2014 – The Year of the Llama

Turns out llamas know more about bread than you think

Turns out llamas know more about bread than you think

Hi Frog-Lovers. I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting you. I’m still here, still very busy. A quick reminder that you can still Torture the Frog Here until the end of February. 

In the meantime, I have a great post for you from a good friend of mine. Meet Michael (AKA Wonder Llama), who blogs occasionally over at The Wonderings of Sir Wonder Llama

Here my favourite quadruped shares his theory on aging. Or baked goods. Or something. Enjoy!

When I started writing this, it was supposed to be a pre-Christmas blog post about the trauma of being ill-prepared for the inevitable last-minute shopping frenzy – despite Christmas decorations being in the stores since September.

Alas, the new year has been rung in, the crackers have, well, cracked, and 2014 is lying panting and heaving on the floor in front of me. Oh, and the icing on the cake being that I have returned to work.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Michael, aka Wonder Llama. A currently thirty-something minion in the throes of a few inevitable and hopefully life-changing events.

Sadly, and by sadly I mean not so sadly, I was born in 1974. Those of you with an abacusesque mind will have put something and something together and worked out where my previous hinting of inevitability might be pointing. (Thank you for adding “abacusesque” to my vocabulary, Mike – Ed.)

May 2014.

As someone once said, it’s time.

I remember back in the 1980s thinking about the year 2000.

“Gee”, I’d think in my teen-minded voice, “in the year 2000 I’ll be 26!”.

Twenty-six!

That seems like a lifetime ago.

It probably is for someone who is fourteen I guess, but it’s long enough ago, and we all made such a fuss about the change of the millennium at the time, or at least the lead up to it, for it to be one of those ‘remember where you were when….’ moments.

But now it’s 2014 and I’m going to be 40 this year.

Shit.

I don’t feel 40… I hope I don’t look it, although my ever-more-visible scalp may present a reasonable argument against my claim. On the inside I still feel the same as I did back in… well, 2000!

My back is a bit more achy, my eyes aren’t as good as they were and I know I shouldn’t be lifting rocks in the garden like I used to, but other than that…

But my life isn’t dominated by the fact that I only have five months of my 30s left. I have a bunch of ‘projects’ (that term annoys me cos it sounds wanky or like a school student) planned which I would like to achieve during 2014. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t New Year’s resolutions, (although I have given up chocolate again), these are actual effort-induced achievements which I intend to see to completion this very year.

2014 – The year of the llama.

But having said all that, there is that unpleasant feeling in the back of my head that life is passing me by. I don’t mean I’m wasting it, I mean it is running out.

Think about when you buy a loaf of fresh bread. It smells good and tastes great.

The next day you eat a bit more, it’s still pretty ace as far as freshness and there’s lots left.

About half-way through, the bread is starting to be not as awesome as it was and what’s worse, you realise that despite only being half-way through, the slices that are left aren’t going to be as good as the first ones and by the end, they may possibly have a bit of mould on them and you’re not going to eat them.

Sounds a bit like life approaching 40. Half my loaf is left and those slices are littered with the memories of slightly better earlier ones. You know, the ones you ate without a sore back or with more hair, and quite frankly, I don’t even want to think about the slices at the end!

I guess the natural response is to spread on as much peanut butter as possible to the slices left. Well, it would have been until my gastric reflux and lack of gall bladder made peanut butter my kryptonite. My tasty, tasty kryptonite… It just needs some chocolate in order to make it even more delightful… and kryptonitey.

Curses.

Best continue gnawing on this current piece of bread a little longer – it may be multigrain, it may be smothered in enough cholesterol-lowering margarine to line every vein in my body, but it’s still a slice in the first half of the loaf.

Where are you in your loaf of bread? Any slices going mouldy yet?

llama photo redacted

Earth-based Wonder Llama is a business drone with a postgraduate degree in Satellite Imagery and an opinion on everything. In his spare time he collects far too many Star Wars-related toys and has a rather nice wife and daughter. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The best coloured wee I have ever seen

This could be the best wee you've ever seen

This could be the best wee you’ve ever seen

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is my bloggy mate Alison, who blogs over at Talking Frankly. Here she shares a story about urine samples – a subject so perfect for the Lily Pad that I already had a category for it.

