Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ashes and Goat Curry

Cossack's head is getting bigger and bigger and that is not necessarily a good thing. All kinds of people are grinning at him these days because of how he stars in my blogs and I suspect he loves the attention.  So I am not mentioning him at all this time round other than to tell you that he now thinks he can make decisions without consulting me because, after all, he is Cossack.

For instance, Cossack purchased a coffee-bush for our garden and we now have to cover this oh-so precious plant every night all winter with layers of mesh cloth lest one of our frequent frosts murder it.

Cossack, it will never ever produce a single coffee-bean, let alone a cappachino, so why, oh why?

Not only does he stubbornly persevere with doomed horticultural experiments but Coss also stated in no uncertain terms that a dogwood tree belongs on top of a dead dog and no other so Pinnie's burial-plot is now honoured with the straggliest thing you ever saw.

Enough of Cossack. Even negative attention may be feeding his ego but let me just quickly thank him for fixing my coffee-plunger tonight. All the metal bits fell apart and he re-assembled it so I am in no hurry to have such a useful man erupt in a cloud of ashes from Mount Ngauruhoe.

How spooky was it though that straight after writing my last blog about that volcano, nearby Mount Tongariro erupted unexpectedly after a quiet hundred years or more!

That got me to thinking even harder about life and death and ashes and then to add a spook to spooky I accidentally reversed my car over the metal bucket in which we collect the ashes from the previous night's fire in our lounge.  My rear right wheel crushed it and ashes spilled over our driveway.

I meant to ponder long and hard about the significance of all this ash but Ben rang from Wellington and sounded like he was dying.

Our poor son was suffering explosive bouts of vomiting and diarrhea that lasted for an un-solid 24 hours as a result, he's pretty certain, of a goat-curry he ate.

Oh, how distressed was the mother-heart in me thinking about the hygienically-challenged monster with a fake 'Food-Safety' diploma who nearly killed our Benny.

Heartless Sock (spelled phonetically and backwards because I wasn't going to mention him again), on the other hand just said, "That'll teach him not to eat from grubby stalls".

According to his more compassionate sister, Ben was as pale as a corpse but he recovered, thankfully.

Please do not remind him any more than necessary of that goat-curry. Apparently he is still rather fragile and doesn't want the whole world to know about his projectile vomiting and diarrhea and how he galloped in panic from bucket to toilet, bucket to toilet, bucket to toilet, bucket to toilet, so please, it's just between you and me, OK?

If you love Ben like we do you will not go on and on and on and on and on and on and on about all the humiliating details like how, in his most desperate moments, he lay sideways across both toilet and bucket so both ends could erupt simultaneously.

To be fair, maybe the goat -curry wasn't even the culprit but isn't it good to have a literal scape-goat when something makes us sick?

To change the topic ever so slightly, I went for a lovely walk on sunday after lots of rain and there were zillions of worms meandering across the main road like their lives didn't depend on it. Of course, I tried not to stomp on them but very fast trucks just drove right over the poor creatures flattening them something awful.  I wanted to hold little funerals for each squashed worm but it all got too much.

Then I noticed some litter-bugger had thrown a whole lot of CDs into the ditch probably from a passing vehicle. That got me to thinking about ashes again - how fame can abruptly end in metaphorical ashes with the tossing out of a CD that once was played endlessly and loved and danced to.

Who out there remembers playing vinyl records?  Op Shops are filled with boxes and boxes of them these days. If you flick through them you will find Val Doonigan and Heintje, Kamahl and Jim Reeves, all smiling sweetly but obsoletely from more innocent times, their former glory now reduced to a 40 cent bargain.

So it is with any claim to fame. Yesterday we heard that the winning shot-putter, Nadezhda Ostapchuk from Belarus, was found to have had drugs in her system while competing at the just-completed Olympic Games in London.

Well, that put a shot right through the gold medal around Nadezhda's neck and now our kiwi girl, Valerie Adams, gets to upgrade from silver to gold!

An honest win surely tastes far sweeter than a steroid-inspired one and so dreams can turn to ashes and ashes to dreams.

It is unlikely that the eight runners who beat Nick Willis in the 1500 meters running race are all going to be disqualified so that he ends up with a medal after all.

He said, "It's just heart-breaking when you put in so much work all year...and to not be able to come through on the day that mattered most felt quite frustrating. I just had nothing left".

But Nick, you did us proud and a person of integrity and dignity is respected long after most of us have forgotten who won medals in this event or that one, in Beijing, London or next time round in Rio.

Well, I might just go cosy up with Sock on the sofa and stare at the blank screen that was our TV until a howling wind decapitated the aerial - my spouse is a very odd sock but then so am I.

Cascades of aroha from Bern-the-Deep Thunker


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Bare Minimum

Once again I am postponing my Mills and Boon story in which Cossack and I were to star and this time it is for ethical reasons. You see, I remembered that 27 years ago my wedding ring got engraved by some banana-brain in Cairns, Australia, with one letter wrong in my name and so I really must check out my marital status.

