2013: the Year of the Flat Pack
5 January, 2013

cats in a box
“Where did you put that Allen key?”

Mutant Mayhem
23 August, 2011

Add a little spider, and couch man can now get his own damn beer without having to put the remote control down.

I note with interest that an American genetic engineer and a Dutch artist collaborated to weave a lattice of human skin and spider silk, extracted from genetically-altered silkworms, for want of sufficient mutant goat silk.


Sadly, the resultant textile of terror proved quite permeable to normal-speed bullets, but it does raise some fascinating scenarios. If you had a nice whack of research funding, and a lab-full of gene shears and incubators, what would you like to hybridise?

First out of my petri dish would be a male of the human species, with the ability bred into his willy… stay with me, it’s not what you think… to aim at and hit the inside of the toilet bowl, every time. I’d just extract the unerring accuracy of a frog’s tongue, or perhaps the directional capacity of a homing pigeon, and whack it into the offending organ.

There’s a scientific advance that would benefit womankind, people.

Now we can cross chooks and pigs, to produce bacon-flavoured eggs. Or how about pigeons and their fellow travellers, engineered to produce poop that acts as a fabric conditioner and deodoriser, putting an end to clothesline blight and rewashing syndrome?

Over to you, science.

My Chookyard: Colditz by the Coast?
5 June, 2011

Poultry facilities: Note adequate food and shelter. Water (not pictured) also clean and ample.

I have previously alluded;


to one of my chook’s remorseless attempts to burrow out of the yard.

Chooks aren’t noted for their sharp wit, or propensity for forward planning, or reasoning… actually, chooks are pretty much noted for egg-laying and being tasty seasoned, crumbed and fried.

But still,  I keep questioning the motivation of this chook. Known as “Briana” by her former owners, we call her “Rooster” since she moulted her tail feathers, grew in a new more impressive set practically overnight, beefed up her comb and then turned on “Tikka”, who used to rule the roost.

Inside the yard, there is food, water, shelter, congenial company and plenty of opportunity for scratching, sunning, dirt-bathing and pecking. In case you’re not up on poultry husbandry, that sums up the whole gamut of chook behaviour other than rooting – we don’t have a rooster.

In fact, my chookyard has got it all over a Malaysian immigration detention facility – the only bamboo canes used in my yard prop up the tarp.

Despite her freedom to live a life of luxury, troubled only by wondering how many bacon rinds might be in the kitchen scraps and when they’ll be tossed at her feet, Rooster insists on staging elaborate breakouts.

Chook tunnel: note the use of sticks as buttressing

Pictured is Rooster’s latest tunnel. Note the use of native sticks and garden debris as buttressing.

"Cover for me, you two. Look innocent while I go under the wall!"

Why, Rooster, why?

Is it because, now you’re a drag king, you share some men’s misapprehension that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?

Do you find it funny when the cry “Chook’s out again!” goes up, we corral the dog and all rush out to round you up again? Do chooks even have a sense of humour?

All I know is, if this keeps up, Rooster will get to experience the novel delights if being inverted in a killing cone… just before I slice off her ungrateful, tunnelling head.

Cause and Effect
26 April, 2011

Christopher Walken as the Angel of Death.

In a lyrically traditional piece of symbolism, the Angel of Death passed over my house on Easter Sunday. We enjoyed a low-key and major-incident-free celebration with family and close friends. As one might expect from the events of Christmas, though:-


for those of you whose merciful memories have suppressed the Yuletide incident – we came unstuck yesterday.

Magic Man, like the proud little digger he is, shed blood on ANZAC day. It all started when I was at blissful repose, inside the makeshift cone of silence I’d cobbled together from headphones, my internet connection and Youtube. Magic Man came rushing into the room, face twisted in anguish, gabbling something or other than for some reason I couldn’t interpret. Oh, the headphones – right. When I took them off, I heard:

‘A chook’s gotten out of the chook yard and The Dangerous Dog is out, too!’

