30 January 2010

Bad, Bad Kitty Part 28 (1-27 unpublished)

Perhaps people who own a cat with a taste for paper products should not assemble puzzles as a hobby:

21 January 2010

True Blue Australia

I climbed the stairs, ascending out of the hot moist air of Town Hall Station into the relatively cool breezes of George Street.  A nervous woman in an orange vest and white hard hat was guarding a stack of boxes near the curb.  My attention was drawn to the labels on the boxes.

"Excuse me ma'am.  May I take a picture of these boxes?"

"No!" She barked with a voice that conveyed a lifetime of difficult interpersonal relations, "No you can't!"

I shrugged and climbed onto the waiting 435.  I settled myself into a window seat and tucked my video camers into the open window.

"Well, we'll just see about that!"

Too bad you can't read the labels.  They said:

No Problem Vomit Cleanup

And so the city prepares for the upcoming Australia Day festivities...

16 January 2010

Summer in Sydney

I daresay, that no one who knows me would describe me as “squeamish”. After all, I take recreational photographs of road kill and have been known to bring select specimens home for closer inspection. Sure, I may squeal upon finding a scorpion in my bathtub, but then I just scoop it up and take it outside. I am not bothered by snakes, rats, bats, spiders, dung beetles, mice, centipedes, or Kylie Minogue, but there is one creature on this earth whose mere existence is capable of catapulting me into an apoplectic spasm of heeby-jeebies: The (unfortunately very) Common Cockroach.

I have already blathered on at length about the origins of my terror, but that has done little to assuage my disgust at each and every sighting. In Sydney, cockroaches are not necessarily an indicator of poor hygiene, but are rather part and parcel of the seasonal fauna, becoming highly visible (and quite large) during the steamy months of summer. However, it is painfully evident when the groundskeepers have recently sprayed around the Blackburn Building. For some reason, they little fuckers like to crawl into my lab to die. I arrived Friday morning to find 48 legs and 16 antennae wriggling at me from all corners of the laboratory in the final stages of what I hope was a very painful death.

But there, at the end of the room, was one defiant monster, staring at me, challenging me. I took a timid step forward. He charged then feinted to the right, paused, checked the distance between my shoe and the centrifuge and waited. I contemplated seeking reinforcements, but there wouldn’t be time. He would surely escape. I took another step. He waited, gauging my resolve, measuring my alacrity, his beady little eyes twitching on their stalks (I have no idea if that is anatomically accurate, but that’s how it looked on my cerebral screen.)


Sorry. We interrupt this narrative for a breaking story – I am writing on the edge of my seat as I relive the horror and anxiety of my moment of confrontation – when all of a sudden I am attacked by some sort of flying insect. It flew into my face, directly between my eyes! In America, I might call this a June Bug…here, I call it a cat snack. It has very sticky feet which tickle as it crawls across my fingers…

OK, where was I…crap, now the story has lost all of its tension. At any rate, I steeled myself and tried to kill the roach, but it just laughed at my feeble effort and scurried away. Sometimes, my terrible memory serves me well, and in this case, I soon forgot that the little bastard was lurking in my lab and went about the day’s experiments, all the while avoiding looking at the 8 shiny brown carcasses strewn about the floor.

I don’t know why this piece of masking tape has been sitting looped about on the glassware shelf for the last few weeks. I am pretty sure I didn’t put it there, but I am equally responsible for not having removed it, and I still have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, if it had not been there, it would not have trapped the giant cockroach, but then neither would I have had a mild stroke as my hand brushed it upon reaching for a beaker.

There was no way I was going to engage in battle with a monster at eye level. Fortunately, the cavalry was close at hand, and Joe came and squashed the wretched beast between two paper towels. He also cleared the battle field of the victims of chemical warfare, while I retired to my desk for a soothing cup of tea to help calm my nerves.

And as soon as Markus killed the little fucker that was sitting UNDER MY CHAIR, I called Kevin and asked him to chill a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for me. Today, I was going to need a drink.

15 January 2010

Twitter Face

This year, I have decided to make a New Year’s Resolution I can keep. I resolve to waste even more time at work. To achieve this end, I have finally signed up for Face Book.

I know I am rather late to the party, so my seemingly astute observations have probably already been had and hashed out by every member of my reading audience, but it is my blog, and I can talk about myself if I want.

Confession: I have a terrible memory. Especially when it comes to people. At my high school reunion, I had to rely on my close circle of friends to tell me who was who. I remember all the names and know that I had significant interactions with them for 4-6 years, but I also smoked a lot of pot back then…at least that excuse sounds better than admitting that I evidently make a greater (or at least more lasting) impression on other people than they make on me!

