E-mail from my brother - Part 4

My now weekly e-mail from my brother (who is getting rather a lot of love on Twitter and Facebook) arrived yesterday. Luckily this time I wasn't crying while I read it, but settled down with a cup of chocolate tea (its the future don't you know) to enjoy it.

So get yourself settle with a beverage of choice for the next instalment of why his life down under is harder than mine at the moment. I am beginning to genuinely feel sorry for him.

from: brothersemail@hotmail.com
to: myemail@googlemail.com
Subject: FW Hello
Hi Fay,

Spoke briefly to mum and dad again this morning.  Bit of chaos at our place so didn’t talk long.  Hope you are holding up and can take solace in the woes of those less fortunate than yourself i.e. me.  Of course I’m being flippant, but as I’m typing this in my boxers and T-shirt after taking a shower before bed time a fly has landed on the inside of my thigh, I’ve slapped at it and have caught the old family jewels.

And I’m back.

So, in the same manner as the last e-mail (although possibly shorter – we’ll see) here are some more of my problems that make the Big C seem mere trivia….

(1)   The Situation
In a couple of weeks time I'm off to an SCA (Society of Creative Anachronisms) event meeting down in Lake Taupo.  It’s an archery event so I'm running a couple of the shoots but also there’s what’s called an Arts and Sciences competition where this time it’s all about “brewing” and “baking”.  I've already picked, crushed, squeezed, pulped and brewed a load of apples from our very own apple trees and packaged them up as Anglo-Saxon cider.  I've sweetened it with honey and it’s quite nice.  I've also bored Juliette with the history of cider in England and I’m kind of resisting the temptation to tell you all about beor, Norman bere and cider.

So let’s skip to the problem.The rules state that there is to be a wide definition of the term “brewed” so I thought I would also add the “brewed smell of the London street circa 1377”.  To this end I would get a large bottle and add earth, sheep poo, cats poo, dogs poo, horse poo, geese poo, chicken poo, human poo (and wee), some offal, a dead rat (if Tom the cat catches one for us and doesn't eat it first), some hay, some blood and some human tears (of laughter, mine, supplied free gratis)

The Problem:
Juliette is vegetarian, Eva is vegetarian, Sam is vegetarian, so I'm vegetarian by proxy.  Where do I get some offal that doesn't involve me offending Juliette.  Road kill?   Am I just going to have to murder a lone hitchhiker in order to wet myself laughing watching people sniffing cack out of bottle in a two weeks time?

(2)   The Situation:
Our Honda Odyssey is a Japanese import into New Zealand.  Imports from Japan were quite popular before the big earth quake and tidal wave and nuclear reactor meltdown shenanigans that put a bit of a boost into the second hand car market in Japan but killed the one in New Zealand.  So we've got essentially a Japanese car.   Nothing wrong with that, we've got two Japanese cars in fact.  Still, and stay with me on this, of all the owners manuals it seems that the Owners Car Manual is King.  Not only does it get its own polyvinyl folder to live in it gets to go every where the car does too.  It’s not like the poor microwave manual that gets a cursory once over and is left in a drawer only to be consulted when you need to defrost something bigger than a loaf of bread or the clocks go forward and you want to reset the time.  No, the owner’s car manual is King of the Manuals.

This is evident by the fact that despite ours being all in Japanese it still lives in the glove compartment of our car.  If our car was a hot air balloon and we were sinking towards crocodile infested swamp and we needed to throw useless stuff out to gain more height there’d still be pause and a good hard think about chucking the owners manual we can’t actually read. It feels essentially wrong.  It’s King of the Manuals for a reason.

The Problem:
Our car has from time to time started beeping and giving an audible verbal warning that something is up.  It goes beep, beep and then a Japanese woman says some Japanese words so quickly you can’t actually catch what she’s saying.  It’s random, there’s no warning lights on the dash and we can’t read the owner’s manual.  Of course we can take it to a garage but it’s a random warning that may not sound when some mechanic is charging us for the privilege of finding out what the car is saying.

Now one of Eva’s pre-school teachers is Japanese, or at least has a Japanese last name.  We pondered asking her what the warning was but it took less that two seconds to realise that bowling up and asking “Say, can you tell us what ‘Hoitoy! Chikusho! Sushi katana manga something, something, eeeeee banzai!!!!’ means?” might sound like we’re taking the piss or being a bit racist or something.  It’s like we couldn't be bothered to understand what the Japanese woman was trying to tell us so urgently.

