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Shredding the pow

I’ve recently had to take up snowboarding.

No, no, it’s TERRIBLE. The Irish aren’t genetically optimised for skimming over snow at high speeds. No. We’re built more for kicking soggy peat while extremely drunk. When I was growing up, skiing was an activity exclusively pursued by posh people or wankers. Or posh wankers. And of course, snowboards hadn’t been invented in those days.

Then I fell for a Kiwi and, in addition to making bacon and egg pie, another requirement was learning to negotiate snow.

I chose snowboarding because it was sooo obviously waaay cooler than skiing. (Note: had I been 10 years younger this might well have been quantifiably accurate.)

At the time we were living in Dubai, so I learned to snowboard at the indoor ski slope freshly erected in the middle of the desert. The place was always packed with Arab teenagers who combined a maximum of – let’s call it – enthusiasm, and a minimum of any discernible skill. Every time we visited, there’d be someone staggering off the slope with a gash across the forehead and their brains flopping out; or you’d see the blood splattered across the snow. It was like the aftermath of an Orc battle . . . or, you know, the living room after I’ve got the kids to bed. Anyway, it wasn’t what you might call a nurturing learning environment; and when I broke my right wrist I was just thankful it wasn’t my head.

For more than a decade, I have successfully avoided snapping on a pair of bindings. But then we moved to Wanaka and Finn’s primary school runs a five-week ski program during Term 3. We enrolled Finn for a cost of approximately $200 which included his lift pass and lessons. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and I reluctantly put my name down as Finn’s secondary (in this instance) parent in case Husband was unable to go due to breaking all his limbs in a chairlift incident.

The last time I was at Cardrona, I ended up in the resort’s Medical Centre with a busted knee. In fairness, I was nursing a supermarket injury at the time so it wasn’t fully attributable to snowboarding . . . anyway: more context. The second week, when Husband asked if I wanted to come along, I thought I should so I could conclusively say, “Look, it’s obvs not my jam, but you can’t say I didn’t try.”

I was gratified that my snowboard boots still fit 15 years on, and I dug out my late ‘90s ski jacket and the pair of ski pants from the Oamaru Opshop featuring an absolutely snorting camel-toe effect. When we got to the ski field, I was gutted to find that lift passes and lessons for accompanying adults on the School Ski Programme were half price, since that removed any remaining excuse at my disposal.

“What you need a lesson for?” scoffed Husband with his own unique brand of crazed confidence. “It’ll come back to you. Like riding a bike.”

I reminded him how riding a bike after a 15 year hiatus went for me, and signed up for a lesson. Our instructor Carlo had a deep-rooted antipathy towards skiiers. “Dey strappa ona a paira skiis and da brain it stopsa,” he announced happily to the ski field at large.

The lesson was simple stuff: how to do up your bindings; how to skate; go uphill with one boot strapped; use the heel edge; brake. Y’all know how I hate giving any quarter to Husband’s credibility, but it WAS coming back to me (although not like riding a fucking bike, at all).

Then Carlo moved onto boarding on toe edge, which has always been my particular downfall whether literally or figuratively (take your pick). “To mova onto your toe edge you just poka out your tummy simple,” he declared. When he demonstrated it did indeed look well easy – and in any case, I need no encouragement to stick out my stomach.

However, it had little to no effect on anything apart from intensifying cameltoe.

Undaunted, when the lesson finished I took myself off up the learner slope to practise my falling leaf and PEEPS I totally crushed it, embodying a world-class aerodynamic fucking leaf, floating gracefully yet purposefully through the air before settling on level ground with immutable precision.

When I got home that night, after buying a second-hand pair of wrist-guards, I searched YouTube for ‘beginner snowboarding’, ‘how to toe slide’ and ‘how to turn’. Well, I was a fucking genius before I even hit the slope thanks to my man Kevin from snowboardprocamp. The following week, over and over, I tramped up the learner slope (there was usually a 20 minute wait for the conveyor) and practiced basic exercises.

I started saying things like, “I was totally shredding it yo but stacked it in a yard sale blatting over some gnarly mougs dude,” and “Woah dude see how much air I caught? Sick!”

