February 26, 2004
A small country town, Australia: After a very long day, Gianna gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy late last night, assisted by grandmama. Baby's vital stats are:
-ten little fingers: check
-ten little toes: check
-baby blue eyes: check
-on a scale to 1 to 10 of gorgeousness - 10000000000000000000000000
weight: 0.003360 tonnes
length: 0.00053 kilometres
The baby is a little brother for Fuzzle and Chi Chi.
Mother and baby are happy and healthy.
(This message by Auntie)
. . .
February 25, 2004
The late show
Well, see you all in a little while, I guess. I'm just ducking out to hospital first thing this morning to see if we can't somehow persuade this baby make an appearance, as he's now a week overdue. Thanks for all your support and good wishes along the way--I'll miss you. Meanwhile, here's something from the
Fertile Feral Eye:
. . .
February 23, 2004
Last time I caught up with Miss JenJen over at Paperback Writer she had resigned from her despised day job and was not exactly holding back on her feelings about her workplace, though I don't recall her actually saying anything defamatory or using anyone's real names. And I have no idea where she worked; I don't believe she ever spelt that out.
Now I find out from Invisible Shoebox that Miss JenJen's blogcover was recently blown and she was apparently fired. She's taken her blog offline so I'm not sure what I missed in between the resignation and the sacking (how does that work? had she retracted her resignation?), but it sounds like a blogger's nightmare.
What I don't get is, since many of us blog anonymously or semi-anonymously and probably aren't stupid enough to openly identify our workplaces if we are blogging about them negatively, how can the workplace consider itself defamed (assuming that's what it's grievance was)?
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February 22, 2004
Quilt thou be mine?
A knock at the door, then a face at the window that quickly disappears again.
"Yoo-hoo, Gianna. It's Frances."
Groan. "Hang on, Frances, I'm not decent."
I've been sitting in my knickers under the fan which is on the highest speed. I wrap a towel around me and open the door. I hate it when people drop in unannounced.
"Just came by to see how you're coping in the heat."
"Well, it's hot," I say, keeping my hand on the door, rudely not inviting her in for a cup of tea.
"Forty degrees, they say," she says, looking past me at the newspaper fluttering in the fan's breeze. "Is that the Herald? Did you read the story about quilting on the front page?"
"Um, not yet."
"Because I thought you might want to come around and help me with my quilting."
Lady, it's forty degrees! Who the hell feels like quilting in this weather? If I could even quilt.
"Well, I'm actually going to the beach with some friends in a little while, so..."
"We're thinking of going down later too! Which beach?" she says.
"Oh...we were there yesterday and there were thousands of bluebottles."
"Really?" I'm crushed. "I guess we might end up having to go to the lake instead."
"Listen, put some clothes on and come over and sit in the aircondtioning while you wait for your friends," she says brightly.
"Oh, that's sweet of you. But I'm just about to have a little nap before we go."
"Oh. Well, sing out if you need anything, won't you?"
"Thanks, Frances. You're very kind."
Later, in the car on the way to the beach, I tell Bec about the bluebottles, and about Frances. I tell her how everytime I walk past Frances and Bill's place, Frances literally comes running out to engage me in conversation.
"Maybe she thinks you're lonely."
"I think maybe she's lonely."
Bec's ten-week-old boy Django nods and grins at me from the backseat. I've never met a baby that smiles as much as this one.
"The good thing about having a baby is that you have a good excuse to tell people to call first, in case the baby's sleeping or something," Bec says.
"She makes me feel guilty. I mean, I know she means well. But I don't need to see her every day. You know?"
We get to the beach and meet the rest of our party. Luckily, the bluebottles are all gone. There's only gentle waves at this beach, and I hope some frolicking in the surf will bring on labour, but it doesn't. I am starting to feel as if it's never going to happen.
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February 21, 2004
I just know one of my readers would be perfect for this new reality show called "Hero of the Outback" ("Think The Bachelor meets Survivor"). From the ad in the Australian today:
Are you ruggedly handsome? Steve Irwin meets James Bond? Had lots of outback experience? Successful and charming?"