At the time I thought it was a big laugh that my name was spelled 'Belnadette' but now, whenever I look at Coss I wonder, "Am I his wife or just a fraud?", and " Are our grown-up children illegitimate?".

So, I will philosophise instead about the enormous satisfaction to be gained from getting back to the bare minimum in life. Now, I am not referrring to Cossack's bare kind of minimum as was revealed in the dance he recently did on the 8th floor of an Auckland hotel in his birthday suit.  That was way too bare.

No, I am talking here about decluttering our homes and our minds and how kiwifruit pruning is the perfect analogy to illustrate the benefits of cutting back.

Never judge an orchard-worker by her pathetic biceps for give Belnadette a big pair of loppers and a dangerously sharp saw and she is intimidating. Let no-one get between her and those kiwifruit canes for who knows what anatomical bits she may cut off my mistake?

When I look up to admire a newly completed bay of kiwifruit canes all pruned and neatly tied down to the wires I have been known to fall splat to the ground after tripping backwards over the big pile of spindly old canes on the ground.  Sometimes I wish I could spend just one full day in my life being dignified but it's unlikely to happen and I guess my yearnings should be more noble like peace in Syria or fresh air and feathers for battery-chickens.

An orchard smiles after a good cut-back but I swear that our homes are even happier when we declutter them. They grin from wall to wall. For me, decluttering started well before Peter Walsh's book made it popular when I ripped our ugly lounge curtains from their railings and donated them to the Methodist Op Shop. Cossack's look of utter bewilderment when he went to draw non-existent curtains that evening was very funny if that kind of thing amuses you.

Pruning back one's possessions is a glorious and enriching adventure enabling one's mind to feel as clear as one's benches and one's thoughts as organised as one's cupboards. Of course one mustn't get carried away and get rid of essentials like toilet-paper and clothes and toothbrushes and food. You won't be popular if you do that.

It is sentimental stuff that can clog our cupboards very annoyingly so I have been guiltily tossing out the least aesthetically-pleasing of the dozens of paintings our cherubs whipped out in a creative tornado at Playcentre.

In those days we parents got taught to ask, "Now, Ben, would you like to tell me about your picture?", rather than say something like,"Oh, Benny, I love the way that little puppy is sniffing that daffodil!", because it might not represent a little puppy sniffing a daffodil and Benny's self-esteem may be irreparably damaged by my moronic assumption.  Maybe Benny's painting was of a turtle brandishing a shotgun and the little deviant would prefer to tell me that all by himself.

Sorry, I digressed a bit there. I also guiltily tossed out our children's grubby chewed-up baby-rugs and most of their school certificates with incredible accomplishments hand-written on them by various teachers like, "Well done! Kristen had a very healthy apple and mandarin in her lunchbox today", and, "Marvellous! Ben can now play, 'Three Blind Mice', on the recorder".

Hooray for geniuses who think of clever decluttering strategies. This man on TV suggested you take photos of those possessions you are sentimentally attached to and then you won't mind parting with them so much.  For me, it worked like magic. I photographed the orange bib-shorts and soccer-jersey that Kristen and Ben wore so often and then gave those garments away with no qualms at all. I just needed the memory stuck in an album because we mothers are like that.

What a sentimental idiot I was keeping Ben and Kristen's baby-teeth in two separate little jars. I am thinking about super-gluing them to a photo-frame but they look a bit like rodent teeth. Oh well, children and rodents, what's the difference?

I got rid of hundreds of incense sticks by burning them all at once. A crazy smokey haze of patchoulli, musk and sandalwood wafted through the whole house and Cossack felt nauseous but couldn't find them all to put them out.

Stacks of books have gone because I seldom read a novel twice and these days you can just google any information you want. Expired medicines and pills got biffed so I hope neither Cossack or I get a cold-sore or tape-worm or waxy-ears or all three.

Enough! One must also prune back on words if one is to retain one's blog-readers so let me finish by telling you that Cossack has solemnly announced that when he shuffles off his mortal coil he wishes to be cremated and then, if I outlive him which I hope not to do because I'd be lonely, I have to trek up Mount Ngauruhoe and shake him out of his urn into the steamy crater. 

For goodness sake, Cossack, by then I might be 88 years old!  If I ever find Belnadette, your lawful wife, she can slog up that mountain but if I can't find her I'll just take a helicopter ride.

I am so proud of Coss. Is it not the ultimate in sacrificial decluttering to be reduced from a normal-sized man to a few handfuls of ashes which then explode all over the countryside when the volcano next erupts like a big poof of fertiliser?

And if people who don't know he is dead ask, "Where is Cossack these days? Haven't seen him around", Bob Dylan and I will sing together sadly,

"The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind".