Sunday, 26 April 2009


Out there in the Real World, swine flu is out of control and people are starting to whisper the P-word; the GFC is tightening its stranglehold on world economies; unemployment is rising. It's all doom and gloom.

Here at Chez Betty it's not much better. I'm behind with my fabulous 'Chuck 10 Daily' routine. Must remember that a great idea is only great in reality if you put it into practice.

Work: sucks. The Public Service is not for me, but you know, with a mortgage and all... Jobs don't grow on trees, particularly in the current economic climate.

Finances: marginally improved now that Boomerang Boy has moved home.

House: needs some new fences, repairs to the back deck, a new kitchen floor, decent heating. The roof is sagging, the guttering leaks, the oven blew up and the tree out the front is sick. I'm still drowning in clutter.

Funds to fix any of it: a big fat ZERO.

Love life: what?

Oh poop... I'm feeling flatter than roadkill in peak hour.

I think I'll just go back to bed. Sheesh - must be the grey skies of the last few days, coz it looks like I have the winter blues - and it's not even winter yet! I managed to get the flannie sheets and woollen doona on the bed in the nick of time – will stick my head under the doona and wait for things to improve. Some days it's just not worth getting out of bed and surveying the disasters around you.

But wait! I'm having coffee with “the goilz” in town later. I'd better dig out my winter jacketfrom the disaster area that is the spare room. It's cold – and as windy as hell out there. And on the way home I think I'd better buy some chocolate. It's hot chocolate weather and there's a motoGP race this arv.

Now that's definitely worth getting out of bed for! Rossi's on pole and Stoner's starting from second. Chris Vermeulen's in the second row, and if Motegi stays wet he's likely to have a good ride. Capirossi's bike must've been fixed since the Qatar GP, coz he's starting from the second row too. Go, Suzukis! Fingers crossed for an exciting race. Would love to see a Stoner-Vermeulen 1-2.

Yesssss! A glimmer of hope in a gloomy landscape. I'll worry about swine flu some other time.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Welcome to my mini-rant about the trials and tribulations of wearing contact lenses.

See, I got them in the first place because trying to put my glasses on inside my helmet bent the arms of the specs and caused all sorts of deformities (to the specs). And when your specs are so bent that they won't sit straight, and you're looking over the top of one lens and through the wrong bit of the other one... not to mention the fact that whatever peripheral vision you have left whilst inside a helmet can't employ the bent-out-of-shape specs and is somewhat myopic - it's not safe. Add a bit of low, early morning or late afternoon sun.... recipe for disaster on a motorcycle!

So I faced that awful sickmaking feeling - the lifelong OH NO I CAN'T POSSIBLY TOUCH MY EYEBALL, I'LL VOMIT feeling - and had to actually touch my eyeball to put something on it (and even worse, sweep at it with a two-fingered pincer motion to take something OFF it again - aaaaargh!) and I got contact lenses. And I didn't vomit! Amazing!

Oh they are brilliant. Fantastic. Sublime. But they are such hard work!

Suppose you have a long-haired cat.

Oscar Bin Laden seems to generate an inordinate amount of invisible cat-fluff, which has some kind of fatal attraction for the inside surface of my contact lenses. Ouch.

And for goodness' sake, don't grow your nails (or get those fake ones). They can scratch the surface of an eyeball quicker than you can say "ophthalmologist".

A bit of a breeze on the eyeball - say, when you walk into somewhere nicely air-conditioned - will do weird things to you and make you do a 200 blink per minute thing that will make you look like an inept-but-desperate flirt. Something to do with drying out surfaces of eyeballs or something...

And this one - the weirdest thing that's ever happened to my eyeballs - one of the lenses somehow blew out when I stopped by the side of the road on the Hay Plain (i.e., in the middle of NOWHERE) and I had to find it on the road, somehow get it back into my eye (despite the wind) and ride about 100kms to the next town so I could wash the bloody thing.

Oh - and I discovered that ordinary tap water on a contact lens makes your eyeball blench - actually blench - it quivers uncontrollably and makes your vision a bit psychedelic. It feels seriously weird, and there's a horrible moment when you think your eyeball might pop.