When I got the opportunity to be a contributor to Five Frogs Blog, I was pretty excited, and then hugely intimidated. See, people seem to read this blog which means that meeting Ms M’s brief of ‘funny’ all of a sudden became a lesson in procrastination that is largely unparalleled in all of history.

So I’ve abandoned funny and want to talk to you all about the dangers of doubtful self esteem when defining achievements post redundancy.

When the outplacement consultant asked me to focus on what achievement in the last five years made me feel most proud – mine wasn’t my marriage, two beautiful daughters or the myriad of business achievements.  The first thing that came to mind was a compliment on the colour of my wee.

Wee.  Yes.

When I was uppus duffus with my first daughter, I had been (wrongly as it turned out) diagnosed with placenta previa and had to spend all sorts of time visiting the hospital and getting “monitored”.

On one occasion, I was dispatched to pee in a jar (being uppus duffus is the most gloriously dignified state – no really). I obediently waddled off, peed and returned with my little jar which I handed over, feeling quite pleased by how full it was – aim is not so easy for a female and especially a heavily pregnant one.

The nurse held the jar up to the light and said “That is the best coloured wee I have ever seen”.

Oh my.

I had the best coloured wee she had EVER seen.  Not, one of the best. Not, a very good shade to read a newspaper through. No.  The BEST wee she’d ever seen.

And I’m not joking.  Quite inexplicably – I beamed.  Shiny eyes, puffed up chest and a completely disproportionate sense of pride in the colour of my wee.  “Oh” I said, “I drink a lot of water”.

“Good”.

“More people should you know”

And now my pride knew no bounds.  I was a role model for people wanting to produce the right coloured wee!  She’d probably talk about me in the staff room. Hold me up as a shining example to other clients.  I would be known as the woman with the most awesome wee.

And I was in a public hospital.  They were not getting paid to blow smoke up my backside.  This was GENUINE praise.

I told anybody that would listen the story of my glorious moment.  Obviously quite self-deprecatingly, with a wry smile and a ‘get that’ eye roll.  But time has caught me out.  When asked what was my greatest achievement in the last five years – I thought about that jar of wee.

So it’s a small but cautionary tale for all of you.  Do not let your instincts guide your responses to questions about achievements.  Go with tradition on this one and find something more traditional to espouse on your resume.  Money is not paid to people of exceptional talent, but rather to people of saleable talent.

It’s a cruel, cruel world.

What’s your most saleable talent?

_talkingfrankly

Alison is an admirer of wordsmiths, quirky thinking, equality, chutzpah and kindness. Actively opposed to apathy. Blogs about anything from housework to human rights. Professional profaner. Mama to two perfect daughters and is married to the world’s best husband. You can read her blog here and connect on Facebook here. She’s also on Instagram as _talkingfrankly and Twitter.

Suddenly, there are deer in my bra

Oh deer

Oh deer

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is my memoir mentor and writerly friend, the inimitable Helen Patrice. Here she shares a story of exotic locations, wild animals, and underwear.

So, FiveFrogs starts asking around her writing bloggy cronies for those of us who are known as Humour Writers. I’m apparently one of them. I gaily say that, sure, I can submit a blog post for promotion on her ‘Check out this funny writer person’ blog thing. I’m a funny person. I make people laugh. (Let’s not go into my dismal capital F fail in Hawaii to do stand-up. The non-appreciation from the back of the van could be heard for miles, echoing off Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as we travelled the Saddle Road between them. Both Poliahu and Pele thought I sucked.)

I spend the afternoon lying in the sunshine, reading ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind. Not exactly a rip-roaring laughter book. More a grim but witty novel set amongst the scents and odours of France. Pee-hew! I’m up to page 90 and there’s already been one scent-related murder, with more to come, I can tell.

