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Friday, December 28, 2018

Weird Things about New Zealand

The sun doesn’t go down until after 10 o’clock at night here. 

I left my watch on Queensland time (which is 3 hours behind here) so I basically haven’t been able to eat for 9 days. 

Breakfast time is at 4 am and I was never hungry. Lunch is at 9 o’clock in the morning which is ridiculous and no-one can be expected to eat lunch at that time. Dinner time is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon when the sun is still beating down on my contrary, befuddled head so it is impossible to eat dinner. 

I don’t know how they don’t all die of starvation here. 

“Change your bloody watch, Pinky,” Scotto kept nagging me. But I refused because I was in a bad mood due to being so damn hungry all the time. 

They have no woodland creatures in New Zealand. 

The only small mammals here are feral possums which the entire country seems to find a disgusting state of affairs. Every tour guide we met, launched into a vigorous and demonstrative diatribe about why the possum is a malevolent, foul creature which must be slaughtered at every opportunity. 

According to all the outraged and emotional tour guides, the possum was introduced via Australia (bloody feral Australians) because they thought they might start a possum fur trade here. Possum fur never really took off for some reason. Now, you only see possum fur in souvenir shops in the guise of Willy Warmers or stitched around the collar of heinously priced Merino ponchos. 

Because the possums have no natural predators in New Zealand, the population quickly swelled to 80 million (according to one particularly incensed tour guide) or 30 million (according to another less irate bus driver). Since then, the entire Kiwi population has embarked on a resolute mission to execute any possum they encounter with the wild abandonment of a disgruntled serial killer. 

Whilst trudging through a forest in Glenorchy, the tour guide showed us a possum trap. It was a vicious thing which stabbed the possum through the brain with a steel rod (I told you they hate them). An American lady on the tour asked how many possums they usually caught. 

“Fifteen,” he replied sheepishly. 

“Fifteen a day?” queried the woman. 

“No. About fifteen a year,” he relinquished. 

No wonder there are 80/30 million possums here. They’re too smart for the kiwis. 

The New Zealand government brought in stoats in an attempt to reduce the possum population but funnily enough, the stoats began eating the birds instead of eating the possums. The stoats also bred like rabbits and had no predators, so the result was that New Zealand now enjoyed an over-population of possums AND stoats. 

I listened attentively every time the tour guides went on these indignant tirades and it was always on the tip of my tongue to chime in with, “Why don’t you just get some dingoes in to kill the stoats and possums?” 

“DUNGOES????” they would have replied. “The dungoes would eat all the ship!” 

Then I suppose they would have to import crocodiles to eat all the dungoes. 

In all our tramping around New Zealand, I saw not one possum. I didn’t see any stoats either which was disappointing and weird since they are allegedly profuse in numbers and very busy stealing eggs from unsuspecting endangered birds. 

“What’s a stoat?” Scotto anxiously whispered to me after listening to a particularly infuriated tour guide carrying on about the wickedness of stoats. I think he was worried a stoat was about to leap out of the shrubbery at him. 

I knew the answer because it was in a New Zealand crossword puzzle I’d completed the previous day. 

“A small carnivorous mammal of the weasel family native to both Eurasia and North America,” I replied knowledgeably. 

New Zealand crossword puzzles are also weird. They have all these questions about bloody New Zealand. Things like, ‘Which New Zealand marathon runner traversed a glacier wearing togs and jandals, in 1954?’ 

The scenery down here in the South Island is beyond belief. Even the Kiwis acknowledge this. They’ve given appropriated names to places, like “The Remarkables” and “Mt Aspiring”. 

“Isn’t that mountain remarkable?” I’d say to Scotto. 

“I’d call it aspiring!” Scotto would reply. 

“But what is it aspiring to be, Scotto? Is it aspiring to be remarkable? Do you think they meant ‘inspiring’?” 

Here are some photos of the beautiful scenery.

Have you been to New Zealand? 

What was your favourite part?

The Ice Bar!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

School Excursions and Risky Assessments

School finished for the year, yesterday.
*Runs around screaming like a mad woman

On Thursday, we escorted three classes on an excursion to the movies and a swim at Southbank as an end of year treat. 

Before the outing could take place, it was my job to concoct a risk assessment listing all potential dangers which may befall the students. This list ranged in scale from a possible catastrophic alien attack and bus-jacking by malevolent, extra-terrestrial creatures carrying lethal ray guns, all the way down to an extra-itchy mozzie bite.

After the excursion was over, I realised I’d actually left out quite a few hypothetical, but unidentified perils which I will make sure to include next time.

