Trish's Boring Stories 2

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

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

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: *long* Camping boring story
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 10:54:58 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

My camping story is about the time DH and I had a belated honeymoon with the Ugly Sister and her brand new DH. I should explain that DH and I set our wedding date and, when we announced it to the Ugly Sister, she replied that she and her DBF would be getting married on the same day! (Typical...!)

We played with the idea of a double wedding but ended up brawling over whether the men would wear cummerbunds or not (good grief!) So, our weddings were a fortnight apart: ours on the 25th March and theirs on 9th April. No-one wore a cummerbund...

*We* were married at sea (well, actually, tied up to a very upmarket mooring at Newcastle's Queen's Wharf) and *they* were married in a park (right next-door to a very dicey cricket pitch). Neither couple had much money for a honeymoon, although DH and I had a few days in Sydney and went to the zoo... So, Ugly suggested we should all borrow her new DBIL's tent and go camping proir to the Events! What a great idea!

We determined to camp at the Upper Allyn, which is a glorious pocket of temperate rainforest about two hours' drive north of Newcastle. For some odd reason, DS came with us... I don't think I could bear the thought of camping in a rainforest and leaving him behind... anyway, he came. It was January. Stinking hot! Flies. Mosquitoes. Leeches. Rain. We went!

The way into Upper Allyn has four river fords to cross. They're just flat concrete bridges that allow you to avoid axle damage, but they're usually covered in water. This was drought time, so the roadway was exposed and we were able to stop on the ford and have a Good Look at the Allyn River. Well, the Allyn Trickle, really! As we stood, looking into the sparkling water and hoping to see a tortoise or something, I noticed that a large black thing was stuck in one of the she-oak trees immediately to my left.

Looking more closely, I saw that it was a gigantic Diamond Python! Wow! 'Look!' I ejaculated, 'See the size of this snake!' Ugly hurried to have a look and when we turned to show our respective DBFs there was nothing there! Just a faint cloud of dust and a lingering hint of aftershave in the midday haze... They'd run off and jumped into the car! (Neither of our spice is 'good' about snakes - you call this condition 'herpetophobia' and it's completely incurable!)

I should add that a Diamond Python is one of the very few harmless snakes we have in Australia, but that this particular example was a prodigy: he must've been ten feet long and thicker than my arm! He was glossy black with a brilliant pattern of red, white and yellow diamonds along his back. Exquisite! And there he lay, coiled in the fork of a tree and just enjoyin' the afternoon sun on his scales! He raised his big, blunt head to look at us and then went back to sleep.

We drove on, farther into the rainforest with me hanging out the sunshine roof and gawking at all the wonderful trees (and naming each of them in Latin for the benefit of my philistine companions). This was why I was forced to stick my head out the roof: the others got entirely sick of me rattling off my litany of 'Eucalyptus saligna', 'Tristania conferta', 'Toona australis', 'Nothofagus moorei' and so on... so they banished me out the roof!

A while later, we came upon an *echidna*, waddling across the road! Echidnas are quite common in Oz, but they're very reticent and so you *very* rarely see one! Oh, an echidna is a spiny anteater, sort of like a hedgehog. The animal is about the size of a very large cat, but his spines make him appear much larger. The spines aren't so much sharp as impenetrable (they're made of compressed hairs and clack noisily as the animal moseys along), so there aren't many predators that can 'do' echidnas! Echidnas are also one of the two egg-laying mammals that live in Oceania: the other is the platypus. While platypus live in clear streams and nest in riverbanks, echidnas like thick forest and dig deep burrows where they lay their two eggs and nurture their tiny baked-bean-like young, which feed on milk from sweat-like glands inside the mother's pouch.

Anyway, I digress... I'm starting to sound like a teacher... ;->

We arrived at the camping ground to find we were the only inhabitants. Great! Privacy! We pitched our six-man, three-room, zippered tent and spread out all our supplies. Then, we went down to the river's edge and dipped in our toes. Brrr! Too cold for Ugly and me. DH and DBIL stripped off to their shorts and gingerly made their way to the edge of the pool. Suddenly, DH yelped and sprang backward! There was a humungus yabbie attached to his toe! (Freshwater crayfish). This must've been the Original Yabbie in the Allyn River system: it was *huge*! Greyish-white with red claws and bright, electric blue on its sides, this yabbie was havin' my Big Hunn for lunch and would brook no argument! Poor Hunn was beside himself! It took all three of us to dislodge Granny Yabbie and put her back in the pool. The boys determined that perhaps swimming was not such a bright idea, considering...

So, instead we went for a walk downstream. We began to hear sounds of splashing, diving and general delight so figured this must be the swimming hole! It was, and we all stripped off and jumped in with the happy throng. No yabbies down *here*: just a mob of teenaged kids with an old inner tube and lots of energy!

My DBIL discovered that the whole population of this waterhole comprised his former Boss and extended family! The Boss had a permanent caravan (mobile home) parked onsite and invited us up for 'drinks'. We emerged from the waterhole and made our way to the caravan, where Mrs Boss had just finished cooking chicken and was serving Beer, Wine and Spirits from her gigantic fridge! We sat down and whiled away a *wonderful* afternoon sipping Gin Fizzes and swapping stories. They thought DH's run-in with Granny Yabbie was pretty funny and we found an *awful* lot to laugh about in the course of that afternoon!

Until, The Boss exclaimed 'Bloody H*ll! That sounds like a storm coming up!' Next, there was a deafening clap of thunder and the heavens opened!

We immediately said a hasty goodbye and began to make our soggy way up the track to our campsite. Ugly and I found ourselves completely unable to control our legs! (I think this is where the expression 'legless drunk' comes from...) Those Gin Fizzes must've had Avgas in them! Mind you, I'd stopped counting after the eleventh one, owing to an inability to utter the word 'eleven' satisfactorily! Ugly was worse than me and began to sing in a raucous, sort of scary way 'All the leaves are brown (the leaves are brown) and the sky is grey (the sky is grey)...' It took *ages* to get back to camp, because we made more progress sideways than we did forward! When we finally got there, both Ugly and I pulled faces at our disrespectful spice (who were giggling at us) and hit our blow-up mattresses! The storm was pounding outside, but we slept the sleep of the sozzled and remained unconscious for quite some time.

I awoke to a strange sensation! I dreamed I was floating on a wine dark sea... perhaps it was a gin dark sea... and that someone was beating a drum right beside my ear... I sat up... I looked about me... I *was* floating! The 'drum' was the driving rain hitting the rubber flysheet of our tent! The noise was incredible!

The storm had breached our tent and there was at least six inches of water inside it. My inflatable mattress was floating aimlessly about our room, which had a rubber floor and was holding the water. I screeched for DH, but of course he couldn't hear me! I got carefully up and looked into Ugly's room. There she was, flat on he stomach, snoring (as usual) like a walrus and looking for all the world like a beached Dugong (Manatee)! She was floating too!

Everything was drenched: our bags, our bedding, all our clothes, everything! Actually, the food was safe inside the Esky (portable fridge), so that was OK. I went in search of the disrespectful spice...

There they were, sittin' in the doorway of the tent sharing a beer, a smoke and a game of cards. They had on nothing but their underpants! They were still giggling about Ugly and me being a tad under the weather! I pushed them both out into the storm and said 'What are we going to do? Everything's drenched in rain!' So, with an exceedingly bad grace, the irreverent, irrepressible pair decided to dig a trench around the tent to stop the runoff from running into our dwelling. They didn't have a shovel, so started doing it with their hands. Gormless berks! Eventually, DBIL decided to go and beg a shovel off The Boss, so he went off into the storm, still clad only in his baby blue Jocks!

DH and I began to pile as much as we could onto the Esky. I should add that DS had taken refuge in our car (Mitsubishi L300 van) and was waving frantically through the fogged-up window. He's autistic and can't *stand* noise, especially thunder! I ran to him and told him to turn on the radio and sing. As I ran back to the tent, I could just hear him wailing 'Why, why, why, Delilah...' over the storm!

DBIL came back with a shovel and the pair of spice dug a nice trench around the tent. The water stopped running in and we were able to bale out the flood with buckets. It was at this point that Ugly woke up.

Now, Ugly is quite unique in her demeanour at any time. When she's been tanked up with Gin Fizz, she is, shall I say: 'somewhat unpleasant'. She began snarling immediately: 'Warren! Pack up! I'm going home!'

'How?' asked DBIL, 'It's raining too hard to pack the car. Besides, Matt's in there giving himself a concert.'

'I ain't nuthin' but a hound dawg...' concurred DS from the van, 'cryin' over yoo-oo-...'

Ugly began unpiling our pile of wet Stuff, trying to extricate her own gear from it. She succeeded in knocking it all down onto the wet floor and rendering it muddy from the soil, which had been tracked in by the disprespectful spice. She said a Terribly Rude Word (which I later reported to Mum, like a Good Daughter should). Outvoted, Ugly determined to go back to her inflatable mattress and float for a while longer. We continued to try and clear up the mess.

Eventually, the storm stopped and the sun shone brilliantly through the clouds. It was getting late and we were all cold, shivering in wet things. The spice built a huge bonfire and we rigged up forked sticks and a clotheslines over it to dry our stuff. We had cold salad for dinner and went to bed at about 2am, because that's how long our bedding took to dry!

Not long after hitting the sack, there came a pounding noise: dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong... you could *feel* the vibrations through the ground and we all sat up on our mattresses wondering whether we were about to be carted off by aliens for experimental purposes!

It was a mob of pademelons (small wallabies/kangaroos), coming to raid the garbage bins for fruit scraps and old bread! The noise was the sound of them jumping along the ground. They were gorgeous! I got up to have a look, while the rest of the lazy crew went back to sleep. I found DS with gleaming eyes in the moonlight, laying out most of our bread for them! 'Oh Mum!' he exclaimed, 'Aren't they just beautiful!?' When a particularly bold pademelon approached and took bread from his hand, the look on his face reminded me why I love this kid so much! We eventually got to sleep and rose Very Late the next day. We spent it driving through the logging trails and gawking at the birds and plants. No remarkable incidents happened that day.

Excepting, we picked up a heap of firewood for our fire and filled the van with it. Ugly and I determined that it would be good to stand up and hang out the sunshine roof, so we did! We were sticking out from the waist up. DH acclerated down a hill and the thrill was exhilarating! We began to sing! As is our wont on occasions of great emotional presence.

'I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I wonder if one day that you'll say that you care if you'll say you'll love me madly....'

We arrived at the bottom of the hill and swung around a bend, still singing raucously:

'Are you leading me on? Tomorrow will you be gone?'.

We landed smack in the middle of a Sunday School picnic with a highly amused Vicar looking at us from beneath exaggeratedly elevated eyebrows! How embarrassment! We waved graciously and motored sedately on...

We stayed another night and then made our way home. To our horror, we found the gigantic Diamond Python dead on the river ford. The tyre tracks told the story: someone had deviated out of their way to run over him as he lay on the ford, skidded on top of him, and driven off! Why...?

Ugly and DBIL made their own way home via the highway in their own vehicle, but DH and I went via Buckett's Way, which takes you across the mountain ridge and down the country road. At one point, we rounded a corner and arrived upon a flock of over a thousand galahs, all poring over the road and gobbling up wheat, which had been spilled there. (Galahs, are medium-sized parrots in pale dove grey and rose pink: very pretty and *very* vocal!) After we had watched them for a while, they rose as one and wheeled off into the perfect blue sky. Blotting out the sun and deafening us completely for a moment!

At another point, DH saw a wonderful photo-opportunity. The town of Gloucester was framed between two mountain peaks with one of those 'holy' shafts of sunlight trained on it from a gap in the clouds. He stopped, pulled on the handbrake perfunctorily and ran to get his picture before the clouds shifted. We were parked on a car-width road at the top of a razor ridge. On both sides, all you could see was Sheer Descent! As I sat there, very still and trying not to breathe, the earth moved! I shook my head and realised the earth wasn't really moving, it was the car! The brakes were slipping and I would surely plummet to my untidy death before I'd ever made the Altar! I actually managed to seize the handbrake before a sheepishly grinning DH got back, but only just!

Following this wonderful holiday, Ugly declared that she will Never camp again, no matter what! DH and I determined that camping is the best and most exciting way of seeing the country and wished we could do it more often!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Dad was DH & the Remote Rant
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 07:39:48 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Oh, Rosemary! You just reminded me of a boring story about Dad!

Once Dad had become so debilitated with emphysema he couldn't sleep comfortably in bed, Mum got him an invalid chair: the sort that can tilt and swivel and even stand you up onto your feet by raising and tipping you forward. This was an enormous boon to Dad, who had become terribly weak and tottery! This amazing chair had a little jobbie, just like a TV remote, which drove it at the touch of a button.

Imagine Mum's horror when she came out one morning to find Dad, fast asleep, head thrown back, mouth wide open and standing bolt upright in front of his chair!!! He'd had the controller in his hand and hit the 'stand up' button in his sleep! How he didn't have a dreadful fall and hurt himself badly, we'll never know. But poor Mum thought on her feet (so to speak) and gently pushed him in the middle as she also pushed the 'siddown' button on the chair controller. Dad sat peacefully down in his chair and slept on!

After that occasion, Dad stood himself up several times in his sleep and gave Mum all sorts of anxiety attacks. But he *would not* relinquish the controller, even to go to sleep!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: The charcoal one, was Sheep #3
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 23:51:40 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Hnyah! I sang OK, thank you! The relief is almost painful!

Have you ever noticed that at times of Great Personal Stress, all your saliva dries up and your lips stick together and also to your teeth? I stood up and walked to the front of the Church with my top lip curled inward against my front teeth and stuck firmly there, so that I looked like a rabbit! I was forced to pause and release it with my tongue. How profoundly I do hope the congregation didn't think I was stickin' my tongue out at it! After that, it went OK.

Although, as I'm sure you can imagine, I walked slowly and ponderously to my place with the appropriately reverent (and repressible) expression on my face. I glanced at my music and realised it was upside-down. The organist, who is a good friend of mine, began to giggle at me and considerately played an extra bar of the entry while I arranged myself and my music. After that, it went OK.

Except that my glasses (which aren't good enough any more, and which really need replacing) kept sliding down my nose and pinching off my breath. I felt like a mole as I peered over the frames at a sea of faces, but with my reading glasses on, I can't see a darned thing! I *needed* to see who was watching me! So, it went OK.

Lots of people came up and complimented *Mum* after Mass. Geez, I'm nearly 45 years old! I think I'm old enough to take my own compliments by now! Anyway, Mum was happy and that's the main thing... --
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. DS, who is also in the choir and who sings *much* better than me and who has perfect pitch (I don't...) came up afterward and said 'That was quite good, Mum, but you might've sung those last three notes a bit better...' The rotten little ferret! Trust him to notice! I can't *wait* till *he* gets a solo!

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: How was your Easter?
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 00:52:02 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

~MMMMmmmmmmoan!~ I have *such* a tummyache! I only had three (3) Cadbury's Creme Eggs and a small assortment of dark chocolate scraps! I feel as though I've eaten strychnine or something! Blerk!

I think this is a subtle sign that I'm getting older. Once, I could eat a pound of chocolate before breakfast and not bat an eyelid - these days, I eat three (3) small Eastery eggs and I can just *feel* the migraine approaching! How sad! I can almost hear my friend, Muso, laughing away up in Armidale!

On Easter Sunday, we had a nice family barbecue at Mum's house. The Ugly Sister was there with all three of her kids and DH was The Cook. He made my day by dropping a sausage on the ground, surreptitiously picking it up, plucking the Collie hair out of it and offering it to Ugly! She ate it between two slices of bread and with rather more tomato sauce than nice girls should have. I smiled broadly at her...

Today, we had a lovely picnic with good friends of ours. We motored to the local 'nice spot' to find not a single space in which to park our barbecue or our bottoms! All of Newcastle was having a barbie at Jesmond Park today! So, we turned back and parked instead at a tiny municipal park just up the road from our place. First, it rained, putting out the barbecue! Then, the sun came out and of course I got sunburnt! You should see my pink nose! Then, the wind blew up and scattered all DH's lovely fried onion all over the ground and a half ton of gum leaves on top of the steaks. There was a family of Butcherbirds hovering about and they came and ate nearly all the onion up! I can just imagine the conversation in their nest this evening:

'Pass the antacid, love! Those worms are really disagreeing with me tonight! Burp!'

(NB. Butcherbirds are a medium-sized bird about as big as a thrush. They're sort of a cross between a magpie and a shrike. Their song is listed as one of the most beautiful of all birdsongs and it really is glorious to wake up to...)

Then, we went home with Darren and Sue to watch a video. DD and their DS had a ball turning the upstairs living room into The Amazon Jungle and alternately falling into the wiver with the piwanas. They eventually fell asleep in two beanbags which contained 'vampire bats and all sorts of wampant bactewia'.

Sue and I turned our respective spice (pl. 'spouses') green by swapping lurid Caesarian stories. Which is odd, because both spice attended each of our respective Caesarians and saw it all!

The movie was 'The Thomas Crown Affair' and we laughed throughout the show! While Pierce Brosnan is absolutely gorgeous from the neck up, his chestwig looks as though it's made of Axminster and it goes all the way down into his *pants*! We reckoned you could render him powerless by simply showing him a jar of hot wax.

Rene Russo reminded us of the psychopathic Phyllis off 'The Young and the Restless' and she was wearing a completely transparent dress in one scene. The lads must've rewound that scene nineteen times to ensure we didn't miss seeing all the available bits of her anatomy! Ho hum! To see Pierce, the supercool and suave, ogling her belly button through the dress like a sixteen-year-old schoolboy ended any vestige of credibility this movie had for us!

We decided to get something a bit more upmarket next time.

Anyway, we've just arrived home and it's midnight. As I put a nodding DD to bed, she reached up and whispered 'Hasn't this been the most exciting Easter, Mummy? I've had *such* a lovely day! But I'm not going to eat any more chocolate for a *long* time!'

Me neither!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Dontcha just *hate* RCT?
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 00:40:38 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Gee, writing that down looks a bit suss, doesn't it? I mean 'root canal therapy' of course! I had a nice drop of RCT today and am still high on the euphoria I always feel on leaving the dentist's office (NB. That was nearly eleven hours ago!) I was *supposed* to have the tooth ripped out, but the dentist offered me the RCT and I sorta don't have a choice. My teeth aren't all that thick on the ground...

Is anyone else like me?

As soon as the Day dawns on which I have a dental appointment, my innards turn immediately to liquid. I am afflicted with (for lack of a nicer term) 'galloping diarrhoea' and acute stomach pain! I have palpitations and cold sweats. I cannot concentrate. Today I put an extra spoonful of coffee in Mum's cup instead of sugar! And I put the butter in the pantry and the flour in the fridge. I find myself unable to eat or drink (especially today, as it turned out I had a rather nasty abscess!) and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth.

DH had gone for a haircut. When I noticed it was ten minutes to my dental appointment, I set out to walk (it's only a few blocks) I was sorta phuming, but figured the exercise would do my agonised innards good. Passing the hairdresser's, I stopped to pper in their window and see if DH was still in there. The hairdressers all issued out of the door and called across the street: 'Have you had your tooth ripped out *already*? Your DH has just left to pick you up!'

'No', I said through clenched (and very tender) teeth, 'He's late, so I'm walking. I haven't been to the dentist's yet'.

'Ohyoupoorthing' they said, 'Hope it doesn't hurt too much'. I walked on.

DH caught up with me just as I arrived, red in the face and hyperventilating, at the dentist's. He emerged from the car into a shaft of sunlight and turned to face me.

'Wahhhhhhhh!' I said, 'What did they do to your hair?'

The hairdressers had put a bucketful of leftover blonding creme into DH's (formerly blond and now darkened with age) hair. It was *ginger*! And it still is! Can you imagine the shock to my system? DH is forty two! And stout! Gingery-blond is not a good look for him! I had all this to ponder on during my RCT.

I must say, the procedure itself didn't hurt too much. But the muscle strain did! You know how you feel as though only two points of your body touch the chair: the top of your head and your two big toes!? Well, that's how I felt and my whole body is still aching from the strain. Poor me. At least I was able to chew on my sore tooth tonight. I have pain right up into my face, but I'm told the antibiotics will fix that. Soon, I hope.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that with you. DH is sitting her beside me, playing on his flight simulator and getting Really Snitty every time I giggle at his ginger locks. ROTFLMAO!!! Wonder how long it'll be before I can take him into Polite Society again...?

