Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Gift-Wrapping Status Quo, Post Stabbage.

Mr Tabubil DID take over the gift- wrapping.  After an evening spent ostentatiously shuddering every time he saw me holding something so deadly as a blunt butterknife, he picked up the scissors and tape and became so very enthusiastic about the wrapping that he went a little too far and wrapped up the comfort-food sci-fi paperback books I had strewn around me on the sofa, and labeled them to his father and put them under the christmas tree.

And since Mr Tabubil-in-law IS receiving a small stack of books of his own for Christmas, we had to unwrap EVERYTHING to get at the wrong ones.

I'm allowed to use the scissors again now.

Christmas Nit-Wittery

Feliz Navidad, you-all.

This year Tabubilgirl is celebrating with a knee full of stitches.  She managed to stab herself with a pair of scissors while wrapping Christmas presents.
            One minute I was looking around for address labels and the next moment there was a bright red fountain coming out of me. I didn't even feel the blasted thing go in, but blood was spurting twelve inches sideways onto the tile floor.  It was pinpoint perfect stabbage.
           I have the worlds most wonderful mother-in-law (may the gods bless her and keep her forever and ever and ever).  She took my rather frantic phone call and jumped straight into her car and came straight over, and took me with her to the hospital. 
            She even mopped up the floor of my flat.  (Which was very brave and kind of her - she is very very unhappy around blood.)
As I hopped through the doors to the local Sala de Emergencia (Emergency Room),a bloody washcloth clapped against an even bloodier leg, an admitting nurse scooped me straight into a wheelchair and said "What happened?"
            "Stabbed myself with a pair of scissors."
            "Aaaaah." He nodded knowledgeably. "Wrapping presents, were you?"
            "I'm not the first person this has happened to, then?"
            "Dearie, you're not the first person today. We see this right through the New Year.  There's a whole season for what you did."
            And smirking slightly, he wheeled me over to the admissions desk and abandoned me.


I was given a tetanus shot for starters, and this being the Clinica Alemana, they insisted on an ultrasound to make sure there wasn't anything inside the wound, because -
            "Sometimes the tips of the scissors break off!" 
            "The scissors were in one piece when they came out of me!!" 
            "There might be something else in there!!!"
            -and when there wasn't, I was sent back to my cubicle for suturing - and had to wait while a small child who'd fallen and sliced open her chin screamed the whole hospital down while she was sutured up.
            She was quite upset about her situation and most of the ER staff was looking quite seriously agitated by the time she was done.  Which was nervous-making.  A strung-out doctor who's spent half an hour being kicked by a hysterical seven year old is not a doctor I want approaching me with loaded needles.
            But after the last harried nurse fled the suturing room we waited quite another while- about the right amount of time for a nice friendly coffee break, and at last, I got stitched up. With steady hands.
           His hands were steady, but the doctor was sarcastic. He stitched, I said "Thank You, Doctor," he smiled and said "Take Care" and strode off into the hallway - and as he cleared the door he turned back and said "I presume your husband is taking over the rest of the gift-wrapping, hmmm?"
And then he about-faced and was out of that door fast, grinning manically.

My mother-in-law and I went home. And found Mr Tabubil looking pale and woebegone.  He'd just been drilled for an entire hour at the dentist, and was minus most of a tooth, and looking forward to more of the same after Christmas.  He was curled up in one of his beloved Ikea Poang chairs with a very sore face and looking very sorry for himself.
              In other news - My sister-in-law broke her toe this evening.  Or rather, her husband accidentally stepped on it and broke it for her, and she's not feeling so great either.

My mother-in-law is not having the best of all possible weeks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Samovars and Pedicures

As a farewell present, Dr Tabubil too me out for a pedicure. I had never been to a spa before and my word - I can't believe I spent thirty years missing out on such a hedonistic experience!