Some examples…

Danger/Possible Hazard
Seats on the bus could be in short supply

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be forced to sit beside a student and play endless rounds of cards/hangman/naughts and crosses and make interminable small talk on the positives and negatives regarding rainbow-coloured unicorns, instead of sitting alone and being allowed to stare out the window dreaming of what she is going to eat on her upcoming holiday to New Zealand.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Movie might be surprisingly good

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may become extremely engrossed in the movie only to be interrupted fifty thousand times because someone or other needs to go to the toilet and thus misses all the good bits… like the very last three minutes of the movie when there was an hilarious screaming goat… and the teacher will stagger back into the theatre to be greeted by the entire audience shrieking with laughter but she missed the joke because she was in the smelly toilet guarding a student. (This didn’t happen to me but it did happen to my friend Kath who made the silly mistake of sitting in an aisle seat and all the other teachers who were thoroughly enjoying the movie kept sending kids to her when they needed to wee.)

Danger/Possible Hazard
Choc Tops

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may unwarily sit beside a child who has never seen a choc top before. Child will stare at the choc top in bewilderment and make enquiry as to how it should be eaten. Teacher will tell child to just nibble on the hard chocolate until they break through to the mint ice cream. Child will take one nibble then decide she doesn’t like it. Monstrously sized choc top will sit in the cupholder during the movie as the teacher warily observes it gradually dissolving, dripping towards her pink cardigan sleeve and realises she has brought no plastic bags for rubbish and that the cardigan will never recover.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Injurious death traps

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher could imprudently slip on a greasy puddle of melted Choc Top which has collected under her seat causing her to painfully bark her shin and swear under her breath but loud enough for at least one child to hear.

Danger/Possible Hazard

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
After the movie, sixty children will desperately need to go to the toilet. The teacher could lose her marbles in her attempts to keep track of who is entering and exiting and make an embarrassing spectacle of herself in public whilst wearing a uniform with the school’s emblem embroidered on her left boob.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Counting students

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher will endure frustration when counting her class because she keeps counting 27 students over and over when she is cognizant that there are only 26 students in her class. She will begin to suspect an evil midget has crept into the throng. Eventually, wild-eyed and desolate, the teacher will just accept that she has 27 students in her class now.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Stress and anxiety

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be so overcome with agonising about the mysterious evil midget, she will leave her lunch on the bus and only realise this fact half way along the walk to the swimming pool. The other teachers will refuse to allow her to go back and retrieve her lunch because they are all fed up, tired and cranky and she will be miserable and starving as she watches all the students eating their Nutella sandwiches and crisps.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Missing children

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teachers will be so busy frenetically scanning the pool for floating bodies and doing head counts, they will fail to realise that two boys have completely buried themselves in sand with only their eyes and nose appearing above the surface. 

Danger/Possible Hazard
Toxic fumes

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teachers and students might be overcome with the fumes rhythmically emanating from one little boy who ate salami sandwiches at lunch. Teacher might have to resort to breathing through her straw hat.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Seats on the bus may be in short supply

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be forced to sit beside a student who, in the middle of a lengthy monologue on the merits of Minecraft, suddenly stops mid-sentence and asks, “How old are you, Mrs Poinker?” then follows it up with, “My granny is seventy-two.” Then stares, waiting patiently for the teacher’s reply. The teacher may become depressed, aware of the fact that after the trauma of this excursion she may indeed look seventy-two.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How Not to Apply for a Passport

Scotto and I finally booked a holiday to New Zealand to be spent over the Christmas holidays.

Neither of us have a current passport and applying for a passport; the complex, tortuous bureaucracy entailed in obtaining a passport, is what has put me off overseas travel for almost two decades.

“I’ll agree to go overseas with you if I don’t have to do anything about my passport,” I announced to Scotto. “If you complete ALL the paperwork and brain numbing bureaucratic crap for me, then I’m in.”

Scotto was excited about an impending holiday and fastidiously finalised all the nit-picking, gathering of documents and cautiously informed me that all I had to endure was a quick trip to the post office to have my photo taken, then submit the paperwork in person.

“It’ll be quick and over in a few minutes, Pinky, You won’t feel a thing!” he assured me with a toothy grin.

The man at the post office on the mountain took three goes at taking my photograph. He said the first one was too blurry. The second photograph was also too blurry.

“This is perfect!” he announced beaming and holding up a photograph of a ninety-year-old crone who looked as though she hadn’t slept for a decade. The crone’s hair was greasy and her face bore a sad, resigned expression, like someone who smokes forty cigarettes a day, drinks gin for breakfast and whose children are all in jail for drug trafficking.

‘Never mind,’ I thought. I only have to look at it for ten years. Ten years will go quickly.

The following day, armed with all Scotto's meticulously organised paperwork, I conveyed the photograph of the haggard woman to another post office. 

It was happening. I would finally kick this onerous task to the kerb.