Since the Dangerous Dog was doing his best to trip Magic Man up – i.e. arguably inside at the time – I failed to panic.

‘Settle down, mate. The chook’s gotten out before.’

And it has. My chook yard might as well be Stalag 13, the number of times this chook has escaped. It may be that Tikka is so stupid – even by chook standards – that she can’t realise we’ve got a free-ranging hound out here and she’s got food, water, shelter and companions in there. It may be that she’s a poultrine freedom fighter, protesting her interment at Villawood by the Sea. It may be chaos theory in action. Whatever the root cause, the kids and I have got re-capturing and returning her down to a fine art. We sprang into action.

Livestock corralled, we conducted a forensic assessment of the scene of the crime. There was clear evidence of dog-digging along the front fence line and a new gap along the back fence.

‘Aha!’ we concluded, ‘DD tried to dig in and Tikka panicked and fled out the back through a tunnel she’d made ready.’

The bloodshed came when he tried to patch up the yard. To cut to the chase, Magic Man stumbled backwards and stepped hard onto the upturned edge of the Weber lid. Which, as it happens, is sharp enough to gash a gusher into the sole of a 10 year old’s foot.

There was wailing, there was a great deal of invective hurled at Elf Boy – who was blamelessly on the other side of the backyard at the time, there was limping, there were tears. I got him in the shower first, to rinse off the archaeological layers of mud, blood and chook poo.

Elf Boy tried to help by yanking his brother’s dick ‘To distract him from the pain in his foot.’

I responded with a string of curse words delivered in a tone of voice so many octaves below my normal pitch that for a moment I wondered if I’d finally been possessed by an incubus.

In conclusion, I patched Magic Man up and after another day’s rest and elevation of the affected limb I hope he’ll be fit for camp. Some of it, at least. They’re only travelling 40 clicks or so south from us, so I can always go and change his dressing if required.

Needless to say, though, I’m fearful of the terror the Labour Day long weekend might hold. Stay tuned.

Growing Old Gloriously
24 March, 2011

Helen B. Staudinger, role model

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be old. No, that’s phrased poorly – I don’t give a damn how old I am, as long as I can look after myself while retaining enough mental faculties to refrain from stripping off in the supermarket dairy aisle. Having visited many nursing homes, I’d rather chrome a carton of HopStop than wither  in a puddle of my own urine, mumbling around my dentures about how marvellous things were in the 80s and whatever happened to that nice young man, Sting from the Police while waiting for my kerosene bath.

But now that I’ve read about the exploits of one lass, 92 year old Helen B. Staudinger, I’m  feeling much more relaxed about my twilight years. Hell, I’m looking forward to them.


Helen is currently languishing in a Florida jail, facing charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and shooting into an occupied dwelling. If she can raise $15,000 in bail, she’ll still have to stay more than 150 m away from her next-door neighbour, 53 year old Dwight Bettner.

What happened? According to Helen, Dwight is a smooth-talking liar who doesn’t pay his share when they dine out. When he moved to the neighbourhood she’d cook for him and he’d kiss her, but she tired of the stream of girlfriends through his next-door house.

Dwight says Helen cursed at him and the only time they’ve ever eaten out was once, after purchasing a part for her stove. He says – and this is the crucial bit of evidence that incriminates this young scoundrel as a heart-breaking gigolo – Helen once cooked him “dinner or breakfast” and he kissed her on the cheek by way of thanks. “Dinner or breakfast”, hey Dwight? The only men I’ve cooked breakfast for – other than family – have earned their bacon the night before, in the traditional way. Busted!

On one occasion, Helen tried to strangle a woman she thought was Dwight’s girlfriend. He didn’t involve the police, though, until one day she refused to leave his house until he gave her a kiss. An argument ensued, Helen stormed out and returned with an adjudicator – her .380 semiautomatic handgun – firing four shots into Dwight’s house. One shot came close, breaking the window of his bedroom, but three others thudded harmlessly into the side of the house.