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: finished the fence from @#%$
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 11:50:51 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Fences... fences... I can tell a story about fences!

Once, we had an evil old skewbald stockhorse called Sunny. He was like a mouse: he could get into or out of *anything*, including the broken-down, 100 year old fence to our back paddock! He would get down on his hands and knees (figuratively speaking) and wiggle and wriggle his way under the bottom rail. Then, he'd laboriously stand up, shake himself from nose to tail and gaily trot off to greener pastures (that usually meant up to Digger Coombes' paddock on the Minmi Road).

Mum would eventually look out of the kitchen window and notice Sunny was gone, so the Ugly Sister and I would have to tramp up to Digger's and catch the wily old toad (Sunny, not Digger - Ugly eventually caught Digger's son, Warren, and married him, but that's another boring story. Isn't that an *interesting* way of getting agistment for your horse?)

One Sunday, Mum and Dad were chivvying us to hurry up and get ready for Mass. As we were all about to hop in the car, the paper boy blew his whistle and said ''ey! Mr Lavis! Yer 'orse is on 'is way up Coombes' paddock again!' Dad said an extremely rude word and Ugly and I trotted off forthwith: she in her cream pleated skirt and me in my nice Black Watch tartan one. We got Sunny and put him away with a lovely biscuit of hay. By the time we got to Mass, it was very late and Mum determined that we would all go again to the evening service. This was enough to tip poor Dad over the brink! Being deaf, the whole process of sitting through Mass was quite an onerous one, especially when dear old Father O'Dwyer got going about the sins of drunkenness!

'Right!' he announced, 'I'm going to build a fence out there to keep that blasted horse contained if it's the last thing I do!' And he went off to Johnno's hardware shop to buy great hanks of eight gauge wire and a large bucketful of devices called Walker Wire Strainers. Because the Ugly Sister had such a short temper (and is quite intellectually dull to boot), it was I who helped Dad in his endeavour. We worked and worked all day Sunday to sink postholes and drive steel star posts into the hard clay of our paddock. Sunny kept coming and poking his nose up Dad's bottom just as he would bend over: this caused a great deal of shouting and utterances of 'Bl**dy H*ll! Get that blasted horse out of my behind, *please* Patricia!'

By lunchtime, Dad was a lather of sweat and quite sunburnt. But we pressed on until half past two, when Mum relented and brought us cheese and tomato sandwiches. Sunny got hold of a paper plate between his teeth and trotted gaily off with it.

'Haha!' said Dad, 'He looks as though he's taking up the collection at Mass!'

'Oh!', said Mum, 'Thanks for reminding me! We've all got to have showers and get ready to go to Mass again after this morning's shemozzle!'

'Bugger it!' said Dad, 'Why do I always open my big mouth?'

So, we left the fence. It was erected and only partially strained, as we hadn't finished tightening all the Walker wire strainers. We went to Mass (Dad with an exceptionally Bad Grace) and Father O'Dwyer was kind enough to preach only briefly (I think it was his dinner we could smell, wafting roastily through the sacristy door).

We all rushed home to finish fencing by the remaining light. Dad and I ran to the back paddock, just in time to spot Sunny, lazily backing up to the corner post to scratch his big spotted bum. He waggled it to the left and again to the right. He stretched out his neck and groaned blissfully. Then he leaned against the corner post one more time for a last scratch.

The whole, entire fence sl-o-oo-o-wly collapsed to the left, pulling up all the star posts and popping off all the Walker wire strainers!

Dad went straight to the pub. Ugly and I spent a wonderful summer evening being bitten by midges as we tried to collect up the Walker wire strainers from out of the long grass by torchlight. Mum made an apple pie. Sunny, I think, was up at Digger's paddock...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Stitching boring story
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 09:31:40 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Well, there's only one that pops immediately to mind...

After I had my DS (I was very young at the time), I'd put on a lot of weight. Mum and I spent a whole summer dieting and swimming and generally getting healthy. Toward the end of the summer, Mum bought me my heart's desire: a lovely pair of white denim jeans! I'd lost so much weight (about forty pounds) that I could pour myself into these jeans and look darn good! They were, of course, skin tight and stretched like a drumhead across my dainty derriere!

Well, I looked at these jeans and got to thinking... I've nearly always embellished my clothing with some kind of stitching or other and I'd recently taken up the sport of birdwatching. My favourite bird at that time was the Sacred Kingfisher. I determined that I would stitch such a bird on the leg of my jeans! I drew the outline in lead pencil (see other posts to rctn about this) and got to work in long and short stitch (I *hate* long and short stitch!). I used a crewel needle and three strands of floss. It was hard going, pulling the thread through the thick denim, but I did it! I achieved an anatomically correct kingfisher on the right thigh of my jeans! It looked excellent and people kept asking me where I bought 'those lovely jeans - and do they come with cats or dogs on them?'

That's the background, OK?

So, picture me, forty pounds skinnier and with a Rather Attractive Kingfisher staring out of my leg. I'm walking down the main street of Wallsend (small suburb where I live) on a sunny summer afternoon, wiggling my bum just a soupcon (and didn't I have a right to, after dropping all that avoirdupois?) and generally feeling great about myself. As I walked, I became aware that people were looking at me! I laid on a tad more wiggle, thinking 'This is great! Any minute now, someone is gonna whistle at me! I have to be ready with the proper humorously stern expression to show I'm not that kind of girl!' I sashayed on... I noticed that some of the people were pointing, not at my face, but lower down... 'Ah, I thought', 'they're really noticing that kingfisher! It was a great idea to put him there!' Smiling and wiggling (ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom diddy boom), I made my way to my car and got in.

I looked down and *finally* realised that my fly was undone and gaping wide! (Remember, these jeans were virtually a second skin!) My scarlet bikini knickers were stickin' out Big Time, as was a rather unsightly acreage of stretch marks.

I died!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Stitchaway Website, a little help please.
Date: Sun, 21 May 2000 17:02:43 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

I love foxes! They're not real popular here in Oz, because there's no predator to keep them in check. Hence, they decimate native bird and mammal populations. Nevertheless, that russet/auburn coat, the golden, bottomless eyes, the fairylike grace of movement on those slender limbs and the proud, bannerlike brush make the fox an enchanting creature!

We had a family of them living in our paddock years ago. Once, I spotted the dog fox melting away behind the she-oak trees. I cried 'Look! Look! A fox is over there!'

'Yeah...' commented my then DBIL, 'That's me little mate.'

'What do you mean?' I asked, wondering how on earth DBIL could have a fox as a 'little mate'.

DBIL explained that each morning, he would drop off Tristan's (our horse) hot bran mash on his way to work, just as the sun was coming up on a frosty winter's morning. As he left, he would turn around to spy the dog fox slinking along, parallel with the ground, to hop *into* the horse's trough and *share* the hot mash!

Now, Tristan was one horse who didn't like to be mussed with at tucker time! He would snake out his neck and take a chunk out of you if you presumed to put your hand into his feed, once he'd begun eating. How he managed to strike up a relationship with a *fox* was quite remarkable! So, Ugly and I (infuriated that DBIL hadn't shared this information earlier) charged John with taking a photo of the phenomenon. It took just one morning!

Sure enough, when the film came back from processing, there was a set of four photos showing Mr Fox leaping up to the horse trough, Mr Fox's tail sticking out of said trough, Mr Fox looking out like Foo to check that the coast was clear and finally, Mr Fox curled up comfortably on the botton of the still-warm metal bucket upturned by the stable! Tristan was a bored onlooker in all of the above!

The end of the story happened when the Ugly Sister divorced DBIL and there was no longer anyone to deliver a pre-dawn hot bran mash to the paddock. I wonder how the fox family got on!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What happened to me this evening
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 22:42:31 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

It's extremely cold here today! I dunno the temperature, but my hands are like blocks of ice and I can't get warm, no matter what I put on!

This afternoon, I was slicing some partially frozen steak for a stir fry (it slices thinner and easier when it's chilled). I moved to push the fridge door shut and I trod upon a live mousetrap which had been lurking beside the fridge for a week.

Snap!!! Right across the top of my big toe! It was a rather blue moment as I bellowed every filthy word I could think of! (Like 'poo' and 'bottom' and 'vomit' - you know: really *rude* words!) It hurt my poor, cold toe in spite of its having a shoe on and all!

Yes, we've had a mouse: DH spotted him running under the bookcase last week. The traps we set have been annoyingly the sort that won't go off, even if a hippo does a tap dance on them. Hence, the mouse and/or his friends has been eating the bait off the traps and nuttin' has been happenin'!

Having tripped the trap in the kitchen, I thought 'I'll see if I can't set this one a little more sensitively so it will definitely go off next time the sneaky mouse comes to nibble'. I put the steak back in the fridge and got to work, gingerly setting the mousetrap with my stiff, cold fingers.

Snap!! Right across the first joints of three fingers! I just stood there and looked stupidly at my purpling hand thinking 'How odd! I can't *feel* anything!' I ran the hot tap and stuck my fingers under the water. YOWWWWWW! I could feel it then! It hurt so much the tears spurted from my eyes and I thought for sure I was going to throw up immediately! Geez, I don't think *anything* has ever hurt that bad! The kids were most concerned and came to offer comfort. I couldn't even speak to them, it hurt so bad! As the feeling came back into my fingers with the warm water, I could feel the blood throbbing in my fingertips, but no sensation of touching anything! And now, here it is about six hours later and I still can't feel much in my poor, assaulted fingertips!

Isn't that the biggest bummer!? DH came home from Uni and wondered why I'd been crying! Good Lord! When I waved my purple fingers at him he said 'Oh, I bet that hurts, hon! Never mind! Is tea on?' I was just about ready to feed him sliced mouse!

I'm going off to have a nice hot shower and plot some revenge on my insensitive DH!

I just wanted to vent, y'know?

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: What happened to me this evening
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 14:59:59 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Elle Sheldrick wrote:
> Ouchhhhie! I'll be thinking of you on the other side of the world with your
> poor fingers, while I sit with my chemical burn that I can feel all too well
> on my fingers. Perhaps a trap left in the underwear drawer for those one of
> those bleary eyed mornings would cure him!
> Elle

Oh Elle! That goes closer to home than you might think!

Once, I turfed a bloke's room (when I was in College): 'turfing' is playing a practical joke, usually harmless, but not always...

Anyway, the turf I did was to unscrew every screw, nut and bolt in his room, beginning with the door. I didn't *remove* the screws, just unscrewed them all. Poor Ben came home from the Bachelors' and Spinsters' Ball pretty much the worse for wear. He put his hand on his door knob... and the door fell off in his hand! He sat heavily on his bed... and the bed plummetted to the floor! He went to sit instead on his chair and ... well, you get the picture! Ben was a very sad, drunk boy! And, of course, he guessed immediately who had turfed him so cleverly!

I, in my turn, got the backlash. Ben sneaked into my room one day while I was at class with *forty three* mousetraps! He set them all over the place! The obvious ones were easy (should I say 'a snap'?) to defuse with a ruler. However, the really nasty ones were those in the far reaches of my undies drawer or the one in the bottom of the fridge. I kept finding them for ages after I thought I'd removed the last one! It was quite nerve-wracking, I can tell you! I don't think any of the traps actually caught me, but the sound of them going off was one I'll never forget: it quite puts my teeth on edge.

The follow-up to Ben's turf was when my friend, Jeanette and I spent a lovely morning in his room, stitching up all the orifices in his clothing *with blanket stitches*! Every arm or leg hole, every neck opening, every sock, pocket and hem was stitched closely and irrevocably *up*! Ben rushed home from town to get ready to play footy and found his entire uniform in a stitched-up condition! He was Very Dark about all this and had to come and beg for my scissors before the footy game. Heehee! I forget what he did in return... you sort of lose track after a while...

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. One of my better turfs was the time we filled up a friend's room with styrofoam beads from the floor to the ceiling! We did it through the transom over the door. When Robert came home, he opened his door and the styrofoam came pouring out on top of him! Now, *that* was priceless!

PPS. Another one was when we used a bed spring to winch Alex' door *open*. Then, we forcibly shut it (took four strong men, and the lock only *just* held it!). When Alex came home, he inserted his key, turned it as usual... and his door *slammed* open with great alacrity and a loud report. Alex *fainted*!!! Yeah, that was another good one!

PPPS. Or the time my beastly friend, Robbie, put a defunct Black Snake in my bed!

PPPPS. Or the time my friend, Judith, put a pound of marmalade in my bed!

PPPPPS. Or the time *I* put *two* pounds of flour over Judith's doorway!

PPPPPPS. Or the time our entire College conspired to remove every stick of furniture from the College President's room and rebuild it faithfully and accurately, smakk in the middle of the Consett-Davis Playing Field! Poor Robbo! It took him *ages* to find his room. It rained in the meantime...

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: DBIL had a bad day...
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 21:02:40 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Last week, my DBIL offered to deliver two cows for his mother. She had raised them from calves and sold them (at a pretty profit) to a friend who lives in Kurri Kurri, about half an hour's drive away.

Anxious not to waste a whole day on the delivery, DBIL set out very early. He had no breakfast, but became rather peckish on the way, so he stopped to fill the truck with diesel and his tummy with a hot pie. Hopping back in the truck, he noticed nothing amiss and drove on to Kurri.

On arriving, he went to open the tailgate and found it flapping! The truck was empty! No cows!

Poor DBIL retraced his course, having first alerted the owner of the cows. After three hours of searching, he found the younger heifer in someone's paddock. He was able to catch her and deliver her up to her owner intact. The other cow was still missing, so he drove to the Kurri Police Station.

'Oh yes!' said the desk sergeant, 'A female motorist rang in on her mobile phone to say that two cows alighted from your moving vehicle at the roundabout. She was concerned about their welfare!'

'What about *my* b****y welfare?' asked DBIL, somewhat disconcerted. 'Why didn't she give me a honk to let me know me cows had nicked off? I've been chasing 'em all over Kurri!'

'Please apply at the poundkeeper's residence'.

So, DBIL had to pay $62 to redeem the cow. The unkindest cut of all was when the poundkeeper billed him an additional $12 for 'sustenance'.

DBIL wants to know what kind of hay is so expensive and whether the cow had been bedded down on cloth of gold!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Chuck E. Cheese
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 08:41:54 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Message-ID: <>

I used to have a white horse (by the unfortunate name of Ellie) once. Her favourite plaything was an old chaff bag, which she would seize between her teeth and flap wildly around the yard for ages on end. Visitors would look and then *look* as they noticed this stupid mare flolloping about with her bag, usually stuck over her head by then, and bumping into things left, right and centre. It was really funny on windy days (horses seem to go particularly spare in the wind) as Ell would rear up on her hindlegs, brandishing her bag and look for all the world as if she were fantasizing about being half of a coat of arms!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Oh, and to keep this on topic, we also had a white cat (name of Patches - he had black ears) who used to creep into Ellie's stable and curl up on the very topmost point of her bum. I'd often go out to feed in the mornings and find the cat just wakening and stretching along the full length of Ellie's back. Must've been a clever cat not to dig his claws in!

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: Taking Joy's Advice: Starting Needlework Topic
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 10:23:35 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

When I was a norrible little schoolgirl, we wore black, disgusting stockings as part of our winter uniform and flesh-coloured *thirty* denier (read 'orthopaedic') ones for summer. If you got a hole in your stocking, school rules said that you must *immediately* leave the playground and go upstairs to your bag, where your sewing kit would provide needle and thread for repairs.

Now, this was in the seventies, so we were all a bit rebellious. Hardly any of us really had a sewing kit (well... I did, but only because I was anal even then!) so we would beg a needle off Sister Grignon and stitch up the hole with a strand of Jennifer Jordan's hair (to be had for the asking if she was a friend of yours that day, or by stealing if not - I often wonder whether Jenny Jordan ever had a full compliment of head hair during those days).

This was in summer, though. In winter, we took fiendish pleasure in stitching up our black holes with a different colour of *bright* embroidery floss for each hole. Hence, Saint Aloysuis girls always had rainbow leggies with little wads of colour sprinkled liberally all over them. Sister Aquinas actually had to send out a note to parents, asking that girls have available one complete, whole pair of stockings for formal occasions (like when the Bishop came to visit or when we sang High Mass in Sacred Heart Cathedral with Marist Brothers' boys).

Sigh... High Masses were *great*! You could stare and stare at all those nine hundred *beautiful* boys!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Personal Reflections: GA, Weather, Nature, etc.
Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 09:45:03 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Hah! On your head be it, my girl! You have *prompted* me to reply!

Australia is an island. That's the first thing. So probably our most striking possession is our coastline (ie. it's big). Our beaches are stunningly beautiful and go on and on and on into the horizon with sharply golden silicon sand, flawless blue skies and the endless ocean to lap one's toes. There are some highly publicised beaches in Sydney (Bondi, Manly etc), but you haven't seen a beach until you travel north to one of the uncluttered, unenclosed, unpopulated beaches. You can roll on or in the warm sand, bask in the honey sun and bathe in the glorious surf forever if you wish! And you can stare out to lose yourself in a horizon that seems a world away, with no-one but the gannets and the shearwaters to share your musings.

Off the coast and living at its margin, we have interesting stuff like pelagic bird colonies, weird rock formations, seals, dugongs (similar to the manatee) and crocodiles. The crocodile is like the lion of Africa: don't step onto his dinner table and he won't eat you! Watch him from a distance and get a sense of his enormity and power: realise he's a living fossil and one of the oldest families (Archosauria) of animals! Likewise the shark! Sharks are truly beautiful and watching their incessant, sinuous motion is fascinating. Realise how their gill system is the reason for the incessant motion and note that their skin is composed entirely of vestigial teeth. We have harmless sharks (and very pretty ones too, with mottled, colourful skins) like the Gummy Shark, Port Jackson Shark and the Banjo Shark. They hoover the bottoms of the rock platforms and graze on detritus - it's always a treat to find one!

We have highly unusual flora in our country, most of it adapted to save water and minimise fire damage. The Banksias have weird-looking cones which are hairy and contain many valves (exactly like mouths with compressed lips!). These only open and release the seeds after they've been burnt, so an open 'Banksia Man' is always blackened and sooty. Many of our other flowers (including those of the highly aromatic gum trees) are composed almost entirely of anthers (the male bits that bear the pollen). Our insects and birds rely on the highly proteinaceous (is that a word?) pollen for food, and so you get glorious creatures like the Rainbow Lorikeet, a highly-coloured small parrot. The RL has a brush tongue with which it collects pollen and nectar from flowers. There are large flocks of these stunningly beautiful parrots, even in Sydney. DH and I used to stand on his top floor balcony and feed them with raisins and sugar water. It was nothing to have fifty visitors festooning the place with their vibrant colours of scarlet, cobalt and sulphur yellow! And poo... but let's not go there, eh?

Our reptiles are *fascinating* when you a) know where to find them and b) learn something about them! We have monitor lizards which climb trees and which can outrun you with no trouble at all. The last Lace Monitor I saw in the bush was about seven feet long. He was matte black with a fine, reticulated pattern of yellow lacework (see this is not all that OT!) and his highly alert, sensitive head was panning from side to side with the forked tongue flickering, waiting to taste the presence of some tucker as it wafted toward him on the air. We have dragon lizards that look like something straight out of an old B grade movie. The frills and ridges, the cryptic colours, the highly specialised scales: all combine to make a truly fascinating group of creatures, each adapted perfectly to fit its environment. Yeah, we have snakes and most of 'em will hurt you if they bite. The Big Secret is: don't go near them and they won't go near you! Please don't believe the goons like the crocodile hunter who try to sensationalise their stupid actions on TV! That man should be locked up for the harm he's done a) the Autralian habitat with his irresponsible antics and b) the name of our fauna in the wildly incorrect way he portrays it!

I digress...

Our Shingleback lizard is a plodding old dodderer of a creature until he spies a fat cricket. Then, he becomes an efficient killing machine as he waddles his way toward Lunch! Snap! Crunch! The look of smug satisfaction on these guys as they daintily gourmandise on an insect has to be seen! Shinglebacks are, as their name suggests, clothed in knobby, shinglelike scales. They belong to the skink family, however unlike most skinks, they're not slim and quick but rather fat and stodgy with a stumpy tail that mimics the triangular head. My DH's uncle has a Shingleback called Bruce. Bruce has the run of the house and gets really indignant when visitors sit on him! He hisses very rudely at the offending bottom and mooches off to find another pillow...