My laptop has lazed at my side. Twice during the afternoon, PizzaBoy has hunkered down behind it, and in a mousy voice, said: “Use me for blogging”.

To which my response has been: “Fuck off, Canada! Don’t pressure me! I’m a delicate writer.”

I lay there, and wondered what to be funny about. I could riff on my trip to Japan and China. I could, but…. Ho hum, I am such the weary traveller that it’s all very ho-hum, and what can I say that someone like Bill Bryson hasn’t said better. Not that he’s ever had the problem of too many deer in his bra at Nara.

I suppose I should explain. The shrine at Nara has a park with many charming deer roaming about. The deer mob visitors to the shrine. Many of the pathside vendors sell deer biscuits. No, not biscuits made of deer. Wafery type biscuits that are good for the deer to eat.

I wanted a not-your-usual tourist pic. Never mind me feeding the deer. I wanted the deer to mob me and eat off my body.

I lay down on a path where deer were seated nearby in the shade. I covered my clothed(must emphasise this, CLOTHED) body with pieces of deer bickie. Nothing. The deer looked away. Fool woman lying on the cold ground, desecrating the Nara shrine with her foul white ways.

Two Asian tourists took my photo and sniggered. Walked away.

I had to gather up my deer biscuits as best I could, which wasn’t very, because they fall to bits as soon as touched, and skulk away. Meanwhile, the Asian tourists are being flocked upon by deer, and they don’t even have any biscuits.

Bollocks.

A bit later, I try again. I sit down on a bench. I coax deer over with biscuits in hand. Then biscuits in lap. Then I lie down and put biscuits upon my person. The deer back away. Fine then, no prone deer mobbing. I sit up, and inspired, shove biscuits into my cleavage. Crumbs make a break for it, due south. They bypass my bra and somehow my singlet and top and end up in the knees of my leggings, where they itch like mo-fo’s. (I am up with hipster language like mo-fo, LOL, and er…other things)

Deer approach. One reaches into my cleavage, turns its head a bit sideways, and delicately selects a wafer of biscuit, leaving behind wet, sticky deer drool and a warm nose-imprint. Suddenly, there are deer in my bra. Many of them, and they all want the same biscuit. Easy guys, easy! There’s enough cleavage for all! Truly. I’m a 14DD, wearing a totally unsupportive Aah-Bra.
I get my photos. The Asian tourists get photos. Possibly the deer do, too.

I am content. I have my photo. Enough now, deer. But the deer are relentless. They can smell the crumbs festooning me. One tries to get up under my skirt to get at the crumbs around my knees. I am the Tippi Hedren of deer.

“Nature! It’s all over me! Get it off!” I say to PizzaBoy, quoting ‘Madagascar’.

I stand up. The deer butt me gently under the boobs. I have to retire to a toilet cubicle to de-smear, de-deer, and de-crumb myself. I never do get those leggings completely biscuit-free. They get washed twice more during the trip. I am sure I can still feel crumbs in them.

I sit back and look at this blog entry. Is it funny? I can’t tell. I feel morose. There is nothing amusing any more. Nothing. The pup loathes me – he is sleeping with his back to me. Looking at that sunshine. Nothing funny about that. I think about yoga this morning. I know we laughed at something. It’s gone now.

I think this is the blight of every comedian – the strain of finding the funny means that often, nothing seems to be when examined closely.

Then I start fretting that this is part of me coming off my full dosage of anti-depressant and seeing how I fare at 10mg. Am I tipping headlong into The Bad Place? It doesn’t feel like it.

Oh, I drive myself mad with this kind of thinking. If only I could think it was funny.

Tell me, readers. How many deer are too many to have in your bra?

Helen smaller

Helen Patrice is a Melbourne poet, memoirist, and blogger. She lives with her husband, son, and a small crowd of animals. You can find her blog here, her Facebook page here, and her book of Poetry, “A Woman of Mars” from here or from the author herself.

