I had a vision of Mariah Carey … or how else do I explain it?

Okay, so in the Hottest 100 post below, I made mention of pulling out a Mariah Carey CD.

I can feel a justification coming on.

When ‘Vision of Love’ came out, I was quite taken with her voice – I mean, really, she does have a pretty amazing voice. What she does with it is a separate issue.

Anyway, when our house was burgled in 1995, four months after moving into it and six months after we got married, the bastards took all our CDs.

Here’s the unexplainable bit. We wrote out a list of all the CDs we could remember for insurance, about 100, and I’d remembered we had Mariah Carey. Now, by this stage, I could have thought, “Here’s my chance: let’s substitute her CD with something else I’d rather listen to.” I mean, who was going to know? It was a few years down the track from Vision of Love, after all.

But no. Not only did I feel compelled to replace Mariah honestly, but for some unbelievably unfathomable reason, I got another one as well. What can I say.

I don’t think either of them had been played until last week. I was really desperate for some background music while the vacuum cleaner was on. It was just there when I opened the drawer. I enjoyed about 30 seconds of ‘Vision of Love’ before I flicked the switch, and from then on it was just bass and high-pitched whale calls over 1200W of Volta. All right?

And the real crime is that years down the track, I STILL remember CDs which are missing: my wonderful Nino Rota compilation including the theme to La Dolce Vita (now out of print), Willy de Ville’s solo album produced by Mark Knopfler which includes the track which was our wedding dance (ditto), and even bloody Tim Finn’s solo album (who can forget ‘Fraction too much friction’? But, ‘I hope I never’ gets me still.). Actually, I still haven’t replaced that one.

Bloody Mariah and her ridiculously small waist and her even more ridiculous octave range.

Happy New Year from the fridge

I’m sure we’ve all been in a workplace where, no matter how committed you and your colleagues might be, the contents of the office fridge just seem to get away from us, one way or another.

At my workplace I cleaned out our fridge six months ago because I was looking to pinch some butter to rescue a stale scone. To my surprise, I ended up finding four out-of-date butter tubs, and a whole lot more, and sent an email to colleagues warning them of the rather minimalist appearance facing them the following Monday morning after my clean out.

With the end of the year upon us, it seemed only right to give the fridge another once-over to see what improvements, if any, had resulted in corporate food hygiene. This is my resulting email, as we say goodbye to 2008 and welcome a healthy, nutritious and Best Before 2009:

Greetings on New Year’s Eve.

Well, I thought it was that time of year again, but I’ve just discovered that my last ‘fridge email’ was only sent in June – not a whole year ago at all! Needless to say, I’m even MORE impressed with the contents of this afternoon’s clean out, so here’s my report:

Oranges. Orange juice is all well and good, but preferably from a bottle and not what’s leaked from the putrefied contents at the bottom of a plastic bag.

Yoghurt. If whoever bought the diet and lite brands of yoghurt applies this theory to their other food, then they must have lost lots of weight … because they haven’t eaten any of them. ‘Best Befores’ included 31 Oct 08, 20 Dec 08, 26 Sep 08, 22 June 08 and … 20 June 08! That was only two weeks after my last clean out!

Butter. Readers of the last email may remember that there were four tubs of butter disposed of. I must have been particularly magnanimous in June, because there’s still one wedged into the corner by a block of ice with an expiry date of 22 Apr 08 … but I couldn’t budge it. In a rather surprising coincidence, there was also one tub with an expiry date of 28 Feb 08 … and another one with 28 Feb 09! Spooky! (The Feb 08 tub was chucked). Don’t fear, there is also a tub not due to expire until June next year, so plenty of butter still to share.

Hummus. The ‘Heavenly Organic’ Hummus was certainly that – long expired, in another world, and full of nutrient goodness – Best Before 8 Sep 08.

Salad stuff. This is complex.
Capsicum – not meant to be eaten soup style. Usually it’s firm and crunchy, not in liquid form.
‘Caris’s Broccoli Salad’ – not much broccoli left, calling it ‘salad’ was a bit of a stretch – Best Before 2 December.
Mung beans – two lots of – and I think the idea is you eat them before they sprout, die, go brown and then slide into a mouldy sludge.
Salad dressing – Paul Newman didn’t just cark it this year, so did a range of his salad dressings: Caesar Best Before Nov 08, plus a French Dressing from Sep 08.

Cheese. There was an almost healthy looking bag of grated cheese with an expiry date of 28 Dec 08. Now, food and nutrition experts and their lawyers could argue for hours on whether it may have lasted another week or two for a toasted sandwich without any botulism outbreak, but the 28th was my birthday, so I threw it out for a birthday present. Stiff cheese.