We have rainforests: the more extensive and 'exotic' ones are in the far north in Queensland and across the Top, but there are temperate rainforests right down the east coast if you know where to find them. You can walk into the cool, dim rainforest and hear the sound of water drops falling off the leaves. You can hear the faint 'whishaswhish' of air moving among leaves. You can hear a million tiny sounds of insect life going on around you and far, far in the distance, you can hear birdcalls.

If there's a flock of parrots up in the canopy of the tall, silent trees, you'll know as the sound eventually reaches you on the forest floor. And hearing them makes them seem so remote, like distant traffic or a radio playing faintly in another room... You can smell the heady scent of honey trees and rich, basaltic soil. Your feet sink into the soft substrate and there are all sorts of tiny forest citizens to fossick for in the leaf litter! You find little glowworms at night, living in colonies and looking for all the world like miniature cities as the wait for gnats to stumble by.

The bark of the rainforest trees contains lots of treats as well. There are Buprestid beetles that look like collections of precious jewels, glowing raucously in their strong metallic colours: greens and reds and purples and golds; gigantic longicorn beetles with antennae as long as their four inch bodies; golden Christmas beetles with enough chewing power to denude a forest in a very short time indeed (only the diners, the Currawongs and parrots, prevent this).

The high moss forests are my special favourite places. The Southern beech trees have the most beautifully translucent spring green leaves. The light filters through these and gives the closed forest a greenish, fairy-like atmosphere. The silence and the faint plop-plop of dripping water adds to the magic! You look up and see a vista of tall, tall trees trying hard to outreach each other with leafy fingers in the race to the sun. Hanging mosses and riotous clusters of orchids and ferns add to the ethereal beauty of these places. Australian orchids are tiny, easily missed as you pass them by. But once you find one, you look into the throat of the flower and marvel at the complexity of its form and the unutterable beauty of its rich, creamy perfection. The tiger patterns of brown and crimson, the columns of sulphur yellow or vibrant pink, the petals of glowing, incandescent white... can you tell they're my favourites? There are ferns as big as your bedroom: ten foot wide Bird's Nest ferns that grow in a whorl of long, straplike fronds, clinging to a sheer rock face or wedged in the fork of a tree; eight-foot-high Staghorn ferns that hang from the trunks of the trees with their swiss cheese fronds and their fat, shieldlike rooting pad which can be simply lifted off and transported easily to many an illicit gardener's home!

We have huge expanses of flat plain, mostly the result of clearing for agriculture. You can drive for miles and not see a thing and then suddenly you'll round a bend to find yourself surrounded by an endless flock of cockatoos! You can stare across the plain at a hillside, trying to figure out what those odd rock formations are... a sudden movement and the hillside gets up and hops away as the mob of kangroos moves on to greener fields! You can remark upon the tiny dot, moving far, far away in the endless sky... you watch it for a while and only stop to check on it periodically... until it finally gets close enough for you to make out the giant Wedge Tailed Eagle, conning the ground for his supper and drifting nonchalantly on thermals with his great wings upswept and his gimlet eyes missing nothing! If you've ever been privileged to see one of these magnificent creatures stoop to take a rabbit, you'll know the meaning of humility! Gerard Manley Hopkins put it perfectly when he described it as 'the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!' - and he was only talking about a kestrel at the time!

I once saw a White Breasted Sea Eagle (another giant eagle) take a huge mullet from a river as I stood about thirty feet away. Now *that* was really something! The bird came from nowhere, plummeting from the sky with his undercarriage outstretched and his massive wings folded back. The sheer size of the creature and the resulting momentum from the speed of his approach made it one of those gobsmacking moments! He hit the water with a report like a gun going off and rose immediately, slowly... laboriously... wings beating doggedly to gain the purchase he needed to get airborne again. The monster fish was wriggling and squirming, trying to free itself of the frightful talons, but the Eagle only readjusted his grip, shook himself in flight and flew determinedly off for his eyrie or wherever he planned to dine on poisson that day. Whew! I come over all googly whenever I remember that day!

We have deserts too, and dry sclerophyll forests in which all the trees have leaves that hang edge-on to the sun (reducing the amount of heat to damage them and remove the ever-precious water). We have wetlands that house some of the biggest and most important populations of birds and animals in our country. (Wetlands are another of my favourite places - Mum always used to say 'Just drop Trisha off in the swamp for a day and she'll be happy')

I can see this post getting ever longer, so I'll stop now. But I could go on and on and on about plants and animals and the beauty of my gorgeous country!

For any of you who have read this far, thanks for coming with me!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Nuns retirement was Re: This chart you gotta have!!!!
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 10:03:37 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Yes, our nuns have always been very well-looked after in their retirement. *IF* they retire! As you say, most Religious just seem to keep on keeping on. Like Sister Mary John, for example...

Sister John was ninety when I met her. She taught English Composition to the First Form at Saint Aloysius' School for Girls. She was completely deaf and wore hearing aids in both ears. She was also about four foot high and roughly four foot across, but we won't go there, now will we? Being of such advanced age, Sister had an extremely querulous nature and a stringy, high-pitched voice, which I strove to imitate. Quite succesfully, I might add...

On our first day in High School we (my classmates and I) were petrified, having progressed from Top Dogs in a class of 45 mixed kids to Just Dogs in a class of 160 snooty-looking girls. We were told (by Some Invisible Nun intoning over a nasty, remote tannoy) to line up and wait for our teacher. We did. All the Big Girls gradually left the playground with their teachers, but we, the new little waifs, were left waiting apprehensively for someone. Anyone!

Eventually, a girl spotted a tiny black dot, waddling purposefully toward us from the distant convent. (No-one *ever* went past the convent gate: it was Sacred Ground!) Yes, a tiny butterball of a nun with a seamed face and the smallest feet I've ever seen was lurching and puffing and mopping her face at us. 'Good *morning* First Form', she puffed in that stringy little voice: 'Forward up the stairs!' And, after muttering 'goodmorningsistergodblessyou', we did.

Sister turned out to be of the Very Old School and would permit no speaking or even looking crooked in her class. She set us a composition to write: 'Instructions for performing a simple task', and promptly went to sleep! Right there! At the front of our class! Tentatively, we began to write, looking all around us as we did so at the strange, new classmates and the ancient wrought-iron desks and especially at the wrought-iron nun who sat snoring gently in front of us. Starting at a new school is *very* scary!

Well! There suddenly came a whistling sound! A loud, piercing sound that emanated directly from Sister John! Everyone put their pencils down in horror and stared at the still-snoring Sister. 'What should we do?' everyone whispered. 'Maybe she's died!' Sister's chin was buried comfortably in her ample bosom and she continued to snore, so I piped up scornfully and said 'Of course not, she's *snoring*! Dead people don't snore!'

It was then I noticed the earpiece of one of Sister's hearing aids had fallen from her ear and was resting on her bosom, right alongside her chin! Armed with the knowledge that hearing aids will wail when you place the earpiece close enough to the amplifier (worn in a bag around the person's neck), I realised that moving the earpiece would stop the ear-splitting whistle. I told the class this and they all whispered loudly 'Go on, then! Do it'

'Not on your life!' I replied. 'She might wake up!'

So, following a hurried discussion, a very brave and intrepid girl by the name of Toni Cox tiptoed ever so carefully up to Sister's chair and leaned forward to lift the earpiece up and move it over Sister's shoulder. She reached out gingerly from a full arm's length, picked up the earpiece as if in slow motion (the awful noise stopped immediately) and went to put it over Sister's shoulder...

'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?' Sister had woken abruptly up and was eyeballing the horrified Toni Cox from a distance of approximately six inches. The poor girl quailed and said the terminally gormless thing: 'Nothing, Sister!'

'I'LL GIVE YOU NOTHING' bellowed Sister John. Go immediately to Mother Mary Theophane's office (ie. the principal) and inform her that you have dared to be disobedient in my classroom!'

Poor Toni Cox tottered off, not entirely sure where she should find Mother Theophane and not entirely sure whether she wanted to continue on in this life. Our lesson in composition continued and we had many more of them from dear old Sister John. When Toni Cox found Mother Theophane and explained what had happened, Mother laughed uproariously and told her to return to Sister John, apologise for being rude and try not to be too nervous. Sister John was a very old lady and should be treated with the same indulgence with which we would treat our grandmothers.

Sister John had three small passions in her life: sitting in the sun on the covent balcony with her newspaper over her head (while snoring musically); a large potted aspidistra, which the long-suffering novice, Sister Columba, had the duty to water and dust each day, owing to Sister John's infirmity and finally, the convent cat, a revolting old reprobate tom with a chewed ear and an awful stench, who went by the predictable name of 'Blessed Aloysius'.

On any Monday morning, we would stand waiting in the playground for Sister John. Since there was generally a very visible Newcastle Morning Herald heaving away up on the convent balcony, we safely assumed that Sister was napping and would eventually wake and come to get us. Reluctant to upset any applecarts, we would stand dutifully in line and simply occupy ourselves in conversation until Sister appeared. This was called 'getting out of Composition'.

One morning, we saw little Sister Columba heaving the enormous aspidistra onto the balcony railing as she dusted it. Someone called out 'Sister Columba! Is Sister John awake yet?' Startled, poor Columba dropped the aspidistra over the railing and it plummetted to the ground, smashing its pot and making a huge divot in the convent's bowling-green lawn!

Oh! There was great kerfuffle over that! Sister John had to be wakened and gently told her beloved aspidistra had taken a running jump over the balcony. Surprisingly, she wasn't too upset, expressing her great relief that Columba hadn't hurt herself during the incident. In fact, Sister John took great pleasure in dividing the defunct aspidistra and potting up the divisions as sale items for the Saint Aloysuis fete! Sister Columba was a very happy novice after that!

Regarding Blessed Aloysius: he appeared from nowhere one day, bedraggled and bloody, following a fight with another tomcat. He was starving and when Sister John found him he gratefully ate the food she offered and permitted her to wash his wounds and bandage him up. After that, he would come occasionally and sit at her feet in the sun, purring and lapping his saucer of milk. No-one else could get near him and an approach would send him spitting and snarling onto the convent roof. This distressed Sister John as she had little faith in Blessed Aloysius' ability to get down again. She loved the awful old cat and many, many of us would knock at the gate to the convent with a plastic-wrapped parcel of liver or sardines for Blessed Aloysius, having carted the stinking bundles on the bus from home.

All this happened over thirty years ago and Sister is long gone. I hope she and Blessed Aloysius are sitting on God's balcony in Heaven, snoring under the Newcastle Morning Herald!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Nuns retirement was Re: This chart you gotta have!!!!
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 15:04:47 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Our Nuns were the Sisters of Mercy. Not to be confused with the Brown Joeys, to whom my snooty cousins went for their educations. Or the Dominicans, who ran the Deaf School at Waratah.

I remember when I was in primary (grade) school, we had two sisters (ie. siblings) teaching fifth and sixth class respectively. The elder was Reverend Mother Vincent and the younger was Sister Mary Athenasius. Both had DMC 304 complexions and tempers to match! Once, Mother Vincent gave every kid in sixth class the cane because we had *dared* to climb the huge Camphor Laurel tree in the playground! Oo! I can *still* feel the sting!

Anyway, once I managed to catch a glimpse up Mother Vincent's wimple and saw that her head was indeed shaven! I nearly died! I'd always thought that was an old wives' tale! But I saw it with my own eyes. I don't think I ever looked at a nun the same way again!

I loved every moment of my school years and would gladly suffer the cane, the endless 'little penances' and saying the Angelus every day again! Some of our nuns were fair tartars, but tell you what, they made me into a veritable pillar of society with a healthy respect for authority and tradition! I only wish there were enough nuns left for me to offer the same education to my kids!

I must mention dear Sister Mary Stanislaus Kostka! She was infamous at our High School and there are generations of Newcastle women who still blanch at the mention of her name! My Mum remembers her as a brilliant mathematician who simply couldn't apprehend the idea that some girls just don't 'get' maths. Like Mum, I 'got' it and never had a problem. However, I remember one girl who fainted when she received her maths test back with a score of 10%! These days, if I ever have occasion to meet a woman who attended St Aloysius' I can guarantee the first comment will be something along the lines of 'Did *you* ever have Sister Kostka?'

Sister Kostka could wither you with a glance and, while she never raised her voice above a soft murmur, she could send a waft of venom your way fit to roast the flesh off your bones! Sister would set a maths exercise and then while away the time in tatting beautiful bridal laces for one of her battalion of nieces. Sister was a wonderful tatter and could do it almost without looking! She tried to teach me once, but I found it too difficult and we opted to crochet instead...

Sister also taught French and again, I was blessed with an ear for the language so I could get excellent marks in dictation. Others were less fortunate and I well recall the time poor Helen Callaghan stood, mortified, in Sister's class, completely unable to tell the difference between 'l'onion' and 'l'agneau'. After the meal Sister made of poor Helen's dictation, I think we can assume she (Helen) still has nightmares about it! For my own part, while I was very nervous of transgressing in Sister's classes, I can honestly say she gave me a deep and thorough understanding of mathematics, including calculus and her beloved trigonometry. She also gave me my love of French and an excellent grounding in grammar and punctuation.

Just the other day, a little card fell out of my Bible. It was a picture of St Stanislaus Kostka and on the back was written in Sister's copperplate: God Bless you, Patricia! Please pray for Sister M. Kostka. I did. -- Trish {|:OI} Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Power out tonight
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 22:09:13 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle


(No loaded meaning in that: it's just the Great Australian epithet and I'm using it tonight, OK?)

I made Tuna Mornay for dinner. I had cooked a Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake this arvo and frosted it with half an inch of Rich Dark Chocolate Whipped frosting. Everything was ready for an early meal when DH rang in to say he'd be late. Phume!

So, I said 'Bugger!' and fed the kids. Then, I settled down to watch an interesting doco on TV and add a few paltry stitches to CC.

DS came along and wanted to tell me every intimate detail of his Serious and Deeply Meaningful Cold. From the texture of his cough to the relative health of his vocal chords, we discussed it. I missed most of my doco.


DH came home. He'd been to an auction of computer bits and had purchased a roomful (save me, please dear G*d!) of stuff for five dollars. We were just discussing (adultly, over dinner) where all these orts would go when there was a fizzling noise and the power went out! One complete circuit had died: the one containing the TV, the fridge, the computer, the kettle and my stitching light!


DH was able to change the fuse fairly quickly: same fizzling sound and off it went again. *This* time, there was a thin stream of smoke coming out of the fuse box, so DH went across the street and called Johnno, who happens to be an electrician. Good old Johnno managed to fix the problem (100 year old wire has a finite lifespan) temporarily and safely for the night!

So at last, I can read rctn, add my few paltry stitches and have a cuppa coffee. I've sent DS to bed with a hot lemon drink and half a bottle of cough mixture to cuddle up to. DD (who was lying doggo in bed when the power went out and who went quite hysterical) piped up and said 'Mama! I *know* you're eating that chocolate cake! Can I have some too?' She roared when I told her no, I wasn't eating cake (a barefaced lie: I have crumbs all over my front!) and she should go to sleep or she would never taste chocolate cake for the rest of her life! DD has finally gotten over her cakeless angst and gone to sleep. DH is watching telly with his second piece of contraband cake gaily crumbling all over *his* front and DS is moaning in his bed.


*I* am in a powerfully Bad Mood and think I might just have another piece of cake before *I* go off to bed...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. When I made the cake, I had a brane phart and put 2.5 cups of flour in instead of 1.25 cups. Having realised this, I noticed the mixture looked awfully pallid and unappetising, so I added a great whack of cocoa to darken it. Then, I noticed it was fairly pasty in texture, so I added a few slops of water. I was forced to bash the living daylights out of the mixture, so I thought another teaspoon of bicarb wouldn't hurt...

Guess what?

Me cake was lovely! Light as a feather, deep dark chocolate and perfectly moist! At least *some*thing went right tonight!

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Boring story about today
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 00:02:03 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Message-ID: <>

Today, we attended our annual local Winter Fair. It's not much to speak of, really: just an excuse for all the local shopkeepers to drum up some business and get rid of old stock at discounted prices. It was a *great* excuse for the Browns to get out of the house after us all being ill for so long!

We walked the two blocks down to the main street and saw a ragged, but impassioned parade pass by. There were about a dozen kids from each of the three local schools; a rather good highschool marching band playing 'Real Men' by Joe Jackson (an excellent song, but I wondered at the significance today...) and the Feral Hunters' Association (!) with several floats featuring Pig Dogs decked out in studded collars. (NB. Pig Dogs are the popular local name for Bull Terriers, who are pivotal in the Gentleman's Pursuit of Killing Wild Pigs. Please don't tell Miss Alice! I don't want her to have an identity crisis at this tender stage of her development!)

I had to smile at the Society of Belly Dancers! Not that there's anything wrong with the Noble Art of Belly Dancing, you understand! There they all were: decked out in their miniscule, shimmering, diaphanous costumes with their poor bellies turning swiftly into gooseflesh in the chilly winter wind and undulating down Nelson Street to the strains of 'I Dream of Jeannie'. Another creative choice of musak, but hey! This is Wallsend! I was impressed at the effort of will it took to hold their collective pants up!

Well, the belly dancers were all womanly women: they had their curves and their padded bits waggling all over the place, but they were basically a slender lot. Some of them had little cymbals, which they clashed enticingly at the Feral Hunters (most of whom had trouble seeing with both eyes pointing in the same direction - not that there's anything wrong with being a Feral Hunter!) Others had little jewels stuck into their belly buttons and these must've been dreadfully uncomfortable, because all the belly dancers were trying very hard to shake them loose! Some of them had little tiny bells sewn onto their bras and were making a fairly good fist at completely independent motion between their - ah - cups! Yes, the belly dancers were all fine figures to a woman, however, one belly dancer held the imagination of the crowd above all the rest!

She was a Very Large Belly Dancer Indeed! Her belly was prodigious! Every bit as prodigious as mine! Unlike all the others, *this* belly dancer was clothed from neck to knee in a mixture of fuschia pink and vibrant purple satin brocade. She wore a tiny pillbox affair upon her head and a veil issued forth from it like a fountain or small cascade. She wore pointy-toed red velvet slippers and had bells and cymbals ringing like mad! How excellent she was! She danced *far* better than the skinny little things, who appeared insignificant beside her pink splendour! She bumped and ground for all she was worth and her tiny feet twinkled about with their silver bells and upturned toes. She was mesmerising to watch and I think she completely upstaged her sisterhood: I applauded wildly and she winked at me!

We wandered around all morning and I managed to pick up a dozen 'Handmade' magazines for a dollar and several excellent stitch dictionaries for another dollar. So all in all it was a great outing! That Very Large Belly Dancer made my day!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000 18:31:52 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Pat Porter wrote:
> All together now!
> There`s an old Australian Stockman - lying - dying ......... Go on Trish!!!
> Tell her!
> KMadeleine wrote >
> > what does that mean? my father had a record when we were growing
> > up that had a song 'tie me kangaroo down sport' and none of us had
> > any idea what it was supposed to signify!
> >
> > --
> > KMadeleine

Oh Pat! You put me on the spot! Can I remember it...???

There's an old Australian stockman, lying, dying, (Awwwwww......)
And he gets himself up on one elbow as he says to his mates
Who are gathered all around him:

Watch me wallabies feed, mate, watch me wallabies feed.
They're a dangerous breed, mate, so watch me wallabies feed.

(A wallaby is a smaller version of the kangaroo: basically the same animal, only more likely to live in woodland than on the open plains. They are patently *not* dangerous!)

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, Tie me kangaroo down.

(I can't imagine the need for one to tie or have tied, one's kangaroo down! The act of tying a kangaroo would be *very* dangerous from where I'm sitting! 'Sport' is an alternative term to the ubiquitous 'Mate'.)

Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl, keep me cockatoo cool.
Don't go acting the fool, Curl, keep me cockatoo cool.

(A cockatoo is a common and very noisy bird. When they get heated, they screech, hence the need for Curl to keep the cockatoo cool. 'Curl' or 'Curly' is a popular nickname for a bald man, just as 'Bluey' is the nickname for a redhead. Snif! My Dad used to call me 'Bluey' and I used to call him 'Silver'.)

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.

Take me koala back, Jack, take me koala back.
He lives somewhere out on the track, Mac, so take me koala back.

(I dunno.... )

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.

Mind me platypus duck, Bill, mind me platypus duck.
Don't let him go running amok, Bill, mind me platypus duck.