The lovely lady at the post office began to closely inspect my birth certificate.

“This is a copy. It’s not the original certificate,” she said, almost apologetically.

I paled. “No. It’s the original,” I argued in utter disbelief and panic. How could my husband send me on this dreaded errand with the wrong paperwork? Was he trying to kill me?

Another lovely post office lady came over to the counter, fingered the certificate and they both concurred that it was most definitely a copy.

“’S okay…," I whimpered. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”

I arrived home that afternoon and Scotto and I embarked on a maniacal quest of upending every tattered file, creased folder and silverfish-eaten shoe box in the house. 

Some hours later we discovered the original birth certificate ensconced under an ancient, overtly neglected bowel testing kit in my bedside table.

Back to the post office I traipsed the following day in a high state of trepidation. What else could go wrong?

I left the building floating on air. It was done. My dreaded passporting activities were over! The post office ladies were the nicest people in the world! I wanted to buy them flowers!

Two days later, I received and email from the Bureau of Pernickety Passporting.

“Dear Mrs Poinker,

The photograph you have submitted is blurry. If we don’t hear from you and you don’t send another photograph within 48 hours, we will cancel your application and you will have to start the entire process all over again. 

You must download this form, take it to a post office with the new photographs, sign the form in the presence of an officer and if you don’t you will lose the three hundred bucks you’ve already paid.

P.S. This is what happens when you try to dodge our fundamental and mandatory bureaucracy by shirking your personal responsibilities on to your long-suffering husband you indolent, old woman.”

I won’t say there were no tears shed on the receipt of this email, however, I dutifully proceeded to yet another post office to have my second lot of photographs taken. I made sure this post office had an extra-special, state of the art camera that guaranteed NO blurring. I also managed to get the form and photos sent within the 48 hours.

It’s been three days and I haven’t heard anything else. Fingers crossed.

Unbelievably, the second passport photo I had taken was even more insidiously ugly than the first. I have progressed from looking like a ninety-year-old crone to looking like Gollum.

Oh well. Ten years will go quickly.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

My Hot Pussy

You looking for me?

I scuttled around the kitchen last week preparing to leave for work and grabbed the cat food out of the pantry whilst simultaneously gargling mouthwash and wiping biscuit crumbs off the counter.

Normally, the cat hurtles to its bowl right in front of my feet, attempting to trip me and send me plunging head first into the hallway wall, but… the cat was no where to be seen. I heard the sound of bottles falling over and assumed the little shit was in the pantry.


I called it and checked the usual hiding spots; the shower recess, behind the curtains, my underwear drawer… nope.

I finished up putting my shoes, lipstick and sunscreen on, tired of its nonsense.

“Bloody cat’s hiding again!” I called out to Scotto as I opened the fridge to retrieve my lunch box just before I left the house.

Guess what I found sitting on the middle shelf with its feathery tail wrapped around a bottle of marinated olives?

I received such a shock, I screamed out in fright. 

You just don’t expect to see a hefty, snow white cat nestled amongst the margarine tubs when you open the refrigerator.

He was quite chilly to the touch when I pulled him out, too.

The entire incident has left me mortally traumatised. I can’t open the fridge now without a certain dread as to what I might discover in the salad crisper.

I don’t even know how or why he managed to get in. We were experiencing heat wave conditions at the time but surely that doesn’t explain the mystery of how he succeeded in leaping in without my knowledge?

Every time he disappears from sight now, I find myself obsessively and repetitively opening the fridge to check if he’s ensconced inside; slowly turning into a vanilla catsicle.

When I close my eyes at night, all I can visualise is a bloated, stiffened cat surrounded by condiment bottles and wilted spinach leaves. 

Imagine having to explain to people that my cat passed away in the bloody fridge. Nobody would ever eat at my house again and they'd definitely suspect I was some kind of sick, psychopathic murderer of cats.

You know that old saying about nine lives? Well… that’s one life down, eight to go.

And I’m talking about me… not the cat.

P.S.: The title of this post has been brought to you by the writers of "Are You Being Served".

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The 'Not Worth Reading' Post.

Hinze Dam

I was on duty in the playground yesterday and a five year old sidled up and tapped me on the leg.

“Mrs Poinker,” she blinked at me. “I was playing with Ophelia and we were playing cats and she said I couldn’t be a baby cat anymore. She said that Antigone could be a baby cat and I can’t be one.” She stopped and caught her breath, a tear welling in her left eye.

I wanted to say, ‘Can this please wait until I’ve finished eating my mandarine? I’m sick of you lot and your first world problems. Why are you pretending to be cats anyway? Cats are horrible.’ 

But I didn’t say any of that and instead, diligently walked her over to the accused Ophelia and had the child repeat her allegation.

