing it has served very well to vent my need to say Very Rude Words at Very Short Intervals (bad for DD's language development, dontcha know?)

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OPND@EL KHMR (NRUND[ UKNOJ@) and quick Boring Story
Date: 03 Jul 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.marketplace,rec.crafts.textiles.misc,rec.crafts.textiles.needlework,rec.crafts.textiles.quilting,rec.crafts.textiles.sewing,rec.crafts.textiles.yarn

Now *this* reminds me of the time the sainted Sister de Pazzi was giving us a Major Talking-To in fourth class. Someone had been guilty of teasing a kid about his buck teeth, so Sister told us a story about St Cyril.

One day, the young (and prematurely bald) St Cyril was walking in the woods, reciting his daily prayers. He came upon a group of his classmates, all rich young noblemen like himself, however they differed in that they were each blessed with a full compliment of head-hair. On seeing St Cyril, they came jeering at him, saying "Go up, thou baldhead!" (dunno what that expression means, but I trust Sister's recollection of her 'Lives of the Saints'). St Cyril sadly turned away and headed toward home, embarrassed, his prayers cut short for the day.

The next day, the same thing happened, only *this* time, when the young larrikins screeched 'Go up, thou baldhead!', St Cyril *did*! God turned him into a massive bear in order to avenge the despite on him by the sacreligious young men. St Cyril-the-Bear killed them all and ate them for his dinner. Then he became himself again, trotted off home and spent the rest of his life doing Major Penance for their deaths.

Now, in my adulthood, I see many gaping holes in the plot of this story. However, in my childhood, I could see from Sister's tale that teasers never prosper and are likely to end up in the alimentary canals of large beasts if they don't stop it. So I did. Never have teased anyone in my life since that day. Except my Ugly Sister, but she deserves it!

Trish {|:O}

PS Anyone else heard this story or a variation thereof?

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: natural history charts? Boring story (grisly) beware!
Date: 07 Jul 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

You did it, Monique! You reminded me of yet another boring story!

Years ago, when I was living at home and doing my Uni course by correspondence, I enrolled in Zoology 200-20. The course was based on the evolution of the vertebrates, their structure and function. So one of our assignments was to prepare 'some skeletal material to museum exhibition standard' (said the handbook).

The term began with a summer school at the Uni in February. Forty of us converged on the Zoo. department, all eager to dissect things and get our hands bloody. The first great thing we did was to dissect some native reptiles: I had a Tiger snake (venomous even in death), my friend had a Southern Snake-Necked Tortoise and others had various lizards and things. Fascinating!

The next great thing we did was your basic rat-dissection. Except that, having all made friends with the museum curator, we took after-hours classes in the Removal and Preservation of the Rat Skin for Decorative Purposes! Yep! Every member of that class had a custom made ratskin hat-band, hand tanned and carefully stitched together with heads and tails intact! (In case you're wondering, the dog got mine years ago and it is no more!)

But the Really Neat Thing Extraordinaire was the distribution of our 'Skeletal Material'! Each class member was given the freshly severed head of a sheep or goat to macerate in water and mount as a specimen!!!

Now, in our class there were some well-heeled ladies with round vowels and angora twin-sets. You know the sort I mean? Well, one of them fainted on being presented with her grinning specimen and the other promptly withdrew from the course! What a hoot!

One woman had her head deep-frozen for the flight back to Tasmania and was forced to check it in to a hotel kitchen when her flight was delayed. Another had hers fall out of her luggage on the train to Brisbane and roll down the carriage, leaving its wrapping behind it!

Me, I had No Trouble at all! I gave mine to Mum with instructions on how to water macerate a skull, then promptly left for a holiday on Lord Howe Island! My darling Mum had the privilege of dealing with the noisome Gert The Goat each day, changing the water and gagging over the singular aroma. By the time I returned two weeks later, I had only to degrease it and draw nice pictures of it. I got a Distinction, but I did give credit to Mum at the bottom of my write-up. She was pleased to take part in my Scientific Reasearch. (She's reading over my shoulder right now and laughing her head off at the memory. One of many we shared when we did my Uni course together!)

Trish {|:O}

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: caressing parental uvulae (Boring Story)
Date: 29 Jul 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Hee hee! My darling Dad *always* came home from a thirteen hour day in his Butcher's Shop and fell into his chair to watch TV. Of course, he fell immediately asleep and generally snored Very Loudly - usually with his mouth wide open.

Needless to say, my Ugly Sister suggested, then dared that I put something in Dad's mouth. Of course I *had* to, so chose some chips of crushed ice. Dropped it right on in there! 'And what's the first thing one does when wakened suddenly?' I hear you wonder: Inhale!

Poor Dad nearly drowned on ice! He went all colours of the rainbow! then he reached for his Butcher's steel (long metal thing you sharpen knives with) and the chase was on! Round and round the house we went until I was able to get enough lead to dive through (and I do mean through) the screen door. Mum thought Dad had finally gone off his rocker. The Ugly Sister nearly convulsed herself with malignant laughter and the dog got in through the hole I'd made and sent Dad base over apex. He broke a small bone in his foot, so he never did catch up with me.

However, nothing ventured, I *did* try the same trick some years later with a teaspoon of sugar. The nett result of this comparative experiment is that it is a truly life-threatening activity to insert *anything* in the throat of a sleeping person. The morbidity rate increases hyperbolically if the subject is one's parent!

Trish {|:O}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT response to Nan's Mac Lack and Quick boring story
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 16:26:42 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Na-aa-an! There's no such thing as an 'old, dead Mac'! I've still got three antique Macs and use them all the time. They're a bit slower than DH's Pustular PC, but they do everything I want and the System is so *easy* compared to Windows! I've really and truly got an SE in the kitchen for my recipes and I really and truly use it all the time!

And remember! Macs have been doing sound and voice recognition and CAD and Multimedia and all sorts of super things for *years*, while the Pustular PCs are only just catching up!

Quick Boring Story

A hundred years ago, when I was selling Apples to schools, we had in our dealership an insufferably pompous salesman who truly believed his clients bought from him because he belonged to the 'uppah clahsses'. Hnnph! Well, one day we set out to wreak havoc!

This man had a Big Deal in the works: worth a lot of money and would represent Big Kudos for him if he swung it. We received word via other connections that the business had already been assigned to a different dealership, but this guy didn't know and wouldn't be told. He had arranged a big, fancy demonstration for the client and spent the whole morning being intolerably rude and officious to all of us, warning us to stay out of his way and not embarrass him.

One of the other salesmen snuck in and installed new software called (I think) 'Timbuktu' on the demo machine. This allowed him to take total control of the Big Demo Mac from his own machine in the back office. We had only to turn on the intercom and hear the Big Demo in progress and then we began!

'It's just a simple matter to create a new directory' said our friend, in his supercilious voice. 'I just have to go...' and suddenly his new directory ended up in the trash can! 'Er, well,' he said, 'I can create a new document by ... ' and the program quit! 'There's no problem with productivity,' came the voice. 'You can log your online time by ...' and a fun game of Tetris started up!

We laughed so much, we nearly died! The pompous dill *still* hasn't worked out what sabotaged his Big Demo, even though he *knew* we were at the bottom of it! The software turned out to be Really Useful for schools, as it meant teachers could take over student Macs in laboratories and do corrections and stuff really easily. I don't think I ever sold that software without a very broad grin!

Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Sushi needlework boring story (long)
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 11:18:23 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Heehee! Marjorie's post has reminded me of yet another boring story that happened when I was at University with DS (long, different boring story). It has to do with couterfeit food.

I was studying Zoology at the time and a certain Gentleman-to-Die-For who lived in my Residential College was working toward his PhD in Genetics. We had struck up a bit of a friendship over our love of playing classical guitar and singing together, and I was quietly working away behind the scenes, plotting to snare him in my web of feminine wiles. I worked in the College kitchen (sweatbox) to pay my way and he worked as a Caretaker (janitor) to pay his. Owing to our shared interest in Biology, I did some work for him as a research assistant...

One day, Peter came down to breakfast as happy as a lark. A busload of schoolgirls was due to arrive for a three-day stay in our building as they did an orientation course at our University. Peter was assigned to take care of their needs (ie. providing toilet paper, tea and coffee, door keys and general assistance) during their residence.

'Oh! said Peter, 'Just imagine the fun *I'm* going to be having, ogling at all these girlies for three days!' My friends and I were very cross at him to say the least (in my case, it went past cross!)

Other background:
I had been shopping at Darrell Lea (chocolate shop) one day and DS had reached for a handful of chocs from the window display. Did you know those display chocolates are rubber? The shop lady kindly allowed us to keep a few for Matt to play with, saying 'Don't let anyone know I gave them to you: they're *very* expensive, far more so than the real thing.' We went home and I put them on a plate at the end of my desk, forgetting about them until...

Mr Peter Cooke (who was six foot four, slim-yet-wiry with gunmetal glossy hair, enormous green eyes and the voice of an angel) came sashaying down our corridor with approximately fifty (50) nubile schoolgirls simpering behind him. They were all a-twitter with excitement at being in a real College where Real Men lived, especially considering a fairly excellent example thereof was squiring them about and showing them the bathrooms etc. Peter stuck his head into my room and said in a perfectly unnatural voice: 'Oh, Trish! Glad you're here! These are the lovely (and I do mean *lovely* -in an undertone -with-a-wink) ladies I was telling you about. I brought them over to see how we live in College and I was telling them about how you've made a home here for yourself and Matt.'

All this was said in a condescending tone, obviously designed to impress the bevy of young ladies. He went on to say he was going to install the ladies in D Block and would I make sure there were enough 'requisites' in the ladies' bathroom. He turned to sweep away when he spied my little plate of choccies on the desk. 'Oh! Lovely! Chocs!' he exclaimed, as he reached out a long, slim, sensitive, guitar-playing hand to snatch a pretend-praline and pop it into his mouth.

Aghast, I could only *look*! But it seemed OK, as Peter realised immediately what was in his mouth and strove to conceal his embarrassment by saying 'Ooble-ooble. Must away! Ooble-ooble'. He looked momentarily like a strangulated turkey, but he shifted the rubber chocolate into his cheek, swallowed convulsively just once and marched off, leading his flock away down the corridor. I wondered idly how this chocolate was going to affect him in the scheme of things. But I needn't have!

The end of the story: *Someone* used his master key to enter and place a rubber chocolate on my desk while I was at class. The chocolate had the distinct impression of adult molars in it...

This incident was never ever mentioned between Peter and me. And for those of you who might be wondering, yes, I did get him in the end! But only for six months, as his stipend ran out and I had to take Matt home for a normal life.

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Goat Milk boring story
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 09:37:13 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Jedi wrote: >
> I've tried goat milk and it is very good. It tastes like it is loades with
> fat, but I was told by someone that it was very healthy -- low in fat.
> cwiley

Oh, cwiley! I've tried goat's milk too and it's *evil*! We (houseful of hippie students in the seventies) had a British Alpine Goat called Gladys and it was my job to milk her every day. Gladdy had a foul temper and enjoyed nothing better than kicking over the bucket or dropping little - ah - deposits in it. One day, I took her for a walk on a lead in order to 'bond' with her: we visited the lucerne paddock and she ate her fill while I decorated her horns with purple flowers and sang her some Cat Stevens songs.

My friend, Elaine, called out 'Dinnertime, Gladdy!' from the house and Gladdy's head flew up, nearly slicing off me nose with her left horn! Then she bolted for home, dragging me behind her: since my hand was wrapped in her chain, I had no choice but to gallop along on those dreadful wooden platform sandals we used to wear.

The hard part was when we reached the paddock gate: it was your standard two inch pipe gate with five strands of eight gauge wire. Gladdy leaped through and failed: she got her horns dreadfully tangled in the wire. I didn't leap through, but got carried by my own momentum - nearly strained meself!

It took half an hour, trying to untangle Glad's horns in the midst of her kicking and butting and bleating. Elaine didn't come to help: she was splitting her sides with cruel laughter!

Gladdy and I never did bond... she went on to have a son called Archie and he was mercifully different from his Mum (used to hop on my bed and curl up, just like a kitten).

NB. The point of this story is to humbly indicate that my aversion to goat milk may have something to do with my early experience of it's purveyor.

PS. I've tasted mare's milk as well and it's pretty awful too: tastes like hay!

Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Institutional Food (was: food you hated as a kid)
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 09:24:16 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Greg Hutchens wrote:
> Why do I have the feeling that you asked for all these tricks? Oh,
> no--not our Trish! <grin> That's kind of like our minister's wife
> telling about the stunts pulled on her. The better question is what
> stunts did you pull. Her best was loading the shower head with red
> jello. Evidently, it stains human skin.
> Martha

Well, (modestly) there was the time I stole a bloke's bed and parked it on top of High Table at Valedictory Dinner. It contained an effigy of him and - er - well... it contained a couple of effigies, OK? And a big sign saying 'Tony Rydon for President of the Junior Common Room?'.

The Formal Procession commenced and we all trooped in, garbed in our academic regalia (caps and gowns etc). The Vice Chancellor and his wife had a marvellous time trying to look stern while the College President organised someone to remove the bed and restore the table settings (which I had considerately hidden in a bucket under the table).

This sort of backfired on me, as the bloke in question laid siege to my room and I was trapped in there for three days! Friends brought me scraps from the Dining Hall and fed them to me through my window. Finally, Tony (the bloke) got his revenge by parking *my* bed on the University bus shelter. From there, the Works Department spied it and took it back to the supply depot. I came home from lectures to find my bed missing. Not a great problem, you may think..? Just apply for another one..?


It took me ages to find him again. One of the Works blokes had taken him home for his little daughter. I was very lucky to get my Teddy back again. Will never play that sort of trick on anyone again...

Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Turnips and Swedes--botanical trivia
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 20:34:14 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh, fiendish one! I *knew* you'd have the answer to this Very Important Question. How bitter it is to have an old, dusty degree... and No Knowledge of Brassicas worth spittin' on ;->

Monique Reed wrote:
> ... but rutabagas are
> usually yellow inside while turnips are white. I think rutabagas, on the
> average, get a little larger than turnips and have a milder flavor.

Thankyou thankyou thankyou Monique! Now I can go back to the man at Franklin's and tell him he can stick his swedes in his *nose*!!!! I was right and he was wrong! Hahahahaha!

> As a side note, B. rapa is also the rapeseed that produces the oil that is so
> healthy for you.

Ooer! I went to visit my (long ago) DBF at his parent's farm in Victoria. His mother was *not* impressed by 'some jumped-up girl from the city trying to elbow her way into a decent country family', so she made no effort at all to cover her dislike of me. This dislike was somewaht returned when she picked me up from the railway station and drove me the fifty miles to their place in Utter Silence!

As we approached the property, she tightly pointed her bony, bitter finger at a gloriously golden paddock full of flowers:
'That's our place' she squeezed out with a dry, crackly voice.
'Oh how lovely!' I enthused, trying to be interested. 'And what's that crop? I don't believe I've ever seen it before.'
'We sowed Rape and Panic last year..' she started to say
'Pbbbbbbffffffflttttttttt' I said quietly into my chest.
'... and this year we'll reap - '
'THE WRATH OF THE LORD' I spluttered. I couldn't help it, honest I couldn't! *Something* made me say it! It just popped out!

And oh boy, was this lady severely p*ssed off with me! I don't think she uttered another word to me for a fortnight!

I should add that Panic (ie. Panicum ssp) is a kind of grass, designed to improve the rather hard, rank native pastureland in Oz. Rape is described by my *dear* friend, Monique, in her post.

> Monique
> (who will try to convince you next that broccoli, cabbage, kale,
> cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are all the same thing... It's true!)

Yes, they are all, without exception, disgusting!

Thanks for the info, Monique.

Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Peacocks boring story
Date: Sat, 05 Sep 1998 08:59:39 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Heehee! Lu, you've reminded me of a boring story that happened to the Ugly Sister when she was eight and I was sixteen. It's about an emu (a flightless bird that doesn't perch on anything, but which nearly perched on my Ugly Sister one day).

We were on one of the three family holidays that ever happened to us. We had a caravan to sleep in (erm - trailer? mobile home? you know - the thing you pull along behind your car and park in a caravan park... trailer park? mobile home park?) And we were going from Newcastle to Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne to Adelaide to visit my unspeakable Aunt and her three unspeakable daughters.

We reached Canberra, the nation's capital. It's based on a circular plan with roads that go in ever-decreasing spirals and off of which you cannot get, in spite of your father's impending coronary!

Mum was navigating and kept saying: 'Quick! Turn left!' Dad: 'Where?' Mum: 'Back there!' This almost amounted to bloodshed, but in a brilliant stroke, calculated to prevent our swiftly becoming orphans, the Ugly Sister vomited down Dad's back and stopped the carnage. Hmmm... she's not *that* stupid, really...

Anyway, it was late afternoon when we arrived and we wanted to see some of the sights of Canberra. Having done the ring-road thing and been sorely disillusioned, we found a dear little nature reserve not too far out of town. There was water for Dad to freshen up and a municipal dunny. Relief!

No-one was there when we arrived, but there were many kangaroos mooching about in the late afternoon sun and three or four emus. Emus are our national bird: they are smaller than an ostrich, but taller than a rhea. In fact, when they draw themselves up to their full height, they're quite tall indeed: well over six foot!

The Ugly Sister did a terminally gormless thing and approached a female emu with a blade of grass. 'Here emu!' she said, 'come and have a nice piece of grass'. The emu gorbled (emu noise - sort of like a turkey with a heavy cold) away in blissful ignorance, poking its head to left and right, looking for grubs in the ground. 'Come on, emu', said the imminently dead Ugly Sister with rising inflection 'eat my grass!'

It was then that the 'little' emu's mate, a large and evil-looking male decided enough was enough. He drew himself up to about fifteen feet in height (exaggerating here, but that's what it seemed like) and began goose-stepping toward the Ugly Sister. He was booming away madly (inimitable noise that emu's make down in their throats - usually means they're infuriated). Now, the dangerous thing about an emu is that it has long, powerful claws like scimitars. It can disembowel a person with these, and since they're it's only weapon, it 'leads with its feet', so to speak, in a confrontation. He had smoke coming out of his nose and his eyes were flaming with unsatiated desire and fury at the Ugly Sister's disruption of his plan for seduction.

The Ugly Sister couldn't see her impending doom, and kept poking the blessed blade of grass at Mrs Emu (who was *still* ignoring her like mad). But Mum had seen Mr Emu rise up in defence of his beloved, so she picked up a stick and went after him.

Righteously aware of the conservation status of the Emu and it's importance in terms of the Australian Coat of Arms, (and, if I'm honest, highly aware that my own status as an elder child might change if the bird won), I ran after Mum in an effort to stop her from damaging a national icon. Ugly Sister was, by now, hurtling along on Fred Flintstone legs with Mr Emu in hot pursuit. Mum was screeching at the emu and I was screeching at Mum. Dad reckons this whole vignette was highly amusing as he watched it in silhouette against the setting sun.

Ugly Sister saved her own bacon by leaping into a tree. Mum saved herself by pulling up short of the enraged bird. I was cast down by the failure of the whole thing. Mr Emu herded his Missus off to the far end of the reserve.

Dad laughed...
Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT Memories was Humor etc
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 08:25:39 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Ooohh! Can I join in? We had a bread man with a *horse drawn* van (and the horse knew where to stop and start and would plod along to the next customer while the bread man went into the last one with his basket). The Bread Horses (enormous Clydesdales) lived in our back paddock and they *would not* eat bread (while other horses will kill for it!).

My Nanna had an ice man, who brought blocks of ice in great big pincer things to put in her ice box. His name was Terry Stair and he was miraculously able to blow big pink bubbles out of his mouth (I'd never seen bubble gum before).

I remember double decker buses that threated to overturn on every corner. I caught one to school every day of my life for thirteen years and I sorely miss them!

I remember my Dad's Butcher's shop with sawdust on the floor and the great big butchers' block on which he whacked at chops and cutlets. And he made sausages with real pigs' intestines instead of the disgusting plastic things they use now. And the clean smell of fresh beef mixed with the aroma of the pine sawdust... yummm! My favourite memory of my Dad's shop is my Big Strong Daddy himself, hefting a side of beef on his shoulder and hoicking it onto a pothook in the cold room. And his massive hands slicing meat with razor knives, so surely he never had to even look! And how he'd give me a raw sausage to munch on while he talked with customers... Oh boy... getting all misty now...

We had a radio and after tea each night we'd all gather round (just like on the Waltons) and listen to corny comedy programs. S'pose they weren't really corny back *then*... I remember hearing about the death of JFK on that same radio, although we had TV by then... I cried, and I was only six!

I can remember when you went into a shop (department store) and the saleslady would come rushing with a chair to seat you! (Well, for your Mum. *You* were supposed to be seen and not heard!) And I remember wearing pretty little dresses that had frou frou (ie swished when you twirled around, due to multiple scratchy tulle petticoats). And they had sashes that tied at the back and Naughty Boys would pull them undone at birthday parties, and you were perpetually asking someone's Mum to 'please tie me up'.

I remember when shops had Haberdashery counters at which you could buy all manner of buttons and cottons and trims. I remember how sewing cotton came on fabulous wooden reels (spools) and the reels were packed in excellently natty little boxes. You could use those for pencil cases or to make double beds for your little dollies. Geez, I wish I had a couple for DD! And embroidery cottons often had a counter of their very own and they looked like so many gorgeous jewels hanging there enticingly - some things don't change!

Trish {|:OI}

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Washing horses boring story, was Orvus
Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998 09:25:11 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Matt & Kathy Hoover wrote:
> <snip>
> This size jar should last for years as it requires so little to wash
> needlework...of course in tack shops they sell it in much larger jars
> as it takes MUCH more to wash a horse! LOL!
> Kathy

Our horses must be disadvantaged! Since we can't get Orvus, we use flagons of the cheapest hair shampoo from the discount store. This has reminded me of a boring story from 'way back...

The Ugly Sister and I went halves in a Really Nice Horse, an Anglo Arabian called Tristan. The idea was that we would 'get back into riding' again after having had our families. It turned out I couldn't ride because of a back problem, but I pitched in with a will to help The Ugly Sister and before long we were ready for our first Big Show.

Having listened avidly to all the advice of those around us, we prepared Tris to the very best of our ability. We washed him in Ashes of Roses shampoo (half a gallon for just a dollar!) and he smelt like a spring bouquet. His tail was plaited (by me) about thirty times before it looked just right and had no wispy bits sticking out. His mane was very thin, but I persevered and made sixteen almost-visible plaits out of it. (Convention says that horses' manes must be divided evenly into at least thirteen sections, each section plaited and then wound into a neat little nubbin. This nubbin is *stitched* into place (not to the horse, but to itself) and when it's finally unpicked, the horse looks exactly as though it's had a very Bad Perm).

