Thursday, August 28, 2008

Right thing, wrong place

I wrap the fresh, hot loaf in a tea towel to keep the crust soft, toss the cheese into a ziplock and lob it into the fridge to firm up. I double check before whizzing to the supermarket. My daughter, the job seeker, will mind Nonna, or maybe the other way around?

I return home with emergency supplies.

I smell it immediately. The strong honk of "cheese," or more specifically "Cambozola." My very, very favourite, unless you include Stilton, which is much more difficult to find in California, "the cheese capital of the world." Out here, blue cheese is for drinking, in liquid form only, more commonly referred to a Blur dressin.

I look around for cheese but find none. I do find a sign on my computer screen. A big red warning sign that states, ‘DEVICE REMOVAL!’ which is a little worrisome.

I dive into the garden to pick cherry tomatoes before the sprinkler system kicks in to flaunt me. I trip over a spade in the middle of the path and several heaps of soil, mole like when I am confident that my garden if free of vermin. Nonna appears from out of the pergola, “ave you phoned?”
“Phoned whom?”
“Dah Chemist in England?”
“Oh no, remember, the pharmacy doesn’t open until 8:30 tomorrow morning, so I’ll phone them at 11:30 tonight when it will already be tomorrow there……. then.”

I blink.

Nonna blinks. “Right…..I think.”

It certainly already feels like tomorrow.

I pause just in case there are additional queries after my gobbledegook and then dash back into the house, dump the tomatoes next to the bread and zip over to the garage door. I pause and shut my eyes so that my vision can adjust to the gloom where the freezer is parked. I step into the garage and fall over a body bag as I have failed to inventorize my daughter’s camping equipment. I heave six foot of dead weight away from the pristine freezer and peer inside. I am out of time. It’s instant food in the microwave or nought. I fly back into the house where my camper job seeker is close to my computer. “Hi mum.”
“Hello dear. Do you need something?”
“I can’t find the phone.”
“Maybe you left it by your computer for all the job interviews?”

Nonna appears in the kitchen waving something at me, “Ah dere you are! I thought you were lost. What about dis thing den?”
I take the thing from her hand, a curling iron.
“Would you like me to curl your hair?”
“No I can do it myself thank you.”
“Alright…….” I wait for a clue.
“Oh…….Ah!” she opens her other hand which holds a gas canister which she rolls like a wad of notes.
I take it, twist out the old one and tuck in the new one, “there you go.”
“Mum?” My camper appears, unstuck from her own computer screen. “Why are their fifteen messages on the phone?”
“Because I don’t want to delete them.”
“Because they sound very garbled but there might be something important there when I can decipher them, maybe tonight, when it’s less………busy.”
I have only a few moments until I need to collect the children from school but I must also ensure that sustenance is available for the starving minions on return.
“Yes dear.”
“It’s only ten bucks an hour, 24 hour alternate shifts.”
“But does it have medical benefits? That’s the bit you need to find out.”
“Er……right.” She bounds off and leaves me in the heat and cheese infested kitchen. I hit the delete button on the telephone messages. Where is the cheese? Maybe she could get a job in CSI, or at least the forensic training? I still have one Pokemon head, one tail and one miscellaneous limb to superglue back onto various bodies.

Nonna reappears waving a mug at me. I pour her a fresh cup of coffee in a fresh mug, dump out the sour milk, rinse the container and leg it out to the recycling bin before the refuse disposal unit appears. Back inside Nonna waves at me with a little flap for emphasis, as she conjures up a complete question for me. “So……….as she got a job yet den?”
“No….not yet.”
“When she get one den?”
“Soon we hope.”
I brain beeps with a visual message. I re-open the fridge door where there is a tea towel dangling down. I remove it and unwrap it to find a wedge of gooey Cambozola cheese. I step over to the counter and the half loaf of fresh bread stuffed into a cheesey old zip lock bag!
“Yes dear?”
“The school phoned.”
“Did they? But I just deleted all the messages… you said!” Why do I listen to any of my children?
“Oh no. I spoke to them.”
“Ah. What was the message?”
“He’s fine.”
“Who is fine?”
“Oh I thought you’d already spoken to the school nurse?”
“Yes. They managed to get the eraser out of his nose. He promises he won’t do it again.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A good fit

Many moons ago our family suffered a loss. In England, Nonna had lost her ancient cat. Although he arrived as a stray, upon the expiry of his ninth life, he was no castaway.

The death of a pet leaves a hole in someone’s life. If that person also happens to be elderly, younger people worry. Nonna was resigned, so when she appeared for her annual visit, we decided to lure and charm her into weakness.

Hence we headed off to the Humane Society.

The brother kittens that chose us, viewed Nonna and her room as a refuge and sanctuary. Our children were on a steep learning curve, with Nonna as counselor. The primary lesson was a negative one, ‘don’t kill with love.’ Oh how kind they were to those cats every living, breathing minute of the day. I was glad for Nonna’s counter balance, as I was in a state of shock. The arrival of felines also saw the arrival of words, lots of them, all lumped together in whole sentences. Non-verbal no longer. It was me that was dumbfounded, speechless to correct or curtail as I basked in surplus syllables.

They carried them around like babies, upturned and stunned. They poured adoration upon them as well as a great deal of spittle. The soggy cats endured microscopic examination of their persons. How clever to have a tail! What magnificent teeth! Claws that were retractable. They were the source of endless entertainment.

We had a slew of "Social Stories" about how to be a pal to your puss. We practiced stroking. We practiced stroking in the right direction. We also spent an inordinate amount of time being cats and pretend play burst into the foreground in full technicolour.