(A platypus is *not* a duck, nor any relation to one. It is an egg-laying mammal, or monotreme, most closely related to the other Australian monotreme, the echinda. Platypuses have a ducklike 'bill' with which they forage for wigglies in the sediment at the bottoms of quiet pools. The bill is highly vascular and very sensitive, nothing remotely like that of a duck! Platypuses are *very* reticent and live in remote streams, far away from Man. I have seen them in the wild and they are quite enchanting. The idea of one running amok is quite hilarious!)

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.

Play your didgeridoo, Blue, play your didgeridoo.
Keep playing 'til I shoot through, Blue, play your didgeridoo.

(A didgeridoo is a hollowed limb of mallee, used by the indigenous folk of Australia to make the unique music, probably recognisable around the world by now. It sounds like an elephant burping. You play it by 'spitting' into it, rather similarly to the way you'd play a trumpet or euphonium. The art is in learning to breathe in at the same time as you breathe out, since didgeridoo music doesn't contain pauses for breaths!) 'Blue' is obviously a redhead!)

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.

Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred, tan me hide when I'm dead.
So we tanned his hide when he died, Clyde,
(spoken)And that's it hanging on the shed.

(When you skin a beast and wish to keep and tan the skin, you peg it out tautly before it dries. This avoids wrinkles later, when you come to deflesh it. The very best place to peg out a hide is on the side of your )

All together now!
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.

Does that help?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: boring story about XDBIL
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 19:04:24 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Today, the Ugly Sister spat at me!

She was remembering the time we had a wonderful winter holiday together in the Blue Mountains (SE Australia) and especially the time her then-DH was almost turned into mincemeat. She laughed so hard she *spat*! Dirty girl! This is what happened:

It was about the fourth day of our stay in Katoomba. Our kids were having a ball, seeing the mountains and being braced by the ~freezing~ cold air. One day, we decided to take them to see a Wildlife Park which was some distance out of town. We drove for quite a while and eventually found the property. It looked pretty run down, with broken fences that had been patched with barbed wire (we *hate* barbed wire, having torn more than one horse on it over the years!) and nasty, sloppy mud puddles lying around everywhere. There were a few hangdog signs stuck to paddock gates, but the place really looked deserted.

My then-DBIL looked up the hill and said 'There's a track leading over the hill. I'll climb the gate and just walk up there to have a look. Maybe we're supposed to go through this gate and over that hill...?'

So he did. We stood in a biting, gimlet wind with our hands in our pockets and our heads squidged into our necks in the way of the frozen. We watched XDBIL saunter up the hill with his own hands in his pockets and his head bowed against that awful wind! He was gone for quite a long time. We hung around, refereeing squabbles between the bored kids and waiting... waiting...

Suddenly, there came a shrill sound on the wind! As one, we turned toward the hill. John was running downhill for all he was worth. He *sped* toward the gate, running so fast you couldn't see his feet!

He *screamed*: 'Get away from the gate! Get *away* from the gate!' We stepped back as one.

Over the hill, in hot pursuit of my (rather small and skinny) XDBIL came the most gigantic black pig I have ever seen! She was a prodigious pig! She stood as tall or taller than Shetland Ponies I have known! And she ran like greased lightning!

In spite of her enormous biomass, she was gaining on my poor XDBIL, whose face was gleaming red with the effort of evading her! She squealed like a - well - like a stuck pig and by now we could see her horrid piggy little eyes fixed on her man-chop (ie the XDBIL). Snuffling and grunting she was almost level with John's feet when, with a superhuman effort he dove and vaulted over the gate.

The pig didn't stop! Carried on by her own momentum, she *crashed* into the gate with a great report and a clearly audible 'Ooff!' The steel pipe gate buckled, but luckily it held and prevented the old sow from making any further progress. My XDBIL was flat on the ground, puffing like an old pig. The sow squealed again and leaped against the fence, scattering the kids and frightening the living daylights out of the Ugly Sister and me!

John looked once over his shoulder and took off again, straight into the car: he slammed the door and locked it!

We never did find the proprietors of the Wildlife Park, but that pig gave us an afternoon's entertainment we will never forget. John had no idea what caused the pig to chase him, but said he'd made his way over the hill to see an endless, featureless paddock on the other side. The sow had squealed from a great distance away and he hadn't seen her at first. By the time he did, she was tooling along at freeway speed and it took no time for him to decide he needed to get out of her way! So he ran.

That's why Ugly spat at me this arvo...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: What happened to me today.
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 23:10:39 +1000
Organization: University of Newcastle

Well! I thought today would be awful, because Mum and I took the kids to see my darling aunt in the nursing home. She is quite demented, but we still like to see her because she was/is a great lady! She has just been transferred from Sydney to here, so this makes it easy for us to visit twice a week (yay!)

Anyway, the first thing that happened is my Aunt recognised us all! She spoke to each of us by name and seems much more lucid than she has been in ages. She will never get better, but it felt so good to see a glimmer of the wonderful lady we love!

Now, the second thing that happened was a sale at Target (Department Store)! They had giganto-normous-humungo bras on sale and it would be a *sin* not to buy one at that price! So, I dragged me good ol' Mum, protesting like mad, out to Target and we shopped for bras. I got one. Which is not the point of the story (it had no underwire, which is *fabulous* for me and I just had to add that)... anyway, next to the bra department is the Big Fat Blokes Department. I thought I'd have a look to see if there might be something nice for my Big Hunn ('We've only just big hunnnnnnn to liiiiiive.....') There was. And *that's* not the point of the story (nice navy hawaiian shirt with massive white hibisci printed all over it!).

There were four gigantic foreign gentlemen (and I *do* mean *gigantic* - they were all hitting seven feet!) shopping like mad in the Big Fat Blokes Department! They were busily trying on sweaters and shirts and pants and making a great hullabaloo about it in a most unusual language! And they weren't taking advantage of the fitting rooms, either! So me and Mum got a Great Look at these four Great Men!

A Great Look!

Well, we took our time shopping for Big Hunn and Mum kept staring at these four blokes. 'Who do you think they are?' she said. 'They must be basketballers! Normal people aren't that big! Isn't that blond one *gorgeous*?'

'Dunno...,' I said, bemused, as the Really Big one hopped about on one leg, while trying to insert himself into a pair of jeans. 'I like *that* one! He has a nice... pair of underpants...'

'Patricia!' came the not-unexpected rejoinder, '.....!!!' (Dirty look, as if parental unit had been sucking lemons - again, not unexpected!)

We stared surreptitiously at them for a while longer and Mum said 'Where do you think they come from? Go and ask them!'

'Alright!' I exclaimed, 'I will!'

And I did! I went among this veritable forest of gorgeous gentlemen and said (with both thumbs up) 'That looks *good*!' to the Biggest Gorgeous Bloke.

'Good?' he queried, turning around, 'But is tight across shoulder!' I could see the wrinkles. I felt the shoulders! Hoy! They were like alabaster with a steel overlay! I felt again! Yummo!

'Yes,' I agreed, 'Go and find bigger. Bigger!' and I gestured 'bigger' with my hands. Off he went to find 'bigger'!

The Middle Sized Gorgeous Bloke came then and said 'Is hot? Cold?' while holding up a sweater.

'Oh yes!', I replied, 'Is hot! Too hot! You must get colder and I pointed to the T shirts. Off he went.

The Smallest Gorgeous Bloke had a black shirt, which gave him a very mafioso air. He was blond and the one Mum liked best. He looked like a little boy with his 42" arms sticking out of the 40" sleeves! 'No!' I said, while feeling the shoulder-to-wrist ratio, 'Is too short! You must get bigger!' He went.

Finally, the Silent Gorgeous Bloke (who sported a nifty ponytail growing out the back of his short haircut) came up and said 'Thank you! We have not wives and our mothers are in Lithuania. We cannot shop! It is good, you help us!'

I could feel myself ascending in stature by the second and I do believe I almost achieved a healthy six foot six by the time this encounter was over. I assisted the entire Lithuanian Men's Athletics Team in purchasing a summer wardrobe! Oh! Be still my beating heart!

These guys were stunning! They had perfect skin, perfect teeth and *deep* voices (just like the Volga River, which *may* run through Lithuania, but who cares?). It turned out, my Silent friend was called Kidiacus (phonetic spelling!) and he throws the discus. He told me he is 'good, very good, maybe silver or bronze', but that the Biggest Gorgeous Bloke (Atrecus - sp?) was the one to look out for. The Smallest Gorgeous Bloke is a javelin thrower and so is the Middle-Sized Gorgeous Bloke (neither of whose names I have a prayer of repeating). I told them I would pray that they all win gold (and I will, too!) and wished them the very best of luck.

So, everyone, do look out for the Lithuanian Field Athletes, won't you! Wouldn't it be *lovely* to see them win? They're *such* nice boys!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Boring stories again.
Date: 19 Oct 2000 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: University of Newcastle
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

When DH and I were courting, we used to spend an awful lot of time hanging around in a seedy coffee-joint with our friends. These were mostly people with whom we worked as well as folks from the gaming group I belonged to. All geeks, each 'different' in their own unique way (was that a tautology?)

Anyway, one of our number was Matthew. He's a propeller-head who works mostly with sound and video. He's extremely shy and very timid and so his manner is very formal and stilted. He wears black-rimmed spectacles and they serve to give him a very owlish appearance. Matt used always to sit with his legs crossed at the knees and with his loafer dangling off his suspended foot...

One night, I leaned over to pour tea into my cup. I was speaking animatedly with someone opposite me and didn't notice that I was actually pouring my boiling tea into Matt's loafer! Moments passed until suddenly Matt leaped up, exclaiming 'Egad! My sole is on fire!' and he kicked off his loafer in such a fashion that it went spinning into a large tank of tropical fish nearby! I hope they enjoy tea! They got about half a cupful of China Black!

With that, the tableful of Young Christians in the next booth immediately hove over the divider to see what was going on! They subsided when they saw the steam coming from Matt's shoe and Matt hopping gracelessly about.

Trying to balance on one foot, the poor benighted creature seized my shoulder for support. He managed to clutch a handful of my shoulder-pad and wobbled precariously, ejaculating 'G*d! Trisha is wearing falsies!' Of course, this courted even more interest from the Young Christians (by virtue of the overt blasphemy) and they frowned at us in a row of very reproving visages. One among us (I daren't think it could have been DH), threw a soggy doughnut their way and they subsided back into their booth, no doubt to pray!

As we left the coffee joint, I found the remaining patrons were all examining my chest for evidence of 'falsification'!


You haven't *lived* until six hundred pounds of hot, throbbing horseflesh has concentrated itself into a footprint the size of a number four horseshoe over your instep! Oh! The Pain! The Agony! The hopping around on one foot! And the enunciation of filthy commentary while doing so!

OK. Here goes. This is the story of Stirling Chester. He was a horse who suffered from an exceptional variety of bipolar disorder: he only had one pole! Mania!

Ugly and I attended the annual Lochinvar Performance Horse auction with a view to picking up an Olympic Standard Dressage horse for chickenfeed. (NB. The Lochinvar Equestrian Centre is the home of Eventing here in Oz. The brothers Ryan, of Olympic fame, both teach there.)

We arrived early and were a bit abashed by all the shiny 4x4s hooked up to matching horse floats. Our dirty, battered station wagon with its patchwork float dangling behind looked a tad déclassé in comparison! No problem. Noticing the white-breeched and tweed hacking-jacketted set imbibing Buck's Fizz and chicken legs, we hauled out our old picnic basket and tucked right in to the Vegemite sandwiches and a large winecask of cheap moselle. (Do you get cardboard-cask wine in the US? It's not always awful, but when it only costs $4.00 for the cask, you can bet it's only half a step up from vinegar! The casks are about a foot in each dimension and contain a silver insulated bladder which dispenses the wine through a small bung sticking out the front.)

Anyway, Ugly got stuck right into the moselle and was feeling Very Fine in short order! I went off to look in the stables and see what was on offer. There were many glorious creatures, all plaited and polished and with checkerboards on their bums. (You can brush a checked pattern into the hair of a horse's bum to show off his magnificent hindquarters to advantage. You can also brush a sharktooth pattern into his flank, but if your horse is ticklish, he'll probably kick and maim you while you're doing it!) Ogling all this brilliant horseflesh, I was absorbed in looking for straight cannon bones and sloping pasterns and broad chests... until I became aware of a commotion at one end of the stableyard.

A horse, Lot number 63, was on its hindlegs and screaming fit to wake the dead! Half a dozen grooms were struggling to bring it down to be bridled for the auction. As I watched, the creature flattened its ears back (dead cert: he was majorly p*ssed off!) and took a lunging bite at one of the grooms! Luckily, the groom was agile, but the one who received both the horse's hind feet in his lower belly was not quite so lucky. Shall we say 'I doubt he'll be the founder of a long and prosperous line of grooms'?

'Oho!' I thought, 'I must find Ugly! She'll want to see this!' I left and went looking for my US. Couldn't find her! The auction was chundering along and there was a constant stream of horses into the covered school, where the selling was taking place. Each horse was held in the doorway and Heath Ryan would hop on board to ride it in front of the crowd and comment via a lapel mike. This made for a somewhat interesting commentary, as a cantering commentator sounds sort of odd...

Heath is *such* an incredible rider! He simply sits his bum deep in the saddle and clamps on his cast-iron legs. After that, no horse would *dare* misbehave! I've never seen anyone ride like Heath and Ugly and I have spent many very fine years watching men's bums in saddles! Heath's is *tops*!

I finally found Ugly leaning against a large, canary yellow horse float (it was hitched to a matching canary yellow 4x4). She was chatting amiably, though very carefully enunciating her words, with Lynn and Dierdre. They were another set of sisters on the dressage circuit and we knew them well. They drank! A lot. They had obviously got a better class of cask wine than our cheap moselle and Ugly was sharing it with them happily! She was singing as I approached and raised her plastic glass to toast...

'To our horse!' she ejaculated, 'Long may he rein!'

'What!?!?!?!?!' I cried, 'You *haven't* bought a horse without me?'

'Oh Trisha!' she exclaimed with teary eyes, 'I *had* to! He's so beautiful! You know that fiery chestnut colour? It's your favourite! He'll go so well with your hair! His name's Stirling Chester!'

'What Lot number?' I asked through gritted teeth.

'63' replied Ugly happily. Let's go and get him in the float. I can't *wait* to ride him!

It took us about two hours to get Chester into the float. Heath had to be summoned in the end and he did it easily with his wonderful mastery over that noble animal, the horse. I'm sure it's all due to his Good Bum...!

Anyway, Chester travelled home well and was installed in his stable at our friend, Shaun's place.

Weeks later, after Chester had been settling in and Ugly had ridden him every day, she received a phone call just on dusk. It was Shaun.

'Chester is sweating and looking as though he wants to go down (ie lie down and roll). You'd better come!'

This sounded like colic. Colic is where a horse gets a large gas bubble somewhere in its digestive system. Since horses are unable to vomit, you sometimes have to wait a day or two before the gas bubble- er - exits the horse. Meanwhile, it causes *acute* pain and the horse's only recourse is to lie down and writhe in agony. Because of the way a horse's digestive system is made (ie with a view to the creature being comfortably settled with a leg at each corner), the gut is not designed to function well with the horse on the ground. Protracted rolling can cause the gut to twist on itself, just like those long, thin sausage balloons that magicians use to amuse kids. This sections off a chunk of gut and is the beginnings of gangrene. It's quite fatal! So, of course, one must *never* allow a colicky horse to lie down! The cure is to keep the horse walking briskly about to help exercise his gut and hopefully shift the gas bubble to the appropriate end of his digestive system.

(NB. With cows, you can just drive a long knife into their second stomach and the gas will come bubbling out! You have to be *really* careful not to do this near a naked flame, because the gas is pure methane and has been known to blow many a smoking stockman to that big Pub up in the Sky!)]

I digress!

Ugly arrived in time to get hold of Chester and start walking him up and down. She walked him for several hours, but he was still sweating profusely and wanting to roll every time they stopped for a rest. Ugly became aware that she'd smoked all of her Peter Jackson Blues, so she determined to walk Chester out to the highway and buy another packet. She did this. He stood obediently, blinking under the Gas Station's bright lights and peering at the bemused attendant who sold them the smokes. They were on their way home again when Chester stopped and let out a massive groan. His knees buckled under him and he went straight down in the roadway! Poor Chester!

Ugly was beside herself (Shudder! What an awful thought: two of them!)

She began hitting Chester with the lead rein, hoping to get him up. He just lay on the asphalt, groaning and feebly kicking his legs. It was nearly midnight and the nearest house was far too far away for Ugly to call for help. She belted and belted at the exhausted horse until he finally heaved himself to his feet. As he did so, he let out a large volume of foetid gas. Poor Ugly quailed! She had a lighted smoke in her hand! Throwing it as far as she could, she turned for home and pulled the still-groaning Chester after her. The gas was clearly moving and would, hopefully, soon be gone.

Just then, of course, it began to rain. Chester's shoes began slipping about on the greasy road surface. He was getting angry too. He felt so sick and no-one would let him lie down. He pulled back, reefing the lead through Ugly's hands and giving her a nasty rope burn on her palm. Then, he stood up on his hindlegs (as was his wont when majorly p*ssed off!), slipped and fell flat onto the road with Ugly pinned snugly beneath him!

'Gak!' said Ugly, convinced she would lose her long-ago dinner right there on the road. 'Geddorf, you great b*stard!'

She kicked and beat at Chester with her fists, but he was utterly exhausted and couldn't raise himself even if he'd wanted to. His very attractive chestnut bum was firmly on top of the Ugly Sister and his large, well-shod hindlegs were right on top of hers and quite capable of breaking every bone in her body if he so chose! What to do?

Only one thing *to* do! Ugly had a real good cry! She felt much better after that and began to speak nicely to Chester, who was groaning and continuing to expel his gas at regular intervals. Apparently, the smell was quite something, being that Ugly's nose was right there next to the - ah - outlet. She began to worry about the danger of methane poisoning and imagined the police finding her poor, shrivelled body there in the morning, still pinned beneath the beached, pharting horse. She even wondered whether we'd hold a Requiem Mass in her memory! Poor Ugly was feeling pretty much like another smoke, but clearly couldn't risk that. Anyway, her smokes were pinned in her jeans pocket, along with her lighter and her clean handkerchief.

After some long while, (Ugly's not too clear on exactly *how* long...) Chester began to stir. Ugly did too. The horse heaved and groaned and eventually stood himself up. Miraculously, he didn't kick Ugly as he did so and he shook himself from nose to tail and whinnied loudly. He wanted his breakfast! They made their way back to the stableyard, just in time to greet Shaun doing her morning feed and the sun as it rose over the horizon. Shaun called Ugly's DH, who promised to come assoon as he'd dropped off the kids at Mum's.

Just as the DH arrived, Chester slipped again and fell again. This time, Ugly was quick enough to jump out of his way. Unfortunately, she wasn't expecting him to strike out with both forelegs as he got up. Her back was turned as she pulled at his lead. He struck her right in the middle of her back! There were two perfectly-formed horseshoe prints on either side of her spine, right at kidney level! Ugly was flat out like a lizard drinkin' because four of her ribs were broken and she couldn't breathe! Her DH came running and said 'France! France! Get up! Get up!'

She did! She took hold of his jeans on either side and hauled herself up using them as leverage. When she was standing eye to eye with him, she hissed (lack of breath!) 'Kill that b*stard horse! Do it now!' and then she fainted.

Very shortly after this incident, Stirling Chester was sold to a very nice man who wanted to do cross country jumping on him. I'm sure Chester was a very fine horse, but sadly he was not compatible with our requirements. Which I could have *told* Ugly if she'd only consulted me before buying him!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Wedding boring story (long)
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 12:47:11 +1100
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Well! It all began when I took DD to the hairdresser's on the wedding eve (Friday) to have her hair done. DD has long, straight, silky, flame-red hair. The idea was to curl it. (Not my idea, mind, but the hairdresser, Sharon's). DD came along with Enormous Reservations!

We were originally going to do just a neat 'ballet bun' with various flowers and other hardware nailed to it. Sharon persuaded me that for 'An Occasion', my daughter needed her (Sharon's) own tender ministrations, so I succumbed. DD didn't.

She scowled the whole time her curls were being rolled! She told Sharon 'I hope this looks attwactive! My ballet bun *always* looks attwactive! Mum said you would make me look attwactive: are you going to?' and so on. My palms were *itch*ing! However, she was sitting on the object of my palms and I didn't want to make any more of a scene. The hair was papered and then rolled onto soft, flexible foam rollers whose ends were then bent around the rolls to hold them firmly. Sharon rolled on and on.

