Saturday, December 31, 2005

HaPpY nEw YeAr!!!

The sun is setting on the last day of 2005, I guess now is as good a time as any to reflect on the year gone by.

It began on a boat on the Sundays River in South Africa, and will end it where I live just north of Dublin, Ireland.

For me it was a bit of a rough year. Emotionally & mentally I've been to hell and back... the good news being that I'm on the home stretch back to being my old, happy, bubbly self. The best news being that no matter how bad I got, Hubby never gave up on me. Even when I couldn't stand being around me, he hung in there and loved me and stood by me and now I'm more in love with him than ever.
OK that's the soppy bit over.

So what else happened this year?
I won a small prize for a short story I wrote;
I saw the most beautiful sunset on earth on the stunning island of Santorini;
I climbed a volcano;
I sang karaoke for the first time;
I got the job I wanted;
I went to Rome and saw the Colosseum;
I spent four wonderful days with my mother and sisters in Paris;
I discovered a whole new world when I started Blogging;

Wow, it's hard to believe with all that good stuff going on, I still managed to be something of an emotional basket-case.
Oh well, I guess that just reinforces what I've learned this year and that is that there are no rules to life.

But things are looking up and I'm moving into the new year with a good, healthy, happy and positive outlook on life.

May the new year bring you all peace and happiness.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's astounding; time is..fleeting...

Well that's it for another year. Christmas has been and gone. We all survived our little trip to Cork - my friends' house is still standing and there were no major incidents, no heads bitten off, no broken bones and no family feuds. In fact it all went rather well.

We loaded ourselves, our luggage and the gifts into the car on Saturday morning and hit the road around 7am while it was still dark and early enough to miss the worst of the traffic. (Traffic? What traffic? Half way there I was beginning to wonder if we had the right weekend!) No complaints though, we made good time and didn't even have to shout once at the 3 youngsters in the back for misbehaving. Yay MP3-players!!!

And so we arrived on Christmas Eve on a cold but sunny afternoon and it wasn't long before the cooking started.
Er, well, okay, mostly I sat and watched my friend cook 'cos she's really good at it (me... not so much) and she made a really awesome roast duck (Jamie Oliver would've been pleased - it was his recipe) for Christmas Eve dinner.

The table looked beautiful and so did the little tree sparkling in the corner as it kept watch over all the presents.

Since we had bribed the kids into behaving so well during the day, we opened some of the presents after dinner, but the rest we left for Christmas morning. There was much excitement and ripped paper, mixed with small moments of sadness for each of us at different times of the day, because although we were together, we were all, I think, missing someone far away at home at some point. But it was hard to stay sad with Christmas songs pouring non-stop from the CD-player and the wonderful smells of a late afternoon Christmas banquet permeating every nook and cranny of the house.

Finally, having fed the hordes, cleaned the kitchen and distributed all gifts, my friend and I spent that evening in the kitchen with the door closed and the music on; Hubby walked in on us doing the Time-Warp dance and singing our lungs out to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a bottle of wine and a bottle of Baileys down, and well into a bottle of whiskey... well he just smiled a little nervously and then backed out of the room slowly again... we didn't see anyone else for the rest of the night, hehe! Hey, a girl's gotta have some fun right?!

On Tuesday, with cabin-fever beginning to set in, we jumped in the cars and went off to visit Blarney Castle not too far away and spent the day wandering around the ancient castle and the beautiful gardens surrounding it. I had a whale of a time snapping away with my camera as it turned into another sunny day, although near-freezing.

Coffee and desserts warmed us up afterwards in a little restaurant in the village of Blarney and then the boys went home while we three girls faced the madness of the first day of the Blarney Woolen Mills sale. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to round off a perfect day :-)

And now we're back home again. After all the build-up to Christmas it's hard to believe it's all over so suddenly and in just a few days a new year begins. I'm sure all the bah-humbuggers will be pleased they can relax again for the next 11 months.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For you, at Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year
well thank the Lord for that
'cos all the Happy Christmas cheer
could make a girl quite fat;
With turkey, cake and cranberry sauce,
a drop of wine or two
and Christmas pudding too, of course
Well what's a girl to do?