It goes like this:

You are sent to wait for your "therapist" in the Tranquility Room.  The lights are dim, soft violin music plays out of hidden speakers, and the walls are lined by enormous wicker armchairs upholstered in something soft and squashy and velvet.  Half of the armchairs are occupied by blitzed out humans in soft brown robes.  They have unfocused edges - as if they've been massaged and rubbed so long that their edges are blurred - they're still vibrating to a happy cosmic resonance frequency. 
            The chairs ooze - invitingly.  Sit in me, they seem to say.  I am comfy like you have never known before.  Three enormous candles flicker against the far wall, and you are softly invited to drink the house herbal tea blend in the glass teapot, resting on a flickering, candlelit samovar.
The light is very dim indeed, so when you pour yourself a cup you overshoot the teapot and pour tea all over your hand.  Fortunately the candle-powered samovar has no heating power worth mentioning, so the shower is barely lukewarm.
            You pour again, and take a sip and gasp and choke and scrabble for the pitcher of water and drink and drink and drink and stuff your mouth with tic-tacs and collapse, heaving, into the armchair next to Dr Tabubil.  She is fascinated.
            "Don't drink the tea." you rasp.
            "Uh huh."  She says, enthralled.  "You're exaggerating." And she gets up, and walks over to the ledge to pour herself a cup.
            I will cherish until I die the memory of the following fifteen seconds.  There is a clanking noise as she drops the cup, her mouth works like a goldfish and then she seems to stretch and doppler in the flickering light as she lunges across the room, her fingers flexing madly as she groped for the tic-tacs that are still three feet away from her.
            I think we were good entertainment.  And that tea tasted like a glass of highly astringent sick.  There are no words.

Fortunately, about the moment that Dr Tabubil was sucking on her own life-saving mouthful of peppermint, our therapists arrived.
            I was led to another dim room, and seated on a chair only slightly less sybaritic than the big wicker armchair outside, and asked to step my feet into a silver basin  filled with milky, scented water.  Seated cross legged on the floor, a divine goddess washed my feet and ankles with creamy unguents, dried them with a cobweb cloth and led me over to a divan.  Over the next hour she rubbed and scrubbed and rasped and buffed and soothed and smoothed and massaged and painted my toenails in bright scarlet and far too soon, led me back, blitzed and beatific, to the Tranquility Room.

I would like this again please.  Regularly.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cathedrals and Cream Cakes

Once past the dour guardian of the consulate's gate, the consulate staff was uniformly helpful and charming - if possessed of an unseemly passion toward crossed i's and dotted t's.
And recommendations for wonderful little coffee shops down the road while they searched our documents for both.
And within what was, under the circumstances, an astonishingly reasonable time frame, we had our visas.  And with one stroke of a pen, I was something that I had been...avoiding.
Formally, officially, and right there in black and white, I was an "Ama de Casa" - a housewife. 
The visa was processed in so reasonable a time period that the immigrant engineer and his dependant housewife were left with half a day to spend wandering around Melbourne.
It was a cold and rainy day and we spent a happy afternoon ducking in and out of the rather splendid Victorian and Edwardian arcades that thread through the downtown business district.
            Rattling down St Kilda Road into the city in a rather spiffy green tram (all green enameled paint and polished wooden paneling) we climbed off in front of  Flinders St Station - a cheerful late Victorian pile on the bank of the Yarra River.

Dismounting, we were hit by a cloudburst and ran into the rather grandly named Australian Center for the Moving Image across the street.  Its made of carefully forward-leaning computer-generated sort of architecture, and frames what must be one of the most misguided 'public spaces' in Australia (Federation Square.  I'm not going there.  Enough people have.) and the architects commitment is total. Check out this very Starfleet entryway, whose fractal paneling frames a (rather fabulous) bookstore and a doughnut shop (less fabulous, but the coffee is alright.)
            I particularly like the inflatable air-lock squeezed into the large open archway to keep in the central heating inside in winter.  Seamless and unnoticeable until you're well inside the building.

