Jan 27, 2011

Rocking The Boat

What's that saying? Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

Sigh. Sadly I should have heeded this when the announcement of the Young Australian of the Year was made public, and a stream of vitriol spewed onto my screen in the online community of Twitter.

For the uninitiated, the YAOTY was Jessica Watson, a teenager from Queensland who at 16 became the (unofficially) youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world. Bloody good achievement, considering my biggest adventure at 16 was the first-Saturday-in-every-month challenge to sail non-stop and unassisted past the doorman at the local football club disco.

I read about the announcement as well as the bios of the other nominees for Young Australian of the Year.

[About the Awards: Each year our nation celebrates the achievement and contribution of eminent Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia. ~ from www.australianoftheyear.org.au]

Tara Winkley, a young woman who is working tirelessly to change the lives of Cambodia's orphans. Bravo, what an angel. Would have been a worthy winner.

Angela Barker, a woman who was brutally bashed resulting in horrific injuries, who now campaigns for the rights of those suffering brain injuries. Bless her. Another justifiable winner.

Kalinda Griffiths, who has become a strong voice for Indigenous women in her health research and fight for equality. Good for her, she would have made us proud as a winner too.

Clinton Heal, a skin cancer survivor who has worked hard establishing care and support groups to help others. What great commitment, I would also have been happy to see him holding the award aloft.

Vincent Buckskin, a young Indigenous man who is dedicated to educating the community and sharing Kaurna culture through dance and language. Well done, would have been a deserving choice.

Kirsty Albion, a passionate campaigner about environmental protection who is inspiring young people to have a say on climate change. Again, a valuable contributor who could well have won with all our blessings.

David Bresnik, a generous and committed volunteer whose involvement with the St Vincent de Paul Society is providing young people with a positive role model and serves as an inspiration to others. We could have easily applauded this young man with the highest honour too.

All brilliant young Australians. I read about them, absorbed it, felt proud of all 8 of these young people, felt momentarily lazy and unaccomplished as I pondered what I, at age 46, had done with my life, and then moved on, thinking nothing more of it. Until I saw this tweet...

 "Jessica Watson is proof any young Australian can achieve their wildest dreams ..if daddy is filthy rich"

Should I have just rolled my eyes at the inaccuracy of this statement and let it slide by? Probably.

Did I? Not on your fucking life.

My reply:"What makes you think he's filthy rich? He was a real estate agent and their family lived on a bus or a boat for years."

This is fact. Her parents were a real estate agent and an occupational therapist. The family of 6 lived on a modified double-decker bus after living on a cabin cruiser in earlier years. The children were mostly home-schooled and all sailed from a very young age. Yes, of course they had to raise funds to try to get the journey off the ground until sponsors were found. I have no first-hand knowledge of the family's personal wealth, or lack thereof, so I would never be so presumptuous as to make statements one way or the other. But 'filthy rich'? And insinuating that she won because of these supposed riches? My hackles were raised.


"not every 16 yr old owns a 20foot state of the art boat"

No they don't. But look at all the 16 year olds whose status-loving parents buy them a $20,000 hotted up car which they then proceed to wrap around the nearest tree during a drag race or whilst showing off to friends, killing themselves or worse, killing an innocent victim.

Or the gadget-loving parents who fill their homes with up-to-the-minute technology, home theatres and gaming consoles, and their 16 year olds never lift their Dussault-clad butts off the white leather sofa.

If I could afford it, I'd much rather buy my child a boat if they were a fully-trained, skilled and experienced sailor, and had a dream to follow their passion. You simply cannot put a price on fresh air, exercise, life skills and building up a resistance to sea-sickness.

The fact is though, Jessica's parents did not buy the boat. Australian adventurers Don and Margie McIntyre (well known for their sailing and Antarctic expeditions) purchased the yacht for Jessica and provided much of the equipment. They believed in her ability, as did the other sponsors who eventually came on board (pardon the pun).

Oh, and it was a 34 foot boat.


"i hate her with a passion"

Oh wow. I didn't even know how to respond to this. How a fully-grown adult can say this about a teenage girl whom, as far as I know, they have never met personally (and obviously don't have a lot of knowledge about), is beyond me.