All too soon, it was time for the cats to get physical, or rather, have a physical at the Vets. With the children left in the tender loving care of their father, Nonna and I sallied forth with cat basket, such that she too could experience first hand, the American way.

A visit to the vet is a protracted event, especially if you have two cats rather than one. Each in turn was taken away for a physical examination.

Upon return, the vet looked grave. She passed the brothers back to us to put them in their crate. Nonna and her walking cane leant against the wall to cuddle normal cat. I put my finger tips on the table whilst atypical cat hid under my then long hair.

“You know……..there’s no nice way to say this,” she said nicely, lowered head and soft body posture.
“Eh? Wot she say?”
“Oh gawd!”
The vet blinked but carried on, “I’m afraid he has some serious behavioural issues.”
“Eh? Wot she say?”
“He er……......he seems to have failed to have bonded to his mother.”
“Eh? Wot she say?”
“He um……exhibits dysfunctional and antisocial habits.”
“Eh? Wot she say?”
"Additionally he exhibits abnormally high levels of anxiety."
"Eh? Wot she say?"

The vet paused, presumably for the enormity of her message to sink in.

“Wot you do about dat den?” asked Nonna directly as she winked at me, “does e need….....…therapy?”

She giggled.

The vet did not.

I pursed my lips to contain my snort.

The vet looked at us uncertainly. “Well I certainly think that this is a little kitty that is gonna need some real special care.”

I removed atypical, together with his needle claws from the back of my neck, picked up the cat carrier to make our way to the ‘exorbitant payment area’ otherwise known as reception.

Nonna watched me as I wrote out a cheque for a minor mortgage on a fixer upper.
“Well phtt!” she exclaimed complete with accompanying hand gestures.
“Well what is dat for den! Dat is…….incredible.”
“Pretty standard out here I’m afraid.”
“No,...... not the bill …….although dat is also unbelievable.”
“Well……all I’m saying is……. dah cats………...dey ave come to the "right place" aven’t they!”

Save time, add a new campaign

I chat to my eldest daughter on her return from a marathon camping trip, together with her sack of laundry.

We play catch up and exchange whilst the washing machine whirs.

"Hard to believe they're back at school already. It still seems like summer."
"Yes I know but we should still be able to squeeze in a swim as homework hasn't started yet."
"I'm amazed then can all swim now!"
"Yes, we're so lucky."
"Luck and a pool. Doesn't get much better than that."
"I know. Don't know how we'll cope when it gets cold again."
"But it never really gets cold here. It's California afterall."
"The water in the pool gets cold fast and then no more swimming."
"Well there's always next year."
"Oh I know that!"
"We'll be back to the nightmare of baths and showers."
"Oh yes. I was forgetting."
"Right now they're all as clean as whistles every day."
"Chemically hygienic clean! Positively squeaky!"
"I don't know if I'm ready to start another de-sensitization campaign?"

Nonna appears in the kitchen.

"Hi Nonna!"
"So.......can I?"
"I I have time?"
"I have time for a swim? It will save me having to wash."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fluffy moments and silly questions

“Are you going to clean it up den?” asks Nonna as she pats the compost bin, idly.
“Clean up the compost?”
“No. Not the compost.”
“Dah……family room?”
“What’s up in there?”
I dash over to check. Rats!
“So……like I say……..shall I get dah vacuum for you?”
“No thanks.” I grab handfuls of fluff from all over the room and start to stuff it back in the sofa.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m re-stuffing the sofa. All this…….it’s stuffing.”
“From dah sofa?”
“Ere…….I’ll give you an and.”
“It split the day it was delivered.”
“Why you not send it back den?”
“We were taken over by events.”
“What events?”
“Christmas, Wedding, international pogoing, cerebral malaria…….the usual.”
“Yes, lots of the usual I’m sure.”
“By the time we got ourselves sorted out, the warranty had expired.” We gather up all the Pokemon nests that have entertained them for a full twenty minutes.
Pok e mons!” curses Nonna.
“But it’s great that they’re playing pretend so imaginatively.”
“A little less of the pretend, a little more of dah tidying!”

The two of us scrabble about on all fours, wool gathering, when her son and my husband walks in.

“Hello dear.”
“Hi, I’m knackered.”
“Did you remember to ask Phil round for dinner tomorrow?”
“Oh good, it’ll be nice to catch up.”
“I asked Tim and Mary too, and they’re bringing the kids. I haven’t heard back from Ian and Pat. I don’t think they’ll be able to get a baby sitter at such short notice so I said not to worry. Should I have asked the Higginbottoms do you think?”

I sit back on my heels to think and count bodies, bodies with mouths, mouths that will have to be fed from thin air in less than 24 hours. Make that 18 hours where many of those hour are designated sleeping hours and shut shop hours. I wonder if I can get a baby sitter too? Would I be missed?

Nonna and I exchange glances. She knows a food factory when she sees one.

“So…….what on earth are you doing?” he asks suppressing a yawn.
“What are you doing?” he bellows.

Nonna sits back on her heels to look at her first and only born flesh and blood, “we are re-stuffing dis stupid sofa dat you bought.”

We all need an "ally" my "friends."

Good grief, I may have actually [accidentally] managed to generate a blogroll!

If you are not here, let me, though how I'll ever unravel it or add to it I shall never know?

Go a devil.......put a big fat comment on a first time ever new blog!

I wish I could!

Please don't psychoanalyze that, I think my brain might explode.

Cheers dears

p.s. make sure you leave your URL!