Caught in another squall, we slipped into St Paul's Cathedral.  It's a very pretty church - delicious licorice-striped Victorian Gothic.  I wanted information on the whos and the whats of the building, and I went to pay my respects at a small information booth next to the rear doors. 
            "Are you American?"  The elderly lady manning the booth asked us.
            "Canadian." Mr Tabubil said.
           "Oh my."  She said. "We get all sorts in here, but you're the first Americans I've had today!  What do you think of our beautiful cathedral?"
            We allowed as how we thought that it was all rather pleasing.
            The lady smiled proprietary.  "Isn’t it."  She said.  "Such a beacon of light!" She beckoned us close to her and said, very suddenly, "You're American.  Tell me  - how do you deal with your black problem?"
            And while we stared at her dumbstruck, she proceeded to give us a precise and potted history of how Australia had failed to use sufficient force in dealing with its own little problem, and how the only realistic solution must involve the use of barbed wire and "concentration camps for every single aboriginal - man and woman and child."  The word Aboriginal was said with a particular twist to her lips.  We presumed that Americans should take notes.
            And while we backed away, the dear woman tried to sell us postcards of Jesus on the Cross.
            St Paul's needs to get that woman the hell out of PR.  And possibly into a few classes on remedial catechism. 
            And we felt very grateful that we were about to fly six thousand miles and didn't have to worry any more about loving that particular strain of Australian neighbor.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Honey and Grandmothers

The fourteenth floor of an office building in St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
The offices of the Chilean consulate.
A frosted glass door, locked. 
An electric door buzzer.
We buzzed.
And, at length, we buzzed again.
At further length, there was a muted 'click'-ing sound, and the frosted glass door sagged slightly on its hinges. 
We passed through.
A room - small and square.  Four walls, two doors, six chrome chairs. A narrow blue filing cabinet with a potted plant drooping yellowly on top of it, and a large framed photograph of Presidente Pinera in his sash of office, beaming happily at the camera.
And the two of us, as well.  We knocked on both doors and were ignored, so we sat. 

From the other side of a wall we became aware of a voice.  It was a GOOD voice - soft and gentle, and suffused with the warmth of honey and grandmothers.
It's owner was engaged in a telephone call.
            "Como NO, senor - a SU consideration-!"  Of Course, Sir - at YOUR convenience!
The telephone receiver was replaced with a delicate click, and immediately it rang again.
            "Alo?" The voice coo'd. "Si?  De INMEDIATO, Senora!" Immediately, Madam!
Ring -
            "Que TENGA un BUEN dia -"  HAVE a GOOD day!!!
Liquid, golden laughter threaded through the wall. 
            "Con QUE le puedo ayudar?!" HOW can I help you?
Ring -
            "HASTA esta tarde, entonces.  Me ALEGRO de oir - " Until this afternoon, then.  I'm so HAPPY to hear -
The receiver was replaced again, and this time, there was silence.

A moment or two later, there was a soft shuttering sound, and a door opened in the wall that lay between us and the golden voice. 
Just a crack.
A woman slipped through. We looked up, eager to know the body that went with the voice, and there she was: middle height, middle age, slender, sleekly dressed in a pale blue suit, and her face -
She was scowling.  Her face was set - locked, nailed and bolted into a scowl as inexorable as a standing stone, and her eyes were cold.
 She swept them slowly across us, and fixed them solidly onto the wall above our heads.
 I saw Mr Tabubil turn slowly in his seat, tracking her gaze.  He lifted a finger, wonderingly.  RIGHT above our heads, then. Exactly three inches.

She pinched her lips together, and with her eyes still fixed firmly on the wall above our heads, she closed the door sharply behind her and SLID, with her back against the wall, around the corner to the second door.   Fumbling with the door handle, she forgot herself and dropped the ice-queen act, just for a moment.  With a wide smile, she opened the door, just enough to slip through, and closed it behind her with a decided clap.
Mr Tabubil puffed out his cheeks and let his breath out with an audible whoof.
We looked at each other.
We shrugged.
And two minutes later, she came back.  The same way - the scowl, the sidle, the intense absorption with the drywall -
The door closed behind her, and shortly, we heard her pick up the phone, and the golden, grandmotherly voice began again.
A tinkling, fairy chime laugh.
            "A SU consideracion, Senor.  Estamos aqui TODO el dia - cuandoquiera tenga tiempo -" At YOUR convenience, Senor.  We are here ALL day - whenever you have time -

We looked at each other.
We shrugged.
We pulled our our iphones and began a game of scrabble.