'What about make-up?' asked the Ugly Sister.

'Nah, you look fine!' I said untruthfully as I replaited an almost-visible skinny plait.

'Not me, you berk! The horse! What will we put on him?'

(Other conventions say that dark horses' looks may be 'enhanced' by darkening around their eyes and at the ends of their noses with boot polish. White horses are usually washed with special ultra violet wash that makes them appear purple in strong sunlight.)

So we carefully applied black boot polish to Trissy's dark bits and wiped him over with baby oil to make his blood-red coat gleam in the sun. We trimmed his whiskers and the edges of his ears. I lay on my tummy on the ground to paint his hooves with tyre black and I lifted his foot-hairs up to paint underneath them. He looked *gorgeous*, just like a film star! Ugly Sister had all her fancy duds on (riding coat, white stock (cravat), hair net etc) and I legged her up into the saddle.

The first trauma happened when Tris turned around to look at her and half his plaits popped out! I mean, they literally popped out of his head! The strain of turning his neck caused all the hairs to break and his plaits flew off to land in the straw on the floor!

'Can you stick 'em back on?' Sometimes the Ugly Sister has a touchingly child-like faith in my abilities, but reattaching horsehair and a cure for baldness do not fall within my repertoire!

Ohmigoodness, what to do? We had no choice: with only fifteen minutes before the first class, I had to cut the entire mane off! With nail scissors! By the time I finished, Tris looked like a hedgehog. 'Never mind,' we comforted each other, 'he'll behave brilliantly and no-one will notice his hairdo'.

The next thing was that all that baby oil attracted every single one of those little dust motes that you see in shafts of sunlight. Tris looked as though he'd been rolling in flour! As the Ugly Sister rode him out to the ring, I scurried along behind, trying to polish off the 'flour' with a towel. I failed...

The last thing that happened before they entered the ring was that Tris turned again and rubbed his face on the leg of Ugly Sister's white jodhpurs. She had a hairy great black stain all up one leg... Pulling the brim of her hard hat down over her eyes, she clapped her heels to Trissy's sides and rode Meaningfully forward.

Tristan farted! (I'm really sorry, there's no nice way to say this!) He farted again. Then he reared up onto his hindlegs and catapulted forward into the melee of trim, workmanlike pairs of Young Ladies and Show Ponies. Bucking and farting, he nearly managed to unload the Ugly Sister in the very centre of all this. But Good Taste prevailed and he stopped short and trotted up to the Judge (a kindly lady who took hold of his bridle while the Ugly Sister composed herself). Snorting green froth all over the Judge, Trissy good-naturedly rubbed his face on her white linen blouse. She didn't notice the boot polish... but the Ugly Sister did and began to laugh.

Have you ever tried to ride a horse while stifling a fit of the giggles? Poor Ugly Sister! For a brief moment I felt sorry for her! Tristan continued to fart uncontrollably as he carted US around at the perimeter of the tight, serious knot of Lady Riders on their clockwork ponies. Gaily tossing his head, he whinneyed raucously and bucked just once more with gay abandon! The Ugly Sister flew off his back, describing a parabolic trajectory and landing right at the Judge's feet. The nice lady grimly assisted US to her feet (she'd noticed the boot polish by now) and said 'Why don't you just take him back to his stable, dear? He's really not ready for competition, now is he?'

So we left! We went on to do very well with Tristan, both at Dressage and at Pony Club. But that first time was a shocker!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Automobile boring horror story
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 16:57:31 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle
Lines: 35

Yesterday, Mum and I and the Ugly Sister drove all the way to Sydney to visit my darling Aunt in the Old Folks' Home. For two hours, we negotiated a Freeway, a Highway, incredibly congested Capital City traffic and afternoon rush hour in North Sydney.

We drove all the way back to Newcastle (100 miles) and dropped off the Ugly Sister at her place.

Setting out to drop *me* off, my Own Mother turned a corner onto the wrong side of the road and into the path of an oncoming vehicle!!!! It honked at us and the driver did a thing called (locally) as 'dating us up' or 'giving us the forx'. I'm a well-bred woman, so I don't think I need to elaborate on that...

But she *continued* on the wrong side of the road, screeching at me 'Patricia, Patricia, what's going on? Are they all on drugs or something?'. The butcher, a blood courier and the local scoutmaster all flew past, gesticulating wildly at us!!! I reached and grabbed the wheel from Mum, turning us off to the grass verge at the side of the road. We sat for a moment while poor Mum uttered a quiet Hail Mary (she does that in moments of crisis, like when the Ugly Sister shaved her eyebrows). Mum said 'We've been in four-lane traffic all day and I thought I was turning into the proper lane for us to turn right at the next intersection.'

'Yes,' I said. And thought to myself with chilling humility: 'If I'd been driving, I think I'd have done the same thing.' I'd never even *noticed* we were on the wrong side of the road until the first bloke dated us up!

Coming from four-lane to single-lane traffic does something to your consciousness!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Worst Drivers in the WORLD (Right, Trish?)
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 07:41:55 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Monique Reed wrote:
> Nope. Worst drivers are dedicated field botanists in the spring... Our eyes
> are on what's growing in the ditch, not on the traffic. We only realize we've
> slowed to 30 mph on the highway after the long line of cars behind us starts
> to honk...
> March to June, DH does the driving!!!
> Monique

Hnyahahahaha! I *have* to disagree with this one, Monique! While I'm a sometime Botanist too, I have to say that a birdwatcher who suddenly spots a rare specimen hovering over the highway is most likely to steer in sympathy with the object at hand!

Once upon a time I spied a *Brahminy Kite* (looks not unlike a Bald Eagle, but smaller) hanging over the highway near home. After a couple of minutes watching him, I realised I was weaving slightly back and forth across the road in time with his movements!

Another time, I nearly garrotted myself in the sunshine roof as I went 'Up Periscope' in an effort to watch a flock of bats (fortunately, DH was driving at the time). I managed to hit the 'close' button and was more or less suspended by my stupid neck!

Then again... for *consistent* distraction, it *is* hard to drive properly in the spring when everything's in flower... or in the summer when the fruit are appearing... or in autumn when the leaves change... or even in winter in a vain effort to find something (anything) of interest...

And dontcha *hate* it when the person who's driving can't/won't stop for you to rush back and collect a specimen? How many times have you seen some rare and beautiful plant on the roadside verge, just at the end of flowering and covered in fruit - but your SO wouldn't be bothered to stop for you? So you drive on, positively *fuming* and they simply don't get it that you just *needed* to stop and have a look?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What happened to me yesterday...
Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 18:36:55 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Whew! Glad to be back! Something appeared to be wrong with my server and I didn't *hear* from you guys ('cept Beth: Hi Beth!)...

Yesterday, DH and I were shopping madly. As we meandered aimlessly down the Shampoo and Hair Care aisle, I piped up and said 'Oh, Hon! Grab me a bottle of Conditioner, will you? I'm all out.'

True to form, Big Hon paused and began to assume the Holy Attitude of Price Comparison, wherein he cweases his widdle bwow and fwowns as he does Sums in Order to Determine the Cheapest Price per Millilitre of Shampoo. Finally he pronounced: 'Here's a new one. It's the cheapest, but do you like the smell?'

I sniffed and noted no discernible aroma. Then I did a Really Stupid Thing. I squidged the bottle in order to puffte a snort of the smell up me nose! What a bad idea that was! I succeeded in squirting about a pint of pale green hair conditioner right up me right nostril! DH was speechless! He laughed so hard no sound came out! He turned a beauteous shade of magenta! He held onto me for support!

I, in my turn, was also overcome with laughter. But stop to think for a moment of my predicament. I was leaning over with pale green stuff dripping out of my nose as a group of young teenagers passed us by. They turned and looked at DH, then they looked at me. Then they *hurried* away from us! I was appalled! My status as a dignified Pillar of Society had been compromised!

Still gurgling with laughter and trying Very Hard not to inhale the green stuff, I managed to get a tissue and finally blow my nose. By now, *I* was just as magenta as DH! And I had a Very Sore Nose as a result of the incursion of corrosive liquid! To top it off, I had to buy the wretched stuff because I'd spilled it! And it will *never* smell sweet in by dostrils after *that*!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Cross Stitch in labour?
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 09:02:38 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Heehee! Anne, this reminds me of when I had DS (nearly 23 years ago - where did all those years escape to???).

I'd had a very long labour and a large episiotomy to sit on. So they gave me an inflatable rubber doughnut! What a good idea! Piece o' cake! Could sit without wincing!

DS was born on a Wednesday night (at 11.30am), so on the following Sunday morning I girded up me loins, donned a fresh nightie and dressing gown, took up Old Faithful (the inflatable doughnut) and set off to Mass with the girl in the next bed (equipped with identical doughnut). She was a nice girl.... name of Margaret.... wonder where she is now...?

But, I digress...

We arrived at the chapel and arrayed ourselves comfortably on our doughnuts. Father entered solemnly and Mass began. We stood and lustily sang the entrance hymn (after all, we had a lot to be pleased about!). We sat for the opening prayers... nothing amiss...

Then we stood for the Creed. At the end, we sat again. But *this* time, disaster struck! Simultaneously, (ie. together, at the same time) our doughnuts gave up their spirits and farted long and loud into the silent church!

'Ppppbbbbllpphttttttt!!!!!' they said!

Utterly mortified, Margaret and I looked at each other sideways and immediately got The Giggles. 'Pbbbbblllpphhhhhhtttttt!' we said to each other, nodding sagely and pointing first at our doughnuts and then at our bottoms. Father looked at us and we shuddup immediately, just like two chastened schoolgirls. We stood, we sat, we farted, all the way through Mass! By the end of it we were a Nervous Wreck!

As we left the chapel, all the sick, injured and infirm folk who'd been sitting behind us, smiled broadly! We were Stars! Father simply shook our hands and congratulated us on our new children.
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Collections
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 19:45:03 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh! Monique! I'd give *anything* to be a Botany undergrad. again! I well remember climbing up on (then) DBF's shoulders to collect some intriguing red flowers that were growing on a gum tree. He staggered drunkenly back, forth and sideways while I grabbed and grasped at the specimen. I finally got hold of a chunk of it and he *dropped* me! I swang clumsily to the ground (sort of landed on top of 'im - ROTFLMAO!!) and we danced about in joy, having collected our final required specimen.

Little did we notice that none of the *other* gum trees was in flower... Little did we notice that a large clump of mistletoe was growing in our tree... Little marks did we get for failing to recognise the family Loranthaceae (Mistletoe) and calling it Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus), in spite of having found it alive and well and growing up a gum tree!

What are your undergrad. requirements? We had to collect 100 specimens, of which 20 were to be Eucalyptus and 20 grasses or pasture weeds. I had a beautiful collection, but had to burn it a few years ago when Mum found ants nesting in it! (Had been stored for many years).

Another collection we had to make was of invertebrates (animals without backbones). DBF (same bloke) had a large scorpion on the end of a stick and was trying to drop it into a bottle of formalin. The scorpion was not disposed to perform the Leap of Death, so it raised its tail and began running menacingly up the stick at DBF.

I tried to assist by reaching to grab the other end of the stick. I only succeeded in splashing formalin into DBF's only functioning eye! He threw the stick, the bottle and the formalin into the air screaming (loosely interpreted) 'AAAaaaarrrrrrhhhggggghh!!!! You've blinded me!!!' The scorpion landed on his shoulder, so I began beating at it with my clipboard. Since DBF had his eye shut, he thought I was mad at him and began balling up his fists in self-defence. It all ended happily when the scorpion was accidentally trodden upon and died of Depression! It took just a little cottonwool filling and some fuse wire inserted in his tail to make a really nice specimen of him. He didn't die in vain! (Er, the scorpion, not the DBF...)

Not long after this, we had an interesting car accident where we rounded a bend in the highway, to look right into the late afternoon sun. DBF was blinded again (moral: don't go out with one-eyed guys - it's life-threatening!), so he drove our Volkswagen right over a mountainside! We were thrown out, along with our entire collections and all our clothes. Imagine my chagrin, waking up from unconsciousness to see all my undies being inspected by a crowd of people standing on the roadside verge and looking down saying 'Are you all right?'

Why do people *ask* that? We were thrown, unconscious, out of our car and were both bruised, bleeding and battered. We were singularly *not* all right! But the people looked at us very strangely as they helped pick up all our pickled wildlife spread across the slope. I think they thought we were either going to smoke them or use them for some strange religious ritual!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Meat Ant Boring Story
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 1998 16:48:22 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Heehee! Ruth, this reminds me of a little boring story about Meat Ants! (For everyone outside Oz, Meat Ants are about an inch and a half long with massive jaws about a quarter of an inch and really *stingy* venom! They nest in the ground, but the workers exit each day to forage in the treetops till dusk. Step on their trail, and you'll be Very Sorry Indeed!

Once, when I was on a Third Year Biology field trip, we were doing a mark and recapture exercise on a colony of Meat Ants. In this, you capture a heap of ants by holding a glass container in front of their single file as they exit their nest. The stupid creatures have a brain the size of an ant and don't try to escape! Then, you anaesthetise them with ether and paint them with some Barbidol pink nail polish to mark the ones you'd caught. You release them next day and recapture the same number of ants on the third day. If half of this sample has a pink blob on it, you can work out from that proportion how many ants there are in the entire colony (in theory, at least). This exercise was incredibly boring for us until...

Our professor was an unspeakably horrible, arrogant man called Dave. He spoke at us with a very nasty, condescending attitude. One of Dave's ultra-nasty habits was looking with Great Interest down the necklines of his female student's shirts. Dave thought he was Quite a Catch and told us so at every opportunity!

We were nearly finished recapturing our second sample of Meat Ants on this occasion, when Dave leapt up, clutching his bosom.

'Omig*d!' he bellowed! 'A b****y ant has bitten me on the tit!' (Sorry for the profanity, but I am actually quoting).

In spite of his wide-brimmed Gucci hat, a large, angry Meat Ant had fallen down the neckline of *Dave's* shirt and bitten him fair on his left nipple! (Do I hear a chorus of many voices reverberating around the world, saying 'Ooooooohhhhhhh' in low, empathetic tones on hearing this?) Dave danced and shouted and carried on for about fifteen minutes before we could get him to lose the shirt and inspect the damage.

It wasn't pretty! Dave was *really* flabby and we noted the hair on his chest was a lot whiter than that on his head! And his left -er - breast was about as big as that head: swollen, purple and hard! Poor Dave! He spent about three days in bed with ice packs before he got any real relief! We just laughed and laughed. Can you imagine the jokes Dave came back to?

'Dave! Mate! Let me just catch that ant I see on your boob!'
'Dave, weren't you wearing a bra that day?'
'Dave, look on the bright side! He might've gone down your *pants*!'
'Dave, you're really lookin' a bit lop-sided mate! You want to get an ant to bite the other side as well!'

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Humane Traps, was Migrating Spiders
Date: Wed, 02 Dec 1998 22:44:06 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh me too! I just *live* for ultra clever things! I'm currently seeking a cheese grater that will grate cheese finely but without the sticky, fatty mess to clean up afterward. (Can you imagine what my kitchen drawers contain???)

On the subject of humane traps: I favour the old tumbler and piece of cardboard for Large Spiders of Indeterminate Parentage and Venomousness. However... once, we had a mouse plague...

I was asleep. Dreaming about an oven timer going off. I eventually woke to see DS in my doorway asking 'What's that noise?'. We turned on the light to find a *poor* little field mouse trapped by it's little pink tail in a mousetrap! And he was screaming! Matt quickly released the poor little mouse into a bucket and I let him go in the Back Paddock next day (ie. the mouse, not Matt!).

But we still had lots of mice! You could *hear* them frolicking and gambolling about in the night. Once, I even sat up in my bed and watched them playing. Now, that was fun! The dear little things: they chased each other and squeaked when they got caught! Just like any little animal would. So, reluctant to kill them by foul means, I devised a cunning plan to trap them humanely and let them go again. (NB. Mum nearly had a stroke when she heard about this! She was in Sydney for an extended time and we were house-sitting *her* house!)

I got a large (two litre) milk bottle and laid in on its side on the ground. I crumbled up some biscuits (cookies) into the mouth of the bottle. Then I tied a string to the bottle's handle, threaded it through a hook in the ceiling and sat down to wait. Sure enough, along came victim number one! Ploop! This was a snap! One mousie hopping about in my anti-death mousetrap! Ploop! Another! And (ploop!) another! I caught seventeen mice that night! Went to sleep at 2am, feeling *so* clever! All seventeen of my subjects were carefully sealed in a tall bucket with ventilation and water. Next day, I went for a Nice Walk and let them all go. I really can't say how many mice I caught ultimately: Mum would be so embarrassed! But it was *a lot*! And I didn't have to do anything horrible to the poor little creatures. Perfect!

Have I ever mentioned the time I caught my Ugly Sister's horse with a rat trap?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Comments regarding polo/crosse
Date: 21 Dec 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Some trivia for ya, Kath: that horse was a gift to Her Majesty from the people of Canada: she was a trained and experienced member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force and her name is Burmese. The 'firecracker' was actually some berk *firing* into the ceremony and the horse was actually grazed (from memory) by the projectile.

Now, how the Queen managed to keep the horse in check while riding side saddle is a mystery to both of us! But after the incident, Burmese was placed in the stables among Her Majesty's riding horses and retired from public life. The Queen was not willing to risk such a valued gift and now attends the Trooping the Colour ceremony in a carriage. Burmese can still be seen on occasions when Her Majesty rides her for pleasure and I *believe* she is also used occasionally in certain official capacities, but I don't know what those might be. I seem to recall her being used in one of the more recent funerals (Lady Diana's perhaps?) as the 'riderless horse'.

And if we're talking horses, *what* about Prince Charles' seat!!??? If I could ride like that, they'd call me Centaur! I reckon he runs rings round Princess Anne (whom I admire enormously, but I don't like the way she rides). Next time they show footage of him playing polo, just watch how sensitive his hands are!

(Short boring story)
Our Pony Club fielded a team at the State polocrosse championships a few years ago. We also fielded a team in campdrafting, but that's a different boring story.

Now, to field a State level team, you have to have kids with bums of steel and guts to match. Racing along with a ridiculously tiny ball in a teensy net at the end of a six foot stick is not easy. But doing it while someone else is pounding down at you on a gigantic brick-s**thouse of an animal is not for the faint of heart! So our girls (none of whom had ever played polo or polocrosse before) thought they might need some coaching. We asked one of our National Champions to come and give the team a few pointers and he did. For nothing, G*d bless 'im!

The first lesson (five hours long) was spent teaching the team to carry the sticks without knocking their ponies senseless or tripping them over. Also, some of the ponies had become assailed with a Great Desire to run away from the sticks - I think they thought they were instruments of bondage and discipline! So it took a while to teach each pony to go forward while a girlie was sitting atop him, brandishing a lump of timber and doing drum majorette exercises with it about his ears. This was absolutely hilarious to watch! Some of our very best riders (my baby niece included) were reduced to fits of hysterics as they systematically garrotted themselves on their polocrosse sticks. You know how it's not 'nice' to strike your opponent with a hockey stick? Well it's almost *fatal* to do it with a polocrosse one!

After about six lessons, it was time to load up the truckful of girlies and ponies and set out across the state to Orange (far western New South Wales - about five/six hours drive). We watched some wondrous polocrosse that day! Some kids were as young as twelve and thirteen and they rode like little apprentice Prince Charleses!

When it came time for our team to ride, they came over all bashful... none of them wanted to play. To cut a long story short, they were actually laughed off the field. Our team captain nearly beheaded the line umpire and our goalie was red carded off for trying to impale her opponent's pony on the blunt end of her stick! My baby niece scored our only goal and she did that by actually running away from her opposite number in sheer terror. She neglected to notice she had the ball in her net and threw the net, ball and all, into the goal. For that performance, she won our club's Ttrophy for Polocrosse that year! However, at the State Championship, we won a joke award for 'Team With the Most Audacity'.
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Christmas boring story
Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 08:28:18 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh dear! Where has the year gone? I thought I'd tell this short boring story about DD, who embarrassed me rather awfully at last year's Midnight Mass. We're taking her again this year, but how I hope she's that bit more restrained, having reached the advanced age of four!

Ellie was all decked out in her new Christmas dress (courtesy of Mama's Boutique) and she was very proud to be going to Mass, along with Granny and Aunt (the Ugly Sister) and the rest of the family. She was utterly quiet and pensive throughout the service (except for asking who the man in the dress was, but I handled that easily enough).

Came the Offertory procession and a stirring hymn was sung. I was projecting away, 'cause I love singing, especially at Christmas. When the hymn ended, there was that deep quiet which always follows such moments. And dear little DD chose exactly that moment to strike!

'Mum!' she stage-whispered so that Sister Philomena, up in the loft, could hear her, 'I gotta do a wee!'

'Can't you hang on?' I replied, while desperately shushing (people in the row behind were smiling broadly).

'No, Mum! I'm bustin' like mad! I can't get wee all over me new dress!'

At that, half the church erupted in suppressed laughter. So I took the little fiend by the hand and we raced out into the night. Now, I can't say I'm intimately acquainted with Our Lady of Victories' parish... and if they have a Ladies' Loo, I'm completely unaware of it. The night was dark, there were strange shadows everywhere and Ellie kept hopping up and down saying 'Wee is gonna come soon, Mum!'

So I seized her and helped her to relieve herself at the edge of the carpark, in deep shadow under a gum tree. Breathing a sigh of relief, I led my darling girl back into the church, just in time for the Eucharistic Prayer (another occasion for devout and complete silence).

Happily making her way back to her seat, she announced to her Granny in that inimitable stage-whisper: 'I done a great big wee, Gran, in the car park. Mum said it was OK. An' wee never went on me new dress an' it never went on the cars, either. Do *you* want to do a wee? I'll take you, if you'd like!'

The entire Church yodelled with laughter at that and I could feel my face blazing. I felt like a beacon, and everyone knew who I was! You'd be surprised how many people came and commented what a sweet little girl I had - I was harbouring doubts at the time, but she *is* kinda gorgeous...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: another Christmas boring story
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 09:46:32 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh Cheryl! How did you know!? The Ugly Sister and I share a precious memory of our Mum meeting us at the Church after a fourteen hour shift at work. She sat down, and almost immediately her head flopped. We smiled at each other over her head and let her be. Until.... 'BBbbbZZzzzttttttttttt!' The old girl was snoring like a buzz saw! And we couldn't wake her up! 'BbbbZZzzzzzzttttttt!' she went! In the end, it took a co-ordinated assault from elbows on both sides. We jabbed her in the ribs simultaneously and she shot out of her seat, just as everyone else sat down!

