Wednesday, May 31, 2006

whistle for me, my love

In my marriage, there are a couple of 'issues' which crop up again, and again, and then once again, just in case we'd forgotten. I suspect other marriages also have their own recurring conflicts. (If not, we are in deep trouble!)

Sometimes I find it depressing how nothing seems to change. Sometimes I find it vaguely we go again, where I say 'blah blah', and he says 'dum de dum'. Mostly, I just accept that two people can never live together in perfect harmony, and that we both do try to make each other happy. We may not get it right all the time, but mostly we do. Our arguments have become less frequent and less heated over time.

Something that has always driven me crazy is when Fatty doesn't listen to me. It wearies me even to tell you the details, so often have I tried to explain to this dear man what I would like from him. It is all rather like shouting into a gale-force wind! The fact is, I am fascinated by people, and love to hear their thoughts and feelings, whereas my beloved husband is fascinated by IPods, birds, football, and composting bins. Hence, my chosen topics of conversation often bore him silly.

One night, not so long ago, I spoke to Fatty about how I had realised how I had judged someone too quickly. (I had met the mother of one of Laura's school friends, found her to be a bit bossy and gossipy, and decided she was not someone I wanted to spend any time with. In time, I discovered she was an incredibly thoughtful and generous person, with a huge heart). I was amazed by the lesson I had learnt from being too quick to judge - I thought what I was discussing was terribly interesting. Fatty, on the other hand, was showing his ennui in no uncertain terms - yawning, lying staring up at the ceiling, making no response other than an occasional disinterested 'mmm' or 'uh-huh'.

When I finally snapped, and told Fatty how awful it made me feel to have him barely bothering to interact with me, he explained in not-so-many-words that what I was talking about bored him (my husband is nothing if not honest). He was not trying to make me feel bad, he continued, it was just that the subject matter left a lot to be desired. WELL. In my steeliest voice, I replied that not all conversation was for the sole purpose of entertaining him. I suggested that he would never treat a stranger in the street in that way.

We talked it through, and I admitted maybe I don't sound riveted, either, when he talks about who's been injured in his favourite football team. We are different, and that is part of the attraction. I conceded I would try to pick my moments - for example not chatting away merrily at bedtime (but why can't I? It's so much fun; just like a sleepover!). Fatty decided he would try to show more interest in my thoughts and feelings. He vowed to .... drum-roll..... start reading my blog! (yes, folks, my posts are eminently accessible to my life partner yet he NEVER reads them)

So now, my dearest Fatty, I am checking to see how you're going with that resolution of yours. The signal that you've read my words will be this - when we go to bed tonight, whistle the call of the magpie softly into my ear.

I can hardly wait.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Today at work....

.... I saw the radiant 'Kayla' who, after several months of failing to conceive, and a heartbreaking miscarriage, is halfway through a healthy pregnancy - a little brother or sister to her boy, 'Mikey'.

I spoke with a brave woman who is living with the fact that she and her husband have endured six unsuccessful IVF cycles thus far.

I congratulated a young woman who was rather startled, yet thrilled, to find herself pregnant after the first month of trying for a family.

A young pharmacist told me how she and her husband have only one child, by choice, because one child was 'more than enough!' for them to handle.

I discussed the treatment for a sexually-transmitted infection with a young woman who has recently has her second termination.

It's a funny old world. Life on this planet is glitter-good, brutish-bad, wonderful, awful, and all the shades in between.... but always, always fascinating. What a strange but enthralling day it's been.

I try never to forget what a magnificent gift I am given by those who entrust me with their confidences. Their stories I carry with me, often seared into my memory. I can't help but feel my life is so much richer for what these people have shared with me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

home alone

Here I sit, in a silent house. No husband, puttering and muttering around. No children, arguing over the plasticine. Even the dog has vacated the premises. It is quiet and still. You may be wondering how I got so lucky - is it my birthday, or perhaps have I taken a 'me' day? Am I taking a day off work to nurture my inner soul?