Three times in the next hour, supplicants buzzed at the doorbell.  Three times they were chastened and, eventually passed through.  Four times she sallied forth, putting us all firmly in our place with lifted chin and twisted lip and every single nerve and sinew in her body twanging to convey her personal disdain for ourselves and our petty diplomatic problems.
            Itchily, I was remembering the things that I had found enormously frustrating about living in Chile the last time around.  Why Oh why, can there never be a civil servant who chooses to display her rank and indifferent omnipotence by expediting and solving peoples problems really really quickly?*
            Looking for diversion, I studied the photograph of President Pinera on the wall beside the door.  Draped in a tricolor sash, he posed in front of a range of high Andean mountains, and beamed happily at the camera.
            My appreciation was critical.  We western European exports rather tend to expect our heads of state to show a somber, serious appreciation for the weights and balances and honors of their office. 
To what, in contrast, seemed our rather dour anglo-saxon standards, his transparent enthusiasm appeared almost indecent.  Awfully… latin, in fact. I decided that I rather liked it.

* "I know all.  I see all. Your petty desires are as naught to me, and being so, I shall grant  your visas  as swiftly as rice is scattered before the wind."**

** It's got to be happening SOMEWHERE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Well, I'm back.

It's been a reasonably busy weekend.  We baked several dozen gingerbread cookies.  I forgot to add the eggs to a recipe for peanut butter bars and now we have ziploc bags full of chocolate peanut butter crumbs.  Mr Tabubil smashed two bowls.  I smashed a wine glass.  We made more gingerbread cookies, and Mr Tabubil whipped off a run of fresh- raspberry sorbet. Your regular two-weeks-before-christmas baking frenzy, basically.

We may or may not actually be in Chile. But for the purposes of the narrative, we're in Melbourne, at the Chilean consulate, applying for our visas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Sugar-free Halloween

Sophie in Toronto has a Plan.  She doesn't want two-year-old Pascal to get the idea that Halloween is a candy-grab, so she's planning to dress him up in a costume and take him out into the street with a basket of candy to give OTHER children.
"You see" she explained "maybe - probably - he'll get a few bits of candy back, but I think it's a good idea to work on the concepts of generosity and giving instead of receiving, don't you?  I think we'll keep it up until he's about six years old.  And THEN we'll do trick or treating on our own."

Good luck with that, Sophie.  I await the results of these experiments with great interest.

Marginally related:
Last year I was in Vancouver for Halloween.  The baby who lives next door to Mum and Dad was less than a year old, and far too small to have any interest whatsoever in candy, but the occasion gave her parents an excuse to dress a baby in a dinosaur costume, and  a sugar-free trick-or-treater knocking on our door gave Mum and I an excuse to have a little baby-scale Halloween fun.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Brisbane River Skies

Brisbane does pretty nice sunsets.
Castles in the sky.  In technicolor.

When the sun goes down and the wind drops and the river rides still -

It's pretty allright then, too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brisbane has pretty bits of architecture stuck onto the landscape

I'm fond of non-sequiturs, and this post is pretty non-sequiturish.
But aren't these some pretty bits of ultra-futuristic modernity?

Take this splendid pod bolted onto the side of a cafe on Charlotte St:

And this splendidly organic bit of  3dsMax modeling wrapped across a tower on the corner of Elizabeth St and Albert Street:

And this deeply retro (but in a far-noughties-futuristic color splash sort of way) crossing-guard underneath the Victoria Bridge and the Riverside Expressway:

It's a spiffy, squiffy, deeply star-trek world!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Internal Medicine

Dr Tabubil is doing internal medicine.

