Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cold, Wet And Wintry.

The boys are off for the weekend on a scouty excursion thing. They're overnighting down in Hobart, in a whirl of rollerblading, ice-skating, rock-wall climbing and museums. Doubtless there will be singing, too. Campfires I rather doubt: it's pissing down outside, and has been for much of the day.

Natalie's on call, so the Mau-mau and I had to make the best of it. I took her up to the top of Mt Barrow this morning, in case we could find snow. There was a bit of it, yes -- muddy and melting, but enough to delight a nearly five-year-old girl. And it was snowing on us at the time, which was kind of cool. No, strike that: icy fucking cold.

We took the dog as well, just for hoots. He bounded out of the car on the mountain top, and lolloped his way straight to the nearest puddle. The water was crystalline, and I imagine it was no more than a degree above zero -- because he lolloped out again a lot faster than he went in, with the most remarkable look of canine confusion on his face.

Next he stuck his nose in a snowbank, and left it there for a while. Lots of sniffing. And presumably, lots of doggy sinus-freezing too. Because immediately he finished that, he took a quick pee and then sprinted back to the car and started trying to find a way in. The wimp! (And he threw up in the back of the car on the way home, too.)

The Mau-Mau and I didn't last much longer, truth to tell. The wind was blowing a fierce gale, cold enough to suck the breath from your lungs. We had our hats and gloves and jackets and boots and all the other bits, but really -- ten minutes was about all we could handle. That was okay: the Mau-Mau thought it was marvellous.

I got some shopping done, and did some DIY stuff in the garage... jeez.

You know, one of the big problems with intelligence is that one tends to see it as an all-purpose tool. You look at a hammer and a chisel and a chunk of pine, and you think: hell, it can't be that difficult, can it? Tradies do it all the time. What have they got that I don't, except maybe the butt-crack?

After ten years in the Rural Dad role, I can do a lot of basic stuff. Plastering, for example. I can do that. And simplistic carpentry. And tree-felling. And welding. And fence-erecting, and plumbing, and... yeah. But it's never pretty. It works. It lasts. But it's not attractive.

Sometimes I think there are people who are just born with this stuff. My dad, for example. He doesn't just build the odd chunk of furniture. Oh no. He manages full-on art, even when he's just making a chair out of an old barrel. And he could do that shit back when I was, like, five years old, so he'd have been maybe twenty-seven or so. No way he had time to learn all that stuff, so, you know - how'd he do it?

It's enough to provoke a certain feeling of envy at times, and leads to odd conversations with visiting tradesmen, viz: "Ahh, yeah. So that's a Froonburger's Spanner Joint, eh? Remarkable. Just remarkable. Say -- did I happen to mention there are at least three distinct points on the human body that a trained practitioner can strike to engender certain death? Of course, two of 'em are just obvious, but the knack of stopping the heart by disrupting the pacemaker mechanism with a thoracic strike is actually quite tricky to master..."

You know. Just so the guy with all that tool cred (and the alarming butt-crack) knows that the reason I can't get my goddam uprights perfectly vertical is that I was busy learning how to kill people with my bare hands, not 'cause I'm just fundamentally incompetent.

Anyway. I built the ladder. It's well anchored. It's solid. It's even reasonably neat and vertical. It isn't pretty, but it works, and it will last.

The Mau-Mau and I made marshmallows together. Vanilla ones, yeah: and a big FORK KEW to Cadburys and Nestle and Allens and every other prick bastard who makes those toxic bags of pink, yellow, orange and white squishy chemistry down at the supermarket. I've got real goddam marshmallows now: nothin' but vanilla, sugar, and gelatine, and you can just bite me because tomorrow I'm going to make heart-attack hot chocolate with proper marshmallowy melty goodness.

The Mau-Mau was impressed too. But that was because she got to lick the eggbeaters afterwards. And even better, she got herself some quality Godzilla time when we were finished.

Got some writing done: five hundred words on a new project, a few hundred on the libretto, a thousand or so on the novel. That's all good too. So: now it's time for bed, more or less.

I want to finish with one final request: Mel Gibson -- have you applied for US citizenship yet? If not, would you hurry up and do so? I'm hoping that eventually everyone will forget you ever had anything to do with Australia... with a little luck, we can dump Braveheart onto Youtube, and make the poor Scots take the blame for you and everything that comes out of your racist, sexist, nutjob mouth.


  1. My grandfather. My grandfather is just one year shy of 50 years on the farm in Iowa. He spent much of that working an assembly line at the Lennox factory in Marshaltown and farming evenings and weekends. Between the mechanical and the agricultural experience, he has emerged as an *absurdly* competent individual.

    When my grandparents started getting on in years, and the steps upstairs to their bedroom started to look daunting, he planned and built a bathroom and bedroom extension. He had a guy deal with the concrete, but the rest was his own two hands.

    A few years later, when he had retired and needed a hobby, it was time to build a log cabin. He cut down the trees, gave the wood a year to dry, and then cut and assembled the whole thing. No plans or blueprints either. He had the whole thing in his head.

    82 and amazing. That is my grandpa.

  2. MMmmmmm Marshmallows! I used to make marshmallows for take a plate days when The Brat was at Kindy. And Marshmallow bunnies at Easter, and marshmallows for birthday parties! I love home made marshmallows... and hot chocolate... and I'm going to look for my recipe now...

    Or maybe when I stop feeling Ick. I'll get back to you on that.

  3. I like a man whose retirement hobby is more competent and dangerous than most men's careers...

  4. I envy you being able to hand the boys over for scouty things. Scout trips for the weapon mean I have to pack up my kit as well and look after him and 20 others.

  5. I failed at table recently. I know your pain.

  6. However i once built a tv table with a jigsaw, proper joints and everything. It wasn't flash but only threw it out this year.

  7. Oh, I can do the joints and stuff. But... yeah. Not flash. Tends to be a lot of filler where the joints aren't so neat. But it's invariably excessively strong!

    Barnes -- I take your point about scouty stuff. But I don't really have your choice. It's the "GP's partner" thing again. If we couldn't set the boys loose, it would be next to impossible to manage at all.

  8. No arguement for her re the partner thing, didn't mean to claim its easier just musing on the different perspective of scouts.

  9. Yeah - I can't say I envy you being the head honcho there. But we both do our thing. I'm still teaching junior martial arts classes both as a regular thing, and for the school from time to time. I guess if I wasn't doing that, I might well be playing Boss Scout. I think that a degree of involvement is part of the price of parenthood.

  10. Aiming for shaker style simplicity is not to be sneered at. being similary minor skilled at carpentry and iron work, I too take my pride in being good at other things whihc have minimal use in a civilised world but come TEOTWAWKI!!