(Sorry- can I just- take a moment to discuss how the word ‘sick’ appears to have entered parlance as a positive description. I mean, what?! Have you seen the stuff? It’s horrid – and also highly corrosive. I’m waiting for the word ‘deadly’ to make a comeback. It was a great word: implying something was so awesome it could POTENTIALLY BE FATAL. Bring back deadly!)

Husband is particularly unimpressed that I now address him as ‘dude’. Also that I’ve acquired about five ski jackets off Trademe. And I’m all: “But look! It’s a limited edition embossed Roxy jacket with diamante detailing!” and he’s all: “Yeah, shame it’s about three sizes too big.”

I scored a second-hand snowboard, and replaced most of my ski kit the same way. Any time I venture online my browser is besieged with adverts for ski pants on sale – although so far I haven’t found anything superior to the camel-toe pants. Guess I’ll have to keep looking.

 

Checking out the Snow Farm

 

I’d love to end this post carving down the slope on a high note, but Husband is rethwarting my ambition to Dominate on a snowboard. He has a history of twiddling around on skiis smack bang in the middle of my line; or asking me open questions while I’m negotiating tricky turns. Here’s some videographic evidence, from- wait a moment and I’ll tell you exactly- April 2006:-

 

 

Last Thursday that blasted man – you might know him better as Husband – persuaded me to come down what, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to describe as an expert run, in a whiteout. I couldn’t even see the trail flags. When I nearly flew off a steep bank near the top, I suspected I was on an express route to Destination Fucked – although I guess it wasn’t that express since it took me an hour and a half to descend. I skidded down most of the mountain at an extreme degree of lop-sidedness; several splats later, when I face-planted and slid several metres on my chin, I actually fucking CRIED.

I thought I’d pulled a muscle in my leg but it turned out to be just bruising, as per my arse – and the rest of me.

So it’s back to the learner slope for me – and the doghouse for DUDE

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I fought the law and the Facebook bitch won

You know how sometimes you commit a crime, like, totally by mistake?

Happens to everyone: I KNOW!

(That’s what I tried to tell the police, but their response was noncommittal.)

So . . . last month, I accidentally stole a bike. Here’s how it went down: the kids and I were kicking around at the playground and as the sun set we were the last die-hard revellers. I lashed my protesting progeny into their carseats (“But Mummy I didn’t go on da slide Mummee!” “Saoirse, PUT your ARMS in the STRAPS!”) and, as I limped to the driver seat, I noticed a bike abandoned by the barbeque stand.

Obvs some kid had legged it home forgetting he’d got there by pedal-power, perhaps pausing momentarily by the backdoor to wonder why he had a bike helmet on his head.

So I took the bike. For safekeeping. Tried not to project furtiveness as I scanned the playground for the owner; then downplayed the suspicious efficiency with which I loaded it onto the suspiciously available bike-rack affixed to the back of the Prius.

I suffered a twinge of doubt as I pulled away slowly (to avoid the suspicious screech of rubber on asphalt) which wasn’t helped by the kids asking why I had taken someone’s bike and was it ours now? – but I was cheered by my charitable act of good goodness.

As soon as I got home, I posted to the local Facebook Page:

Lost your bike?
Picked up an unlocked bike at The Playground this evening – PM me if it’s yours.

The post gathered a number of likes (although I was confused by several shocked :-O Reactions) until someone finally commented: “Nobody locks their bike at The Playground.”

I tried to defrost the chilly overtone with my response and got a bit of banter going about bikenapping HAHAHA, until ‘April*’ (*Her real Facebook name) commented: ‘Look can you return the bike and delete this post because it just draws attention to the fact that the kids leave their bikes unlocked at The Playground’.

It’s comforting to know we live in such an honest, caring community.

Although WOWSERS kinda fucking bitchy.

I deleted the post because, despite being a fucking bitch, well, um, she had a point.

However I didn’t return the bike because yanno SHE CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

But also, having taken the bike, if someone even bitchier stole it after I’d returned it, then that would technically be my fault.

You see?

The following day I drove back to The Playground and plastered printed notices with my contact details around the place.

The day after that, nobody had responded to the notice.

That night I couldn’t sleep what with trying to come to terms with my new identity as a Criminal Mastermind.

OK FINE!