Follow the link to the show's website, and you'll see they're not asking for much:
We are looking for a single man 25-35 years of age who has a passion for the outdoors, adventure and romance. He's a modern day Indiana Jones who is sophisticated, handsome, rugged and successful. He can start a fire without matches, catch fish with his bare hands, leap from a plane and waltz whilst quoting Shakespeare. He's not a competitor, he's the star of the show. He already has all it takes to survive in the outback.
As well as being able to waltz whilst quoting Shakespeare--always an important outback survival skill--you must also be able to rub your tummy while patting the top of your head.
(Oh, and there's a spotters fee of two grand, so if anyone's considering applying, allow me to nominate you, OK?)
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February 19, 2004
Man of Lycra
Hey, Sedge, can you please put John Howard and his team in leotards, as they're clearly practising their gymnastics for the Olympics. Watch Tony Abbott, doing the backflip on the term 'backflip' itself:
Mr Abbott rejected suggestions the two decisions [pollie super and veterans entitlements] were policy backflips, instead calling them expressions of democracy.
Tony, Tony, Tone. You do realise that with that, you forfeit the right to ever again accuse Latham, or anyone else, of backflipping, since they can now just claim to be making an "expression of democracy"?
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Did I say "blokey"? I meant "SNAGgy".
Latham eyes paternity leave:
OPPOSITION Leader Mark Latham today flagged the idea of paid paternity leave for new dads, saying it could eventually become government policy.
Latham calls for fatherhood focus:
Mr Latham stressed the need for mentoring programs to give boys more male role models, and said men needed to do more to recognise the significance of fatherhood. He said he expected more men to give up work to stay home to care for children. "Women have traditionally taken this role, but I expect in future we will have many more stay-at-home dads in Australia," he said.
Men losing their identity: Latham:
"Historically, big boofy blokes like me, their role was to be dominant in the workplace because of the prominence of muscle jobs, manual work, and obviously being the main breadwinner at home. But now with technological change, a lot of those jobs have been lost and a lot of men are having to reassess where do we belong in society, what's our identity...The thing I'm suggesting is for all of us, and particularly through government policy, to promote the importance of fatherhood." He predicted there would be a growing number of stay-at-home dads in the future and fatherhood was becoming an important source of identity for those who were struggling with the issue.
(All via Murdoch.)
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February 18, 2004
Oh yeah, and...
I'll buy the argument that "you get what you pay for" that is being bandied about by disgruntled politicians who want a pay rise in exchange for the super cut, if they'll agree to give teachers a great big payrise too. I ask you, how is the job of a politician any more important than the job of a teacher?
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Lay lady, lay
I've been thinking about Tim's piece yesterday on laypeople and politics. So here is a little ramble off the top of my head...which also serves to distract me from this interminable waiting...
As a layperson who from time to time blogs about politics, I sometimes feel as though I have no real right to express political views, since I actually know very little about politics (which is surely clear to those readers who do!). My mother likes to teasingly call me an 'intellectual' because she knows I read the newspapers and have an interest in what's going on in politics, and while it's true I'll read a paper and surf the news on the net, this obviously does not make me an intellectual--anyone can read a newspaper.
And I've never felt like an intellectual just because I've been to uni. I have a degree in psychology, but I've never studied political theory or logic or philosophy or anything useful like that. Psychology, while useful for self-awareness and for understanding interpersonal relationships, is rarely useful in understanding politics, despite what you might think. I think this is because most politicians have such a false or cultivated public persona that you rarely, if ever, get to see the real 'them'. So there are huge gaps in my understanding of the political process and concepts.
As a layperson, then, my political views are usually just a combination of gut feelings and instinctive reactions to what politicians say and do as reported in the media. For example, I have long-standing feelings of resentment, hostility and animosity towards John Howard. This is partly rational, based on observations of how he has behaved on specific issues (from asylum seekers to war in Iraq to our indigenous people) that have colored my view of him, despite my not being 100% aware of every little detail of the politics involved. And my feelings are partly irrational, based on general impressions of him as someone who is sneery and dismissive of my concerns. The kind of person who, if I bumped into him in the street and outlined my feelings on various issues, would stand and nod impatiently and look over my shoulder and give me the impression he wasn't really listening at all. Further impressions of him are that he is sly, shifty and dishonest, and, as a lawyer, someone who would probably bamboozle me with big words and esoteric concepts so that I would find myself unable to successfully argue a point with him, and I would go away confused and defeated, but in my heart remain unconvinced. And my feelings of being disenfranchised are heightened by the sense that he is a man who has a distinctly blokey agenda for this nation; someone who idolises sport, war, beer-drinking and mateship, and not much else.