'You'll be able to sleep on these!' she announced brightly.

DD scowled on and said in a sepulchral tone: 'I don't think so...'

When it was done, I thanked Sharon and took my darling child by the hand. As soon as we were out of eyeshot, I vented my palm on her dainty behind and she now has a much better grasp on the way we speak to people who are trying to help us! She was still scowling, however, and commented that 'People will think I'm a weirdo with all these yellow worms over my head!' Nothing I could say would change her mind, so she scowled on!

We attended the Rehearsal at six o'clock and I had to drag DD, who was reluctant to be seen by her hero, Father Brady, with all the yellow worms still in situ. Sheesh! More palm-venting and she came along quietly. When asked to walk down the aisle, she did so with such aplomb and such owlish blinkings, I figured she'd forgotten the worms. Not so. She arrived at the foot of the altar and announced to the waiting Father 'You know, I won't be having these howwid worms at the Wetting, Father. I will be quite attwactive by then'. Father smiled at her and I knew he hadn't heard a word of it - darling Father is a bit deaf... He gestured that Ellie should step to the side of the altar: she nodded ponderously and did so.

Afterward, Father approached me, giggling: 'Your little daughter belongs on the stage! She certainly has great - ah - 'presence', doesn't she?'

That night, DD went to bed with a very bad grace, saying 'These yellow worms are *so* uncomfortable! What if I have a bad dweam and I'm forced to take them out?' I told her what my forced response would be to that and she desisted and went to sleep. She slept very soundly for a poor benighted child, afflicted by yellow worms of the head!

Next morning, we attended the hairdresser's again. My DN, Teasie, was there with her bridesmaids and her brother. Mum turned up for The Works. Adding me, DD and DS, the only members of the family *not* there were my DH and the Ugly Sister! We had a hoot! Teasie had brought a bottle of Asti Riccadonna (which puts me under the table every time) and a large basket of strawberries. Sharon went to work on the still-scowling DD and we laughed and joked forthwith.

After a very short time, a mass of burnished red-gold curls began to appear on the DD. By the time I noticed this, she was no longer scowling, but smiling beatifically into the mirror! She told Sharon 'I made a mistake, didn't I? I look vewy attwactive with these pwetty curls!' Sharon continued to twine white silk rosebuds into the pwetty curls and by the time she had finished, my DD looked like an angel! She had a mass of Botticelli curls tumbling down her back and they were held from her face by a row of the white rosebuds. Her expression was quite something to behold and I couldn't help imagining the little white cloud, the harp and the golden bow and arrow!

Next day, DH lifted little Madame into her dress (heavy satin edged with guipure lace and heavily beaded at neck, hem and sleeves). Oh! The effect of all those red curls was just stunning! We delivered her up to the Ugly Sister and The Day was in full swing!

The wedding was lovely. DD proceeded down the aisle (she didn't just 'walk') and everyone sighed at the picture she made. My two nieces were just beautiful and the bride, Teasie, made me sniffle as I recalled the chubby little girl who had been my perpetual shadow all those years ago! She said her vows clearly and with confidence and the two front pews were running with the tears of her family!

DS sang 'The Peace Prayer of St Frantic' with great feeling and I got up to read the Second Lesson.

Ponderously, I approached the pulpit.

Ceremoniously, I lodged my glasses at the very end of my nose!

Meaningfully, I announced the First letter of St Paul to the Corinthians!

I read that and then it was time to take my leave. I stepped back from the pulpit in my chunky and rather loose platform shoes. I hit the bottom step of the sanctuary and tripped over it! I stepped sideways to save myself and fell down the three steps into the sacristy (priest's dressing-room, off to the side of the altar). I landed on my knees before a charmingly lifelike statue of St Patrick, so I paused to offer up a little prayer of thanksgiving that my patron saint had saved me from being seen by the congregation! How embarrassment!

Everyone congratulated us on a lovely service etcetera etcetera. All our neighbours had come to have a good look at Teasie and they had all fitted into the Church and been able to enjoy the ceremony. It was great!

I sent DD off in the bridal car with great trepidation, hoping against hope that her dress would come back still shining white! I needn't have worried. They motored into town and had The Photos taken at the Customs House, one of the oldest buildings in town. It has a very nice fountain attached to it and a long terrace of blonde pavers which makes it most popular for wedding photos. The photographer later told me he'd never worked with a child as well-behaved and co-operative as DD, so my palms felt very vindicated!

We had a riot at the reception. The best part was watching my two children dancing together and having the best time they've had in ages! Good old Matt was beside himself when they played Shania Twain - she's his favourite! He seized his sister and off they went to Dance! Mind you, it *can* be a bit confronting to those who don't know Matt to see a grown man capering about, mimicking Shania's actions faithfully and announcing earnestly to the world at large: 'I feel like a woman'! But Ellie was there to protect him, so it was OK.

We got home at midnight and DD cried when I brushed out her hair. 'All my pwetty curls!' she mourned. She slept well, though, as did we all. I have a roaring headache this morning, owing to having had a glass of red wine. I must remember not to do that again!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT- War Stories was More on Electoral College
Date: 2000/11/20
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Oo! Oo! Can I tell a boring war story about my Dad?

Dad served in Borneo during the war: he was in the Engineers and was supposed to build bridges and roads and stuff. Most of his service was on the border between Sarawak and Sabah, I think: I know that he was badly burnt when the Japanese bombed an oil field which he (not alone, of course!) was guarding. Dad absolutely refused to talk about his war service! Excepting once, when I was complaining that my car had broken down and I would have to catch a bus to work next day.

Dad commented 'Red (his name for me), you have no idea about the inconvenience of a broken vehicle! Here's a little story for you.'

Dad's Division was moving materials and equipment needed to build a bridge which would connect two islands to the mainland. They were really a sort of archipelago in shallow coastal waters and the big trucks were easily driven across the narrow strait from the mainland. Dad's truck was the last in the convoy and he had a heavy load of wooden pit props on board. The Japanese were in the area and the movement had to be done at night and in low gear in order to make the least disturbance.

Half way across the strait, Dad's engine spluttered a bit and conked out. He could see the next-to-last truck just disappearing into the distance! Horrified, he got out to look under the bonnet, but could find nothing wrong, or at least nothing that he could identify. As he peered into the engine by the light of his little torch (flashlight), he heard gunfire not far off and realised he was in a very bad, very vulnerable position! He was half-way across a strait with a truckful of valuable materials and he was quite alone! The Japanese were somewhere in the jungle just over there and all he had was his service rifle!

My incredibly brave and excellent Daddy climbed up onto the roof of his truck and sat with his rifle across his lap. He systematically began to rehearse the possible scenarios in his head. After a while, it occurred to him that any class of Jap sniper could very easily pick him off his truck with a single well-aimed shot. At that point, he nearly wet himself so he climbed down again and got *under* the truck, clinging to some part of its undercarriage and having his trusty rifle within reasonable reach.

After another while, he realised that a single grenade could take him out. Or even a well-placed shot into the fuel tank! He left his truck and crept into the undergrowth at the top of the nearby beach. He could hear the gunfire coming closer and felt even more vulnerable and pretty bad for leaving his truck stuck out in the strait. He went back to it and got underneath again, managing to sleep for some length of time.

Dad woke just as dawn was breaking. He pulled himself out from under the truck in time to see another one just like it heading back to look for him! He was towed to the sappers' camp in time for breakfast.

I believe he was very, very relieved!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. The only other war story Dad told me was the one in which he traded a packet of Craven A cigarettes for a pet monkey. It had belonged to one of the native Dayaks, who came down from the mountains to help the Oz soldiers (and were universally loved by all). Dad offered the bloke a packet of smokes for the monkey, which rode on his shoulder: he accepted, placed the smokes individually into his hair, handed over the monkey and strode off, laughing. Dad was besotted by the monkey and cared for it lovingly during the remaining years of his service. He was terribly sad when he had to give it back to the Dayak bloke after the war ended. You can't just bring monkeys into Oz - quarantine doesn't permit it.

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Brownian motion!
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 21:59:55 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Well! Today has been a dead loss! I woke up at 2am with a gimlet sticking in my lower premolar. I took a pain pill and woke again at 3.45am. Then I took another pain pill and woke again at 5am. I got up and watched 'French in Action', the French Instruction programme on National TV. At least my French is still pretty OK!

The family gradually awoke (all excepting DH, who snored until 10am - he was *tired* by my nocturnal activity! Poor bloke!) DD was a positive little horror and whined 'Mummy, I'm *bored*!' for at least an hour until I threatened to behead *all* her Barbidols and flush them down the toilet! DH finally got up and offered to ring the dentist for me. This is a thing I am *completely* unable to do for myself! I have rung the Prime Minister's Office and not batted an eyelid when the Minister For Science answered the phone and spoke to me, personally! But I cannot ring my dentist! He got me an appointment at 2pm and the galloping dire rear began forthwith!

Next, there came a thumping crash and a yodelling bellow from next door: apparently our old friend, Snidely, is back (Hey Rosemary! Do let Aaron know!). He was having a snooze under the neighbours' box trailer when Bill (the male neighbour) crawled under there to retrieve his spanner. Snidely sleepily rose up to greet Bill, who reared back at a rate of knots and clouted his head on the axle of the trailer! Poor Bill! He hadn't met Snidely and didn't know he was a regular guest! He does now, but for some extremely strange reason, he's not too keen... I dunno... Maybe he has a personality disorder or something? Apparently, Snidely is now a Rather Bigger Snake than he was last year. Bill guesstimated him at about five foot long! I reckon he's been living under our house and growing fat on all the mice we've been failing to catch in our inneffectual mousetraps!

Mum rang to advise me that the Ugly Sister will be spending a week in Forster (awful seaside resort north of here). She (Ugly) would be *camping*!!! If any of you have read the boring story about our pseudo-honeymoon, you'll know that Ugly *loathes* camping! I've begun a Novena to the end that some large snake, spider or deadly box-jellyfish visits Ugly within the confines of her tent and gives her her Just Deserts! (Please, G*d! I'm a good woman! I don't ask much of You: just a leetle weight loss of a few hundred pounds and maybe a smallish Lottery win of a million or so... If you could arrange to have Ugly suffer from some uncomfortable and slightly disfiguring ailment for maybe a week or so - well, that'd brighten my life considerably!)

Next, it was time to see the Dentist. The dire rear escalated and it was necessary to shoot straight from the dunny to the car, in which DH was waiting with the engine running. We hurtled down to the dentist's and dear Michael (the dentist) was running late. By the time he was ready for me, I was chartreuse! He gave me five exquisitely painful injections of anaesthetic, right into the angle of my jaw, thus sending my masseter muscle into a spasm from which it has yet to recover. Oo! I wasn't well! He kept saying 'Relax, now, and don't forget to breathe!' Hah! 'Relax???' My fingers are aching from the strain of seizing the ends of the chair! It was nerve-wracking! When he told me 'Keep still, or else I might hit the nerve', I almost passed out! I said (loosely interpreted, since my mouth was gaping wide and filled with dental hardware) 'Obble de bloggle voo? Iwoff eewitt?' (ie. What will that do? Will I feel it?' 'Oh yes!' said Michael cheerfully, 'It's quite painful. But don't worry: it only lasts for a few minutes! Try not to move' Dear G*d!

So, Michael spent some time grinding away into my jawbone with something akin to a pneumatic pavement-lifter. Then, he took a series of tiny, threaded files and inserted them into the roots of my tooth. He sawed back and forth, conversing with his nurse (who is blonde and who I'm *sure* kept waggling her cleavage at him on purpose! I began to fear for the continued existence of my smile!)

Finally, when I was bowed in the middle with my back arched right out of the chair and my neck stuck in a rictus from holding my head still, he pronounced 'I think I've got it!' and withdrew an evil-looking little red thread.

'I know you!' I told it silently. 'You're the little *%#$^*^% that's been pulsating in my jawbone every night this week!' I spat on it as Michael tossed it down his teensy porcelain sink and said 'Have a rinse!' in that filthily cheerful voice of his!

By the time Michael was finished, all my muscles had turned to jelly and I felt I would sink to the ground without DH's strong arm to hold me up. We went straight to the Fabric Shop by way of recovery. I bought three meters of powder blue cotton with teeny white spots and some pretty broderie lace. I'll make DD a nightie and housecoat out of that. I also got some piping cord and a few other bits and pieces. I felt *much* better then!

So, tonight, my jaw is still very tender where Michael stuck his rotten needles in it. My tooth still feels as though someone is poking some kind of stiletto, awl or bodkin down into it and my tongue is lacerated from where I attempted to eat it along with the Vegemite sandwich I had for lunch. I feel very - fragile... For some unfathomable reason, DH has elected to eat his dinner (Satay Chicken on Brown Rice) in the kitchen. I think he's avoiding me! Wonder why...?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Long Thistle (Now OT)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 01:15:44 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Paugggghhhh! Barbara, you've obviously never had to comb thistles out of a horse's mane and tail before a show! They get the pretty flower stuck on their forelocks (the attractive bit of hair that pokes forward between their ears) and when you try to tease the little sharp thistly bits out of them, they (ie the horses) throw their heads back with a snort, usually smiting your nose in the process and causing blood to come gurgling out of it. The nose, not the forelock!

We have an even worse phenomenon in Oz called 'Noogoora Burr'. It's what we botanists call a BYC or 'bl**dy yellow composite' and it fruits into horrible little acorn-shaped capsules with recurved spines all over them. These capsules are about an inch long and they get irretrievably stuck in large bunches in the hair of any animal mad enough to try and eat the parent plant. You can't comb Noogoora out of an animal's hair: you can only cut it. A Scots Collie with a lot of Noogoora is a sorry creature indeed!

And who gets the worst and most spiny infestations of Noogoora in their hair, I hear you ask? Why Sh#tland ponies, of course! The short, miniscule, altitudinally challenged members of the horse family that also happen to have the thickest, coarsest, wiriest, most plentiful and luxuriant hair of them all! And the most evil natures!

Getting *anything* out of the hair of a Sh#tland pony is the *worst* thing you could ask a person to do, whether it's thistle or Noogoora or a child, a dog or a funnel-web spider! Sh#tland ponies have a genetic memory that harks back to the Eocene period: they carry with them a gene adapted to wreak grievous bodily harm upon any and all human persons in their vicinity! I'll *never* forget the time I fell off Angel, our white Sh#tland mare! She turned around and came back to *step* on me! Horrible little fraction of a horse!

Anyway, while your basic thistle can be a very pretty thing to look at, it's not necessarily all that pretty in the greater picture. I sat on one once... Ick!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: pregnant woman on ice
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 01:16:54 +1100
Organization: The University of Newcastle

Now *that* reminds me of two occasions I thought the same thing about the Ugly Sister!

On the first occasion, we were trying to get our evil old stock horse, Sunny, into the horse float (US: horse trailer; UK: horse box). Sunny had never floated before and was quite convinced that Certain Death lay in wait for him inside that scary little space! There was no way on G*d's green earth he was going to walk up that ramp and meet Death at first hand! We tried cajoling him with a chunk of hay! No go! We tried apples and carrots: no go! Mum went and got a tin of treacle out of the cupboard: on no account would the wily old horse even sniffle at the tin! (He would normally knock you over to get at treacle!) We tried lifting first one hoof, then another and another to coax him to step up the ramp. No go! We did everything quietly, confidently and kindly in order not to damage Sun's delicate little horsey psyche.

Finally, Ugly (who was eight months pregnant with my DN, Teasie) lost her temper and got out the lunging whip! 'Geddup, you rotten old mongrel b*stard!' she ejaculated and cracked the whip behind Sunny. Her DH and I took a synchronised step backward, surprised at the vehemence she was able to muster in her 'radiant' state. Sunny joined us and threw in a horrified whinny to boot! All the tiny increments of progress we'd made over the past two hours had just been undone in one fell swoop because *stupid* Ugly lost her brane!

A group of interested bystanders began to gather at a safe distance, with everyone watching us sweating and heaving behind the smarmily smiling old horse. We linked hands behind his bum and tried to lift him onto the ramp. No good. He just jumped sideways with his forefeet and turned round to smile again! Ugly got hold of his lead rope and heaved with all her imminently laborious might! She happened to have on a creation fashioned in fuchsia pink polyester and so she was pretty darned visible from a long way off! We ran the rope through the sidebars of the float and round behind Sun's bum. Ugly wouldn't let go of it, believing she was the only one of the three of us who had sufficient commitment to the task to get it done. Heaving, heaving, heaving: Ugly nearly bust a gusset until one of the bystanders said 'Bear down, lady! You're gonna foal any minute now!' Ugly stopped abruptly to glare at the bloke who had spoken and saw that it was Steven Cameron with whom she had attended school.

'Oh, I suppose you know *exactly* what to do, Cammo?' she snarled.

'Yep!' said Cammo. 'Put a bag over 'is 'ead!'

We did and the horse walked straight up the ramp and into the float. When we asked why Cammo hadn't shared his magic little tip with us two hours ago, he replied that the entertainment had been too good!

(NB You can often get a horse to do things by blindfolding him: remember the bit in GWTW where Rhett Butler got the horse 'Marse Robert' to run through the flames of burning Atlanta as he tried to get Scarlett, Melanie, Prissy and the baby Beau back to Tara?)

The second incident was when Ugly was nine months pregnant with my DN, Timmy (this was eleven years after the abovementioned one).

We had recently acquired our fantastic Anglo Arab, Tristan. He was the most beautiful thing you ever saw, with a fine thoroughbred head showing the unmistakable Arabian concavity. He was a stunning blood bay with black points (mane, tail and lower limbs) and he had a tiny white spot on one hoof. Unfortunately, Tris tended a bit more toward his Arabian ancestry in terms of his development: he was very immature and behaved very coltishly at the advanced age of four. On this particular day, he was playing Merry Harry with his bit and kept putting his tongue over it (hence, rendering himself unstoppable). My then-DBIL, John, had been riding him and Tris was getting more and more hyped up. John was not a dressage rider, but very enthusiastic nevertheless. Ugly lost her temper again and said 'John! Geddorf and let me on! *I'll* show him a thing or two!'

Poor old then-DBIL knew better than to try and argue with Ugly, so he mutely disembarked and held the horse for Ugly to mount. It took quite a while, on account of Ugly resembled nothing more than a fully-rigged galleon in bright vermilion. Tristan felt that she was setting out to do him ill, and so he kept rotating his hindquarters around his forelegs, taking a single sidestep each time Ugly tried to put her foot in the stirrup. Ugly was thus forced to hop along on one foot in an effort to catch up with him and of course she lost her temper again.

'Stand still, you stupid b*gger!' she bellowed at the top of her voice! In the instant when Tristan stopped abruptly and pharted in his surprise, Ugly swung her leg over and was thus seated in the saddle! Yay! After about five months of not riding, here she was on board! Ugly was suddenly Very Happy! With a whoop, she clapped her heels into poor Trissy's sides and was off at a jaunty canter! Round and round she rode, touching him up with her little cane and teaching him the lesson he so badly needed. After about half an hour, Ugly was tired and wished to dismount. This presented quite a problem because she was patently unable to lean forward and swing her leg back to get off! There was a small matter of Our Tim in the way! What to do? We had to lead Tris up to a cattle grid and let Ugly climb off his back and onto the fencepost. From there, she was able to slither to the ground with rather a loud 'Oofff!'

Timothy John Kevin was born two days later with the cord wrapped around his neck *four* times! (Just like a bullion stitch, really...) It's my considered opinion that the poor little foetus was rotating about on his head while his mother had been riding circles on Tristan!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Strange historical find!
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 22:55:17 +1100
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Message-ID: <>

This is a *really* boring story, but it still has me wondering and imagining, so I thought (since I haven't got anything useful to say) I'd share my experience today.

I had an appointment to get my fringe cut (What do you guys call it? 'Bangs'? Is that right? The cutesy-pootsy little bit of hair that hangs on your forehead and hides the aforementioned large, dome-shaped portion of your anatomy). Mine had gotten long and bushy and resembled nothing more than a rather disreputable toilet brush. I usually cut it myself, but occasionally get Sharon (of the local hairdressing shoppe) to rectify my series of mistakes and set it right again. Anyway, I got that done (ie the fringe-cut) and waved goodbye to Sharon-the Coiffeuse.

DH and I went out to the carpark where we had left the car and were just about to hop into our Big Blue Chariot when I noticed a rusty horseshoe on the bitumen (tarred surface) of the not-very-well-maintained carpark. On looking again, I found lots and lots and lots of old iron pieces, mostly the ends of the iron rods used to fashion horsehoes, but also rivets and pit-prop studs and horseshoe nails! There were the remains of draught-horse shoes, mostly broken ones, as well as a few racing plates (special light shoes for racehorses) and ordinary size-four hacking shoes.