And then there's all the other stuff,
like what to buy for who;
D'you think she'll like the pink earmuffs
or should I get the blue?
The Christmas party's been arranged
but oh, what will I wear?
This shopping's making me deranged -
I'm coming through, beware!

But now that all the gifts are wrapped
and underneath the tree,
'Tis time for us to all relax
in peace and harmony;
And as I sit and contemplate
this year and all it brought,
I hope that it is not too late
to share with you this thought:

I found myself in Cyberspace
a few months back, you see;
and in the process found a place
in Blogland, just for me.
I've made some very special friends
and had a lot of laughs
You're always there to listen when
the world gets grim and dark

So even though we've never met
I still would like to say
I'll think of you with sentiment
this coming Christmas day.
Have fun out there where'er you are,
be safe, where'er you go
and put away the Humbug's Bah,
It's Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Since things are about to get really busy and what with everyone going away and being off work etc, blog postings will be a bit on the erratic side for a while, I guess.
So I'll say it now before we all disappear for the holidays.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Missing Muse Monday

I think my muse has gone on vacation. I got nothing, zip, zero, nada.

Although I guess I could tell you about a small incident on the weekend when my stepson asked me, in the middle of a crowded street while we were doing Christmas shopping,
"Terri, what's a douche?"

Yikes!!! That's the last time I let them watch South Park!

Hubby just carried on walking like he hadn't heard the question.

"Tell ya what, son, I'll tell you when we get home, okay?"
Fortunately by the time we got home he appeared to have forgotten. I hope.
Or maybe he took one look at my face and decided to ask Google instead.
Sheesh, this parenting thing is harder than it looks!

Or I could tell you about our company's Christmas Party on Friday night. They had a disco (do they still call it a disco?), a hot meal, pool tables, roulette wheel, a bar - you name it. It was almost enough to fool us into believing we weren't still in the building we work in.

Some of the women really dressed up for the occasion - there were enough Little Black Numbers to put the Academy Awards to shame.
And then there was me, in jeans and a long-sleeve black T-shirt.
Boy, did I get that one wrong!
On the other hand, I did become something of a legend by putting to rest all the myths about girls not being able to play pool. Misspent youth and all that, hehe!

When I'd had my fill of free beer we wandered up to a pub to have farewell drinks with the guy who I've been sitting next to at work for the past few months. That was sad. I hate it when people I like leave the company - it upsets the equilibrium of my little world.
[Me? Self-centered? Never!]

On the plus side, though, I finally have my own desk again. It's been a slight case of musical chairs for a while - the department seems to be a bit short on desk space. So I may have lost a buddy, but I've gained a desk.
[Ah, the universe is in balance again...]

Yep, I staked my claim this morning by planting my miniature South African flag in my pen-holder on my desk. Did you hear that? My desk :-)

And now we're gearing up to gear down for Christmas.
I would almost believe that if I didn't have such a typical Monday morning today - almost missed the train, there was no milk in the coffee-machine at work, and one of the servers had crashed over the weekend bringing down 3 systems, and a fourth was being damn obstinate by not working just for the hell of it.
Great way to ease into the week.
Ever get the feeling you should've just stayed in bed?

But... I got my own desk :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The trouble with ships...

Just when I thought our ship was about to come in, someone torpedoed it in the harbour.

I rang the Revenue office today to find out about something called Rent Relief whereby you get a tax rebate if you're renting the place you live in - which we are - so I thought this would be quite a good thing. Instead, I find out that
someone has made a mistake on our tax assessment for the last four years and we were erroneously given a tax allowance of double what we were supposed to get.

