Category Archives: A house is a home

Washing up at the wash up.

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At my wick's end.

(The one where I do not let go of the dinner party hosting – yet).

According to Angelfire, there are six signs of a “good host”.

“1.  Once seated at the table, no one should ever have to ask for a refill”. 

That.  That is a thing that is not an issue in this household.  Ever.

(Special guest stars – in order of appearance: Wynns Coonawarra Estate ’11 Riesling, Mâcon-Villages ’10 Chardonnay, Yarra Valley Sticks ’10 Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges Zig Zag Rd ’06 Cabernet Sauvignon).

Didn’t consult buddy pal James Halliday on any of these, but they did the trick.  Enough said.
“2.  Avoid blinding your guests with candles or obstructing their views of each other with large flower arrangements or large centerpieces. Do not use scented candles- they can have an unappetizing effect”. 

Hm.  Possibly me and my feelings for candles have been guilty parties at other parties regarding this minor matter.

(Shut up).

Still.

My only duties pre-show revolved around all things floral and wax.

Whatever.

There are a lot of wicks to set on fire about this place.  A lot.  And I love lighting them quite frankly.  It’s not so much the lighting, per se – well.  Well, it’s when you have enough of them burning.  Together…

(It’s pretty, ok?  Geez!)

Anyway, anyway.  Appetites, spirit and reason remained in-da house.  (Plato still pops his head in the door of my life).

“3.  Help guests shine in conversation. Stop a bore from droning on. Steer away from topics that might cause arguments or offend someone”. 

Um.  Alright.  This is where we perhaps strayed into remotely Bret Easton Ellis territory.

But.  It is important to be topical.  (Isn’t it?)  Not our fault if politics and religion are waiting impatiently at Australia’s express check-out right now.  (Is it?)

(After all…)

We are talking the evening directly following the day the ALP National Conference went down.  The one with the airing of some interesting topics.  Marriage equality, offshore processing, lifting bans on uranium to India.  You know, little stuff.

(Stuff that’s interesting to talk about).

Also.

Not our fault if one of our (co-host and I) most entertaining stories to tell involves some great Jerry Springer moments.  (One headline reads: Family Performs Exorcism at Birthday Party).

There is that –

(Stuff that’s interesting to talk about to strangers).

Whatever, whatever.   I think the big things playing on your feelings and emotions should be discussed.  Out in the open and all.  More so to strangers than anyone…

Think: skewed-social-litmus-test here.  After all, at least you know where you all stand, sit, or fall flat on your face with one another.

Turns out: I think we’re all on the same page about many things.  T and L have not run for The Grampians… yet.

“4.  When serving, place food in distinct areas on each plate. If all the courses won’t fit on a single plate, make sure you provide an extra small one”. 

Say whaaa?

I don’t understand this point at all.  Probably got something to do with the fact that I can’t be bothered reading the whole sentence.

(Still, I guess I can be slow on the uptake).

Whatever:  the food did done real good, it did.

(No thanks to me.  I spent the entire time at the kitchen bar being useless.  Well, it’s just… Fine.  Fine.  I had my hands full, ok?  One hand on my iPhone, the other on a Bulmers, laptop on my lap.  Research).

Anyway, anyway.

Two different curries:  Vegetarian and a Chicken/Pistachio.  I’d give you the fab recipes.  Both from Crispen Pants.  But, you know, copyright infringements are my excuse today.  Amazing flat-bread to accompany (I’ll suss out the maker on that one).

Then…Dessert was this jaw-dropping stunner: Vanilla semifreddo with pistachio praline.  And…and… raspberry coulis.

(‘Like’)

(Despite my best intentions I didn’t get photographic evidence.  Too busy with my hands full.  This time with the wine.  You’ll have to amuse yourself looking at my candles).

“5.  Before dessert is served, the table should be completely cleared of all dishes from the previous courses. This includes wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, and condiments dishes”.

May not have pulled this one off either.  It’s highly unlikely I’d ever move a wine glass unless it was toward my mouth.  The other stuff might have been moved though.  (I don’t like anything getting in the way of my dessert).

There are probably some other rules too –

“Make sure you cook the chicken” and “don’t glass the guests” immediately spring to mind.  We pulled those off better than well.

Oh.  Oh…

But this one –   this one we may have had some memory issues on:

Do not serve the dogs something different to their normal diet.  And if you do…. If you dare to… do not let them within 500 feet of your guests.

(Sorry guys, hope you’d finished eating by then).

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

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No.  Seriously. We might have to.

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Relish in newness of being a newbie.  Make a good impression.  Make friends.

(These are a few things we told ourselves we would do when moving to a new hometown.  Had the capacity for, even).

So, it’s important to get off to a good start, right?  Keep the ball in play early.  Not be penalised for silly mistakes.

We probably should have Googled “dinner party etiquette” before this particular adventure started then.