So of course, we keep reminding her of our bitter disappointment at having such an irreverent Mum. Really gets her dander up ;->

We took Miss Ellie to Mass last night and as a special treat, I gave her the Skipper doll I'd dressed in an identical dress to hers. Skipper has moveable joints, so good old Ell spent most of the sermon making Skipper 'fly'.

Sadly, we'd been forced to sit right up in the choir stall, 'cause the Church was overcrowded. Even sadlier, poor Skipper's engines cut out and she plummeted down onto Mrs Rooney's head from the heights! The embarrassment! It took about ten minutes to persuade my not-too-chivalrous nephew to pop down and retrieve Skipper (Ellie was fixing to 'chuck a wobbly' by then). But we all got a good giggle out of it, especially when Mum kept hissing at us to shut up and say our prayers!

Something *always* happens when our mob gets together!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Wedding Day boring story
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 20:55:24 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

I arose fresh and jolly and had about three slices of hot buttered toast for breakfast. A great start!

Mum and the Ugly Sister went off to get their respective hairs done while I went to the beauticians for a full wedding make-up, paid for by the Girls at Work. After that, I was to collect the flowers from the florists' fridge. DS had done all my flowers, as he was studying with the florist at the time.

Loretta (the beautician) was very chirpy and chatted on and on as she made up my face. She kept running 'out the back' and I did wonder at the shade of lolly pink (think Barbidol) lipstick! I told her I was wearing emerald green. But she said not to mind and that it was a wonderful colour for a bride. (Now, I was an Old Boiler, even then, but I let it pass, thinking no-one could muck a bride up! I was wrong!)

I thanked Loretta profusely as she wished me well and took a swig from a large flask in her pocket. I hopped in the car and motored off to the florists' place. Half way there, I had occasion to look in the rear vision mirror. I smiled at my reflection, in that vacuous way one does and reeled back in horror!

Loretta had lipsticked my mouth without getting me to stretch my lips. So there were white zebra stripes running down my smile! She had outlined my lips so that they looked deformed!

In addition, now that I looked closely, my eyelids were two distinctly different shades of blue, one cobalt and one turquoise. Neither was going to look great on my GREEN dress! *Then*, I saw that the eyeliners were decidedly off skew as well: on eye looked quite small and beady, while the other was large and staring. Loretta had applied the eyeliners to the inside of one lash and the outside of the other! She had also blushered one cheekbone and not its mate! I realised incredulously what must have been in her flask!

Oh dear! What to do!? I took my flowers from the florist, who looked at me very oddly, and fled to the hairdresser's, where Mum and Ugly Sister were reclining and waiting for their hairs to set.

'Patricia!' Mum shrieked, 'What on earth have you done to yourself?' (Mum is heavily into Blame and always assumes it was my fault first, but I have dealt with this and accept it on most occasions). The Ugly Sister laughed silently, so that no sound came out. But I could see her fat shoulders shaking and knew all was not well with me...

''Twasn't me, Mum!' I whined. 'It was Loretta! What am I going to do?'

Everything turned out OK and the hairdresser redid me beautifully. I looked fine that afternoon, as DH and I were married amidst our immediate families on board an antique paddlewheel ferry called the South Steyne. Anyone who comes to the Olympics in 2000 can see it on Sydney Harbour, where it's functioning as the Headquarters for SOCOG.

After our reception and lashings of Chocolate Liqueur cake, we kidnapped my best friend, Muso, and took him around the sights of Newcastle until about 4am. Then, after delivering Muso to his hotel, we wandered to our honeymoon suite, overlooking the gorgeous Newcastle Beach and sat eating strawberries and exotic cheeses until the sun rose. Then we had a spa. Then we slept until lunchtime. Then we went to a book sale in the main street of Newcastle. Then we went home to Mum's and had dinner. Then we set out for a week in Sydney, going to bookshops and the Zoo.

There was not a single cross word or bad thought (in my vicinity at least) for that whole day. Best of all, my darling Dad was able to give me away, which we'd thought he might not be able to do, owing to recent cancer surgery. Best day of me life, that was!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Re: Pet Fairies, was An Idea for MLI
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 08:46:29 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

> <> wrote:
> >All of a sudden the cat clearly sees something you don't, they stare at it
> >intently, their head pivots as they watch it dip and dart and fly around
> >the room, sometimes they take off in hot pusuit or leap straight into
> >the air trying to catch something that you can not see. We have decided
> >that it's the cat fairy and only cats can see them.
> >
> >Alda

> wrote:
> LOL! This reminds me of one of my cats, who is now waiting at the
> rainbow bridge, that used to stare at a spot, usually on the
> ceiling. I would notice her staring for quite a long time and would
> look to see what she was staring at. I would look very hard to see
> what she saw and there was nothing there. When I glanced back at
> her, she would be staring at me. I could just hear her say,
> "Gotcha!" She used to do this a lot. I sure do miss Colette.
> Anne/NC

Well, I had a horse who saw fairies in exactly this manner. We'd be mooching along, usually on the roadside verge as I've always lived in the suburbs, when suddenly, some fearsome fairy would poke this mare in the bum with a Large Bodkin, Dagger or Scimitar. The horse (whose name, unfortunately, was Ellie*), would then rise up onto her hindlegs, emit a bloodcurdling whinny and flee for fairy-free fields!

On other occasions, I'd be pointing the mare at a jump: just a small pole or fallen log, you understand. We'd canter up to the log jauntily, *expecting* to leap over it with gay abandon, when *I* would become the abandoned one, as Ellie pulled off to one side, leaving me to leap the log alone!!! Apparently, the Fairies of the Forest have a Nasty Habit of sitting atop logs-just-begging-to-be-jumped and wagging their fingers at ponies, blowing raspberries and generally giving them the forx! The pony, of course, is mortified at this behaviour, seeks immediately to avoid a confrontation and nicks off (cf.'p*sses off).

There are other fairies that carry long feathers. They tickle horses in their most ticklish bits, causing those weird flutters of the skin that horses do just to unnerve you. They also stick their feathers up horses' noses in order to make them sneeze loudly, greenly and copiously, all over your best white shirt and white breeches.

Finally, there are those *wicked* little fairies that lead white horses to the freshest, steamiest, slimiest heap of manure in the paddock and exhort them to lie down and *roll* in it! They do this about eight hours before a show, so that a Large, Green, Obviously Excretory Stain appears down one side of the horse. The owner has utterly no choice but to wash, scrub, bathe and scrape the horse for approximately two hours in an effort to remove the stain. (For those of you who face this problem on a regular basis, can I recommend enzyme laundry detergent, *very* diluted chlorine bleach and a large puffte of baby powder to finish?)

Yes, I can *just* imagine our dear MLI designing a gorgeously coloured XS of these naughty little fairies! She could use lots of beads and metallics to represent the stars observed by people like me as they hit the ground in the wake of a decamping horse...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. It was only *after* the birth and christening of my VDD, Eleanor, that I realised I'd actually named her after my *horse*! DH was a bit piqued when I told him that, as we'd had Major Discussions about naming our child for anyone except herself. I'm a traditionalist and wanted to name her for my aunt, DH wanted a unique name. He won.

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Favorite stitching music
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 08:19:56 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

When I lived at the University, our College made some money on the side by functioning as a Conference Centre during the holidays. I earned extra money by working as a janitor-sort-of-person for the Conference Delegates (Connie Dellies) who attended.

*Early* one Sunday morning, I was awakened to the stirring strains of 'Scotland the Brave' (my favourite), played on a Very Loud Bagpipes: the music was resounding around the central courtyard and sounded like the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Heavenly Throng!

I blearily made my way out onto the balcony to find half the College and all the Connie Dellies transfixed!

A lone piper was marching along the flat roof of the building, piping his very lungs out. He was naked as the day he was born and (I had it on good authority) still drunk from the night before. However, his ability to play his pipes was not affected, so no-one stopped him. We had about a half hour concert before he ran out of puff and played 'The Black Bear' by way of ending. You *should* have heard the applause! No-one minded having been woken so abruptly in this special way and everyone was grinning!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Boring story of fires and floors
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999 08:36:05 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Last night, my friend Muso and I were discussing the nice effect of romantic candlelight dinners with our spice (spouses)... and our discussion reminded me of this boring story that began with candles. We had a good laugh, so I thought I'd share it with rctn:

Once, some Poor, Simple Fool gave my younger niece an Advent Wreath (you know, those little green wreathy do-dads with four candles on them). Clearly, the PSF had no idea of my niece's pyromaniacal tendencies, nor of her proclivity for Setting Fire to Things with Matches...

Anyway, one afternoon, Jacquie was 'showing Timmy the pretty candles' and had lit them with the Ugly Sister's cigarette lighter. They were burning cheerily on her dressing table and Timmy (the two year old baby brother) was suitably impressed. Wholly unaware of this little vignette, the Ugly Sister came marching into Jaquie's room and hauled both kids out to help feed the horses. Everyone piled into the car and off they all went to the paddock, only three blocks away. Feeding only took half an hour, but the Advent candles continued to burn cheerily all the while. They burned through the top of the dressing table and into Jacquie's undies drawer. They burned through that and into her school uniform in the next drawer. Finally, they burned entirely through her brand new jodhpurs she had just received for her birthday. They were in the bottom drawer and the last barrier between the Advent candles and the floor!

When Ugly Sister, DBIL and the three kids returned home, Jacquie cried 'Mum! There's smoke coming out of me window!' DBIL did the only 'sensible' thing and *opened* the window. You guessed it! Tongues of flame came licking out at his head, rendering him entirely bald in one fell swoop! (We-e-ell... maybe he wasn't *entirely* bald, but he certainly went without eyebrows for a good while!) He leaped through the window, seizing the blazing dressing table and hurling it through the open casement and onto the front lawn. Later, it took three of us just to lift the charred remains!

Neighbours from several blocks around began to gather at the front of the Ugly Sister's place to see the spectacle! Some inventive soul had rung the Fire Brigade, so before long there came the clangour of the siren and the Five Little Firemen pulled up at the drive, hook-and-ladder and all! Ugly rang me, crying 'Trisha, can you come? The house is on fire and Jacqueline won't stop vomiting!' I flew to my car and arrived just as the Five Little Firemen did. Summing up the situation with a glance, I felt my place was with poor little Jacquie, who was indeed relieving her tummy all over the herbaceous border.

After about an hour of the 5LF clambering about in the roof cavity, it was pronounced OK for us to go inside. Jacquie's room was completely destroyed by flames and smoke, so there was clearly A Lot to Do in order to satisfy the Landlord. Ugly determined then and there to move to a different address!

A few days later, Mum minded the kids so Ugly, DBIL, DH and I could spend a weekend fixing the house up so Ugly & Co could move out. I was cleaning the bath and singing loudly as I did so. DH was helping a bloke mend the floor of Jacquie's room and lay new carpet there. DBIL had lifted the rug in the dining room and was cleaning the parquet floor. Ugly Sister was cleaning the stove. She called out to me, but I didn't hear as I was just reaching the passionate bit of my song (final trio from Faust, eh!) Exasperated, Ugly came stomping across the parquet floor to speak to me Up Close.

Tragically, in the 130-odd square feet of parquet flooring, *one single square* had been completely eaten to paper by termites! And DBIL had exposed it by lifting the rug! Ugly chose this unique square to walk on as she came toward me. Her foot pierced the parquetry and she became buried up to her groin in the floor! ('Scuse me: I must just turn aside to guffaw at that - the memory is oh-so-precious to me!)

'Aaaaauuughhhhh!!!!!!' shrieked the Ugly Sister, 'Me le-e-eggggg! The painnnnnnn!!!!' Of course, we all came running to find out what the problem was. There was poor Ugly Sister (hnn-hnn-hnnf - guffaw!! ROTFLMAO!!!) with only one leg sticking out! The other one was completely under the house! Now, my Ugly Sister is no fairy: back then, she had hefty little leggies just like a prop forward (A prop forward is a man who plays Rugby League and who, by definition, has leggies like middle-aged sequoias. Please see the gorgeous Paul Harragon of the Newcastle Knights for comparison). The diameter of the hole in the floor was roughly four inches. So Ugly's leggy began to turn Really Black really quickly.

'Trishaaaaaaa!!!!' said Ugly, 'Get Mum!' (Ugly entertains the notion to this very day that our Mum can fix anything. I thought it so touching that she believed Mum could raise her up from this highly entertaining predicament!) Ugly began to cry and make a really unpleasant noise, so I sat down and tried to help her stay calm. It didn't work. We called to the carpet-laying fellow, assuming he'd have a hammer and chisel. He didn't! (*How* can you lay carpet without a hammer???) All he had was about four inches of broken hacksaw blade. He produced this and began to saw at the floor.

'Don't you cut my leg off!' warned the Ugly Sister. The poor man was very embarrassed owing to the rather personal situation. However he did a sterling job and after about an hour managed to cut away enough parquetry to release Ugly from the floor. You *should* have seen her leg! It was Deep Purple! So DH and DBIL drove her off to the emergency room in order to have it x-rayed. I stayed and continued to clean the bathroom. Eventually, the State Emergency Service turned up! Three vans and a police car arrived, having been called by a neighbour who was alerted by Ugly's shrieking. *I* got the unenviable job of explaining exactly what had come to pass. The policeman, aware of the fire call just the week before looked at me Very Oddly Indeed. He warned me about hoax calls and went off to mutter at someone in his radio. They left and the incident was finally all over.

Do these sorts of things happen to other families, or is it just mine?

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Lavis)
Subject: Re: O.T:Australia (and Boring Story)
Date: 07 Feb 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: OzEmail Ltd.
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Ahhh... you didn't read my whinging post about the heat, then? It's called 'Stinkin' Hot' and goes on and on about the wretched heat. I actually went to a Horse Trial today (madness, utter madness!) and nearly cooked myself. I put *so* much sunscreen on DD and DS, but only a smattering on me. Consequently, I have no sunburn on my palms - the rest of me was subject to change without my noticing! I look like a slightly dyspeptic lobster (post pot, of course) and feel *so* tender!

My niece was leading her class in the Event, but neglected to ride her horse between the finish flags at the end of theCross Country section (stupid child! She's been hangin' around long enough to know how to finish!) so she was eliminated. Her mother (my Ugly Sister) was waiting at the finish to take the horse. Jacqueline fell out of the saddle, red in the face, hyperventilating and covered in sweat, but the Ugly Sister walked off to hose the horse and put on boots full of ice cubes (ie. on the horse, not on herself). Poor Jack brought up the rear of this sorry procession gasping for a drink. Her father had the only wet stuff available (stubby of Fosters beer) and gave it to her. The poor child drained it in one go and the last I saw of her, she was spread out on a bale of hay, snoring her head off in the back of the horse truck. Someone's dog was eating the sandwich in her hand, but somehow I don't think she cared... at least the horse (goes by the name of Thommo - Thomas a Becket) was cool and comfortable!

Anyway, I digress! (Sorry, but me brain is baked). I've been meaning to post some URLs of my hometown (Newcastle, NSW, Australia), so here they are.

I hope some of you have a look and enjoy a nice cybervisit to the Hunter Valley. I live in a suburb called Wallsend, which is a very old mining settlement west of Newcastle proper. Follow some of the links to places like the Wine country, Port Stephens and the Barrington Tops. If some of you are thinking of coming for the Olympics in 2000, you could do worse than commute to Sydney from Newcastle!

Trish {|:-}

PS I can't resist telling you this Boring Story - we thought it was hilarious! A very hoity-toity gentleman (proud possessor of the roundest vowels I've ever heard) was announcing the events over the PA. He sounded as though he did his Boot Camp at the BBC. Anyway, at one point he loudly ejaculated: 'Ladies and gentlemen, there has been a large Black Snake spotted in the vicinity of the Water Jump. Please avoid this area at all costs and be aware of your dogs and children playing there!' (Notice he said 'dogs' first?)

He announced this all afternoon at regular intervals until we heard a most ungracious and uncharacteristic splutter coming from the speakers: 'Ladies and gentlemen, that which we had formerly described as a Black Snake has been found to be in fact a false tail! If anyone's mount is missing its toupee, please apply at the administrator's tent. Your snake is waiting there for you!'

For those who don't know, you use *lots* of makeup on horses at shows. One of the little artifices available is a false tail that you can plait into the horse's real tail in order to make it look thicker and more luxuriant. Clearly, someone's falsie had fallen off at the Water Jump and lain there pretending to be A Snake. I bet the owners were pleased to get it back, as they cost Gigadollars!

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Errant tyres, was Jaywalking
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 10:54:59 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

ROTFL! One day, my Ugly Sister had dropped the kids off at school and was *speeding* home to spend a day washing tack (saddles and stuff). She had a Jackaroo (largish 4x4) back then and was tooling along the country roads of Duckenfield in a Big Hurry. Duckenfield is in alluvial country at the lower reach of the Hunter River. Its very flat, rich, extensive floodplain is ideal for market gardening and dairying. So Ugly was hooting along through the acres and acres of vegetables, singing at the top of her lungs.

Suddenly she observed a lonely car tyre to overtake her and whoosh into the opposite lane! It was actually rolling along the road faster than she was driving (which was at Quite a Good Clip). As she watched it, she slowed down in bemusement. The tyre shot off the road and into the cauliflowers that just happened to be in full bloom at that time. It rolled along and along and along and along, almost out of view...

It was only then that Ugly's car began to slew sideways and sparx appear before her horrified eyes as she realised it had been her Very Own Personal Tyre that she had bidden a hazed farewell to only seconds before! The car *nearly* rolled over, but was saved by a (now defunct) fencepost. Ugly was hurled out of the door to land cross-legged on a cauliflower! (Oh dear G*d, in your Infinite Wisdom, why didn't you let me be there to see it?) She got up, dusted herself off and went tramping across the caulis in search of her tyre. She walked and walked: looking, looking, looking. Eventually, she heard something that sounded like a snake (I really want to know what a snake sounds like!) and was too scared to continue, so she turned back and had to walk a couple of miles to the nearest farm house. Bumm-er! (snicker)

She never found the tyre, but I imagine the farmer did when he came to cut his caulis. I often wonder what he thought when he found a very big 4x4 tyre smack in the middle of his field?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Where are the non-Xstitchers?
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 23:07:55 +1000
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Oh my! I feel a boring story coming on... (this one probably *is* boring to everyone but me, so bear with me, OK?)

Years ago, when I met my friend, Muso at University, we joined the choir together. We sang lots of great stuff and met many fine people from the Music Department. (Once, I got to be-bop along to 'Maple Leaf Rag' as played by the Head of Music, while draped over the Uni Steinway! Er, *I* was the drapee, not the Head, OK?)

Anyway, one of the fine folk I met was a guy called Richard. He's one of those prodigy sorts of people. He has a PhD in Physics (acoustics) and a PhD in Music (Musicology) and a PhD in Psychology (Cognitive Processes). He has perfect pitch, can play any instrument once he works out how it's tuned and has a gorgeous tenor singing voice.

Richard instigated a Music Minus One Recital at the Uni and kicked off with his own rendition of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto (yum! I *love* that piece!) (Music Minus One is where you get an orchestral recording of a piece, minus one instrument - usually the one you plan to play! Sort of like classical Karaoke) A few other people gave recitals and Richard was madly practising a piece called 'The Rach.2'.

'Never heard of it!' I said.

'Well, listen to me practising it in the music room' Richard replied.

One day, I was doing an excruciating Stats assignment when I heard someone practising on the piano...

What a piece! All moody and Russian and brooding! I'd never really *listened* to classical music before and then this wonderful icy, snowy, blizzardy piece of music came wafting in my window like the first winds of winter! Well! Down I went to see (roly poly, pell mell and tumble bumble). It was Richard! All sweating and stiff-upper-lipped, he *forced* the Rach 2 out of the old college piano. By the end of the session, it must've been *aching* from the power in that piece! I was just stunned. I'd never known anyone who could *do* something like that (ie produce such a volume of power and passion and *sound* from an instrument). Wow!

And that was the beginning of my conversion. My life changed that day and all because of Richard. I graduated, he moved on (to Scandinavia, then to England and now in Munich) and we lost touch. Until he rang me on the phone just a few weeks ago.

'Hello!' he said. 'It's me: Richard. Remember?'

'Do you still play the Rach 2?' I asked him, after suitable expressions of excitement at hearing from him at last.

There was a pause...

... and the familiar strains came thrumming across the airwaves *from Germany* and *just for me*!!! Oh dear! I cried!

That's why Rachmaninoff is my favourite composer.

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: A rodent boring story (now incredibly long)
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 00:06:12 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Well, here's my rodent story. I've thought of posting this one before, but it seems timely to do it now.

The Ugly Sister
DS - Matt, 14
My Hunn (DH) - Kim
DNieces - Teasie and Jacquie, 10 and 9
DNephew - Timmy, 2
Horses - Tristan, Ranya, Dillon, Suzette and Boofhead
Dog - blue cattledog, Nicky


The Ugly Sister got tired of having to drive miles to visit her horses, so she and my then-DBIL decided to sell their house and try to find a rental place with acreage attached. They did. Right in the heart of the fertile market-gardening region called Duckenfield (just north of Newcastle on the shores of the Hunter River for those with maps). The old cottage had been transplanted from somewhere else, so none of its seams was still intact: there were gaps between the floorboards and the walls of up to two inches! However, the property itself was utterly charming: you walked out the back door and looked across patchwork fields as far as the Blue Mountains in the far distance. The Hunter River gurgled not 50 metres from the back door and it was truly just like Heaven!

Now, right on the heels of this decision, my DBIL had a sudden flare-up of his Crohn's Disease (foul bowel disorder). This occasioned him to go into hospital and have eight feet of his intestines removed. Awful! He became gutless overnight! (Sorry - couldn't resist that!) So poor Ugly had to finish moving house alone. Of course DH (then only a DBF) and I helped her.


So, the night she moved in was a Friday. DH and I agreed to stay for the weekend and help set the house up. By the time we got there, it was dark, so we were anxious to eat and get to bed. As we entered and proceeded down the hallway, Ugly said 'What's that white powder on the floor?' We looked. 'Dunno...'