Me: So... what are you telling me?
Tax Guy: Well we're gonna have to recalc'late all the years from 2002 and you're gonna end up with a liability.
Me: A liab... you mean we owe you guys money?
Tax Guy: Eh, yeah. Sorry.

Sorry? Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgghhh!

OK, reality check - did I really think the Revenue Commissioner would agree to paying me money?

Although, you'd think someone would have noticed, oh, say, maybe, FOUR YEARS ago when the mistake was made!!
But no, it's much better for it to be discovered by accident right before Christmas, when we're going to be needing every penny we have because oh yes, did I mention we were starting to look at buying a house soon?

That's right folks, me and Hubby, in the interests of our offspring / step-offspring, will be hanging around this manky ol' town for a while longer and have thus decided to join the ranks of the millions of people worldwide who have sold their souls (and just about everything else) for some bricks and mortar and a touch of permanence.

Mind you, it would be nice for me to be allowed to hang a picture if I want to, without worrying about whether or not we'll lose our deposit for making a hole in the wall.

I feel defeated.
Does this count as a Bah Humbug moment?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wicked Stepmother Diaries #2

Paranoia is beginning to set in. Things are too quiet. I arrived home from work yesterday evening and decided I would continue with Operation Child Labour in order to keep them out of mischief, by issuing a list of chores for them to do while I was at work today.
But before I could even take a breath to suggest who should do what, I was drowned out by a chorus of:
"I vacuumed the floors today!"
"I dusted and did another load of washing today!"
"I scrubbed the toilet today..."
...although the last one was said with a lot less enthusiasm than the others, hehehe!

Okay then.

They then proceeded to cook supper - pancakes (which we'd call "wraps" in Ireland) with a savoury mince filling. And darn good they were too :-)

But people, this is waaaaay too good to be true. Think about it: It's not natural! They must be planning something - some dreadful trap for me. I'm going to go home one day and find they've sold everything in the house for crack money or something I'm sure of it... unless either
a) they are actually scared witless by their Wicked Stepmommy, or
b) it is all a ruse and they are planning some terrible fate for me, or
c) somewhere along the line we (the adults in their lives) did something right and they're genuinely the good little people they appear to be.
I'm hoping for "c"...

Mind you, it's not as if they're quiet as mice either. There was a definite squealing noise emerging from the lounge area as I opened the front door coming home yesterday and I am a little afraid to look too closely into the spare room as I suspect the floor may be disappearing under a pile of clothes. Oh well, what they eye doesn't see....

But they have provided us with some laughs.
The two lads spent all the pocket money we gave them in the first week. On the 3rd day I got home to great excitement - they'd hopped on a bus and gone shopping (yes, just the 2 boys) and guess what they had bought...

Yellow Bob-the-Builder style plastic hard-hats with a can-holder on each side and a straw so you can drink out the cans perched next to their ears. Because, of course, everyone should have one.

Mind you, at least now with no more pocket money to spend on M&M's there won't be so many sugar-rushes to contend with for a while. At least until their willpower falters and they strip the beautiful tree of its decorative chocolates.

Anyway, I just thought I should mention that if I suddenly and mysteriously disappear from Blogland one day you will know that my paranoia was not unfounded and hubby and I will have been sold into slavery by three young crack-heads brilliantly disguised as my loving stepchildren and nephew ...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Deck the halls..!

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Actually, 'twas 14 nights before Christmas, but let's not get hung up on the details.

I figured after all my cheer-spreading and ho-ho-ho'ing (minds out of the gutter, people!) it was time to deck my own halls, so today we braved the freezing winter to bring a tree home. OK, it wasn't quite so dramatic - the sun was shining and it was actually quite pleasant outside. As pleasant as 5 degrees can be anyway.

And since our nearest and dearest are rather far away, sizzling away in the South African sun (!*$#&!) I thought I would share some of the joy of our Day of Decoration.

First there was our very own Talking Tree - because it is The Dad's job to get the lights working:

Young Grinch-In-Training had a minor sense of humor failure when we told him the Angel On Top had to wait until the very end of the Tree Decorating Ritual:

Mother Christmas's little (?) helper was clearly charmed at my choice in music (Imagine 100 Greatest Christmas Hits pumping out of the CD player... you get the picture!)

Ah, Mother Christmas and her little helper - can you feel the joy yet?!

The Angel is brought to her perch at last. Poor thing - it doesn't look very comfortable but Young Grinch-In-Training was placated somewhat.

The epitome of the Christmas spirit: Two little elves in front of the tree:

Ta-Da! The finished product.

I tell you, by the end of it all the whole lot of 'em were as happy and excited as I was. I'm a sucker for Christmas and all the kitsh it involves. In fact they were so motivated they all went off and wrapped presents immediately, complete with little Christmas tags.
Yes, even Hubby, which is a minor miracle... I've been known to wrap my own gift from him in the past, lol!

But then I think they got all joy-ed out because the Young Grinch-In-Training felt a sudden overwhelming urge to fire up a PC game and go shoot something, while the rest have become engrossed in an episode of The Simpsons.


If you're looking for some light reading to go with your morning cuppa, feel free to mosey on over to Terristories for my latest attempt at fiction.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Batty Maths 101

Below is an excerpt from Dublin's "Herald AM" newspaper yesterday, Wednesday 7 December 2005:

"Big testicles go together with tiny brains, according to a new study.
The discovery - which many women may not find that surprising - suggests that a biological trade-off has to be made between brains and sperm.
Because of the high energy demands, males cannot generate large numbers of both, scientists believe.
In the study of bats, females are unusully promiscuous, so natural selection pressure has led to males evolving enormous testicles, at the expense of their brains. The genitals of some make up 8.5% of their body mass.
In comparison, the testicles of apes range from 0.02% to 0.75% of body mass. Researchers found the link between testicle and brain size after looking at 334 different bat species.

Does this mean that we can assume that men who drive flashy cars are also intelligent, since it is generally accepted that a flashy car makes up for being, er, small?

I mean, if A=B and B=C then surely A=C right?

if big 'nads = tiny brains
small 'nads = flashy car
surely flashy car = big brain

Actually one can take this a little further by saying that flashy cars tend to cost a lot of money and in general you need a bit of smarts to make enough money to afford them, so really this is just proving the theory.

So ladies, spread the word - our choices are this:

Clever guy with flashy car who is under-endowed
dumb guy who can give you hours of pleasure in the sack (remember, he will probably be in good shape from having to walk everywhere 'cos his heap o'trash car keeps breaking down).

I guess this is where we tell ourselves it's his personality that counts?!

Oh well, I'm off to mourn the death of my Batman fantasies now...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Did you hear that? Someone put the fire out.

Cartoon courtesy of Nicholson of "The Australian" newspaper:

You may recall that I have mentioned before that for as long as I remember I have had an irrational fear of fire. I've always kept a 'safe' distance from BBQ fires and it took me years to get over my nervousness when making chips on the stove in hot oil.
[It didn't help, I suppose, that the first time I made chips I cut the potatoes then left them in water so they didn't go brown while the oil was heating... do you know what happens when you drop water in hot oil? Splutter, pop, splash - now imagine what happens when you dump a big scoop of dripping wet chips in hot oil. Exactly!]

The most ridiculous example of how irrational my fear is occurred around the age of 18 or 19, when I attended a flat-warming party on the 5th floor of a block of flats. There was no furniture in the place and the hosts had decided on a fondue, so they set up 4 fondu pots in one of the rooms. Since there were a lot of people there, we ate in shifts, and once I'd had my fill I moved into the next room, and just after that I heard some kind of commotion. I turned around to see that someone had knocked one of the fondue pots over. I could see the front door from where I stood, but running across the floor between me and the front door was about a 3-inch high flame where the oil had spilled out and was burning on the floor - truly a tiny little streak flame, easy enough to step over to get out and really, it wasn't anywhere near an emergency situation.
But there was NO WAY I was going to be "stepping over" any burning anything, oh no... I started edging towards the window. That's right - 5 floors up and I was getting ready to jump, rather than step over a tiny flame no higher than my ankle.
Daft, I know.
Anyway, they put the fire out and all was well - my sister, who was with me at the time, thought it was hilarious and of course even more so because the first thing I did was light a cigarette to calm my nerves.

