Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dear Susan,
Remember when we were teenagers and a period drama wasn't a TV series starring Colin Firth? No a period drama was being away on a holiday camp, totally unprepared for the first 'monthly' we'd experience for the rest of our long, long, long, child bearing lives.
I was so naive about the whole thing, I thought an ovary was a place where you housed birds, and a womb was something you booked in a hotel when you couldn't pronounce your 'r's; you know like "Can I please order a womb with a view".

After a short but effective education, I increased my vocabulary to include such useful words as 'discharge', 'haemorrhage', 'severe cramp', 'cyst', 'endometriosis',and 'get off the fucking road you stupid fucking bastard'. I was able to participate in periodic conversation with the best of them.

I'm remembering this because although Rosie Josie Eloise and Andrea sailed through their menses with the help of drugs, hot water bottles, small hip flasks of brandy, garnished with straws, I don't think it's fair that our grand daughters should have to go through this monthly mess.

I've spent hours calculating that the average woman in an average lifetime spends 2,400 days, bleeding from 'down there', or to put it another way it's just one bloody month after another. A woman's reproductive organs spend 430 weeks rehearsing for conception which may occur 2 or 3 times in a lifetime (okay so Eloise went overboard with 5). But what a waste; it's like a vegan owning a meat tenderiser in case a carnivore comes over for dinner.

You know my Pollyanna philosophy makes me look on the bright side of everything, well I've been trying to find a positive spin on the subject to tell Bronwyn, Dolcie, Tallulah and Molly. For example even as a teenager I was very conservation conscious and thought that anything more energetic than lifting an eyebrow was a waste of the Earth's resources. I was delighted to discover that one could be excused from gym class if it was 'that time of the month'. I think my gym teacher became suspicious when I pleaded 'periods' every Wednesday for five years.

I'm maybe drawing a long bow when I say that periods stopped me from becoming an alcoholic. At age ten I would spend one day a month curled up in a foetal position, clutching a hot poker to my belly and sipping warm brandy and water. Thereafter I always associated alcohol with severe pain and led a life of total sobriety.

And periods are so sexist. Men don't understand why Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm becomes Atilla the Hun for one week in every four.Even male gynaecologists can't describe ovulation twinges, the ongoing agony of a prolapsed womb. Do they think we like being so irrational we blame the dog if it rains?

 And my gyno lied through his teeth. He told me all my problems would disappear once I bore children ( don't say a word about me and boring children). I had three children to avoid period pain I still had the pain and three Atillas as well. And now the poor little grand girls will soon begin their paths to puberty.

Oh and don't think it ends at puberty, oh no!! Life becomes a series of intervals between 'women's issues'. After one such procedure, from which I would recover in a couple of hours, I haemorrhaged for six weeks.Then one day I passed the bedroom mirror and even though I did see a reflection, it was ghost like and I searched for telltale signs of bite marks in my neck; checked to see if I had an aversion to garlic or crucifixes. Nothing. The hospital gave me five pints of someone's blood, a pint of which I lost three weeks later.

At least feminine hygiene products have evolved from the folded towelling square, tied elastic belt, and giant nappy pins we once had to use. I remember when I was nineteen I told mum I wanted to try a tampon. She told me it was impossible because you couldn't use tampons if you were a virgin. I didn't enlighten her.

Anyway my heart bleeds for all grandmothers out there who are watching their little grand girls become 'women'. I guess there's nothing for it but to wait until someone invents disposable female reproductive organs. You could obtain them for five dollars from a machine in women's rest rooms, you know like condoms or sanitary napkins (do they still have them?)

Do you think Mother Nature may have had a gender reassignment before she reached puberty?

Gotta go.  Having a hot flush; but that's another letter.

Love Janet

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dear Susan,
 Happy 2013. Trying to think of some resolutions that I might have a chance of keeping.

  • I'm not taking up smoking
  • I'm not going bungy jumping
  • I'm not going to sail single handedly around the world.
Now stuff I AM going to do in 2013. I am going to India with you to fufill two lifelong dreams

  1. To wash my clothes by beating them against rocks in the Ganges and
  2. To lose 30 kilos in three weeks.

Dementia has been on my mind lately and dementia has been on my mind lately, so I'm thinking of doing something to stimulate my......what's its name?
Thought  of several things, joining a gym or a Jim, learning to tap dance, writing only with my left hand or taking up Tai Chi.( I'm moving very slowly lately so I thought that might do the trick.)

The sudden interest in ageing has been prompted by the fact that everyone I know is doing it and by the plethora (2) of mature movies that have zimmered their way onto our movie screens lately.
First "the Best Little Marigold Hotel" and now "Quartet".  Both wonderful films but I don't want to be reminded of a future of hip replacements and pureed food. And who wants to imagine that Shirley Valentine's  stretch marks, once so tenderly kissed by Tom Conte in Greece are now sagging around her knees in a retirement home for musicians. And Miss Jean Brodie is well and truly past her Prime.