Miscellaneous. No list is complete without some miscellaneous items, and it just proves I can spell. Whipped cream – where was I? I don’t remember that? Best Before 28 Sep 08. Ham – with a Best Before of 16 Dec 08, this was never going to make it to Christmas, and certainly shouldn’t have made new year!

So was there anything actually in-date? Yes: Tahini and Marmite live to see another year, although Marmite is a yeast product so that’s questionable to begin with. Also butter as noted.

However, the following items are on notice and will need to be removed and/or eaten/thrown away/disposed of at a hazardous waste facility:

Nippy’s iced coffee in the door. I could have sworn it was there six months ago, and I think I left it there because Best Before is 03/05/20___[print has gone]. I’ve given it the benefit of the doubt once, but it’s on borrowed time.

Corn Relish. Yet another mystery. These don’t have Best Before dates. I know that because there was another one in June that I threw out. Maybe there were always two and I just missed it. Whatever.

Goulburn fruit salad. This stuff already looks like the limp version of its firm, fresh and fruity brothers and sisters, but this is looking limper than it should and I don’t think any injection is going to fix it. I may be wrong.

FINALLY – there are four plastic containers, two of which are rather nice ones, which contain long-gone leftovers. I can’t think of any other way to describe them. It would be such a shame to throw the containers out, or for their owners to lose them by someone else commandeering them for herself seeing she lost a perfectly good Tupperware container once just because she didn’t remove it before Fran cleaned the fridge and it really pissed her off – sorry, where was I? Anyway, if they’re your containers, please remove.

My suggestion for the next clean-out is to ‘harvest’ the contents, take them over to Product Development, do a bit of judicious experimentation and ‘voila’ a new organic fertiliser is born.

Happy New Year!

Now, move along, some of us have work to do.

Obituary for a back yard

There has been a death – in fact, a number of deaths.

Our wonderful former neighbour from Karratha knocked on our door last night, as he is wont to do on occasion in a friendly spirit of surprise, to share news of – among other things – the comings and goings of Karratha town, of which there are many at this time of fiscal and North West uncertainty.

And it appears our former back yard has … gone. The new owners have ripped everything out – everything except the aloe vera against the bedroom wall – from what once existed in our small patch of North West heaven. Apart from not understanding why, it makes me sad. So I thought an obituary was in order.

This back yard first came to being around 1980 and it was a modest affair. The north-west lawn substitute, lippia, was planted across a small area and it did well. The original owners embraced the domesticity of their patch, and planted three citrus trees along the side fence separating us from our neighbour: two lemons, and what Mr JB and I came to agree on as being a ‘lemonade’ variety. They provided many lemons for meals, and ants to agonise over, during our five years there.

Along the opposite side fence which separated us from a large council stretch of nothingness other than red dirt, indigenous plants, broken glass and a footpath of ill repute alongside a major side road, was a mix of melaleuca, acacia, frangipani and a few other trees which had struggled over the ensuing 20 years or so to reach two or three metres tall. They provided a buffer from cyclonic winds, drunken wanderers and (most importantly) shade over the new patio.

Now the back fence, that was a different story. It was awful when we moved there in 2002. A half-height asbestos mess, with an overgrown cotton palm just over the other side in the back neighbour’s property, which rustled not only with the wind, but the passing of rodents and cockroaches amongst its dangling dead fronds.

With a wonderful spirit of cooperation between our rear neighbour and the bobcat operator he employed, our rear fence was removed as well as the cotton palm, plus, for the fee of a carton of Midstrength, so was the sunken brick bbq/conversation pit our original owner had installed hard up against the right-hand side of the back fence. But we made sure the trees remained.

By the beginning of 2003, we had a level playing field. No bricks. No cotton palm. And we had a plan.

We bought five hedging plants favoured by locals residents and planted them against the spangly new rear fence (thanks Sean). They were fast growing and we could prune and shape them against the fence, thereby becoming additional wind breaks during cyclone season. They nicely framed what had become then-two-year-old’s play area where the extra transplanted lippia was taking hold.

We put in concrete curbing to define where the garden beds finished and the lawn started. We pulled out weeds. We raked. We mulched. And, by God, by the end of it, it was good.

So by the time we had our old patio replaced in 2004, we had a shaded little patch of green comfort, with the original foxtail palm standing sentinel in the centre. It always had 11 fronds, no matter what stage of growth or death it was in; extraordinary.

In a town that’s only pushing 40 years old, every year of growth had the capacity to make an impact – either aesthetically or practically. I think our back yard was an honourable mix of the old and the new, the native and introduced, after 24 years, and we had laboured hard to make it so.

When I get my laptop back, I’ll post some photos and you will see what is now missing from a little patch of earth at the end of a quiet little cul-de-sac in the middle of a strangle little town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

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