(Modern Manners and Etiquette tells me of the importance of the invitation in making “a happy host and a good time”.  It’s the voice of reason really: be clear about dates, times, venues – well, you know?  Some details that might be relevant to anyone expected to attend).

Including the hosts).

It’s just, well.  Well, it’s just unfortunate that we had forgotten that we had dished out invitations to our new best friends (read: only acquaintances we have had interactions with more than twice).

Yep.  We forgot that we asked some people to dinner.

(Scene of the crime:  The night before the 80 flies incident.  The crime that I refuse to evidence further at this point).

By some stroke of extraordinary fortune, fate, and destiny that we are clearly not deserving of…. Good Lady Luck swung our way again (albeit giggling madly).  The prospective ‘friendiners’ it would seem, are more up with dinner party etiquette than we are.

They called.  They called to check.  They called to check one full day in advance of the event.  The event planned by us.  The event we forgot that we had planned.  “Are we still on for dinner at your place tomorrow night?”

That’s the question they asked.  Thank the Greek Gods they did actually ask it I tell you.  If there was not a question such as this asked – well.  I guess we could have …..

(As it was, the question prompted a flurry of activity: frozen peas, canned beetroot and 6 month old cornflakes all tossed on to the kitchen bench in an effort to see if there was a chance in high hell that the event could, in fact, take place).

Still.  To my own credit –

It should be stated here that I have very strong coping mechanisms when it comes to being on the receiving end of shock waves.  (Don’t ask me to give you tips though.  As it is, I am in denial about my over-use of denial).

Anyway, anyway.

With our tails between our legs and remorse drifting gently in the breeze, we sat quietly in the confessionals of truth.  We told our friendiners that we had forgotten about those particular invitations.

(Way to make a good impression to people who will be potentially part of one’s future social life).

It gets worse.

We also had to ‘fess up that we had already run with the bulls and created another set of invitations for the following weekend… A set of invitations apparently that were relayed to other people when we were in possession of our mental faculties.  (“It’s not you, it’s us” – really the only excuse that we could offer up).

Of course, we (the arrogant duo that this household contains) still expected that they would show up the following weekend… even though they had not been in receipt of that invitation (mark two).  Confused?  Well, so am I quite frankly.  (Always and generally speaking).

No time for self-pity, though.  Because… despite the poor form, despite the social ineptitude, despite it all – This thang is going down.  Dinner party is in-da-house.

Tonight…

(And a sprinkle of irony from the measuring cup: the only ones actually able to make this date were the originals from the forgotten invite.  Karma really is my fate).

……

Oh, and in case I forgot to mention: You were invited.

80 dead flies.

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Dead on: 80 dead fly creatures.  In the kitchen alone (together).  We could be talking Guinness Book here (someone get on that, please?)   Insane!  I counted ‘em.  (More insanity!)  80 is a lot, right?  I mean, this could be one of the few times anyone ever has even bothered to count that far towards 100.  It’s a LOT of gross is what I am mainly saying.  Scale of 1 to gross?  Pretty-damned-gross, people.

As for photographic evidence: ugh, don’t make me do that to you.  ‘Cos I will.  Yep, I would go there.  THAT is how I feel about proving points.

To compound this terrible, terrible, shocking reality: another member of this household (who shall remain nameless at this point because of the shame of this situation in general terms) – is absurdly furious about the whole thing.  And not just furious about the flies – furious about the fact that I don’t spend all of my day, every day, getting the situation under control.  (Especially, now that I have some time to get situations under control).  Like, it’s MY fault?

I mean, really?  Seriously?  It’s not like I’ve put word out on the street: Yo, flyguys, come fly with me and be all at this house we live in.

This, THIS, is a naturally occurring phe-nom-e-non.  At least on par with Mammatus clouds, that’s what this situation is.  (Not that I’ve ever really seen existence of said cloud activity, but you can kill some time at http://weathersavvy.com/Q-Clouds_Mammatus.html if you, like me, have some time on your hands).

X-Files, be damned.  Mythbusters get on this.  Phenomenon is happening right in this house.  Every day.  The chosen ones:  that is what we are.

Ok, ok, so we does live back in the bushy parts of Australia now – and bush=fly, hot bush=lots of fly.  And right now there is a lot of hot bush surrounding us (do not, I said…do not, go there).  Creeps.

And ok, ok, kitchen room was in a horrible, mean mood-state this morning after a very big night (more on that tomorrow perhaps when the red wine induced haze has cleared).  But, it has nothing – or at least not…. that much – to do with that.

Just… let’s not think about that… because this problem is an occurrence independent of that problem… often.

So, now (that we’re clear):  Let’s get back to the whole-lotta-fly-in-a-single-room-short-space-of-time problem at hand.