Her first patient of the day was an ancient, emaciated man - very ill.
            "How are you feeling today, sir?"
            Dr Tabubil, trying to hold back a laugh, ripped out a snort so loud that the drip line trembled.  She fled precipitously, while the consultant in charge sniggered.
            Her second patient was an equally ancient woman, suffering from advanced cancer.  The doctors would like to start chemo, but she weighs only 39 pounds, and they need to get her up to 42 before they start tearing her body apart again.  There is a miracle nutrient solution that "builds muscle on you, dear, won't you eat?"  But the bewildered old dear didn't understand, and Dr Tabubil was was treated to the sight of the consultant virtually sitting on the ancient woman's fragile ribs, shoving a bowl against her chest and a straw against her mouth and bellowing  "Eat! Open up!  Swallow!  Eat! Please!" while the bird-like old lady piped tremulously "but I'm not hungry, dear." and declined to open up.
            Dr Tabubil was asked to go back to the profane old man and perform an Arterial Blood Gas on him.  An ABG is like taking a blood sample, but it requires the needle to go into the radial artery in the wrist instead of the vein down in the forearm.
            "Does it fountain?"  I asked with interest.
            "Only if you do it wrong!"
            "Have you done it before?"
            "Once, and i got the sweetest Venous Blood Gas you ever saw.  Missed the artery completely.  But today I did it just GREAT."
            As she leaned forward to inject a local anesthetic before she took the ABG, the old man remarked conversationally to the consultant: "By God.  She's got nice breasts, hasn't she?"
            "Mr __________!"  The consultant cried, shocked.  "You're really not supposed to say that."
            "Yeah."  Dr Tabubil said, giving the old man an evil glare.  "I haven't given you the local yet, have I?"
            In a spirit of charity, she did give him the juice, and was then glad for it, because she spent 15 minutes poking into him and missing the vein every time.
            "I just hit the bone, over and over and over.  I kept imagining that I was going to chip the bone, and thinking that I was one poke away from breaking the needle and leaving it in there.  It was awful.  But eventually i got it, and it went sooo perfectly -  when I pulled out, I didn't even leave a blood blister, and even the consultant did that last time."
            She picked up her vials of blood, beat it out of the room, and the wall started swinging toward her and the next thing she knew, she was sitting in a chair in the nursing station, with the consultant leaning over her and looking concerned.
            "Are you okay, Dr Tabubil?"
            "Sure!"  She said brightly.  "Just fine!" 
            She jumped up and headed for the stairwell, and found herself hanging from the railing.  Instead of being sensible, she kept going, all the way down to the pathology lab, where she succumbed to a bad case of the shakes and fell over again.  And the consultant laughed and laughed and laughed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Census Night, 2011.

Yesterday evening was Census Night in Australia. We are visiting with Dr Tabubil in Brisbane at the moment, so she had herself, one sister (currently unemployed by virtue of recently winding up her last job) and one brother-in-law (an engineer on his way to a new job in another country) to prod and poke and tally up for the public record. 
            A census turns into a thing - deep terminology, that. It's sort of amusing, and sort of embarrassing, sort of like getting undressed in front of a doctor and sort of like getting undressed in front of an auditorium.
            It's Very Important, so you feel full of Public Virtue, and even faintly Self-Important, because your little statistical data point can build hospitals and inspire public works initiatives like highways and bus routes (so the carpet-bombing pre-census advertising told us) but when you're a doctor working 16 hour shifts six days a week or a couple that has spent the last two weeks eating their way across the continent in the arms of wonderful and wonderfully hospitable relatives, some of the questions tend to come across a little uncomfortable, and put a nasty leak in your deeply inflated chests.

"Have you provided any unpaid childcare for relatives in the past five days?"
"Have you performed any charitable activities in the last two weeks?"

And you begin to feel rather like Butterflies - or even Mayflies - and Parasites, and Pimples on the hard-working arse of society.  
So your answers start to get a little bit dippy.
"Provide a comprehensive description of your job duties."
"Hah."  Doctor Tabubil said.  Reinflating, she took up her pencil and  solemnly inscribed: "I SAVE LIVES."

Things got a little misty after that. From Mr Tabubil, the engineer who was last seen helping to re-line the blast furnace of a steel mill, I distinctly remember the words "contributing to the carbon load of the Australian atmosphere" being bandied about, and me - well, if we're determined to be pedantic, I've got no job at the moment and haven't actively sought a new one in the past four weeks, and that doesn't look like an example of productive public virtue any way you slice it. 