Brave (or dense) as usual, Ugly tasted it. 'It's custard powder!' she announced. Following the trail back to her bedroom, we found a large bag filled with Jenny Craig food (Ugly was reducing at that time. And yes, it worked.) The Terribly Tasty Vanilla Custard had been ripped open and Something had been eating the stuff! So, following the trail the *other* way, we arrived at elder niece, Teasie's bed. The three of us naturally reached out to move the bed away from the wall. As we did so, a Large and Hairy Animal materialised from nowhere and shot into DH's groin! 'Oooofff!' he said in a peculiar voice, 'What was *that*?'

'A rat! A rat! A rat!' yodelled the Ugly Sister. 'There's a rat in my new house! Get it out! Get it out! Get it out!' There followed mayhem as we all tried to put Serious Distance between ourselves and The Rat!

... and The Rat promptly exited the bedroom, making its way back up the hall to the front door. Passing our collective kids on the way, there was a veritable fountain of children as they each leapt onto furniture out of the rodent's path. I was impressed to note that Teasie had the foresight to seize her baby brother before she made her own dash for safety.

DH chased The Rat with a broom, batting at it as it scurried back and forth against the locked door. Finally, it bolted down the gap in the floorboards and was lost. It was A Bad Rat! It had smoke coming out of its nose and sparks emanating from its evil little red eyes! Honest!

'Whew!' we all said. 'Let's have some dinner.'

'Hang on!' said Ugly 'There's a Pony Club Gymkhana tomorrow and the horse trailer has a flat tyre. We must fix that before we pack it in for the night.' So off we trailed in the dark to try and change the tyre by the light of four cigarette lighters (couldn't find the torch).

DH was just removing the wheel when we heard some maniac screaming along the quiet country road pretending to be an f-18 in full flight. 'Scree-ee-ee-eech!' went his tyres. 'Thunk!' then: 'Yoww, yoww, yowww!' Ugly's dog, Nicky, had been knocked down by the fast-retreating jet!

'Oh no! Poor Nicky!' chorused the kids. And we all raced to find him in the palpable pitch dark that only happens in the country. There he was: sitting, shivering, on the road. His face had been laid open to the bone and there was surprisingly little blood. But the poor thing was clearly in shock, so Ugly carried him down to the house while DH and DS finished changing the tyre.

'Have you got a needle and thread?' I asked 'We should stitch that right away.' 'Yeah,' Ugly replied, 'I'll leave Nicky here in the laundry and find it. Can you get some feed bags and make a bed for him. The hot water bottles are in that box.' Dutifully going about making the poor little creature comfortable, I sort of didn't notice that he slunk (or should that be 'slank'?) out of the laundry and back into the house. Having fixed his bed, I turned to find him and only then heard the unmistakable sound of dog-vomit occurring in the living room. 'Oh no!'

It was too late. There were five separate stinking heaps at approximately regular intervals right there where we planned to eat! Ugly entered with her sewing kit and screeched 'Oh no! You #%^&(*(&&# dog!!!' Nicky spent the night in a warm laundry with nice hot water bottles and no blanket stitches in his face. We set about cleaning his mess up.

'Best thing' I announced cheerily 'is to scoop it up on the dustpan and hoick it outside. At least in the country, everything biodegrades really quickly.' (I was anxious to end this fiasco as quickly as I could). DH entered just at that point, nursing a squashed thumb. Ugly found the bandaids while I did the dog-vomit thing. (We were both practised veterinary nurses, but Ugly has never been great with vomit of any persuasion...) Feverishly I scooped and scraped and hoicked each load out into the velvet darkness at the back of the house. I smiled to myself as I heard the horses whiffling about and fondly thought of them cuddling up together for the night. (Oho! If I'd only known...)

At last, the drama was over, we could finally eat a meal. It was midnight! The kids were all drowsy from the excitement and had had toast during the trailer-tyre and dog-vomit incidents. However Ugly announced that if DH would pour us a stiff drink she would cook sausages for us all. Before long, Ugly was warbling away over a panful of sizzling sausages (Bourbon always brings out the chanteuse in her)

So I said 'Come on kids! I've found the torch! Let's go spotlighting and see what we can find!.' I was hoping I might find an owl or something exciting out here in the country. So we set out to walk around the wide verandah that encircled the house. We found a couple of walking sticks and heard owls in the far distance, but there was nothing... 'Look!' I hissed at the kids, 'there's something on the flyscreen... what is it?' Advancing on the kitchen window, I was astounded to find not one, but *two* Large Green Tree Frogs, each the size of my palm!

'BL**DY H*LL!' I bellowed (please do not be offended: it's the Great Australian Adjective and Mum says it all the time in spite of being a Good Catholic woman) 'LOOK AT THIS!!!'

... and there was a sharp intake of breath from Ugly and suddenly it was raining sausages in the kitchen! She'd jerked in reflex as I cried out and hoisted the pan of sausages over her head, sprinkling them liberally over the kitchen floor. DH was in tears from laughter. The kids were agog at their Mum/Aunt hurling the sausages and I was *really* embarrassed!

We all pitched in and plucked the fuzz off the snags and ate them very, very quietly with bread and tomato sauce. Ugly's face kept twitching most oddly and DH kept giggling maniacally. We went to bed and slept without incident. Except Teasie utterly refused to sleep in her bedroom, where The Rat had excavated a large hole in the mattress and clearly been domiciled for a very long time... Instead, Teasie slept with her sister, who was not at all pleased with the arrangements.

Next morning, we arose at 6am, ready for a great day at Pony Club. All the tack was clean, the horses had been washed yessterday and the kids were hopping into freshly laundered jodhpurs and sparkling boots. I stepped outside to greet the misty new day and there they were: our horses, huddled together just as I'd imagined them the previous night. They were liberally sprinkled with dog-vomit.

This is a true story. The Ugly Sister and I still remember it as the Greatest Thing that ever happened to us. There are no more boring stories better than this one. It is the pinnacle of them all!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: It's only just big Hunn...
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 04:40:50 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

I was just thinking about my Big Hunn (DH) and thought I'd share this incident with you...

Friday night is our take-away dinner night. We can't afford to go out or indulge in many other things, so we treat ourselves to Friday night dinners. Frequently, we'll get take-away pizza from the local Pizza Hut: there are always heaps of coupons to get discounted pizzas with drinks and garlic bread thrown in, y'see.

Since we've been doing this for about five years, DH is well-known down at the Pizza Hut and most of the kids recognise him with his fistful of coupons. One night, he advanced upon the counter and declaimed in his most theatrically dramatic (Patrick Stewart) voice:

"*I* am Coupon Man! I shall have a Family Sized Super Supreme with large drink and garlic bread. For Coupon Man always prevails!"

The kids fell about laughing and so did I when he told me about it.

*This* Friday night, DH went down to pick up a pizza. There was a new kid just starting the job and he tapped up the sale on the computer. He read the details (they keep a customer database on the shop computer) and said to DH in a subdued and reverent voice: 'Sir, are you Coupon Man?'

Next time he goes down there, I'm going to make DH wear his undies on the outside and wear a balaclava. I might even make him a Coupon Man costume....

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Another Big Hunn story
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 01:30:30 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Goodness, I've gotten prolific lately, haven't I? I was smiling at Big Hunn's Coupon Man escapade, when I remembered this one...

*Years* ago, when we first met at work, Hunn had an office right at the back of our building. He shared it with a Madman from Missouri called Kelly. I worked in the front of the shop, because I did retail sales and school support. However, DH and I smoked in those days, so I would frequently slink out the back to have a ciggy break with DH and Kelly.

Oftentimes, I'd open the back door and hear gales of uncontrollable giggling coming from The Lads' Office as they increased their product knowledge. This sort of intensive study involved playing the latest Mac games, drawing rather anatomically questionable pictures using the latest Mac software and even beta-testing the notorious MacPlaymate! Of course, a spreadsheet would miraculously appear if anyone was silly enough to enter the room.

Another thing that frequently happened was that you'd knock unobtrusively on their door and receive no response. On opening it, you'd peek in and see not one, but *both* of the Lads snoring! The back office was quite airless and in summer I don't know how they stayed awake, but the Boss was always complaining that no work was getting done Down There. It was, but not at a breakneck pace... One must understand that the pressure of sales quotas, wearing suits and ties all day and trying to convince CEO's that your product is The Very Best can be very fatiguing...

One day, I snuck down for a smoke, knocked on the door and heard silence. I opened the door a crack and there they were: one big blond bear and one big black bear, heads flung back, mouths wide open and snoring in stereophonic harmony! They had their feet crossed on their respective desks and the remains of a Large Lunch told the story.

Evilly and with malice in my heart, I tiptoed back to the front office and alerted Janice, our PA and my partner in crime. We got hold of a large paper bag, inflated it and tiptoed delicately back to the Lads' Lair.


Kellly flew out of his chair just like an ejecting test pilot. Leading with his head, he thwacked his forehead on the filing cabinet and barked his shins on the lower drawer! Big Hunn was not so lucky. *He* propelled himself backward, so that his executive chair exceeded the radius of it's intended recline. Over he went, describing a graceful arc as he landed against the wall with his chin tucked firmly into his navel and his knees caressing his ears. He reminded me somewhat of an oversized hedgehog, all rolled into a ball.

Of course all the other sales personnel came rushing to see what had happened (the abovementioned incident had, needless to say, been accompanied with all *sorts* of colourful language!). Poor Hunn had to actually ask someone to unwind him: he was firmly stuck in the armadillo-position.

I enjoyed that one!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: A boring story...
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 20:43:14 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Everyone, a bloke has been posting about termites on aus.gardens and this has stimulated me to post this, the second-best of all my boring stories. It happened during the fateful year in which I shared a house with my Ugly Sister (hereafter known as 'US').

Ugly had recently separated from her husband of fifteen years and had three children, Teasie (11), Jacquie (10) and Timmy (3). The stress of all this caused her some problems, not the least of which was the partial loss of her hair. I shouldn't say this, but after thirty years of a very healthy sibling rivalry, I secretly felt this was the very *least* that ought to happen to her! So I kept my own counsel and daily helped devise clever hairdos and bandannas to conceal the shiny bald patches... We-e-ell ... *almost* conceal them ... And when we had arguments over various little household matters, I had only to mutter 'alopecia means never having to say I'm hairy' and she was putty in my hands.

The house we found was perfect for our needs: it was an old wooden cottage, which had been jacked up a storey, and had a lower floor inserted artfully beneath it. Upstairs was just an ordinary three-bedroom house, but downstairs were two huge bedrooms and what we sarcastically christened a 'Large Rump Asunder'. (This was in honour of all the places we had inspected which sported a thing called 'large rumpus under'--ie. A large rumpus room downstairs. Remember! We had to have a lot of space to house our brood!)

We signed a year-long lease (the landlord insisted on a long tenancy and neither of us saw our status changing in that time.... if *only* I'd known!) and gaily tripped up the stairs to inspect our castle. It took us a fortnight to move in properly: US had to spirit her stuff away from her former home in her horse trailer, then mine was ferried in similarly after that. Consequently, everything stank acridly of horse-poo. But we didn't mind! Horse-poo is a Great Smell when you're in the Pony Club!

It didn't take long to catch the kids doing Very Punishable Things in the stairwell. One day, US and I were hanging washing in the yard when we heard a small riot going on. We went to inspect and found all four of our children sliding down the stairs on the spare rubber coated mattress!!!! We worried for an instant, as the stairs were numerous and steep, but...

What did we do? We joined 'em of course! That mattress fitted five kids and three adults and you could slide straight down the stairs and out the door (if you remembered to open it). We even allowed selected friends to try it, but only after the appropriate lubrication with belcoholic averages!

The two girls shared a room upstairs and committed dreadful acts of loathsomeness on one another in there. (I recall that Theresa shaved the head of Jacqueline's Cabbage Patch doll one day and Jack retaliated by drawing a moustache on Teasie's baby doll in permanent marker). Timmy had another room filled with stuffed toys and cars. My Matt (then aged fifteen) had a Room With a View over the stairs. It was the parlour of the old cottage and it contained the original front door and opened onto a verandah (which now, having been lifted aloft, became a balcony). Matt liked nothing better than dragging his big chair out on his Balcony and sketching or having a meaningful conversation with himself. There was also a nice bathroom with bath and shower for the kids to share.

The US and I had a large bedroom each downstairs and another nice bathroom, which contained a bath and a shower. I usually filled up the bath plumply and US (who hated getting wet, just like a cat) preferred Quick Showers. Each of us had a cat litter tray to hold our respective toiletries: hers was pussy-puke-pink and mine was greasy-gunk-green.

Upstairs, there was a tiny laundry room next to the kitchen. This became My Computer Room and housed my Macintosh, my Apple IIGS, printer, scanner and assorted other hardware. I could carry on an adventure game while boiling Baked Beans, so this suited me fine. The real laundry was downstairs...

Each morning, we would put The Mamas and The Papas on the CD ROM and bellow away in frightful unison as we made beds and did housework. ('Unrequited love's a drag--yea-eah--and I got it really bad....') Then, at 11am we would down tools and watch Coronation Street as we each sucked on a tube of condensed milk: by 12 am, we would be feeling so ill that crispbread and salad was all we could eat for lunch. Great diet, that one!

The Really Interesting Thing happened about half way through our tenancy. The novelty had not yet worn off and familiality (*not* a spelling error) had not yet bred contempt. It was high summer and extremely hot and humid. Everyone was aching for it to rain and relieve some of the awful tension that builds up in hot summers like that.

One Saturday, we were all lazing about doing Saturday things: US was dismantling and washing a saddle on the dining room table. She had a bridle wound cleverly round her head and was doing a rather lewd dance with stirrup leathers hanging down her front and the irons dangling lasciviously. She sploshed each passer-by with a stinking rag soaked in saddle soap as they tried to get to the kitchen, so the kids had all retired to their rooms. Matt was singing ABBA songs at the top of his lungs ('Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight') and the girls seemed to be singing their respective Swan Songs at the tops of theirs (ie. a you-beaut brawl was going on in their room. Miraculously, Timmy was asleep and I was playing a super adventure game called 'Mines of Moria'.

Suddenly, the girls' door burst open and Jacqueline came roaring out with an exceedingly red face (she wasn't nicknamed 'Aurora' for nothin'!)

'Mum! I hate her! She's taken all my stuffed toys and hoicked them out the window. Now they're filthy!' Storming downstairs, Jacquie retrieved her toys and stomped into the bathroom to have a shower. With them. Silence reigned for a while, then Jacquie stuck her head into the 'puter room (having given up trying to get Sense out of her mother, who was now bumping and grinding to 'Why, Why, Why, Delilah' and swinging her stirrup irons with gay abandon).

'Aunt,' she began, 'there's all these insects in the bath. What should I do?'

'Wash 'em down the plughole, you silly girl,' I responded without missing a beat from my game. 'They won't hurt you.'

'But Aunt! There's *heaps* of 'em. They're all brown!'

'Jacqueline! Wash the bath out with hot water and run your bath! And hurry up! It's nearly time for tea!'

So Jack stomped off again and sullenly had a shower in the downstairs bathroom.

It was *hours* later when Matt went for a bath and came ululating out of the bathroom: 'There's insects in the bath and they're going to *get* me!'

Perturbed, the US and I stopped boiling Baked Beans long enough to investigate. OHMIGOODNESS!!!!

There were *swarms* of small, brown, winged insects teeming out of a hole in the skirting around the bathtub! They billowed into the room and went into a frenzy as we opened the door. It seemed the entire volume of the bathroom was filled solidly with these creatures! Being the elder, braver and more beautiful sister, I had been elected to lead the way, so I got a faceful of the swarm before I could slam the door shut. Spitting crunchy insect corpses at the US, I said 'Kakkkakakakkkkkkkakkk!!!!!'

Then I said 'I think they could be termites', because she was screeching 'Whatarethey?Whatarethey?Whatarethey?' in my ear.

The sound of a shrill, rising scale from behind us warned that the girls had seen some scouts streaming out under the door. Quickly stuffing a towel there, we stood back and took stock. Now, my Ugly Sister can be moderately dreadful when she wants to be, but I must say she's pretty good in an emergency (once she's had the chance to scream, that is). She suggested that we collect all the fly spray we owned and spray it into the bathroom.

'Top idea!' I concurred. So we sent the kids off to find all the sundry cans of Toxofly, FlyKil and Dedfly. 'Hang on,' said the faithless US. 'There's no way I'm going in there without Protection! Those things are going to get into my clothes and my hair and my eyes! No *thank* you!'

'Not to worry,' I reassured her. 'We can wrap ourselves up in plastic and put the kids' swimming goggles on. We have to take action right now, and we have to do it together. Now, are you with me?'

US first took off her bridle and stirrup leathers. We donned the swimming goggles and wrapped our heads in towels. Then we put on garbage bags top and bottom, with little bits of twine tied at the necks, waists and knees to stop any incursions of Insects. Then, armed with our arsenal of spray cans, we sallied into the bathroom. On opening the door and seeing the swarm for the first time, US squeaked once, turned and deserted me. Unfazed, I began to spray and spray. I was able to see that, despite the huge quantities of insects in the room there were still more issuing forth from the hole in the wall! Bravely, I ripped off my lower garbage bag and wadded it into the hole. I could feel The Enemy crawling all over my legs, but undeterred I went and opened the window and pushed out the flyscreen, reasoning the creatures were better out than in.

Immediately, an Alfred Hitchcock of starlings arrived at the window, having seen a smorgasbord appear under their very noses! I stood for a brief moment and wondered how many starlings I could entice indoors to clear our bathroom... but then I felt 'something' in my knickers and knew it was time to withdraw....

Reefing off my pants, I hollered for the Ugly Sister! She was nowhere to be found! The kids advised me she had gone to Woolworths to buy a forty four gallon drum of Mort-a-fly, so, somewhat mollified, I crushed the creatures that had been in my knickers and put them back on (the knickers, that is). When US returned, we could hear that the whirring noise had abated in the bathroom, so we cautiously opened the door. There were shovelsful of dead and dying termites in drifts all over the floor and in the bath and basin. There was a single dyspeptic-looking starling on the windowsill. But there was nothing more coming from the hole in the wall and the air was clear. Success!!!!

Humming 'All the leaves are brown (the leaves are brown) and the sky is grey (the sky is grey)', we shovelled about fifty gallons of termites into garbage bags and put them in the rubbish bin. US poured us a Bundy (rum) and Coke and it was only then that one of the kids informed us the Baked Beans had been reduced to half an inch of elemental carbon in the bottom of the second-best saucepan! Swearing roundly, we went to chisel our dinner out of the pot and see whether there was enough money in kitty to buy take-away for tea.

US rang the Landlord and bleeped in his ear about coming to fix the problem 'to-bloody-night, thank you!' He arrived an hour later with two cans of fly spray and nodded sagely as we showed him our now-toxic wasteland of an upstairs bathroom. 'Yep. That's termites all right. I thought I'd got 'em all last year, the buggers! I sprayed with this stuff ( holding up a can of household flyspray). They make these little burrows in timber like this (and he stuck his thumb into the kitchen wall, making a jollygreat hole) and this (more thumb, more hole) and this (ditto)'. As he poked there came the familiar whirring sound and suddenly our kitchen was thick with swarming termites!!!!

Uttering a defeated little cry, US began flailing at the swarm with a tea towel. The Landlord said (through his Useful Moustache, which prevented the ingress of anything insectan) 'Try the spray and let's know how you get on'--and he left. Just like that!

We sent the kids out onto Matt's Balcony and we sprayed and coughed and flailed. We even got the vacuum cleaner and began sucking the little suckers out of the air!

At eleven pm that night, the worst of it was over. We had plugged the holes in the kitchen with playdough and killed or sucked up every termite within our reach. We put the (faintly hysterical) kids to bed and sat down to have another Bundy. US poured... and shrieked! There was a termite in her glass! 'Drown, you bastard!' she hissed and poured more rum on his head.

At least he died happy, I guess...

Ugly wearily announced she'd have a quiet read before bed and sat down in the Rump Asunder. I left her reading peacefully and went upstairs to make coffee. Coming down the stairs with two coffees in my hands, I looked and looked again.

There was my little baby sister, still reading peacefully. Above her head, streaming out of an exposed beam in the ceiling was *another* swarm of termites, coagulating about the naked bulb of the light fitting. She didn't know!

'Ah--coffee's here,' I announced brightly. 'And, ah--look up!' She did and I can't spell the sound that came out of her throat! The gormless simpleton batted at them with her book and enraged them so they quickly filled all available space in the Rump Asunder. They were everywhere: in our beds; in the washing machine; in the toilet; even in the dog's bowl! Out came the fly spray and the vacuum cleaner *again*.

It was then that the US had her 'scathingly brilliant idea'! She brandished a can of hairspray! Yes! The very thing! Stick their filthy little wings together and let's see how they fly! But it didn't work and only served to fill our lungs and eyes with the horrendous sweet stink of hairspray. We stuck to everything we touched, even each other! And everything stuck to us! Think: 'tarred and termited'...

By 3am we had it under control. More playdough, oceans of fly spray and we'd run out of vacuum cleaner bags. But the termites were gone! And it was raining! We didn't even stop to think--we just hopped out into the glorious rain and washed every vestige of termite, hairspray, Baked Bean and fly killer off our weary, aching bodies. We fell into bed and were cautiously relieved to find No Termites in the house next morning. The Landlord never did do a proper pest-extermination of the place, but I suppose the two cans of Mortein came free...

We took a walk round to the corner shop to buy a packet of smokes: neither of us had remembered to smoke the previous evening and we were entirely out of cigarettes. As the shop owner slapped the packet on the counter, a single brown filmy termite wing floated down and landed atop the smokes. We looked at each other and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed--the shop bloke was quite right when he muttered 'Crazy!'
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Unfortunate ocurrence today...
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 16:35:58 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

As you know, I've been fighting off the 'flu for weeks now. The doctor says I have a severe bronchospasm and has given me revolting puffers and stuff...

Anyway, I'm basically not a happy chappy at all! I was moping around the kitchen today, trying to find something for lunch that I may have a chance of tasting. Chilli sauce? Tabasco? Worcestershire with a vinegar chaser? My poor, infected eye landed on a packet of musk sticks (soft, stick-shaped sweets with a strong musk flavour)! Aha! Normally, we save these for bribing DD to remember to go to her potty, however they've been sitting there unused following her continued success.

I reached for one and was just enjoying the strong flavour and soothing sensation in my poor, parched throat, as well as a cool glass of water, when DH said something rather risque and incredibly funny. I laughed. And coughed. And sneezed. And burped. And inhaled. Simultaneously! (ie at the same time!)