 

Working from home – the ugly truth

dreamstime_s_23253906 body

Appearance of actual person working from home may vary*

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is the gorgeous Lana Hirschowitz from Sharpest Pencil. Lana and I share a lot in common, not least of which is the questionable joy and doubtful privilege of working from home. Here she shares the ugly truth about the experience.

There is a conspiracy, I am sure of it.  Thousands of people all around the world are working from home, in fact the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator reveals that 64% of Australian business leaders manage someone who works remotely for at least some of the time. And that’s not counting the people who are working for themselves. Yet nobody is telling the truth.

There are manuals and blog posts, webinars and courses outlining what you need to know about working from home.   I’ve read so many of them and I’ve discovered that none of them tell the truth. Not until now.

You see I have recently given up an office job to go back to working from home but, unlike the blumph I have read, I am willing to share the real truth about what happens when you work where you live:

  1. Some people think working from home is code for “not working that hard”. You will soon start to see red when you hear this, you may also feel the need to inflict bodily pain. But you can’t because you won’t even have a free moment for pain infliction.
  2. You will be inundated with calls from charities. There is a distinct possibility that you end up donating more than you actually earn.
  3. You run a very good chance of forgetting that people don’t actually wear slippers out of the house.
  4. Further to point 3 above, even though you won’t always feel like it you should get dressed and brush your teeth as soon as you wake up. It’s easier to forget later in the day and picking up the kids in pajamas with a cappuccino moustache will only serve to worry the other parents.
  5. You will eat everything in your fridge. Once the fridge is empty you will move on to the entire contents of the cupboard. The only way to avoid this is to only stock food that you are allergic to.
  6. When you go to the shop the person behind the counter will inevitably ask if you are having a day off. You will immediately feel bad that you stepped out of the house with no regard to the fact that if you were in an office and you left to go to the shop, you would feel nothing about it at all.
  7. You will be tempted to do all the house-work instead of working. Don’t worry about that – this will pass very quickly.
  8. Daytime TV. You have been warned.
  9. There are days that you will feel like you have achieved nothing at all. Just remember that you started out in your bed and you are no longer there so that’s something. Unless of course you work from bed.
  10. There is a tendency to think that you will be lonely without other people in an office. Remember that these concerns first saw the light of day in in the time before Twitter. In fact you will never be lonely if you have an internet connection, you will also never get any work done.
  11. If you do want to see other people try the Medicare queue, that way you will get to form meaningful bonds with people in a work environment. That’s how long you will spend in the queue.
  12. During school holidays your friends will confuse you for an occasional day care centre. If you can work with ten kids screaming at your desk you will be fine with this.
  13. If you plan carefully you can sneak in naps. Just be prepared to work all night to make up for it (which kind of defeats the purpose).
  14. The sound of the washing machine will become such a constant companion that sometimes you will find it hard to work if it is not on. The plus side of this is if you are indeed running a laundry service from home.

Anything else you’ve learned from working at home?

Any questions you want to ask before you make the move?

lana head shotLana Hirschowitz is a writer, blogger and social media consultant. She was the launch editor of iVillage in Australia and Managing Editor of Mamamia (Australia’s largest independent female website) for over three years. She’s also a lover of toast, her family and Candy Crush, but not necessarily in that order. You can find her blog at Sharpest Pencil or follow her on Twitter @lanahirschowitz and on Facebook at SharpestPencilOnline. Go say hi – tell her the Frog sent you.

* Is it just me, or does this woman who works from home look a little too pleased that her screen isn’t turned on? Either that or she’s about to fart. Personally with that desk arrangement I’d be likely to try to drink my plant and water my coffee. That plant looks spikey. Working from home is dangerous, people.

The Cupcake Whisperer and freaks of nature

Triplets, anyone?

Triplets, anyone?

Hi Frog-Lovers. I hope you’ve all been fantastic since I last chatted here with you. I’ve been a very busy frog wearing my non-writing hat and I know I’ve been neglecting you. So between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers here on the Lily Pad, while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. 