I do remember Mr Tabubil posing his sister-in-law the following question:
            "Have you performed any unpaid domestic work for your household in the last week?"
            "Oh yes."  She replied, relieved.  "Lots.  At least three hours." 
I'm sure that I hooted. 
            "Oh yeah?"  She said.  "And I suppose you've done any on your holiday?"
            "Yes."  I said smugly.  "I washed out our underwear and socks every night while we were traveling.  And I unpacked and repacked our suitcases every four days."
            "I'll put you down for under five hours then.  That's the lowest option.  And if you were washing the socks, then Mr Tabubil wasn't doing anything, was he?  Typical male.  You won't be shaking up any demographics here, will you?"
            "If you would care to recall" Mr Tabubil said with great dignity "I spent most of that holiday in various beds with a case of the flu."
Dr Tabubil made a rude noise and wrote something uncomplimentary in the comment box. 
            "Ahem." She said.  "Another question - are you willing to have your name, address and other personal information made available in the public archive after ninety-nine years?"
Mr Tabubil and I looked at each other and shrugged.  "Sure. "
            "Really? All public?"
            "Why not?"
            "Well I'm not sure that I want...I mean, that's pretty... Hah, wait a second! I'm the cool cat who saves people's lives!  Hell yeah!"

And with that, the party rather broke up.  Five years down the track, lets see if we can be in a permanent-enough situation to make us out to be rather more than mayflies and drains on the public purse.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chicks dig scars.

Yesterday while my sister was working in Casualty, a small boy came in with a small cut on his chin.  His parents were slightly over-concerned.
The child was barely pushing four years old, and the two-centimeter cut on the underside of his chin didn't even require stitches, but his father said anxiously "We have private insurance.  Can we please make an appointment with a plastic surgeon?"
The nurse and the consultant and Dr Tabubil and the resident, (the parents really were a wee bit over-concerned about the injury) looked at each other, but Dr Tabubil got the first word in.
            "Pssssh."  She said, and flapped a hand in unconcern.  "Chicks dig scars!"
            "I'm a little worried" she told me later, "that I'm getting a reputation as That Intern who has absolutely no filter between her mouth and her brain.  This morning I had to introduce myself to a consultant in the ER and you know how I did it? 
            I said 'Hi!  I'm Dr Tabubil, the resident!  Actually, I'm a first year intern, but saying that I'm a first year intern makes it sound as if I don't know anything, which is only sort of true because I've learned a lot this year so far and apparently I'm really good at suturing, and I want you to have confidence in me so that you'll show me the interesting things, so it's better if I call myself a resident!'  And at that point I managed to stop talking.  A bit too late, don't you think?
            But the consultant didn’t seem to mind.  He took me off to see a really cool shoulder dislocation and let me do all the pulling.  I can't actually move my own arms tonight after doing it, so I think he might have been trying to make a point.  What do you think?"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Monkeys in the Zoo

Yesterday we went to the zoo.  We looked at the meerkats and the giraffes and the lemurs (perched on top of their heat lamps) and the siamang monkeys and the seahorses in the bio-education pavilion.  We visited the orangutang – she was sitting on the edge of her moat, watching the visitors and chewing grass.  When children stuck their arm out and mimed shaking hands, she would put out her own hand and solemnly mime shaking back.  When the idiot British tourist threw peanuts at her (his aim was extremely proficient) she gave him looks of calm disdain and let them bounce off and had absolutely zero interest in chasing them down in the grass.  So the twerp threw  more – in the feeble hope that she hadn’t gotten the message the first time, or possibly that she had the three second memory of a goldfish (although that’s in dispute now, isn’t it?) and would see every projectile as a brand new exciting opportunity.

We were leaning over the rail, peacefully contemplating a pleasant Sunday afternoon, and a woman arrived with a toddler and a baby in a stroller.
            “LOOK at the MONKEY.”  She boomed.  “LOOK at him sitting on his bottom.  LAZY boy!”
            “Yah-” attempted the child.  Mother cut him off in mid-voice.
            “DO you see the LAZY BOY there?  WHAT a lazy BOY!  He’s not doing anything at ALL!  Tell me, do YOU think he’s Lazy?”
            “WHAT A LAZY man you ARE!  Sitting on your BOTTOM in the sun instead of being a USEFUL person.  NAUGHTY Boy!”
The long suffering orangutan grunted and knuckled to her feet and turned her back on her audience.  Giving us one hopeless look over her shoulder, she hid behind a stand of grass and say down again.
            “LOOK at him!  SHOCKING!  He’s not going to do ANYTHING today but sit around!?  What do you think of THAT, you LAZY Man!  I’m WATCHING YOU!”
Not all of the monkeys were on the INSIDE of the cage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An early morning phone call. Or, Why it might be inadvisable to flirt with policemen at three in the morning.