I’m sure we’re all on Helen’s side and I’m looking into starting a fund to help pay her bail. I’ve emailed Julian Assange for some pointers, and as soon as he gets back to me I’ll post the link.

Meanwhile, its been a long time since we’ve had such a good news story. Damn, if I can make my 90s with the energy to chase after men four decades my junior and the moxie to exact payback when they cheat on me, then maybe old age won’t be so bad after all.

I just hope the Goddess grants me better aim than Helen.

Plumbing the Depths
20 February, 2011

Despite my lack of plumbing know-how or the proper tools, I fixed my kitchen tap last weekend. Just as we were running out the door to cricket on Friday night, Magic Man said, “Muuuum, the tap won’t turn on!”

I replied with something like “It will if you try hard enough, man up my boy.” but bugger me if the child wasn’t right. The damn tap wouldn’t turn on. So I did the sensible thing and ignored it, and we drove off to an inglorious defeat courtesy of Maleny.

Saturday morning was crunch time. Equipped only with my bone-deep fear of how much it would cost to call out a plumber on the weekend – and knowing I had less than a hundred dollars with which to feed the household until payday – I strode out to the water mains.

It only took two tries and a bit of cursing and I managed to switch the water off. I pulled the tap apart, mostly using my bare hands and a rusty old screwdriver – strange, I expected sturdier construction from a crucial piece of kitchen plumbing. The washer seemed okay, so I’d reached the limits of my knowledge of “things that can go wrong with taps”. Since the tap spun uselessly, I thought maybe I needed a new handle.

Off we trot to the local hardware store, liberally smeared with tap grease. New tap handles are not cheap, and they come in pairs. Idly scanning the racks of mysterious plumbing accoutrements, I came across a pack of little hexagonal bits of plastic (they’re thermal shields, or whatever)

“Hmm,”  I thought  “that looks just like the one I just pulled out of my tap, but instead of a little slit mine’s got a bloody big hole. Could that be the problem?”

Sure enough, it was. Magic Man thought I was a super hero for at least a day and a half.

“Mum,” he said, in tones of hushed awe, “You fixed the tap. You’re a genius!” Sadly, the tap-related hero worship has completely worn off. Maybe I’ll get him to watch while I clear out the drain pump on the washing machine.

Glassings, cotton wool and the nanny state… no, it’s not craft time, kiddies.
30 November, 2009

Just read a spot-on opinion piece re. the Queensland Government’s moves to ban glassware from all licensed premises:


How about hardware barns, though? They’re like lolly shops for out-of-control suburbanites who thirst to harm imagined enemies and innocent bystanders: very, very sharp things; very, very sharp and turbo powered things; kilometres of electrical wiring; poisons galore; carnivorous plants. Huge great panes of glass, for heaven’s sake, glass by the bloody meter! And steel-capped boots available to anyone with $19.95 – no proof of age or stat dec denying intent to maim required.

Shut down the death traps lurking in our suburbs, Anna!

Go Go Crazy
24 November, 2009

My small son has become addicted to go-go pets. Be afraid, parents and associates of the knee-high:

  1. Their accessories and outfits cost more than an adult human’s;
  2. When they accompany the child into your bed at night  and somebody rolls on them, they start chirping and squeaking and tangle their wheels in your hair… not always the hair on your head, either;
  3. Having snarled their axles with human hair ripped screaming from reluctant victims, they don’t go-go anymore. You are then required – no, compelled – to put on hold whatever it is you would prefer to do, take the stop-stop apart with microsurgical instruments, unclog, re-lube and screw it  back together again. Hopefully, returned to go-go status. Only then will the high pitched whining from the affected child cease.

I will say this for them. They’re crush resistant and as yet the dog hasn’t tried to eat one. So when their plan for world domination reaches the unstoppable juggernaut phase, I’m suggesting flamethrowers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.