"she had more resources than 99% of 16yr olds and not worthy of young aust of year"

Yes she did have more resources than the average teen. But from what I've read (in an effort to educate myself so I don't make ignorant comments in public) Jessica, her family and supporters worked relentlessly to get those resources. It was a hard-fought battle.

But what about past winners of the YAOTY award?

Did Lleyton Hewitt win in 2003 because his Daddy was rich and spoiled him with the best tennis racquet money could buy? No, he was provided with the tools he required by sponsors, paid to play tennis, supported by a team of professionals and made it to world #1.

Did Casey Stoner win in 2008 because his Daddy was rich and bought him a pretty motorbike? No, he was employed by a team and paid by them and their sponsors, and provided with a bike and all the equipment to be a World Champion.

Did Ian Thorpe (2000) and Kieren Perkins (1992) win because their Daddies were rich and bought them giant swimming pools? No, they had sponsors, Swimming organizations and Government backing, and some incredible technology from Arena (changed from Speedo, thanks Nadine) to help win Gold medals.

HOWEVER, at the end of the day, Lleyton still had to hit the ball over the net, Casey still had to ride the motorbike around the track, Ian and Kieren still had to swim the laps, and Jessica still had to sail the goddamn fucking 34 foot boat.


"they are rich enough to buy the boat in the first place"

Oh my fucking god. Dude. Have you not listened to anything I've said?

My head. Brick wall. Hitting.

Someone once said something like "Your thoughts, ideas and opinions are your truth. Your truth is important. But your truth is not necessarily The Truth."

I'm all for thoughts, ideas and opinions. Especially opinions. I have many of them; some great, some bloody ridiculous, but they're all mine. Everyone has the right to express them, even idiots. But please do not spread hatred and supposition.

At no point did I disagree with anyone's opinion that someone else should have won. That's their opinion; there is no right or wrong in that. Eight randomly selected people on Twitter at that time would most likely have chosen eight different winners.

Should the argument have been based more on the fact that we reward funded sportspeople with more recognition than we do to community-minded strugglers? Perhaps.

Would I have voted for Jessica to win? Probably not. But I am not on the National Australia Day Council so all I can do is stand and applaud the 8 amazing young Australians who have done us proud and will probably continue to do so.

Can't we just support every person, whether they be 16, 46 or 66, rich or poor, self-funded or sponsored, who chooses to get up off their arse and actually DO something with their lives?

Jan 18, 2011

The Christmas Letter You Do In January

I was immensely slack before Christmas and neglected to send out cards or my usual 'This Is What We Did All Year' email to our friends scattered far and wide. I made one of those Elf Yourself E-cards but my friends complained that it wasn't sarcastic enough, elves are way too cute. Sigh.
So here's the January update I sent them... sarcasm included.

Hi everybody. Thought I'd join in the new tradition of the January newsletter since like you all, we have no time to even scratch our arses let alone recap our year in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Not that we've had a relaxing time since then either, but things are just starting to settle down again. I hope. But probably not.

So, from Christmas 2009, which was held in our not-quite-half-completed family room (thankfully it wasn't a cold, windy day, we had no windows), through til now is a lot of news. You better make yourself a coffee. Or pour a wine.

Casa Pearce Building Site, Christmas 2009

Boxing Day 2009 saw the mysterious demise of the Best Cat EVER, Oscar Boy Wonder. He disappeared and was allegedly found in a deceased state in a neighbour's yard. And she buried him without telling anybody, as you do. WTF?? It wasn't til the boys went doorknocking looking for him a few days later that she fessed up with the claim that she found him dead, buried him, and "wondered if he was our cat" but didn't seem to think it prudent to come and ask us. Again I say WTF??

She is now known as "Cat Murderer".

The building of the extension continued on straight after Christmas without missing a beat, and we welcomed the addition of cat #9 to the fold, Jasper. AKA Ninja. AKA That Fucking Cat. Suffice to say that one year down the track from his arrival, it can be very safely assumed that when he dies, which may be sooner than he thinks, he will NOT be blessed with the title of Best Cat EVER.