Well, no. No, negative, nup, uh-uh. I owe this day alone at home to the joys can I put this delicately... gastrointestinal distress. Or I could use a good old Aussie term 'the collywobbles'. Let's just say my guts are crook. It's all fun, fun, fun here at the house of Jellyhead.

You know, I withheld some vital information from you all about our holiday last week. It's not that I wanted to be deceptive or anything - I just didn't want to be a moaner and a groaner, a whiner and a wailer. And let's face it - it's really not terribly interesting for people to read about diarrhoea and vomiting, is it? I tried to spare you, especially those with squeamish sensibilities. But the fact is, Laura got sick on the first Saturday of our week away, then Fatty and Ben followed on the Tuesday. They remained a bit under-the-weather for about 5 days each. So while we still had some fun, Fatty and the kids were below par, and I spent a lot of time getting up through the night, cleaning up and washing. (Now you know part of the reason I was soooo glad to get home)

I consoled myself with the fact that I was the un-chosen one. By the start of this week, I thought I was in the clear for sure! Well, you know now that I was sadly mistaken.

It's awfully peaceful here, though. And I don't feel THAT bad. I think the worst may have passed. I'm starting to feel guilty about not going to work which is SO dumb, even from the point of view of not infecting any of my poor patients with this bug. So here I sit, idly blogging, wondering what all the rest of you are up to.

I think I might proclaim this WHINING DAY. Now that I have whined, I want to hear some complaints from the lives of you, my blogpals. It will make me feel better, truly. They say misery loves company, so let's form a great big company of woe. Let's block out all happy, grateful, appreciative thoughts, and concentrate fully on all our frustrations! T, your hubby took your car keys to work, and you ended up locked out of the house to boot - let's hear an outraged diatribe from you, please. And Motherkitty, we know you still have plenty of knee pain and stiffness after your recent surgery - surely you can manage a small gripe? There must be more of you with something negative to say - help me out here.

I need your whingeing support, friends. Over to you.....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

why did the emu cross the road?

I can't help myself - I have a pressing need to show you a few holiday snaps.

The animal pictures were from an outing to a nearby wildlife park.

The bird photo was taken by Birdman (of course!), while I snapped the photo of the bush cottage. If you look closely at the cottage, you can see the avian-lover out front, peering into the trees through binoculars. The spotter is spotted!


Before I go, one last thing....

Haaaaaappy Biiiirthday to yoooooou, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Heather, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to YOU!!! Heather (aka Tootie, my recent guest poster) is another year older and wiser and lovelier today, so go congratulate her if you have a minute!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

there's no place like home

I'm feeling just like Dorothy at the end of "The Wizard of Oz" - truly glad to be back home. They say home is where the heart is, but for me, home is where my house, computer, wardrobe, washing machine and dog are. Assuming my family is there, too, of course.

I firmly believe that one of the most important roles of The Holiday is to make you realise how you feel about your everyday life. I once took a vacation with Fatty (pre-children) and realised that I wasn't happy with my life. I was working way too many hours, and was getting burnt-out. On that holiday, I dreaded our return to 'normal life'.

This past week, we combined visiting Fatty's darling parents with a 2-night stay away in a country cottage (the photo is from just near the cottage). As much as I enjoyed the break, I also found myself looking forward to returning to our day-to-day routines. I wanted to come home and pat our beagle. I wanted to blog. I wanted to sit with Fatty on our comfy couch. I'm keen to take my kids to their swimming lessons, and to go to karate class. I want to see how everyone is going at work.

I am reminded that every part of life is precious, whether glorious or mundane.


*THANK YOU Tootie my sweet friend, for keeping the home fires burning! For those of you who would like to read more from the very entertaining Tootie, go here. Some of you already visit her blog, and I'm sure many others will become new fans! *

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What's in a nickname?

It's still me, Tootie.

A question was asked in the comment section of my last post. A reader wanted to know the story behind the name "Jellyhead."