So now you may have a small notion of the kind of fear I'm talking about.

And all these years, I have not been able to find a reasonable explanation for my unreasonable fear. Until one day it dawned on me.
There could only be one plausible reason: I must have been Joan of Arc in my previous life - you know, the whole burning-at-the-stake thing!
Yep, that had to be it.

Well, that was it. Until very recently when I wrote a post about Christmas, and my mother left a comment: "P.S. Do you remember when the tree caught fire?"

Er, well, actually no, not really. Nothing past a vague recollection of something she told me once.
So I asked her for the details, and this was her reply:

"Well you see - it all has to do with the fact that your German grandparents liked to remember the old days when they had candles on their Christmas tree. The only thing was that this was an artificial Christmas tree - not a good combination with real candles - especially when nobody noticed how small the candles were getting! Suddenly the tree was alight. Fortunately, Christmas being in the middle of Summer in this part of the world, the sliding door was standing wide open - the tree was dispatched onto the front lawn in great haste and stomped upon. The most disappointing thing about the episode was that most of the beautiful and very delicate tree ornaments which came from Germany many years before, were crushed along with the flames. I wonder if this is the root cause of your fear of fire - come to think of it, it must have been pretty traumatic for you - you must have been all of about 3 or 4 years old. So that's the story."*

So I guess that puts paid to my Joan of Arc theory, huh?!

*Thanks for the contribution, Ma!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Wicked Stepmother Diaries #1

And before you ask, the answer is No! I don't know if there will be a part 2, etc. so stop asking! I can't take the pressure...!!!


Nah it's not so bad. Mind you, they've only been here a day and a half, lol!

The step-kids and their cousin arrived Saturday night, tired & weary and I was so excited about seeing them I could barely contain myself.
Although the giant mock-snowman seated in the waiting area of the arrivals hall put a slight damper on my exuberance because man, that thing is scary! Or maybe it was just me, because the children who were climbing all over it didn't appear to be bothered by the enormous fake-carrot-nose or the slightly cracked paint that made him look, to me at least, like the Michelin Man gone wrong. Perhaps I have an over-active imagination, or maybe I've seen too many horror movies.
But I digress.

My first Stepmommy meal served was takeaway pizza. Yes I know it's not exactly the stuff of a balanced diet but their plane landed late and we were all hungry and it was the best I could come up with at short notice. Don't fuss, I made up for it by cooking a roast chicken last night. Thank goodness my stepdaughter can cook otherwise that's all we would have had - she made the rice & veggies to go with it ;-)

That's right - she cooks, she does laundry, and yesterday she gave me a French Manicure. Plus, she loves shopping as much as I do - this is getting better and better!

We laid down the ground rules after supper on Saturday night and left the option open to add to or amend them as and when necessary.
One is now the Master of the Washing Machine.
One is the Master of the Dishwasher.
One is the Master of Taking Out the Trash.
Yep, hubby's talent for delegation has certainly come in handy.

I'm actually thinking of hanging onto more than one at the end of their five weeks' holiday - and why not? They even make a decent cup of coffee!

And y'know what? On Saturday night hubby and I both slept really, really well - there was something decidedly comforting about knowing that our little family was all together under one roof.

All together now: "Aaaah sweet!"

Regular broadcasting from the Terri you have all come to know and fear so well will resume just as soon as her soft heart has been put safely back in it's box.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It always seems like a good idea at the time...