Throughout all our building work, we also had the task of moving my Mum & Dad into an aged care complex, clearing out and selling their home of 60 years. And it was the home of Hoarders Incorporated. You have never in your life seen so much accumulated useless crap. Unless you've seen the Australian Cricket Team lately.

The renos seemed to occupy us for quite a bit of the early months, with the room being usable in March, but not completely 100% finished til the recycled timber floorboards were laid in about June/July. We paved all around the new room as soon as the weather let us and although we did a fucking marvellous job, we have decided not to go into the paving business for our joint mid-life crisis. Way too crippling, the back and knees weren't built for bending, I'm sure of it. Even worse though, I broke several fingernails. Oh, the trauma.

Family room finito; about 34 square metres of extra living and dining space we desperately needed

Please pause a while to admire our paving efforts. Thank you.

We finally got back into our own routine, which meant no longer blearily answering the door to a tradesman of some sort before 7am and belatedly realising my boob was almost falling out of my pyjama top, after 9 months of on and off chaos. All in all it went very well, and to say we are bit pleased with the result would be like saying Tiger Woods was a bit unfaithful.

We were left with one area of garden to complete, and it was a toughie. It had been used as the builder's, brickie's, plasterer's, paver's (Husband's), etc etc dumping ground and was overrun with rubbish, rubble and weeds. So guess what the last couple of weeks have been spent doing? Getting pissed? Good guess, can't blame you for thinking that. But mostly clearing, more paving and some planting. Then getting pissed.

Before and After

All we need now is some more plants and a rainwater tank in the corner, and we are set. Set for what, I'm not sure; we have been working on this place constantly for over 7 years so apparently now we are supposed to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of our labour (or some such bullshit) says me. To which Husband replied "You know how we painted the front of the house when we first moved in? Yeah, it needs to be done again." And so the cycle continues.

Away from the house and garden we've all had the usual stuff; birthdays, dinners, parties, basketball, concerts (the last Powderfinger concert *sob*), soccer, movies, cricket (including Ashes Test, where we witnessed the accumulated useless crap in the Baggy Green first-hand), and the odd lazy weekend.

Son got his driver's licence, scored MIL's little red car (affectionately? known as 'The Bubble') when she gave up driving after mounting a roundabout, a kerb, a garden bed and only stopping when she collided with a house. The car had to have a bit of a makeover, but came out of it fairly well so Son is pretty lucky to be handed a one-owner car at his age. Oh, and MIL was okay, in case you were wondering. I'm sure you were.

Son turned 18 in November, one day after completing his last Year 12 exam and entering permanently into the world of Call Of Duty: Black Ops. He moves from the sofa occasionally, mainly just to eat, sleep and shower, and mainly when we remind him to. Having said that, he passed Year 12 (woo hoo) and has been accepted into a Bachelor of Business (blah blah, some other words) course at UniSA. I have upgraded from calling him lazy bum to lazy Uni bum.

He went to Melbourne with school; played badminton and of course still basketball; had his school Formal, after which he stayed in a hotel in the city with his mates, played cards and drank an unidentifiable clear alcoholic liquid of some sort, had no sleep and went straight on to play 2 games of basketball the next day. Because playing sport is a noble way to die of sleep-deprived alcohol-induced exhaustion. Like father, like son.

Daughter will be 16 next week and going into Year 11. She was torn two ways last year; the English/literary path or the Science path. After a week's work experience in a Library (in which she would have preferred spending her time stabbing her eyes with rusty forks) she has decided that dissecting frogs, psycho-analysing nutjobs, or blowing up laboratories is probably her future. For now, anyway. This is subject to change of course, as she is not definite about anything much in life except the fact that she hates Zac Efron and Justin Bieber, and wants to be a vampire. Not the sparkly Twilight kind, but the broody Vampire Diaries kind. Although I suspect any type that doesn't age will do. Like mother, like daughter.