So far 2013 has been a hoot although it is only 20 hours old. On NYE I ate and watched Dinner For One, drooled over Hugh Jackman on a talk show and finally watched the Last Night of The Proms. Poms bobbing up and down to the tune of the Sailors Hornpipe waving flags, wearing funny hats, tooting horns and throwing streamers: a Chekoslovakian conducting the united nations BBC orchestra, accompanying a Maltese tenor singing a Spanish song in Italian. Just a thought.

Then today I had such a great day with you and Adrian. Thanks for the swim, lunch, dinner, wine, the game of Dumb Ass and for returning my brandy butter container

This year I think I'm going to say 'yes' to everything instead of saying 'no' just in case I get a better offer.
I've never had one so I might as well just go with the flow. Hope it isn't upstream.
Happy New Year x


Friday, December 7, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear Susan,
 You know how I said I was having problems with the authorities, well I have written them a letter and just want to run it by you to get your opinion. Please be honest.

Your Worship, Lordship, god Of Small Things and Sir,
Once upon a time in the "no probs parking" area of Cronulla there lived a little old lady. She'd lived in the "Shoire" all of her unblemished life.
Her unit was across the road from the Plaza, resulting in the fact that since like other residents she never crossed the bridge (Tom Ugly's), her car spent most of its happy little life curled up in her registered parking space in the bowels of her unit block.
One day however the little old lady (let's call her Jan) was called upon to help an 82 year old friend with her pussy, which had been sick with fleas, furballs and occasional incontinence.  So Jan drove to her friend's house , picked up her friend and her pussy and took them both to the vet's. The friend survived but unfortunately Oedipuss had to go to the big cattery in the sky.
Having taken care of her friend and her fragile feline, Jan drove her car to the council car park because
a)  she needed to buy a few things and
b) her throat was very sore, her temperature was very high, she had the shakes from being so cold and she couldn't stop coughing. She thought the chemist might have a miracle drug she could take to circumvent her death. Armed with eye of newt and tongue of toad and aspirin in case extreme measures were needed, Jan dragged herself home where she went to sleep for six days and six nights.
With her temperature rising and falling and her constant descent into delusional, delirious hallucinatory episodes, Jan was beginning to lose the will to live.
However this too passed and on the eighth day she put one foot tentatively on the ground and declared "It's a miracle". Having run out of essentials like bread, milk and Toblerone Jan decided to drive to the shops because she still felt too weak to walk.
Down in the bowels of her unit complex she found her registered car space empty. 'Shit a brick' she thought ' someone has stolen my car'. Then through the haze of memory came the sudden realisation that she had left it in the council car park seven days ago.
Crawling across to said carpark Jan was praying to the Parking God"Please lord, I didn't mean to overstay my welcome but I have been at death's door".
In an illustration of the saying "No good deed goes unpunished" there on her windscreen were four brown envelopes.
Jan cried as she sipped her caffeine fix, wondering how she could deal with the fines. She lived on the pension. There was no way she could produce $400 out of thin air. She considered selling one of her nine grand children on eBay but she was technologically challenged. She thought she could sell her mother's wedding ring, but that was awkward because her mother was still wearing it.
Still in the death throes of the flu Jan thought she could pay one of the fines and leave the other three in her will to her daughters. One daughter would take the case all the way to the International, nay the Intergallactic Court of Appeal on principle. One daughter would petition her local member with a persuasive argument against the Victimisation of Senior Citizens in Council Car Parks and the other daughter would take the fine home store it with all the detritus that comes with having five children or use it in a craft lesson to make 1000 paper cranes. In any case the fines were not going to be high on anybody's list except Jan's.
Therefore your lordship, I am throwing myself on the mercy of the court. I am prepared, nay excited to pay one of the fines if the other three could be
a) overlooked, or
b) paid off over a period of time,say 100 years.

In view of the above I trust you will be sympathetic to my cause.

I remain etc etc etc

Well there it is Susan; what do you reckon? An iceblock's chance in hell.
I'll let you know what happens
Janet xxxx 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Susan,

Happy new year.Hope you enjoyed the holidays Guess what Ivan gave me for Christmas; yep, a cleaning lady. I don't know why; I'd dropped hints about things I really needed like knickers with elastic in them, a toothbrush with vertical bristles, or a pair of pantihose with the heels still intact, you know, little luxury items. But when my stocking was hung out three weeks before Christmas, it was filled with Freda.

Nothing makes a woman feel more redundant or filthy than a cleaning lady. For three days before she arrived I scrubbed, polished,vacuumed, and scraped the fungus out of the shower recess. I found things I'd forgotten existed like the pattern on the kitchen floor, the view from the kitchen window and the carpet in Eloise's bedroom. I threw out the dead orange which had been fermenting in the bottom of the fruit bowl, the dead goldfish which I thought had just been resting on the top of the tank and a dead television programme announcing the live telecast of the Royal wedding (Victoria and Albert's). I felt secure; even my mother would have trouble finding something to pick on , or up for that matter.

