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Flesh eating fish

Two weeks ago, I was the MC for four days at the LIANZA Conference in Christchurch.

You think it’s a bit random? Sure; I’ll give you that. My credentials were assessed on the basis of a 20 minute presentation I gave at a Southland Librarian Convention over a year ago at the Oamaru Opera House. My speech was standing room only . . . well; no it wasn’t, but only because the Waitaki District Library put out a plethora of chairs . . . but I got a standing ovation. Ok ok OK, I was the last speaker and people had to get up to leave . . . ANYWAY.

After my presentation, a lovely Maori woman approached me and asked if I’d speak at the LIANZA Conference. And then a few months later, I got an email from Joanna about being MC. And Joanna and I corresponded for the better part of a year, before I finally met her at dinner on the Saturday before the conference kicked off. She said, “Do you remember me?” and I roared, “Of course I do! Great to see you again!”

Halfway through the same evening, another lovely woman came to me and said, “Hi, I just wanted to see how you’re getting on and are you comfortable?” I had no idea who she was and no recollection of ever meeting her; but I thought I was doing a pretty good job of blagging it, until she said, “Do you recognise me?”

Whenever I’ve doggedly persisted in (my preferred strategy of) complete ignorance, it tends to turn brutally swiftly into a global train-wreck, so I said: “Look, I’m so sorry; I don’t.”

She said, “I’m Joanna. Joanna Matthew.”

And I was all: “Are you SURE?”

I realised that who I’d thought was Joanna was someone else completely; in fact another person entirely called Tilapia. And happy that I’d finally sorted out who was who, I addressed her by her name – Tilapia – for the rest of the dinner.

I noticed her eying me a bit funny; but since I get that a lot I didn’t fully register it UNTIL about five o’clock the following morning when I woke up in a cold sweat, thinking: “OMG tilapia’s a fish! IT’S. A. FUCKING. FISH!”

For those of you not literate about fish, it is a freshwater, pleasant tasting fish which originated in the Middle East and in 2016, tilapia was the likely source of an American woman’s flesh-eating bacteria infection.

When I checked, I realised her name was – and probably still is – Te Paea.

Beautiful name, Te Paea.

Much better than Tilapia.

For anyone who thinks this story can’t possibly get any worse, well you obviously don’t know me AT ALL. So hi there! Thanks for reading, and let me assure you: it absolutely can.

So I tracked down Te Paea on the Sunday, and said, “I’m soooo sorry, I called you a fish.”

She said, “Oh that’s ok.” And then she said . . . “Actually, I thought you called me Labia.”

So obviously I’d prefer neither, but if I HAVE to choose between calling someone a fish or a vagina, I’m just so glad I went with fish.

Even a flesh-eating fish.

Since I once addressed someone as Nubbin, as in a small lump or residual part of bone or cartilage I could argue that I’m not culturally insensitive so much as GENERALLY insensitive . . .

. . . but it’s probably better I stop here.

  

 

Video link to Mistress of Ceremonies: Day 2 (Registration required with name and email address)

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Sorted

Last week it was all about getting the kids started at school and kindy respectively.

We’d originally planned to keep both of them home for the first month or two after moving, but Finn loved his first term at Totara School so much we felt it would be less disruptive for him if he started straight into Wanaka Primary at the start of Term 2 in May.

We visited the school for the first time during the school holidays, where Finn pronounced the quality of playground satisfactory.

In the event, Finn absolutely crushed it – although his mum was pretty shit. The night before he started I decided I’d better read the enrolment pack, which was when I realised uniforms are compulsory and stationery highly recommended. I was so worried about being expelled for indifference to stationery, I couldn’t sleep.

Finn was shaky on the morning, but his teacher was lovely and the school is amazingly well equipped. As we were shown around Finn’s interest levels picked up to the point where every time his teacher addressed him he had to give a little jump of excitement.

There was a clang of potential doom when the teacher showed him the tadpole tank and Finn said, “Dey grow into FROGS!” and she responded, “Er, yes; actually they already did, but I forgot to put rocks in over the Easter holidays and they DIED. Here, you can look at the dead frogs through this magnifying glass if you like?”