I thought I was going to die! I couldn't breathe in and I couldn't breathe out! I went purple! Another great gust of coughing racked me and suddenly I could breathe again! Water was pouring out of my nose, which felt as though I'd recently inhaled ground glass! There was half a musk stick in the sink. It had extruded itself out my *nose*!!!! (Sorry for the rather awful mental picture, but this was very Soul Shattering!)

DH was laughing uncontrollably! The monster!

Before I die, I *will* see my *incorrigible* DH exhale an entire musk stick through his nose, along with a half pint of water! The man has no conscience!

I was forced to go and lie down in order to recover!

Yours pustularly,
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Boring story about DS
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 23:46:19 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

This evening, we had dinner at McDonald's to celebrate DSS's birthday. Conversation turned to eating in restaurants generally and DH and I remembered this incident involving DS.

DH and I had recently become engaged. He was living in Sydney (about two hours' drive south) and was very lonely without me (smirk). Frequently, I would spend a weekend with DH-to-be and sometimes, I would take DS with me for some excitement in the Big City.

On one such occasion, we took DS to Chinatown for a fancy meal in celebration of our engagement. (We were Really Loaded back then and could afford sumptuous dinners... sigh...)

We went to a place called 'The Emperor's Garden', where there was an acreage of tables and a curious mirrored ceiling. (We reckoned that organised crime bosses held nefarious meetings above the restaurant and watched their assassination victims through one-way glass from above!) There were also appalling fish tanks, each filled with live, tied crabs and lobsters or enormous fish, furiously flapping their gills in an effort to get oxygen from the overstocked water.

Now, *how* any normal person is supposed to enjoy a meal while confronted with a veritable tumbril of victims for the next course beats me!!!

Anyway, I digress. DS was agog! He'd never been anywhere grander than McDonald's before and he was wearing his first pair of really-truly Going Out pants and a new tie. He sat there and gawked at all the goings-on of the busy and very crowded restaurant. He must've thanked the waiter at least fourteen times and kept exclaiming whenever a flambé meal passed by. He was the Last Word in callowness! His eyes were as big as saucers!

Finally, a waiter skirted the room bearing a tray of rolled, heated towels, each sealed in a plastic wrapper.

'Look!' exclaimed DS, 'what are they?'

'Oh,' said DH-to-be in a languid drawl, 'those are just the appetisers before dessert. They're a very exotic Chinese confection, rolled in coconut and warmed to blood temperature. It's considered the height of bad manners to refuse one!' And the Toad winked at me.

'Well!' I said, warming to the scam, 'we'll all have to have one then, won't we?' and took one, as the waiter presented his tray.

True to form, DS had his unwrapped in a trice (greedy little pig!) and stuffed it into his gaping maw before we even had the chance to giggle! Oh! The look on his face! He was *aghast*! Sitting there, with a hand towel stickin' out of his gob, he almost swallowed it in his embarrassment! DH and I were nearly under the table with mirth. In fact, we were laughing so hard, people actually stopped eating to look at us. DS was *furious*!

'How could you *do* that to me? My own Mother!?' I couldn't answer. I was speechless with breathless laughter! DH offered his own towel and asked 'Matthew! Have you had enough to eat?' By now, Matt could see the funny side of things and was giggling too. We decided that fried ice cream would be a nicer treat and had some of that instead.

Of course, we still joke about the time Matt tried to eat a hand towel. And the crime bosses probably got a good old laugh while watching us overhead!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Ot dying black boring story
Date: Sat, 04 Sep 1999 10:13:45 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

ROTFLMAO!!!! Jim, you've prompted me to tell a bijou boring story about my own experience with Rit dye.

There was a PhD student living in our College called Minh Le. He was a Vietnamese refugee and very, very lonely and unhappy. Everyone tried ultra-hard to make him feel at home and welcome, but he never seemed to fit in. One couldn't help noticing Minh's undies, hung out to dry in the communal drying room in our laundry. They were like white cycling shorts with long legs and they were made of some strange papery fabric, almost like the things you put in babies' nappies... strange...! Most strange!

Anyway, please don't think I have an unhealthy interest in exotic mens' undies! I don't! But when they're hanging at nose-level opposite your own, you tend to notice, y'know?

Picture it: Armidale. The winter of 1982 (coldest one in living memory). It *snowed*!

DS and I were freezing cold and didn't have a warm coat to bless ourselves with. (Er! 'With which to bless ourselves'.) There was no free floating money about, either!

Good ol' Mum sent me a scrumptious lined coat for DS, but I was still shivering. So, I did the rounds of the Op Shops and came up with nuthin'. As a last resort, I bought a woollen blanket from the Op Shop and took it home with an eye to *making* a coat from it. However, the blanket was baby-sick yellow and I felt this wouldn't enhance my appearance. I shot off to the supermarket and bought three bottles of green Rit dye. Took the lot home *to my College room* and wondered how on earth I was going to fit the enormous blanket into my plastic bucket. No go!

Instead, I read on the label that you can do it in a washing machine. Aha! We had six of those downstairs in our laundry! Armed with my booty, I trotted downstairs, loaded up one of the machines with tar-pit dark-green dye and my blanket.

Waited. And waited. And waited. Hoicked it out to have a look. Ecchh! Pale horse snot green! No! Waited. And waited. And waited. Hmmm. Light kelly green. Getting there... Waited. And waited. And waited. Aha! A reasonable shade of emerald (with apologies to my friend!). Gave it a tad longer and it was perfect!!! A nice mid green, dark enough to be respectable, but light enought to be unmistakably green! I chortled off to hang it out to dry and gave the laundry a perfunctory clean. Washed out the washing machine with an empty wash cycle and went off to have coffee with Muso.

That evening at dinner, Minh was positively *glowing*! He was happy and affable and quite ready to talk to anyone who sat near him. We were mystified! What on earth had happened to make him change so radically?

Turns out, he'd washed his battalions of undies in The Machine! They were now a nice shade of kelly green! He was *overjoyed* that his undies were now coloured, like everybody else's! This had made him feel good about himself and hence the change in his demeanour. Minh eventually made a friend called Charles and after a while his English improved dramatically. Last I heard, he was about to be made a research fellow!

Now, I don't take the *credit* for all this, but I do claim the honour of being the *instigator* of it!

BTW, the coat was *excellent*! I lined it with some cheap satin and had deep flap pockets for my cold hands and a Big Collar to turn up against the wind. Cost me about $7 in all!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Latest Drama
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 05:15:55 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

(Snipped comments about autistic children)

ROTFL! Teresa, I sure do hear what you're saying! One thing about these kids is that their milestones are Massive, Major, Etched-in-Concrete affairs that more than make up for the wait for their arrival. And you certainly do get lots of opportunities to develop a sense of humour while U wait!

Once upon a time, my Matt had an obsession with doors and locks. He just loved hearing the tumblers fall inside the lock and the slamming of the door. So, over a period, I managed to help him stop slamming and locking doors (some rather frustrating lockings-out occurred, as you can imagine) - or so I thought...

When Matt was five, I was offered the chance to finish my degree as an internal student at the University of New England (where I met my best friend, Muso, or 'John from Oz'). During our very first week, Matt had a challenging time, getting used to our tiny rooms and the enormous echoey bathroom: stuff like that. But he was in his seventh Heaven when he found *twenty four* doors in our corridor!

*I*, on the other hand, was *petrified*! I knew no-one (hadn't met John yet) and the Voyage into Purgatory (ie mealtimes), where we had to walk into a huge Dining Hall filled with six hundred prying eyes, was dreadful. This was especially dreadful when accompanied by an echolalic (repeats whatever he hears) and perseverative (repeats it *incessantly*) autistic five year old!

Oh, Matt also did the classic autistic hand-flapping thing, along with weird blinkings and sharp inhalations. Only when he was nervous, mind!

He was most frequently nervous in the Dining Hall....

So it didn't take long for our reputation to be formed: 'that woman with the really weird kid'.

One day, Matt discovered the tiny cupboard of a kitchen in our block and saw that it had an extra-special, you-beaut lock on it. For hours, he played with that lock, listening, listening, listening.

This is part of autistic spectrum disorder - sort of like a faulty instruction code for normal senses - autistic kids have a Lot of Trouble decoding senses that you and I just *know* about. Hence, the fascinations with sound or vibration or tastes or feeling things like fabrics ( or worse - feeling people's hair!) This goes down a real treat when your kid fronts up to some little nymphette of a career girl in the street and starts stroking her hair. Adds new meaning to the word 'Eeeeeeekkkkk'!

Anyway, I digress. One afternoon, Matt offered to help me by washing up the coffee cups. I could hear him down the corridor, singing and clattering in the sink. After a while, I heard an Ominous Silence! Sticking my head out to check, I could hear the water running at spillway speed, so I bellowed 'Out of the kitchen *right now*!!!

Matt obeyed instantly and perfectly! He dropped everything and slammed the door shut behind him, thus locking it and rendering me powerless to turn off the running water! I could hear it still hitting the sink like monsoonal rain!

What to do!? I wasted valuable time, trying to undo the lock. No luck there. I admitted to myself I'd have to find one of the official block caretakers and get them to open the door for me. Terrified that we'd be asked to leave College in the same week as our arrival, I began knocking on doors, trying to find someone to help me. Eventually, I found all the caretakers gathered in one room and engrossed in a meeting!

'Er', I stumbled, 'I'm afraid I have a problem!' Fourteen eyes looked inquiringly up at me and all those unfamiliar people then looked past me at the undoubtedly odd little person capering behind me and quietly muttering 'Poo-bubbles, poo-bubbles, poo-bubbles to *you*' over and over. The seven caretakers came to the kitchen, just as the flood was gushing out under the door! The carpet was sodden and a definitely electrical smell and sudden lack of light indicated the water had reached the light fitting of the floor beneath us, shorting the power and bringing the circuit breakers into effect!

'Oh *NO*!' I thought, 'I am *definitely* ruined now!'

With incredible good humour, the caretakers took no time at all to unlock the door, turn off the tap and begin to siphon the excess water down the stairwell with the groundsman's hose. Getting the siphon started was a bit touch-and-go, but Ashley (the snootiest of the bunch) managed to suck enough of a stream through the hose to begin it. Just as he hunkered down on his haunches, my demonchild seized a brimming bucketful of water and swamped him with it!!!! Then he looked at me with a look made of all sweet accord and said 'Can I have a chocolate, please Mum?'

As it happened, six of those caretakers became firm, firm friends of ours and they all loved Matt dearly. The seventh (Ashley, of course) understandably kept his distance....
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Exploding things and earthquakes was Re: Biscuit recipe by request
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 05:17:23 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

(Snipped discussion about Vegemite and Durian fruit)

But, Kathy, if you'd managed not to breathe while eating it, you'd find that durian tastes quite nice...

A wonderful discovery I made (well, actually, my Italian friend, Trisha showed me) is that *fresh* parmesan cheese is incredibly nicer than that vomitous stuff they sell in plastic packets. Now, I never really minded the vomitous stuff that much, but I can't believe the difference, now that I use only fresh!

Also, Romano cheese is quite nice, freshly grated. It's drier than parmesan, but very sharp.

Can you tell I'm a cheese-a-holic? Any good recommendations gratefully accepted!

PS. Short boring story

Once, DH and I went on a wine tasting trip through the Hunter Valley vineyards. This sort of thing is a common Christmas affair in Newcastle businesses because the vineyards are so close and because computer industry folk don't mind a tipple.

So, at the first vineyard we attended, we dutifully tasted the reds, the whites, the stills... - and the CHEESES!!! Wonderful cheeses! All sorts of cheeses! Laid on! One cheese in particular had a strong, sharp, nutty flavour and really took our fancy. We asked its name, but the little girlie serving had no idea. We determined to find this cheese and add it to our stash.

So, for weeks afterward we asked at many gourmet shops and delicatessens. 'Do you stock an exceptionally strong-tasting cheese that's used as an accompaniment to red wine?' We tried zillions (don't get me wrong: it was great fun!). But we couldn't find The One!

Until one day, DH came romping home from work with a stinking parcel under his arm. Hmmm... 'under his arm...' I wonder... ? Anyway, the cheese was so strong, you could smell it outside the parcel. Happily, he sliced it up and added it to the tops of some water crackers. 'Yum!' we pronounced, 'this is Great!'

But after about five minutes of the incredibly strong flavour of this cheese, I became aware of an awful pain in my chest! It got stronger! I grabbed DH and said 'I don't feel too good!'

I needn't have bothered. He was a nice shade of lilac and holding onto the table for support. 'Hon' he said, 'I think I might be having a heart attack!'

'B*gger off!' I replied, 'I started first!' and began to massage the middle of my chest. It was *awful*! We decided not to eat any more of that cheese and to abandon our search for The One in the interests of our mutual good health! We never did find out what caused our simultaneous pain, but it clearly had something to do with the cheese!

Has anyone else had a response like this? I've always wondered which secret cheese additive gave the symptoms of a coronary occlusion to two people at the same time...

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

In reply to a somewhat suspicious request for information on the history of cashmere sweaters...

From: (Trish Brown)
Subject: Re: I need help with an essay
Date: 23 Sep 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework,rec.crafts.textiles.yarn

In the beginning, there was the Cashmere. And man did take the cashmere unto his fold. And did he pluck the Cashmere of its coat and spin therefrom a yarn. And yea, he didst look upon this yarn and think unto himself 'b****y useless stuff!'

And it came to pass that he cast it unto his Little Woman and she didst take it up, thinking unto herself 'yeah, I can make something of this!' And she didst cast it upon her needles of Great Knitting and lo! She knat!

And great was the joy in her bosom as she brought forth The Sweater! She went laughing and rejoicing unto her husband, crying 'See, you gormless berk! *I* made that!' And her husband did wail and gnash his teeth until she gave unto him The Sweater, saying 'That which was b****y useless is now a sweater unto thee! Take care of thy sweater and wash it not in hot water, or I will come after thee like unto all the hammers of h*des'. And she sat down and was happy!

This is the history of the Cashmere Sweater...

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: boring story about Matt
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 17:51:13 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

I was just re-reading the one about Matt and the Great Flood. It brought back many memories of our time in College and I was inspired to write this one down...

Autism is probably the most in-your-face thing about Matt. His red hair and green eyes are pretty 'out there', as is his massive nose! (That's what you get for reading over my shoulder, you awful boy! Go away and let me write about you!), but the fact of his autism is so large and such a determining feature of his personality that you can't pretend it isn't there. It comes up all the time because it *explains* why Matt does some of the unique things in his repertoire.

Autistic people can be obsessive. At the moment, Matt's obsession is religion. We won't go there, though, as this has been a very difficult one to deal with. His first obsession was dinosaurs. At the age of three, he was non-verbal but knew all the dinosaurs' names and could point them out for you. Later, he acquired a dragon obsession. He knew all about dragons and his every waking moment was spent talking and playing with an imaginary one! I gave him a gorgeous little pewter dragon for his birthday and it has a green crystal in its talons. Later, I gave him a sterling silver Welsh dragon and he still wears it around his neck.

Anyway, just at the very moment we entered College, Matt's obsession shifted a tad and he became enamoured of witches! The storybook kind. Everything was witches. We had witch videos and songs about witches and Matty even knitted himself a witch doll to sit on his bed (NB. She's still there!) He begged me to make him 'a tall, black hat and striped stockings' so he could pretend to be a witch. Of course, I did. I also made him a dark blue corduroy cloak for dramatic value. So, every morning Matt would arise from his bed, don the hat, cloak and stockings and toddle off to be the Witch of Endor or whoever loomed large that day.

My friend, Carol, thought it would be nice to help the game along. She gave my SON a yellow satin skirt and a pair of old disco boots with platform soles. Now, every morning, Matt would arise (NB. at 6am) and klonkk up and down our corridor in his Aggro Boots, waking every bleary-eyed, study-worn and pub-crawling student within coo-ee! We were not popular!

I tried everything to stop him from wearing those darned boots. But when I hid them, he went into mourning and couldn't bring himself to be a witch without them! In the end, we made a deal that he would only wear them outside. So, instead of playing witch in his room, Matt ventured out into the quadrangle. This was a large greensward, completely surrounded by the four blocks of the College. In one corner were four ancient Norfolk Island pine trees. He chose the bald earth beneath the trees to mix his cauldron and chant his spells.

Can you imagine what visitors to the College thought? Here was a tall, skinny child of indeterminate gender chanting and singing over a shoe box filled with pine needles. The tall black hat and satin skirt were most effective in keeping them guessing about the gender and the brave souls who ventured to ask what was in the shoe box were told 'Beware! Beware! This is magic!'

This all came to a head when a local music company set up its headquarters within our College. Their offices were on the floor beneath us and they dealt with concert bookings and (I think) the management of classical musicians in the area. This meant we had a Lot More traffic in and out of our building.

Guess what Matt did? He would lurk behind his pine trees, charging up his magic wand (piece of dowel with a Large Silver Star on the end) and nip out each time he saw someone coming. Before they knew what hit them, he would belt them on the bum with the wand, shouting 'Bad spell on you!' and nip back behind the pine trees. For a while, I think the Music Company thought there was a poltergeist at large. Or at least a Stalker of some kind! The Head of College approached me after quite a few phone calls about the 'strange child' in the quadrangle. She asked that I dissuade my son from assaulting people with his wand.

Now, this was the first I knew of his - ah - 'aggressive' behaviour, so you can imagine my horror! I don't think there has ever been a *less* aggressive child than Matt. I had a chat with him and he promised he wouldn't cast any more spells. Instead, he said he would concentrate on his 'gold'. I let that go, not realising what he was referring to. I found out later that he had buried his 'gold' (ie approximately forty dollars in gold coins from his piggy bank) in his cauldron under the pine trees!!! When I raced down to get it back, it was quite gone! Nowhere to be found! We dug and dug, but never found the box! I can only assume someone had seen him bury the box and thought there must have been gold in it. The Head of College emails me occasionally and she always ends with 'We never did find Matt's treasure...'

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Not Again!?!?!?
Date: Thu, 04 Nov 1999 10:45:23 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Oh Lesa! This reminds me of the Ugly Sister's Egg Mystery!

Last Easter, the Ugly Sister began collecting easter eggs early as she had a large number of people to give them to. She started a stash under her bed and had a boxful of various eggs in a variety of foil wrappers and boxes. After a couple of weeks, she noticed the egg pile seemed to be getting smaller, so she moved it, assuming my DN (Dear Nephew, Timmy) had been pilfering. The pilfering didn't stop! Worried, Ugly then asked all the family members 'Who's been nicking the easter eggs from under my bed?' No-one owned up, so Ugly relocated the eggs to Mum's house. Problem solved.

Weeks later, Ugly decided to move house. Everything was emptied from the place and there were only a few bits of miscellaneous stuff to remove from the verandah, including an old wardrobe containing all the kids' trophies and ribbons from Pony Club and horse shows over the years. When they moved it, there was a treasure trove of food neatly packed so that it filled the exact footprint of the wardrobe! A large rat had been stealing food (including about eleven easter eggs) and stashing it under there!!! There was a loaf of bread, half a packet of crackers(*in* the box), a bun, an apple, two half sausages (cooked), more than one of Timmy's uneaten school lunches and part of a block of cheese. The easter eggs had clearly been savoured, because they were all neatly nibbled in precise little circles!

When the wardrobe was moved, the rat shot out from underneath it, causing my heroic (not!) DBIL #2 to leap backward, dropping his bit of wardrobe on his toe. My not-quite-so-chicken DBIL#1 had the presence of mind to slam a clothes hamper on top of it! (Er, the rat, that is, not the DBIL#2!) This presented them with the problem of how to dispose of it. (The rat, not the clothes hamper...) They elected to smack its head in with a broom. So, DBIL#1 got hold of the broom while DBIL#2 gently lifted the hamper. The rat shot out again, causing both DBILs to strike at it with the broom and the hamper respectively. They nearly knocked each other senseless and missed the rat entirely. As far as anyone knows, Mr Rat has moved to a more upmarket address.

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. I should point out that my possession of *two* DBILs comes to pass because Ugly and DBIL#1 divorced about six years ago. Amicably, mind! So, when she married DBIL#2 (with whom DBIL#1 had gone to school), everyone was friendly. DBIL#1 is a frequent visitor at Ugly's place, usually to have a beer and watch the footy with DBIL#2. This is a weird situation, entirely in keeping with the Ugly Sister and her *skewed* view of things, but far be it from me to comment unfavourably. I love both my DBILs, so I guess that's all that matters...

Imagine how it sounded when I took friends of mine to visit Ugly one day. We arrived, to be met by DBIL#1 carrying his son by the ankles in order to dip him in the mud puddle by the drive.

'Oh' I said, 'This is Ugly's first husband, John'.

'G'day', said John. 'Go on in. France is in the shower, she won't be long.'

'Ah' I said. 'And this is Ugly's second husband, Warren'.

'G'day', said Warren. 'France is just out of the shower. D'you want coffee, Johnno, or will we just bugger it and have a beer?'

'G'day' said Ugly, 'John, don't you hurt Timothy! Warren, you're not having beer until the lawn's been mowed.'

My friends were entirely bemused!

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: The case of the wobbling poo!
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 15:54:36 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Rctners could be forgiven for believing I spend most of my time in and around the dunny! It's certainly *not* the case, but the strangest thing happened this morning!

I was on my way to the dunny, when I noticed that Miss Alice had decorated the path with a not-so-little offering. 'Darn', I thought. 'Matt can have the pleasure of cleaning that up'.

And suddenly, it moved! I rubbed me poor, bleary eyes and looked again! It *definitely* moved! Then it rolled completely over!

'Oh no!' I thought. 'Don't tell me Alice has intestinal parasites the size of horses! What am I going to do *now*?' and I called (screeched) to DH! 'Comeandlookatthisquickly! Quickly!'

By the time DH had arrived, I was probing at the offering with a twig. It was only then that I found the culprit: a minute little dung beetle!

He looked like Atlas, with the World on his shoulders. Where he thought he was going to transport his walloping great poo escapes me! P'raps he was having guests for dinner? P'raps he wanted to restock his freezer? P'raps he was doing a barbecue for the footy club? Whatever. We watched him roll his poo about seven feet across the concrete and into the lawn, where he began to dissect off bits of it and roll them into little canapes. Adds new meaning to the term 'devils on horseback' doesn't it?