I must also confess that Face Book completely baffles me. I don’t really understand how to navigate the pages and I am not sure what I am supposed to be checking on, or how often. My inbox has become flooded with various notifications and requests, and I already feel like so many conversations are passing me by…

Still, I cannot help but marvel at the frightening insight held by this suite of software. On my very first log in, I was presented with an astonishingly accurate list of acquaintances – at least 10 of whom I have sold drugs to and 4 with whom I have shared carnal knowledge…how did they know? (Oddly, my own husband did not appear on the list!)

Which leads me to the dark side of registered social networking: With the current climate of fear and suspicion in the world today, and the ever widening definition and persecution of social deviants, am I the only one afraid of accidentally befriending someone who is a friend of a friend of a known terrorist or child molester and then inconveniently finding oneself on some FBI watch list?

Furthermore, there is no doubt in my mind that Face Book is the mechanism by which the government is populating the data tables for tehir face-recognition software. The day is not far off when I will be stopped at the airport and questioned over status updates and comments that include anti-government, anti-religion, or anti-children sentiments and interrogated as to the nature of my relationship with Scott Peterson and Martin Bryant

With that in mind, and against the back drop of my faulty memory, I have decided to simply honor ALL friend requests. Just because I don’t remember you, doesn’t mean we cannot build a meaningful virtual relationship in the here and now. Besides, when we all get arrested for conspiracy to commit something, at least I will have a strong network of friends at Gitmo.

09 January 2010

Here is to a Happy New Year!

Having had such a wonderful time while in the US, I was apprehensive about returning to Australia - and not just because I was facing 24 hours of travel! I was heartsick at the prospects of leaving my family, friends, and a place that feels very much like home, and I expected to land under a cloud of depression and lethargy.

But quite the opposite has occurred. After a nap and a good night's sleep, I woke up at 6 am on Saturday full of energy and excitement and ready to face a new year of fun and challenges. Then I spent the day cooking and hosted a dinner party. Unfortunately, Kevin has been tackled by fatigue and a virus and has spent the better part of the weekend in bed. But I am about to go roust him for the Cowboys game...

Because I am not a diarist, but prefer to write essays (with the occasional train-of-thought such as you are presently reading), I have not recorded the details of my vacation in California in any form of narrative, but I did want to take a moment to brag about the amazing 3-day party at the Peppermill Resort in Reno that was held in honor of our 20th Anniversary. Despite the fact that Chloe blew up her knee and Robert nearly lit the dinner table on fire, it was amazing to have you all together to help us celebrate an accomplishment based on passion, stubbornness, and ultimately, love.

For those of you who would like to see more pictures, you can check out a 20-year retrospective of Kevin&Audra at: http://picasaweb.google.com.au/sandiablo1967/20YearsOn02#

And to all my readers, Have the Best New Year Ever!

08 January 2010

American Booty Call

“I forgot we had a cat.” said Kevin - an indicator of just how far removed we have been from our daily life for the last three weeks, completely absorbed in the glorious immediacy of each vibrant moment right up to the minute we walked in our front door and mundane reality came crashing down upon us in the form of 7 notifications of toll violations.

Attempting to recapture that escapist feeling, I immediately set about creating our usual post-vacation shrine of souvenir booty. I am not especially obsessed with objects and possessions, aside from their power to evoke memories and feelings, but I do love to create little displays of mementos, gifts, and keepsakes to remind me of all the fun I had with my friends and family. My emotional indulgence then fades slowly over time as the objects drift away, either through re-distribution or consumption.

Last night, nestled between clean sheets in my own bed, I immediately sank into REM sleep, and my dreams were filled with vivid scenes: sitting around the table playing games with my family – except instead of my mother’s cozy dining room, we were on my balcony overlooking Cockatoo Island…preparing for an evening of drinking and carousing with Doug and Oscar – except instead of riding bikes through the darkened streets of San Jose we were getting ready for a pub crawl in The Rocks …heading out for dinner with Beki – except instead of going up to San Francisco for fresh Dungeness crab we were going down to Darling Harbour for steak and prawns.

I awoke feeling a little heart-sick, but also all warm and fuzzy, because despite being so far away, somehow, through the magic of memory, I had managed to transport everyone I love with me here to Australia. And that is the best souvenir ever!

Now, if you will excuse me, I must contact the administrators of the Lane Cove Tunnel – perhaps they will accept a cat in lieu of payment…