Finn took it in stride, although he demurred looking at the dead frogs.

When the bell rang, he settled down on the welcome mat without a backward glance.

Later that morning I procured a stationery pack and dropped it back to school; along with his lunchbox and water bottle which I’d forgotten to stuff in his schoolbag earlier. Guess my Outstanding Mother Award is postponed another week.

Bless him; Finn is absolutely shattered and on several occasions over the last week, I’ve wondered whether he needs a good exorcising: by early evening he is demonstrably demonic. However, he is doing incredibly well now that he has a school uniform and full agglomeration of stationery.

Saoirse took longer to get sorted. About six months previously, she and Finn attended a kindy in Wanaka on a short-term basis, and something about it just didn’t click.

At another place I was so distracted by the administrator’s saggy red pleather trousers, I spent the entire time wondering whether there was any way I could appropriately pull them the fuck up on her.

Yet another kindy was promising until I clocked the 3yo with dreadlocks and it was all over, rover.

I had been keen on the Montessori school before we actually visited. Don’t get me wrong; it was lovely: all underfloor heated wooden floors and natural eco-sustainable toys – but one thing I learned at the North Otago Toy Library is that although the parents love the natural wooden toys, the kids always choose plastic. And while children shouldn’t necessarily always get what they want, if the objective is stimulating play, the best option is probably the garish plastic abomination that is the distilled antithesis of all that is pure and beautiful in this world.

We visited at snack time and I’d never seen an assembly of such perfectly mannered children – but it struck me that Saoirse would just eat them alive. And when I realised that despite my best efforts, I STILL can’t explain the Montessori ideology, I thought we’d better look into the last option available.

I’d been starting to get a bit desperate wondering how to go about weighing gut reaction, so it was a relief when The Last Option felt so right. The ECEs were gorgeous and welcoming and friendly; I loved the way they interacted with the kids; the vibe was kind and unassuming; the playground was entirely constructed of old tires and offcuts of wood that the kids can reconfigure as they please; and – most importantly – Saoirse loved it as well.

(Although admittedly she loved all the other kindies too.)

She started the following day: walked into the place as if she owned it, picked out a book and demanded of some random adult that they read it to her. Like Finn, she appears to have decided goodbyes are superfluous.

My kids have taught me a bit about holding shit together in the last week

Photobomber continues her campaign of terror

 

Dublin Bay

Titivating the shed

So as soon as we decided to move to Wanaka in late 2015, Husband and I swung instantly into action. By which I mean: we prepared for action by reflecting on how we could best achieve maximum outcome with minimal swinging as such.

 

It was a really very thorough, measured and definitive thought-process.

 

Ideally we wanted to sell our house in Oamaru in summer 2015, but Husband wasn’t ready because he hadn’t titivated the shed. Or if it wasn’t that, he wanted to weed-mat the garden; or replace some panes of glass; or repaint the deck; or finish the garden folly.

 

(By the way: oh yes it is, ‘titivate’ is TOTALLY a word.)

 

Our beautiful old 1890s character villa with 2000sqm of landscaped cottage gardens may have been glorious and rose-scented and redolent of frilly parasols and croquet and cucumber sandwiches, but it was an absolute fucking motherfucker to maintain. Although we loved it, all our spare time was diverted to gardening or renovating or gardening or trying to convince the kids that pruning was fun or train the dog to differentiate between weeds and flowers.

 

 

I’d asked my unfairly talented mate Maxine to shoot the house, because her architectural photography is ‘jaaast stanning’ as the chick herself would say (not usually about her own work, although she could without risk of false advertising).

 

Eventually she just turned up with her camera. “Look, I don’t care- I don’t have time for this shit- no, I can photoshop in the garage door- fine, I’ll photoshop in the fucking HOUSE, ok? Get out of the frame. And take that fugly sofa with you.” (Only joking; Maxine’s a professional and would never swear on the job.)