Well, I do believe it's because Jelly can be a little bit of what we Americans like to call "airheaded." Despite her medical degree and her obvious intelligence, it would seem that she sometimes walks around with her head in the clouds. Aren't we all guilty of the same thing from time to time?

I, myself, went to my credit union the other day and asked them to call the branch across town because I was certain I had left my driver's license in the carrier there. The nice girl behind the counter was very sweet and courteous and she called the other branch, waited on hold for several minutes while they searched for my license, and then sadly informed me that my license was not at the other branch. I frowned slightly and wondered aloud, "Where could it possibly be?" Just then, I opened my billfold to place the cash I had withdrawn from my account, and the cashier exclaimed, "There it is!" Yes, folks, my license was staring out at me from my billfold. It was right where it belonged all that time. Imagine that! Even worse, I had been looking for it for a week! Yes, I think we can all be a jellyhead at times.

But I really must protest that some of you seem to think my nickname, Tootie, is self-explanatory. It really isn't. It has nothing at all to do with any flatulence on my part! Nor do I have a habit of tooting my own horn. Nor do I sound like a train whistle when I blow my nose. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to die. Here's how my nickname came about:

Apparently, nicknames are the norm in Australia. Jellyhead's real name is used in it's shortened form by her friends. She really does call her husband "Fatty" a lot of the time. She calls her daughter "Louey." She has nicknames for all of her good friends. She was recently lamenting that calling me by my real name seemed much too formal and asked if she might call me by a nickname. I had no problem with that except that I have never had a nickname. My name is impossible to shorten and no one has ever called me by anything else. I set Jelly to the task of coming up with a nickname. She tried "Nicki" but my grandmother stubbornly insisted on calling me by that name (which is a shortened form of my middle name) when I was born despite my mother's obvious irritation. So Jelly didn't want to be like a stubborn old lady. She begged and begged me to give her something to work with. I reluctantly admitted to her that my father's nickname for me has always been "Tootie Brown." Don't ask why. I have no idea. I mean, the "Brown" part is because I always had dark skin. The "Tootie" part was invented out of thin air. Jelly was bubbling over with happiness. "Oh, I LOVE Tootie! Can I call you Tootie, can I?" My husband was a witness to the conversation and he said, "Yeah, did you tell her she can call you Tootie only if she has a death wish?" See, I have always been reluctant to share my nickname with anyone. That's why my husband was so surprised when I sighed, "I guess." It is a testament to how much I adore Jellyhead that I have bestowed upon her the honor and privelege of calling me by my childhood nickname.

I must say that, as much as I enjoy guest posting on Jelly's site, I am missing her so much! I am sure I am not alone. I know all of you are anxiously awaiting the day when Jelly brings her own honest, yet witty, style back to the blog.

Come home soon, Jelly! We miss you!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blogger Trivia

G'day, mates! It's not Jelly. It's her American friend whom she affectionately (or laughingly?) refers to as Tootie. The reason she calls me Tootie is divulged on a need-to-know basis only. I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you. Or feed your children chocolate candy and espresso and send them back to you. Choose your poison.

When Jelly and I first started getting to know each other, we played a fun little game where we shared one mostly silly trivia fact about ourselves and one not-so-silly fact. It was a great way to get to know each other fairly well in a short period of time. We no longer play the game because now we know enough about each other that we can hold an animated conversation without difficulty.

One of my not-so-silly facts is that my parents divorced when I was six years old. It affected me greatly. One of my second grade teachers told my mother, "Your little girl is the saddest child I have ever seen." Because my parent's split was quite violent and they remained hostile toward one another throughout my childhood, I worried myself sick during our weekend visits with my father. I cried when I left my mother because I felt that my loyalty should be to her and that I was betraying her by leaving. I cried for the entire 30-45 minute drive back home to my mother's house at the end of the weekend because I feared that I might never see my father again since he had been in my life every day one moment and the next he was inexplicably absent. Not to mention the fact that he missed several of our weekend visitations and my brother and I sat on the front steps watching for his truck to pull around the curve and up to our house and finally, when the sun began to set, dejectedly shuffled back into my mother's house knowing that Daddy had forgotten about us once again.