Ophelia, sharpening her claws on a tree, paused and listened. At the conclusion of the lisped and heart-rending oration, she sighed, “Alright, you can be a baby cat then.”
The little girl immediately fell on her knees and began to lick her paws and happily miaow. 
Problem solved.

That, my friend, is high level negotiation and crisis management at its slickest. 
And the teacher of the year award goes to…

But I really don’t understand why seemingly nice, pleasant little girls want to pretend to be filthy, nasty cats. 

Take our cat as an example...


Scotto went to a party recently but I stayed at home because I’ve finally decided that at my stage of life, parties are horrible and there is no longer a need to persecute myself.

I pondered the revelation of this ostensible backward growth in my emotional development as we kayaked around the resplendent Hinze Dam last week.

“If our cat was a human,” I called out to Scotto as I struggled to paddle against the wind, “how do you think he’d act if he was at a party?” 

(Terrible segue I know but believe me, this is how my brain works)

“He’d be like Julian Assange,” Scotto yelled back puffing. “He’d walk into the party all snooty-like, thinking he was better than everyone else.”

I mused on the comparison. My cat and Julian do have the same white hair, same sardonic sneer and the same arctic, blue eyes that appear to reflect depraved, violent visions of the afterlife.

“I bet he’d head straight for the dip bowl and stand there shovelling it down, double dipping and ignoring everyone,” I added.

“He’d stare at people with cold, malicious eyes until they made eye contact and then he’d look away in disgust,” Scotto offered. “If anyone tried to approach him they’d be waved off with a cruel, dismissive gesture.”

“Yeah,” I smirked in agreement. “And when he went to the guest loo, he’d poop in the bathtub instead of the toilet.”

Our cat has been despicably pooping in my bathtub lately despite us purchasing an extra-large litter tray for his gigantic butt.

I’m envious of our cat’s air of self-possession. He really doesn’t give a rat’s arse about what anyone thinks about him.

I wouldn’t dream of pooping in someone’s bath tub.

I wouldn’t have the self-confidence.

I suppose if I did, it would definitely curtail any future party invitations which would be ideal… but even so…

But anyway, this is why I can’t understand why pretty, sweet little girls like to play games about being rude, narcisistic and self-centred cats? It’s decidedly weird, don’t you think? 

Back in my day we pretended to be horses; a much more wholesome activity.

What did you pretend to be?

NB: This post is not in any way insinuating that Julian Assange poops in other people’s bath tubs.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Power of One (Grade One)

A soccer ball whacked me in the back of the head on Friday when I was supervising on playground duty. It’s not the first time I’ve been hit but it’s been a while. 

Normally, I’m on the lookout for flying projectiles, marauding children who aren’t looking where they’re going and I always make a concerted effort to avoid inadvertently wandering, bleary eyed, through a rambunctious game of Bullrush.

On this occasion, however, I was discussing something with Mrs. M who was on duty with me. I can’t remember what we were discussing. I’ve lost some memories from the incident. Traumatic amnesia it’s called.

When the ball ricocheted off my head, all I saw, after the stars had settled back into my retinas, was a semi-concealed but highly amused expression on Mrs M’s face.

“Sorry, I should have told you that was coming but I didn’t see it until it was too late,” Mrs M tried to muffle her guffaws.

At next break, I complained about my injury in the staff room.

“Who kicked it?” asked one of my unsympathetic colleagues as she ate her ham and salad sandwich.

“A grade one-er,” I replied sheepishly.

Indifferent looks were passed around the table. If it had been a grade sixer I may have had grounds to whinge but a grade one-er booting a ball hardly has the power and capacity of Cristiano Ronaldo now, does he?

“But it was Seamus!” I added dramatically. “It was Seamus O’Toole who kicked it.”

A couple of staff members mumbled in reluctant acknowledgement. Seamus is definitely the toughest of all the grade one-ers. Seamus isn’t your average grade one-er. Seamus has swag. Seamus has a decent bloody kick on him.

Plus, it was at an extremely close range that my head intercepted the ball. It struck me a second after it had left the diminutive Adidas runner on Seamus’ tiny foot. The ball had lost no momentum and my head felt like one of those watermelons they use to demonstrate what happens when you don’t wear a bike helmet.

I might add that it was a morning duty and Seamus was most likely fuelled up on cake from the tuckshop, fully energised and in top form.

Seamus was noticeably upset about the incident and went all red in the face and teary. I had to give him a hug and tell him I was okay, even though I wasn’t.

I     had     to     give       HIM       a       hug!

Anyway, on Saturday my head continued to spasm and I was sure I was bleeding on the brain.