Criminal Cretin.

I had nightmares about Husband visiting me in prison, his jaw clenched in pain and anger, muttering: “I just want to know one thing: why did you do it?”

Me: “By the time I realised, I was in too deep! Will you- will you wait for me?”

Husband: “Yeah look, probably not.”

And my poor, malnourished children, crying: “Mummy I love you!” “Mummy when are you coming home mummeee? Daddy’s cooking is stinky-poo.”

And me, sobbing: “Sweeties, I’m so so sorry, but I’m not up for parole for three more years,” then staggering back to my cell bandy-legged from the cigarettes stashed up my bum (and I don’t even smoke).

Actually, Husband found it all certifiably hilarious, and whenever I tried to discuss The Situation he reverted to uncontrollable sniggering.

On Friday – four days after the heist – I decided to turn myself in.

Fittingly, it was lashing rain.

“I’ve committed a crime,” I announced to the officer on duty.

He appraised me in my mummy scarf and mummy pumps, evaporating the discernible reek of rank dog, and totally judged me.

It was evidently a slow evening at Wanaka Police Station, so he called over a colleague: “Pam, get the handcuffs. Lady here stole a bike.” Then he made me repeat the story, occasionally interjecting with a ploddy question.

It was less than stellar police-work and, frankly, I was offended by how lightly he and his colleague treated the whole affair. I felt like saying, “Oy, pigs: it’s not like I nicked a chip of some toddler’s plate. Stole a fackin set of wheels, din’ I?”

But that would have been, well, rude; so I waited politely until they’d finished snorting.

Pam advised me to drop the bike into the station – any time; she was on duty until Monday morning – but since I was extremely uncomfortable being in possession of stolen good, I went straight home, collected the bike and committed it into the loving embrace of the long arms of the law.

As I drove away, my phone blonked.

Text message> Hi, I think you took my sons bike out of concern for theft?? Where can he come collect it from?

Me> Hi, yes I did, terribly sorry; didn’t understand bikes are generally left unlocked at The Playground. I dropped it into the Police Station literally 5 mins ago, he can grab it there. Cheers

The Mother> Oh gosh really?

The Mother> Oh dear

The Mother> Can you pop back there?

Not Me> You ‘avin a fackin larf, sweetheart?

I called The Mother. Per the largely one-sided conversation, I think apparently her car was at the garage?? (oh yeah see how I was right onto her like cheap lycra??) and the bike wouldn’t fit in her work van because it was full of crap and she was so busy (subtext: it was raining so hard and she hadn’t finished her limited edition boxset of the last season of Game of Thrones) so would I deliver it to her house, preferably tonight because her son wanted to use it over the weekend?

So I returned to the station, where Pam was probably thinking I would be less trouble if I actually were a hardened criminal who could dispense cigarettes out my sphincter. She was pretty grumpy about having to fetch the bike from the storage room.

When I got to the house, The Injured Party himself opened the door. He scowled silently.

“Hi!” I chirped, then: “Oh, right- oh, here’s your bike! Sorry um . . .” I skulked soggily for a moment, waiting for him to say thanks – or anything – to no avail. He glared me all the way back to my car. I made sure to bypass all churches on the way home, in case I was impaled by a lightning rod.

So that’s the last fucking time I do a good turn.

Only kidding! I’ll always be that busybody buttinsky who asks the child in the carpark where his mother is when she’s right behind him; or picks up the distressed toddler for a headbutt; or performs an active drowning victim rear rescue on the teenager in the pool who merely has an inelegant freestyle. Because although I might get it wrong more often than not, I hope and trust other people will do the same for my kids

Molly the Morepork

We had an unexpected house guest last weekend.

When I collected Finn from school on Friday, he had a tatty toy with an acute case of glaucoma clenched under one arm. “Teacher said I could have it for the weekend!” he said. Molly the Morepork was a hand-puppet which could rotate her head a full 360+°.

It was only when we got home that I discovered a scrapbook in Finn’s bag entitled ‘Molly’s Diary’.

The front page stated: ‘Hi, I’m Molly and this is my diary! You can write in here about what we did, or paste some photos or draw some pictures! Thank you for having me!’

Er, you’re welcome?