As we stood in the *boiling* sun, fossicking among the old bits, we noticed also the ring of stones which would have delineated the forge, where the smith would've heated his iron. There was also the foundation of a well or cistern for holding the cooling water. All this was in the rather decrapit and ramshackle little carpark that lurks behind the Lemon Grove Pub in Wallsend! It had clearly once been given a thin skin of bitumen to gussy it up, but the surface has long-since deteriorated and areas of dirt have been worn away by time and rain to reveal the old smithy. DH and I are enchanted and plan to try and find out who the blacksmith was and how long his shop had operated in Wallsend.

My own great-grandfather was a mayor of the small coal-mining town and I only found that out recently! He later moved up the Hunter River to a bustling riverside town called Morpeth. There, he operated a fine establishment known as the 'Bowthorne Butter Factory'. My grandfather told me of his memories of bringing the butter down to town on the packet-boat (small steam-powered craft). They would get up at about 3am, load the butter onto the steam-packet and cover it with wet burlap. Then, Pop would fall asleep on top of the burlap as the little boat chug-a-lugged its way the six hours down to the port of Newcastle. The butter would then be haggled-over and paid for and Pop and his Dad would then catch the next steam-packet home. There was no road to Morpeth in those days and the track was fraught with danger! In the height of summer, Pop wasn't able to sleep because even in the early hours of the morning he had to take care to keep sluicing the burlap with cold river water. If the butter went rancid in the heat, there would be no fare to catch the boat back home!

Having raved on about all that, some of you might be interested in this URL:

(Follow the link, then click on 'Search' and write 'Snowball' in the search field. The image description comes up and you have to click on 'View Image' to see the actual photo).

It doesn't always work because the Newcastle library server often plays up. However, it's a collection of early photos of Newcastle and environs taken by a Mr Ralph Snowball in the nineteenth century. Some of them are fascinating to me because they show local landmarks and buildings in their heydays. Others, though, hold the same fascination that any pictures of long ago do: the costumes, for example, are quite something! I can't *imagine* anyone surviving the awful heat and humidity of a Newcastle summer while clothed in black woollen serge!

Little babies were rendered almost immobile by the layers and layers and layers of clothing they were forced to wear. It's a miracle they ever learned to walk! And men with long handlebar moustaches or fluffy sideburns or penny-farthing bicycles: fascinating!

So, anyone who's a bit of a history fan might like to take a look at the Snowball photos: p'raps they'll be of interest by virtue of depicting a not-very-well-known part of the world in its infancy?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS This is my favourite photo:

It's a picture of Newcastle Harbour looking from the south. The rail head is in the foreground and Nobby's Island (already joined to the mainland by a new breakwall) can be seen in the middle distance. The the ships were waiting to load coal, brought by rail from the extensive pits up the Hunter River. The ships are actually 'parked' in the south arm of the river's mouth!

PPS. This is a photo of a house which closely resembles mine!

Please note the bullnose verandah (striped roof of front porch), lean-to laundry just visible at the rear on the left and outdoor dunny at the rear (!) on the right.

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT: Hats was Dressing children rant
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 11:10:12 +1100
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Message-ID: <>

Well, being a good little Catholic girl, I was made to wear a succession of horrendous millinery offerings every Sunday to Mass!

One in particular was absolutely the last word in idiocy! It was a 'lovely white panama' beehive affair, covered in rows and rows of ruched white tulle and with little pale blue velvet bows interspersed at irregular intervals. Oh! And did it *itch*! I think the tulle had been stitched on with some kind of fishing line and this used to stick into my poor little scone, thus forcing me to stick my hand up my hat in order to scratch. It must've looked as though I had headlice, because Mum used to hiss at me (remember: we're in Mass!) 'Patricia! Stop scratching immediately and pay attention to Father!'

There was a neat little blue sailor hat which was flat (shallow crown) and made a great frisbee when I was bored. There was a disgusting navy blue beret which, in my opinion, looked exactly as though I was gambolling about G*d's earth with a meat pie perched on my head! There was my school hat, which was a navy blue velvet *bowler* and which no human child should have been made to wear! Then, there was a ridiculous affair made out of some kind of felted animal hair. It was a cream sailor hat, but it had a very deep crown and a very deep (3") brim. It was *hot* and made my head sweat.

None of this mattered! Mum was implacable: 'A lady always wears her hat to Mass. It's disrespectful not to. And remember: you'll *have* to know how to wear a hat properly for when you grow up! Ladies *always* wear hats when they go out!'

Hah! A barefaced lie!

My friend, Gail, and I used to occupy ourselves at church functions by throwing stones and trying to lob them into the brims of each other's hats! And *didn't* our Mums get into overdrive on that one! The hisses would come flying and we would be admonished to 'just remember how much that hat cost!'. We would be left, crestfallen (literally), to surreptitiously tear off the corners of the pages in our hymnbooks and chew them into little wads and throw those!

Think for a minute: you see two *dear* little girls, neatly dressed and with their lovely white hats on their heads. You are taller than they are and you look down upon the reverent little heads to see....

Rocks! Twigs! Buttons! Chewed-up bits of paper (*holy* paper, because it was out of the hymnal)! All rolling merrily around in the hat-brims! Curiouser and curiouser...
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: OT Re: Tipping a bull
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 10:21:13 +1100
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

ROTFLMAO!!! Did you ever read the boring story about Fred and his wives? The one where I had to let a Bearded Dragon go and the bull followed me? Fred was a Red Devon and he was *infamous* for his dire hatred of anything human! Once, he had my DBIL bailed up in the horse truck. Fred got underneath it and began humping his back in an effort to tip over the truck and, presumably, eat poor Warren. Warren was in real fear of his life, and so he climbed up on top of the cab to try and flag down a passing motorist. He did: a bloke stopped and said 'Are you OK?' Warren replied 'Bl**dy hell, mate! This bull's about to have me for dinner! Will you ring me Dad?' He told the bloke the number and Warren's parents arrived in the nick of time. His Mum (a tiny little lady, round as a butterball and with the smallest little feet you ever saw) came and called 'Freddie! Come to Mummy!' He did. The walloping great, snorting beast dropped his head and trotted dutifully over to Marie for a scratch and a hunk of bread!

Fred ended up at the butcher's because he eventually became far too dangerous. He would chase people just for fun and you couldn't trust him at all. He was such a *huge* bull, so there was no room for leniency. No-one knew what set him off, beyond a terrible loathing for humankind. Only Marie could ever gain his trust and she wept buckets the day he left!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: OT: Silly thing I did to poor DH
Date: Sun, 06 May 2001 14:45:17 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

LOL! I'm still laughing! It's pouring rain at the moment and we got back from the supermarket about two hours ago. DH could hear a funny noise in the engine, so he left it running while he hopped out to have a look. Now, I'm only human, right? I sat there for a long moment, watching him with his head buried in the bowels of the car and wondering whether he'd jump very much if I pipped the horn.

'Nah!' I thought, 'He'd *expect* me to do that, so he wouldn't be all that surprised. He wouldn't jbe startled hardly at all.'

Of course, having arrived at that conclusion, I *had* to pip, didn't I? I *am* only human! (We already established that above...) So, I pipped. Just a brief, bijou little pippette, it was. 'Poop', it went...

Well! You would have thought I'd blasted DH with the Newcastle Harbour foghorn! He leapt about a foot and smacked his head an awful whack on the bonnet and then said the most *dreadful* swearword, clearly audible to Lorraine, our across-the-road neighbour, who witnessed the whole thing. Then he ranted and railed at me for about an hour over how I could have caused him to contract quadriplegia from that 'terrble blow to the occiput'. (Fair dinkum! How do you answer *that*???) It was a miracle he didn't lose his hand in the fan belt and *then* what would I do?

Thing is, I laughed until I was hiccupping and the tears were streaming down my face. DS thought I was crying (I s'pose I was, technically) and was most concerned for me. DH has been *filthy* ever since! Me, I'm still giggling in fits and starts. Did I do wrong????

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Trish's RR Alphabet
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Tue, 08 May 2001 09:53:04 +1000

Poor Ugly had a nervous time yesterday when the paddock finally flooded right up to the gate. It was *teeming* rain, but as luck would have it all the cows went ahead of the flood and are all on dry ground near the gate. I was sort of hoping Ugly'd have to go for a swim... Oh well, maybe next time! There's always hope!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS Ugly has finally sold the family's last remaining horses! Jack, the little warmblood colt, went for a huge sum to a dressage-mad teenager from Seaham. Thommo, my DN's fearless eventer, is currently on trial to a rather well-known cross country rider from Clarencetown. Thommo will jump *anything* (provided it doesn't have pink flappy bits hanging off it) and ought to bring a good price!

PPS My DN rode Thommo at the NSW Pony Club State finals and was haring along at a good hunting pace when they approached a fairly innocuous post fence. It was solidly built out of poles, but not so big (about 5 foot six) and not so wide. Sadly, someone's kid had left it's pale pink anorak hanging on the fence and Thommo thought it was a Pink Death Adder! He propped immediately and then stood on his hindlegs, whipping round to go back the way he had come. Rather tragically, he slipped in the chopped-up ground at the approach of the jump and he and DN were hurled to the ground. DN found herself stuck underneath the rather gigantic Thommo (he's seventeen and a bit hands!) where she was completely obscured from view. She heard something crack...

By the time the paramedics arrived, Thommo had stood himself up and was shaking mud out of his coat. Jack lay in her own imprint in the ground and groaned feebly.

'I think I've broken me back!' she moaned at the first medical person to arrive.

Meanwhile, someone had alerted the Ugly Sister, who was pencilling (ie keeping score) at another distant jump. She came barrelling across-country in the wake of her younger daughter and arrived upon the scene just as they were putting one of those cervical collar jobbies on Jacqueline, who lay, pale and interesting, still in her own imprint in the mud.

'How's the horse?' Ugly asked breathlessly. 'No broken bones?'. Then, 'Bl**dy H*ll, Jacqueline, you've broken the tree of your saddle. Just *look* at it!' (The poor saddle was hanging limply akimbo off the horse's back and was clearly suffering serious internal injuries: it was folded nearly in half!)

At that point, the supine Jacquie sat up and invoked a string of invective for which a lesser mortal would spend the rest of his life doing penance! 'I've only had it a month!' she wailed. Ripping off the cervical collar, she caught the horse and began to remove her precious Bates saddle, mourning over the scratches and the poor broken tree. In spite of her unexpected 'withdrawal' from the cross country leg of the competition, Jack still managed to come eleventh out of nearly two hundred riders! She would surely have won if it hadn't been for that blasted pink anorak!

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Anyone using Zigags = ricracs in embroidery
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 00:39:42 +1000

I picked up some pure cotton royal blue ric rac at a closing down sale a few years ago. There sure is a big difference between the good cotton stuff and the nasty, stretchy polyester!

I had to smile when I read your post, Dianne! I was brought up in ric rac too! Like you, I'd be just as happy not to see it again! LOL! Oh, the disrespect of youth, eh?

My Mum had a dear little frock made for me when I was four. It was kelly green (went with my red hair) and had a white broderie bodice. The lower skirt featured rows and rows of festoons of ric rac, all intertwined in pairs and making a wonderful riot of colour on my skirt. I thought it was *wonderful*! After that skirt, nearly *all* my clothes featured ric rac, though! Oh! I think I was entirely ric racked out by 1960!

Today, I find myself turning into a lace fiend and I have a large basket of lace stash, just pulsating away under my sewing table until the right garment requires it. It's quite remarkable how a little lace trim lifts a garment and makes it into something quite special! I've also discovered pre-made piping: it looks lovely on peter pan collars!

Pretty laces make a nice 'frame' for a XS piece too. I've made a number of pillows from unbleached calico with an insert of XS surrounded by antique lace. My favourite is a tiny detailed pattern of strawberries with a lovely crochet lace edging. It lives on my bed...

Oh! Bijou boring storyette!

Once, Mum wanted a new duvet(* see below) cover and pillowcases to jazz up her bedroom. We looked at the duvet cover shoppe and found that the cost of a premade set was quite prohibitive. Not to worry! We toddled off to the Holy Shoppe of Great Remnants! There we found a treasure trove of bolt ends and wonderful fabrics to choose from. We bought 16kg (about 40lbs) of it for just $20. It was my job to turn this great swathe of fabric into Mum's new bedroom dressings. Lucky me.

I cut out enough of a glorious deep green fabric printed with large Australian native flowers to make a queen sized duvet cover. It took up almost the whole of my tiny family room floor! Edging gingerly around its perimeter, it occurred to me that a red piping would really lift this fabric and pick up the scarlet in the Sturt's Desert Pea flowers featured on it. Back to the Holy Shoppe I went and came home with several linear kilometres of piping which I intended to affix to the acreage of fabric on the floor.

Have you ever done this sort of thing before?

I hadn't. It seemed straightforward enough: just cut two identical squares, lay them right sides facing, pin in the piping and sew around three sides. I already had red-capped snap fasteners to close the duvet cover and the whole thing promised to be very attractive indeed...

Holy dooley! The stuff had a life of its own! In spite of my incessant measurings and pinnings and callings of DS and DH to hold the corners, I swear I had two rhombuses instead of two squares! I *could* not get the blessed thing to match correctly at the corners! I was faced with sewing the (clearly off-grain) thing and hoping for the best, or I could repair the grain problem by judicious cutting. I chose to do the latter. By pulling a single thread across the grain, I was able to determine where to make my cuts. With surgical precision (I *knew* those labs in Anatomy/Dissection 202 would come in handy at some time in life!) I cut two perfectly square squares! Next, I needed to pin in the piping. It took several days to do that, because my awful family kept romping over the top of my work, which remained spread on the floor and between the kitchen and the front door...

Mum came to visit and check on my progress. 'It looks a bit small, don't you think?' she commented. I paused in my pinning... Realising suddenly that the squaring of the pieces had left me rather scant of fabric for my queen sized duvet cover, I nearly swallowed a mouthful of good glass-headed pins! (Oo! *Imagine* the outcome of *that*!!!!)

Mum piped up (sorry for bad pun) with a scathingly brilliant idea: what if I applied a nice ruffle at the edges? That would make the whole thing about a foot wider in each direction and would cover Mum'n'Dad nicely. I brightened and thought 'Yes, that would do the trick!'

Have *you* ever gathered approximately 1.249km of fabric with your bare hands?

I have.

I wish I'd had a quid for every time the $(*^$$( thread broke! It took days and days and days to finally round the corners of my square pieces and pin in that horrendous ruffle along with the blasted red piping! I was a nervous wreck by the time I arrived at the actual sewing part! Oddly, that went very quickly and without a hitch. The result was a perfectly *lovely* deep green duvet cover with matching continental pillows and a set of four pretty little boudoir pillows with pleated frills and matching red piping. Oh and curtains for the windows! The whole lot cost roughly $60AUS, so Mum and I were hugging ourselves with our great thriftiness and clever idea.

I will, however, *not* be doing that again in a hurry!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS A duvet is a continental, or featherdown quilt. They're *very* popular in Oz, because they save you from bed-making! All you do is leap out of bed (or drag yourself lugubriously if you're me), shake your duvet and go! One's duvet is protected by a garment rather like an aggrandised pillowcase: it slips over the duvet and protects you from it and it from you. Needless to say, you can change your duvet cover to suit your whim: DS' covers are i) the Oz flag; ii) a celestial motif pattern and iii) a nice red and green tartan pattern.

PPS Since this cathartic incident, I have discovered The Ruffler Foot! It's a darling little adjunct that looks like an instrument of torture: you attach it to your sewing machine and it pulls up ruffles for you automatically. The lady at the Singer Shoppe looked at me really oddly when she demonstrated it to me: I think she was wondering why I was crying...

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Poo was Hey, Seanette! Lambs!
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 10:39:32 +1000

ROTFLMAO! Did I ever tell you the boring story about the time we went on a family picnic to Mount Bright? We were all standing looking out over the lookout and little me (I was about eight) got bored. I noticed these really neat round pebbles on the ground, so I busily went about filling all the pockets in my jeans and coat with them. Later, after we'd set out in the car, Mum asked what was that awful smell? I reached into my pocket and said 'I think it's my magic pebbles, Mum! They were hard when I collected them, but now they've gone soft and really (snif) *stinky*!'

'You stupid girl, Patricia!' said Mum in between giggles, 'That's *sheep poo*, not magic pebbles!'

I ignominiously threw my magic pebbles out of the window and tried hard to remember not to touch my face until we got to soap and water!

Oh! The mortification of it all! Mum and Dad laughed their silly heads off all the way home!

I *know* I've posted this before, but the most amazing poo in all the world has got to be that of the ostrich! It falls about three feet on its journey to the ground, yet still manages to form a lovely meringue-like shape with a soft peak on top! Amazing!

(NB. Owl poo is pretty neat if you can find it! It has layers like onion skin and if you cut it open, you can find bits of insects and mice in it! Do not confuse the *poo* of the owl with the *pellets* which owls hicc up from time to time. They contain the larger, indigestible bits which the owl's digestive system can't handle. Also amazing!

FWIW, dingo poo is very like owl poo! Nobody knows why!)
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. I once attended a Zoology 300-2 prac in which we were given lessons on the identifying features of different poos. (I once posted a boring story about the associated field experiment we did). Did you know there are proper names for the various kinds of poo that animals do? No? Well, I'll see if I can look them up for you!

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: New use for Aida (thanks Trish!)
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Distribution: world
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 14:38:03 +1000

Ruth! Ruth! What's a 'jelly bag'??? I've never heard of one! Is it a special bag for holding jellies in? Do you extrude the jelly through it? (I can just imagine all the little worms that would creep out of an aida bag!) I *have* to know!

I don't really have a 'demented cow-milking boring story', but I do have fond memories of working at Tocal Agricultural College Dairy when I was a student! I think I've already written a boring story about how my friend, Judith, shared a little flat with me at Tocal and we had a close encounter with a ferret and it's snaggle-toothed master while naked!

Anyway, the reason we were *at* Tocal in the first place was to fulfill the practical requirement for our Agricultural Degree. We spent a couple of months there working at all aspects of the School Farm. We spent some days doing 'Agronomy' (that consisted of mowing lawns with a *fabulously* fast little ride-on mower), 'Beef Cattle' (days on horseback, chasing 'scrubbers' out of the bush - also frightening wild pigs away from the new calves - pigs do *awful* damage once they get going!), 'Crops' (days and days and days on end harrowing endless rocky paddocks with an ancient tractor whose harrow had only three or four toothless blades - and then seeding them with corn or sorghum via the same ancient tractor whose seed hopper kept getting clogged up with dead rats!) and 'House Paddock', which meant weeding the endless formal gardens that surrounded the main campus and then watering them so that the weeds might eventually grow back!

Anyway, we also did 'Dairy Cattle'. This consisted of getting up at the frightfully ungodly hour of Three a - bl**dy - m!!! This is an appalling hour at which to force a teenaged girl to arise! We really needed that beauty sleep and did we have some humdinger arguments as we stumbled about in the dark trying to find our wellington boots and stinkiest pairs of jeans! Having awoken, dressed and argued, we had to find our way to the Dairy, which was about a mile and a half down the country road. Now, this was out in the country, so there was no street-lighting. We found our way by keeping one foot on the grass verge and the other felt for the edge of the road surface. It was pitch-black and pretty scary when you could hear owls and frogmouths calling in the predawn darkness!

Having arrived at the Dairy, we had to set up feed for one hundred and ninety nine cows, all of whom we were required to milk at 4am and again at 4pm. This meant cranking up another ancient tractor, attching a flat trailer and flolloping across country to the silage pit. Silage is greenstuff, which you have considerately buried a few months previously and left to ferment in an underground pit. It makes great animal feed, being nourishing and 'warming to the innard' (I dunno what that means, but old Mr Melmeth, the dairy manager told us, so it must be true! Mr Melmeth knew *everything*!) Judith came flolloping along behind me in a small bobcat, fitted with a front-end loader. She would dig the silage out and plop it atop my flat trailer.

I must say, you haven't seen anything until you've seen two lovely young girls having a fight in a silage pit! The stink of silage is *really* awful (although some people swear they like it) and it lingers both satisifyingly and pulsatingly when you rub it in a person's hair! Judith and I spent quite a few cathartic moments venting our spleens in that silage pit!