Husband spent the month of October working in Sydney and Newcastle on secondment to what is basically the auditing department of the bank. He flew back home for weekends and absolutely loved the change of environment after 10 years in the same job. His waistline however, did not love eating out for dinner every night, drinking wine, and getting no exercise. Let's just say his next weigh-in at the Red Cross Blood donation centre set off bells and alarms and got him a stern glare from Nurse Ratched.

It was 5 kilos well gained though, as not long after he returned home, a job in that department became vacant, he applied, and he got it. It is a massive promotion for him, something that probably would have taken him til close to retirement to reach if he had stayed in his current job. The job is based in Sydney, but they have accepted him to stay based in Adelaide. So he will be a Travelling Wilbury, heading off all over the country, and eventually, hopefully, the world, with his purple pen (actually its all on computer, tsk) auditing the bank's, err, stuff. (Don't ask me for more details, I'm just here to spend the money)

Husband starts the new job next month and will probably head straight to Sydney initially, but then it looks like the first month-long auditing project will be in …. drum roll….. Adelaide. Pfffft. The Frequent Flyer points will be stagnant for a bit. I have my eye on the Hong Kong and Singapore trip though. Thank fuck the bank has branches all over the world.

I have gone from Renovation Project Manager to Manager of Fuck-All now, and it's not a bad job. The shopping and lunches are hard work, but somebody has to do it. I think I am earning my keep, sort of (but not really), with all the tickets, books and prizes and things I have won this year, I have had a lucky run. Though I think winning the tickets to the cricket was more of a four-day-long punishment. Had the highlight of my life on Saturday. (sad, I know) I extended an invite to Lance Armstrong (who is here in Adelaide for the Tour Down Under in case you hadn't noticed) via Twitter to come round for a BBQ dinner. AND HE REPLIED. HE HAS 2.7 MILLION FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER AND HE REPLIED. TO ME. LITTLE OLD ME. There was much merriment in the house, partly vodka-fuelled. He couldn't make it but thanked me for the offer and said he'd take a raincheck. I am thinking I may stalk him until he does. Or until he gets a restraining order against me, whichever comes first.
[Adding this late info now just for the blog: Lance replied to me AGAIN last night. Says he is definitely dropping by one night. I need a house cleaner, STAT.]

In other family news, the Pearce side of the family welcomed its first baby since Daughter was born. NO, not more fruits of my labour, but Husband's niece's very premature labour. The gorgeous Harrison arrived 6 weeks early but thankfully safely.

Daughter and Son taking it in turns for cuddles with Harrison, Christmas 2010


Sadly, we lost Clodagh this year. Her dog years were up. She gave up, was miserable, ill and riddled with arthritis, and we did the kindest thing for her. Husband tried to get a 2 for 1 deal going with the vet, but apparently they don't do mothers-in-law.

We are having a bit of a déjà vu sensation at the moment, as we have spent the last few weeks moving John's mum into an aged care complex, almost exactly a year after my parents moved. At least we are well versed in all the paperwork and rigmarole now. Her Parkinson's had got worse, she has deteriorated to a point where she is no longer able to take care of herself so again, we had to do the best thing for her. Unlike the dog, it hasn't involved a $200 injection. Yet.

We are currently in the middle of divvying up her worldly goods and moving things out of her unit, so whilst we are still hectically busy, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There had better be wine there.

And when we're done, this is where I'll be if anybody wants me….


Jan 10, 2011

Cate’s Accumulated Crap Giveaway

 This is just like Oprah's Favourite Things Giveaway, only better.

Sort of.

Only not really.

Unlike the Big O, I don't have a multi-million dollar empire and can't afford to buy you all velour jogging suits, Baby Phat tote bags and Japanese black goat hair makeup brushes. What I do have however, is rubbish, shit, junk and stuff.

So if you'd all like to come and (virtually) sit in my backyard, preferably in an orderly fashion just like a real Oprah audience, I'll hand out the priceless/worthless crap. Be warned though, if you scream incessantly like a real Oprah audience, I will be forced to bring out my nerfgun. Whipper snipper if I see tears.

Are you ready?

You're all getting …. SERVIETTES. Woo hoo!!!