Scotto ignored my whining as soon as he heard it was a grade one-er who kicked it but he doesn’t know Seamus and his fancy footwork and the forceful thrust behind his twenty kilogram frame of steel.

This morning, the pain had moved to my neck and upper back.

Whiplash, my friend.


I’m definitely going to protect my precious watermelon from now on and ask the boss if I can wear a helmet when I’m duty… and I’ll be carrying some yellow cards around with me too.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How to Be Thin

Happy Celine visiting Nana 

“She’s too skinny,” the vet declared as she poked around my fox terrier, Celine’s ribs yesterday.

I sighed and shrugged helplessly. “She eats exactly the same as my Chihuahua and he’s fat,” I replied. “It’s just that she never stops running around chasing balls.”

But the truth is, I suspect her lack of padding also stems from a nervous and unpredictable disposition.

Celine displays a temperament which can only be described as highly neurotic. 

At times when her unhinged, psychotic personality traits emerge, we don’t call her ‘Celine’, we call her ‘Ethel’.

Ethel is deeply disturbed.

Ethel refuses to eat her dinner if I give it to her at 2:55pm instead of 3:00pm. Ethel refuses to eat her dinner if I put it in the wrong place on the floor. Ethel refuses to eat her dinner if it is not mushed up exactly right.

Ethel slinks around petulantly if a visitor sits on her spot on the couch. Ethel will sit on a windowsill like a maniacal stalker, glaring at the visitor with a look of murderous hatred or perhaps an expression of abject forlorn, depending on her state of mind.

“What’s wrong, Ethel?” we cajole, offering her a biscuit from the coffee table. She will sniff the air wretchedly and turn her head away in disgust.

When Scotto leaves for work, Ethel’s temper surfaces in a manifestation of furious bile. She cannot stand for Scotto to leave the house. Ethel would rather kill Scotto than allow him to leave the house. One day she might even do it. 

If Scotto has the presence of mind, he will throw the nearest ball and Ethel magically disappears and Celine is once again returned to us, wagging her tail and panting like a puppy.

Ethel might appear in the morning and evening, one can never predict it. Most times, Ethel prefers her own company and buries herself in a pile of pillows. 

Ethel in a mood

Celine, on the other hand, displays great sociability. She sits between Scotto and me, following our banter with bright eyes and an inquisitive twitchy nose. If one of us happens to swear accidentally in our casual conversation, Ethel suddenly appears, growling and snarling. Ethel detests swearing with a innate revulsion. We don’t know the deep-rooted cause of this. One can only imagine.

Sometimes, Ethel frightens our visitors when she appears out of the blue. They are drawn into a false sense of affection when first meeting the affable Celine

It only takes a word, one gesture, one carelessly moved cushion, for the wrath of Ethel to materialize and poison the occasion.

According to the vet, I should buy Celine working dog food to help bulk her up a bit.

Personally, I think I should have requested an exorcism.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Life is Like a Movie


I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately and I’ve noticed there are certain clichés in movies that never disappoint.

For example, if detectives arrive at a house and the front door is ajar, they will inevitably encounter a gruesome blood bath inside and often the killer is still squirrelled in a cupboard with a machete.

If birds start dropping from the sky in a movie, there is a meteor/mini ice age/geo-electric storm on its way. After that there will be very large hailstones and the Eiffel Tower will fall down.

If a wife/husband arrives home early, they will catch their spouse in bed with someone else and then they will turn into an alcoholic or solve a murder, or both.

But you know what? I have predictable clichés in my own life. 

For example, if I receive an unexpected windfall, I know for certain one of my pets will become ill thus incurring a vet bill which amounts to roughly twice the amount of the windfall.

Last Thursday night at about 9 o’clock, I called our German Shepherd for his evening treat. Usually he waits in anticipation, slobbering and slavering at the back window, but on this occasion he was nowhere to be seen.

After a short investigation, we discovered him reeling in the shrubbery and soon realized he was unable to walk or stand and his eyeballs were flicking from side to side in a very scary manner.

“Snake!” I blurted out as I dialed the emergency vet with trembling fingers.

We loaded him in the car and sped up to the surgery, praying we would get him there before he vomited all over the back of Scotto’s car, threw a violent seizure or expired in a death explosion of diarrhea.

It wasn’t a snake bite, though. He was diagnosed with a vestibular disorder (also known as ‘Old Dog Syndrome’) and with careful nursing, he should fully recover.

By ‘careful nursing’ I mean he must be carried out to the yard to go wee-wees and poo-poos and he has to be hand fed because he can’t keep his head straight or sit up properly. As I said, he's a German Shepherd.

Before we were able to bring him home, he spent two nights at the vet surgery on a drip and don’t ask me what the bill was because it makes me feel a bit like I have a vestibular disorder.

Okay, I’ll tell you this. I just celebrated a birthday and my children gifted me with a generous voucher from Myers which I was very excited about. The vet bill was roughly twice as much as the voucher.

So that is my life cliche and it never disappoints.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kayaking Catastrophes

Wyaralong Dam

“We’ve never done this before,” I said to the rugged-looking bloke at the kayak shop. “Do you reckon we can just watch a Youtube video on kayaking for beginners and we’ll be right?”

He looked us up and down dubiously. He grinned, pointing the eftpos machine at me, “Sure. It’s easy. Anyone can do it.”

The rugged man helped Scotto load the two kayaks onto our newly purchased roof racks and signalled us off with a wave of reassurance (which I personally felt lacked conviction, looking back on it).

Our first outing last weekend was to Wyaralong Dam. I was excited about the dam because I felt secure in the knowledge that there are no sharks in dams, there are definitely no crocodiles in Wyaralong Dam and there was no chance of drowning because we were wearing our highly expensive life jackets bought from BCF that very weekend so even if I capsized I’d be fine.

As we drove off the highway down the turn-off to the dam, I spotted the sign that told you all the things you aren’t allowed to do in the water. “Look Scotto!” I enthused. “No water skiing… good. I don’t want to be run over by a stupid water skier. No motor boats… good. I don’t want to be run over by a bloody motor boat either. No fires, no bringing pets, no swimming…

Why do you think you aren’t allowed to swim in the dam, Scotto?”
I asked, not really expecting a sensible answer from him.

“Maybe because it’s used for drinking water, they’re worried people will poop in it,” Scotto replied, squinting into the side mirror to make sure the kayaks were still on the roof of the car and not smashed to bits on the side of the road somewhere between Beaudesert and the mountain.

“That’s ridiculous,” I scoffed. “Surely animals and fish would be pooping in it all the time anyway.”
Then I made my big mistake. My naive curiosity once again led me down a ruinous path of no return.

I googled, “why can’t you swim in dams” and was instantly plunged into a dribbling fit of terror.

The reason people can’t swim in dams is NOT because of pooping.

Oh no, my dear friend.

I wish it was.

Oh, how I wish it was.

The reason people can’t swim in dams is because of … the dreaded, horribly incurable and lethal, Naegleria fowleri amoeba.

Who’d have suspected a microscopic creature capable of boring its way into your brain via your nostrils, lurks in Australian dams waiting for unwary swimmers and first time kayakers?

One drop of dam water in your nose could result in this menacing, single-celled critter feasting on your brain cells like a fat dog in a sausage factory.

You won’t believe this but Scotto still made me go in the water even after I recited my findings on the Wikipedia page.

In order to avoid the brain devouring, dam-dwelling organism, today we went to the beach instead and paddled up Tallebudgera Creek. This is a picturesque waterway known for its popularity amongst bull sharks who are attracted to the bream, flathead, whiting and dogs (which irresponsible people take swimming right beside where vulnerable people  kayak).

When I expressed my concern regarding a possible savage shark attack, Scotto informed me that bull sharks are “gentle creatures that are more scared of you than you are of them”.

But later, after we arrived home, I googled it and Wikipedia state that “the bull shark is known for its aggressive nature, and presence in warm, shallow brackish and freshwater systems including estuaries and rivers.”

When I read this extract out loud to Scotto, he ordered me to stop reading alarmist websites and said I am spoiling everything for myself and I’m going to wind up having nowhere left to kayak.

“Did you see any sharks today?” he demanded.

“It’s the ones you don’t see,” I thought to myself. “It’s the sharks that are hiding in the warm, shallow, brackish water.” 

A link to a story from a year ago where a girl was knocked off a kayak. Notice the similarity between her kayak and mine!
Scotto reckons that we go hiking in the bush where we know there are poisonous snakes, so what’s the difference?

The difference is that snakes can’t push you out of your kayak, rip your leg off and eat it.

My quandary is this. Should I risk dying from a malevolent amoeba invasion or do I expose myself to the menace of a ravenous bull shark?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

100 Days without Alcohol: 27 Things that have Changed My Life

Yes. I am officially a wowser. One hundred days with not a drop of alcohol! 

Who’d have thought I could do it?

I could go on about the big changes in my life… no hangovers on the weekend, the blissful and unadulterated sleep, no guilty angst about my suffering liver and so forth and so forth. But it’s the little things I didn’t expect that have really sold me on this sober lifestyle.

These are the wonderful surprises I have discovered which have literally changed my life for the better… things I find I no longer need to worry about...

1. No shameful trips to the local bottle shop for the fifth time in a week

2. No having to look for new bottle shops because I am too embarrassed to go back to the local, AGAIN

3. No having to lie to the man at the bottle shop and tell him I am having another party

4. No wine glasses I have to precariously load in the dishwasher

5. No wine glasses to discover, smashed in the dishwasher because I didn’t load them properly

6. No wine glasses that I accidentally smash on the tap when I’m trying to rinse them to avoid putting them in the dishwasher because they keep breaking

7. No clanking wine bottles to take out to the recycling bin, every second day

8. No having to wrap wine bottles in cardboard so the neighbours don’t hear all the clanking when I put them in the recycling bin, every second day

9. No more frostbite from sneaking cardboard-wrapped bottles out to the recycling bin in the early morning before the neighbours are awake, every second day

10. No more watching a Netflix show at night and then having to watch it again the next night because I can’t remember it

11. No more watching half a season of a Netflix series before realising I’ve already seen it

12. No more watching an entire Netflix show and not realise everyone is speaking in French until the end credits

13. No more red wine stains on my teeth in the morning

14. No more red wine stains on the carpet in the morning

15. No more teeth stains on the carpet in the morning

16. No more waking up to check if I posted something stupid on Facebook the night before

17. No more waking up and READING the stupid thing I put on Facebook the night before

18. No more waking up and discovering that not only did I post something stupid on Facebook, but I also made several atrociously misspelled comments, I posted a Happy Birthday message to someone who wasn’t having a birthday and bought an expensive family of Sylvanian rabbits from eBay.

19. No more posting a cute photo of my Chihuahua online and noticing there is a half empty wine glass in the background

20. No more posting a cute photo of my Chihuahua online and noticing there is a half empty wine glass on my BEDSIDE TABLE in the background

21. No more posting a cute photo of my Chihuahua online and noticing there is a half empty wine glass AND a BOTTLE of Jacob’s Creek Merlot on my bedside table in the background

22. No more boozy lunches and coming home with a new chicken

23. No more boozy lunches and coming home with a new cat

24. No more boozy lunches and coming home with a new goat (didn’t happen but was on the cards)

25. More disposable income to spend on fripperies and gewgaws

26. More disposable income to spend on wholesome, beneficial and healthy things that are not going to drain my emotional and physical resources, (like chickens and cats)

27. More disposable income to spend on KAYAKS!


I bought a kayak and so did Scotto. Instead of going on boozy lunches every weekend, we will be partaking in extreme water sports. 

Mine is the blue one (they didn't have pink)

What do you think of that???

Saturday, August 25, 2018

School Camp Cooties

Lake Moogerah

“You know what thing I dread most about the school camp?” I whined to Scotto on the eve of my departure on a three day foray into the wilderness with twenty-five small children and a nervous mindset. “I dread having a shower in the freezing cold, uninsulated shed.” I continued my whinging after a period of non-response from him. “The temperature gets down to below zero out there in the bush!” 

“Don’t have a shower then,” Scotto answered blithely. “Just give your moot a splash and use extra deodorant.”

After I googled what a “moot” was, I sat for a while musing on how typical this response was for a male of our species.

One little boy wore the same shirt for the entire three days. He slept in the same shirt as well because he’d forgotten to pack anything else. By the end of camp he’d cultivated and housed his own personal, interactive community of organisms.

On the second day, I spied another boy heading to the shower with only a towel draped over his arm.

“Where are your clean clothes, Othello?” I called out to him as he hurtled along the path.

He shrugged and beamed innocently.

“Well? Where are they?” I repeated.

“I’m wearing them, Mrs Poinker.”

“But aren’t they the clothes you’ve had on all day?” I asked, recalling the day’s sweaty hike up to a gorge, the muddy trek along the lake’s edge and the enthusiastic rolling around in the dirt during a particularly intense orienteering activity.

He nodded, grinning sheepishly and shuffling his feet.

“You can’t put dirty clothes on again after a shower,” I said. “Have you at least got some clean jocks with you?”

He vigorously shook his head in the negative.

I sent him, dragging his feet reluctantly, back to the cabin to retrieve clean clothes and watched him return with his fresh clothes clutched in filthy hands.

It was imperative that I sit outside the shower block while the boys were ensconced inside, ‘pretending’ to wash themselves, in case anyone did anything silly. There was quite a lot of boisterous activity to be heard from within.

Little Aloysius emerged from the building and sat beside me on the steps with his wet hair sticking up at all angles.

“Smell this, Mrs Poinker,” he shoved an opened, liquid soap bottle under my nose.

“Mmmm, it smells lovely,” I said politely. It was very… earthy smelling... with unknown undertones.

“Do you want it Mrs Poinker? You can have it!” he offered passionately.

“No thanks, Aloysius,” I declined with as much grace as possible.

“No really Mrs Poinker. You can have it. I mean it.”