I shared that fact with Jelly because it explains a lot of the issues I have had to tackle in my life as an adult. I have great difficulty trusting others and I fall apart when I feel invisible or forgotten by those I love. I panic to the point that I break into a cold sweat and feel nauseated when I place my trust in someone and then feel abandoned by them. It is an area in my life where it is easy to see that I was crippled by some aspects of my childhood. I always feel it is important to share such facts when I make close friends so that my neuroses don't come as such a surprise deeper into the friendship.

On a lighter note, one of my silly trivia facts I shared with Jelly is that I have to eat things on my plate in a certain order. I eat all of my meat, then my potatoes, then my salad, etc. You'd be surprised how many people pay attention to the way other people eat. It also just so happens to be my pet peeve for people to watch me eat. For that reason, I consciously try to eat more like a normal person; a bite of this and a bite of that. I am always secretly thrilled when I have the rare experience of observing someone else who eats the way I do. I used to think it meant I have a highly organized brain but one look in my hall closet dispels that theory.

In honor of mine and Jelly's friendship, I thought it would be nice to ask all of you to share a fact or facts about yourselves that you believe to be unique or silly or just plain weird! Jelly will be so entertained to read of your quirks upon her return!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

you say hello, and I say goodbye

I once saw a card that so perfectly encapsulated my nature that I laughed out loud, standing by myself in front of the card rack. The card said, "I worry too much", and inside it read, "and that worries me."

I am about to go on a week's holiday. I am aiming to stop fretting about how much I fret, and even stop fretting altogether (at least as much as I am able!). There will most likely be a post or two from a VIP guest blogger (no, not JellyMa this time) while I'm gone. So there'll be no need for you, my blogpals, to fret at all.

I hope you all have a very happy week until I next visit your blogs!


Sunday, May 07, 2006

win or lose?

If I wasn't careful, I could end up one of those perpetually dissatisfied people - always wanting more. More success, more clothing, more holidays, more children even! I resist these urges; I fight my own greed and hankerings by telling myself in a stern voice how lucky I am for all I already have in my life.

At the karate competition on the weekend, I had only one opponent. She was tall, she had bleached blond spiky hair, she had a Nordic accent, and her name was Katarina. Katarina the Viking Queen gave me a thrashing. I tried, I really did, but I was completely outclassed. This woman had been on the State karate team, for Pete's sake! She well and truly kicked my butt.

Now, in my moments of rationality, I can tell myself Jelly, you are a mother and a wife and a doctor and a carrot-cake-maker and that is enough. You do not need to win karate competitions as well. This is what I tell myself, and as you can see, I give myself very sensible advice. HOWEVER..... I am often surprised to discover my competitive streak, lurking evilly under my 'oh-I'll-just-give-it-a-go-and-won't-that-be-fun' facade. I try to be pleased for simply entering the fray. I know that Katarina the Uber-Fighter has probably fought a hundred or more sparring bouts to my now one-bout history, and that I should be happy to have come away physically intact. But dammit, I wanted to win! Or if not win, at least not lose so decisively! Now you know my secret - I am a sore loser.

While I was fighting Killer Katarina, her coach was yelling out from behind me. "Keep going, keep it up, you've got it in the bag. Wait for her to come in, you've got it wrapped." It was all true - KK had it all over me. BUT DID THE COACH HAVE TO TELL THE entire AUDITORIUM? Mean man. Bad man. Stinky bott bott man (whoops, some three-year-old humour snuck in there)

So, like I said, for a day or so, I secretly nursed my wounded pride and wished I'd done better, wished I was better than what I am, in many ways. Then, today was sunny and the clouds were like caterpillars (or so Ben told me) and I laughed at work and kissed Fatty on the lips when I came home again.

My ungrateful thoughts have blown away. The house is still. I sit here typing, in a pool of yellow light. Peace and contentment are mine tonight.