Yes, that's right, paper serviettes. Some of you may call them napkins, but to be honest, when I see the word 'napkin', my wayward mind goes immediately to something else other than tableware.
The reason I have enough serviettes to hand out to you all is a result of my stubborn refusal to buy plain white ones. Let me explain … I have a kid's party, buy the cute packet of 20 with balloons on them and only 18 get used. So I put the spare 2 away. Next is a Christmas party, so I buy 40 with gold stars on them, 33 get used, 7 get put away. Then a barbecue, I buy 20 with the blue stripes that match our cutlery, 11 get used, 9 get put away. Morning tea with the girls, I buy 10 with the gorgeous little cupcakes on them, 6 get used, 4 get put away.

And so on and so on; every occasion requiring a differently patterned serviette, and you can NEVER find a packet to match the ones you bought for the same event from the previous year.

Over a 23 year sentence … err, marriage, that's a fucking lot of leftover, mismatched serviettes.

*pause for thought*

I have issues, don't I?

Moving right along (before I dwell for too long on that question), you're also going home with …. RECEIPTS. Yay!

The receipt for the $120 pair of shoes I got on sale for $19 at Myer in 2003 after queuing for 45 minutes… it's yours! And you in the back row, here's the receipt for the $30 kettle which was bought at KMart in 2004 and stopped working (okay, it blew up) in 2009. The woman on the left, don't be shy, you can have the receipt for the $100 Epilady hair remover purchased from Big W in 2001. In fact, you can take the Epilady too, it fucking hurts.
And you sir, you look like a man who would appreciate the receipt for $99 issued in 2006 for my daughter's mobile phone which, incidentally, came with a bonus pink lip gloss. See? Says so there on the receipt.


Guess what's next… HAIRY DUSTBALLS …. Wow, I know, right?

So I'm a lazy housebitch and haven't done much cleaning around here since the kids finished school and ruined my life, err….. I mean … have been keeping me company every day. I figure if you each go to a corner of any room in the house and pick up a hairy dustball from my floorboards I won't need to vacuum again until at least Easter.

Okay, calm down. I know the dustballs are exciting, but now I'm giving you all…. KEYS…..

Oh shit, why are you all screaming? NO, NOT KEYS TO A CAR, YOU MORONS. I told you I do NOT have Oprah's budget. I have a drawer full of keys of every shape and size to give you though. What they open … who knows? Probably every door, window, boot and lid of every cupboard, house, car and locked box that we've ever owned. And even some that others owned. I'll hire a bus and we can all go on a 'Keyhole Crawl' around Adelaide, testing the keys in all sorts of places, and somebody may get lucky. I did work in a bank, y'know. I may not have returned the keys to the safe when I left .…

And now you're all getting ….LEFTOVER LIPSTICKS. Yeeehaaaaaaaaa!!

I have naturally pale lips so I don't go anywhere without a touch of colour on the smackers. This means there can often be lipsticks found in every handbag I own (which is a lot), as well as in every room of the house, in the car, in the pocket of my jeans, and of course in my underwear drawer. Yes, in with my bras and knickers. I must have read somewhere that sexy lingerie and luscious lips go together, but I think I got the context wrong.

I use them until they are almost empty, but not quite. There is just enough left that is accessible with a lip brush, or if I really smooch my kisser into the dregs and risk cutting my lip on the edge of the tube. But apparently I haven't thrown any of them out. I've been clinging to the possibility that I just might need the last smear of that Estee Lauder Pure Colour Long-Lasting Intense Moisturising Lipstick in the shade of 'Love Affair' for .. umm … a love affair. Guess I've held onto that one for 23 years.

And finally, you need something to carry all your goodies in, so you're all getting …. USED GIFT BAGS. Yeah baby!

I actually have giant gift bags full of medium gift bags, which are in turn full of smaller gift bags. Here's the fairy bag someone gave my nearly 16 year old daughter when she was 5, and the bottle bag with teddy bears on it that I received in 1996 holding the finest Spumante my sister-in-law's $2.95 could buy. I also have for somebody the 8 inch bag that I tried to squeeze a 10 inch present into about 6 years ago. Just ignore the big split down the side.