“No Aloysius. You take it home to Mum. I have some soap already.”

“Just take it Mrs Poinker. I want you to have it.” He was most insistent.

Othello emerged from the raucous cacophony that was the shower block, barely three minutes after he’d entered.

His hair was slightly damp so I presumed he’d at least stuck his head under the shower nozzle.

“Smell this!” Aloysius thrust the soap bottle under Othello’s nose. Othello grimaced and shuddered, then vaulted down the stairs and bounded back to the cabin before I could do a proper visual inspection of his person.

“I really, really, really want you to have this soap, Mrs Poinker,” Aloysius resumed his sales pitch.

At that point, I heard the dinner bell and managed to shuffle Aloysius off to the dining hall without hurting his feelings.

After dinner, my school principal (who was on camp with us) decided to take the kids out star gazing. The bitterly cold air bit into my face as I tentatively picked my way along the rocky path to the lake with only the children’s’ torches to light our way. 

By this stage, an exhausted, feverish euphoria began to set into my brain and I had to muffle hysterical giggling as my principal attempted to point out the Southern Cross while simultaneously chastising the boys who were pointing blinding torches directly into his face.

“Do you see those stars forming Orion’s Belt?” he asked the kids with more patience than a saint. Some of the boys were doing ‘the floss’ to keep warm which made me giggle even more because they looked funny doing the floss in their pyjamas.

“Who was the ‘Orion’ that Orion’s Belt was named after?” my principal asked the group of flossing midgets.

“Windscreens Orion,” I whispered deliriously.

One of the boys overheard me. “Yeah! That’s right!” he exclaimed gleefully and whispered this revelation to two of his buddies. They all had their hands wriggling desperately in the air to tell the principal that Orion’s Belt was named after Windscreens Orion.

Disappointingly, he didn’t call on them so my extremely immature joke went unappreciated.

Despite arriving home with chapped lips, bright red, wind burned cheeks and a bruise on my forehead from being struck with an errant oar during canoeing, it was a great camp.

Nobody was homesick and we all slept soundly every night.

“Mrs Poinker, I can’t even really remember what my parents are like,” quipped one little girl in amazement on the third day of camp.

Now that’s proof that we ALL had a good time.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A School Story...

One of my lunch duties at school involves conveying the preps and grade ones and twos down to the back oval in a semi-orderly fashion. One of the other teachers travels ahead of us to circumnavigate the oval in a golf buggy to investigate the malevolent presence of venomous snakes and rabid, undomesticated kangaroos.

Last week, while we were down on that very oval, little Aloysius inched up to me as I attempted to eat chunks of watermelon from my plastic container at the same time as I was untying a preppie’s shoelace which had fallen off his foot when he'd kicked a soccer ball.

Whenever I am asked to untie a preppie’s shoelaces, they’re always tied in multiple, unfathomable knots and sopping wet.

“Have you been trying to undo these knots with your teeth?” I always ask, suspicious about the presence of spit and possible cross-infection. They always deny it but I know the truth.

Little Aloysius coughed to get my attention. “Mrs. Poinker,” he lisped self-righteously. “Bronson is up on the hill playing with rocks and sticks!”

I glanced at him and choked down a hunk of watermelon. “Well… there’s nothing wrong with that, Aloysius. You’re allowed to play with rocks and sticks as long as you don’t throw them.”

Aloysius considered this for a moment, disappointed that Bronson wasn’t going to cop a serve from a teacher. “But Mrs. Poinker, Bronson said that I can’t play with him,” he whined.

My eyes scoured the top of the slope for Bronson. I could see the tiny six-year old crouched in the dirt, too far away for me to call out and much too far away for me to hike to, what with my watermelon and hands full of soggy, knotted shoelaces.

“Go tell Bronson to come and see me at once,” I said to Aloysius. “It’s against the rules to say people can’t play with you.”

Satisfied with this promising outcome and the thought of Bronson getting into trouble, Aloysius took off up the hill with his secondhand directive as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him.

Naturally, Bronson completely ignored the subpoena, but I caught up with him when the bell went and we were all trudging back to class.

“Bronson,” I demanded. “What’s this about you telling Aloysius he CAN’T play with you. That’s against school rules!”

Bronson’s eyes flickered like a fluorescent light powering up and I could see him calculating his careful response.

“No, Mrs. Poinker,” he drawled with the confidence only a practised Machiavelli can muster on command. “I said that Aloysius CAN play with me.”

Aloysius’ eyes lit up in gratitude. “Oooooh! I thought you said I CAN’T play with you!” he grinned, happy to hear that he’d made a mistake and that Bronson liked him after all.

I’m going to keep my eye on young Bronson.

I reckon he might become president of the United States one day.