 

By this stage – practically winter – we’d pretty much run out of time to list our house, which ideally needed to be sold in late spring / high summer / before the trees completely shit themselves in the autumn. However, being now engaged in full, actionable swing (see above), I went ahead and contacted four of the five RE Agents in town for valuations.

 

My history with RE Agents is somewhat tempestuous and honestly, I haven’t missed them at all since my last torrid affair back in 2011. We were all set to go with online real estate company 200 Square, but despite tracking the local weekly property listings we had no idea what the value of our house was. There was no consistency and nothing even vaguely comparable to our home. Trademe listings with photos featuring heaps of unfolded laundry and dead animals with an unfocused bit of shack in the background stated offers over $500k; some gorgeous character homes appeared to be in the region of less than $250k.

 

We figured industry professionals would know.

 

We figured wrong.

 

They didn’t.

 

I mean, they really, REALLY didn’t.

 

The range of estimates issued by RE Agents varied $90,000 in value.

 

That’s $90,000; or ninety thousand dollars; or FUCKING NINETY THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS.

 

(To add some context: we paid $242k for it in 2011.)

 

After looking around, they’d say: “Yaaas, weeell, it’s beautifully presented, but it’s not a great location and you know what we say: ‘location, location, location’ hahaha ahaha! South side of a hill *meh* . . . no view of the sea *meh squared* . . . and *meh to the power of 10* who wants to maintain 2000 square meters of garden?”

 

Well, apart from Not Us, I’m sure um lots of people specifically gardeners and – I dunno – outdoorsy types would like to . . . but WTF DON’T COME INTO MY HOME AND TELL ME IT’S SHIT! THAT’S JUST FUCKING RUDE! ESPECIALLY AFTER I OFFERED YOU FUCKING COFFEE!

 

Since I lived in the house for five and a half years, I figured I knew its limitations better than a RE Agent who’d spent only half an hour in the place staring mainly at their checklist. And I was fairly confident that someone would fall in love with the house: its charm, its privacy, the inspection pit in the garage.

 

(Well, that was what sold Husband.)

 

I’ve never liked the local branch of LJ Hooker’s approach to supporting the community, specifically taking out full page adverts in the Waitaki Herald congratulating themselves on donating thousands of tax-deducted dollars to local non-profits and charitable community organisations. However, we originally bought our house from the fully delicious Claudette, and she was the first agent I contacted.

 

I’d always suspected my feelings for Claudette were unrequited and was devastated as she struggled with commitment issues and grew increasingly emotionally distant.

 

An RE Agent from The Professionals suggested the house was worth only $18,000 more than we paid for it six years ago. So according to her dystopian proposal (and disregarding the thousands we spent on improvements and renovations), we would have ended up with a roaring profit of approximately $5,000 after she skimmed her commission.

 

“Well, I don’t think you exactly got a bargain when you bought this place,” she sniffed.

 

WTF don’t come into my house and tell me it’s shit AND THAT I’M STUPID! THAT’S JUST FUCKING RUDE! ESPECIALLY AFTER I OFFERED YOU FUCKING COFFEE!

 

When challenged with a moderated version of the above, she said, “Over the last month we’ve sold all our properties within days.”

 

“Um . . . does that not . . . kind of . . . suggest you’re undervaluing them?” I asked.

 

“I’ll have you know our clients are very satisfied,” she said defensively.

 

One RE Agent even kicked the dog (although admittedly it was after Jed had spent a good five minutes checking their crotch for contraband, and then worried their pleather folder on the floor . . . he also munched their biro a bit).

 

I was reluctant to go anywhere near Ray White after our experience with the company six years ago, but my To Do list had five items and I’d only ticked off four. However, I was lucky enough to be put through to Leona Stretch. When she came to visit, she patted the dog and loved our house.

 

“But what about the view- sorry; I mean ‘aspect’?” I asked suspiciously. “And locationlocationlocation?”

 

“I suppose it might be worth more if it were on South Hill, but it’s a beautiful home,” said Leona. “Great big section, overlooks the Gardens, minutes from town. It’s fabulous.”