Sadly, my feelings on Mark Latham are not much more positive. Despite being happy that under his leadership, the Labor Party has a greater chance of winning than under his predecessors, at a personal level I find him cold and similarly blokey--the main difference is, if I bumped into him in the street, he would probably make a convincing show of pretending to listen, consistent with Labor's image as being more 'caring-sharing' than the Liberal party.
Anyway, based on these vague, intuitive feelings as to their characters, my political views are then sharpened by observing their day-to-day behaviors and statements as reported by our media. But while I like to believe I am less influenced by 'opinion' than by straight-up 'news'--forming my views by the actual words and images that I receive through the various media and not from what any pundit tells me those words and images mean--due to the media’s filtering process which serves us soundbites and grabs, I know am subtly being influenced by the opinion makers who control the media. And I am vaguely aware that they have their own agendas, even if I don’t always understand what those agendas are.
So the whole thing is vague and imprecise, if not entirely uninformed. But if I’m going to be influenced by opinion makers whether I like it or not, I can at least choose whose opinions I’d like to subscribe to. And that's what I like about the blogosphere--because they are independent, I know I can trust the opinions of bloggers like my Fab Four--Tim Dunlop, Rob Schaap, John Quiggin and Christopher Sheil. I happily defer to their specialised knowledge of the nitty gritties of the relevant issues and have, through absorbing their opinions over time, come to rely on the fact that their views are going to be similar to mine, only better formed and more credibly justified. They are undoubtedly 'intellectual', however I do not regard them as ‘elites’ nor do I feel inferior or somehow resent their years of education and specialisation that have made them experts on various topics. I just appreciate that they have more rational reasons than I do for holding the same (or usually very similar) views as me.
Anyway, like I said, this is just some random thoughts on the subject. Be interested to hear what others think.
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February 17, 2004
Just kidding...nothing yet. Wherefore art thou, babe?
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February 15, 2004
Here's looking at you, kid
This is good to hear. Even if it does seem like a bit of a no-brainer--I mean, how many times have you heard a mum (or dad) talking about falling in love with their new child?
"[functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging] scanners show the brains of young mothers lit up in the same way when they looked at their babies as the brains of people who looked at images of their lovers."
And this bit seems to support the notion that 'love is blind':
"Parts of the brain also turned off when looking at a lover, spouse or child and that was the system involved in making negative judgments, the team at University College London (UCL) said."
Can't wait to put the theory into practice, anyway. (Hope it doesn't just apply to "young" mothers though!)
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February 14, 2004
Open mike: All shook up
I'm due tomorrow and I'm finally getting a bit nervous. It's such a huge unknown. You lie there thinking, at every movement, "is this it? This could be it. Perhaps this is it...Nah, this isn't it. Or....is it?" Anyway, I thought this was as good a time as any to have an 'open mike' post--haven't had one in a while. So please talk amongst your elves! Here's what's running through my mind right now. Valentine's Day today. For one brief moment I thought perhaps this year I was going to get a card, but then I realised I had forgotten to post it...boom-TISH! Ah, well, the whole thing's a cliche and a big commercial hoax, anyway. Sniff. John Howard. Seems like he really is shaken by his new opponent. Having painted himself into a corner with the super backflip he's now talking about giving pollies a pay rise to compensate, which is really going to go down well in the electorate. Then there's that comment he made yesterday, "I'd rather die in a ditch over national security than super". Careful what you wish for, Johnny. The weather. What's with this heatwave?! It's been around 40 degrees everyday for the past week. I'm as hot as hell and I can't take it anymore! The last days of Chez Moi. This is the biggie. It is only very slowly dawning on me that my life is about to change drastically, that I'm about to become a parent, that for the rest of my life someone else is going to be dependent on me, that these are the last few days of being a solo entity. Wow....I kind of can't believe it sometimes. Me and my crazy ideas.