So there's my Crap Giveaway, done and dust(ball)ed for the year. I think we have established that I keep silly things, sometimes unnecessarily, and sometimes for a little longer than I should, just in case I can find a legitimate use for them, or because I'm too lazy to get rid of them.

The Husband has been here for 23 years……



Jan 2, 2011

2010 Fuckups and What I Have Learned From Them

Fuckups. We all do them don't we? We open our mouths just to change feet; we select the wrong 'Sue' in our email address book; we hit ENTER instead of DELETE; we buy the size too small with the belief we will have lost 10 kilos by the party; we say "Yes, I'll make the pavlovas" when every fibre in our body is screaming "NO, don't you remember the 38 eggs you painstakingly separated and 'beat til peaks form' last year and how you cried with exhaustion?"; we take the piss out of Pandora, Ed Hardy and Amway just before our friend shows off her new bracelet, tshirt and distributor's name badge from guess where?

Sigh. It is essential that we learn from them though.
So I've heard.


#2010fuckup: I totally (and tipsily) misjudged the doorway from our kitchen to the family room one night whilst carrying a dozen plates and belted into the doorframe quite heavily.

What I Have Learned: Physics. Something about centrifugal forces, the arc of flight of a dozen plates, and the dents they make in a newly polished timber floor.


#2010fuckup: Let the son accept the gift of a car from Grandma.

What I Have Learned: Son occasionally gets 'Drive' and 'Reverse' mixed up and daughter can keep a secret for a maximum of about a week before spilling her guts.


#2010fuckup: When wearing my awesome winter boots with the lovely straps and buckles on them, I made the mistake of tucking my feet under me on a friend's sofa.

What I Have Learned: With a bit of inconspicuous but concerted tugging it is possible to break free, and a strategically placed cushion will temporarily cover the damage left behind. And that you can blame new puppies for anything.


#2010fuckup: I accidentally broke a wine glass into a zillion pieces at a friend's place.

What I Have Learned: Toddler's sipper cups don't break.


#2010fuckup: Neglected to give my son a strict "Dos and Don'ts" type of lecture before he went on a school trip to Melbourne for four days. Decided he was mature enough and didn't need it.

What I Have Learned: Unless instructed, he will not bother to phone home at all in four days. Not once. The only time his phone made contact with mine was when some other kid picked up his phone (whilst my oblivious and careless son was playing basketball), dialled 'MUM', and I chatted to a complete stranger for several minutes.


#2010fuckup : Sacrificed way too much sleep in the vain quest to see the Socceroos become legends at the World Cup. Losers.

What I Have Learned: Apparently nothing, as I did it again the following month when the Boomers were playing in the World Basketball Championships. Losers.


#2010fuckup: Went to the Ashes test in Adelaide expecting to see Australia play cricket.

What I Have Learned: We don't know how to play cricket. And that I need to apply sunscreen much sooner than when I start to go a bit pink.


#2010fuckup: I had a beer at the cricket.

What I Have Learned: I still don't like beer.


#2010fuckup: I didn't give enough thought to the electrician's question of "Where do you want the light switches located?"

What I Have Learned: Answering "Wherever, it doesn't matter" is proving to be an error of judgment a year later when I am about to come into possession of Gran's old chiffonier, and access to said light switches may be compromised. Still, dining by candlelight is romantic and means they can't see I've burnt their dinner, yes?


#2010fuckup: I arrived at a family member's house and opened the screen door from outside in an attempt to enter the house. Silly me.

What I Have Learned: The 58kg Pyrenees Mountain Dog who lives there does not like people opening the screen door from outside, it must be opened from the inside or he will consider you an intruder. Also learned that scratches, swollen red welts and bruises from such dogs really, really, really hurt.


#2010fuckup: I got quite drunk at home with friends one night recently, had a horrific hangover and took two days to clean up.

What I Have Learned: How many sexual partners all my friends have had.


#2010fuckup: I gave honest, forthright, bold opinions on more than one occasion when perhaps the more genteel thing to do would have been to bite my tongue, smile and say nothing.

What I Have Learned: I will never be genteel, so fuck it.


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