Dr Tabubil has finished with Obs and Gobs and is working the ER.
            She doesn't much like Saturday nights.  They live  up to all the chaotic, drunken reputations they've earned on daytime television dramas.  And at about 3 am, things start to get slightly surreal.
            Later, around 8 am, my telephone rings:
            "Hey Tabubilgirl."
            "Hey Dr Tabubil."
            "Talk about puppies to me for five minutes will you?  I need to hear something nice."
            "What happened?"
            She sighs. "So.  It's about three in the morning and I'm stitching up a girl who's been glassed by her own mother -"
            "Did you call child services?"
            I can hear her shrug  "She was over 18.  What was I supposed to do?  You should have seen what she did to her mother.  Anyway - I'm stitching up this girl and a cop comes in with a drunk in handcuffs that he needs to have sewn up where he fell into a mailbox. 
            And I'm really tired.  And the cop is really, really cute.  He's wearing leather gloves so I can't tell if he's wearing a wedding ring or not, but he smiles at me, this totally gorgeous smile - and have I mentioned that I'm really really tired?  And that I haven't eaten for about ten hours because it's been too busy for me to sit down long enough to even eat a biscuit?  So maybe my reasoning abilities aren't quite at their best, okay - so do you know what I do?
            I look at him, and I say in my very best throaty flirty voice:  Is that a taser in your pocket?"
            "Or are you just happy to see me?!?"  I snickered.
            "Oh my God, no!  I wasn’t that far gone.  But he looked at me and smiled again - this really long, slow, sexy smile, and stood just a little bit taller and said 'Why yes.  Yes it is.'
            And then I said - oh my god, I purred - and I think I even fluttered my eyelashes a bit - I said - 'You know.  There's something I've always wanted to know.  Is it true that when you policemen learn how to use tasers, you have to practice on each other?'
            And he smiled even wider and cocked his eyebrows at me and said 'And I always volunteer.'
And -BAM.  Just like that.  My crush was gone.  I mean, the policeman was nuts. So I turned back to my drunk and finished stitching up his head.  And then I went and found a biscuit."
            "Do you think maybe you could carry biscuits around the ward with you in your pocket?  You know, to stop you getting into emergency situations like that?"
            A sigh.  "Could you just talk to me about puppies for about five minutes,  before I go to bed?  And then I'm going to sleep and I'm not going to talk to another policeman for at least a month. And male cops shouldn't be allowed to wear gloves. It's all his fault. If he'd been married and I'd been able to see a wedding ring, this would never have happened in the first place."

Thursday, July 21, 2011


So we're off.  Bags checked, hand-luggage shell games played in the airport terminal, boarding passes in hand - Goodbye.  It's been a hell of a ride.  Thank You.

We're off to Melbourne.  And Perth.  And Darwin, and Brisbane, and Vancouver, and Toronto, and then, eventually - Santiago, Chile.

They were Good Sunsets.

Today we turned the house over to the landlords.
I'm seriously going to miss our backyard.  Neither of us are gardeners, and if we managed to keep the lawn trimmed and the caltrop in check, we regarded ourselves as geniuses, but that back yard gave us some wonderful sunsets.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Temporary Lodgings and Toothbrushes