It turns out, our local (Newcastle City) council has recently released a plethora of dung beetles in order to cope with a growing poo problem. I'm not quite sure whether they're seeking to deal with specific poo (ie. ShihTzu, Dandie Dinmont, Lhasa Apso etc) or just your basic, generic poo. However, it appears it was an agent of the local council who nearly gave me a coronary outside my very own dunny this morning. Whew! Considering he'd *definitely* bitten off more than he could ever hope to chew, I might leave a bottle of antacid for him tonight!

Psst! Boring story moment approaching:

This reminds me of the prac we did in Entomology 300. We were required to discover whether specific dung beetles gravitate toward specific poos or whether any old poo would do in the dung beetle world. You can imagine the remarks! Anyway, we were divided into teams of four and each team was awarded a particular poo to place carefully in a plastic container and watch in wonder as the dung beetles flocked to it. Our team had koala poo and I was heartbroken to find that precisely *no* dung beetles came to dine at our table! My friend had kangaroo poo and she suffered the same fate: no takers.

However, our lecturer had zillions of dung beetles at *his* observation post, as did the possessors of the horse, cow and sheep poos. When we asked Dave (infamous after the meat-ant-on-the-boob incident) what poo it was that caused the influx of so many dung beetles, he replied 'Mine!'

In our write-up for that prac, there was Great Speculation over what Dave's wife (who just *happened* to have the unusual name of 'Po') fed him for his dinner on the previous night!

Oh, and there *are* specific dung beetles evolved to deal with specific poos! Isn't that amazing?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: How the Ugly Sister broke her head.
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 23:49:57 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

A number of you have asked that I tell more about the 'accidents' conversation. The Ugly Sister's accident was by far the most spectacular, so I'll tell it. Be warned, it's not that funny, although I, personally, could see a mildly humourous side to it...

Many of you know about our horse, Tristan. He was a baby when we bought him, only rising four years old and completely untrained. Not long after this, Ugly met a girl who gives lessons and prepares people for dressage competitions. She goes by the name of Shaun.

Anyway, one afternoon, Shaun was schooling Tristan in the nearby park. The council hadn't mowed the grass and it was literally knee-deep. Poor Trissy stood on a beer bottle hidden in the grass and severed an artery in his hoof! He fell, throwing Shaun quite a distance away! She struck her head on a rock and broke her skull (temporal bone). It took eight weeks out of the saddle and quite a lot of pressure headaches before she was well again! And Tris had a hard time recovering too!

The first time she rode again after the accident, Shaun suggested to Ugly that instead of schooling, they should go for a trail ride on the other side of the New England Highway. Off they set, looking forward to a lovely pleasure-ride through the bush. They rode for a couple of hours and then turned for home. They were surprised to hear a vehicle approaching them from behind on the isolated track where they had chosen to ride. It was a council surveyor, who was mildly miffed at his progress being halted by two women on horses. He bipped his horn! Then, as if that wasn't enough, he bipped it again!

NB. Most horses become horrified at the sound of a car horn! It usually causes them to do exciting things like rear, buck or bolt in fear. This is when a horse is at its most dangerous, because all reason leaves him and he will do exceedingly creative things like attempt to jump a barbed wire fence, or attempt to navigate his way through rush-hour traffic on the motorway.

Trissy was no exception and he leapt up on his hindlegs in horror, emitted a bloodcurdling neigh and whipped around in order to retreat from the horrible car! I believe he relieved himself of the Ugly Sister at approximately this moment. Like a good girl, she hung desperately onto the reins in order to stop Tris from running off and hurting himself. Unfortunately, he'd got his hoof caught in a loop of barbed wire and fell heavily on top of her, taking her down with him and squashing her flat.

As he struggled to get up and run away, he struck out with his forefeet in the clumsy way horses do in trying to gain purchase and pull themselves upright. Unfortunately, (hnn, hnn, hnnfff - splutter!) the Ugly Sister's face was in the way and he trod on it!!! He stepped right on top of her face and broke her head (frontal bone), squashed her nose (turbinal bones), left the permanent imprint of his expensive size-four custom-made shoes on her face and then for good measure, kicked her in the back of the head (occipital bone) with his hind hoof as he strode over the top of her.

Tris appeared to be quite upset by all this as he stopped running, once clear of the melee, and came back to sniff at poor Ugly's prostrate form. Shaun seized hold of him and began to swear at the council man in the unique way of horse people. (This involves a lot of terminology concerning pedigrees or the lack of one and highly inflated references to the processes of excretion and procreation. We won't go there right now...)

This delightful man gave Shaun the forx and drove off in a cloud of dust, leaving Ugly bleeding like a stuck pig in the dirt!!!! Shaun managed to wake her up and help her to her feet. Aside from a rather large headache and a stuffy nose, Ugly said she felt able to remount Tristan and ride home. Darned better idea than hobbling all those miles on foot!

They reached the highway and Ugly must've looked quite a sight. I got to wash her jodhpurs and shirt and believe me, they looked as though she'd been moonlighting in an abattoir! No-one stopped to allow the two women to cross the highway, in spite of Ugly's obviously injured state. So, they were forced to dismount and press the pedestrian button in order to stop the traffic. Ugly says she felt pretty awful then and couldn't get back up on the horse. As they crossed the highway on foot, a number of people felt constrained to blow their horns in either humour or annoyance at the odd sight. Tristan lost it completely, reared again and took off for home. Thankfully, he didn't hurt himself on the way!

Ugly and Shaun made their way to Shaun's stables and saw Tris and Amadeus safely bedded and watered. Then Ugly drove herself to the doctors, saying she was quite OK now. The doctor nearly swallowed her tongue when she saw Ugly sitting in her waiting room. There was straw-coloured liquid dripping slowly out of her ear (spinal fluid) and her eyes were looking in two entirely different directions. Poor Ugly announced 'I don't feel very well' and threw up into a potted plant, right there in the waiting room!

The doctor called an ambulance and did all the appropriate stuff. She rang Mum and DBIL#1. Mum rang me. 'Trisha', she said, 'come straight to Maitland Hospital! Francie has broken her skull and I don't know what to do!'

(Geez, Mum, whaddya want *me* to do? Bring a tube of superglue!?)

DBIL#1 rang me just as I hung up and said 'What does spinal fluid do? France has it coming out of her ear!' I nearly died! Gibbering with fright, I hurtled into my car, yelling over my shoulder that I'd wouldn't be back at work for the rest of the day. I drove all the way to Maitland, blinded by tears, and mumbling snippets of Hail Marys and Our Fathers and Acts of Contrition. I skidded into the hospital car park, raced to the admissions desk and thence to Ugly's bed of pain. Where was my little baby sister? Was I in time?

She was sittin' cross-legged on the bed with a fag (cigarette) hangin' off her bottom lip! (You could smoke in hospitals back then). She was swearing quite expansively about Tristan managing to break his new bridle on his race home. Both her eyes were black, so that she looked like a raccoon. She had the distinct pattern of a horseshoe picked out in a lovely purple on her visage. She had a shaven patch on the back of her head and a series of extremely ugly blanket stitches in a nasty, stiff black floss were inserted therein. 'Bloody h*ll!' she exclaimed on seeing me. 'Your eyes are all red! What happened to *you*?'
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS Ugly has read part of this boring story over my shoulder and wants me to write up the one about the time she was walking a colicky horse and he sat on her. I will, Ugly dear, but not for a little while, eh?

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: How the Ugly Sister broke her head.
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 20:07:27 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

karen wrote:
> Ok - I'm curious - why do you call your sister "Ugly" - surely that can't be
> her name!!!
> Karen

It's very simple, really. To begin with, ugly is as Ugly does...

And also, please note the following:

Once upon a time, there were two sisters. One was beautiful and gentle and accomplished and clever and utterly lovely. The other one was ugly and horrible and nasty and her Mum paid her far too much attention and she always got precisely 1.973 drops more Coke in her glass than the lovely sister did. She got fatter slices of ham on her sandwich, a thicker layer of cream in the middle of her birthday cake and she got a two wheeled bike *three years earlier* than she ought to have!!!! (NB. *Good* girls get a bike when they are eleven. *Naughty* girls get them when they are only seven!)

Guess which sister was me?

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. I got me own back by taking the trainer wheels off Ugly's bike when she wasn't looking and sending her off down our hill. Teeheehee! She careened down the hill, hit the kerb at the bottom, jumped that and flew headfirst into Mrs Corrigan's rose garden! I laughed and laughed! Until Mum came along with the copper stick, that is...

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: How the Ugly Sister broke her head.
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 20:16:30 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle wrote:
> I just couldn't bring myself to snip any of this. Trish you make
> an absolutely horrible happening completely hilarious. What dire
> things are going to happen to me for laughing at your sister's skull
> getting stomped in? By the way, does she know she's a topic in many
> of your "boring" stories?
> Kim in SW Fl

Well, yes, she does. Only yesterday, she was suggesting other mildly funny happenings for me to write about. Y'see, a life with horses causes wads of unusual things to happen to a family. And Ugly and I share a really twisted sense of humour. We see the funny side of lots of things that others find quite tragic. And our well-developed sibling rivalry (which has lasted these thirty seven years) makes for an interesting time. To this very day, Ugly will sidle up to Mum and dob me in for any and every transgression she can think of! (NB to 'dob a person in' is to 'rat on' or to 'fink on' a person.) And, of course, I give her the same courtesy!

Ugly is probably my best friend. She also happens to be my worst enemy...

And I hers...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Re: ROTFL at my DNiece today!
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 07:29:09 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

ROTFL! Reminds me of my time at University. One of the popular idiot tricks was to see who could fit their mouth around the biggest beer glass. I could just make a middy (10fl.oz glass), but my friend, Rodney, could do a *pint* glass (16fl.oz)!!!

Until one day, he got the glass *in* but couldn't get it *out*! Can you imagine how comical a person looks when they have their gob wrapped round a large beer glass with all their teeth and furry tongue on view? And then they get the giggles because the glass won't budge. And then they get really panicky and their eyes go all big and round like saucers. And then the tears run down their cheeks. And everyone crowds round to offer 'useful' advice.

Finally, someone hit Rod on the back and he exhaled in a short, sharp burst. The glass flew out of his mouth and shattered. The entire pub applauded and Rod stood up to take a bow. Rotten little showoff!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Waaay OT- first day at work
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 22:25:13 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Stef, I didn't know you were going to be a *Civil Servant*! You brave girl! I'd've sent you a *much* more gung-ho email if I'd known that! It takes *spine* to enter the Civil Service! Committment! Vision! And a certain pinch of salt!

I sat for the Oz Public Service Exam in - I forget now... 1991 or something. I came second! Remarkable! From the list, a certain woman in charge of a section called Skillshare selected me as her new trainee. Little did I know that I was about to become an Administration Service Officer #1! (That's an ASO 1 - generally called an 'assh*le one' by those of us who suffered the title. I was qualified to Type and to File. That's it! I was *not* qualified to answer the phone or speak to the public ( I didn't have a vital thing called 'delegation', which is only earned after become an assh*le two or three, see?)

On my first day, I turned up in one of my computer saleslady suits in navy blue with white stockings and tons of make up. Everyone else wore jeans and sneakers! After that first day, so did I! I also stopped doing my hair up in a braid and began wearing it loose like all the others. I kept sitting on it and getting it caught in the filing cabinet! But it was The Go to have loose hair, so I did. Pretty soon, the guys from across the partition started having a competition to see how many little balls of paper they could shoot into my hair through the barrel of a pen before I noticed.

I had just left a position where I sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers to people and generally took the responsibility of my own ordering, demonstrating and conferencing. Suddenly, I had to ask someone if it was OK to answer the telephone. If no-one was there to ask, I had to sit there and let it ring!!! Egad! The *pain*! In my earlier life, I'd been to innumerable courses that stressed the importance of answering the phone before the third ring and now I had to sit there and .... oof! It really hurt!

The up-side of this was that I got to do really Important Things like go to Banjo's (the patisserie down the road) and purchase huge, enormous cream buns for morning tea. Or foccacia with sundried tomato and olives for lunch. Or sidle downstairs to check the tyres of those assh*les parked outside in Brown Street (parking coppers mark them with chalk and return to check them when the meter time has expired - the fine was $43!). I would thus be able to suck down one or two or even three cigarettes while I did this!

Imagine my chagrin when I was introduced to the 'Information Technology Officer'. She was an 'assh*le five' - a very exalted position indeed! She taught me that Microsoft Windows is a word processor and we use it to type all our letters. When I asked her what the difference was between Windows and Word, she replied that Word is the spellchecker! Do I hear you wonder what Microsoft Excel amounted to? 'Oh, that's just the calculator part of it all!' In addition, she confided the company password to me that allowed me access to the network. It was 'password'. Remarkable!

Eventually, my lot got better when they found out I knew a bit about DTP. (That was back when DTP was a magic word! I knew Quark Express and that was uncommon back then.) I was seconded to the PR department where I got to spend my days designing newspaper ads and doing innovative things like inserting bullets and cropping graphics. Ho hum.

The pinnacle of my Civil Service career came when we got a new Area Manager. *He* was an assh*le *seven* and almost divine in the scheme of things! He held interviews with each section in turn and ours came early on the second day after I found out I was pregnant with DD (and not terminally ill with some foul disorder of the stomach). I'd been up most of the night being sick and had not felt at all well that morning. The seven members of our section trooped into Mr Big's Office and sat down. He closed the door. I began to sense the beginnings of total anoxia...

Mr Big droned on and on about our duty of care to the public and the changes he intended to make and ....

Next thing I knew, my boss was pinching the edge of my bottom with her long, sharp fingernails! 'Wake up!' she hissed. I nodded dopily and looked at Mr Big. He was puncturing me with blue gimlet eyes and a very unkind expression! I tried so hard to wake up, but I just couldn't! There was no air! I forced my eyes to stay open, but I *know* my brain was asleep! He asked me a question and I answered with 'October is a lovely month... isn't it?' (DD was due in October)

He stood up and said 'I think this interview is over, ladies, don't you?'

My boss nearly *killed* me when we got back to our cubicle! She said 'Do you *seriously* think it's OK to fall asleep right in front of our new manager when you're sitting directly opposite him!?' To this day, I don't know what made it happen, but I was *so* mortified! I'm blushing right now, just remembering it!

I was sorry when I left that job, however, because I found so many dear friends in the typing pool! There were eighty three of us, all in the same big room and all basically on friendly terms. I hope you have great fun in your job, Stef! My main advice to you would be: 'make sure you stay awake'!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Talking disorder
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1999 08:04:25 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Pat, this sentence has prompted me to write about my Darling Dad and his mate, Terry.

Many of you know that Dad has had his larynx removed owing to throat cancer. He has a device called a Cooper Rand, which makes a buzzing noise in his mouth and allows him to form words around it. In Dad's case, however, this isn't too successful because he's stone deaf and can't hear that he isn't speaking clearly. My Mum is a marvel of concentration and she can make sense out of the 'random' collection of sounds that Dad makes! The rest of us in the family are pretty good at it, but other people just goggle at Dad with frozen smiles as he buzzes at them earnestly. It gets a bit hard, as poor Dad is not a patient man and he believes he speaks with crystal clarity...

Terry used to be Dad's partner at lawn bowls. Terry has the worst case of cleft palate and ill-repaired harelip I've ever seen. I'm *sure* it would be possible to get a better palate formation if he were prepared for more surgery, but Terry refuses. As a result, he is approximately as discernible in his speech as my Dad! I can speak to Terry, but the Ugly Sister hides when he comes to visit, because she can't understand a word he utters.

So! With all of the above in mind, picture this...

One bright spring morning, Terry came to repair the roof of Mum's pergola. Dad was much stronger back then and he was sitting out on the back deck, reading his paper and taking the sun.

Terry: G'day, Whanck (that's 'Terry' for 'Frank').

Dad: Bbbbbzzzzzttt-terry!

Terry: Eh?

Dad: Eh?

Terry: Offled g'day, Whanck!

Dad: Bbbbbzzzztttttt- speak up!

Terry: Eh?

Dad: Eh?

Terry: I can't unfflerflad what you're flaying!

Dad: Eh?

Terry: Fpeak *up*!

Dad: Bbbzzztttt - did you say? You've known me for thirty years and - bbbbbzzzzzttttt - bbbbzzzttt - bbbbzzzzttt - old bugger!

Terry: Vere's no need to be nafty about it. Rotten old mongrel (term of endearment in this case)!

Dad: Eh?

- etcetera!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS This little byplay went on for about ten minutes until Dad gave Terry half his paper and they spent a companionable half hour pointing out articles to each other in silence.

... still ROTFLMAOing over this one...

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Beak sharpening boring story was Scissors sharpening question?
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 23:58:58 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Dad's hands developed the most incredible calluses over the years (from using knives and meat cleavers all day), so he used to shave these - sorry for the nasty mental picture.

Dad had a galah (Oz parrot in pink and grey) called Aloysius. This bird was brought up by me from the egg. He was bald when we got him and he was fed on oatmeal four-hourly from a MacDonald's spoon.

Aloysius was a dear bird and very funny, having learnt lots of tricks. Dad used to encourage him to 'nibble' his fingers and eventually he (Aloysius, not Dad) became an inveterate biter! Dad would have none of that, holding out his finger and saying 'Come on, Aloysius, kiss Pop' and Aloysius would sink his beaky fangs into Dad's bony hand with sufficient force to sever the finger of a lesser man. Of course, Dad couldn't feel a thing and was enchanted with his loving bird.

One day, (beginning to ROTFL!) Dad put Aloysius on the Ugly Sister's shoulder and said 'Go on, Aloysius, kiss Francie'. He did.

He bit the Ugly Sister! He pierced her ear (right through the cartilage!!!) ROTFLMAO!!! And he pierced her lower lip!!! The Ugly Sister squawked like a whole flock of galahs and did the Dance of Bitter Regret as she tried to shake off the ravening bird.

Aloysius wasn't having any of that, though, and hung onto her nose (Bwahahahahahaha!) for dear life! Dad was most perturbed and said 'Oy! Francie! Wake up to yourself! You're going to *hurt* him!' Taking his darling on his finger, Dad allowed the poor, frightened creature to nestle into his chest and munch on his hearing aid cord.

He didn't hear the rather colourful invective coming from Ugly. By then, Aloysius had severed the cord and Dad had found himself constrained to go and get a new one.

Dripping gore, Ugly came whimpering to Mum, saying 'The next time I see that bird, it'll be trussed and dressed and waiting to be basted'!

I ROTFLMAOed quietly in my room, reliving every delicious moment of the incident...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Birthday Surprises
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 10:31:49 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Hnf! The Ugly Sister *arranged* to have her birthday on the 27th, I'm sure! It's just long enough after Christmas to be out of mind when doing the Christmas shopping and close enough (like this year) to be a holiday and have all the shops shut. So you can't rush out and get a last minute present when you've forgotten. But this year, I stymied her wicked plot and had a lovely present ready, all gift wrapped and everything! I gave her 'Summer Sisters' by Judy Blume. And I told her to have read it by the weekend so I can read it.

We had a nice party at Mum's, with a Wine Trifle and a Caramel Birthday Cake (Ugly did that on purpose too, 'cause she knows I hate caramel!) Afterward, we sat around reminiscing about the year we (Ugly and I) lived together. Before long, we were singing The Mamas and the Papas at top volume and our respective DH's were looking on in *awe*! (I don't think they were aware we had such Good Voices...) Then, the four of us did our inimitable rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' ending with the head-shaking bit from Wayne's World. It was Mum's turn to have awe! She thought we'd all gone mad! Poor woman!

Ugly read her card. She read: 'Happy Birthday to our *favourite* daughter, Frances, who is much smarter than Stupid Patricia and much more sexy and intelligent. That is why we gave her a bigger present and a larger cake and a prettier card. Amen'

Can you see why I call her 'the Ugly Sister'? Is it any wonder?

NB. What Ugly read is *definitely* not what was on the card! It probably said something like 'Happy Birthday to poor, dull Francie. Wish you were more like Trish.'
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Mass boring story
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 23:33:00 GMT
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Monique wrote and asked if there was a Midnight Mass boring story this year. Well Ellie is older and did nothing remarkable, so I said 'No... nothing happened.'

But then I remembered the Machiavellian mind of the Ugly Sister and her attempt to discredit me yet again in the eyes of our Mother. This is the Mass boring story:

Mum rang Ugly and me to organise us all getting to Mass. We agreed to leave home at 8 o'clock and meet at the front of the church. Well, we were running on Brown time (ie the opposite of daylight savings time) and were half an hour late. We got there just as the offertory procession set off. I couldn't see Mum as there were any number of little old ladies with fluffy grey hair and none of their backs screeched out 'Mum!' to me. But I could easily see Ugly's blue-black hair stickin' out of the congregation. So, I whispered to Kim and the kids 'Psst! There's Aunt! We'll have to sit with her!' And so we did: we waited till everyone stood up and slunk in.

There was a long period in which Ugly, Tease, Jack and Timmy had to rubber neck at Ellie and comment on her dress. I did the responsible thing and hissed at them to pay attention to Father (Ugly included). And Mass went on. Communion came, but we still couldn't see Mum.

After Mass Ugly said to me 'Are you in the gun?' (NB. 'In the gun' means 'in trouble').

'No-oo-o...' I said doubtfully. 'I don't think so...'

'Well, I am!' she announced bumptiously. 'Because I was supposed to give Mum a lift, but Warren's got the car and by the time we'd waited and waited for him to bring it home, it was late. We came in Jack's car, but Mum had already left in Noddy (name of the Mummobile) when we got there. So I expect I'll be well and truly in the gun.'

'Ha ha!' I said triumphantly! 'I'll be the sweet-smelling one this Christmas!'

'Oh no you won't' announced Ugly. 'YOU were late for Mass! Mum'll be *furious* after you promised you'd be early!'

'Well, so were YOU!' I retorted. 'Where's Mum? Race you!'

We each spotted the unmistakable back view of our Mum saying her prayers all alone and dashed across the church (each stopping to genuflect reverently at the tabernacle). By dint of pushing me into the open confessional, Ugly won unfairly.

'Merry Christmas, Mummy' said the sycophantic little toad.

Mum looked up from her prayer book and said 'I was *all* alone this Christmas! I had no family at Mass with me!' and looked a little gimlet at Ugly.

Nonplussed, Ugly faltered and said 'But we were all here. At the back. We couldn't see you! *Trisha* was late too! She was later than me!'

'Well!' spluttered Mum, 'I was here, wasn't I? Am I that unremarkable? What happened to you?'

Ugly went into a perfectly dishonest description of the circumstances of her lateness as I pulled recriminating faces at her behind Mum's back. She poked out her tongue at me and Mum *hit* her, saying 'Don't you dare do that in the church! You've just been to Mass for Heaven's sake!'