Friday, May 05, 2006


It's good to realise that one of the women I admire most is my own mother.

This is not to say that Mum and I have some sort of cloying, mutual-worshipping relationship. We are quite different personalities, and sometimes we frustrate each other. It is never very much, though, and never for long.

Earlier this week, Mum stayed at our place overnight. In the morning, Fatty reported to me solemnly that the car I usually drive had a flat tyre. Fatty was running late for work, but he offered tentatively, "I guess I should change it for you now?" I motioned him away with my hand, " No, you go. Mum and I will change the tyre."

I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed to admit that I have never changed a tyre unassisted. I am a feminist, and have always aimed to be a woman who is independent and self-sufficient. However, every time I have bravely and briskly begun to change a tyre, a delightful MAN has come along and changed the tyre for me! In general, men in Australia are quite gallant, in a flannel-shirted, beer-drinking sort of way. They may be sexist and macho at times, but they will always stop to help someone in need. I believe in encouraging this honourable behaviour, so I have never turned away a knight in shining armour. Also, it is much easier and faster than doing it myself. So much for my independent streak.

After Fatty tore off in his hatchback, making haste before I could change my tyre-changing mind, Mum and I headed for the flaccid-tyred car. First step - loosen the bolts. I stepped up to the fray, because after all I am 25 years younger, and I lift weights in the gym, OK.

Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh. Oooooff! Unnnngh. Uh!!

After much straining and striving, I had 2 of the 5 bolts loose, but the others were holding fast. Mum slowly moved into position. I didn't see much point. After all, if I, Superstrong Jelly couldn't loosen the bolts, what hope would a grey-haired, ancient.....HUH?? Mum performed the whole operation with brains as well as brawn. She held the tool (don't ask me the name of it) at the horizontal, so that she could lever her weight onto it; she bore down with her body and her farm-strong arms, and BEHOLD the bolts loosened. Wow.

This woman, my mother, has been a kind and accepting mother to her three children. She has worked as a special education teacher and achieved success with children who no other teacher had been able to help. Mum can sew (she made the Senior Formal dresses for my sister and I), she can knit (she recently made throw rugs for all three of her children's homes), she can cook anything and everything. Mum can herd cattle, repair water pumps, plant trees. She paints, she concretes. Mum is involved in community charity groups. And now, she changes tyres for her daughter, too.

My hat is off to you, Mum. You are the quiet achiever, but I've noticed, and I couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jelly has wobbled back home again

Hello!!!! I'm back and I'm better than ever! (or so I tell myself). It was a happy visit with Writer and Ten. By day, Fatty and our kids strolled in parks (like the one in the photo), rode a ferris wheel and went to the museum. In the evenings, we banished the kids to bed, so we could have Big People conversation and some wine.

While I was away, my mum obligingly stepped in to keep you entertained. THANK YOU all for welcoming my dear JellyMa so warmly. I thought she did a great job of guest posting, too.

Today has been a frantic, crazy day and the rest of the week promises to be just as mad. The culmination of the chaos will be on Saturday evening, at which time I will be (how on earth did I let myself be talked into this?) sparring in a karate competition. Let me explain here that I have participated in several competitions, but have always avoided the fighting. Because I am a scaredy cat. I attend a special karate academy for nervous middle-aged woman called Yellow-Bellied Chicken-Livered Karate Academy.

In competitions, the sparring is supposed to be 'feather-touch only' contact, but.... there are errors of judgement, or even deliberate hits. So while I am happy to spar at my club, where there are no 'aggro' members, I'm not sure what vein-bulging, beefy, angry women I may have to face up to on Saturday. My instructor has already advised me that, as I have no hope of looking intimidating, I should try to appear 'ice-cool'. Hard to do when you're about to wet yourself with fear. I may try the 'if-I-wet-myself-you-could-get-wet-too' look. (Sorry about the toilet humour. It has been a long day)

To bed to bed my sleepy head...