I am still Mr Tabubil's favorite person in the world, but last night (VERY early in the morning), the margin between myself and the next-ranked-contender narrowed considerably.
Dragging myself from the computer (far too late) I loaded up my toothbrush and dragged myself into the shower, and blitzed out under the flow.
Some time later, I turned off the shower and - abruptly -  the most horrible noise started up - the hunk-hunk-hank-PAaaH of a pipe choked with air, overlaid with the thang-thang-brrrrrm-pp-p of a motor that is about to start smoking.  The walls rattled.
It didn't STOP - it was very worrying - inasmuch as I could BE worried, at that point of the night. 
Even so - "Mr Tabubil" I whispered, shaking him awake. "There's a very angry noise in the bathroom."
Mr Tabubil was worried himself.  We turned the water off at the main.  We prodded in the hot water tank.  The sound thump-ed and whined, but didn't stop.  It was coming from the ceiling;  we stood and listened to the room vibrate.
It was a very BODING sound.
The responsible thing to do would be to wake the neighbors upstairs and find out if - and when - the water column was going to give way.
I was getting sleepier and sleepier.  "They'll hear it in the morning, anyway."  I pointed out.  "When it first  started, it was a very imminent noise, but nothing HAS happened yet."
            "They could be six feet deep in water up there by morning."  Mr Tabubil noted uneasily.
At that point, i don't think I'd have cared unless water had started coming through the ceiling on top of me.  
            "If it's still going tomorrow, I'll go talk to the manager person, okay?"
I promptly went to sleep and let Mr Tabubil sit up and worry about whether the mother of all tidal bores was about to land in our laps.
At three in the morning, Mr Tabubil made the decision to wake up the upstairs neighbors, and made one last check of the bathroom.
He shook me awake.
            "I've found it."  He said grimly.  "It was your bloody toothbrush."
I KNEW I was dreaming.  I went back to sleep.
            "I SAID" he said, shaking me again "It was your bloody TOOTHBRUSH."

My toothbrush has a limited charge electric vibrator built in.  It has no vim whatsoever.  It has all the shaking power of a gnat in a sugar bowl.  But after I brushed my teeth, I slipped it onto the hanging shower shelf, and when I turned the faucet to stop the water flow, it slipped between a bottle of shampoo and the wall and somehow, turned itself on and shook the bathroom till the wall-tiles rattled.

We fizzed with shocked laughter.

Mr Tabubil came back to bed, at which point a very large mosquito started making bombadier runs into his right ear.  He moved out to the sofa - so did the mosquito - and they both got back to sleep somewhere around five in the morning.

In the morning, I tested the vibrate function on my toothbrush.  After almost two hours of steady rumbling, it was still going strong.  I'm considering writing Colgate a testimonial letter - along with the recommendation of a safety catch.

Really Good Lightning!

This evening we had a deep orange sunset, with streaks of rain-shadow being blown across the face of the sun.  Then the lightning started, and as the storm blew toward us the lightning grew more fierce and then the storm hit and the skies opened and it RAINED.  We turned off all the lights in the flat and unplugged the appliances and stood at the window for an hour and a half while Mr Tabubil took photographs of the lightning.  Eventually the storm blew past us and we came inside and turned the lights on and plugged the computers back in and a spear of hard white light flashed from the sky to the earth and the whole world went momently blank and simultaneously a screaming roll of thunder hit so hard that the floor shook and the glasses in the cupboard jittered against each other.  The bolt had hit about two blocks west of us.  We unplugged everything and turned the lights out again and went back to the window for another hour.
It was reasonably spectacular.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Peke with a Powerful Strong Will.

Today and tomorrow we have the movers in our house. Wrapping, boxing, shifting, sorting.  I follow behind them, wielding a washcloth and a bucket of faintly soapy water.
Tonight we move into an apartment - until Friday, when we fly out of town.

On the way to the shops this evening,  I passed a Pekingese with a powerful strong will. 
He was tied up outside a clothing store, and was hugely unhappy about it.  He cowered, pitifully miserable, ears and eyes and tail tucked underneath till he looked like a chestnut-colored ottoman.  Nobody emerged from the store.  He dashed to the end of his leash, throwing himself against the restraining cord.  He whimpered in crescendo, casting meaningful looks into the store as the pitch rose.  None of it worked - his human was heartless.  And as I drew level with him his face settled into an expression of disturbing determination.  Abandoning all histrionics, he planted himself square in the middle of the pavement and committed an act of serious civil disobedience.  Then he sat up, assumed an demeanor of grim satisfaction and ostentatiously turned his back.

Good lord.  If that is how the dog reacts to being left outside a store for 8 minutes, I really hate to imagine the fights over dinner and sofa privileges.