I laughed. Quietly.

Finally Mum and Ugly sorted out their differences and Mum warmed up a tad. Ugly shoved me back into the confessional, saying 'Ha ha! I'm not in the gun any more!' and strode off to curry more favour.

It all turned out OK in the end, as we followed Mum home and had coffee and cake with her and Dad. It was just like old Christmases, except Mum said we were too old to open 'just one small present' before bed.

But unfortunately, Ugly is no longer in the gun. I'll have to fix that...

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What's in my dunny tonight???
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 01:17:16 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Well! I never thought I'd have any reason to post another story about my dunny. However, a snake went in there *again* today and so, here it is!

Some of you will recall the story from a few months ago: a Red Bellied Black Snake came and visited us, staying in and around my outdoor dunny (toilet) for a day or so. We called a professional snake relocator, however the snake had basically nicked off and done a bunk before he (ie. the relocator) arrived. So, we never determined exactly what had become of the snake (who we affectionately dubbed 'Snidely').

Miss Alice (our dog) has been jittery for a week or so and on Friday I caught her giving grief to the poor old Blue Tongue Lizard who also visits us occasionally. I've assumed she was just being hormonal or something and have tried hard to be extra nice to her lately. Until yesterday morning, when I went outside to find all my epidendrums dug up and languishing on the concrete path! Alice had clearly been trying to dig something out from under the dunny!

'Appalling dog!' I bellowed. Waving a flaccid epidendrum in Miss Alice's face, I chased her up the yard with it and went to sweep up the huge pile of dirt she'd heaved all over the path. I had no need for her to practice her terriery on my garden that particular day! I filled up the hole, in between threatening a growling, broom-chasing Alice. Then, I set about replanting as many of the epidendrums as still had a few roots attached. Muttering rude words at Alice, I left the scene and forgot about it.

Today, I stepped outside the back door to call to DH, who was yakking to his mate over the back fence. I was greeted by a walloping, hairy great Black Snake, risen up on its haunches (I dunno whether that's anatomically correct, but I'm a qualified Zoologist and feel perfectly vindicated in saying it, OK?) and stickin' its tongue out at me in a dreadfully rude sort of fashion! I yelped and leaped backward up the step, skinning the backs of my heels as I did so!

'Ki-i-im!' I shrieked. 'Our little friend is back!' DH came hurtling down the yard (well, about as adequately as twenty-two stone of hot, throbbing bloke can hurtle) and blanched as he saw little Snidely. We're assuming it's the same Snidely, as it has about the same dimensions and the same almost modest expression on its little snakey face.

DH in his tremulously worried state asked 'Is there any way we could mark it to see whether it's the same snake that comes to visit?' I replied 'Of course! You go and pick it up, and I'll mark every second row of scales with liquid paper!' DH was not amused!

I rang a number of local wildlife bodies and found to my dismay that there are precisely *no* individuals left in the Newcastle area who would be willing to transplant my snake! The best they could suggest was that I put the garden hose on 'jet' and assist the snake to depart my premises. Assuming, of course, that he didn't become terminally p*ssed off and run up my leg or something while I'm in the middle of hosing him!

Horror! Dread! How do I reconcile an incumbent three-foot Red Belly and an acutely herpetophobic hubby?

Well, good ol' Snidely solved that for me by finding a teensy crack in the concrete slab under the dunny. Miss Alice had clearly been digging at his hidey-hole in her assault on my epidendrums! He squidged his snakely little self in there and disappeared entirely from view! Needless to say, DH has *not* been to the toilet all afternoon! Nor does he entertain any plans of doing so for the foreseeable future. I'm just lookin' on in awe! It never ceases to amaze me: the capacity of the human bladder to expand and expand and expand until...

We'll see! Will Snidely reappear from his Sub-Dunny Hideaway? Will DH relent and go? Will the call of the wild prove too much for little Snidely and see his eventual return to - Good Lord! Where has he *been* all this while? Under my very *house*? Eek!!!!

I'll let you know if we see any more of Snidely. Last conversation we had, the following came up:

- a Snidely-bite probably wouldn't kill DH or me as we're so fat
- it would probably kill any or all of our children, including Miss Alice
- Snidelies eat rats, mice and birds so, no, there's nothing with which we could bait a trap for him! I'm not prepared to dangle a live mouse or rat or whatever!
- Except for another snake, but DH flatly refuses to use sex to trap a Snidely! And in any case, we don't really know whether we're dealing with a Snidelette!
- We've already determined that we utterly can't afford to put the dunny indoors. DH is gonna *have* to go sometime, or his teeth are gonna float!
- I'm not afraid of snakes: I've been *twice*!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: What's in my dunny tonight???
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:39:00 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Sorry, Edie, but no matter how much I wish not to have a snake in my yard, I can't bring myself to bait a trap with a live animal! I have actually placed an inviting piece of PVC pipe in a strategic spot and will modify it with your clever cone idea. Poor old Snidely just wants to find a safe hiding place, away from all the Large, Inquisitive Humans who keep looking at him intently. I hope, if I provide such a place, he'll go in and I can clap the cover on and cart the little fellow off to our paddock where, with any luck, he can leap out and horrify the Ugly Sister one day!

Once, Ugly and I were teaching a class of beginners at Pony Club. I had the older kids and Ugly took the babies over to the back paddock, where they were trotting their horrible little ponies over logs (*why* do people buy small, evil-natured ponies for children?????). Ugly brought up the rear and hopped the seventh of the six logs she had placed for the class to jump.

'Huh!' thought Ugly, 'I only put down six logs! Where did *that* come from?' And she went back to look. It was a very large, very asleep Black Snake! The entire enrolment of New Lambton Pony Club Tiny Tots had just jumped over the top of it and not wakened it! So, Ugly (in a rare moment of sanguinity) yelled 'See who can gallop! Race you back to Aunty Trisha!'

The first I knew of the incident was being pelted with horrid little ponies (average height: eleven hands) and even horrider little kids screeching 'I won! I won!' Poor Ugly brought up the rear, saying '*I* need a stiff drink!'

Unfortunately, the Pony Club president went out and killed the poor snake, whose only offence had been to take a snooze in the wrong place! I mean, there were approximately 100 acres of swamp meadow there, probably *teeming* with snakes of all descriptions, and they felt the need to execute this one because they could! Makes me mad!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Ugly's very bad day.
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 01:06:12 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Today, I went to a funeral. A very dear family friend lost his battle with cancer. Tomorrow, I have to attend my Uncle's funeral: cancer again. It's been a pretty bad week, all round.

This evening, the Ugly Sister came to borrow a mousetrap. It was eleven fifty four when she knocked loudly on my front door and whispered at the top of her lungs 'Trisha! Are you there?'

Good grief! Did she think I was out having a night on the tiles or something?

'Help!' she said, 'can you lend me a mousetrap?'

Somewhat stupidly, I asked 'What for?'

'To catch a bl**dy mouse with, you berk!' she retorted. 'One ran across the lounge room floor and over Teasie's foot. She's up home havin' a triplet and refusin' to go to bed until I catch this blasted mouse! Give me the trap, will you!'

So, not to be outdone, I said 'This'll carry a price: you can stop and have a cuppa coffee with me!' So she did.

And it was during the cuppa coffee that Ugly told me about her day. Sadly, Old Flash died today (there appears to be a lot of it about!) He was twenty seven and an old, old ex polo pony. Ugly's DSIL had ridden him throughout her illustrious Pony Club career and a succession of kids had then inherited him (including my baby niece, Jacquie) until he retired to pasture at the age of twenty three. Flash was still an active member of the paddock and quite the King Pin among the forty odd horses that live there. But this afternoon, Jacquie found him very low and almost dead at the edge of the creek.

DBIL determined that a bullet was the kindest option, so they called for Darren (the Kindly Despatcher). After it was all over, there came the question of what to do with poor old Flash. Ugly's DSIL insisted that he be buried under his favourite she-oak tree at the side of the creek, so Uncle Kevin was then called to bring his little bobcat. A Large Hole was bobcatted out and Old Flash was buried in it amidst many tears from Ugly, the DSIL, my DN and sundry others who were in attendance. Uncle Kevin decided to back over the hole a few times to make sure the earth was firm and no foxes could dig down to Old Flash.

Suddenly, the bobcat disappeared into the hole!

Our neck of the woods is heavily undermined, owing to old coal mines and various pits and trenches dating back to 1890. Many times, you hear of holes suddenly opening up in roadways and housing estates due to mine subsidence. Well on this occasion, a hole opened up directly beneath the one Uncle Kevin had dug to bury Old Flash in!

When he reversed his bobcat over the grave that one last time, the earth gave way and Flash, Uncle Kevin and the bobcat sank about eight feet without warning! It took six hours to eventually hoist the bobcat out of the hole! Uncle Kevin got out somewhat before that, but I believe Old Flash is still resting peacefully there.

Apparently, the DSIL carried on quite a bit about the likelihood of Old Flash being squashed flat by the bobcat. My DBIL bellowed at her 'He's bl**dy dead, Cheryl!' and she replied 'You don't have to keep on reminding me!' and went off in a flood of tears. Poor Ugly had to cope with a shaken Uncle Kevin, a tearful Jacquie, an angst-ridden DH and an hysterical DSIL! No wonder she'd had a very bad day!

Just thought you might like to hear that story... It *has* been an unfortunate week all round! --
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Bumping into former teachers Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 23:53:03 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

As the title of this post suggests, I recently bumped into a former teacher of mine. This brought back some *really* vivid memories and got me thinking about the influences our teachers have on us in life...

I've only bumped into one former *student* of mine: it was at a rock concert and we sort of collided as she was leaving the moshing pit. She said 'Geez! It's Mrs Lavis! What are *you* doing *here*?' and was clearly not too comfortable to see me! Especially when I asked her smugly whether she still picked her dear little nose!

Anyway, as my friend, Trisha, and I left Uncle John's funeral the other day, we bumped into a tiny little nun. Trisha (who is acutely Italian and far more ebullient than me - which is saying something!) jostled up to the minute nun and said 'Oh hello, Sister! Wasn't it a lovely funeral? (!)'

'Ye-e-es...' she replied, 'as funerals go, it was lovely.'

There was something in the sharp, pointy features of this little nun that jiggled a memory... so I said 'Sister, can I ask your name? Did you teach here at St John's?'

The nun said 'Oh yes, nearly forty years ago. I was called Sister Luke back then!'

All my innards turned directly into water and I came over all peculiar! Sister Luke was infamous! She was bigger than a block of flats and had a caning arm like steel girders. She also had a heart to match! She would just as soon keep you in for the rest of your life if it meant saving your immortal soul from the evils of whispering, fiddling or (as mentioned above) picking your bodily orifices! And here she was, standing right in front of me and looking like any elderly nun. Except she was *extremely* short! Lucky if she'd hit five foot! I seem to recall her being much, *much* larger...

I looked sideways at Trisha and saw that she too was acutely uncomfortable. After Sister Luke had taught me in Second Class at St John's, she'd gone on to have a shot at Trisha in Third Class at Sacred Heart! So we both had Good Reason to be nervous in her presence! Sister recalled teaching each of us, saying nice things about our academic prowess. We left as soon as we could make an excuse and twittered all the way to the car!

It was only then that I remembered what must have been at the forefront of Sister's recollection of me!

One day, Mum had given me Dad's drink flask by mistake. As a result, I had drunk far more orange cordial after my lunch than any little girl ought. Poor Dad would have had to survive on a mere thimbleful, as he'd had my drink. The result of this was that only half an hour after the bell to re-enter class I desperately needed to *go*! I put up my hand and said 'Sister, may I please be excused?' Sister Luke looked a gimlet at me and said 'Under no circumstances! You've had plenty of time to attend to those matters and you will now complete your work!' (NB. I was only seven!)

Needless to say, after another hour or so, I was in dire straits! When the bell rang at three o'clock, we all knelt for prayers and I'm horrified to admit that my iron will gave out and I had a Serious Accident! Sister took one look at the spreading puddle under my desk, dismissed the class sharply and took me by the hand. 'Come with me', she said.

All the way up to the Convent gate, I quailed, certain I was going to be sliced, chopped or julienned and probably dug into the nuns' veggie patch for fertiliser! I believe I was actually gibbering as we reached the gate!

It turned out that Sister Luke had a heart after all. She showed me the nuns' bathroom, let me use it and gave me *a pair of her very own gigantic knickers* to wear home!!!! I was in a daze! After all this time of being in horror of Sister Luke, it turned out she was a really nice lady! I found out that her eyes actually twinkled when she smiled and the other nuns spoke to her as if they really liked her. (Bear in mind, all nuns had a Voice they used on the playground and it bore no resemblance to their own voices. I got to see and hear things that day that most people never do!)

After that, I would always say 'Goodmorningsistergodblessyou' to Sister Luke and really mean it! She was a real sweetie! I might even go back and have a proper visit with her one of these days. I need to find out whether she can remember the day she gave me her knickers!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: The wildlife has moved inside this week!
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 00:11:26 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Well! After all the excitement of Snidely and a poor fleeing lizard (which I rescued from Miss Alice's loving attentions the other day), we have a house guest tonight! Alice was going ballistic, barking and scratching at the screen door (which DH only mended last week, following Alice's recent forced entry and which was threatening to develop another ad-hoc doggy-flap without notice).

We looked out to see the *naughty* girl batting a poor frog about the back yard as if he were a ping pong ball! Luckily, she hadn't yet practised her notorious slam on him yet.

NB. Alice's 'slam' is the one where she *steps* on the poor little froggy, breaking its spine and paralysing it! There's no answer to that, except a brief spell in the fridge and froggy oblivion! Usually, she just shocks the frogs and a short spell in 'hospital' is all that's needed to set them right. They generally recover their faculties well enough if you just put them in a quiet, dark place under some foliage...

DH picked up Mr Frog and put him in a tupperware container with some lettuce leaves (handy when you don't have any foliage in your hip pocket and especially soothing for frogs when it's straight out of the fridge).

So, tonight, there's a very large, fat brown frog taking his ease in our bathtub. So far, he still can't hop, but he's crawling about happily and will survive his bout with Alice. I hope he has enough sense to stay away in future!

Does anyone know a way of deterring dogs from hunting frogs? I'm serious! Alice kills at least three a week in the summer and it's *awful*, considering the world frog shortage and all!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS The lizard was a monster Blue Tongue which bit me as I tried to prise him out from under my potted Pittosporum! Rude thing! And then he had the hide to hiss very nastily as I let 'im go! I almost hoped he'd meet up with Snidely under the house!

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Horse in a rat trap boring story
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 12:32:39 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Today, I've got a cold. A *heavy* cold! I fell asleep in front of the fan yesterday and woke up with aching joints and a ferociously sore throat. So, today, I'm too sick to do much and can't bear to lie down because all by braids rud to by doze. I thought I'd post the story of 'How I Caught Shanachie in a Rat Trap'. Purely for by ode abusebent, you udderstad?

Once, the Ugly Sister went off and bought a horse without asking me. She has done this three times in her life: one of these horses had a highly developed murderous streak and was bent on assassinating anyone who came within cooee of him; another was a glorious sorrel Anglo Arabian mare with a splint (bone growth) the size of a large grapefruit on her fetlock ('Oh!' said Ugly, 'Imagine that! I never even *looked* at her feet!' Ever heard the expression 'No foot, no horse?') This is the story of the first horse Ugly bought without my assistance. His name was Shanachie... or 'Shanny' for short.

Shanny shared a stable in our backyard with Sunny, the old skewbald stockhorse. He (Shanny) was an ex-pacer, so his thoroughbred component made him rather highly strung. Can I say: 'neurotic'? The first thing that happened was Shanny's development of a horror of things happening behind him. Many horses will swing suddenly around if they hear a sharp report (like a bomb going off or a volley from a small cannon), however Shanny took this propensity to new heights. If you so much as uttered his name in an undertone, he would screech at the top of his lungs, rear up on his hindlegs, chuck in a 'pig root' (that's the one where they stand on their forelegs and kick out behind - what do others call this?) and bolt off to b*ggery! (Please, I'm not being rude. That's just what you say when a horse nicks off in a hurry!) This became quite a problem, because he'd do this just as you approached him to put on his bridle.

Pretty soon, the wily old thing had worked out that bolting to b*ggery helped prevent being ridden! So, he eventually became *absolutely* impossible to catch! Now, this is the single most infuriating thing a horse can do. Anyone who has ever spent a rainy afternoon wandering forlornly about a paddock, earnestly proffering a carrot or hunk of bread to a retreating horse's *ss, only to be spattered with the mud that flies from his gaily kicking hooves, will understand what I mean. Once, Ugly and I spent a whole day catching a disgusting old grey gelding and we were even reduced to lying on the ground, covered in lucerne (alfalfa) and pretending to be a bale of hay! It didn't work! The rotten old horse rushed up to us, snatched a huge mouthful of hay (which included the front of Ugly's shirt) and trotted off with his tail in the air and a hugely satisfied expression on his cunning old face! Do you see what I mean?

On that occasion, Ugly lost her temper and hurled an apple at his retreating bottom. It struck him fair in the anus and he promptly clamped his tail down upon the apple and carried it off with him! Imagine our convulsions of laughter as we spied him, some half an hour later, munching on the - ah - unclean fruit!

Anyway, I digress.

Shanny got to the point where the only person who could catch him was Mum. (She was the only one who never rode him, you see). So, when Sunny scratched his bum on a fencepost one day, thus uprooting it and causing the entire fence to fall over, Shanny delightedly sailed off to see the world and there was precious little hope of ever getting hold of him again!!!

We lived in a suburb of Newcastle (still do), so it's a built-up area, with roads, streets, lawnmowers, school children, buses and barking dogs. Can you picture this neurotic, uncatchable horse gadding about the 'burbs, tail in the air, nose pointing toward heaven and just loving All That Freedom? He developed a routine of wandering down to the shop, where the lady would give him a loaf of bread (!), then out to visit his cronies in Digger's Paddock on the main road, then down to Jesmond, where he'd stand under a particular tree dozing for most of the day, then up to meet the school bus (some of the braver kids would give him sweets) and then home to the very perimeter of our paddock to sleep with Sunny. All this was pretty harmless, so...

Ugly and I spent *days* trying to catch him with no success. Every evening, he'd trot up to the fence and whinny for his dinner, but as soon as we approached he'd scoot off again into the distance. Poor Mum wore out her shoes trailing after him calling 'Shanny! Come to Granny, darling!' It didn't take long till she developed Quite a Reputation as 'The Old Bird Who Calls That Wild Horse'. Mum was aghast!

This all came to a head when the lady next door ('Aunty Betty', up with whose children we grew) complained bitterly one afternoon to Mum. Apparently, the school bus had made a noise that day and frightened Shanny away rather precipitately. He'd been forced to jump over the top of Tracey Davies in order to escape (he was a good jumper and didn't hit her or anything - fat little toad she was!) Aunty Betty was rather concerned about this and advised Mum that we'd really better catch Shan before someone complained to a Higher Authority.

So! The first thing we did was to get hold of Kerry Lyons. Kerry was a crack lassoer. Or so he *told* us! He reckoned he could rope Shanny in a trice. He couldn't. After several hours of an army of us driving him into a corner where Kerry lurked with his lasso, Shanny just slipped out of the noose as if it weren't there! We tried again and again and again. No luck. Kerry was really cranky (as I expect one *would* be after boastfully guaranteeing to catch a horse and then failing *loudly* like that).

The next thing was that the Poundkeeper arrived and told us he was going to seize the horse and impound him. It would cost us $65 to get him back again. 'Hooray!' we said to each other, 'Why didn't we think of that before?'

'Good luck,' we said to the Poundkeeper. And we weren't being as 'smart' as he accused us of being. We meant that very sincerely!

The poor Poundkeeper spent a terribly fruitless day chasing Shanny around Wallsend, Jesmond, Lambton and back again. Mum offered him a cold glass of lemonade, but he declined (rather nastily, I thought). He went away, promising to send us a summons.

By now, we were getting rather worried. Summonses are not a very nice thing to receive, according to Mum, so we all racked our brains...

One afternoon, M&D were at work, Ugly was at school and I was at home alone. I was sitting on an upturned bucket in the stable when I saw a rat run by! 'Yuck!' I said, in the way one does when one sees a rat. And then it struck me! I could catch this dreadful horse in a rat trap!

I sat down immediately with my crochet hook and a large ball of green wool. I crocheted a chain that was 100 feet long (this took a few days). Then, I got my rat trap and mounted it inside the deep garbage bin we used to hold the horses' feed. I attached a circle of eight gauge wire to the business end of the trap and the whole thing was mounted so that the circle of wire would flip up and encircle the horse's head while I stood safely 100 feet away, having tripped the trap with my crocheted chain.

Cut a long boring story short (!), it worked like a charm! Shanny came up to the feed bin, sniffed once and stuck his greedy head in to lick the sticky molasses I had put on the bottom (most horses just *adore* molasses). I, hiding in the stable, ascertained my moment, pulled sharply on the crocheted chain and the trap went off, flipping the ring of 8gauge straight over Shan's head! I marched calmly up to him and led him into the stable by the circle of wire. Having shut the gate, it was no trouble to put a halter on and to tie him Very Securely to the sliprails!

And not a living soul saw what I had done! I did a massive happy dance, leaping and cavorting around in my joy at my own cleverness. Old Pop Bray looked over his fence at me and shook his head in disbelief. When the family came home that evening, they wouldn't believe me. They reckoned I'd had help! But I was there and I know exactly how I did it. Shanny was sold approximately five days after this event: he was my only witness and he never said a thing to support my story!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Ugly and me
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 00:43:59 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Ugly and I were reminiscing yesterday. We spent some time remembering what it was like to grow up together and congratulating our Mum and Dad on preventing us from murdering each other in the process of doing it!

Here are some of the things we recalled.

My earliest memory of our exceptional relationship is the first time I endeavoured to put Ugly out of her misery. She was about five days old and fast asleep in her cot, snoring away like an old walrus! I crept up and said 'Hello, baby!' There was no response. 'Hello, baby!' I said again in my friendliest tone. The only response was a short, sharp emission of gas from the smug-looking amphibian-like creature in the cot! 'Oho!' I thought to myself. 'So that's the way it is, eh?' and I got a great big tin of talcum powder and sprinkled it all over the top of her! IIRC, my rationale was that *I* was always sprinkled with talcum powder after my bath (and hence, just before being put to bed). The smell has thus always had a soporific effect on me. I figgered that if I put enough on Ugly, she'd just stay sleeping and not make any more 'rude noises' at me. Instead, she woke up and wailed her black little lungs out, alerting Mum and raising the entire household. I was *forced* to hide under Mum's bed, where I whacked me head an awful wallop and cried myself to sleep! They found me some time later and I got into Major Trouble for powdering the little toad!

