Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Daughter The Inadequate Hunter

It was pretty hot yesterday, by local standards. Thirty degrees. Didn't cool down until a late storm came through. As a result, the kids weren't too happy about being put to bed.

They mostly fell asleep, though. Eventually, anyhow. So I sat up and watched the cricket for a while. I haven't bothered much this season, but the game last night was pretty cool, what with Shahid Afridi's ball-biting antics, and the Pakistanis making a real, serious game of it at last. Shame about that dickhead who tackled Latif, though. Whatever happened to simple, harmless streakers?

Anyway, just in that last critical five-over period where Mike Hussey and Nathan Hauritz were laboriously singling their way towards the needed total, I heard a bit of commotion from the Mau-Mau's room. I ignored it, though. I figured she was just grizzling again -- the heat, the I'm Not Tireditis, all that good shit.

I was wrong. Next thing I hear is the daughter: "Look, Dad," she says, from somewhere behind my shoulder. "Toxo brought me a bunny!"

I look. And O, Cthulhu, sure enough: the Mau-Mau is holding a limp dead rabbit by the scruff of its neck. It's about half-grown, and very cute... but I know these critters well enough to know it is absolutely crawling with fleas, and as the corpse cools, they are going to jump ship.

So I collect said bunny, and point out very kindly and gently that it's dead, expecting all kinds of howls. But the Mau-Mau barely blinks. There's a moment of sadness -- a little 'oh, and a downturn of the mouth. So I explain that Toxo is trying to look after her, 'cos she's the smallest in the house, and he thinks she needs to eat more, so he's bringing her food.

There's a short pause. "I don't want to eat the bunny," she says.

"That's okay," I tell her. "I'll put it in the compost heap. And we won't tell Toxo. Is that okay?"

It was. She went off to sleep very nicely after that. And so did the bunny...

Gotta love that cat. He's clearly identified the Mau-Mau as an inadequate hunter, in need of more food and training, so he's doing his best to bring her up to speed. He's having an effect, too. She spends hours pretending to be 'Toxo', grommiting about on the floor, meowing, pretending to wash herself. It's her favourite game, and more often than not she demands to be called 'Toxo', and wants to lap her milk from a bowl...

... wish there was a way to explain to the cat that he's doing his job well. I'd like him to stop worrying so much. Definitely don't need any more dead bunnies.

Down Time

So it's been a week, yep. Nice one, too.

We had very few guests. Oh, there was Megan the Dietetics Student who came up Wednesday evening... she was my excuse to watch "Casablanca" and the director's cut of "Blade Runner" up in the Cinema Loft. She'd never seen either of them, and it turns out that she has an eye for interesting films, so I've had my yearly dose of both films. In exchange, I made salmon ravioli in a tomato and saffron sauce, and we killed some wine. The boys stayed up long enough to watch Casablanca, too -- and happily, they enjoyed it. I had to explain a few bits to them, but it was great to see them taking an interest without superheroes or explosions or all the rest of that stuff.

I got some gardening done through the week. Picked something like ten kilos of blackberries. Did some slashing. Put down a tile bed around the stone-paved patio outside the boys room. Did some reading. Played with the kids. Prepped for Natalie's upcoming birthday... took it easy, really.

It felt good. Everyone around here expects me to be chafing to send the kids back to school - but as soon as that happens, I'm back on a hardcore timetable. Monday nights: sword. Tuesday nights: cub scouts, then movies with the Cool Shite team. Wednesday nights ju-jitsu. Friday nights: orchestra stuff. Spanish classes probably Wednesday afternoon, instead of as the fancy takes us. Weekends: desperate rush to pack in a bit of fun.

So why should I be desperate to send the kids off? I work at night, most of the time. And I can get a bit of work done with them around, these days. Right now, they're watching a cartoon before bed, see?

And why not? We had a big day. Historical Mike decided we should have a Birthday Brunch at his place, up the hill, for him and Natalie. (His birthday is tomorrow. Natalie's is the day after.) And so, we picked a huge bowl of blackberries, and I prepped about a kilo of grilled pork balls, grabbed a few eggs and some muffins and some smoked salmon and salady bits, and we put some bottles of bubbles in the car... We had Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and then when Doctor Linda and Dietetic Megan showed up, I cooked some free-range scrambled eggs and put them on toasted English muffins with spring onions and smoked salmon.

Meanwhile, the kids found a box of pointy toothpicks, and made... umm... things. They sliced up a banana, and a capsicum, and they stuck bits of banana, capsicum and blackberry on the toothpicks as... food. I managed to convince 'em to switch from capsicum to apple. They were a lot more edible after that. But the kids made two trayloads, which made for a lot of eating.

I ducked out early, though, because I'd arranged for an afternoon of game play with the Cool Shiters. I bought myself a copy of Junta, from West End Games, when I was in Melbourne. (I'da linked directly to the WEG site, only they were down. Fuck 'em.) The Cool Shiters seemed like an ideal play-crew, and I was right.

Junta's a brilliant game. I won't bother going into detail, except to say that you play a bunch of greasy, greedy ruling families in the fictional Republica de los Bananas, a Latin American nation which survives wholly on foreign aid. And the way to win is to finish with more money in your Swiss bank account than anybody else. It's not really hard to play, moves well, and if you've got decent players, it's fucking hilarious.

We played with two of my personal Flinthart House Rules: the first is that whenever you get Put Up Against The Wall and shot after a coup, you have to take a double shot of rum. (Normally, you have to take a single shot when you get assassinated, but that happens a lot, and most people had to drive. But we had at least two executions, and the rum made 'em beautifully graphic.)

The second Flinthart House Rule is the Bad Mexican Accent rule -- all players must speak in Speedy Gonzales (or other shoddy Mexican character) accents while playing. Any failure to do so results in the Greasy Black Moustachioes Of Shame being sketched onto your upper lip with a marker pen...

The game went well. We played for about three hours, ate pizza, had at least two coups (one failed; the other succeeded) and many, many assassinations, and yours truly (as the ever-treacherous Minister for Internal Security) managed to squirrel away enough aid money to be declared the winner... even though Presidente Bruce wised up towards the end and threw me out of the job.

And then I had to meet Natalie and the kids at the Royal Oak, where the kids had a bite to eat, and we stuck around for an hour to hear Natalie and the musos do their Irish Folkie Thing.

It was nice.

And that's been my week, folks. Not too hurried. Not too fussed.

Not too bad at all.