Once the tabletop had been loaded, we flolloped back to the Dairy and began shovelling the silage into the long troughs. As we did that, we could hear the herd coming, mooing pleasantly in anticipation of its brekkie. The herd consisted mainly of Frisian (Holstein) cattle, although there was a handful of Jerseys and Guernseys for the fat. There were also a few Australian Illawarra Shorthorns and two or three Aberdeen Angus (I forget why the Angus cattle were there, but the AIS is a great milker, in spite of its size and value as a carcase!)

We would have to race along the first row of cattle, washing their teats first with soap and then with disinfectant. Then we would have to milk each teat until the milk was 'let down' and attach the cups of the milking machine. Some cows were just lovely, mooing interestedly and helpfully as they stood still for us. Others, however, were really nasty and did awful things like head-butting you or kicking at you sideways. Of *course* every cow is equipped with its own built-in paintbrush and we copped a fair bit of that each morning (ie fresh, steaming cow-manure plugged into an unsuspecting ear'ole by a flailing cow-tail!) When you think about it, standing at the business-end of a cow while she's feeding and milking has *got* to be absolute madness! You're just begging to get anointed with some kind of bovine bodily exudate and you generally do!

After milking, the lines of the milking machines and the separators had to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The yards were literally knee-deep in cow-do and it had all to be swept into the drains by gigantic brooms, each of which was wielded by a lovely young woman! There is *no* greater angst than when one realises one's wellingtons are ever-so-slightly shorter than the depth of the morning's dairy-produce! The sensation of slimy fresh cowpat (well, they weren't strictly pats: they hadn't had time to dry!) insinuating itself into your boot is really dreadful (and I do mean 'full of dread')! There is no cleaning substance in the *world* that will remove the resulting aroma! This job took ages and by the time it was all done, it was lunchtime. We frequently skipped lunch after a morning in the Dairy and just went home to sleep. (That's how we met Fang The Ferret in the other boring story). Then at 3pm that afternoon, we did it all over again! It was hard, dirty work, but we quite enjoyed it, especially with Mr Melmeth to instruct us with his lifetime's knowledge of all things 'Cow'!

We never washed our Dairying jeans. We used to hang them on the fence and scrape them once they had dried! LOL!

One of the AIS cows was a monstrous animal. I couldn't see over the top of her back and she was a great, hefty roan beast with two upcurved horns. She also had a *rather* nasty temper! Mr Melmeth told us she was the best milker in the herd, in spite of her gigantic udder. Did you know that the size of the udder has little bearing on the quantity or quality of the milk? Mr Melmeth showed us the second-best milker and she was a tiny black Angus cow, whose udder was about a quarter the capacity of the AIS! Amazing!

One morning, Big Bertha (as we christened her) was making her presence felt out in the yard. She was bawling at someone and I could see she was creating quite a stir as she tossed her head and those great horns. She managed to wound one of the Frisians in the flank and was going for another by the time Mr Melmeth arrived. It turned out that poor Bertha had torn her own udder on barbed wire (because it was so big and pendulous, her udder kept getting scratched and caught on things) and was clearly in considerable pain! Mr Melmeth treated her with sulphur and stockholm tar, but it did no good. The only solution for poor Bertha was a trip to the butcher's.

I thoroughly enjoyed working in the Dairy, but I can understand why so many farmers are leaving the Dairy business these days! It's endless, back-breaking work with *very* little return. Where I live (the alluvial plain of the Hunter River in New South Wales), there used to be many, many small dairy holdings because the rich floodplain was perfectly suited to the intensive kind of agriculture. Today, most of the dairies are gone in favour of secondary industry and hinterland! It's sad.
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re:OT: Ferret Boring Story was New use for Aida
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Distribution: world
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 15:22:17 +1000

I thought I'd posted this one, Bea. Sorry! I must've written it to someone in email instead... Anyway, here it is. Please excuse the odd formatting - I'm not sure why it's doing that.

My friend, Judith, and I landed some vacation work at a local Agricultural College. We were given a staff flat to live in and had quite luxurious conditions (remember, we were starving students!)

One morning, we were absolutely beat owing to an early assignment in the dairy (milking 200 cows is hard work, even when there are machines involved - ah - the memories of being swiped with a manure-laden tail !). Anyway, we elected to skip lunch and toddled off 'home' for a midday siesta.

Stripping off, we tumbled into bed and began to snore forthwith. The door was open because our flat was alone in the very centre of a hundred-acre paddock and the likelihood of visitors was slim. After some length of time (dunno - might have been an hour, might not...) something caused me to wake up.

I sat up in bed and saw a creature in the doorway! I'd never seen anything remotely like it in my (then) short life and I peered at it as it peered at me. The creature was long and grey/brown with chocolate and white bands across his face, giving him a rakish and somewhat untrustworthy appearance. He sat up on his haunches and turned his head this way and that rather like Captain Nemo's periscope. As he performed this feat, he whiffled his little pointy nose at me and transfixed me with his gaze.

'Judith!' I hissed to my friend 'Wake up! There's an alien in the doorway!' Judith woke up blearily and angrily, mad at being denied her desperately-needed rest. She was right on board when she spotted our visitor sitting there with his lo-oo-ong, weaselly body and pointy little face!

So! The stage is set. Picture two young women sitting bolt upright in their beds and dressed in their birthday suits. One of them (me) clutching an ancient teddy bear and staring in horror at a small creature in the doorway. The creature bolted under Judith's bed and we let out a mutual screech designed to reach whichever planet our creature hailed from!!! Without warning, a Very Large Man appeared in the doorway, blocking out the sun! He had a floppy stockman's hat, filthy jeans, an amazing aroma (not unlike bat guano), a Long Rifle and an intriguingly lonely snaggle-tooth in the front of his mouth, which jiggled when he grinned. He did this at us and dove under my bed! 'Judith' I bellowed. 'There's A Bloke under my bed!' As I bellowed, my bed began to buck and judder as 'The Bloke' sought out his errant friend with gusto. Then it was Judith's turn. She proved to be capable of quite an interesting array of facial expressions and finally had the presence of mind to speak to our visitor:

'Get out of here! You have no right to be in here! This is private property! Who are you?'

The Bloke stuck his head up between our beds and said 'Me name's Nigel. That's me ferret, Fang. Won't be a minute...' and he dove again. Finally, with a monumental heave, Nigel rose up with a satisfied grin (the tooth was doing St Vitus' dance by now) and he held his ferret aloft. 'Thanks, fellas,' said Nigel. And he left. Not a word of explanation or apology! He just left!

He had never noticed that we were both two very well-endowed young women in a defrocked state and he hadn't even paused to find out. He just left.

Turns out, the creature had been a ferret...

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Heroes was Re: Nylons, GIs.
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 10:10:51 +1000

Hmmm... A good question, Lauren!

For myself, I don't see sporting figures as heroes. I think good sportsmanship ought to be taken for granted and anyone who is the fastest, strongest, bestest is clever, but not of heroic status (IMHO). My heroes are usually little people who mostly go unnoticed.

I guess my Mum and Dad are my biggest heroes. Mum is a rock! She nursed Dad through seven indescribable years of throat cancer and emphysema. She did everything in her power to make his life as bearable and as easy as she could and she spent many long hours, frozen with fear, grieving for the eventual loss of the love of her life. When Dad finally died, something of Mum went with him. I'm glad about that, because my Dad was also a hero and he loved my Mum more than anything!

My Dadda was the biggest, strongest, funniest bloke in the whole world! His hands were the size of a leg of pork and they were hard on your backside when they struck! LOL! Dad rarely ever felt the need to discipline us, but if he did it was Serious! The one thing Dad would not tolerate in us, himself or anyone else was dishonesty. If he caught you in a lie, then you got very short shrift indeed! Needless to say, the Ugly Sister and I learned very early in life not to play with the truth!

Dad was also a joker of the first water and he spent many a long hour setting up elaborate practical jokes. Once, he floated half a dozen wooden ducks (decoys) on our swimming pool and then sat down to wait for me to come home. When I finally knocked on the front door, he met me there, shushing and whispering: 'Quick! Come and see what's here! We have to catch them! Quick! Quick!'

It never occurred to me to wonder why any sensible person would want to snatch a duck off the surface of a swimming pool, but I was totally sucked in by Dad's urgency! He gestured that we should circle the pool in opposite directions and then reach in to grab the nearest duck (all of which were obediently bobbing near the edge in the half-light of dusk). I followed Dad's lead and splashingly seized a duck as he did the same. None of the other ducks made any attempt to fly away and I realised I was left standing, holding a cork decoy!

Mum and the Ugly Sister were busting their stupid sides with ridiculous laughter and I thought Dad was going to topple into the pool himself as he stood there cuddling his own decoy to his bosom in evil glee! Dad had got the decoys from his mate, Cyril Schofield, who enjoyed shooting ducks and, I imagine, would also have enjoyed the story of this little spectacle! It seems Dad got *great* mileage out of it down at the Bowling Club, where grown men spend their leisure hours figuring out ever more convoluted ways of embarrassing their daughters!

Mum brings this tale out every Christmas and she and Ugly *still* go off into gales of unnatural laughter (it has something to do with the expression I'd had on my face...) these thirty-odd years later!

Anyway, growing up with parents such as these has led me to believe that the very *best* heroes *are* the unsung ones!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Subject: Re: Running-away boring story was Cheating happy dance!
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 23:00:48 +1000
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework

Well, now, this reminds me of the very first time I ever took a class for Sport!

It's a long story and not all that funny, but I still get nightmares over it (and I'm waiting on a lengthy download), so I guess I'll write it down. I know I've related this at some point before... but... Oh well! Here it is!

'Sport' is a lesson dear to most Primary school teachers' hearts. It gives the teacher a chance to get the kids out-of-doors and into the fresh air (in the hope that they might be bitten by some evilly noxious spider, wasp or ant) - no! - in the hope that they might expend some of their wealth of energy in the pursuit of (Katie Walsh and her flying pigtails) - no! - a team sport or physical endeavour which will make (little bruisers) - no! - little sportsmen out of them. 'Sport' usually only comprises 45 minutes to an hour one afternoon a week and it can consist of anything the teacher desires: organised ball games, disorganised ball games, folk dancing, callisthenics etc. You get my drift?

'Sport' is a lesson *not* dear to my own heart.

To begin with, I was never a successful team player myself. I played tennis, golf and computer games. When forced to play school netball, I shortsightedly threw the ball to the other team in an effort to get rid of it. My lifelong sporting endeavour concerned that noblest of pursuits: sittin' on top of a norse and lettin' him do all the work! So, when it came to 'teaching' sport to children, I felt a tad behind the eight-ball (so to speak). Needless to say, during our teacher training, we spent about two afternoons throwing medicine balls at each other and that was our preparation for a lifetime's pedagogy on the playing field! How tragic is that?

My first-ever teaching post was at a rather impoverished little school out at Edgeworth. There were no textbooks (you had to make up your coursework as you went along!), no paper (we used kindly-donated-by racing form-guides and were grateful for them!) and no sporting facilities (we took it in turns to walk our classes down the Main Road to the municipal Sports Oval).

During that first week, I had a baptism of fire! My first morning, the Boss (whom I later became very good friends with, which is miraculous, considering what he did to me!) planted his foot in the middle of my bottom and said 'Go on, New Girl! *You* can take Assembly this morning!' He handed me the megaphone and wandered back into the staffroom for just one more cigarette before class!

Can you *imagine* the look on my face??? There were two hundred horrible little children, all mentally whipping me with their horrible, beady little eyes and all shrieking at the tops of their lungs 'Are you the new teacher???' I gawped at them for a long moment and then found (for the first, but definitely not the last, time) that I actually did have a parade-ground voice. I bellowed *QUIET!!!* and miraculously, they all did. Even Steve (the Boss) heard me in the staffroom, for I am told he nearly swallowed his filthy cigarette!

Anyway, long story short (LOL!), I got the mob to say a Hail Mary, sing the school song and 'Stand quietly and wait for your teachers' as the rest of the staff oozed, smirking, out of the staffroom.

I was fit to be tied!

At the end of that week, Steve (the Boss) gently took me aside and said 'Have you planned for Sport this week?'

'Ah... no. I hadn't...' I replied. 'I thought we'd start *next* week'.

'Oh nonononononono! That will never do! You have to start as you mean to go on!' said the slimy little toad, grinning at me ingenuously through his rather testosterone-laden moustache. Take 'em down to the Sports Oval and just run 'em round a few laps. That'll get the kinks out of 'em and you can read 'em a nice little story when you get back, eh?'

Hah! If I'd *only* known!!!!

So, quailing with terrified anticipation (*How* was I going to make them run 'a few laps' if they didn't want to? I mean, I couldn't just take a dressage whip to them, as I would a naughty horse, now could I? *How* was I going to keep them in check when they were doing their laps and I was out of earshot in the centre? *How* was I going to make them stop running when I wanted them to return to school?) I greeted the little darlings after lunch with an oily smile.

'Good afternoon, Year Five' I said insinuatingly. (They were all eleven and some of them were already pubertal! I *needed* them to be good today!)

'This afternoon, we'll walk down the oval for a spot of Sport'.

'Yayyy!' they all said in unison. I could *see* their machiavellian little minds ticking over as I spoke! I felt ill.

'I want you to line up in twos at the gate and we will all cross the road together'.

Surprisingly, they obeyed me and stood at the gate while I stopped the traffic on Main Road. Feeling rather self-important, I waved them imperiously across the zebra-crossing and they walked perfectly beautifully to the other side.

Except for Guiseppe.

Guiseppe had suffered a broken ankle and was on crutches. I'd forgotten about him! He tried very manfully to keep up, but was completely unable to do so. I went back to help him and make sure he didn't get squashed by a semi-trailer.

Oh Lord! In your divine wisdom, why did you make me do that? Why didn't you alert me earlier so I could have left Guiseppe somewhere else while I took the kids for Sport? Why did you visit a broken ankle on him? Couldn't you have provided him with a walking cast? Or kept him home from school that day? Oh well. Thank you for your generous intervention in my life on that occasion and thank you for the opportunity to learn such an invaluable lesson. I have never forgotten it!

As I hustled the poor, hop-a-longing Guiseppe across the crossing, I observed that Year Five had taken to its heels and was positively *belting* along Main Road at a good hunting pace! Torn between the mortified Guiseppe and the rapidly-departing Year Five, I made a quick decision in favour of the many over the one. I sat Guiseppe in the gutter and accelerated as much as my high heels would permit me to, resulting in a ridiculously stupid mincing gait as I tried to pokkpokkpokk after my retreating class. I saw them reach the oval far ahead of me. I desperation, I let out the biggest Coo-ee I could muster (considering the combined effect of high heels plus panty girdle, which was considerable).


Nothing. They had disappeared round the bend. As I hurried to catch them up, I began to think of the possible repercussions of this fiasco. What if someone was hurt? What if they broke a leg or got squashed by a runaway steamroller? What if a weirdo kidnapped them all? I would be answerable to their pa-pa-parents, the Boss, the Catholic Schools Office and my Maker (in that order). What was I to do????

Finding them seemed like a good idea, so as I minced into the sports oval I felt that was what I would do first. If only those *bl**dy* heels would stop betraying me by sinking into the soft grass! There wasn't a sign of Year Five! I hurried over to the grandstand and looked there: nothing! I looked in the toilets (both boys and girls): nothing! I looked in the nearby bus-shelter: nothing! I realised that Brushy Creek meandered along the edge of the oval, so I raced to the far end, thinking 'Surely the *whole* class wouldn't drown itself as one??? Would it?'

I walked the length of the creek as far as the point where it disappeared under the road. Just at that point, Guiseppe hove into view. The poor little creature was absolutely done in, having crutched his way (in a hurry!) all along the Main Road and across the long grass of the oval. The sight of his kind, impish little face looking so concernedly at me was enough: I felt the tears filling my eyes and said 'Guiseppe! Do you have *any* idea where they might have run to?'

'Of *course*!' he said in between puffs. 'That's what I was calling out to you! You didn't stop to hear me! They're in there!' and he pointed to the part of the creek where it had been contained in a concrete sort of drain-affair.

There they were, all thirty three of them! They had squashed themselves into the drain so that they were packed like sardines and were all red-faced and breathless with the effort of keeping quiet. I walked over and stuck my head down into the drain. Phew! The stink was incredible! Like the wind from the d*vil's bottom, it curled my nostril-hairs and made my already teary eyes water all the more. One by sorry one, Year Five clambered out of the stinking, mossy, polluted hole. They were *green*!!! I couldn't make out the features on half their faces!

Suddenly, instead of being gaily on the lam, Year Five looked a bit worried. They said 'What are you going to do with us?' I shook my head and pointed back to school. It was already 2.30pm and the bell would ring in just half an hour. There were buses to catch and pa-pa-parents to be met!

'WALK!' I bellowed as they quickened their pace. They slowed right down. Which was very fortunate indeed, as I still had to help poor Guiseppe, who could by now hardly support his weight, albeit slight, on his crutches. We made our slow, sorry, green, slimy, stinking way back to school and I did the only thing that popped into my head. I turned the garden hose on them!

Quick as a wink, the green slime washed away and you'd never have known that we spent our Sports afternoon down a drain! I sent the still foul-smelling lot into the back playground to run around in small circles and try to dry themsleves before the bell rang. It was high summer and so by 3pm they were basically touch-dry, although still stinking.

I don't know how many of them related the event to their pa-pa-parents, but it was *never* mentioned again. As far as I know, there are only thirty five souls who can remember that first-ever Sports lesson!

Thank goodness!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS. After that, I would swap Sports arvo with my friend Joan, who had Kindergarten. She just *loved* the chance to take the older kids out for a run, while I greatly enjoyed doing Music with the littlies. Except for the first time, when a little girl called Jennifer one-upped me! That's another boring story, though, and is somewhere on Kath Dyer's site. LOL!

From: Kim Brown ><
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: OT: Christmas Eve/Day at our place
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 20:20:58 +1100

Well! It's all over! After *all* that mad preparation and carrying-on, it finished in the blink of an eye! We have Christmas 2002 to look forward to!

Mind you, I'm battling a rather unpleasant bout of food poisoning as a result, but more about that later...

First off, DH determined that he hadn't gotten quite enough presents to cover a few friends 'just in case they decided to drop in' (as if they *would* in the boiling heat of the day!). So, he went shopping in the morning, promising to be back by 4pm so he could be showered and dressed in time for Mass.

I spent the morning cooking my flawless Christmas Cake (miraculous, since my oven has a dreadful Hot Spot in it and most of my cakes now turn out looking like the Leaning Tower of Pizza (Only joking! I *know* it's 'Pisa'!) Anyway, after I cooked the cake, I chivvied all the kids out into the back yard to scrub all the outdoor furniture: it gets pretty grotty, being stored in the laundry (which isn't really a laundry...) all year. We had twelve bums to seat (NB. a 'bum' is a 'bottom' here in Oz), so there were twelve chairs to scrub and be dried. And two large picnic tables. Needless to say, this whole exercise degenerated into a waterfight in which *I*, Patricia Mary Catherine Brown, wielded all the Power! I held the hose! Poor Miss Alice (our dog) suffered agonies of hydrophobia and sat, cowering in the shadow of the dunny. I *told* her I wasn't going to give her a bath, but each time I said the word 'bath', she howled mournfully. I gave up and continued to spray the shrieking kids. I should add that Little Barfy (our cat) has spent every day curled up in the bathroom sink, only leaving to permit the actual *use* of the sink and returning to sit in the damp thus created.

After waterfighting, we had lunch. This consisted of cold two-minute noodles followed by morsels of leg ham and gallons of iced water. It was *really* hot and there was a dreadful dry westerly wind blowing misery into the house. I shut all the doors and windows and we continued spraying each other from squirt bottles and jockeying for space in front of the fan. I read 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' aloud for a while but then the kids got stuck into a video and left me free to make a Very Thick Custard and a Very Solid, Wobble-free Jelly in preparation for tomorrow's Trifle. Time was marching on and there was no sign of DH. I began to worry.

Then, I realised that I hadn't put the lining into DD's Christmas Frock, so I sat and did that while all the kids had showers. I smirked to myself as I listened to my VDSD warbling away and washing her hair. Unbeknownst to her, I had substituted the Hair Conditioner with another, much cheaper brand. I could imagine her, decanting gallons of the stuff into her hair all the while believing it was a quite respectable brand of stuff and not knowing... This way, all my good conditioner didn't go down the plughole and we had nary a cross word! LOLOLOLOLOL! Oh, I am *so* clever! Sometimes I frighten myself! Snerk!