There are lots of problems, but the daily one I face (quite apart from the ubiquitous invisible cat fluff) is this: being shortsighted, I need the contacts for distance vision when I ride. I spend most of my day in front of a computer at work, and can't see a bloody thing unless I get glasses to counteract the contact lens prescription! Grrrrr!

Eyeball sonnet (c) Sue Hines 2009 bwahahahaha!

Oh, for the eyeballs of my youth
The clarity, acuity and such
The simple way of seeing all the truth
The eyeballs that I never had to touch
The cat fluff that could never make me twitch
The simple act of seeing without specs
The focus near and far without a hitch
The joys of youthful eyeballs that would flex
The lack of fuzz and blur, with arms too short
The vision that still worked in crappy light
The twenty-twenty vision that I thought
Would last forever turns to shit at night
Oh blue-eyed Betty, doomed to just a blur
An eyeball-poking future life for her!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

GFC - party time for fat cats while workers suffer?

I’m in a kind of gobsmacked awe. The Queensland Treasurer is considering Public Service pay-cuts as the GFC noose tightens. From ABC News Online (17 April):

The state's Premier, Anna Bligh, and Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, have warned about a tough Budget in June because of the economic downturn.

The Government is believed to be considering advice from Treasury to freeze wages, abolish leave-loading and cut superannuation contributions from 12.7 per cent to nine per cent for nearly 200,000 public servants.

Oh, jolly good, you might be saying. Public servants are a pack of bludgers anyway. Wouldn’t know what a hard day’s work was! This consideration gets better by the minute though, though - read more of the news report for the best bit:

It is understood the move would affect teachers, nurses and police.

I'll say that again in case you missed it the first time:

It is understood the move would affect teachers, nurses and police.

Hmmm. So… Not the fat cat desk-jockeys and pen-pushers? Not the Public Servants who spend countless hours at meetings drinking coffee or standing around at one another’s desks moaning about how busy they are? Not the highly overpaid policymakers?

One hopes so. One (meaning ME) hopes that this is just a case of the media sensationalising a story by making it appear that the government is targetting the ones most likely to suffer from burnout; the ones who should be exempt from any pay cuts; the ones who work far longer hours in the most stressful jobs; the ones who are already grossly underpaid for the overwork they do.

As an ex-teacher I know that the success of education (public or private) depends to a large extent on the goodwill of teachers who work far longer hours than they spend on-site or are paid for; who regularly perform extra duties that aren't even mentioned in the job description, and who often fund activities for the kids out of their own underpaid pockets. Queensland teachers are apparently the lowest-paid teachers in the country as it is. Kick them a bit harder, Queensland Government! Good teachers are burning out and leaving the profession in droves - many of us end up as pen-pushing desk-jockey Public Servants!

And what about nurses - underpaid, overworked in an underfunded and overburdened health system. Cut their pay and entitlements further? Sure, kick em while they're down - they have big hearts, they can cope - why else would they continue working themselves to death? Clearly they don't care about the money - they do it all for love!

And no matter what you may think of the highway patrol officer who gave you a speeding ticket, if someone robs your house, steals your car, rapes your daughter or bashes your son, you'll be yelling for an overworked and undervalued cop at the top of your lungs, demanding that they 'fix things'.

Queensland Government, I'm in awe. Who's next on the hit list? Old age pensioners and war veterans? The disabled? The mentally ill? I can hardly wait to find out.

Friday, 17 April 2009

De-cluttering the Betty way 2: a better way!

My friend Brenda left a comment here when I started talking about de-cluttering, and offered some de-cluttering tips she had found somewhere and liked.