I mean objectively I can appreciate what a terrific idea Molly’s Diary is: it’s a great way to get to know Finn’s classmates and a bit about their families; introduce a new kid; find out what sort of activities there are around the place; and it presents a great learning opportunity to discover more about the taxonomy and habitat of Ninox novaeseelandiae via stuffed toys or something. But since Finn can’t write much more than his name, age, ‘dad’ and ‘mum’, it was effectively homework for me.

“What the fuck am I going to do with her?” I hissed at Husband on Skype. He was off with his dog for the weekend blasting away ducks, an arrangement so convenient you’d almost think it was planned. Which I suppose it was; but it also had the rancid stench of conspiracy theory, like the staged moon landings. Yeah right so I’m supposed to believe the shadow in the photo frame is not a boom mic but instead some sort of wild lunar poodle? SURE.

“Look at this,” I muttered, holding Molly’s Diary up to the iPad camera. “The level of hospitality- it’s unrealistically high. This fucking morepork has been abseiling, tramping, biking, water-skiing . . . look! She toasts marshmallows over an open flame! Jesus Christ, is that Molly with Graeme Norton?”

“You just want everyone to think Finn’s life is awesome,” said Husband.

Well, duh.

“NOOO,” I snapped. “I just don’t want anyone thinking Finn’s life totally blows. You know, like: wow Finn watches a lot of telly, poor child mustn’t have a bike. Does he eat anything other than porridge? The thrills. OMG I can’t handle this pressure!”

And I mightn’t have believed him had he said something like: “Sweet Cheeks, our family is almost illegally awesome and you are going to crush it,” but it would have been better than just LAUGHING.

Husband seemed happily oblivious to the obvious: if I fucked up the Molly’s Diary initiation test, Finn would be eating his porridge sandwiches in the corner of the playground, ALONE, FOREVER.

In the end, I did my best. Which is all you can do and the lesson I prefer to extract from this whole exercise. Although I diligently took photos of Finn and Molly, our printer had until recently been in storage and on Sunday evening Husband provided telephone support as I linked it to my laptop. We had a sum total of two blank sheets of paper in the house and I – inexplicably – managed to print the photos across BOTH sheets in a sort of T-formation.

I finally finished my homework at about midnight on Sunday, and Finn added some pictures the following morning. I only gave him artistic direction twice.

Maybe three times.

Molly the Morepork, line drawing in biro on scrapbook paper, by Finn Tomes age 5. The kids’ craft stuff is lost in the vastness of storage space, so Finn had to make do with a couple of pens scavenged from the bottom of my handbag

 

The following Monday, we bought the kids a set of coloured pens. I suppose I should probably have addressed that for Molly’s Diary 😦

 

Molly experienced a lot of skilled lego-craft. The drawings are spiders and a moth, because that’s what Molly eats

 

H&S: of course, we made sure our guest was safely restrained

 

Molly and Finn explore the eastern shore of Lake Hawea on Saturday

 

Pebble-surfing

 

Molly’s a busy owl and had to take some client calls

 

Finn tests the buoyancy of his lego lifeboat

 

Muddy bike-ride in Dublin Bay on Sunday. Molly was asleep since she’s nocturnal and was exhausted. I understood EXACTLY how she felt

Is it five years yet?

Ok, where to start? Another coffee: yes, great plan. Right, let me just push aside the dark mists of Time – there we go – wait; oh that’s Weather not dark mist – and revisit 2011, when we decided to move to Oamaru.

When I say ‘we’, alright alright FINE it was mainly me. Although when Husband points this out (admittedly not as frequently as I would were our positions reversed), in all fairness: I have no idea what he was thinking, letting me get away with it. I was foetus-afflicted and hormone-riddled and in a penultimate stage of epic broodiness; clearly in no fit state to be dictating such momentous life-choices.

The only condition Husband imposed on relocating was a term limit of five years. At the time, I huffed:

“OMG why do we have to put a timeframe on it? Why can’t we live there as long as it works out, vis a vis indefinitely? This just sooo doesn’t align with my free fucking spirit. Pass me that croissant – yeah just brush the coffee grounds off it – that’s grand mmm.”

Fast forward to 2015, and I’m all: “Say Husband, is it five years yet?”

