What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: May, 2014

Schrödinger’s Ankle

“Well, we won't know until we've got in there and had a dig around whether you just need a bit of scraping out or if we'll have to put a bolt in it”. Not my car, dear reader. My ankle.

I may have mentioned my skiing injury once or twice in these pages, the splint, the boot, the cast. Two years later it was still randomly swelling up and causing me to not run around The Bay. So I went to an ankle man who spent about thirty seconds poking at my ankle and tut tutting at my scans, and the above was what he came up with. And yesterday was the day.

The big problem was that if he did put a bolt in it I would be back in a cast for eight weeks and Not Driving. The Moose had suggested leaving the procedure until he was old enough to drive, a mere two years away now, so help me. I like to get these things over and done with, so I booked in and crossed my fingers. I also washed everything in the house that wasn't nailed down, bought a bushel of apples and many litres of milk, some kilos of meat, practised hopping and did some tricep exercises, just in case.

Before the day dawned I got everyone out of bed and had my allotted piece of dry toast and black coffee before the cutoff time of 7am. Dear husband took the day off work, so he drove the boys to school and I took the Muffet. When I drive her in her reward for getting ready early is for me to take her to breakfast at a coffee shop close to her school. “But I won't be able to eat!” I protested. “So?” was the daughterly reply. It seemed to increase her enjoyment of the meal.

Such a delightful child.

I spent the morning taking my mind off things by going up to the shops to get a birthday present for the Moose's friend, supplies for the Horror's DaVinci Decathlon, another gross of black hair elastics for the Muffet who likes to feed them to the dogs and even more bread and milk. Who knew when I would be able to come here again?

At the hospital they slung me into a bed fairly quickly and kicked the husband out so that he could go home and pretend to be simultaneously working and caring for his wife. When in fact, he was just working. The wait began.

The man in the bed next to me yawns. I feel a little sleepy. I could actually have a little nap. I'm already in bed. Hopefully they would realise that doesn't mean I've been anaesthetised.

Got a bit of crocheting done. Caught up with The Slatest. Took a before shot of Schrödinger's ankle.

Took a very wrinkly selfie. At least they're smile lines. Played around with some filters before deleting it and taking a less wrinkled one (ie less smiling). Started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide for the googleplexth time.

I can hear the man next bed getting his leg shaved.

Hungry. My stomach is starting to rumble. What I'd really like is a glass of champagne and a bowl of salted almonds.

The older woman in the bed on the other side is alternating moaning with coughing up a lung. The nurses ask if she's alright, could they get her anything, she says she's fine. I hope they anaesthetise her soon.

My feet are cold.

The ward closes, so they wheel me into the post-op ward. Those beds don't have a great turning circle, and I feel bad about sitting in the bed crocheting instead of getting out and helping push, there's not actually anything wrong with me yet.

Even after I've met the doctors, had my ankle drawn on and been cannulaed I'm left in the waiting room for exactly twenty seven minutes. I pass the time by seeing if it's true that you can lower your heartrate with biometric feedback. I think it is, I was able to get it from 70 down to 60 most times. The anaesthetist had told me that he usually gives patients a little something when they're in the waiting room to calm them down, but I seemed too chilled for that, and did I like the music they were playing? Debbie Harry was fine by me, and also, wasn't I going to be unconcious?

Eventually I was, and then suddenly I wasn't. I was shuddering though, my usual response to whatever they give you when you're being operated on. I think what woke me was a nurse piling heated blankets on me and asking if I still needed the sick bag? My ankle! I dived under the blankets and there was no cast! No cast! Whoopee!

The nurse said I'd woken up nauseous and the doctor had come to see me to tell me they didn't put a bolt in. What was the point of talking to someone who clearly wouldn't remember anything of it? He'd written it down, though, five days on crutches, don't get the bandages wet and come into his rooms next Friday to get the stitches out and take these drugs. No cast! Man, that would have sucked. I can do five days on crutches easy.

So this morning I've managed to attach a plastic bag to my foot so I could shower, showered on one leg (the old skills remained from last time), and had breakfast. The anaesthetist has given me Panadeine Forte and said I can take Nurofen as well, but I'll get very constipated. I'm already on industrial strength Metamucil, so I may have to swallow a plunger. Now that I'm back in bed, I'm getting a message from the good old non-plastered ankle.

What's that you say? Take the drugs! Oh yes, the drugs. Don't mind if I do. Then I might get to work on that hat I'm crocheting. And have a little nap. It's turning out to be a pretty good day.



The School Trivia Night

The main components of the school trivia night were all there. Old friends. New neighbours. Alcohol. A couple of teachers. Artwork by each class to extort money out of parents. Some trivia questions.

I’m not a parent at the school any more, so it was interesting to note what a representative crowd of them now look like. There were too many leather pants, ie more than zero. A man with a half arm sleeve of tattoos which you never would have seen in MY day. And the crowd was still distressingly Anglo European, so actually not a lot of change.

My new next door neighbour was there, she booked my children in to come in a couple of times a week to help her out with Arsenic Hour. You know, that time of the day when you have three children under five and your entire focus is on getting them alive to dinner time without drinking a whole bottle of wine. The previous owner of my house was also there. She asked a few desultory questions about the neighbourhood. Then, fixing me with a gaze that was a disconcerting mix of steely and wistful she said “So, you’re not planning to sell the house? Ever?” It’s time for her to let it go. Thirteen years it’s been. We didn’t make her sell Her House.