Here they are – with my comments:
1. Don't organize clutter. (Well duh – if it was organised, it wouldn’t be clutter – it’d be home decoration!)
2. Set a date by which you will use it, or get rid of it. Write the date on a Post It, and stick it to the item. (Isn’t this a contradiction of Rule no. 1? Sounds pretty organised to me, and the thought of post-it notes hanging off everything in my house just makes me giggle)
3. Toss 10 things. This works great for junk drawers. (YES YES YES!)
4. Pass the buck. Give it back to whom it belongs. Give it to charity. Put it in a box marked "free" and set it on a street corner. (Yep, there’s quite a market for broken pens, ancient telephone plugs, K-Mart catalogues, old letters and bits of string.)
5. Get help. Organize a work party. (Oh, I thought you meant psychiatric help. Or maybe a 12-step program… ‘I’m Betty and I’m a clutterholic’…)

Rule No.3 ROCKS! As soon as I read it I loved it. It was one of those life-changing 'lightbulb' moments. It’s going to be so easy!

I realise where I’ve been going wrong, all these years. My de-cluttering target has been unrealistic. I’ve tried too hard to do too much in too short a time – and I’ve overwhelmed myself.

With this fabulous ‘chuck 10 daily’ concept, though, if I commit to throwing away a mere 10 things per day, that’s 70 things in a week – which is a whopping 3650 things per year (3660 in a leap year!) My house would be clutter-free by, um, about 2020!

(Note to self: This will only work if you don't re-clutter. Even re-cluttering at the rate of one bit per day will reduce the yearly de-cluttering total by 10 percent – eeek!)

Oh, I am so excited! Chuck 10 begins, um, tomorrow!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Pooing in the Petunias

Help me somebody – anybody – I’m a desperate woman in need of advice.

Oscar Bin Laden the terrorkitty, and Miffy, his evil sidekick, have locked horns with me – yes me - their owner, their animal companion, the one who feeds, shelters and houses them (horrid little ingrates) and I don’t know what to do.

Their campaign of feline disobedience has recently escalated in direct proportion to the amount of work I have put into the garden.

No longer content to disturb my already fragile sleep each night by yowling for attention, playing mouse-tennis or vomiting on the carpet, they are also trying to destroy my waking equilibrium. They do it using the old tried-and-true ‘toilet-torture’ method.

This involves selecting a freshly dug (and freshly planted) patch of earth. They particularly like the bits with small seedlings that are struggling skywards, with tiny green leaves seeking the sunlight. They scratch around the area, pulling out the offending seedling, adopt a thousand-yard stare, wiggle their arses and squat, releasing all sorts of noxious excremental stuff over my flowerbeds. Then they scratch out a few more seedlings, covering their horrible stinky cat crap with what’s left of my cosmos/delphinium/alyssum seedlings. They never cover it deeply enough to stop the sun baking it and making my flowerbed smell like a feline sewer.

It’s heart-breaking.

Do they use the “fallow” beds? Of course not. They only like the stuff I have toiled over, and generally only when I have planted stuff in it. It’s a conspiracy!
Short of locking them indoors with a litter-tray, thereby tempting all sorts of disasters as feline cabin fever takes hold, what can I do? My brain has been working feverishly to come up with solutions – so far with no luck.

Sewing their bums up will mean they’ll eventually explode. Yuk. Sewing their bums up and giving them little colostomy bags is better, but who gets to change the bags? No thanks!

I can’t possibly take them for a long drive and leave them in the woods – (1) I don’t have a car, and (2) it’s been done before – you read about it all the time. Cats have been known to trek hundreds and hundreds of kilometres to find their way home.

As for giving them the Long Sleep treatment – the kids would kill me – and besides, I quite like the cats when they’re not pooing in the petunias.

These terrorkitties have a long and troubled history – they’ve never liked one another – but they seem to have achieved a bonding of sorts in this shared campaign of garden destruction. Surely there’s something I can do to ensure my cats, my garden and my sanity can co-exist. Ideas, anybody?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Vale Judd Greedy

Sometimes it's disappointing to be Australian. Like right now. I'm ashamed to be part of a sporting nation that thinks football, cricket and tennis are the only sports worth mentioning (let me qualify that – mostly men's football and men's cricket.) A few other sports have a toe-hold, of course... horse-racing (especially the big money races like the Melbourne Cup) gets a look in, big bucks golf tournaments get a mention, and the world (and even the Aussie media) sat up and took notice when Aussie rider Casey Stoner was heading for the motoGP championship.