And so we started thinking about where we wanted to bring up our children. For a while we considered Picton, but rejected it as too far away from Her Goatiness and Agent of Death; we also spent some time skulking around Queenstown but decided it was too . . . you know . . . too . . . Queenstown.

I’m not sure why Wanaka wasn’t an obvious choice; maybe because Agent of Death frequently and apropos of nothing growls, “Who the fack would want to live in Wanaka?” I’m not sure what I’ve ever responded, but given my cultural imperative to please, probably something along the lines of, “Yeah, Wanaka with its stupid lake and stuff, hurhurhur”. Until instead the answer was, “Um, maybe us?”

Towards the end of 2015, we started scouting real estate in Wanaka. We spent several weekends looking at pricey and vaguely preposterous properties before realising there was little to nothing that accommodated two people working from home. My job is part-time and flexible and, although I can work leaning against the kitchen bench with a spatula in the other hand, I’d prefer to gainfully employ myself at a workstation in between the scary parts of Turbo The Snail.

However, since Husband runs his business from home, he needs an office which can accommodate Excessive Technology™ (a recent upgrade from Enough Technology™), and nothing we viewed offered anything appropriate for Husband’s office that wasn’t acoustically compromised; or tucked under a stairs; or didn’t feature a stunning vista of the neighbour’s bathroom.

The situation was further complicated by Husband not liking any of the houses I did.

Eventually we decided if we’re going to ransom our children’s education for a house, it needs to tick all the boxes, and the only way to achieve that is to build our own. Coincidentally this plan aligns with Husband’s life-goal to build a house, which he presented in detail supported by a feasibility study, strategic case and realistic contingency plans on our second date. You can see how I knew he was A Keeper.

So last year we bought a section in Wanaka.

Christmas 2010

Instant online processing

Last night at around 20:00hrs I was packing for my 09:00 flight to Australia this morning . . .

 

So regular reader(s) of Deadlyjelly know EXACTLY where this is going. Which is: further than me. I invite those not familiar with my travel (or equally often static) patterns to read this for a general overview of my tempestuous relationship with transportation.

 

Back to the packing. Stuffing handfuls of knickers into my computer bag, I said to Husband: “So do I get a visa at the airport?”

 

And he said, “WHAT?!?! NIAMHIE, DIDN’T YOU ARRANGE A VISA?”

 

WELL OBVIOUSLY I DIDN’T ARRANGE A FUCKING VISA BECAUSE I HAVE A FUCKING IRISH PASSPORT WHICH I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR TO ENSURE THAT THING GRANTS ME ACCESS TO EVERYWHERE.

 

Travel has become so complicated: first you had to have a passport to go anywhere interesting, and now you need a visa AS WELL?

 

With my customary impeccable timing, Immigration Australia had closed half an hour earlier. “Better see if you can get one online,” barked Husband.

 

Immigration Australia only offers online applications for ETA visas to a select few passport holders including Brunei – Darussalam. I can feel a complaint to The Republic of Ireland coming on. I mean honestly, what’s the point? I might as well be Somalian.

 

For a fee of USD $40, migrationexpert.com.au claimed ‘instant online processing’. What this actually means is instant online processing of credit card details. The instant online confirmation stated: ‘Your visa will be ready within 5 days’.

 

At this point, Andrew ordered me to finish packing, while he stormed the living room air-chopping and pressing his phone to his ear with one finger. I gotta tell you: it was insanely sexy and such a turn-on.

 

Unfortunately, this effect was cancelled out by his having spent the previous 20 minutes sitting on the sofa being industriously useless muttering, “You’ll never get a visa before the flight.”

 

The packing wasn’t going well (I kept interrupting Andrew with helpful suggestions e.g. “Let’s see if there’s a number on the website so we can phone them and shout”). I’d given up on it to email my mate Maxine to inform her I wouldn’t be able to make it, when an email from migrationexpert popped up in bold saying my ETA had been granted.

 

It was long after I’d finished packing – around 23:00hrs – when I got a message from Virgin Australian saying the flight had been delayed by eight hours . . .