In a fit of girly-ness and because it didn't feel so very freezing cold when I woke up this morning I decided it would be a good day to once again brave the world in my skirt. Of course the skirt is not complete without my black suede boots. They look stunning together, if I may say so myself.
But... apparently suede boots are not waterproof. I know this now and in future will remember to check the barometer before I decide to give in to my feminine side. The barometer is never wrong - if it says it's going to rain, it will rain.
This morning, although I didn't actually check it, I'll bet it said "Don't even think about leaving home without your brolly!"
Fortunately I NEVER leave home without my brolly.
Unfortunately I was wearing my lovely suede boots.
Fortunately I still had a spare pair of shoes under my desk at work (they are too uncomfortable to walk very far in so in Summer I wear comfy shoes to get to work and then change into the pretty shoes when I get there) because after wading through the puddles between the station and the office my pretty suede boots were soaked through and my toes were wet.

It's okay, though, because the shoes actually look quite good with the skirt too. I hope the boots are dry by the time I leave work this afternoon though. Putting on wet shoes is not fun, no matter how pretty they are.

But enough about the ups and downs and ins and outs of my feet.

I have something of an announcement today.


In two days' time my stepchildren and their cousin arrive for a 5-week visit. Yay! But you knew that already.
What most of you don't know yet is that it would appear I am about to become full-time stepmom to my 15-year old stepdaughter.
That's right, full-time.
Yes, it looks like she's coming to live with us for good.
{nervous giggle}
I'll give you a moment to stop laughing and pick yourselves up from the floor.
May I continue?
Thank you.

So I bet there are those of you out there wondering What The Hell Am I Thinking???
You may be right.
I may be crazy.
But it just may be a lu-natic you're looking for...
Sorry, got distracted there for a moment - wasn't Billy Joel fabulous?

Back to my announcement. Questions, questions, so many questions...
1: Terri, what the hell are you thinking?
Well yes, I know I made a choice in life to not have children, but see, the step-kids are kind of my loophole. 'Cos actually I love them a LOT and I would do pretty much anything for them - I've known them since they were wee brats. The first time I met them I arrived at their Dad's house and jumped into the swimming pool fully clothed. It was really hot and I had just driven from Jo'burg to PE - around 1000km - by myself and all I wanted was to cool off. Well at ages 4 and 5 they thought this was just the coolest thing ever... and I eventually became the coolest Stepmom ever.
So when she said she had decided that it would the best thing for her to finish her education over here in Ireland, saying "No" never really entered my mind.
So yes, I have had the occasional moment of sheer panic at the thought, but on the whole, I'm quite excited about having her here full-time.

2: Terri, what the hell do you know about raising 15-year-old girls?
Now come on, people, surely you must realise that I was once a 15-year-old girl myself! How hard can it be? Er, no, I haven't forgotten. Not at all. In fact I remember like it was yesterday. Which means I know what she's thinking, hehe. No wool is gonna be pulled over my eyes, no way, uh-uh!
(Ah, be nice now, let me live in my little fantasy world, okay?)

3. Terri, do you have any idea of the impact this is going to have on your life?
A small one, yes. For example, this probably means I'm going to have to learn to cook again. Mind you, she's 15 - surely she can cook? And iron? And scrub toilets... hey, this might actually turn out to be a really good move, mwahahahaha!

But yes, seriously, this could be a really huge change in our lives.
We will have to schedule our holidays to fit in with the school holidays.
We will have to move house - a 2-bedroomed apartment is just not going to cut it.
Which means we will be looking at buying a house.
Since she has 3 years left of school, we will be staying in Ireland at least another 3 years, instead of thinking about going back to SA a year from now.

Phew! I think that list is big enough for now, don't you?!

On the other hand, she will be here, with us, and it will mean that much less heartbreak at being separated from the people we love.

So in my mind it will all be balanced out.

Now, does anyone know where I can buy a nice, sturdy chastity belt...?