When Ugly was toddling, she must've had a very dicey digestive system. I discovered this by accident one night as I put Dracula teeth in my mouth and chased her around the house immediately following a large dinner of sausages and fried tomato. She lasted about five minutes and then threw up on the hall carpet (which was brand new Axminster and with which Mum had already developed a mystical relationship). It didn't take long for me to perfect the art of horrifying Ugly with but an instant's grimacing. Up she'd chuck and you'd hear Mum shriek from three rooms away as she came racing with a bucket and sponge to anoint her precious carpet. *I* thought it was hilarious, but in the cool shade of my adulthood, I can see that perhaps it wasn't all *that* funny... I have carpet now...

Ugly was diagnosed with a severe case of 'turned ankles' by some quack when she was two. She had to wear a perfectly awful pair of orthopaedic boots and spring-loaded caliper-jobbies for nearly a year. They had precisely *no* effect on the conformation of Ugly's feet, however they left quite a number of dents in *my* person! Ugly became quite adept at kickin' the livin' tripes out of one and then sittin' down demurely just as Mum arrived to my shrieks of agony. 'Oh no, Mummy' she'd say when asked whether it had been she who broke my nose/skull/pelvis with her aggro boots. 'Patwicia has just fallen down. Have a kiss, Patwicia!' As Mum cooed over her snakelike offspring, I was forced to endure the viper's kiss and wait for another moment...

*Dear* little Ugly was quite stout growing up. This was because she was such a hog when it came to cake, sweets, ice-cream and the like. She would snuff up as much sweet stuff as her Hooverlike maw could accommodate and then say 'Oh, Mummy, I've dwopped my sweeties in the dirt!' whereupon *I* would be called upon to share and split my remaining sweeties with her. It gave me Much Gall to see them disappearing into her Black Cakehole, I can tell you! (In fact, just the other night, Mum was dishing out slices of Teasie's birthday cake and Ugly piped up: *she* got more than me! I want a bigger slice!' and Mum gave in yet again! I *boiled*!)

When Ugly was fourteen, she commenced to smoke: not, sadly, as a result of being set alight by some insightful soul, but rather by dint of sneaking smokes out of Dad's packet and smoking them down in the paddock with her dreadful crony, Diane. When I found out about this, I went immediately to Mum as any dutiful daughter ought and said 'That rotten little horror is *smoking*, Mum!' and sat back to watch the fun. Ugly got her mouth washed out with soap and I enjoyed that more than words can express!

I took to snooping about a bit and one day was able to say to Mum: 'Look at this vile and disgusting thing I found in our wardrobe!' Mum began to laugh, albeit uneasily. 'It's not funny, Mum, this is very serious!' I said as I waved the flaccid, transparent latex object in front of her. 'Do you know what this *is*?' 'Yes!' said Mum, 'It's a finger-stall! I don't think it's - ah - quite large enough to be what you're thinking!' And she went off in gales of laughter!

As you might imagine, Ugly and I shared a room and a wardrobe between us. *My* half was kept in rigid order with ornaments and treasures lined up in serried ranks, clothing hung at exactly equal distances apart and shoes lined up like so many soldiers under the bed. Ugly's half was unspeakable! She would remove her clothing and *drop* it where she stood, walking over the top of it and often kicking it under her bed! Her teddy bear was frequently lost among the tangle of *stuff* she kept under there and was once unearthed with a *cockroach* stuck to him!!!! We did the obvious and drew a line in chalk across the floor and down the wall. This made it a bit hard for me to enter and leave, as I was forced to leap about eight feet from the door to my half of the room and back again! Ugly would permit no demilitarised zone!

Ugly recalls my first date with a boy called Michael O'Brien. He took me to see 'The Exorcist' at the Drive-In. I came home and crept into bed with her! I did that for about two weeks! I must've had a brain fever or something!

When Ugly was fifteen, she tried to put me out of *my* misery for the first and (so far) only time. I found her packet of smokes in the garden shed, so I did the only thing a body ought to do and broke them all in half! She cornered me and accused me of the crime. Filled with righteousness, I told her I'd do it again if I ever found her with cigarettes at her age! She picked up the nearest instrument (pair of kitchen scissors) and threw them at me with the accuracy of a murdering Ghurka! I felt their draught as they whizzed past my head (parting my hair for me!) and then the faint twang as they embedded in the door! I ran.

Once the abovementioned Michael O'Brien and I were a Formal Item, he spent an Awful Lot of Time at our place. Ugly would lurk around corners and jump out with arms and legs akimbo, shrieking 'They're doing it *again*, Mum! They're canoodling in the lounge room!! And Mum would come with wagging finger to say 'Any more of *that*, sir, and you can go home!' Good grief!

Once, Ugly and I sang at a friend's wedding. There was a particular gentleman at the reception whom I was trying to impress and I had succeeded in getting him to ask me to dance. Afterward, we sat down and I was busily getting him to notice my rather stupendous cleavage when Ugly wobbled along and squidged her Great Bulk in between us. She hooked one leg over his and began fanning herself saying 'That purple fizzy stuff is *good*! I've had thirteen of 'em!' and then she burped aloud! (It was a very alcoholic beverage called 'Blackberry Nip' and some dill had been serving it in lemonade to the twelve-year-old Ugly without stinting!) The bloke retreated and I never got a chance after that!

The second time Ugly bought a horse without asking me was when she bought Simon from Old Man Hardes. She rode the horse at the end of a long day during which he'd been working stock and was utterly tired out. Of course, the first time she rode him fresh, he bucked her off without ceremony! This happened on every occasion when she rode Simon, so the blush of their friendship was well and truly sour by the time I came home for University holidays. The *first* thing Ugly did was say 'Come and try out my new horse!' and I did! I lasted approximately three minutes in the saddle and ended up hanging off of Bray's fence, whence I had been slung by the athletically-bucking Simon! 'Oh!' said Ugly, 'You seem to have lost your touch! Hop on again and let's see you get him going!' I did, like a fool! Within moments I was assailed by a strong sense of deja vu and picking splinters out of me!

Last one: this isn't to do with sibling rivalry, but is one of the Treasured Moments...

Ugly went trail-riding with Diane, the Dreadful Crony. They rode bareback, thinking it nice to get back to nature and give the horses a break from wearing saddles. After a very short while, both girls developed that inimitable sensation known in horsey circles as 'riding a razorblade'. They were sore and sorry and came to a clearing in the bush, where they hopped off for a rest. They found some old junk, including some lovely large, thick, pink pads which someone had dumped there. 'Great!' they told each other, 'we can ride on these and be more comfortable!'

They were fibreglass household insulating batts!

I spent a glorious evening plucking fibreglass fragments out of Ugly's stupid butt and laughing my head off!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: (Trish Brown)
Subject: Re: OT: was I'm back... now teeth
Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 23:56:30 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

ROTFL!!! Elizabeth, how did you guess?

Firstly, I managed to yank out most of Ugly's teeth by dint of string and fishing line and a fair attempt at bribery and corruption (the *stupid* child believed me every time, when I told her it didn't hurt!)

Then, I have a complete set of dear little pearly teeth which I harvested from DS. Fortunately, he says he has no memory of my having reefed them out of his jaw, but he knows that we had many happy times arranging for his friend, the Tooth Fairy's accommodation!

And the other day, when we announced DD's loose tooth to the family, both my dear nieces began to turn green and each told luridly untruthful tales of my forays into their collective little cakeholes.

'Oh no!' they cried, 'Don't let Aunt near your tooth, Ellie! She's a *monster* when it comes to ripping teeth out!

Hnf! If it was really as bad as they tried to imply, then how come they let me back in their gobs at least 27 more times!?!?!?!?!?

I remember the time we attached Teasie's premolar to some, string tied to a very large spanner (wrench?) and dropped it out the window... the tooth didn't come out, but Teasie very nearly followed the spanner down two storeys!


And I used to *chase* Jacquie, crying 'But Jac, I only want to *feel* it....!'

Oddly, when I taught school the kids thought I was great at pulling teeth and my class members used to encourage kids from other classes to 'come and let Mrs Lavis pull it - she never hurts'.
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: The weather etc
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 01:36:19 +1100
Organization: University of Newcastle

Well! Only a matter of days ago, I was whinging about the intense heat we'd been having! Now, the heavens have opened and Newcastle is flooded!

In particular, the paddock (where Ugly keeps the last three horses) is armpit deep in water! On Ash Wednesday, Mum and I were driving home past the paddock when we spotted Ugly and her husband, Warren, wading out into the flood to retrieve half a dozen calves who were stranded on the (imminently collapsing) levee bank of the creek. It was *piddling* down rain and the creek was on the point of overflowing the levee!

Stupid creatures! (Ugly and Warren, not the calves!) What happens is, the waters rise up the trunks of the old Sheoak trees and dislodge the snakes that have sheltered there. It's not unusual to see them (snakes) swimming along in the current when the paddock floods and Ugly was right out there in it! Poor Warren usually gets the awful job for himself - he used to swim out on his old pony to call the calves in, but since Old Prince passed away, Warren prefers to go on foot. He reckons it gives him the creeps, feeling bits of vegetation sweep past his legs and not knowing whether it's a snake or not.

Anyway, when the bedraggled pair waded *out* of the flood, all Mum had to say was 'Francie! Please don't wear a black bra under a white shirt like that! It looks common!' Dear Ugly quietly muttered a Very Rude Word through her chattering teeth.

Since that day, twenty three people have rung up the RSPCA to report Ugly for neglecting 'those poor, drowning creatures' in the paddock! I think it's hilarious! Ugly is at the paddock twice a day to feed and water the stock and to exercise the little colt she has there. AND she swims out into a flood to rescue the calves! People seem to think that she and Warren are more than happy to watch, uncaring as several thousand dollars worth of investment goes 'glub glub glub' in the flood! Good grief!

Anyway, today, Warren's cousin, Rodney, came to help. (ROTFL - Rodney is 'a six-foot-two red-'eaded streak o' mis'ry'!) He strode manfully along the levee bank, crying out to The Bull 'Geddup, you old b@stard!' The Bull looked once at Rodney and said 'Moo'. Then he swam in a straight line to the gate, where Ugly was waiting with a bale of hay. All the cows followed The Bull and the calves brought up the rear.

Rodney took just one more step and disappeared up to the top of his carrotty red head in flood! He'd stepped into the ditch and lost his footing. There was a bit of consternation while everyone made sure Rodney was still OK, but it seemed he'd stepped onto the wrong side of the ditch and into Ironbark Creek! For a scary while, Rodney sailed along and along and along, borne by the swift current of the swollen creek. He was lucky enough to reach up and pull himself out as he passed under the bridge on Minmi Road! Goodness! Talk about drama!

And tonight, we have a chorus of huge frogs in our backyard! They sound for all the world as though they're singing the Anvil Chorus (well, to my ear anyway). I've had to lock Miss Alice in the laundry in order to stop her from having Frogs' Legs for tea!

To top things off, I've just come back from a brief visit to the dunny and a flying fox (large black bat) nearly parted my hair for me as he swooped low over my head! There's a flock of them (ie bats, not dunnies) parked in the neighbours' palm tree, eating the fruits which have burst due to the rain. You should *hear* the commotion! Every now and again, one lands on our corrugated iron roof and frightens the wits out of us. And y'know, our neighbours (the ones who own the palm trees) were completely unaware of these nightly visitors! How can you not notice a coagulation of bats in your back yard? Especially when they're *exceptionally* vocal, as they are tonight?

Oh well... that's what's been happening in our neck of the woods of late. And now that it's cooler, I might even get a bit of stitching done!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: First signs of Spring...
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 10:45:36 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Ah! Bryn old mate! You just reminded me of something...

Once, I had an aviary of Oz native parrots. Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Grass Parrots, Bourke Parrots etc etc etc. They lived in a large enclosure, which Dad built for me at the back of the garage. One day, I was cleaning the cage out and moved the nest boxes out from the wall in order to sweep there. Imagine my chagrin when forty thousand mice (or so it seemed) came *flowing* out from behind the boxes and all over my feet and legs!!!

Omigoodness! I had to do something and quick! I pondered the situation and got to work. First, I evacuated all my parrots and quails into small holding cages. Then I collected together all of our eight cats and put them inside. Then I got the garden hose and thoroughly flooded the ground surrounding the aviary (bare soil). As I expected, legions, battalions, a plethora (and quite a few) mice came roiling into the cage, there to be snapped up in the jaws of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Patches and Eliza, Hepzibah and Mehitabel, Oedipus and Jocasta.

It was *awful*!!! I could *hear* the scrunch-scrunch-scrunch of all those little skulls being conCATenATEd! I leapt into the aviary and grabbed each cat as it caught a mouse and collected the (live and squealing) booty in a large, lidded bucket. I didn't count my haul, but the bucket had about four gallons of mice in it! We went for a very pleasant walk down to the far end of the back paddock and I let 'em all go!

When I returned, I was sweeping the water out of the cage floor and I heard a very faint peeping sound. Lifting a brick, I discovered five baby mice in a dear little fur-lined nest. They were in five different stages of development from fully-furred right down to a naked baked bean! I was forced to flush four of the babies down the loo (nearly *killed* me - how *awful*!), but we kept the eldest and called him Henry. He became a dear little pet and DS loved him until he passed away.

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Mouse boring story about Dad
Date: Sat, 01 Apr 2000 00:03:39 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Mum has asked me to write down this boring story about Dad (who died recently, to our lasting sorrow). It's one treasured by our family and I hope I can tell it in such a way that others might find it funny as well...

Dad was petrified by mice! If he got the merest whiff that a mouse might be about, he would bring out the barrage of mousetraps which he kept in his little shed in the back yard. This shed was christened by Mum: 'Dad's Boudoir' because he spent an *awful* lot of time in it, doing Dadly things and having a nice cold beer in it after work.

Once Dad's mousetraps had been set, everyone turned into Nervous Wrecks. Why? Because there'd be a couple dozen mousetraps, poised in anticipation and sprinkled about our humble home! You couldn't step foot into a room without worrying that one or more toes might be severed by Dad's traps!

So, when Ugly and I decided we'd like to keep some white mice, Dad nearly had a coronary!

'But Dad! We only want to have *white* mice! They're pets! They're harmless! And we'll take good care of them!'

'You girls have got to understand, these are vermin! *Vermin*! I don't care whether they're black, white or brindled, they're VERMIN!!! D'you know what 'vermin' means? It means they get into your food and into your bed and they foul your home and bring disease and they bite you and give you rabies!

(NB. We don't *get* rabies in Australia, but that's academic in the scheme of Dadda's argument...)

'... and I absolutely forbid you to bring mice into this house! That's the end of it!'

So, Ugly and I went off to moan to Mum and beg her to intercede for us.

'Not on your life!' she replied. I think Mum was already aware of Dad's phobic reaction to Mus musculus!

So, Ugly snuck home from school one day with two (2) tiny mice secreted in her Bottomless Pit (ie. the space between her capacious boobies, big enough to hold an armoured personnel carrier let alone two (2) little mice). I made a small cage out of chipboard and fly wire and we had already found a treadmill and various other furnishings to make a spacious, well-appointed home for our mice. We called them Leroy and Ichabod. They were *champagne* mice, not white ones, and they were very cute!

After playing with them that night, we put the lads to bed amidst much shushing. After all, while Dad was completely deaf and unlikely to hear our excited giggles, Mum wasn't and would no doubt come down on us like the proverbial ton of brix if she guessed we'd defied Dad...

Next morning, we leapt out of our beds and went to greet the mice.

They were gone!!!

No-one had alerted us to the fact that rodents chew things! Especially, they chew their way out of cages! (Can I digress to say that a friend of Ugly's once put a pair of Peach-faced Lovebirds into a bamboo cage? They lasted exactly half an hour and then flew away, having eaten half the cage before doing so!)

We looked everywhere for these blasted mice! Couldn't find 'em anywhere! Mum was curious as to what we were looking for, but we fobbed her off, saying Ugly had lost her bra. (ROTFL!!! That'd be like saying you'd lost a small circus tent or hot air balloon!!) So, we were forced to toddle off to school and by the end of the day we sadly admitted that our frightfully au fait champagne mice were completely lost. Snif!

That night, we had dinner and began to get ready for the usual card game of Five Hundred with Mum and Dad. Mum washed up and the three of us dried. It was while drying the dishes in the kitchen that I looked up to say something to Dad. I nearly swallowed my tongue as I observed a long, skinny, pink tail hanging down from between the louvred slats of the pantry door behind Dad's head.

'Geez!' I hissed at Ugly, 'Ichabod's in the pantry! Look!'

'What!?' said Ugly, 'Where!?'

'What!?' said Dad, 'What are you talking about? What's in the pantry?' and he turned around to look! Of course, Ichabod scurried off and Dad didn't see him. We heaved a sigh of relief and giggled in our nervousness.

'What are you girls giggling at?' asked Mum, highly aware that acts of harmony and cooperation between us were rare indeed and ought to be shared and celebrated!

'Oh... nothing, Mum...' and we kept on drying the dishes.

Later, we were in the midst of our card game and Dad had just bid ten hearts when Mum squeaked aloud, crying 'Good Lord! There's a *mouse* sitting fair in the doorway!'

'Oh no!' said Ugly and I in the same breath, 'It's Leroy! He's back!'

'What?' Mum ejaculated, 'Have you been keeping *mice* in the house? Your Father will have a fit! For goodness' sake, don't let him see it or he'll kill it!'

So, the game and the conversation suddenly became *exceedingly* bright and animated as we strove to stop Dad from looking to his left and seeing poor little Leroy. Dad played his usual scientific game and he and Mum beat Ugly and me hands down. He stretched and sighed and said 'Well, I'm off to bed! Goodnight, girls!' And he kissed us all and went.

We had a very interesting time, explaining to Mum about the mouse fiasco. She grounded us for a week (ie. we weren't allowed to ride our horses) and warned us against the evils of disobedience. Then, she said 'Find those mice RIGHT NOW and get rid of them before your Father finds out!'

Just then, there was a strange cry from her bedroom! Dad came flying down the hallway with a pillow in his hand!

'Bloody h*ll!' he cried, 'There's a bloody *mouse* under my pillow! I've got to get the traps!' and he disappeared into his boudoir forthwith. It only took a minute or two to snatch up the *naughty* Leroy, who was hiding under Mum's pillow by now. Ichabod thoughtfully walked into my hand when I opened the pantry door and we put the errant pair into a metal bucket for the night. Dad came back and set his mouse traps and was downcast because he never caught the champagne mouse which had sat on his pyjamas. He never did find out about Leroy and Ichabod, but we still laugh about that night: we'd thought we were goners for sure!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Skunk cure
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 09:03:35 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Hee! When I was a kid in school, I took First Level Chemistry. After school, we would broaden our chemical knowledge by cooking up all sorts of interesting stuff. One of them was a liquid called Ammonium iodate. When it dries, it forms a highly unstable crystal, which explodes when you touch it. Just a drop causes a highly entertaining ><BANG>< to occur! We painted this stuff on the sounders of all the bells in the school. Each time the clappers hit, there was the *satisfying* sound of a small volley of artillery going off! The Nuns nearly wet themselves!

This was fine until Sister Julie found out. She came marching upstairs to the First Level Chem lab with a look like death on her face. My (then) DBF, Michael, went running along the outside corridor with the pint or so of Am. iodate in a glass flask. He tripped and fell, dropping the flask and smashing it!

'Not to worry', thought Michael, 'I'll just chuck the glass in the bin and Sister'll never twig. She didn't. What she *did* do was see a nasty, powdery stain on the upstairs landing. Like a Good Nun, she took a millet broom and began to scrub it away...

We felt, rather than heard the sonic boom! Poor Sister Julie came tottering down the stairs with her semi-bald broom clutched to her bosom.

'I think I know what that was', she uttered in a quaking voice, 'and if you *ever* attempt something like that again I will put you on garbage duty for the rest of your lives!!

Not long after that, we used up the school's entire supply of laboratory glass when we found that you *can* melt pyrex glass with an oxy torch! We made some very interesting discoveries and some *exceedingly* artistic glass sculptures!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Shopping trip today
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 21:36:48 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

I haven't labelled this OT, because at the end of our shopping trip today, Mum gave me an early Easter present of a tiny silver thimble mounted with two enamelled owls! It's *so* beautiful!

I also have two old thimbles that belonged to my grandmothers. One is a celluloid 'everyday' thimble that mended all my socks and made my clothes when I was a little girl. Thanks, Nanna! The other is a solid silver one, bought by Dad as a gift for his Mum when he enlisted during WWII. Dad gave me this thimble, along with Nanna's wedding ring when I was married. All are precious to me!

Anyway, today, Mum and I had a shopping spree planned. We decided to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Hamilton, where we had both been horrid little choristers during our respective school days. We walked across from the carpark, reminiscing wildly about hiding from the Nuns behind the flying buttresses and sneaking up into the bell tower to avoid Maths lessons! Also, we concurred like mad that Marist Brothers' boys were A Better Class of Boy. We had each spent a considerable amount of time ogling them as they shared services with us while at school!

We saw the old round Music Room, where Sister Joachim coaxed angelic sounds from generations of devilish little throats. The Bishop works there now, as it's his new office. Wonder if my name is still scratched in the windowsill? Mum was appalled when I told her I'd done that!

As we walked and talked, all mellow with our memories, I stopped dead in my tracks.

A starling (which had obviously been gorging itself on purple Camphor Laurel berries) had relieved itself directly above us and dropped a nasty dark purple runny poop on the bridge of my *nose*!!!! I dabbed ineffectually at it with the single tissue we had between us, grumbling about incontinent birds and Camphor Laurel berries. I managed to spread the purple fairly well across my face. Mum laughed fit to bust and I was mortally offended!

Suddenly, a *second* blob of the same offensive substance (I do hope it was a different starling!) landed on Mum's back! We were forced to run to the Church and wash ourselves with Holy Water from the font in the portico!

I'm here to tell you that, no, Holy Water does *not* get starling poo stains out of ecru silk blouses! I hope it has a more salubrious effect on one's soul!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

There are more stories available at Trish's Boring Stories 2 and Trish's Boring Stories 3.

Copyright ©1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Trish Brown.
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 1994-2005 Kathleen Dyer
All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Sun, Mar 20, 2005