 

. . . so PLENTY of time to arrange a visa

The Sign of the ‘L’

As I left the playground yesterday, I was carrying Saoirse while simultaneously performing a gravel eradication exercise in the region of her shoe. This couldn’t wait until we got to the car because: “NO MUMMY DERE’S STONES IN MY SHOES AND IT’S ON MY FOOTS GRAAARAAARGH!”

In short: it was essential the gravel be removed AT ONCE, or it might burrow through her skin and travel via her bloodstream to embed itself in her brain and then there’d be some fairly face-melting roaring – and it’s in the interest of the wider community to avoid that.

Anyway, there I was floundering across the playground through knee-deep gravel, Saoirse’s shoe in one hand and herself just about in the other when BLAM! it was like someone hit me in the face with a bat.

I’d walked into a monkey-bar at head-height.

“MUMMY! Did you bonka your head, MUMMEEE?” shrieked Saoirse solicitously.

And then, “MUMMY! YOU DROPPED MY SHOE, MUMMY!”

She was lucky I didn’t drop her too while I stumbled around fighting off stars and a large flock of assorted birds.

It was only when I’d reached the car and felt blood sliding down my face that I realised I’d split the skin across the bridge of my nose. I’m not entirely sure – but the injuries (two) suggest – that I collected the monkey-bar with my forehead and instinctively jerked my head back and up in order to wallop my nose OFF THE SAME BAR.

Husband came home and found me lying on the sofa with a bag of peas on my face.

“MUMMY BONKAD HER HEAD DADDY!” announced Saoirse in the manner of an MC introducing the next act.

After he found out what happened, Husband’s main concern was: “Did you feel like a muppet?”

For a while I thought I’d broken my nose, but after I realised it was just the motherfucker of all headaches I felt much better (and the Panadol helped). There’s a touch of periorbital discolouration . . . but that could be the result of less than six hours of sleep last night. Pretty standard around these parts.

Ebola leaf

Diseased grass

Diseased grass

After I’d put the kids to bed the other evening, I was out in the garden raking leaves. Yeah, I far prefer draping myself across the sofa stuffing crackers in my face and watching X-Factor worst auditions on Youtube, but those leaves aren’t going to rake themselves you know.

As for why I hadn’t raked leaves earlier in the day, well, I have two kids. Anyone who doesn’t graciously accept that as the ultimate, tiger-blood, champion all-stars, boss excuse that it is either has no children, and/or is a cock. But ok: Thursday was a chaotic scramble of keeping the children alive long enough to get them to care; editing a 6 page funding application which is one of two part-time jobs I work; massaging my sick dog; exploding hair; collecting the kids and not forgetting one or both; packing Finn’s rugby bag; finalising the application and distracting Saoirse from eating it while I delivered it while Andrew took Finn to rugby; and then the carnage surrounding dinner.

So your general, standard-issue day.

Also: leaves.

All over the lawn.

Shitloads of the fuckers.

There’s a dude at the bottom of our hill who occasionally leaves his floodlight on, and I turned on the outside light, and it was a lovely, still, clear night with loads of stars . . . perfectly suited to lying on the sofa with a plate of crackers, but there I was raking leaves.

I’m thinking: “Jesus H C this literally motherfucking rake is fucking USELESS,” because it didn’t seem to be picking up anything. I’d done about half the garden when I realised the rake was upside-down.

Things progressed much faster once I turned it around.

After about an hour and a half, the garden looked much better (what I could actually see of it).

At nine o’clock, when I went inside to make Husband his dinner, he said, “Nice wellies. So do you know why you’re raking leaves?”

“Because . . . it’s . . . on the task list on the blackboard?”

“Well, I suppose there’s that, yes. But also, if you leave them on the lawn it can cause grass disease. You know, I raked the lawn the other day and it only took me half an hour-”

“Well, you should probably just take care of it in future,” I said, clanging a frying-pan forcefully against the stove-top, “because you’re obviously more mentally and emotionally prepared for raking leaves-”

“No, I meant: you don’t have to rake up every single last leaf.”

“Well, what’s the fucking point, then?”

I mean: OF COURSE you’ve got to get every last single leaf, because otherwise where do you draw the line? Two leaves? Three? Four hundred? Exactly; you never know which leaf has Ebola, so you better get the lot of them

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