The headmaster bravely came up to say hello. The one who was directly responsible for us jumping ship to the private system two years before we’d planned, costing us tens of thousands of dollars. The one who “couldn’t do anything” about the glaring underperformance about more than one of his teachers. The one who didn’t want to “make more work” for the teachers by even asking them to run a a chess club, say, or maybe mark homework. He was lucky to get away with a cold smile from me, rather than a searing character analysis.

There was the art auction, always a guaranteed money spinner, but more than slightly dull for those of us whose offspring had no hand in it. Ably run by an ex P&C president whose kids aren’t at the school any more, it was an example of how a strong school community can operate even in the absence of any interest from the actual school.

My date for the night, let’s call her Daniela, actually used to run this gig. When Daniela ran it she had a minute by minute running sheet, we were out of there before 10.30 after four rounds of questions, numerous games, a whole lot of exciting shopping from the stuff we’d spent months blackmailing out of the local retailers, and over fifteen thousand dollars raised. She and her husband after five years had to decide whether to continue running the trivia night or stay married. They selfishly decided on the latter. So now it’s contracted out to a nice enough man, who frankly lacks oomph. Only three rounds of fairly good questions (“who is older, Kirsten Dunst or Scarlett Johansson?” “who cares?” “Vaughan, it’s a trivia night”), but we were falling asleep at our tables by 11.30. So we sneaked out before the results were announced, leaving Jane behind to pick up our runners up prize of an out of date box of Lindt, piling most of our team and one of the art pieces in a rather illegal manner into Christina’s car.


OK, Kara is allowed to wear leather pants, but no one else. And if there’s ever a next time, I’m going to memorise the entire periodic table first. But someone else can look after the Davis Cup tennis players. Because, really, who cares?




Writing on the iPad

It's true, I'm not blogging much at the moment. I hear you. I am still using the Thermomix almost every day, but doing things in it that you've already heard about, I don't wish to bore you. I'm crocheting a hat. I'm going to renovate the house and have a spot of ankle surgery, so those things should keep you amused. What I am doing at the moment is a bit of study, little light teaching and trying unsuccessfully not to get onto even more committees. These things involve quite a lot of reading and writing, and since I'm a modern girl who got an iPad mini for her birthday and a stylus for Mothers Day, it's all paper free. I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on getting this to work.

First, the set up.

iPad mini with Logitech bluetooth keyboard folio. Closed it's about the size of a slim paperback. I'm using it ALL THE TIME. I can touch type on the keyboard. Note, to do this you must first be able to touch type, I have the advantage that I was a teenager when your typing speed was something you still put on your resumé, so thank you Mavis Beacon on giant floppy disk. Email, recipes (Paprika), calendar (synched with the husband's), weather (not that it's even slightly interesting at the moment, piss off high pressure system and your unrelenting pleasantness), Twitter, reading books, Facebook, Slate. Because it's such a cute piece of kit I am trying to use it for everything, so recently I've been experimenting with using it for minute taking (you can't always trust the committee secretary not to be in Hong Kong), shopping lists, keeping photos of documents that I would traditionally lose, photos of recipes and craft patterns, jotting down observations for the blog, drafting essays and reading my uni notes. And loving it!

The two apps that I've found to be extremely terrific are Evernote and Notability. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I'll tell you about Evernote first.

I use Evernote for an increasing number of jobs. You set up a notebook, they can't go calling it a folder because, you know, brand, and place notes inside it. I have notebooks such as craft patterns (you can photograph straight into the note if you see something pleasing in the elderly Family Circle magazines at the doctor's), shopping lists (it does checklists that you can satisfyingly check off), receipts and warranties, a notebook for each committee I'm on. You can set task reminders that will pop up on your home screen. If you've installed it on your phone, you can enter your shopping list on your iPad, and have it on your phone when you're at the shops. You can cut and paste from it and email from it, yes you can have the minutes, I'll email them to you immediately. It's easy to use and I'm using it more all the time. You can add tags, links, audio notes, photos and reminders. Evernote and my calendar are becoming my external memory, handy, as the internal one is showing signs of wear. I think it's full.

I'm new to Notability. I'm also new to university study, haven't had to read academic papers for nearly twenty years. I don't know about you, but I like to read a paper with pen in hand. And this is what Notability is for.

The pen is a very nifty stylus from Jotpro and handles just like a pen. You can see that you can type, write and highlight on the paper. I've found that to write legibly I have to expand the screen and write in big letters, but that works for me. Apparently you can just handwrite notes too, it has a wrist rest section, but I have a keyboard and can touch type, so whatever. You can then save the paper back over itself onto Dropbox. You could even print it out, but I haven't felt the need. Notability also has folders, but they're called subjects. Could we get some standards here? I can't find any tagging capability either, but search works OK and I haven't got that much paperwork. I've loaded up all of my study modules and it's very easy to flick between them. When it comes to actually writing the essay I usually write it on the PC so I can have the notes in front of me on the iPad.

You can, in theory, use a stylus in Evernote, but man it's clunky. They've got a separate stylus enabled app called Penultimate which can do most of the things Notability can do, only with a fancy leatherbound notebook type interface. BUT it's horrible. The first thing that made me delete it was that it DOESN'T DO LANDSCAPE!!! I haven't clicked this iPad out of the folio since I got it months ago, and I'm certainly not going to do it just so I can use Penultimate without getting a crick in my neck. Secondly it hasn't got the range of pen widths that Notability does, I like my writing fine and Notability also adds a slight pen pressure effect which is very pleasing. So try again, Penultimate.

The ultimate effect of these two apps on my iPad mini is that I can work anywhere and whenever I encounter a laptop I tend to poke it in the screen. I also haven't had to print out anything other than school notes and choir attendance sheets in months. I love living in the future.