 

When Leona returned with the estimate, she brought presents for the kids and the dog. I’d decided to list with her even before she said she believed our house was worth $350k. I know: I’m a whore. But we were in no particular hurry and um well her valuation was greater than anticipated, so we thought what the heck? We decided to list the house for a proscribed period, sale on offers over $350k.

 

I knew we’d made the right decision when the kids and I went to her office to review the contract and Saoirse applied crayon to everything except the thoughtfully-provided paper; then flooded the place. Leona was unfazed; even Saoirse couldn’t break her.

 

We were fully prepared for Leona to recommend dropping the asking price after a couple of weeks – not that she ever gave that impression, or indeed any impression other than being responsive, professional and striving diligently on our behalf – but evidently I have trust issues.

 

Her assessment of the market (for our home: out of towners), recommendations on how to present the house, and regular reports were all bang on. It took a couple of months, but Leona sold our house for pretty much exactly what she said she would. She could have negotiated a longer settlement than three weeks – but now I’m just struggling to find something to get my bitch on.

 

What I can and GODDAMN IT I WILL get my bitch on like white on rice on a Styrofoam plate in a snowstorm, is that had we gone with any of the other industry professionals’ recommendations we would now be up to $90k out of pocket. WHY DON’T YOU JUST BREAK INTO OUR HOUSE AND STEAL ALL OUR ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT AND . . . um . . . WHATEVER ELSE WE OWN THAT’S WORTH TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ALREADY? (My combination oven? Husband’s sound system? Finn’s lego collection?)

 

And before you point out that grossly undervaluing our house doesn’t involve malicious intent: you might not have meant to kill the frog, but it’s still fucking DEAD.

 

Here’s the promo video for the house set to 70’s porn music.

 

And since you got this far: here’s a picture of Jed sitting on the swing:-

 

Not a morning person

. . . although Husband’s not much of an afternoon or evening person either; but this hit him a bit early, when he was still occupying the sub-human category.

Me> Ok, so this song. Wish You Were Here.

Husband> Grarh.

Me> Yes. It goes, ‘We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year / Running over the same old ground . . .’

Husband> Grarh?

Me> But. How can they run over the same old ground?

Husband> It’s uh, like, they’re doing the same things grarh over and over-

Me> Yeah, except they’re swimming in a fish bowl right? So, how are they RUNNING over the same old ground? Presumably they have flippers, so wouldn’t they still be swimming? Or . . . kinda . . . flopping around over the same old ground?

Husband> Graaaaarh

De most beautifullest mummy in de whooole universe

Finn> You’re de most beautifullest mummy in de whooole universe.

Me> Aw! That’s lovely! I’m the most beautiful mummy in the whole universe?

Finn> No. Your friend, Maxine. She is de most beautifullest mummy in de whooole universe. But. She is Quinn’s mummy.

Me> Well, she’s still a mummy.

Finn> Yes. Mummy, if you dressed up you could be like Maxine.

Me> (thinks) Thank you Son, that’s just fucking phenomenal.

Duckface

Duckface

(I’ve asked him several times since but he’s still getting the answer wrong.)

No reprieve no remorse

Saoirse> <roaring>

Me (picking her up)> What happened to Saoirse, Finn?

Finn> I biffed her wit da door of my tunnel.

Me> Aw, poor little girl! Finn, that’s not very nice.

Finn> The next time wasn’t so bad.

Me> You- did you hit her TWICE?

Finn> No.

Finn> I biffid her one time.

Finn> Den I biffid her two times-

Me> FINN! Say sorry!

Finn> Sorry, Saoirse.

Hand of divinity

So I was hoovering this morning and the vacuum cleaner wouldn’t suck and it turned out there was a sock in the hose. Since I have no idea how it got there, it is quite obviously a SIGN FROM GOD. (That I never have to vacuum again, I hope.)

Anyone who’s interested is welcome to come and view the Sock. What do you mean, what does it look like? Doesn’t matter; it’s a fucking Divine Sock!

If you like, you can touch It for $5.

That’s an administration fee to cover processing, laundry and carpet-cleaning

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