The first of these guests is my BFF* Bec Pobjie. I call Bec The Cupcake Whisperer because she haz the mad baking skillz. She also likes to defame birds and would really like people to stop talking to her, as you’ll see in the piece below where she gives a score to the experience of finding out that her family was about to get a little bit bigger than she’d anticipated.

When Michaela asked me to write a guest blog post I was honoured, surprised and suspicious that maybe she knew something I didn’t, like I was dying, but mostly I was honoured. I asked if there were any requirements and all I got was “funny” which you know, NO PRESSURE. So then I had to put my thinking cap on as to what topic I would take. I thought about writing about RSVPing to events because people who don’t RSVP really fucking get on my wick, and then I thought maybe I would write about birds because birds, what the fuck are they good for? (Besides eating of course).

*Shakes fist angrily at birds*

You’ve all seen The Birds right? They are so going to take over one day, you mark my words. But then I thought I’d write about the funniest thing that has ever happened to me, which was of course having twins, because that was totally hilarious. I’m sure most people that know me know that I have four year old twin girls. For those that don’t, I have four year old twin girls. They were naturally conceived and total freaks of nature, there are no twins anywhere in our families, which is what makes it so hilarious.

I’ll never forget the day we found out we were having twins. It was my 12 week ultrasound. We decided to take our son with us and make it an all-round family experience. All was going well, the sonographer was doing her thing and then she uttered a phrase that no one wants to hear about anything:

“Well this is going to be interesting”.

No, no, you don’t describe good things as “interesting”, so of course I panic. She goes quiet for what seems like an hour but I’m sure it was just a minute or so, and then she says “I’m seeing double”. Hahahahaha what? I was hoping she was just having a funny turn or something, because the other alternative I was not prepared for, but of course it was the alternative and it was lucky I was lying down. Cut to the end of the ultrasound (which was a very quiet experience as you can imagine because we were both quite shocked) and to me totally freaking out. We had no room really for two babies, our car wasn’t big enough for 2 babies, AND FUCKING HELL TWO BABIES, TWO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aaaaanyway, lah de dah, we had two babies, at the same time, as one does when they have twins. And having twins brings out all the hilarity and stupid questions and having strangers talk to you even though you hate talking to people so much and of course every second person you come across has twins, or is a twin, or their second cousin twice removed only related to you by marriage has twins. Whenever we go out there is never a time where someone doesn’t say something about the twins, either to us or out loud to whoever they are with, for example:

“Awwww twins”

“Look! Two twins”

“Are they twins?”

“What lovely twins”

“Two girls?” (when babies whilst dressed in pink and purple).

“A boy and a girl?” (when babies whilst dressed in pink and purple).

I really should have attached labels, colours can be so confusing. And clearly should have set up my own freak show and started charging money. And thankfully we don’t get the last two questions anymore.

And of course so many people say “awwwww twins, I’d have loved to have had twins” or “aaaawwww twins I’d love to have twins”. No, no you don’t. No one that has had twins would ever want to have twins. Of course you’d never change the fact that you had them once they’re here but in planning, nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.  And people that have children close together that say “oh mine are so close it’s almost like twins” ah no, no it’s not and you need to stop saying that. STOP SAYING THAT.

So in closing, having twins is hilarious in so many ways, horrible in others and great in the leftover ways. A+ but would not do again.

WHAT’S THE FUNNIEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

The Cupcake Whisperer

The Cupcake Whisperer

Bec Pobjie describes herself as:
“33 years old married to Ben Pobjie. Mumma to three great kids, twin girls and a boy. Love baking but have no idea WTF to be when I grow up. Swears a lot, idiot.”

I can attest, your Honour, that all these things are true, except the idiot bit (although maybe Bec is calling US all idiots so that could also be true). Bec is the Cupcake Whisperer and makes amazing things to put in your face-hole.

You can read her ranty blog of rants here, connect with her on Twitter here, and view her amazing baking skills here. I recommend her baking services for all your face-hole needs.**

* Bloody Fabulous Female
** Makes a note to re-phrase that.