Next, it was my turn, so I had a quick splash and dressed hurriedly. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was 4.40pm and *still* no sign of DH! Oh no! Throwing caution to the winds, I rang him up on La Donna e Mobilphone. He answered sheephishly that he was 'just at the checkout now, Hunn' (yeah, right!) and would be home very soon.

'Where exactly *are* you?' I enquired.

' - erm... I'm at Glendale - ' he replied tersely (Glendale is a few suburbs away - roughly twenty minutes' drive), knowing full-well that I would *flay* him if I'd been within coo-ee.

'Get in the car and PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN!!!' I howled, 'We have to tune up and start playing by five thirty!!!!'

That was when I began panicking and started hollering orders at the poor kids. DD was smart and dressed herself very quickly, but the two boys (DS and DSS) got caught comparing notes on the relative merits of electric shavers and shaving foam. I told them I would *wax* both of their respectively sparse baby beards if they didn't get a wiggle on and advanced on DSD. She was also very smart and was fully dressed and now engaged in doing up her hair. Good.

I did my own hair, snipped off all the stray threads from DD's Christmas Frock and we were all Ready. Still no sign of DH. Bugger!

DH arrived at exactly 5.30pm and we all stood tapping our feet while he showered and shaved. We managed to get up to St Pat's by about 6.45pm and all the seats in the school's outdoor covered area were full. Rats! I was suppposed to save one for Mum, preferably in the shade! Thinking very quickly, I got DS to snatch a chair from a nearby classroom and sit upon it. Mum could cuddle up next to him when she arrived. I tuned my guitar very cursorily and listened to my friend, Cath, who was describing a few little problems she'd had to cope with earlier.

Apparently, Father had put all the Communion requisites on a shelf just above the musicians' heads. A stray gust of wind had suddenly lifted the plastic bag containing all the Communion wafers and blown them liberally across the playground! Father enlisted all the kids in scrabbling them back together and picking out the bits of blue metal (from the tarred playground) before returning them to their proper place. The wind continued to be a problem, in that it kept whipping Father's vestments about and tangling up his microphone-wielding hand! It was an ugly, hot, dry wind and the afternoon sun was positively *baking*!

Mum arrived just as we began strumming out the entrance hymn, 'Oh Emmanuel'. She pulled a face as if to say 'Well! Where's my seat?' Matt nearly swallowed his recorder in his effort to stand up, still playing, and vacate the seat for his Granny but he was too late. Mum had already moved on to find a kindergarten chair next to her wildly-beckoning friend, Aunty Joan. They looked quite comical, the pair of them, sitting on their teeny seats as if they were five and not approaching their respective eightieth birthdays! Poor Matt got tangled up in his music stand as he sat down again, still tootling away on his recorder. The music went everywhere, caught by the wind, but Matt never missed a beat! A network of elderly ladies (including Mum and Aunty Joan) retrieved Matt's sheets for him and he spent a feverish ten minutes putting them back in order. He stuck them back onto his music stand with a pink clothes peg just as two little girls pushed their way past him and knocked against his music stand, upsetting it *again*!

Wind. Peg broke. Music flew. More flurry. Repeat performance.

We laughed!

Next, it was time for the Offertory Hymn. Just as we began, a humungoloid wind gust blew *all* our music away and the whole service stopped while we retrieved it. Father didn't mind! He smiled benignly throughout and waited patiently as the organist, flautists, recorderist, violinist, drummer and two guitarists sorted themselves and sat down again. LOL! I guess you had to be there, but we were all puce by this time and I don't think we played that one very well!

The unkindest cut came as we (the musicians) organised ourselves to be first in the queue for Communion. We were standing reverently by as Father distributed various ciboriums of Communion wafers among the appointed Ministers.

You guessed it! Another gust of wind and another snowstorm of Communion wafers hit the deck! The Catholics among you will understand the *grave* consternation this caused when I say these wafers had now been consecrated! I'm only human! I giggled wildly into my prayer sheet, hoping no-one could see me behind my friend, Mark, the organist. Father was completely unable to stop the flurry of kids who appeared and scrabbled the hosts up again, so Communion was not much delayed. It was a bit crunchy, though...

Well, after that, everything went off OK. We played our little bottoms off and I have blisters on all the tips of my lefthand fingers. Cath and I heaved a sigh of relief at the end of the final hymn and said '*Why* do we keep coming back to do this?' Still, we were smiling and the goodwill and handshakes of everyone who came to thank us for playing was worth all the kerfuffle!

After helping put away all the benches etc, we were all boiling hot, so we went for an extended drive to see all the Christmas lights around the place. This took hours, but by the time we made our way home it was much cooler. We stopped at Burger King for tea and that was good too! BK is famous for its ferocious air-conditioning and before five minutes were up, we were all shivering. This made it much easier to eat!

We made our way home then, and wrapped presents and laughed the little shred of evening away that was left to us. The kids went off to bed and DH finally got his leg of pork in the oven. I hit the hay at that point, but poor DH had agonies of guilt and couldn't allow himself to sleep while the oven was on. The Christmas Day Bushfires had already begun to be reported on the news and so he sat up with his pork until almost 4am. Poor DH! He was a wreck on Christmas Day!

Dear (!) little DD woke us at 7am and everyone trooped out blearily to start opening presents. We did very well this year and everyone was overjoyed with the bounty of gifts! DH had the Very Last Far Side Calendar Ever, I had a new shirt, DS his tenor recorder (which the little toad picked up and played immediately, with no practice whatsoever!), DSD a hair dryer, DSS a new pair of pants and DD had her Harry Potter. Wow!

We travelled the few blocks to Mum's, where she and the Ugly Sister were already twenty-seven sheets to the wind on Mum's excellent non-alcoholic punch (Ugly has been spiking it with two bottles of Vermouth for roughly fifteen years now and Mum has *still* not twigged that there's more in it than meets the breathalyser!) We had a good old laugh and then had to race back home to prepare for our six dinner guests.

Dinner was a very hot, breathless affair, but DH was overjoyed at the success of his wondrous leg of pork! It was just succulent with a perfectly-done crackling and a glorious aroma. We had mountains of salad and ham as well. Owing to the heat, our guests felt the need to leave early so we never did crack open my Annual Trifle. How sad. Guess what we had for tea that night?

Yes! Gobbets and gobbets of Patricia's Excellent Wine Trifle!

There is absolutely no good reason for this other than that it was Christmas and we all really like Wine Trifle. We pigged out in the awfullest way and are not ashamed! Guess what we'll probably have for tea tonight?

Wine Trifle with a small side salad...

Anyway, that was how our Christmas went and it was lovely. DD is currently soaking in the bathtub, along with her fat pink bath bomb. She's been there for nearly three hours and she *must* have achieved pruniness by now! There are two bedraggled Barbidols with her, so she's not alone: I hear her singing 'Macarena' to them...

DS is tootling away on his new recorder. He really likes 'Jonathon Livingstone Seagull' and is learning all the parts to it. Sad that he can't sing along as he plays... Sad that he can't shut the blessed thing up for just a short while... I wonder what would happen if I rammed a hunk of potato salad up the tone hole...?

DH is fast asleep on the couch. He has been there since lunchtime and it's nearly time for tea. He has snored in glorious unison with DS' tootling all afternoon. I don't mind. He deserves it after his marvellous pork! But I *do* wonder what would happen if I ... No! That wouldn't be very nice of me!

I have finished re-reading 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' and I *think* my bout of food poisoning is finally waning. I was silly enough to dip a cracker into a pot of salmon dip approximately six hours after it had been opened. You just don't *do* that in this kind of heat! I paid the consequences all of last night and most of today. Silly me!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

[Milo is a chocolate milk drink powder.--Ed.]

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Milo was Christmas Eve/Day etc
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Distribution: world
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001 10:32:36 +1100

LOL! Bernadette, if you have Milo, then you have *everything* you need! Milo is my only downfall in life! I eat it with my little shovel and I'm *so* bad about it that Mum used to buy it for DS and they'd hide the tin from me! My average time to find it was usually pretty good, but then they'd hide it again.

Once, I found the Milo tin lurking in the log basket when I went to add some kindling to the fire! Not long after that, I was sitting at the dinner table, chatting with Mum and DS when my eye fell on the Milo tin sitting on the kitchen bench. 'Dear' little DS must've forgotten to hide it again after he'd used it!

Trying not to show that my blood pressure had suddenly gone up about fifty points, I casually stood up and took the used dinner plates over to the sink. With my back to the table, I quietly opened the cutlery drawer and got out my little shovel (extra large teaspoon) and opened the Milo tin with it. It was hard to stop the drool from showing, but I managed.

Imagine my surprise, horror and utter frustration when I found the tin was empty!!!! Mum and my wicked DS were sitting at the table killing themselves laughing at me. Apparently, the play of emotions on my face once I had spied the tin had been far more obvious than I had thought and the unnatural pair got quite a bit of amusement out of it. They kept giggling at each other and saying 'What about the look on her face when she saw the tin and was trying not to let on she knew it was there?' Ppppbbbbllllffffttt!

That happened about ten years ago, but more recently I was working in the school tuckshop when I happened to notice not one, but TWO humungous catering tins of Milo on the top shelf of the pantry!!! I quiveringly asked what they were for and the tuckshop manager informed me that the tins had been a freebie from one of our suppliers. 'We have no real use for it' she said, 'since we're not allowed to sell hot drinks'.

Hah! Who would be mental enough to waste a perfectly good slug of Milo by putting milk and water into it??? Not I! 'Shovel it on down!' is what I say!

'Oh...' I said to the manager, 'then you ought to give it away to some deserving person...'

'Yeah', she replied, 'one day I will. One day...'

Not long after *that*, I had finished a shift on tuckshop and was sitting in the closed room, waiting for DH to show up and give me a lift home. That Milo burned a hole in my imagination as I thought of all those *ten kilos* of it up in the cupboard! I hadn't got a handbag (don't own one), a bucket or even a paper cup to take some Milo home in! I had to leave it there!

Oh! The woe!

AFAIK, it's up there still, just pulsating away until *some*one gets to own it or maybe it'll turn into some kind of sedimentary rock over time...?
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

PS In case anyone isn't familiar with Milo, it's a chocolate milk drink powder and it's utterly to die for! Sort of like Ovaltine, only much nicer!

[About the Newcastle breakwall.--Ed.]

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Now OT: LNS in Oz
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 18:01:32 +1100

Gee, it must've been a really high tide! It does get Very Scary out on the breakwall when the seas are up!

Once, DH and I were walking on the breakwall with DS and my DN. We saw a storm gathering out at sea and became aware of that 'charged' sensation in the atmosphere that often precedes a summer storm. We called to the kids and turned to hurry home. As we marched along, I noticed that DS' hair (bright carrotty red) was standing completely on end, having been charged by the static in the air. When I looked for DN, hers was doing it too. Only, Jacquie's was *much* more impressive-looking! Her hair was waist-length and white! People hurrying along with us were pointing and laughing! We managed to outrun the storm and DS and DN gave DH a gigantic ~*zapp*~ when they took their shoes off! He cried! LOL!

On the *other* side (river side) of the breakwall is Horseshoe Beach. It's the only place near Town where you can take animals swimming without getting a summons from the council. Once, the Ugly Sister and I took our two horses, Sunny and Shannie, for a swim there. Sunny really enjoyed the water and very quickly went out of his depth, swimming strongly out toward Nobby's and the Open Sea. Ugly felt he was bound for China!

Both she and Shannie (whom I was riding at the time) set up a hue and cry fit to wake Davy Jones! Ugly was screaming 'Trishaaaaaa! *Do* something!!!!!!' Shannie was screaming 'Neighghghghghghghghghgh!'

Dunno what they thought *I* could do!? Hail a passing iron ore carrier, perhaps? Call on a few hundred seagulls to turn Sunny around and send him back to the beach?

In the end, it was Shannie's anguished cries that finally turned Sun's wily old head around and brought him back to plunge and roll in the shallows. I LOLled and ROTFLMAOed all over the beach, but Ugly was not amused! She was quite exhausted and simply measured her length in the sand. Stupid berk! Fancy letting a horse carry you out to sea!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: Trish where are you?
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 16:39:32 +1100

I am here!

Carolyn B. hasn't arrived yet: she's due on the 9th March. DH and I are racking our branes, trying to think where we can take Carolyn B. and her DD that's going to be practical, affordable and fun for the pair! The best I've come up with so far is a barbecue at Mt Sugarloaf. Only thing is, there's nothing to see there except bush and flies! Maybe the beach'd be better, only it's going to be ultra-crowded on Sunday... We *could* do the marathon drive to the vineyards, only DH and I don't really drink much. Maybe Carolyn B. and her DD don't drink either? Imagine taking a teetotaller to a *vine*yard! LOL! Mum suggested driving up to Clarencetown (tiny hamlet where she was born), only it's going to be *so* hot and our car has lost its air and even its fan! I dunno...!

What do people like to see when they come to Oz? Any ideas?

BTW, I am hot and cranky and my feet are like footballs. DH has just gone a-toddling down the town to get some veggies for tea and I'm alone in the house with the dog. Grrrrrr! She keeps sitting on my poor, football-like feet!

One more time, Alice, just one more time!

Oh! I must tell you! DH did his first overnight stint as a phone-counsellor last night and was flat out like a lizard drinkin' on our marital bed all day. I was lonely!

So, since I allowed Miss Alice in the house today, she kept popping outside for potty breaks (bless her). Hence, the back door was open just a tad. Well, through that tad (and completely unbeknownst to me) a humungoloid *hornet* found its way into my humble abode!

I was sitting at my sewing machine swearing at a piece of hot pink organza which utterly *refused* to become attached to DD's black lycra leotard (kept fraying and slipping off the feed dogs). Anyway, as I sat there, *some*thing buzzed past the bridge of my nose, making a distinct 'Bzzzzztttt' in my ear and causing me almost to attach my *finger* to the lycra (Ever done that? Geez, it hurts!)

Well! I nearly fell off me chair! I haven't seen one of those wopping great hornets in ages! This one was nearly two inches long and I could *see* the deadly sting hanging out of his bottom!

'Oho!' I thought, 'I'll catch *you*, young feller-me-lad!'

I grabbed an empty Vegemite jar (giant economy size) and started following this enormous creature as it reconnoitred in my house. Sadly, it never landed on the mountain that was DH snortling away in my marital bed. Instead, I managed to corner it in the bathroom (which is tiny in my house and has just one teensy window over the bath). Several times, I managed to get the jar on top of Enola Gay (which I christened my hornet), but I was too scared to lift it enough and whack the lid on! I certainly didn't want the kiss-of-death from this wee beastie!

I must have spent about half an hour turning round and round in my bathroom, waving my Vegemite jar and exclaiming passionately each time the monster approached! (They have an annoying habit of flying straight at a point between your eyes, as if to embed themselves in your frontal lobe and take over control of your body thereby. It's a real worry!) Anyway, good Old Dozo slept through the whole thing and never once heard me yelping 'BL**DY H*LL!' and various other epithets as I sought alternately to catch and avoid Enola Gay. I caught her in the end and she's currently awaiting DD's return from school so DD can have a good look before I release her (Enola Gay, not DD). Maybe I ought to release little Enola Gay up at the Ugly Sister's place...?

Do, please enjoy the mental picture of your magnificently-proportioned stitching friend, dancing frenziedly around in the confined space of her bathroom, brandishing a Vegemite jar and screaming at a hornet! I have to wonder what my neighbours were thinking! LOL!
Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

[About needing larger size bras.--Ed.]

From: Kim Brown <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
Subject: Re: OT: Large Dimensions was black fabric
Organization: OzEmail Ltd, Australia
Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 17:38:35 +1100

Ah, dear girl! Be careful what you wish for! Not too long ago, I was commiserating with a friend who also takes a cup size which is bordering on the latter half of the alphabet. These are some of the drawbacks we noted:

You risk knocking yourself senseless every time you walk downstairs. Or run. Or turn suddenly.

You risk knocking the person nearest you senseless as well! (Do you carry Collision Insurance???)

You dip bits of yourself into things without meaning to. Like: the buffet dinner, the flower arrangement, the dirty nappy (diaper) and whatever it is you have on the front element of the stove (usually at boiling point). It is a corollary of this observation that the substance into which you have dipped yourself will be either indelible, corrosive, freezing cold, foetidly stinking or boiling hot. Think woad, acid, dry ice, baby poo and boiling toffee and you're on the right track!

You discover that the bathroom vanity is very *very* cold: you found this out while brushing your teeth naked!

You catch every blessed thing that falls from your mouth. The 'catchment point' is located precisely at the intersection of a line drawn between your nipples and another line which is drawn between your chin and your sternum. Examination of this point on each and every dress or blouse you possess will reveal: chocolate, drops of coffee, tomato sauce, beetroot juice, chocolate, egg (both raw and cooked), green cordial syrup, chocolate, salsa, gallbladder, hamburger sauce and chocolate.

You will develop twin cart-ruts in each shoulder where your bra straps lie, yet in spite of this, you will never be able to keep a shoulder bag *on* your shoulder. Nobody knows why this is so, but it is! Ditto for baby carriers, backpack harnesses and surgical corsets!

In spite of the well-known fairy tale that one's bra ought to touch one's chest wall at the midpoint between the breasts, yours will gape. This gives you a handy repository (I call mine 'The Bottomless Pit') in which to keep important things. For example: spare change; spare pair of underwear; set of keys; spare feminine hygiene items; packet of tissues; pen; pencil and eraser; an apple; a boiled egg; a raw egg; your pincushion; pair of scissors (remembering always not to run while they are thus ensconced!); a very young kitten; a mouse (or rat, depending upon your personal preference); a budgerigar; a tennis ball or your spare capo and plectrum (things used while playing guitar). Oh, one at a time, of course! Only the very largest of BPs could accommodate *all* of the above! (Mine almost can!)

Your blouses will never *ever* button up as G*d intended them to. You will *always* have either 'that-bl**dy-annoying-gape' between your second and third buttons or you will have installed a safety-pin whose breaking strain is inversely proportional to your index of publicity at any given moment. That is, the safety pin *will* break if you happen to be chatting pleasantly with the Queen, the Bishop or your Great Aunty Olga. It will hold as firm as Brave Horatius if you find yourself in a position where you need to exit your clothing quickly, urgently or seductively!

You will develop a Dowager's Hump. This is a matter of great sadness and one which ought to be discussed very sensitively with one's therapist or confessor. No-one wants to think of herself as 'a dowager', but the proof's in the hump!

You will come to the realisation that you haven't seen your feet in *such* a long time! You will then find yourself fascinated by floor-level mirrors as you attempt to rectify the situation.

Imagine this: you think you've got a blemish, a tick, a hive or a skin cancer at a point about two inches beneath your right breast. I *defy* you to get a good look at it! Go on! Try! See? There's another part of yourself you can wave goodbye to!

You will develop a number of unfortunate (and quasi-antisocial) habits. For example, the day will dawn when find yourself in the habit of *resting* your breasts on the table or whatever happens to be in front of you (eg. your guitar!). The relief to be had from this simple action is inexpressible when you've carted around roughly eight kilograms of hooters for twenty five years! So you will continue to do it and compensate with the fantasy that no-one notices you doing it! They do.

Another of these habits is the one in which you surreptitiously try to readjust the marvel of engineering that other people call bras. (In your case, it's a feat of scaffolding, buttressing and full cantilevering which has been coated in something satin. This gives the illusion that what you wear is 'lingerie'. Hahahahahahahahaha!) Anyway, you alight from a car, bus or skateboard to realise that you've been drooping and that the 'ordnance' has shifted somewhat. You look around swiftly and reach in to do the Left-Cup, Right-Cup Hornswoggle. Aha! Some kid has seen you! So you disguise the motion as a simple strap-realignment. For the rest of the day, you *know* that your nipples are pointing in completely independent directions but you can't bring yourself to accomplish the Left-Cup, Right-Cup Hornswoggle because that blasted kid could pop up again! With reinforcements!

If none of the above has served to dissuade you, I can only say this: go directly to the lingerie department in your local store and ask to be shown 'something seductive' in, say, a 44D. Don't be too offended at the smirk on the salesgirl's face as it hovers above her perfect 34C. Just realise the truth of what I say before it gets too late and do whatever you can to stay the way you are!!!!

Trish {|:OI}
Newcastle, NSW, Australia

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

Copyright ©2000, 2001, 2002 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