Over to you.
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February 12, 2004
Two as one
Ah, great minds think alike. John Howard suddenly announces he will match Mark Latham's proposed super changes. Well, almost. The changes, clawing pollies' super back from 69% to 9% like everyone else, won't apply to the PM himself:
"I will take the entitlements I have under the existing scheme," he said.
Natch. Can't see a transcript of the PM's press conference online yet but on the news he said something like, "when I see a good idea, I will go with it". Which begs the question, in all these years in office, why he couldn't he think of it himself?
Obviously a win for Latham and while Howard probably thinks he's neutralising the issue, it just reinforces the idea that he really is out of touch. Well played, Latham. How about some more good ideas--the Liberals could clearly use a bit of help.
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February 11, 2004
I like these latest surreal search strings which have directed people to my site: Chirac child tuna elf, and President Carter attacking an animal. There's also been a stack of searches lately for 'girls in thongs' and 'girls without thongs'. Why the obsession with beach footwear, I wonder?
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Tim Blair reckons this item from his Bulletin column last November is evidence he cares about the environment--the American environment, that is:
THE ENVIRONMENT MUST be protected, especially the vital roads/factories/buildings part of the environment. But some attention too must be paid to the animal/tree sector, which is why on Saturday morning I joined about 100 volunteers planting willow trees in the shadow of the giant Sierra Nevada mountains. This event was supported by a coalition of local business and environmental groups, and was distinct from most Australian environmental initiatives in that it wasn't defined by loathing of agriculture or rejection of capitalism. Some of the volunteers were ranchers, working alongside members of the Washoe Indian tribe. There was no chanting or hugging. There was, however, beer.
I'm sure this gave you enough warm and fuzzies to last a lifetime, tim, but it sounds a bit unAustralian to me.
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February 10, 2004
Damn, I wish I'd blogged that.
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February 09, 2004
There's nothing like bright colors to cheer me up, so I'm enjoying this HTML color chart (via Barista's link to a color psychology quiz--I am Hot Pink; Barista is Steel Blue) Look at all the gorgeous aquablues and seagreens! I'm tempted to try a site redesign. It's been over a year after all. But I fear I'm too lazy. You know what? I've just realised the interior of this house I'm renting is actually painted in my blog's colors: two shades of blue plus yellow. The colors are much paler though--like someone tipped a bucket of bleach over them--light blue walls with cornflower blue window and door frames and skirting boards and pale yellow doors...all very beachy. I'm happy it's not all beige, anyway, especially after the last house.
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The long and curlies
I go to the beauty parlour at the end of my street and let the beautician, Rose, tackle the map of Tassie for me. Rose, who is thirtysomething too, has had five kids, so we bond over talk about labouring and she somehow convinces me that the whole experience is actually something to look forward to. She jokes how so many women fear childbirth but are game enough to have a Brazilian wax (man, I'm not!). Anyway, after having admittedly given in to vanity and cultural pressure and had a leg and bikini wax, I am however a bit offended when I sit down to let hairdresser Francine trim my hair and she looks at me critically and says, "Hmmm...have you ever considered straightening your hair?". You may have noticed from the photo I posted a few weeks ago that I have quite curly hair. "Oh yeah," I say. "I blow-dried it straight every single day for more than a decade, until last year." (Last year, I just went 'ah, stuff this' and started wearing it au naturel.) Francine shakes her head. "I mean, chemically straightened. You know, like a straight perm." She pulls one of my curls taut. "It would look so much better straight," she says.
What is this cultural obsession with straight hair?! Why are curls so reviled? The other day there was a TV promo for some new makeover show hosted by Australian fashion designer Wayne Cooper and the promo said something like, "Curly perms? Hate them." Well, any girl with natural curls knows that they aren't all that distinguishable from perms; indeed, I had to suffer a hundred people asking me if I'd had a perm once I stopped blowdrying the buggery out of my hair. No, it's clearly a crime to have curly hair, full-stop.
Francine continues, "I worked on one of my clients for 18 months before she agreed to do it, and she's never looked back." I want to laugh at her admission that she 'worked on' the client for so long. But I suppose she's just being a businesswoman. Of course the client's never looked back, though; she can't. As soon as you start altering your appearance this way, you are locked into an expensive cycle from which it is difficult to extract yourself, because of that annoying thing called regrowth. Ask anyone who's ever had blonde foils put in their hair.
