Monday, November 19, 2012

Yippee Skippy, The Weekend's Over.

Weekends aren't great from the POV of a stay-at-home writer dad. During the week, I'm cook and chauffeur, not to mention cleaner, launderer, handyman, tutor and martial arts teacher, but come the weekend, I'm expected to put up with all sorts of family shenanigans too.

Sometimes it's cool. Sometimes it doesn't work out so well.

The weekend that just past is a classic case in point. It was supposed to work like this: Friday afternoon, Natalie picks up the three kids plus one Double-Banger kid, and goes into Launceston for orchestra practice. Roundabout four thirty, I hop in the other car, go in after them, and bring all the kids back. Then I make dinner, maybe we watch a movie or play a game, and the kids go off to bed.

Saturday was supposed to be Scottsdale Show Day. And on top of that, Genghis had his official birthday party. (Yeah, a month early. The Mad Viking Neighbours are off to Darwin, and won't be here for his real birthday, so we set it up early.) Genghis opted for a firepit barbecue, and then a cinema night with lashings of popcorn and all three Indiana Jones flicks. (Great kid. I love him to pieces.)

Sunday was supposed to be quiet, with the Mau-mau being kidnapped down to her best friend's birthday party. And it was all going to end on a gentle, easy note.

Except that on Friday, Natalie's back stopped working. Herniated disc, most likely. How bad? Well, I've seen her weep with pain four times. Three of them, she was having a baby. She was laid out, immobile, unable even to turn herself over without enormous pain and effort.

Naturally, that put me into the driver's seat for the orchestra event. Luckily I'd prepared most of the evening meal beforehand, so I could just put the finishing touches in place on the nasi ayam when I got back.

But it also meant that the next morning, when Natalie was supposed to take Genghis and Jake and the Mau-mau down to the show... she couldn't. Leaving me to figure out how to manage all that, as well as prep the place for the epic evening to follow.

The boys pitched in when I asked, and cleaned up the cinema zone. I found someone else to take the Mau-mau down, and I agreed to do an extra pickup run to Scottsdale, equipped the boys with a mobile phone, and let them wander the Scottsdale Show on their own while I cooked, cleaned, and prepped.

I also contacted Genghis' two sleepover guests, and pointed out that I wasn't comfortable acting as sole adult to a bunch of kids while also being responsible for Natalie. It was bad enough we felt there was a chance she might have to go to the hospital, so what was I going to do if I had a couple extra small boys in tow? Happily, the boys were good about it, and their parents were even better. I was very grateful.

The barbecue went well enough, though I had to keep running food up to Natalie, etc. (Poor thing. I think she managed to watch two full seasons of "Buffy" over the course of Friday and Saturday.) There were presents, and singing, and cake, and water balloons, and marshmallows, and lots of cheerful kids. Then I cranked out the popcorn, and we settled in for the Jonesfest. That, too, was very cool.

Things got a little more challenging as stragglers turned up, but it worked itself out. The Baggins sisters were willing to give a lift to the only really problematic one, while in the end, we found enough bedding for the three Viking boys plus the Double-Banger lad to crash in the cinema-zone once the movies were done. (So yes, I wound up with four overnighter extras anyhow. But on the other hand, the Mau-mau stayed down at the Viking house, and the Viking lads are old enough to look after themselves. Plus, if worst came to worst, they could have simply walked home.)

Of course, that meant the nice, quiet Sunday didn't really eventuate. It rained, so there were three Viking lads, one Double-Banger boy, and my two all wandering about the house, while Natalie lay upstairs and watched still more "Buffy". I made a very large number of pancakes, and organised them into work teams to take care of the worst of the fallout from the previous evening.

Meanwhile, I stepped out into the light rain and put the finishing touches on the new quail enclosure. Oh? Did I not mention the whole quail thing? Somehow, Genghis got interested in quail, and convinced his mother that we should get some... and so, of course, I have been building a little enclosure. It's aviary wire up to roughly hip height, with fencing wire at the top of the aviary wire. The uprights are star pickets, except for the treated pine posts which allowed me to hang a wire-and-pine door.

But quail fly, don't they? And so I have also used poly-pipe to create curved, arching ribs over the top of the enclosure, and I have slung bird netting over all of that, clipping it to the aviary wire with plenty of overhang. Meanwhile, around the bottom of the aviary wire fence, I used still more bird mesh to create a "skirt" of wire that extends about 30cm from the fence itself, pinned down to the ground by wire loops. That keeps rabbits and wallabies from pushing/burrowing under the wire fencing, you see.

Later in the afternoon, Anna the Viking showed up with three young Coturnix quail. Genghis was suitably surprised and impressed. They are all duly named, and they seem comfortable enough in their spacious, grassy enclosure. They are studiously ignoring the zinc/steel aviary shed we put in there for shelter, preferring to hunker down in the long grass, making noises like disturbed crickets.

Quail. Hmm. Ooookay. The three chicks are unsexed, as yet. I hope to hell at least one is a female. Apparently I'm not allowed to slaughter these three, so if none of them starts laying eggs I'm going to be seriously pissed off.

So. That was my weekend. By the very end of it, Natalie had recovered to the point where she could get up and walk for brief intervals, with the help of a large stick. Meanwhile, the Viking hordes had returned home, and the Double-Banger had also disappeared, but we had the Mau-mau back, just to even things up.

No. I didn't get very much done over the weekend. Thank fuck they were back at school today...


  1. I've been the overworked one, and the crippled one. I prefer being the overworked one.

  2. Oh, I agree completely. And it was interesting, being the helper/carer. When Natalie was at her most immobile, I had to more or less carry her to the loo, etc. (Well -- arms under her armpits, lift, and keep most the weight off her legs as we go. Couldn't do a standard lift, because her back wouldn't take the bend. Had to lift her into a standing position.)

    Natalie was very nervous about all that, but I found that thirty years of ju-jitsu made it easy. No danger of losing balance, no significant strain to lifting and moving someone her size and weight... so I guess all that training serves a purpose after all.