These particular creeps… or grown up maggots as I have started calling them today, were in place before the big hand hit half the day gone.  And, putting my feelings of bewildered wonderment aside, sometime around abouts 2pm I was counting them.  (I’m serious people; I have some time on my hands for some moments.  That is just a factual statement).

Directors Cut aside, let’s fast forward the boring bits: fly spray – check.  flyscreens – landlord doesn’t believe in them.  Close all the doors and windows  – are you kidding me?  I suspect I suffer lack of oxygen to the brain as it is.

So, you are thinking, (actually, probably I am alone by myself in solitary confinement on this one): What does a girl do in a situation like this?  Well, correct me if I’m being inappropriate or misguided, but this is what I think my sensible options could be after having thought about it (a little, not a lot):

1)     Delegate:  Give Evie and Augie (they are dogs – so don’t get crane your neck too far to examine what I may be capable of inflicting on tiny people) a treat every time they catch the fly that dares to fly itself in the door (obviously hell bent in taking advantage of the proximity of the kitchen room).  Anyways, these dogs (that are kind of like children anyway) seem to get a kick out of catching flies when their attention is not focused elsewhere, so it’s not that stupid to think it could be possible.  (You heard it here first: I ain’t stupid).

Except: No way in the history of nasty supermarket superpowers is there ever enough of the doggy smack that is Schmackos (they don’t call it that for no good reason) this side of Bendigo to make this a really, plausible and viable option.

2)     Involves my own capacities:  Research methods of how-to-keep-a-fly-at-bay until I have bled Google dry and am offered (because of my inevitable awesome expertise) an interview on The Project (talk to the hand ACA: I’m not interested in your gutters).  (BTW, I refuse to appear on The Project on a night Steve Price is on.  I do want Charlie Pickering to be there though.  Shut up.  I am not being a diva.  Not asking for fruit platters with sides of steak in my dressing room here.  Just putting it out there and up front so we are all clear about who I think the cool kids are.  Anyways, generally speaking, I am flexible with my contracting).

Except:  I have the attention span of a gnat at the moment – and Research: I’m sorry honey – I thought we were “taking a break”.  We need time and space man, I’ll see you in Feb.

3)     Turn to those who really care: Get some sound and solid direction from the good ladies of CWA.  (That’s Country Women’s Association for those of you not hip to the early-acronym-lingo…or you know, not up with Australian icons).

See, I knew talking through this problem would be a help.  Talking about problems is not over-rated after all (looks like I may not regret going down the Social Work path after all).  Because…

Number 3, is I think, not a bad idea.  Even for me.  Think about it gang.  CWA is all of the following, and much (much) more:

  • From the Country – and we all know Country people are good people (well, with the exception of idiots, a.k.a. Bob Katter and the like).
  • Are women – and women are tops (probably a few exceptions here too, but I’m hoping you’re happy to generalise.  Visualisation helps.  Think..um.. Jane Addams, Mother Teresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, … or one of those other I’ll-just-go-save-the-world-quietly Nobel Peace Prize Winning lady peoples).
  • Are a group of women – and women who get their heads together are a powerful force, an agent of change, for the greater good. See how I’m leaning here?  Whistling to myself.  Example: CWA

Bringing me back to point.  A good old fashioned letter posted with a stamp and all should get me some of what I’m after.

(Dear CWA ladies,

I have a real issue with flies.  I have seen many of your missionaries at work on other matters.  Scones and cakes mainly.  There is a reason I know how good you are, is all I’m saying.

Now, about these flies….

Etc. etc.

Pretty please with jam on top,

Darls from Daylesford

Ps. Do you think Maggie Beer and Margaret Fulton are as downright cute as I do?

Pps. Would really love it if that CWA lady who guest-starred on Masterchef were to hit reply, personally.  To my letter here.)

I have some collateral too.  If they have secrets about solutions for this stuff, they are especially going to find it hard to resist me if I tell them I am a lady from the country just like them, now, are they?!  I WILL have my way with them.  You’ll see.

Oh, and whilst I’m at it, I’m going to throw in a santa sack of other things that are causing me anxiety type emotions on a daily basis:

What will leave the granite benchtop shiny streak-free clean? What will get the red wine stain off the carpet that SOMEBODY (nameless) in this household caused last night?  What will get the bleachy mark from either dog pee, or my inept attempt to fix it, off the same carpet?  And, the big one: What will cure the big, ugly, burn streak that is etched on (my soul, and) bathroom number one timber bench top.  (I have some problems with the amount I like incense and candles, ok?)

Members of this household: we have been here not much more than 80 days.  Now, I know that’s a LOT in fly terms – but go tell that to the real estate industry.  I mean, we probably haven’t even maxed the cooling off.

Ok, woah up before you all make me panic some more.  I’m already feeling anxious with all the painful memories this is causing (will need a bex and a good lie down before sharing feelings regarding a landlord-experience from recent history).

This letter to those CWA ladies needs to be written.  STAT.