As a general rule, though, the sports coverage on the nightly news is about whichever of the big three – football, cricket or tennis – happens to be in season.

Which is how the tragic death of Judd Greedy, aged 28, was largely overlooked by the mainstream media.

(Photo used with permission Tali Doherty)

I didn't know Judd personally, but some friends of mine did, and his death has touched them terribly. A beautiful young woman is devastated and her parents are helpless to console her. Friends who knew him on the racing circuit are shattered.

Judd Greedy was a very promising motorcycle racer – a talent to be reckoned with, and a great bloke by all accounts – a 'court jester', a guy whose smile lit up any room he was in – and a young bloke whose year 2009 should've been; and his life was cut short on Sunday morning doing what he loved – racing his motorcycle.

From what I have heard, Judd was leading the field when he highsided coming out of a corner at Symmons Plains in Tasmania, in one of the Australian Superbikes races. He was subsequently hit by two other bikes while he was under his bike. There was a fireball as one of the bikes exploded on impact. Two other riders were injured, and Judd died at the scene. The day's racing was abandoned, the shocked crowd went home – and the media was strangely silent.

Another sporting tragedy occurred when an Australian Rugby player, Brumby Shawn Mackay, died in hospital the day after Judd's untimely death. 26 year old Mackay was hit by a car in South Africa over a week ago as he left a nightclub. Another elite young sportsman dead – and the media went crazy.

When somebody dies there's a ripple effect as those whose lives they are a part of try to come to terms with the loss. The lead story on the Monday night news showed the devastation on the faces of Shawn Mackay's fellow players, and broadcast their shocked words around the country.

The ripple surrounding Judd Greedy's death has been less public, less publicised, but no less devastating. People I know and care about are hurting because they will never have the opportunity to spend time with Judd again; to hear him laugh or crack stupid jokes – or to watch him race, cheer him on, pay him out, stir him up... he's gone. Australia has lost a great motorcycling talent, a family has lost a son and a lot of people have lost a friend.

You will be missed, Judd Greedy, by more people than you could have imagined.

Friday, 3 April 2009

De-cluttering the Betty Way

I confess – I’m a hoarder. I hoard clothes, bits of paper, books, magazines, old letters – stuff. I just can’t throw stuff away. I can’t help it. I hoard for all sorts of reasons:

Murphy’s Law. As soon as I throw something out I will have a burning need for it the following week.

I’m resourceful. Those old bits of wire and string will come in handy one day, I know they will. And you can never have too many mismatched buttons.

I’m sentimental. The macaroni collage that one of the kids made in preschool is precious, even though all the macaroni has fallen off. As for all those receipts for motorcycle riding lessons – well, they’re part of the chronicle of my life. To chuck them out would be like chucking out part of myself.

This weekend though, all that is going to change. It has to. The clutter levels at Chez Betty have reached critical mass and are about to start chipping away at what’s left of my mind.

When Boomerang Boy moved home he brought a lot of stuff with him. To fit him and all his stuff in the spare room meant moving a lot of other stuff around. The study is now the study-cum-spare room-cum-junk room. Only thing is, I can’t fit everything into it, so it’s oozed into the rest of the house.

I can’t open my wardrobe door unless I move the chair that’s supposed to be in the study but doesn’t fit in there because it’s full of other crap. The vacuum cleaner is sitting in front of the other wardrobe door. My room looks like a tip.
Such mess is a recipe for depression. It’s so out of control that my eyelid starts twitching as soon as I walk into the house.

I’ve tried decluttering before. To make sure I don’t throw out anything truly valuable, I go through the mess carefully, piece by piece. That way doesn’t work. Last time I ended up throwing out a glass marble, a bent paperclip and two biros.

This time I will be ruthless. I will not even LOOK at what I’m throwing out. Whoosh! I will sweep things into garbage bags without so much as a second thought. I will chuck, discard, fling, dispose of and toss out clutter with gay abandon.

That will sort Boomerang Boy’s stuff. Heh heh.