So we’re going to avoid the problem and wait until the car breaks down.  God, we’re so middle class sometimes.

(3)   The Situation:
I’m a “stay-at-home-dad” or a “daddy-day-care” or a “house husband” or as our dad likes to call me, a “house frau”.  Thanks dad! 

This means that normal mummy rules don’t apply to me.  When I take to Samuel to organised toddler events I don’t have to fit into the pigeon hole between the yummy mummies & scummy mummies, I just exist.  Like those cyan blue disabled three wheeled cars of yesteryear I serve a purpose and don’t have to be “cool” or “with it”. But as more and more stay-at-home dads appear then eventually we’ll have to start competing against each other rather than what we do now which is just avoid eye contact, or have a quick nervous chat about how better this is than working while not believing it for a second or ignoring each other’s existence.  

What we professional stay-at-home-dads hate is the dad who takes a day off from work, come to the group and is all over-exaggerated smiles and really gets into “If you’re happy and you know it” like a he’s a lone survivor in a zombie apocalypse movie and he has to act more like the rest of the zombies or he’s dead meat.  He’s safe in the knowledge that this time tomorrow he’s back behind the wheel of his truck or scheduling meetings or making up PowerPoint presentations while telling folks he wishes he could stay at home but internally thanking his maker that the quality of the coffee breaks he gets aren't dependant on the mood of a toddler.

The Problem:
I'm not really into my appearance much.  I shave once a week whether I need to or not (ha,ha,ha).  But I do shower daily, cut my nails, wash my hands before meals and  preparing food, but what I'm not into is fashion.

I have seventeen T-shirts, a couple of pairs of jeans, some shorts and that’s all I need at the moment.  But I’m really getting tired of picking Sam up and him just nuzzling right into me so that I end up with snot epaulettes.

Last week I was at a group and I nearly tripped over a baby car seat containing what looked like a six week old baby.  His mother was a perfectly well made up, slim, tanned happy looking mum complete with a blonde haired blued eyed basin hair cut toddler that looked like he was playing the role of Jim Carey’s son in a Jim Carey comedy.  Where was her grumpy I've-had-no-sleep scowl?  Why wasn't she eating Bourbon Biscuits in an effort to boost her boredom levels?  Where was her snot epaulettes?

What I need is some device to guide Sam’s snot/jam/biscuit covered face towards the centre of my T-shirt so that it no longer looks like I'm a homeless person but simply someone who is wearing a Baby Jesus Turin Shroud T-shirt.  Obviously I'm just going to have to drink more beer and work on my man-boobs as a face steerage device.

(4)   The Situation:
This is another Samuel issue.  Every morning I make a cup of tea and I include Sam in the ritual.  I hold him in my left arm, switch the kettle on, get a mug, pass the tea bag to Sam and he drops it into the mug, I hold up my hand in a high-five position and he high fives (I've been working on the fist bump but Sam can’t make a fist and just looks like someone has stolen his sock puppet – this move doesn't impress old ladies in supermarket checkout lines as much so we've abandoned it until he’s two).  I add the milk, the hot water and brew up.  No problem.

The Issue:
I don’t know how this happened but we've also got into the routine that when I take a slurp of tea he leans in and I blow hot tea fumes in his face.  His eyes go unfocused, the classic thousand yard stare, and he opens his mouth slightly too like he wants to gather up as much tea fug as I can blow in his direction.  He then pauses, and gives a big smile.  This encourages me to do it again because nothing prompts repeat performances like a grinning toddler.  Thing is, am I in fact giving him a gateway drug?  Will he be injecting his eye balls with heroin in twenty years time for ever chasing that initial PG Tips high?  Or does he just like the smell of tea?

So you can see it’s a never ending series of quandaries.  Last night the North Island of New Zealand got hit by a “weather bomb” (as the authorities reported it) with winds up to a hundred and fifty kilometres per hour.  I wasn’t worried because I couldn’t convert it into miles per hour, but happily in the morning we still had two Guinea Pigs, three alpacas, some chickens and a cat.  So take things as they come and take care of yourself.



As always
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