I ask Francine, out of curiosity, how much it would cost. "$275," she says blithely. Right. And what about the necessary touchups? "$75, but you only need to get it done every six weeks or so." Well, you guys can do the maths. This relentless pressure to relieve women of their money in the name of beauty really is a kind of economic oppression, I reckon. Metrosexuals don't have a clue what they're in for.
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Not such loving kindness
This news makes me sad. These guys are not Buddhists. They are no more Buddhists than Osama bin Laden is a real Muslim. When "Buddhist monks" start firebombing Christians, I feel the world is really losing the plot. There is just no way a true Buddhist could justify violence. It makes me wonder about the example set in recent times by our aggressively 'peace-loving', 'God-fearing' Western world.
Well, people who hijack their professed religions and distort their messages of peace need to be immediately internationally condemned and humiliated by the highest leaders and authorities of their chosen religion and symbolically and/or practically expelled from their 'faith'. It's a PR war and it's really up to each religion to be active in condemning acts of extremism that are justified on their behalf.
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Violence as a means of conflict resolution
As endorsed by George W. Bush:
"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."
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February 08, 2004
Playing with fire
Did anyone else catch last night's premiere of the new ABC-TV series Fireflies? I loved it and was hooked from the start. Great script, great performances, great plots. I even had a bit of a cry at the end. Wonder why it is that Australian films don't often reach this level of credibility in terms of characterisation and story--we obviously have some great scriptwriters working in TV. If I had any quibbles it would be this: that it seems slightly hard to believe that Lil and Perry have been coming to their property every weekend for two years but never realised they were building in a fire-and-lightening belt, but as soon as they move there for good, hey presto, there's a fire. What, do fires have the weekends off or something? But other than that, I thought it was really well done. 9 out of 10, Aunty.
. . .
Yeah, I care too, Helen. Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony does a great job of articulating the reasonable observer's feelings on this subject and has some good links, including this one to the weblog of the Styx Valley protesters. Now let's just sit back and wait for Tim Blair and his minions to come and take a hatchet to your piece.
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February 06, 2004
Will he stay or will he go?
Mark Latham is correct in saying that Australians have a right to know if the PM intends to serve another term if re-elected, or if he'll be handing the reins to Costello or Abbott. Caveat emptor, and all that. So full disclosure, thanks, Howard. Why is that so hard?
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February 05, 2004
Come on Pauline
Ms Hanson's suing the QLD government for $2.52 million compensation:
"I want compensation. I'm asking for it. They have destroyed my life, my political career. I was the woman that kept bouncing back, who kept having a go," Ms Hanson said, speaking from the back of a truck at a rally outside the Queensland Parliament. "I want to give it back to the people of Australia who gave it to me. Those pensioners, those people who cannot afford to give the money . . . sent their $1 and $2 to me so that I could pay so I wouldn't lose my home."
Her home...or her designer clothes, holidays and gifts for her children? According to this site (unfortunately with no link to the original Herald story):
"The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 4 May 2001 as follows:
"Former confidants of the One Nation leader estimate she has spent more than A$300,000 since her defeat in the 1998 election on home renovations and a swimming pool on her property outside Ipswich, designer clothing, overseas holidays, and on cars for her two youngest children. Mrs. Hanson had sole authority to sign cheques for an appeal fund which raised $580,000 in public donations to repay a $502,000 debt to the Queensland Electoral Commission."
. . .
All white now
I'm in whitegood heaven. For my birthday my family bought me a brand-spanking new fridge and washing machine in preparation for the brave new world I'm about to enter, and they were delivered and installed yesterday. Halleluljah! I've been making do with a little half-size fridge for years, with no freezer, so I'm very excited at the prospect of having icecream on hand day and night. And I've never owned a washer--I've always rented one or got by with laundromats or, lately, I've been handwashing my smalls while my mum shlepped the bulk of my laundry back and forth (aren't mums the greatest?). So I'm stoked. And not a moment too soon--I've got the eighty cloth nappies ready and there's only ten days to go (theoretically). Of course, I'm still deeply in denial about the whole birth thing. Can't hurt that much, can it?