Boy was I wrong. Freda arrived carrying a large sack over her shoulders. "What's in the bag?" I asked her. "Rags" she answered. "A good cleaning lady always has many rags". Well that let me out; I wear all mine.

She took three steps into the house and looked around clicking her tongue and muttering "I love a challenge" A CHALLENGE??? What was she talking about? Unless you could count an unexpugated copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover as filth, my house was so clean it squeaked.

"I will wash the windows and you will wash the curtains" she snapped at me, and before you could say Mr Sheen I was bundling the curtains up and carting them down to the laundry. When I resurfaced seven hours later with the clean, starched, ironed curtains I thought I was in the wrong house. There was Freda rubbing linemant into her knees. "What's that?" I asked. "A skirting board " she said "you'll find them all around the bottoms of the walls NOW! Next week we will clean the oven".

I fell into a crumpled heap on the floor after she left. I'd never worked so hard in my life. I hung the curtains back up and thought ' I've just paid a woman good money to clean windows that I cover up with curtains.' The curtains remained open for the rest of the week.

Seven days to get the oven into a state fit to be cleaned; short of hydrochloric acid, I used every spray, foam, mist vapour and solution known to man. I found enough grease to do a complete service on two cars, but the result was worth it; for the first time I could see what was cooking through the oven glass.

This did not deter Freda. Come cleaning day she opened the oven door, disappeared into the rotisserie and emerged three hours lter looking like a coal miner. "There" she exclaimed "Like new" She was right. I will never cook in it again.

My life has changed since freda entered it. For a start Rosie, Josie and Eloise are not allowed to touch anything in the house for at least ten minutes after Freda leaves. They have learned to float from one room to the other without letting their feet touch the floor. I deny that I have threatened to chop off the hands of any toddler who touches a glass panel anywhere in the house. Wedon't use the bathroom, I make the kids stand under the hose in the front garden every couple of days and I use the YWCA showers.

Now I spend two days a week cleaning the house to make it ready for the cleaning lady ( it's called 'spofforthing '). The castle that I used to call home now looksas though it has been decorated in 'early sterile'; which is why I was surprised when Josie started coughing and wheezing last week. " I think you must have an allergy" I told her. But she assured me that she was lacking something in her diet. " Since Freda's been coming" she said "I haven't had my usual intake of dust. The cough is my body's way of telling me something is missing".

My hands reached for her throat then I heard a voice whisper ' Cleanliness is next to Godliness'.
Fortunately for Josie I had to let go of her neck in order to alphabetise the linen cupboard; Freda's coming tomorrow.
Love Janet xx

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear Susan,
I'm so impressed with your vegie patch, thanks for the lettuce by the way. I ate both leaves at once. I would have eaten the tomato as well but a grub beat me to it.
Anyway your efforts have encouraged me to have a go myself; it's a bit of a challenge though when the garden bed is a 2x1 metre tiled balcony. Thanks for the planter boxes by the way. I always thought it would be an advantage to grow my own herbs and vegetables, you know, to cut down my carbon footprint (size 6). And now that fresh produce is so expensive ( I lay-byed a banana the other day) I thought I could save a fortune.
Well you know my history with plants. I get them home from the nursery, re-pot them, and they commit suicide while I'm going to get the watering can. It's not so much a case of feed and weed but more like fill, spill, and kill.
I was determined this time would be different. I planted lettuce, rosemary, mint, basil, parsley and snow peas. Your Andrea, whose garden by the way is delicious, told me to attach the snow peas to some stakes. I'm so glad I did. The snow peas died but at least the stakes are starting to shoot. I have had some success with a nastursium seed that blew into the planter one day. It is climbing all over the entire balcony now and blocking out the sun. I'm waiting for a prince to come and cut down the jungle and kiss me awake from my 100 year sleep.
Maybe my lack of success is due to my fundamental ignorance of Latin. I come home with a couple of plants labelled Azalea and Gardenia and when it's too late to do anything about it, I discover that their Latin names must be Quo Vadis and Rigor Mortis.
It's not so much that I don't have a green thumb but more that I just don't have green plants. They are yellow, brown, black or have big holes in their leaves. My lettuce was crisp but does anyone want brown crisp lettuce? Yesterday I was so excited because there was a flower on my strawberry plant; then I discovered it was a nastursium. I just don't get it. I can grow mould in my shower recess, fungus in my joggers, and bacteria in my fridge; what is it with me and horticulture.

Someone once told me that the difference between a weed and a flower was a value judgement; I am no longer going to be judgemental about my plants. They can just go feral, a bit like my kids. They all grew into very rare orchids, or weeds depending on your pont of view.

Anyway if you are coming over on Sunday for lunch could you bring some mushrooms please; mine don't seem to like the sun.