by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Unforeseen Consequences of the Fact that Our Fence is a Car Magnet

Posted 24 July 2008 in by Catriona

So I had to run out this morning to buy some groceries; with semester two starting up, my father-in-law is back to doing his evening classes and coming around to dinner once a week. (I’m planning on making homemade baked beans, but that’s not important right now.)

But, of course, it’s pouring here this morning.

In fact, as I’m sure reluctant Rain God Rob McKenna would tell you, so far we’ve moved through rain types 33 (“light pricking drizzle which made the roads slippery”) to everything between types 47 to 51 (“vertical light drizzle through to sharply slanting light to moderate drizzle freshening”), with occasional bursts of type 11 (“breezy droplets”).

And it made me aware of how awkward things have become in the wake of the four cars that have driven through our fence.

First, I had to dash past an over-enthusiastic (and extremely damp) type of Chinese jasmine, across a muddy lawn in trousers that were slightly too long, down a slippery set of brick stairs, and into the garage.

Only the garage door doesn’t open very readily since my car was pushed through it in collision number two (which buckled the frame). My mother can’t open it at all. So it’s actually a few minutes of swearing and tugging frantically at a slippery metal handle before the door opens.

(My greatest source of envy right now? The friend whose garage door opens remotely. But, I admit, she tells me the fuse blows occasionally and then she has to climb in through a window. Every silver lining has a cloud, I suppose.)

Then it’s up the driveway (steeply sloping, to boot) to open the gates.

Only the gates don’t open that readily, either.

The right-hand gate was smashed off in collision number two, and the left-hand gate badly damaged. But the latter wasn’t really broken until collision number three a month later; we hadn’t had the damage repaired, yet, so the car just sailed through the open space and took out the next section of fence.

So when the gate was replaced, they added heavy-duty steel frames.

But then collision number four buckled the hinges of the right-hand gate.

So opening them is now a major production, especially in the rain: they have to be pushed out towards the footpath before they’ll open at all, and then dragged back inwards. And they won’t stay open, so we have loops of twine that have to be located and attached to the latches to stop the gates swinging back and dinging the car.

All in the rain.

Then it’s reversing the car out, leaving it in park, and dashing back down to close the garage door. But it doesn’t close any more readily than it opens, so it’s a few minutes of shoving the left-hand corner with your foot to force the door closed.

Really, it all seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

And that’s before the actual process of reversing out blindly onto a dual-carriageway near a corner that people take so quickly that they keep driving through my fence.

Posted By Request

Posted 18 July 2008 in by Catriona

Admittedly, only at the request of one person, but that person is extremely important and shall everything she asks for (up to free babysitting—an easy promise to make from one-thousand kilometres away—but excluding blood transfusions. It helps that you’ve never asked for one.)

How Romantic

Posted 15 July 2008 in by Catriona

We were watching Bones last night, and the husbands of one murdered woman and one missing woman were assisting with enquiries by pulling out cherished photographs of their loved ones.

After a brief pause, Nick turned to me and said, “You know, I really should carry photographs of you in my wallet.”

When Bad Things Happen to Good Furniture

Posted 10 July 2008 in by Catriona

I mentioned in the last post that my father has been restoring a chest of drawers for us. It’s so beautiful that I really need to post a picture on the blog. (Else, really, why do I have a blog?)

She’s had a rough life, this elegant lady. You can see the hammer marks, where someone has become rather too enthusiastic with poorly thought-out repairs. What you can’t see are the saw marks, the completely new back, and the marks where they’ve driven nails in rather than replacing the joints.

But she’s a lovely lady.

And this is basically boasting . . . but on my dad’s behalf. He’s done an amazing job with this; I only wish I had a “before” photograph.

Amazing Things You Find in Drawers

Posted 10 July 2008 in by Catriona

My parents, who are arriving any moment now, are bringing with them a cedar chest of drawers that they rescued in a dire condition from an auction and which my father has spent months restoring.

So I’m stripping the hideous, black-laminate IKEA chest of drawers that has been the bane of my existence for years (I can, for example, only open three of the drawers).

But I had no idea I’d find such strange objects in a piece of furniture we use every day.

So far, I’ve found

1. A plastic pirate’s hook.

2. A fake, black-velvet bow tie.

3. My hairbrush, which went missing a couple of weeks ago.

4. A Christmas card from people I have barely spoken to in seven years.

5. The receipt for a Christmas present Nick bought me six years ago. Whoops.

6. My own body weight in scarves and shawls, including my father’s moth-eaten Liverpool University scarf.

7. A random piece of cardboard, which I think once surrounded the sari I’ve had hanging on my bedroom wall for six years—but I don’t know why this is in a drawer.

8. At least one T-shirt for every cult TV show that’s aired since 1992—plus multiple Doctor Who shirts and The Cure shirts: Nick has worn none of these for years.

9. A shopping list. I think I must have been making coleslaw, because it calls for red cabbage, capsicum, radishes, and parsley. (Well, technically, it calls for “radish” and “parsleys,” so I think Nick got his plural nouns confused.)

10. Organza bags that once held Easter eggs.

11. The bottom halves of a pair of trousers that Nick once had that zipped off at the knees: I don’t think he even has the trousers any more.

I’m sure there’d be more, but parents have arrived and I need to go and dismantle a 1960s’ sideboard.

Life in the suburbs, eh?

Random Photographs From the Back Verandah

Posted 8 July 2008 in by Catriona

Presented without commentary, because everybody knows that sunsets are cool.

Kitchen Nightmares (That Don't Involve Gordon Ramsey)

Posted 3 July 2008 in by Catriona

I’ve just been faffing around, quickly tidying over the surfaces of a generally clean house before my father-in-law comes around for dinner.

So I was dashing through the kitchen with an armload of clean washing, and I gave an open drawer a quick push to shut it as I passed.

Behind me, a tinny little voice from the closing drawer shouted “Exterminate!”

It was a full ten seconds before I realised the talking Dalek bottle opener must have fallen into something metal and activated itself.

There’s a lesson in this: if something scared you senseless as a child, don’t buy a talking version of it as a kitchen implement, no matter how cool it makes you look at parties.

The Dangers of Coffee

Posted 1 July 2008 in by Catriona

So, I was making myself a cup of coffee.

As you do.

I had the espresso made up on the stove.

Once the kettle boiled, I picked it up, to top up my cup with hot water.

Then I realised I hadn’t actually poured any of the coffee into my cup.

I could, of course, have simply put the kettle back down, picked the coffee pot up, and made coffee in the usual fashion.

But, no. I decided it made more sense to pick the coffee pot up in my left hand, while still holding a kettle’s worth of boiling water in my right hand, and try and make the cup of coffee that way.

And then . . . well, does anyone else remember that old Dilbert cartoon where Dogbert was running a training school for self-serve garage attendants, and Scott Adams couldn’t figure out how to end the story line, so he had them all die from papercuts sustained in a map-folding exercise?

It didn’t end up anything like that.

But it could have.

The point of this? There is none.

But I think the lesson to be learned from all this is that I would benefit from drinking less coffee.

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