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February 04, 2004
The proof is in the pudding
This news story puts me in a quandary. I agree with the Australian Drug Foundation that these new Tia Maria Tim Tam and Kahlua Slices "normalise the taste of alcohol for young people". But still...oh, wow, I really want one! (OK...more than one. Lots.) And note the story provides photographic evidence of the existence of white chocolate Tim Tams....mmmm!.
Anyway, here's an idea: why doesn't Arnotts just agree to retail them through bottle-shops, so the kiddies can't get to them so easily?
. . .
February 03, 2004
Entangled with a Texan
Pamela comes around for a cup of tea. I make us camomile, honey and vanilla flavor. When she leaves, she hands me a plastic bag. "Oh, I nearly forgot. I brought you these." I look in the bag. It's a bunch of Mills & Boon romance novels. "I thought you might be getting lonely," she winks. I fish one out; it's called Entangled with a Texan. (No, it's not a John Howard bio.)
It's a blast from the past. I haven't read a Mills & Boon since I was maybe sixteen. My sisters--and, I suspect, my brother too--used to devour them in their hundreds, hauling them home from the local library and hiding them from my mother. I still remember the first one I read; I must have been about nine. It was called The First Officer and most of the action took place on a ship. And talk about action! I was idling through, wondering what the big deal was, until I got to the first sex scene. And they were actually having sex! Right there on the page! After that I made sure I snuck them into my room as soon as my sisters discarded them.
I think I got most of my sex education from Mills & Boon novels. (Oh, and Judy Blume books. Sample first line from a Judy Blume book, Forever: "Sybil Davison has a genius IQ and has been laid by at least six different guys.") Mills & Boons were where I learnt that men had a hardness and women a corresponding softness. And where I learnt that one of the most attractive attributes a man could have was to be sardonic-- not that I knew what it meant, but it sure sounded sexy.
Then in my 20s I read an interview with a writer who claimed Messrs Mills and Boon paid her fifty grand per book. Ker-ching!! I had read so many of the buggers I figured I could write one in my sleep; they were perfectly formulaic, after all (and the official 'How to write a Mills & Boon' booklet you could send for did nothing to convince me otherwise). I sat down to make some serious moolah and plunged straight into the all important sex scenes.
Well, it was a case of vene, vidi, not quite vici. I finally gave up in frustration and cut my 'manuscript' up into small pieces, lest anyone find the pages and have a laugh at my expense. And then, the next time I took out my recycling, the small dirty cut-ups floated out behind me onto the footpath...where a neighbour kindly picked them up and handed the embarrassing scraps to me. Little scraps that read hard, pushed, mouth, her, feel, electric, thighs, smoldering, deep.. No prizes for guessing...
But I've learnt a thing or two since then, so perhaps I'll give that fifty grand another go. Meanwhile, I thank Pamela and close the door behind her. Maybe one of these nights when I can't sleep (hmm...that's every night, actually) a little romance could come in handy.
. . .
Ain't that the truth
Geez, Bush is still attempting to link Iraq to al Qaeda:
"...and so I'm putting together a independent bipartisan commission to analyse where we stand [and] what we can do better as we fight this war against terror."
Because Saddam was deeply involved in the events of September 11, the whole inspiration for the war against terror, right? Yeah....Uncle Sam, playing us again.
. . .
February 01, 2004
Awed of the thing
A precious image stolen from Sedgwick:
. . .
I've been letting the cats out an hour earlier every night, slowly getting them used to the night-time action. This is because when I go to hospital, they are going to be left to fend pretty much for themselves--my mum will be stopping by to feed and check in on them, but we figure they can't exactly stay locked up for days on end. And anyway, once the baby's here, I don't want them prowling the house all night with their damned caterwauling. Anyway, they've now got a cat flap and seem to be coping fine.
Meanwhile there's a big party going on across the valley, probably the last of the out of towners celebrating the end of summer holidays. I don't really mind because one of the great things about living in the country is being able to play music really loud without annoying too many people. Actually I wouldn't mind at all if they had better taste in music, but unfortunately, it's all Enrique Iglesias and his ilk.
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